“The belief is common in America that the day is at hand when corporations far greater than the Erie — swaying power such as has never in the world’s history been trusted in the hands of private citizens, controlled by single men like Vanderbilt, or by combinations of men like Fisk, Gould, and Lane, after having created a system of quiet but irresistible corruption — will ultimately succeed in directing government itself. Under the American form of society, there is no authority capability of effective resistance. The national government, in order to deal with the corporations, must assume powers refused to it by its fundamental law, — and even then is exposed to the chance of forming an absolute central government which sooner or later is likely to fall into the hands it is struggling to escape, and thus destroy the limits of its power only in order make corruption omnipotent. Nor is this danger confined to America alone. The corporation is in its nature a threat against the popular institutions which are spreading so rapidly over the whole world. Wherever a popular and limited government exists this difficulty will be found in its path; and unless some satisfactory solution of the problem can be reached, popular institutions may yet find their very existence endangered.”
Henry Adams, The New York Gold Conspiracy, 1870

“In the aftermath of the Civil War, an old institution took on a new form in the United States. Created through an unprecedented legal metamorphosis, the modern corporation was a device like nothing the world had seen before: restless, autonomous, self-perpetuating. Designed to seek profit and power, it pursued both with endless tenacity, steadily bending the framework of law and even challenging the sovereign status of the state. Where did the corporation get so much power? What is its ultimate trajectory? Perhaps no phenomenon will more deeply shape the human future than this puzzling, endlessly evolving entity.”
Ted Nace, The American Invention, 2002






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