Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bloch and Lamoreaux on Associations, Corporate Rights and the States

Ruth H. Bloch and Naomi R. Lamoreaux have posted a gated NBER Working Paper (No. 21153) that issued in May 2015 that is a nice complement to Professor Gordon’s recent article.  It’s Voluntary Associations, Corporate Rights, and the State: Legal Constraints on the Development of American Civil Society, 1750-1900:
The freedom of citizens to form voluntary associations has long been viewed as an essential ingredient of modern civil society. Our chapter revises the standard Tocquevillian account of associational freedom in the early United States by accentuating the role of state courts and legislatures in the creation and regulation of nineteenth-century American nonprofit corporations. Corporate status gave associations valuable rights that went beyond the basic right of individuals to associate. Government officials selectively used their power to grant and enforce corporate charters to reward politically favored groups while denying equivalent rights to groups they viewed as politically or socially disruptive.