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Founding ChoicesAmerican Economic Policy in the 1790s$
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Douglas A. Irwin and Richard Sylla

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226384740

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226384764.001.0001

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Rise of the Corporation Nation

Rise of the Corporation Nation

(p.217) 7 Rise of the Corporation Nation
Founding Choices

Robert E. Wright

University of Chicago Press

This chapter highlights the dramatic rise in the chartering of business corporations during 1790. Only eight such corporations had been chartered in the long colonial era, and another twenty-one during 1780. During 1790, 290 more corporations, ten times as many as before in colonial and U.S. history, appeared. But the appearance of a “corporation nation” in 1790 was just a beginning; the chapter notes that by 1860 the country would have some 20,000 corporations, far more than any other nation. According to the chapter, the increased availability of the corporate form of business organization stimulated entrepreneurship by broadening the menu of organizational-form choices available to entrepreneurs. Finally, the appearance of so many corporations so early in U.S. history meant that Americans more or less had to learn how to govern and manage complex corporate entities.

Keywords:   business corporations, corporation nation, business organization, corporate entities, entrepreneurship

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