REAL Democracy History Calendar – April 10 – 16

April 10

1816 – Federal charter granted to create the private Second National Bank of the United States 

As with the earlier First Bank of the United States, the Second National Bank of the United States was private with many of the largest investors being foreigners and those representing great wealth. Congress chartered (licensed) the bank for 20 years.  Corporate charters were democratic tools once used by sovereign people to control and define corporate actions. As a result of bank practices geared to serving the interests of banks/bankers, (including limiting the issuance of money into the economy – which triggered economic stagnation), President Jackson pledged that the bank would not be issued a new charter after its 20-year charter ended. Without a charter – which provides those forming corporations certain legal protections (then and now) – corporations cannot exist.

1900 – State ex rel. Monnett v. Capital City Dairy Co., 62 OS 350 (1900) – example of corporate charter revocation

It was common practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries for state legislatures and courts to revoke the charters or licenses of corporations that violated the terms or conditions of their charters. The legal procedure for this was called “quo warranto” in which the state demanded to know what right the corporation possessed to act beyond the terms of its state-granted charter.

Some states were more active than others in utilizing this democratic tool. Here’s an example of the language from an Ohio State Supreme Court “quo warranto” charter revocation decision:

“Quo warranto may be invoked to stop corporation’s disregard of laws in conduct of authorized business, and to oust corporation if abuse be flagrant….The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator, and it still remains the duty of the courts to perform their office in the enforcement of the laws, no matter how ingenious the pretexts for their violation may be, nor the power of the violators in the commercial world. In the present case the acts of the defendant have been persistent, defiant and flagrant, and no other course is left to the court than to enter a judgment of ouster and to appoint trustees to wind up the business of the concern.”

1930 – Birth of Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta,  American labor leader and civil rights activist who was the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW)

Along with UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez, Huerta led the effort to democratically and nonviolently educate, advocate and organize the farmworker community. The results were  significant improvements in the lives and working conditions of farmworkers and a change in culture in  how Americans thought about the sources of our food.

April 11

2010 – “To Be Human” sermon delivered by Rev Colin Bossen, Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland

“The absence of conscience means that if corporations are to consider anything other than maximizing their profits then it must be outside forces that compel them to do so.

This is a political problem but it is also a spiritual one. It is a political problem because how decisions are made, and who gets to make them, are ultimately questions of politics. Restraining corporate power, and ending corporate personhood, will only come about if people organize to do so. With the Supreme Court on the side corporate personhood it is clear that change will not come from the courts. Instead what is needed is a constitutional amendment delineating that corporations are not afforded protection under the Bill of Rights. Currently the grassroots campaign Move to Amend is pushing just such an amendment. Whether they succeed or not will depend upon how much support they get.

It is a spiritual problem because what differentiates us humans from corporations is spirit. The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. Spirit is often equated with the force that propels life forward. Corporations lack this force. They follow a different trajectory. It is trajectory that leads towards a Gibsonian dystopia where the richest live in abundance; the masses in squalor and the planet is threatened with extinction.

The alternative is a world where spirit reigns and the life force is honored above profit.”

From http://www.uucleveland.org/worship/ToBeHuman.php. More info on Move to Amend’s Interfaith Caucus is at https://movetoamend.org/interfaith-caucus

April 12

1787 – The Free African Society is founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones

It was the second African American mutual-aid society to open in the United States. Mutual-aid societies are considered the precursors to formal democratic cooperatives.

From its Preamble: “a society should be formed, without regard to religious tenets, provided the persons lived an orderly and sober life, in order to support one another in sickness, and for the benefit of their widows and fatherless children.”  https://archive.org/stream/economiccooper00duborich#page/21/mode/1up

1945 – Death of Frankin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the U.S. 

“The real truth is…that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/162689-the-real-truth-of-the-matter-is-as-you-and

“The Bill of Rights was put into the Constitution not only to protect minorities against intolerance of majorities, but to protect majorities against the enthronement of minorities.”

