1783 – New Hampshire State Constitution established
Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution reads:
“The size and functions of all corporations should be so limited and regulated as to prohibit fictitious capitalization and provision should be made for the supervision and government thereof. Therefore, all just power possessed by the state is hereby granted to the general court to enact laws to prevent the operations within the state of all persons and associations, and all trusts and corporations, foreign or domestic, and the officers thereof, who endeavor to raise the price of any article of commerce or to destroy free and fair competition in the trades and industries through combination, conspiracy, monopoly, or any other unfair means; to control and regulate the acts of all such persons, associations, corporations, trusts, and officials doing business within the state; to prevent fictitious capitalization; and to authorize civil and criminal proceedings in respect to all the wrongs herein declared against.”
1869 — U.S. Supreme Court rules that a corporation is not a citizen
Corporate attorneys argued before the High Court that corporations were citizens under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution. The Court ruled in Paul v. Virginia (75 US 168) that corporations were not citizens under the Clause (Article 4, Section 2), which states: “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.”
1950 — Death of George Bernard Shaw, playwright and critic
“Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
1982 — Nebraska voters approve citizen initiative prohibiting purchases by non-family farmers
Initiative 300 amended the state constitution to prohibit further purchase of Nebraska farm and ranch lands by any corporation or syndicate other than a Nebraska family farm corporation, defined as “the majority of the voting stock is held by members of a family … at least one of whom is a person residing on or actively engaged in the day to day labor and management of the farm or ranch.”
The initiative was adopted with 56% of the vote despite major opposition from the state Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Bankers Association, and other big business supporters. At one point, nine western states had adopted referenda prohibiting non-family owned corporations from engaging in farming in any way.
Initiative 300 was ruled unconstitutional in Jones v. Gale, 470 F. 3d 1261, 1268 (8th Cir. 2006) as a violation of the what’s known as the “dormant commerce clause.”
1831 — Birth of Ignatius Donnelly, U.S. Congressman, populist and leader of the Greenbacks movement
“The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled; public opinion silenced; business prostrated; our homes covered with mortgages; labor impoverished; and the land concentrated in the hands of the capitalists…The fruits of toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes — tramps and millionaires.”
Conditions have arguably further deteriorated economically and politically since Donnelly wrote this in the late 1800’s.
1998 —Arcata, CA becomes first U.S. community to pass an anti-corporate personhood bill
By a vote of 3193 to 2056 (60.83% to 39.17%), the citizens of Arcata supported Measure F, “The Arcata Advisory Measure on Democracy and Corporations” which called on the Arcata City Council to co-sponsor two town hall meetings to address the issue, “Can we have democracy when large corporations wield so much power and wealth under law?” and to immediately establish policies and programs which ensure democratic control over corporations conducting business within the city and in a manner that would ensure the health and well-being of the community and its environment. Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County organized the initiative.
1988 – “They Live” film released
“American satirical science fiction action horror film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Roddy Piper, Keith David and Meg Foster. It follows a nameless drifter (called “John Nada” in the credits), who discovers the ruling class is, in fact, aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed, and accept the status quo with subliminal messages in mass media.”
2014 — Mid-Term Election Day
More money poured into these elections than in any previous mid-term, following a long-standing trend. What was different was the number of contributors/investors – fewer people gave but more money was invested. More money was also spent, not by candidates or political parties, but by outside groups funded by super rich donors and corporations whose identity was often not disclosed. There was another anti-democratic electoral reality in 2014: low voter turnout. At 36.4%, turnout was lower than during any election since 1942.
1855 — Birth of Eugene V. Debs
“I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.”
1872 – Susan B. Anthony votes
Anthony ”went to the polls and cast a vote in 1872, justifying her right to vote on the 14th Amendment. The case never went to the Supreme Court, but she was found guilty in a lower court.”
1952 — Birth of Vandava Shiva, Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author
“Living democracy basically works like a tree: it grows from the roots upward, from the people and their organizing capacity…[A] national regulatory system can only be pro-people if it is getting blood from a base of self-organized communities taking care of their water, their food, their farming, their health.”
1217 — Charter of the Forest issued
Seen as complementing the Magna Carte issued two years earlier, the Charter of the Forest was issued during the reign of King Henry III. With the Charter, ‘management of common resources moves from the king’s arbitrary rule to the common good.’ The Charter granted subsistence rights, the right that ‘[e]very free man may henceforth without being prosecuted make in his wood or in land he has in the forest a mill, a preserve, a pond, a marl pit, a ditch, or arable outside the covert in arable land, on condition that it does not harm any neighbor.’ Grazing animals and gathering food and fuel needed for basic survival were permitted.
2012 – 75% of Montana citizens pass Initiative No. 1-66 prohibiting corporate contributions and expenditures in state and national elections
“Ballot initiative I-166 establishes a state policy that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings, and charges Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, to implement that policy…In December 2013, a lower state court struck down I-166 in Rickert v McCulloch, Lewis and Clark County. It invalidated the portion of the initiative that required state legislators to craft an amendment to the state constitution that would overturn Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. However, it upheld the initiative’s provision stating, ‘unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the Montana political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual Montana citizens.’”