It Goes Way Back Before Citizens United…
These organizations [joint stock companies] had raised hackles from the very beginning. Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), for example, had complained that “they cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed or excommunicated, for they have no souls.” Two centuries later, the lord chancellor, Edward Thurlow (1731-1806), echoed his words: “Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like.” (p.33)
And, because it’s been tossed around a lot lately (usually in juxtaposition to Mitt Romney saying, “Corporations are people too, my friend.”
I hope we shall take warning from the example [of England] and crush in it’s [sic] birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws our country.
—Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to George Logan, Nov. 12th, 1816
And I’ll repost that quote from the earlier post about this book, just to keep themes together:
This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations.
—U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes
Micklethwait, John & Adrian Wooldridge, The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea.