Subversive Historian – 05/15/09

Standard Oil’s Dissolution

Back in the day on May 15th, 1911, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey to dissolve. In an 8-1 ruling, justices concluded that the petroleum corporation had violated the Sherman Act of 1890 and split it into thirty-four smaller competitive companies. Started in 1870 by John D. Rockefeller and a group of businessmen, the Standard Oil Company soon grew to monopolize the petroleum industry in just twenty years following its inception. By 1890, it had come to control almost 90% of all refined oil flows within the United States. After “muckrakers,” like Ida Tarbell began investigating the illegal tactics of the company, the U.S. Department of Justice sued in 1909 stating that it conspired to restrain trade or commerce. The High Court agreed.

Considering our current crisis, more vigorous applications of anti-trust laws would seem to make for good solvents against the “too large to fail” principle, don’t you think?

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