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Mon Jul 23, 2012, 10:50 PM

 

Thomas Jefferson's Failed 11th Amendment -- a check on corporate power

Most Americans don’t know it but Thomas Jefferson, along with James Madison worked assiduously to have an 11th Amendment included into our nation’s original Bill of Rights. This proposed Amendment would have prohibited “monopolies in commerce.” The amendment would have made it illegal for corporations to own other corporations, or to give money to politicians, or to otherwise try to influence elections. Corporations would be chartered by the states for the primary purpose of “serving the public good.” Corporations would possess the legal status not of natural persons but rather of “artificial persons.” This means that they would have only those legal attributes which the state saw fit to grant to them. They would NOT; and indeed could NOT possess the same bundle of rights which actual flesh and blood persons enjoy. Under this proposed amendment neither the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, nor any provision of that document would protect the artificial entities known of as corporations.

Jefferson and Madison were so insistent upon this amendment because the American Revolution was in substantial degree a revolt against the domination of colonial economic and political life by the greatest multinational corporation of its age: the British East India Company. After all who do you think owned the tea which Sam Adams and friends dumped overboard in Boston Harbor? Who was responsible for the taxes on commodities and restrictions on trade by the American colonists? It was the British East India Company, of course. In the end the amendment was not adopted because a majority in the first Congress believed that already existing state laws governing corporations were adequate for constraining corporate power. Jefferson worried about the growing influence of corporate power until his dying day in 1826. Even the more conservative founder John Adams came to harbor deep misgivings about unchecked corporate power.


http://soundingcircle.com/newslog2.php/__show_article/_a000195-000205.htm

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 10:52 PM

1. I am now 100% convinced that Thomas Jefferson was a time traveler

who's time machine broke down in the late 18th century.

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Response to Drale (Reply #1)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 11:12 PM

3. Here's another 18th Century Time Traveler for you:

"The manufacturing aristocracy of our age first impoverishes and then debases the men who service it, and then abandons them to be supported by the Charity of the public. ...

The friends of democracy should keep their eyes anxiously fixed in this direction; for if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrate into the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter". ~Alexis de Tocqueville (1832)

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Response to Drale (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 11:50 AM

13. Meh...

He was more idealism than anything else.

We're talking about a man who owned slaves and died DEEPLY in debt.

He had some great ideas but behind the scenes he was a deeply torn man whose deeds didn't match his deeds.

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Response to toddwv (Reply #13)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 02:58 PM

15. if this got traction now, that would be right wing talking points.

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 11:00 PM

2. "banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies;"

"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." - Thomas Jefferson

From a letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, May 28, 1816 ( http://tinyurl.com/cw6jyde )
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mtj:@field%28DOCID+@lit%28tj110172%29%29

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 11:14 PM

4. Brains and insights of those 2 showing.

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 11:22 PM

5. K&R'd!

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 11:27 PM

6. Seen this before, no source, no text

Given that corporations as they are currently constituted did not exist in the 18th century, I tend to file this under "bullshit until proved innocent." I am sure that Mr Jefferson and Mr Madison would be appalled at what the SCOTUS has wrought, but I cannot grant them prescience nor time-travel ability.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #6)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 11:53 PM

7. There most definitely was a fear of corporations when our country was founded.

 

The English Empire was full of examples of why.

The modern corporation dates back to the early 17th century when Queen Elizabeth I created the East India Trading Company. During that time, corporations were small, quasi-government institutions chartered by the crown for a specific purpose. Not unlike today, the idea behind these organizations was to bring together investors interested in financing large projects, such as exploration. Indeed, many American colonies were originally governed by corporations, such as the Massachusetts Bay Company. We all know how well that went over.

The English monarchs kept a close eye on these organizations and did not hesitate to revoke charters if they didn’t like the way things were going. However, as the money piled up in these corporations, they began to take on increased political power.

Clearly, the Founders did not think much of these corporate entities and the corruption they produced in parliament. Still, it never occurred to the Founding Fathers to directly address corporations in America when they wrote the Constitution. While we can only speculate, it is not hard to understand why this would be the case. The Constitution speaks to control of government by the people…for the people…and of the people. Why would it even occur to the Founders that a corporation would ever be perceived as one of ‘the people’? History makes clear that they viewed these entities as forces that preyed on people (see The Boston Tea Party.) Indeed, but for a legal determination made in a perverse Supreme Court holding in 1886, who would rationally see a legal entity as a person? Is a trust a ‘person’? Does it eat, breathe, etc.?

http://trueslant.com/rickungar/2010/01/22/what-did-the-founding-fathers-really-think-about-corporations-and-their-rights/


“But charters and corporations have a more extensive evil effect than what relates merely to elections. They are sources of endless contentions in places where they exist, and they lessen the common rights of national society”

– Thomas Paine The Rights of Man

(Think about this for a moment, it was written in 1792, long before the 14th Amendment and Supreme Court decisions in the 19th century, making corporations persons; and long before 20th century S.C. decisions allowing corporations to spend as much money on elections as they wish. Was it prophetic? Or have we just forgotten in time the evils arising from corporations? That includes the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA which is also a corporation, as are the 50 states. )


http://keystoliberty.wordpress.com/tag/founding-fathers-quote-on-corporations/

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #6)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 12:00 AM

8. Did you read the comments?

One commenter says the story is a fair representation of Jefferson's view but false in its claims about a putative amendment. In other words, Jefferson did indeed voice concerns about monopolies and the proper limits of corporate power, but there's no evidence that there was ever a constitutional amendment to consider advanced by Jefferson.

I don't know whether that's true, I'm just pointing out the gist of one skeptical commenter's remarks...

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 12:03 AM

9. When you saw History of the World Part I for the first time...

...and Moses dropped and broke the third tablet...

...and you felt like, had that tablet survived, everything to follow would have been better and made a hell of a lot more sense...

...don't know why I thought of that just now... probably just gas or something...

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 12:48 AM

10. Great! Was just moving this Jefferson quote I'd saved on my computer today:

I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country. ~ Thomas Jefferson, 1816

That is not a new quote. and these men understood clearly what monopolies were, and what corporations are. Some folks seem to think corporations are more recent inventions, when they are not. Lincoln also warned us.

Most of our Founders had what we'd now call a 'liberal education,' and were what some would call well-rounded or masters of many subjects. They knew thousands of years of human history. We have been greatly dumbed down.

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Response to freshwest (Reply #10)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 01:55 AM

11. Eisenhower warned us too, very explicitly, unfortunately very few read anymore.

 

Whatever, I'm hoping Democrats get the power in November.

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 11:38 AM

12. I don't think this is true.

I've read through more than one history of the period and the ratification process and I can't remember any proposed amendment like this.

Jefferson clearly wanted protections from monopolies built into the BOR, but that's a very different thing from what is presented in the OP.

This is an oft-repeated claim from about a decade ago that I have never seen supported with facts.

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Response to banned from Kos (Original post)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 02:55 PM

14. let's call efforts to overturn citizens united the JEFFERSON AMENDMENT

and just run it with his exact words.

The right would still attack it, but it would be fun to see the pretzel they get in to attack a founding father without seeming unpatriotic.

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Response to yurbud (Reply #14)

Tue Jul 24, 2012, 03:48 PM

16. How can you "run it with his exact words"...

...when no such words exist?

There was no proposed amendment.

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