Economic Definition of Sherman Act. Defined.
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Term Sherman Act Definition: The first antitrust law passed in the United States in 1890 that outlawed monopoly or any attempts to monopolize a market. This was one of three major antitrust laws passed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The other two were the Clayton Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. The Sherman Act was successfully used to break up several noted monopolies in the early 1900s, including the Standard Oil Trust in 1911. However, it was flawed by (1) vague wording that allowed wide interpretation (especially based on political influence) and (2) the lack of an effective means of enforcement other than an extended journey through the court system. These two flaws led to the Federal Trade Commission Act and Clayton Act, both passed in 1914. Although other laws have been passed, the Sherman Act remains the cornerstone of antitrust laws in the United States.