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Democratic Dividends: Stockholding, Wealth and Politics in New York, 1791-1826

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  • Eric Hilt
  • Jacqueline Valentine

Abstract

This paper analyzes the early history of corporate shareholding, and its relationship with political change. In the late eighteenth century, corporations were extremely rare and were dominated by elites, but in the early nineteenth century, after American politics became significantly more democratic, corporations proliferated rapidly. Using newly collected data, this paper compares the wealth and status of New York City households who owned corporate stock to the general population there both in 1791, when there were only two corporations in the state, and in 1826, when there were hundreds. The results indicate that although corporate stock was held principally by the city's elite merchants in both periods, share ownership became more widespread over time among less affluent households. In particular, the corporations created in the 1820s were owned and managed by investors who were less wealthy than the stockholders of corporations created in earlier, less democratic periods in the state's history.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Hilt & Jacqueline Valentine, 2011. "Democratic Dividends: Stockholding, Wealth and Politics in New York, 1791-1826," NBER Working Papers 17147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17147
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hilt, Eric & O'Banion, Katharine, 2009. "The Limited Partnership in New York, 1822–1858: Partnerships Without Kinship," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 615-645, September.
    2. Hilt, Eric, 2008. "When did Ownership Separate from Control? Corporate Governance in the Early Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 645-685, September.
    3. Rousseau, Peter L., 2009. "Share liquidity, participation, and growth of the Boston market for industrial equities, 1854-1897," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 203-219, April.
    4. Bodenhorn, Howard, 2008. "Free banking and bank entry in nineteenth-century New York," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(02), pages 175-201, October.
    5. Huberman, Gur, 2001. "Familiarity Breeds Investment," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(3), pages 659-680.
    6. Klein, Daniel & Majewski, John, 1991. "Economy, Community and Law: The Turnpike Movement in New York, 1797-1845," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt61b022cr, University of California Transportation Center.
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    Cited by:

    1. Naomi R. Lamoreaux, 2014. "Revisiting American Exceptionalism: Democracy and the Regulation of Corporate Governance in Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania," NBER Working Papers 20231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Eric Hilt, 2014. "History of American Corporate Governance: Law, Institutions, and Politics," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21, December.
    3. Eric Hilt, 2014. "Corporate Governance and the Development of Manufacturing Enterprises in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts," NBER Chapters,in: Enterprising America: Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective, pages 73-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Qian Lu & John Joseph Wallis, 2015. "Banks, Politics, and Political Parties: From Partisan Banking to Open Access in Early Massachusetts," NBER Working Papers 21572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Qian Lu & John Joseph Wallis, 2017. "Banks, Politics, and Political Parties: From Partisan Banking to Open Access in Early Massachusetts," NBER Chapters,in: Organizations, Civil Society, and the Roots of Development, pages 109-145 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jha, Saumitra, 2011. "Sharing the Future: Financial Innovation and Innovators in Solving the Political Economy Challenges of Development," Research Papers 2093, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • N21 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N41 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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