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Considers how during the 1780's-1820's wealthy Philadelphians adopted the British institutional structure of the corporation for purposes of organizing Philadelphia's economic and political life and how the corporate form was used to reconstruct and consolidate economic and political power. The corporation was part of a variety of "nexus technologies" that included canals and markets. These new social technologies allowed the coordination of physical and financial activities across greater distances, without relying on older forms of face-to-face control and coordination, thus permitting new elites to gain power as older, local patrician elites were displaced. These new corporate forms needed the legal sanctioning and financial support of state government. Corporate leaders lobbied for laws benefiting corporations and employed libertarian and republican rhetoric to gain public support.

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Enterprise & Society

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