Lot 53: TLS as president, two pages, 7 x 8.75, White House letterhead, October 28, 1914. Letter to Judge Morgan J. O'Brien. In part: "I submitted your recent letter to the Attorney General and have this comment from him in reply: He feels, in the first place, that the standard suggested of 'present monopolistic potentiality,' tested, no doubt, by the power to fix and maintain minimum prices, is too indefinite as a basis of policy. He points out…that it would seem to relate entirely to the second section of the Sherman Act which denounces monopolies of any part of trade or commerce. The first section of that Act denounces contracts, combinations, and conspiracies in restraint of trade or commerce…Such contracts, combinations, and conspiracies might grossly violate the Sherman Act without a combination having built up a 'present monopolistic potentiality.' I think that the business men of the country may rest assured that the Department of Justice will act in the spirit of entire fairness and impartiality." In very good condition, with central vertical and horizontal folds (vertical fold passing through the first letter of the signature), overall soiling, and two punch holes near the top edge. In his presidential campaign, Wilson frequently vowed to eliminate monopolies. The referenced 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act banned monopolistic combinations that lessened or hampered trade; however, the government's decision on when to take action remained inconsistent, and the prohibitions were vague and unclear, leaving businesses constantly uncertain and frustrated. In an attempt to clarify, the Clayton Act was passed on October 15, 1914, setting more specific guidelines on what constituted a violation of Sherman, providing a somewhat clearer picture. An interesting letter from an important time in US antitrust law.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 458
Wednesday, 12th August 2015
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