1850 – Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act
The 1793 and 1850 Fugitive Slave Acts reinforced the constitutionally enshrined property rights of slave owners. Public monies were used to pay federal marshals for each captured slave under the Acts. Captured slaves were prohibited any jury trial and from testifying at any hearing held under the Acts.
2014 – Scientific study concludes U.S. is an oligarchy, not a democracy
Researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University concluded in a study published in the fall, “Testing Theories of American Politics,” that the U.S. is a government ruled by the rich more than by We the People. The study analyzed 1,779 policy issues from 1981-2002 – years before the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions were handed down.
From their report:
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened…When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
1907 – Birth of Lewis Powell, advocate for a more activist pro-corporate Supreme Court
Attorney Lewis Powell wrote a memo to the US Chamber of Commerce in 1971 entitled, “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” The memo called for a deliberate campaign by corporations to use an “activist minded Supreme Court” to shape “social, economic and political change” to the advantage of corporations.
Two months later, Powell was nominated to the Supreme Court. His tenure coincided with a new wave of judicial activism with corporations granted several additional never-intended constitutional rights concerning the right to speak and not to speak – which overruled the people’s laws passed by states to protect health and safety and the economy.
1878 – Birth of Upton Sinclair, author and advocate of California economic cooperative program
While running for Governor in 1934, Sinclair proposed the End Poverty in California (EPIC) program. The plan called for the state takeover of foreclosed factories and farmland. The unemployed would be hired by the state to work in the factories and on the farms, with the goal of converting the facilities to worker-run democratic co-ops. The plan would have been paid for by instituting the first ever progressive state income tax, an increase on inheritance taxes and a tax on stock transfers. EPIC never came to fruition due to Sinclair’s defeat in the 1934 election, but is seen as an influence on New Deal programs enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_Poverty_in_California_movement
1981 – The U.S. Senate confirmed Sandra Day O’Connor to be the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court
Her post-retirement comment following the 2010 Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision expanding the rights of individuals and corporate entities to make political campaign contributions: “Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon.”
2009 – “The Rights of Corporations” New York Times editorial
“The question at the heart of one of the biggest Supreme Court cases this year is simple: What constitutional rights should corporations have? To us, as well as many legal scholars, former justices and, indeed, drafters of the Constitution, the answer is that their rights should be quite limited — far less than those of people…
“The legal doctrine underlying this debate is known as “corporate personhood…
“Their influence would be overwhelming with the full array of rights that people have.
“One of the main areas where corporations’ rights have long been limited is politics. Polls suggest that Americans are worried about the influence that corporations already have with elected officials. The drive to give corporations more rights is coming from the court’s conservative bloc — a curious position given their often-proclaimed devotion to the text of the Constitution.
“The founders of this nation knew just what they were doing when they drew a line between legally created economic entities and living, breathing human beings. The court should stick to that line.”
1862 – U.S. President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation
It stated that all slaves held within rebel states would be free as of January 1, 1863
1919 – Beginning of the Great Steel Strike
During World War I, the federal government affirmed the right of workers to organize trade unions without interference by employers and established the National War Labor Board to implement the law and settle labor-management disputes. As a result, there were substantial gains for workers in wages and working conditions. This all changed when the war ended with corporate leaders and the government seeking to return labor-management conditions to “normal.”
Steel workers went on strike beginning this day to protect and expand their economic gains and right to organize. As many as 365,000 steel workers took part during the 14 week-long strike. More than 4 million workers across the country went on strike during 1919 — 20% of the nation’s industrial workforce. It was at the time the largest wave of labor actions in U.S. history.
There was violence on both sides. This was used as a pretext by the government to labor strikers as dangerous radical foreign Bolsheviks — the first “red scare” intended to alienate workers from the public at large. It worked — by early January 1920, the strikers gave up and returned to work.
1838 – Birth of Victoria Woodhull, American journalist, suffragette, and activist
Victoria Claflin Woodhull, later Victoria Woodhull Martin, in 1872 became the first woman to run for President of the United States.
2011 – “Corporate Tribalism Part 1: Legal Corporatism As A Version of Racism’ blog posting
On the corporate perversion of the 14th Amendment…
“The intellectual movement here leads up to corporatism as the same kind of phenomenon as racism, and using what was supposed to be an anti-racist constitutional amendment as its vehicle. Racism includes discrimination based on race. If we look again at the quote above, we see how the court immediately confounds this with taxation of “property”, and proceeds to claim that discrimination based on economic function is the same thing as racial discrimination. (Never mind that taxing different actions differently isn’t “singular” or “strange” at all, and that all law discriminates in that sort of way. This fraudulent court knew that perfectly well, but had a different agenda here.
“Having equated economic entities, declared corporations “persons”, and invented this doctrine of total economic anti-discrimination, the court had implicitly rigged things to enable power, corporate prerogative, and the law itself to discriminate, as a practical matter, against human beings and on behalf of the profit prerogative. And so it has accelerated ever since.”
1837 – Birth of Mark Hanna, businessman, Ohio US Senator and campaign manager to President William McKinley
“There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can’t remember what the second one is.”