REAL Democracy History Calendar: January 28 – February 3

January 28

2010 – “Cold Case Democracy and the Doctrine of ‘Corporate Personhood’” by Vi Ransel article posted on Global Research website
The article begins with this quote by Alex Carey and Andrew Lohrey:
“There have been two principal aspects to the growth of democracy in this century (20th): the extension of the popular franchise (e.g. the right to vote) and the growth of the union movement. These developments have presented corporations with potential threats to their power…”

January 29

1820 – Death of King George III of England
The major cause of the revolution by the American colonists was the widespread and prolonged seizure of their rights by the King and Parliament. The major vehicles for the seizure of rights were the Kings military arm (Redcoats) and his economic/political arm (“Crown” corporations). The later included the East India Company and many colonial corporations, such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, etc. These corporations were given “life” by the King to engage in specific activities for a limited time. They had no inherent “rights” of their own, only temporary privileges granted by the Sovereign King.

1936 – First “sit down” strike in Akron, Ohio
A sit-down strike is a form of civil disobedience in which organized workers take over their work site by “sitting down” where they are. More effective than a “picket strike” by workers outside worksites, sit down strikes prevented owners from using violence (since it would destroy property), replace them with “scab” strikebreakers or sometimes from moving production elsewhere. It was a radical tool used effectively to win immediate wage increases and better working conditions and eventually union recognition in many industries across the U.S. — though the first such strikes were organized by workers without the support of their union leadership.

The most well known Flint sit down strike occurred later in 1936. The best description of the Akron strike was in the book “Industrial Valley” by Ruth McKinney.

January 30

1649 – King Charles I asserts his sovereignty over corporations
In 1629, King Charles I granted a charter to the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1664, the King sent inspectors to see whether this company had been complying with the terms of the charter. The company heads objected, declaring that such an inspection threatened their rights. On behalf of the King, the inspectors responded:
“The King did not grant away his sovereignty over you when he made you a corporation. When His Majesty gave you power to make wholesome laws, and to administer justice by them, he parted not with his right of judging whether justice was administered accordingly or not. When His Majesty gave you authority over such subjects as live within your jurisdiction, he made them not YOUR subjects, nor YOU their supreme authority.”

1882 – Birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, on the Bill of Rights
“”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.”
Source: The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt 366 (1941)

1976 – U.S. Supreme Court declares money is equivalent to speech in Buckley v. Valeo [424 U.S. 1]
U.S. Supreme Court rules 5-4 in landmark decision that political money is equivalent to speech. This major ruling greatly expanded 1st Amendment “”free speech”” protections to include financial contributions to candidates and political parties. The decision opened the door to major increases in political campaign contributions (or investments).

January 31

1865 – 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enacted
Slavery is abolished in the U.S. (except in prisons). This Amendment changed Article 4, Section 2 of the Constitution. People are no longer deemed “property.” Two decades later, however, the court will rule the reverse also to be true — that property organized as a corporation is a legal “person.”

1938 – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in dissent says “person” in the 14th Amendment doesn’t include the corporation
Dissenting in Connecticut General Life Ins. v. Johnson (303 U.S. 77) Justice Black states: “I do not believe the word “person” in the 14th Amendment includes corporations…[n]either the history nor the language of the Fourteenth Amendment justifies the belief that corporations are included within its protection.”

2001 – California legislators oppose North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in an open letter to US Trade Representative
“We are concerned…that as presently administered, the NAFTA and the WTO agreements diminish the sovereignty of states…and…shift decision-making power from elected officials to unelected international trade officials…[W]e, as California legislators, find it problematic to be told by remote and unelected trade officials the paradigms or standards we must apply in writing environmental and public health laws for the people of our state…[S]uch decisions are best made by elected officials in accessible and democratic fora.”

February 1

1872 – Birth of Alexander Meiklejohn, philosopher and educator
The 1st Amendment “does not intend to guarantee men freedom to say what some private interest pays them to say for its own advantage. It intends only to make men free to say what, as citizens, they think, what they believe about the general welfare.”

1902 – Birth of Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)…
Rest of poem, “Let America Be America Again,” at

2016 – Judy Ziewacz becomes first woman to lead the 100 year-old National Cooperative Business Association
The NCBA is the largest U.S. membership organization for cooperatives — businesses that are jointly-owned and democratically-controlled.

As of a few years ago, there were more than 29,000 cooperatives operating in every sector of the US economy, sustaining 2 million jobs each year, contributing $652 billion in annual sales and possessing $3 trillion in assets.

February 2

1819 – Supreme Court declares a corporate charter is a contract in Dartmouth College v. Woodward (17 U.S. 518), protected by the Contracts Clause of the Constitution
[2019 marks the 200th anniversary of this decision]
The New Hampshire legislature wished to convert the private Dartmouth College into a public university by changing its charter, or license, which had been originally issued by the King of England. The legislature believed that education was too important to be left to private interests; thus, the school needed to become publicly accountable. The Supreme Court sided with the College’s trustees, stating a corporate charter is a contract, not to be altered under the Constitution’s Contracts Clause.

The word “corporation” does not appear in the Constitution. The Court’s decision transformed a corporate charter issued by a government as a mere privilege into a contract that a government cannot alter. The ruling gave corporations standing in the Constitution. Governments had greater difficulty controlling corporations. States began to include specific limitations into charters they granted.

February 3

1870 – States ratify the 15th Amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race
Black males gain the right to vote. “The right of citizens…to vote shall not be denied or abridged…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

1924 – Death of Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States – on corporate power
“There was a time when corporations played a very minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations.

“You know what happens when you are the servant of a corporation. You have in most instances no access to the men who are really determining the policy of the corporation. If the corporation is doing the things that it ought not to do, you really have no voice in the matter and must obey the orders, and you have, with deep mortification, to cooperate in the doing of things that you know are against the public interests, and at the same time you are submerged, your individuality is swallowed up in the individuality and purpose of a great organization.”
Source: “A people awakened. the story of Woodrow Wilson’s first campaign which carried New Jersey to the lead of the states in the great movement for the emancipation of the government” by Charles Reade Bacon, p 114.

2016 – “The Conservative Case for Campaign-Finance Reform” by Richard W. Painter published in the New York Times
“Why should conservative voters care? First, big money in politics encourages big government…
“Campaign contributions also breed more regulation…
“Social conservatives and faith-based voters should care about big money in politics because it drowns out their voices on issues from abortion and euthanasia to gambling and pornography…
“Our campaign-finance system is also a national security risk…
“All this is a betrayal of conservative values…
“More important, the system is a betrayal of the vision of participatory democracy embraced by the founders of our country…

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