The International Herald Tribune has a good article about the history of nationalizing industries in the United States. The U.S. has seized coal mines, railroads, even department stores. It still owns Amtrak. Soon it will own some banks.
Though the US promotes itself as a free market, it is a regulated one, and companies, such as Fannie Mae and AIG, and their shareholders, learned this lesson recently. The article points out that in the U.S., we don’t call it nationalization, we just call it a takeover or a rescue or an investment, while in Europe, it’s called nationalization.