This paper presents the discourse of the “science of accounts” as it developed in 19th century U.S. accounting literature. The paper initially emphasizes the meaning which the term “science of accounts” had during this period. In addition, it presents the contemporary belief that this science helped reveal the essential economic ontology, which bookkeeping makes visible. Second, the paper analyzes how this rational institutional myth became institutionalized within the emerging profession's technical journals and its professional organization, the Institute of Accounts. Through reliance on this scientific foundation, the newly emerging profession could gain greater social legitimacy, leading to the first CPA law in 1896.

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