Page images

that the public are defrauded by having goods of an inferior quality imposed on them. Those who have the absolute power to fix whatever price they please on the commodities that they sell may freely indulge that privilege without reference to quality. The result of our monopolies has been that goods of greatly inferior quality have usurped the market of the country, and have placed a stigma on our products abroad, turning out in some cases, as in the lucifer matches, which have been put on the market for years by the Match Trust, articles so deplorably bad that nothing like them can be found elsewhere in the whole world.

Mr. Cooley, whose opinion has always been listened to by the profession with respect, says:

"A few things may be said of trusts without danger of mistake. They are things to be feared. They antag. onize a leading and most valuable principle of industrial life in their attempt not to curb competition merely, but to put an end to it. The course of the leading trust of the country has been such as to emphasize the fear of them.

When we witness the utterly heartless manner in which trusts sometimes have closed manufactories and turned men willing to be industrious into the streets, in order that they may increase profits already reasonably large, we cannot help asking ourselves whether the trust as we see it is not a public enemy, whether it is not teaching the laborer dangerous lessons, whether it is not helping to breed anarchy."?

While the trusts are thus making inferior articles of consumption, and selling them at extortionate rates, they frequently declare that there is an “over-production," shut down their mills, turn their workmen out of employment, and wait until the needs of the public require the

* The Monopolies, 6 Coke, 159.

*Cited in Cook on “The Corporation Problem," 234. Mr. Cook's language is even more severe and emphatic. Id. 222.

payment of the coveted prices ; the phrase "over-production” having with them a technical meaning, which, being interpreted, signifies that the trusts are not making as much money as they want to make.

To meet these evils, the “Anti-Trust Act" of Congress was passed and approved on the second day of July, 1890. It smites with illegality all the combinations made in restraint of trade, all monopolies, and all contracts leading up to them, and imposes heavy penalties on the individuals that become parties thereto. It provides that suits may be brought in the Federal Courts to restrain violations of the act, for forfeiture of property used under any contract, or by any combination, or pursuant to any conspiracy mentioned in the act, and for private remedies for persons injured by the forbidden acts perpetrated by the classes against whom it is directed.

The act has been criticised because it contains no defi. nitions; but the common law terms used in it seem to be sufficient. The language is searching, and the provisions are drastic. If properly supplemented by state legislation and enforced by the courts in the spirit in which it was enacted, the various combinations against which it is levelled may in all probability as well make up their minds to retire with their ill-gotten gains, to seek less devious methods. No doubt those who have once tasted the sweets of monopoly will not willingly repair to less profitable pursuits. We know something of that secrecy, worthy of the Council of Ten in Venice, with which the business of our great corporations is conducted; but in this instance if secret measures are adopted, they will be attended with unusual perils, and the courts will possess very ample powers of investigation in proceedings both civil and criminal."

* When the act was passed the following trusts were known to exist: 1. The Steel Rail Trust. 2. The Nail Trust. 3. The Iron Nut and Washer Trust. 4. The Barbed Wire Trust. 5. The Copper Trust. 6. The Lead Trust. 7. The Slate Pencil Trust. 8. The Nickel Trust. 9. The Zinc Trust. 10. The Sugar Trust. 11. The Oilcloth Trust. 12. The Jute Bag Trust. 13. The Cordage Trust. 14. The Paper Envelope Trust. 15. The Gutta Percha Trust. 16. The Castor Oil Trust. 17. The Linseed Oil Trust. 18. The Cottonseed Oil Trust. 19. The Borax Trust. 20. The Ul. tramarine Trust. 21. The Whiskey Trust. 22. The Standard Oil Trust. 23. The Match Trust. 24. The Dressed Beef Trust. 25. The Starch Trust. 26. The Distillers' and Cattle Feeders' Trust. 27. The Straw Board Trust. 28. The School Book Trust. 29. The Gas Trust. 30. The Cigarette Trust.

It too often happens in our country that important social and economic questions fall into the domain of party politics, after which reason and common sense are often banished, and their place is usurped by idle declamation. Fortunately, in the present instance, there is a feeling common to men of all political parties that the evils that I have mentioned ought to be suppressed; and in view of the past history of our institutions we are fully justified in predicting satisfactory results to be attained at no distant day.

* In Stanton vs. Allen, 5 Denio, 434, suit was brought on a note given on account of an agreement to regulate freight between the owners of boats on the Erie and Oswego Canals "by a uniform scale to be fixed by a committee chosen by defendants, and to divide the profits on their business according to the number of boats employed by each.” The court held that “the tendency of such an agreement is to increase prices, to prevent wholesome competition, and to diminish public resources, and that it was “therefore against public policy, and void by the principles of the common law.” To like effect see People vs. Fisher, 14 Wend. 9; Comm. vs. Carlyle, Brightly 36; Hooker vs. Vandewater, 4 Denio, 349; Craft vs. McConoughy, 79 III., 346; Arnot vs. Pit. son, &c., Coal Co., 68 N. Y., 558; Morris Run Coal Co. vs. Barclay Coal Co., 68 Pa. St., 173; India Bagging Asso. vs. Kock, 14 La. Ann., 168; Texas Ry. Co. vs. Southern Pac. Ry. Co., 41 id. 970; Anderson vs. Jett, (Ky.) 12 S. W. R., 670; Santa Clara Mill Co. vs. Hayes, 76 Cal., 387; Central Salt Co. vs. Guthrie, 35 Ohio St., 666; De Witt Wire Cloth Co. vs. New Jersey Wire Cloth Co., 14 N. Y., Supp. 277; Moore vs. Bennett, 29 N. E. R., 888; U. S. vs. Jelico Mountain Coal Co., 46 Fed. R., 432; Gibbs vs. Consolidated Gas Co., 130 U. S., 396; Currier vs. Concord Ry. Co., 48 N. H., 321; Alger vs. Thacher, 19 Pick., 54; Denver Ry. Co. vs. Atcheson Ry. Co., 15 Fed. R., 650; Morrill vs. Boston Ry. Co., 55 N. H., 531; Richardson vs. Buhl, 77 Mich., 632; W. U. Tel. Co. vs. American Tel. Co., 65 Ga., 160; Stewart vs. Erie Trans. Co., 17 Minn., 372.


« PreviousContinue »