In 1890, Congress enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act in an effort to prevent monopolies or restrictive trade agreements that would severely reduce economic competition among businesses. In 1892, the American Sugar Refining Company gained control of the E.C. Knight Company (defendant) and several other sugar manufacturers through sales of stock. The result was to give the American Sugar Refining Company a 98 percent monopoly over the American sugar refining industry. The United States government (plaintiff) sued the E.C. Knight Company for violating the anti-monopoly provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act in an effort to suppress the transaction.