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How Most States Chose “Shareholder” as Delaware Kept “Stockholder”

Cover page from Delaware Laws 1875 for post about terms shareholder and stockholder“Shareholder” and “stockholder” are synonyms. This post explains how most states came to use the former term in their laws, while Delaware consistently has used the latter.

Before Delaware had a general corporation law, Delaware’s legislature created each corporation. The Constitution of Delaware – 1831 so provided in Article II, Section 17, but made no mention of stockholders (or shareholders).

Following a constitutional amendment, Delaware adopted its first general corporation law in 1875. (See Laws of the State of Delaware, Vol. 15 – Part 1, beginning at page 181.) That law includes a few references to “stockholder”, none to “shareholder”. (more…)