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.”
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.”
1885 – Death of Thomas Welles Bartley, Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio (1852-1859)
Bartley wrote the majority opinion for the Ohio Court in the 1853 case of The Bank of Toledo v. The City of Toledo and John R. Bond, and concurred with the majority in three other cases that same year upholding state law providing the state and its counties the power to tax banks. The banks claimed that the tax violated the U.S. Constitution’s “Contracts Clause” since a higher tax rate was not included in the 1845 “Act to Incorporate the State Bank of Ohio, and other banking companies.”
Barkley asserted that a charter or contract between a private corporation and the state that created the franchise was actually a law, not a contract, and, therefore, the Contracts Clause was not applicable. His opinion also stated that the power to tax could not be surrendered by the legislature and that the government’s paramount obligation is to protect the public welfare despite being bound in good faith to protect contracts and private property.
The U.S. Supreme Court later that year reversed the Supreme Court of Ohio’s decisions when it ruled in the case of Piqua Branch of The State Bank of Ohio v. Jacob Knoup, Treasurer of Miami County (1853).
1949 – Justice William O. Douglas dissents in Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Glander [337 U.S. 562] Supreme Court decision – states that corporations are not persons
Regarding the ruling that corporations are given rights as persons under the 14th Amendment, Douglas stated, “I can only conclude that the Santa Clara case was wrong and should be overruled… There was no history, logic or reason given to support that view nor was the result so obvious that exposition was unnecessary…If they [the people] want corporations to be treated as humans are treated, if they want to grant corporations this large degree of emancipation from state regulation, they should say so. The Constitution provides a method by which they may do so. We should not do it for them through the guise of interpretation.”
1892 – Birth of Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian
“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
And presumably “women’s” capacity for justice as well.
1940 – Death of Smedley Butler, Marine Corp Major General – on being a “muscle-man” for Big Business”
Butler was the most decorated marine in US history at the time of his death.
“I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism…I wouldn’t go to war again, as I have done, to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things that we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket…. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912…”
1772 – Somerset v Stewart [98 ER 499] – slavery is outlawed in England and Wales
A slave becomes free by stepping on English soil. Runaway slaves from the colonies attempted to flee to England to gain their freedom. Some believed that the decision increased colonial support for independence, especially from southern colonies that wanted to protect their slave “property” and expand their territory.
1949 – Birth of Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator, Massachusetts
“What we need is a system that puts an end to the boom and bust cycle. A system that recognizes we don’t grow this country from the financial sector; we grow this country from the middle class.” And… “Powerful interests will fight to hang on to every benefit and subsidy they now enjoy. Even after exploiting consumers, larding their books with excessive risk, and making bad bets that brought down the economy and forced taxpayer bailouts, the big Wall Street banks are not chastened. They have fought to delay and hamstring the implementation of financial reform, and they will continue to fight every inch of the way.”
1947 – Congress overrides Presidential veto in passing anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act
The law, formally known as the Labor Management Relations Act, significantly restricted the power and rights of labor unions, severely weakening the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (known as the Wagner Act). Called the “slave labor bill” by union leaders, Taft-Hartley outlawed a variety of strikes (i.e. wildcat, jurisdictional, and political or solidarity), secondary boycotts, mass picketing and closed shops (where employers must only hire union members). However, corporations were granted “free speech” powers in the union certification process, usurping the rights of workers to “freedom of association.”
1999 – Remarks on Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) campaign proposal, “Challenging Corporate Power, Asserting the People’s Rights” at WILPF National Congress, June 23-27, 1999, St. Louis, Missouri by Virginia Rasmussen
Rasmussen described this current national campaign (1 of 3) of WILPF, which reads:
“There have been four pervasive patriarchal institutions in the history of Western Civilization. These are the classical empires, the ecclesiastical institutions, the nation state and the modern corporation. But the WORST of these is the modern corporation….This proposal, ‘Challenging Corporate Power, Asserting the People’s Rights,’ recognizes and responds to the need for a new kind of struggle to wrest power over life, law and culture from these corporate bodies.
The proposal focuses WILPF’s efforts to do this work in three major realms:
• our preparation and that of others in our communities for a campaign against locally-felt corporate takings of OUR power,
• the carrying out of that campaign, and
• the merging of that work in a way that allows us to conduct some sort of national event or action that asserts the people’s rights OVER corporations.“
Their study group packet was used by some two-dozen WILPF branches and by numerous other organizations across the nation: https://movetoamend.org/sites/default/files/2006-CompleteStudyGuide.pdf
2013 – UU national General Assembly in Louisville, KY passes an “Action of Immediate Witness” calling to “Amend the Constitution: Corporations are not Persons and Money is not Speech”
“…BE IT RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly instructs the UUA to make its endorsement formal and public, supporting the efforts to amend the Constitution; and
BE IT RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly further requests member congregations to pass resolutions that support and endorse a constitutional amendment to establish that corporations are not persons and money is not speech; and
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED that the 2013 General Assembly encourages Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministries nationwide and other affiliated Unitarian Universalist organizations to join this important cause.
Working together with other groups and other faith traditions, we can make a significant impact to further the progress of a constitutional amendment to preserve the constitutional rights that our founding fathers intended solely for human persons, restore the effective voice of the people, and save our democracy. “
Full resolution at http://www.uua.org/statements/amend-constitution-corporations-are-not-persons-and-money-not-speech
1908 – Death of Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President of the United States — on corporate power
From his 1888 State of the Union Address: “The gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich and powerful, while in another are found the toiling poor. As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”
1982 – Lewis v. United States [680 F. 2d 1239 9th Circuit] – court rules that the Federal Reserve is private
“Federal Reserve banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of a Federal Tort Claims Act, but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations in light of fact that direct supervision and control of each bank is exercised by board of directors. Federal Reserve banks…are locally controlled by their member banks; banks are listed neither as ‘wholly owned’ government corporations nor as “mixed ownership” corporations; federal reserve banks receive no appropriated funds from Congress and the banks are empowered to sue and be sued in their own names…”