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

43 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2011 Last revised: 8 Nov 2021

See all articles by Eric Hilt

Eric Hilt

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Wellesley College

Jacqueline Valentine

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: June 2011

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

Hilt, Eric and Valentine, Jacqueline, Democratic Dividends: Stockholding, Wealth and Politics in New York, 1791-1826 (June 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17147, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1866106

Eric Hilt (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Wellesley College ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.erichilt.net

Jacqueline Valentine

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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