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England, the trade to China by the East India Company. Such a monopoly by corporations is only one of the perversions to which corporate agency is liable, and must be carefully separated from characteristics that are essential to corporations, or we may become unjustly prejudiced against them. Nor must we estimate corporations invidiously by reason that the Legislature endues them with powers that are denied to natural persons; as, for instance, the power to obtain lands compulsorily for turnpike, plank, and rail roads. The denial of such a power to natural persons is not essential to corporations, but is founded on views of public policy, for whose correctness or incorrectness corporations are not properly responsible.
CORPORATIONS REMEDY SOME DEFECTS THAT ARE INSEPARABLE
FROM NATURAL PERSONS. Unlike natural persons, corporations can be endued by the Legislature with an immunity from death, commensurate with the business the corporation is designed to undertake ; hence it can safely contract for the payment of perpetual annuities, and the execution of protracted trusts. Its body is exempt also from change of residence; and its youth and vigor are perpetuated by a succession of fresh managers, as the old become wearied, infirm, or disaffected; while its funds can neither be legally diverted from its business by caprice, nor withdrawn by personal necessities, nor squandered by the enticements of personal appetites.
SOME CORPORATE PRIVILEGES ARE COMMUNICABLE TO NATURAL
Several years ago our State enabled any person to form a commercial co-partnership, and to limit his liability therein to a sum prescribed by himself. Such a co
partnership assimilated, in its limited liability, to one of the great advantages possessed by corporations. The Legislature of 1849 effected two other important assimilations of natural persons to corporations. It enabled every voluntary joint stock association, when composed of seven or more persons, to sue and be sued in the name of its president or treasurer; and that the suit shall not abate by the removal from office, or death of the officers, or any of the associates. The general banking law, and the general laws for the formation of manufacturing establishments, insurance companies, plank, turnpike, and rail roads, go far, also, to enable any natural person to transact business for himself under a corporate organization. Our law-makers should consider whether natural persons cannot be further intrusted with corporate powers; for such a levelling up of natural persons to the privilege of corporations is a more enlightened liberality than to level down corporations to the disadvantages of a natural person ; a tendency which seems to exist among our law-makers ; as, for instance, the increasing but paralyzing practice of making corporators personally responsible for the debts of the corporations.
SOCIAL PROGRESS IS TRANSFERRED BY CORPORATIONS FROM THE
TIMID TO THE BOLD, AND FROM THE FEW TO THE MANY.
The discovery of America was delayed till Columbus could induce some sovereign to equip an expedition ; and when England desired a canal, only some Duke of Bridgewater could undertake it; but by the aggregating process of corporations, the greatest enterprises are within the capacity of any man who can inspire his fellow-men with confidence in his project; and thus corporations transfer social progress from the rich, who are always comparatively few in number, to the relatively poor, who are numerous.
Nor is this all. Men's timidity and lack of enterprise are naturally great in proportion to the largeness of their property, while men are usually bold and enterprising in proportion to their lack of wealth ; hence corporations, in transferring social progress from the rich to the relatively poor, transfer it from the tiinid to the bold, as well as from the few to the many.
MEN RELY TOO MUCH ON GOVERNMENTS, AND TOO LITTLE ON
Only a few years ago
Professor Morse deemed the construction of an extensive electric telegraph impracticable, except by the General Government. Fortunately the Government repelled him, as it had repelled De Witt Clinton, when he supposed the Erie Canal could not be built without aid from the National Treasury; and to these refusals we owe the numerous telegraphs with which private corporations are pervading our country, and the numerous canals with which the States have enriched their respective sovereignties,-improvements greatly more extensive than the General Government could have accomplished had it been ever so willing. Disadvantageous agencies, like the United States in the above instances, seem naturally obdurate in a degree proportioned to their unfitness; and thus Providence drives mankind to the adoption of advantageous agencies. Without such a Providence every man's aspirations would terminate in calls on some Hercules, instead of eliciting an energetic exercise of his own powers. But we evolve principles practically long before we see them speculatively, or we should not persevere as we do in a reliance on the General Government for what we technically term internal improvements, and which, except for such a reliance, would speedily be accomplished, to every profitable
extent, by our States individually or their people. The reliance of colonies on the mother country is the principal reason why colonies (the Canadas, for instance,) contrast disadvantageously in social progress with the States of our Union, and why our States increased rapidly in power after their separation from Great Britain.
PRIVATE ENTERPRISE IS MORE EFFICIENT THAN GOVERNMENTAL
What is said above of a nation and its colonies, is true of a State and its inhabitants. Such of our States, for instance, as relied, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, on State agency for the construction of railroads, became insolvent, and were unable to complete their undertakings; while the States, like New-York and Massachusetts, which constructed railroads by private corporations, completed more railroads than the former States even contemplated. A recent American writer contrasts Massachusetts with Bel. gium in railway enterprises: Massachusetts, with less than a million of inhabitants, having completed more than a thousand miles of railroad, while Belgium, “the ancient centre of commerce and arts," with four millions of inhabitants, has completed not quite four hundred miles of railroad. The writer endeavors to enhance the contrast in favor of Massachusetts, by stating that its railroads were constructed by the private enterprise of its citizens, while Belgium constructed hers with her public credit and revenue as a sovereign State. This circumstance, however, when well considered, destroys the contrast between Mas. sachusetts and Belgium as sovereign States, and contrasts more truly the efficiency of private enterprise over the efficiency of governmental enterprise. The history of New-York yields another corroboration of the superiority
of private enterprise over governmental efforts ; for, while New-York, some few years since, suspended the enlargement of her Erie Canal, as an effort too large for her State resources, the inhabitants of the City of New York (an integral fraction of the people of the State), prosecuted successfully their Croton Water Works, at an expenditure greater than the amount which arrested the State works on the canal. Such results seem paradoxical; but they proceed from a great practical truth, that the efficiency of the inhabitants of any country is the efficiency of one person multiplied by the whole number of the inhabitants, while the efficiency of the Government is only some trifling per centage of the general efficiency. The whole revenue, for instance, of the United States Government, including money borrowed to pay preëxisting debts, is not more than from a dollar and fifty cents the year for each inhabitant, to two dollars and fifty cents ; a sum not equal, probably, to what the inhabitants expend annually in shoes alone, or some other trifling article of general convenience or luxury. A great delusion exists in a man's mode of estimating the resources of a government. He estimates them by a contrast with his own resources, hence their apparent magnitude; but they will always be found small if contrasted with the resources of all the inhabitants of the nation. So a mountain seems huge when it greatly exceeds in size some neighboring hill, but, when contrasted with the surface of the whole earth, the greatest mountain is too small to be described on any ordinary artificial globe by any sensible prominence. In combating the famine that recently ravaged Ireland, all the governmental resources of Great Britain were found to be impotent-no amount of wealth being adequate to feed the poor of a nation, but the resources of the millions who are to be fed,