Document Type



This Article connects the rise and fall of the early American lottery with changes in the laws governing incorporation and public borrowing. Part II of the Article describes the legal obstacles that hindered private and public actors from carrying out internal improvements in order to illustrate why lotteries were an appealing funding device. Part III uses case study analysis of six eighteenth century lotteries to explore why lotteries were initiated and why they failed to achieve their promise as a funding device. Part IV makes the link between the uses of the lottery as an instrument of government and the fortunes of the lottery in American public life. As I will argue, public finance imperatives did much to cause the historical rise and fall of the lottery, as well as its resurgence in the modern day.

Date of Authorship for this Version

August 2005