The United States Steel Company, 1890- 1920: An Examination of Economic Cooperation and Competition
Beginning in 1890, business and government engaged in a symbiotic relationship which juxtaposed congressional regulation and judicial precedence with the free-market tendency for profit and power, and which subsequently became an indisputable hallmark of American society. To modern businessmen and government policy makers, government regulation that alters and controls the structure of corporate organizations and the decisions of their managerial hierarchies is often contested. On July 2,1890, Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in reaction to the cartels, pools and trusts which had begun to stifle competition and produce monopolistic organizations in the American economy. These trusts and holding companies had the potential to control the prices, production and constitution of diverse markets, especially in the railroad and oil industries. Specifically, Section 3 of the Sherman Act prohibited "every contract, combination in form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce."1 Thereafter, the federal government's position as regulator of American business could not be questioned. The case against U.S. Steel, regardless of its outcome, established the resolute hold of federal regulators on corporate decisions relating to market positions and monopolistic control.