Happy Birthday, Antitrust Law!

The President’s Dream of a Successful Hunt, by Clifford Kennedy Berryman, 1907.

In the beginning of this year, the Federal Trade Commission concluded a 20-month-long investigation into whether Google violated federal antitrust laws, an action which has met with mixed reactions. When most people think of antitrust law, they think of trust-busting Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, the Sherman and Clayton Acts, or more recent events such as the Microsoft case. They don’t really think of Alabama.

Which is unfortunate, because Alabama has a number of ties to antitrust law. Alabama holds the distinction of being the first state to pass an antitrust law in the United States, on February 23rd, 1883, seven years prior to the passage of the first federal antitrust law, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The Alabama law prohibited railroads from forming agreements to divide the market and fix prices in the freight industry in Alabama.

Henry De Lamar Clayton, Jr., the sponsor and namesake of the Clayton Act of 1914, was a representative from Alabama. The Clayton Act added significant features to federal antitrust law, including restrictions on price discrimination and interlocking directorates.

Want more information on antitrust laws? The Law and University Libraries have some materials that may be of interest, such as:

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