From The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt 366 (1941)

Roosevelt also proposed a “Second Bill of Rights” that focused on economic freedoms. “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” The rights included a job, adequate income to meet basic needs, housing, medical care, and education. It also included rights protecting businesspersons from unfair competition and monopolies, and enabling farmers to raise and sell products and earn enough income to have a decent living. The full list is at  http://www.ushistory.org/documents/economic_bill_of_rights.htm

April 13

1743 – Birth of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States – on banks and judicial review

On banks: “And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

On Judicial Review (the doctrine that all legislative and executive actions are subject to the review for constitutionality by the judicial branch), Jefferson warned that it would make the Constitution nothing but “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

1752 – First successful cooperative organized in the United States in Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin formed the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire.

The company remains in existence, although its web site notes “The company’s most recent change is structural: The Philadelphia Contributionship Mutual Holding Company is the overall umbrella organization which owns the insurance companies and Vector Security Holdings.” http://www.contributionship.com/history/index.html

April 14

1873 – “Slaughterhouse Cases” – Supreme Court favors corporate protections over civil rights

Combining three cases, this single decision was the first Supreme Court interpretation of the 14th Amendment, enacted in 1868. The Court ruled very narrowly – concluding that individuals possessed federal rights of citizenship, but not state rights of citizenship. Justices didn’t desire in essence the Bill of Rights to be applied to the states for fear that the Court would become a “perpetual censor upon all of legislation of the States” related to civil rights.

The contradiction of this decision was stunning. The same court was during this era a “perpetual censor” of state laws through its use of the Commerce Clause to invalidate scores of democratically enacted local and state laws promoting safety, health and local businesses. This narrow interpretation of the 14th Amendment set back efforts for civil rights and labor rights for decades.

1976 – Death of William Henry Hastie, Jr., American, lawyer, judge, educator, public official, and advocate for the civil rights of African Americans

“Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is becoming, rather than being. It can be easily lost, but is never finally won.”

April 15

1865 – Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

“The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.”

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides Congress with the power to “coin” or create money. Under the Lincoln administration, the US Government issued 450 million “Greenbacks” – interest and inflation-free money – after private banks refused to lend the government funds to pay for the war unless the government agreed to pay exorbitantly high interest payments. Greenbacks weren’t government bill, bonds or any other debt-bearing notes. They were actual US money.

“The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity. The financing of all public enterprise, and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. Money will cease to be master and will then become servant of humanity.”

1975 — Death of Halena Wilson, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Ladies Auxilliary

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was the first official independent Black union. Wilson and the union’s President, A. Philip Randolph (ironically, born on this day in 1889), wrote about, promoted, taught and organized democratic economic cooperatives to keep resources recycling in the Black community.

April 16

1859- Death of Alexis de Tocqueville, French author of “Democracy in America”

“Without power and independence, a town may contain good subjects, but it can contain no citizens.”

[Note: Individuals cannot be citizens unless they possess self-governance. Corporate constitutional right perverts self-governance.]

1930 – Birth of Ronnie Dugger, co- founder, Alliance for Democracy

“We are ruled by Big Business and Big Government as its paid hireling, and we know it. The big corporations and the centimillionaires and billionaires have taken daily control of our work, our pay, our housing, our healthcare, our pension funds, our banks and savings deposits, our public lands, our airwaves, our elections and our very governments…The issue is not issues, the issue is the system.”

1995 – Presentation of “Certificate of Dissolution: Weyerhaeuser Corporation”

The public presentation was part of a “guerilla theatre” gathering outside the home of Weyerhaeuser Corporation CEO George Weyerhaeuser as an example of how to reframe an issue from one of corporate harm into that of contesting corporate authority and asserting the right of the people to define the very existence of corporations.

After providing a long list of political and ecological abuses, the “Certificate” reads:

“The people of the U.S. retain the unalterable right to revoke the charter of corporations which violate the common good. Originally, after the American Revolution, charters were rarely granted, and often revoked—with their assets distributed to compensate for damages and the corporate owners held accountable for their criminal acts. Today we are re-invoking this right. In addition, the inalienable rights of the existence of numerous species of life upon this Earth demand this revocation. Therefore be it ordained, by the powers of the laws of Washington State and the higher laws of Nature, that the corporate charter of Weyerhaeuser be revoked and the said company dissolved.” http://www.ratical.org/corporations/Weyerhaeuser.html

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