Making the nonprofit sector in the United States : a reader


Making the nonprofit sector in the United States : a reader

edited with introductions by David C. Hammack

(Philanthropic studies)

Indiana University Press, 1998

  • : pbk

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Includes bibliographical references



Unique among nations, America conducts almost all of its formally organised religious activity, and many cultural, arts, human service, educational, and research activities through private non-profit organisations. Though partially founded by government, as well as by fees and donations, American non-profits have pursued their missions with considerable independence. Many have amassed remarkable resources and acquired some of the most impressive hospital, university, performing arts, and museums facilities in the world. While some have amassed large endowments, many that surpass one billion dollars, there are also hundreds of thousands of small non-profits, most with no tangible resources at all. How did the United States come to rely so heavily non-profits? why has it continued to do so? what purposes do Americans seek to advance through non-profits? how have Americans sought to control them? how have non-profits been affected by the growth of government in the 20th century? These questions suggests the complexity of the history of non-profits in the United States. To help explore that history, this book presents some of the classic documents in the development of the non-profit sector along with important interpretations by recent scholars. The selections can be considered a representative part of a single extended conversation by the men and women who have taken part in the effort to define America and the American dream, even as they shaped what we now call the non-profit sector. The statements by participants in the growth and development of the non-profit sector are accompanied by essays written by historians and social scientists that provide concise surveys of important issues and periods. The essays give voice to those whose contributions to the American debate about voluntary associations and private institutions would otherwise be difficult to find or comprehend. Each selection has been chosen to define or illuminate important questions in the development of the non-profit sector in the united States. Many include criticism of particular non-profit efforts, or of non-profit activity in general. The intention is to provoke thought, not to establish an official list of readings. Though not every point of view could be included, the reader does reflect a general understanding of the nature of the non-profit sector and its significance in the development of the United States.


  • Introduction: the growth of the non-profit sector in the United Sates. Part 1 British and Colonial patterns - Colonial theory - established churches: the statute of charitable uses, 1601
  • the Elizabethan poor law, 1601
  • report to the Viceroy of Mexico on conditions at Santa Fe - 1601, Brother Juan de Escalona
  • a model of Christian charity - 1630, John Windthrop
  • Virginia General Assembly, laws regulating conduct and religion, 1642
  • New England's first fruits - 1643, Hugh Peter, Thomas Weld
  • account of the ceremony proclaiming new France - 1671, Claude Jean Claude Allouz
  • Colonial reality - religious diversity: inhabitants of Flushing, Long Island, remonstrance against the law against Quakers, 1657
  • Virginia's cure - 1662, Roger Green
  • the great case of liberty of conscience - 1670, William Penn
  • Bonifacius - essays to do good - 1710, Cotton Mather
  • argument against Anglican control of King's College (Columbia) - 1753, William Livingstone
  • Journal of the Carolina Backcountry - 1767-68, Charles Woodmason
  • autobiography - recollections of institution-building -1771-84, Benjamin Franklin. Part 2 The American Revolution - sources of the non-profit sector: to the constitution - limited government and disestablishment: Cato's letters - arguments against a strong central government - 1720, John Trenchard, Thomas Gordon
  • argument against taxes for religious purposes in Massachusetts - 1774, Isaac Backus
  • Virginia Act establishing religious freedom - 1786, Thomas Jefferson
  • The Federalist, No. 10 - 1787, James Madison
  • the Constitution of the United Sates, excerpts - 1789, and the first and 10th Amendments - 1791
  • voluntarism under the Constitution - autobiographical statement on the 1818 disestablishment of the "Standing Order" in Connecticut - 1984, Lyman Beecher 1864
  • the Dartmouth College case - argument before the US Supreme Court - 1818, Daniel Webster
  • decision and Joseph story, concurring opinion - 1819, Chief Justice John Marshall
  • political associations in the United Sates -1835, Alexis de Tocqueville
  • of the use which American make of public associations in civil society - 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville. Part 3 Uses of non-profit organisations - varieties of religious non-profits: organised activity among slaves - the suppression of religion among slaves - 1849, and account of slave preachers - 1839, Daniel A. Payne
  • the voluntary principle in American Christianity - 1844, Robert Baird
  • institutions, autonomy, and national networks, 1982, Peter Dobkin Hall
  • social Catholicism - 1975, Jay P. Dolan
  • the Jewish tradition of community - 1970, Arthur A. Goren
  • non-profit organisations as alternative power structures: women together -organisations in ante-bellum Petersburg, Suzanne Lebsock
  • parallel power structures - women and the voluntary sphere - 1990, Kathleen D. McCarthy
  • co-operation among Negro Americans - 1907, W.E.B. DuBois. Part 4 Non-profit structures for the 20th century: science, professionalism, foundations, federations: debate over gover

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