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Sherman's Motives

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I sent this letter today to the Wall Street Journal:

Donald Libert speculates
that Sen. John Sherman sponsored the 1890 antitrust act that bears his
name out of "a desire to ‘pay back’ the New York
industrialist-dominated delegation who he blamed for denying him the
Republican nomination for president at the 1888 convention" (Letters [2],
July 19).  Revenge might well have been part of the Senator’s agenda.
But another part of that agenda likely was his desire for political
cover.

Sherman, a staunch protectionist, was a senate champion
of the McKinley Tariff.  This tariff, enacted a mere three months after
passage of the antitrust act, set import duties at (what at the time
were) record high levels.  (So much for Sen. Sherman’s credentials as
friend of consumers!)  Free-trade Democrats rightly accused
protectionists as being architects of monopoly power – an accusation
that Sen. Sherman no doubt sought to conveniently deflect by putting
his name on an antitrust statute.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

Once again, the relevant research here was done by Tom DiLorenzo.  See: Thomas J. DiLorenzo, "The Origins of Antitrust: An Interest-Group Perspective," International Review of Law and Economics (June 1985).

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