Massachusetts Historical Society

Event

America’s First Corporate Person: The Bank of the United States, 1789-1812

At MHS

Author: Jared S. Berkowitz, Brandeis University
Comment: Christine Desan, Harvard Law School

This is a hybrid event. The in-person reception will begin at 4:30 pm.

The traditional narrative of corporate personhood begins in the Gilded Age, as railroad corporations permeated federal courts to challenge state regulations, leading us to assume that personhood was always a source of power for private associations. However, this paper argues that the founding of the BUS reveals a dramatically different story. For most of the 19th century, legal personhood was a corporation’s most vulnerable attribute. The tumultuous career of the BUS provided American judges with the opportunity to craft a unique law of corporations—one that personified the institution while reckoning with republican ideology to support an emerging capitalist economy.

The Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Purchasing the $25 seminar subscription gives you advance access to the seminar papers of all seven seminar series for the current academic year. Subscribe at www.masshist.org/research/seminars. Subscribers for the current year may login to view currently available essays.

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Hybrid Event

The in-person reception starts at 4:30 PM and the seminar will begin at 5:00 PM.

Masks are optional for this event.

The virtual seminar begins at 5:00 PM and will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.

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