106 HARVARD LAW REVIEW.
ous corporations were chartered, having for their objects, trade, fishing, mining, insurance, and other business purposes. To understand how it was that the law of business corporations was so connected with that of other corporations, and how it gradually became distinguished, it is necessary to understand how such corporations grew up, and in what way they were regarded when first they came into existence.
The general idea of a corporation, a fictitious legal person, dis- tinct from the actual persons who compose it, is very old. Black- stone ascribes to Numa Pompilius the honor of originating the idea.^ Angell and Ames are of the opinion that it was known to the Greeks, and that the Romans borrowed it from them.^ Sir Henry Maine, however, shows that primitive society was re- garded by its members as made up of corporate bodies, that the units **were not individuals but groups of men united by the reality or the fiction of blood relationship," and that the family, clan, tribe, were recognized as distinct entities of society before individuals were.^ It is not surprising, therefore, to find in the Roman law the conception of corporate unity early developed. Savigny, in whose treatise * may be found the best connected ac- count of corporations in the Roman law, states that villages, towns, and colonies were the earliest. ** But once established definitely for dependent towns, the institution of the legal person was ex- tended little by little to cases for which one would hardly have thought of introducing it. Thus, it was applied to the old brother- hoods of priests and of artisans ; then, by way of abstraction, to the State, which, under the name oifiscus^ was treated as a person and placed within the jurisdiction of the court. Finally, to sub- jects of a purely ideal nature, such as gods and temples." Savigny then enumerates the different kinds of corporations among the Romans. The present subject is concerned with but one of these, — the business associations. " To this class belong the old cor- porations of artisans who always continued to exist, and of whom some, the blacksmiths, for example, had particular privileges; also new corporations, such as the bakers of Rome, and the boat- men at Rome and in the provinces. Their interests were of the
1 I Blacks. Com. 468.
^ Angell and Ames on Corp. (ist ed.).
■ Ancient Law (4th ed.), 183.
^ System des Heutigen Romischen Rechts, vol. ii. § 86 ei seq.