This introductory chapter first sets out the book's purpose, which is to examine the early history of public authorities in order to understand the goals of the people who first proposed them, as well as the political struggles and legal pressures that shaped their formation and subsequent evolution. It then discusses what public authorities are and why so little is known about them; divergent perspectives on public authorities; and assumptions about the origins of public authorities. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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