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Book Review: The Federal Trade Commission, 34 Yale Law Journal 218 (1924)


This book is a product of the program of the Commonwealth Fund initiated in 1920 to encourage legal research. It is an "intensive study" of administrative law and practice. Only such activities of the Commission are discussed by the author as "properly fall within the scope of such a study."

An historical background of the Federal Trade Commission is depicted in an introductory chapter on Political and Legislative History. The Sherman Act was such a rush-order-product. Substantial numbers of the electorate were experiencing an economic squeeze not unlike Elizabethans enmeshed in the superimposed system of Crown patents of monopolies. The antecedents, however, were obscured by the complexity of the economic process of modern variety. On the other hand, "corporations," "pools," "combinations," "restraints of trade," "monopolies" and "trusts"-all terms of somewhat precise legalistic significance to lawyers-had become popularized and synonymous. Their connotation of undefined greatness and of concentrated resources made them morally reprehensible. Just naturally by process of over-simplification the complex of many intricate problems requiring scientific study and pragmatic adjustment as continuing problems became one popular problem to be solved finally-the problem of trusts and monopolies. Popular hue and cry to trounce all trusts, monopolies and restraints of trade was too dominant to be ignored by those considerate of political favor; hence the Sherman Act which made criminal "every contract, combinations in form of trust, or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several states." Its equipment was standard: the Attorney General's Office, jails, fines, treble damages--equipment adequate for "busting."

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