1866 – States ratify 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting former slaves citizenship, “due process” and “equal protection of the laws”
After the Amendment’s adoption by Congress, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax spoke in favor of Section 1: “I will tell you why I love it. It is because it is the Declaration of Independence placed immutably and forever in the Constitution.”
Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 2459 (1866).
2010 – Publication of revised edition, “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ‘People’ – And How You Can Fight Back” by Thom Hartman
A seminal work. “Unequal taxes, unequal accountability for crime, unequal influence, unequal control of the media, unequal access to natural resources—corporations have gained these privileges and more by exploiting their legal status as persons. How did something so illogical and unjust become the law of the land?”
Weekly installments of the book were published at truthout.org, beginning athttp://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/331:unequal-protection-how-corporations-became-people-and-how-you-can-fight-back
2011 – Wales, NY, Adopts Community Rights Ordinance
The Ordinance (No.3-2011) was enacted as a local law under NYS Municipal Home Rule Act, which recognizes broad police powers under the statute. The Ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for Wales’s residents and “recognizes and secures certain civil and political rights of the residents of the Town of Wales to govern themselves and protect themselves from harm to their persons, property and environment.”
1836 – Charter (license) of Second National Bank of the United States repealed
This was the third quasi national bank of the former British colonies — following the Bank of North America (1781-1785, chartered by the Continental Congress) and Bank of the United States (1791-1811, chartered by the US Congress). While called a “national” bank, it was not public but actually a commercial/corporate bank with the power to issue money directly. Early on, it issued a huge amount of money (more than 20 times its reserves) as loans that led to financial speculation and large corporate profits. A year later, it stopped issuing loans, resulting in a severe contraction of the money supply. This led to massive bankruptcies and the Panic of 1819. When President Andrew Jackson threatened to repeal its charter, the Bank’s leaders used their power to restrict money circulation to cause another depression. Despite Bank President Nicolas Biddle’s effort to have its charter renewed, President Jackson opposed renewal, saying, “The immense capital and peculiar privileges bestowed upon it enabled it to exercise despotic sway over the other banks in every part of the country…and it openly claimed for itself the power of regulating the currency throughout the United States.”
The bank charter was, in fact, repealed – resulting in its dissolution.
1917 – Congressional passage of the Espionage Act
The law made it a crime to interfere with military operations or recruitment, prevent military insubordination and to prevent support of U.S. enemies during wartime. The result has been restrictions of free speech over the decades to question government policies. Those who have been charged under the Act include Eugene V. Debs, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.
1723 – Birth of Adam Smith, author of “Wealth of Nations”
In his famous work written in 1776, Wealth of Nations, Smith criticized corporations for their effect in curtailing “natural liberty.” According to David Korton, Smith made specific mention of corporations twelve times in the Wealth of Nations. Not once does he attribute any favorable quality to them.
David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World, Kumarian Press, 1995.http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Korten/RiseCorpPower_WCRW.html
1239 – Birth of King Edward I, first to utilize “quo warranto” written order
Quo warranto is a Medieval Latin meaning “by what warrant?” It’s a written order by a governing power (e.g. Kings in the past, legislatures early in U.S. history, and courts in the present) requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising a claimed right or power. It originated under King Edward I of England to recover previously lost lands, rights and franchises.
This power was transferred to states following the American Revolution. State legislatures utilized “quo warranto” powers to challenge previously chartered or franchised corporations that acted beyond their original privileges granted by the state. The result was frequent revocation of corporate charters and dissolution of corporations — in the name of affirming citizen sovereignty or self-governance.
All 50 states still retain elements of quo warranto. The authority concerning the creation and dissolution of co
2002 – Publications this month of article “The Struggle for Democracy: Activists Take the Offense” by Virginia Rasmussen
“We’re fed up with behaving like subordinates content to influence the decisions of corporate boards and the corporate class. Having influence is valuable, but influencing is not deciding. We’re weary of waging long, hard battles simply for the ‘right to know.’ Knowing is critical, but knowing is not deciding. We’re tired of exercising our right to dissent as the be-all and end-all. Dissent is vital, but dissenting is not deciding. Influencing, knowing, dissenting, participating — all are important to a democratic life, but not one of them carries with it the authority to decide, the power to be in charge.
…”We’re not taking the subordinate role of asking the Enron Corporation to behave a little better. We’re not content with putting a corporate-designed and -controlled regulatory agency on Enron’s trail. Regulatory law protects corporations from pesky people. It enables and protects the corporate agenda as it was intended to do…If we seek democratic outcomes, we must frame activism in the people’s sovereign authority to rule.”
1849 – Birth of David K. Watson, Ohio Republican Attorney General
Watson sought to revoke the charter of the Standard Oil Company in 1892 for forming a trust. In his legal brief to the Ohio Supreme Court, he stated, “Where a corporation, either directly or indirectly, submits to the domination of an agency unknown to the statute, or identifies itself with and unites in carrying out an agreement whose performance is injurious to the public, it thereby offends against the law of its creation and forfeits all right to its franchises, and judgment of ouster should be entered against it . . .” State v. Standard Oil Co., 30 N.E. 279 (Ohio 1892)
1902 – Death of Lord Acton, English historian, politician and writer
“The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.”