Although its charitable origins have been largely forgotten, the corporation owes its status as person to the expectation that it would use those powers to serve the public. This article uncovers that history, discussing the evolution of the doctrine of corporate personhood up to the turn of the twentieth century. Ultimately, it argues for the recentering of that public service imperative as a holistic part of the corporation’s status as person. Corporate personhood, far from being inherently pernicious, can and should be the avenue by which the corporation bears responsibilities in proportion to the rights it has acquired.
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