One tends to learn a lot when digging into the history behind a vintage postcard, or Victorian trade card. In this case, I learned about the break-up of a monopoly that had me remembering the break-up of Ma Bell (telephone) 25 years ago.
Biggest Plug Chewing Tobacco Producer
(L&M) of St. Louis was started by John Liggett (who’s grandfather’s New Jersey snuff mill was burnt down by British soldiers) and George Smith Myers in 1873. By 1885, it had become the biggest producer of plug chewing tobacco in the world.
American Tobacco Company Monopoly Formed
Meanwhile, the Bull Durham Tobacco Company grew into the leading cigarette maker (and chief competitor of L&M) in the US. James B. Duke of Durham Tobacco, created the American Tobacco Company from five leading cigarette companies. After John Liggett died in 1897, L&M became part of the ATC. Makes me wonder what John Liggett’s position on the formation of the ATC was if James Duke couldn’t obtain L&M until after John’s death.
ATC Monopoly Broken Up
A little over 10 years later, the ATC ran afoul of The Supreme Court. It found ATC guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act (an act designed to prevent business monopolies) in 1911. As a result, the ATC was divided into four companies: the American Tobacco Company, Liggett & Myers Tobacco, P. Lorillard, and R.J. Reynolds (name sound familiar?). L&M was on it’s own again.
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