This Article presents new evidence on the evolution of the business corporation in America and on the emergence of what is commonly termed the “Berle and Means corporation.” Drawing on a wide range of sources, I investigate three major historical claims of The Modern Corporation: that large corporations had displaced small ones by the early twentieth century; that the quasi-public corporations of the 1930s were much larger than the public corporations of the nineteenth century; and that ownership was separated from control to a much greater extent in the 1930s compared to the nineteenth century. I address each of these claims with new data and present analyses of nineteenth century corporations that mirror Berle and Means’s analysis of the corporations of the 1930s. The conclusions I draw from these analyses revise the historical claims of The Modern Corporation in important ways.
Eric Hilt, The ‘Berle and Means Corporation’ in Historical Perspective, 42 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 417 (2019).
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