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Corporate SovereigntyLaw and Government under Capitalism$
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Joshua Barkan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816674268

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816674268.001.0001

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The Sovereign Gift

The Sovereign Gift

(p.19) Chapter One The Sovereign Gift
Corporate Sovereignty

Joshua Barkan

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines early modern corporate sovereignty as it materialized from medieval religious thought. It analyzes Thomas Hobbes’ political theory and William Blackstone’s writings on the common law in describing a configuration of corporate power that emerged during the eighteenth century. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the corporate charter that granted corporations legal standing, established corporate immunities and privileges, and provided a framework for governing towns, hospitals, poorhouses, learning societies, and churches. According to Hobbes, the chartered grants are gifts from the sovereign that provided exemptions from the law.

Keywords:   corporate sovereignty, Thomas Hobbes, political theory, William Blackstone, corporate power, corporate charter, chartered grants

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