we once controlled companies

Abraham Lincoln:

The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes.

I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.

Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed.

What did the Founding Fathers really think about corporations and their rights?

Rick Ungar:

The reality is that the Founding Fathers didn’t think very much of corporations or, for that matter, any of the organized moneyed interests …

The Constitution speaks to control of government by the people…for the people…and of the people. Why would it even occur to the Founders that a corporation would ever be perceived as one of ‘the people’?

History makes clear that they viewed these entities as forces that preyed on people …

After the nation’s founding, corporations were… limited in how long they were permitted to exist (typically 20 or 30 years), only permitted to deal in one commodity, they could not own shares in other corporations, and their property holdings were expressly limited to what they needed to accomplish their corporate business goals.

In the early days of the nation, most states had rules on the books making any political contribution by a corporation a criminal offense.