Why Were Corporations Illegal Before 1819?Submitted by Reconstituter001 on Wed, 02/06/2013 - 13:04
While many here believe that Corporations are part of a healthy Free Market, it should be noted that our founders fought the British Corporations AS WELL AS the British Government.
So when you think it's "libertarian" to defend corporations like Monsanto, think again.
When American colonists declared independence from England in 1776, they also freed themselves from control by English corporations that extracted their wealth and dominated trade. After fighting a revolution to end this exploitation, our country's founders retained a healthy fear of corporate power and wisely limited corporations exclusively to a business role. Corporations were forbidden from attempting to influence elections, public policy, and other realms of civic society.
Initially, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively to enable activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Enabling shareholders to profit was seen as a means to that end.
The states also imposed conditions (some of which remain on the books, though unused) like these:
* Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly for violating laws.
* Corporations were often terminated if they caused public harm.
* Owners and managers were responsible for criminal acts committed on the job.
* Corporations could not make any political or charitable contributions nor spend money to influence law-making.
But aren't corporations just part of the free market? Isn't that what capitalism is all about - corporate interests driving the economy?
Actually, no. Corporate libertarians would have you believe that somehow corporate dominance is entirely consistent with the values and vision of the Founding Fathers, but this is pure myth. The framers believed in limited government and free markets, but corporations were almost non-existent in the early days of the Republic. Unlike today, one could not form a corporation simply by filing a few papers with a government office; instead, permission from the government was needed (usually via an act of the Legislature)
Watch "The Corporation" documentary Free,