1773 – The East India Company (chartered by the England), and its actions in other countries, features prominently in early colonial pamphlets.
“The East India Company obtained their exclusive privilege of Trade to that Country, by Bribery and Corruption. Wonder not then, that Power thus obtained, at the Expense of the national Commerce, should be used to the most tyrannical and cruel Purposes. It is shocking to Humanity to relate the relentless
Barbarity, practiced by the Servants of that Body, on the helpless Asiatics, a Barbarity fierce equaled even by the most brutal Savages, or Cortez, the Mexican Conqueror.” From THE ALARM, Number II (October 9, 1773)
2009 – “Jane Anne Morris: Corporate ‘personhood’ must be challenged” OpEd on Madison.com
“When the ‘Hillary Clinton film’ case is decided, headlines should declare, ‘Supreme Court affirms corporate personhood.’ Instead, most media will call it a free speech decision. ‘First Amendment rights’ will play the Trojan horse hauling corporate freight…
“Must we limit speech in order to have free and fair elections? Or must we accept corporation-dominated political debate in order to preserve free speech?
“This false dilemma disappears if we reject corporate personhood – the idea that corporations have constitutional rights. Limiting corporate “speech” is not a constitutional infringement if corporations are not “persons” under the Constitution…
“Just as the single-payer option has been suppressed in the national health care debate, corporate personhood is all but ignored in discussions of campaign finance reform. Perhaps if ‘corporate personhood’ made it into more headlines, we could shoo it out of the Trojan horse where it has obfuscated free speech and equal rights issues for too long.”
1932 – Birth of Frances Fox Piven, US professor of Sociology and Political Science
“The only way to change American society, and indeed I think this is true of other societies as well, is for people to discover the power latent in the cooperative roles that they play in a range of institutions.”
2015 – “Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House” article in the New York Times
“They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.
“Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.”
1884 – Birth of Eleanor Roosevelt
“A democratic form of government, a democratic way of life, presupposes free public education over a long period; it presupposes also an education for personal responsibility that too often is neglected.”
1864 – Death of US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney
In Dred Scott [60 US 393 (1857] decision:
“[T]he right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.”
1849 – California’s original constitution signed
“Sec. 33. The term corporations as used in this article shall be construed to include all associations and joint–stock companies, having any of the powers or privileges of corporations not possessed by individuals or partnerships. And all corporations shall have the right to sue, and shall be subject to be sued, in all courts, in like cases as natural persons.
“Sec. 34. The Legislature shall have no power to pass any act granting any charter for banking purposes; but associations may be formed, under general laws, for the deposit of gold and silver, but no such association shall make, issue, or put in circulation, any bill, check, ticket, certificate, promissory note, or other paper, or the paper of any bank, to circulate as money.
“Sec.35. The Legislature of this State shall prohibit, by law, any person or persons, association, company, or corporation, from exercising the privileges of banking, or creating paper to circulate as money.
“Sec. 36. Each stockholder of a corporation, or joint–stock association, shall be individually and personally liable for his proportion of all its debts and liabilities.”
1985 – Death of Florence Luscomb, US organizer, pacifist, architect, suffragist
Statement to Commission to Investigate Communism in Massachusetts, 1955:
“It is subversive to set up inquisitions like this, state or national, into the thoughts and consciences of Americans…It is subversive for commissions like this to spread hysteria and intimidation throughout the land that Americans are afraid to sign petitions, afraid to read progressive magazines, afraid to make out checks for liberal causes, afraid to join organizations, afraid to speak their mind on public issues. Americans dare not be free citizens! This is the destruction of democracy.”
1890 – Birth of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
Farewell address to the nation in January 1961:
“Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
1911 – Death of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan
Hale v. Henkel [201 U.S. 43, 78 (1906)] granted corporations 4th Amendment “search and seizure” constitutional rights. Harlan in his dissent stated, “In my opinion, a corporation — “an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law” — cannot claim the immunity given by the Fourth Amendment, for it is not a part of the “people,” within the meaning of that Amendment. Nor is it embraced by the word ‘persons’ in the Amendment.”
1998 – Adoption of National Lawyers Guild Resolution on corporate personhood
Giant corporations increasingly govern our lives and communities and define our work and our culture, eroding democratic values and pillaging the environment…
“Therefore be it resolved that the National Lawyers Guild:
1. Adhere to the principle that only natural persons are vested with constitutional rights. Thus, the Guild is opposed to recognizing the personhood of for-profit corporations under the Fourteenth Amendment, and will give priority to working toward challenging and reversing that judicial doctrine. 2. Develop long-term strategies to strip for-profit corporations of the constitutional rights of natural persons, including but not limited to First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and work toward the implementation of these strategies in collaboration with like-minded persons, groups, and movements…”
In 1999, the National Lawyers Guild launched a new campaign to challenge corporate authority coordinated by its new ‘Committee on Corporations, the Constitution and Human Rights.” http://www.corporations.org/afd-paradigm-shift.html
1883 – US. Supreme Court decision on Civil Rights Cases
“The Civil Rights Cases, 109 US 3 (1883) were a group of five US Supreme Court cases consolidated into one issue. Against the famous dissent of Justice Harlan, a majority held the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional, because Congress lacked authority to regulate private affairs under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 had banned racial discrimination by private individuals and organizations, rather than state and local governments, saying, “all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude”. The 1883 Supreme Court decision is today regarded as wrongly decided, a symbol institutional racism and judicial opposition to democracy, and incompatible with the US Constitution.”
1914 – Passage of the Clayton Antitrust Act
The law outlawed tying together corporate mergers and multiple products, as well as mandated the creation of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to control corporate wrongdoings. An example of legislative incrementalism, the law over timed failed to address mergers and their consequential economic and political power. Countering growing corporate power is difficult, if not impossible, without overturning corporate constitutional rights.