Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United and other high-profile cases have sparked passionate disagreement about the proper role of corporations in American democracy. Partisans on both sides have made bold claims, often with little basis in historical facts. Bringing together leading scholars of history, law, and political science, Corporations and American Democracy provides the historical and intellectual grounding necessary to put today’s corporate policy debates in proper context.
From the nation’s founding to the present, Americans have regarded corporations with ambivalenceembracing their potential to revolutionize economic life and yet remaining wary of their capacity to undermine democratic institutions. Although corporations were originally created to give businesses and other associations special legal rights and privileges, historically they were denied many of the constitutional protections afforded flesh-and-blood citizens.
This comprehensive volume covers a range of topics, including the origins of corporations in English and American law, the historical shift from special charters to general incorporation, the increased variety of corporations that this shift made possible, and the roots of modern corporate regulation in the Progressive Era and New Deal. It also covers the evolution of judicial views of corporate rights, particularly since corporations have become the form of choice for an increasing variety of nonbusiness organizations, including political advocacy groups. Ironically, in today’s global economy the decline of large, vertically integrated corporationsthe type of corporation that past reform movements fought so hard to regulateposes some of the newest challenges to effective government oversight of the economy.
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About the Author
Naomi R. Lamoreaux is Stanley B. Resor Professor of Economics and History at Yale University.
William J. Novak is Charles F. and Edith J. Clyne Professor of Law at the University of Michigan.
Jonathan Levy is Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago.
Table of Contents
Corporations and American Democracy: An Introduction Naomi R. Lamoreaux William J. Novak 1
I Corporate Origins
1 Early American Corporations and the State Eric Hilt 37
2 Corporations and Organizations in the United States after 1840 Jessica L. Hennessey John Joseph Wallis 74
II The Turn to Regulation
3 The Dissociation of Incorporation and Regulation in the Progressive Era and the New Deal Daniel A. Crane 109
4 The Public Utility Idea and the Origins of Modern Business Regulation William J. Novak 139
5 Corporate Taxation and the Regulation of Early Twentieth-Century American Business Steven A. Bank Ajay K. Mehrotra 177
III The Changing Corporate Form
6 From Fiscal Triangle to Passing Through: Rise of the Nonprofit Corporation Jonathan Levy 213
7 The Supreme Courts View of Corporate Rights: Two Centuries of Evolution and Controversy Margaret M. Blair Elizabeth Pollman 245
8 Corporations and the Fourteenth Amendment Ruth H. Bloch Naomi K. Lamoreaux 286
IV Modern Corporate Challenges
9 Two Cheers for Vertical Integration: Corporate Governance in a World of Global Supply Chains Nelson Lichtenstein 329
10 Citizens United, Personhood, and the Corporation in Politics Adam Winkler 359