REAL Democracy History Calendar – February 20-26

February 20

1895 – Death of Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, social reformer, orator, and writer

“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

February 21

2012 – Board of commission of Orange County CA passes a resolution supporting an amendment to the Constitution declaring that corporations are not people

This action is part of the growing movement to end the bizarre legal doctrine that corporations, creations of the state, possess many of the same Constitutional rights, including those in the Bill of Rights, as human persons.

February 22

1838 – As white men gain voting rights, free black men lose theirs.

“Since Jackson’s presidency, there’s been a push to give all white men the vote, even if they don’t own property.

Right now, free black men have the vote in several states. But as states revamp their constitutions to loosen voter requirements for white men, blacks are being stripped of rights they had. Pennsylvania’s constitution of 1790 gave the vote to ‘every freeman of the age of twenty-one years.’

Today that was changed to say ‘every white freeman.’”

Harper’s Weekly Source: http://constitutioncenter.org/timeline/html/cw04_11998.html

1966 – Passage of Bank Merger Act

Anti-competitive mergers are permitted if they are outweighed by the convenience and needs of the community to be served.

1987 – Death of Andy Warhol , pop artist 

“I am a deeply superficial person.”

If you think that statement is oxymoronic, how about this:  a “corporate person.”

February 23

1868 – Birth of W.E.B. DuBois, African American activist, scholar, writer, and co-founder of the NAACP.

“It cannot be reconciled with any philosophy of democracy that 50,000,000 white folk of the British Empire should be able to make the destiny of 450,000,000 yellow, brown and black people a matter of solely their own internal decision.”

1869 – Minnesota Grange is organized.

The national Grange, founded by former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley, became a powerful political force against corporate monopolies among western farmers.

Minnesota Grangers resolved in 1873: “We, the farmers, mechanics and laborers of Minnesota, deem the triumph of the people in this contest with monopolies essential to the perpetuation of our free institutions and the promotion of our private and national prosperity.”

February 24

1803 – U.S. Supreme Court establishes supreme authority of the U.S. Supreme Court

Marbury v. Madison (5 U.S. 137) established the concept of “judicial review.” The Supreme Court ruled that they were supreme, and Congress did not contest it. This gave them the power to make law.  President Jefferson said: “The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

February 25

1791 – Creation of the First Bank of the United States 

The federal government issued a 20-year charter (very unusual at the time since most corporate charters, or licenses, were issued by states) to create the first national private bank. The bank was given permission to create money as debt. Its paper money was accepted for taxes. Eighty percent of its shares were privately owned, and 75% of those were foreign owned (mostly by the English and Dutch).  Alexander Hamilton championed the first national private bank; Jefferson, Madison and others opposed it.

1986 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that corporations have “negative speech” rights

The Court decreed in Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission (475 U.S. 1) that a consumer advocacy group could not force the company to use extra space in their billing envelope for information. This upheld the corporation’s right not to speak (“negative speech” rights) and protected the corporation’s “freedom of mind.”

Justice William Rehnquist, appointed by Richard Nixon, dissented, declaring that, “[n]or do I believe that negative free speech rights, applicable to individuals and perhaps the print media, should be extended to corporations generally.” In a separate dissent, Justices White, Stevens and Rehnquist stated: “To ascribe to such entities an ‘intellect’ or ‘mind’ for freedom of conscience purposes, is to confuse metaphor with reality.”

February 26

1913 – Conclusion of Pujo Committee Hearings in Congress:  Wall Street holds massive financial power

A committee of Congress, headed by House Banking and Currency Committee Chair, Arsene Pujo, investigated the Wall Street banking “Money Trust” from 1912-1913. The Committee’s report identified a financial network of Wall Street bankers linked by 341 interlocking directorships held in 112 corporations valued at more than $22 billion connected to the Morgan and Rockefeller empires. These bankers exerted identifiable control over the US monetary system and economy.

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