Time for Another Tax Revolution: Abolish the Federal Income Tax and the IRS With It!

IRS

by Diane Rufino, July 3, 2013

The 16th Amendment states: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

The Sixteenth Amendment, which gave the American people the affliction of confiscatory income taxes, is 100 years old this year. It was ratified on February 3, 1913.

One hundred years of affliction is a long time. The time has come for tax reform….   No, the time has come for a tax revolution.

The IRS, which is in charge of collecting the income tax revenue, is 138 years old.  It was created by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862. It has gone from being an agency that terrorizes citizens over their tax returns to an agency that terrorizes citizens based on their speech and political viewpoint. Wouldn’t it be nice if the American people, being in charge of their government, could walk into the massive IRS building in DC and deliver the line that has made Donald Trump famous: “You’re Fired!”

The Sixteenth Amendment was proposed in 1909 and adopted in 1913. The proposal of a constitutional amendment to give Congress the power to impose an income tax began as a scheme of political maneuvering that went horribly awry.  In fact, the proponents, House and Senate Republicans who were in a battle for a new tariff bill, proposed the amendment as a political trick and expected the proposal to be killed by the States during the ratification phase, thereby making a popular and political statement that the American people in general do not want an income tax. But the plan backfired.  A brief overview of the history of the income tax, including the Sixteenth Amendment in the United States is provided below.

The Founding Fathers had rejected income taxes, as well as any other direct taxes, unless they were apportioned to each state according to population. At the time of our founding, wealth was measured in terms of property rather than income. Property was the goal of freedom. One exercised his inalienable rights to “pursue” happiness and obtain property.  Our founders didn’t talk much in terms of “income.” They rejected the income tax entirely, but when they spoke of taxes they recognized the need for uniformity and equal protection to all citizens. “All duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”  “Direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States.”  “No direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to a census.”  This is what the US Constitution  reads. Then, the 14th Amendment promised “equal protection of the laws” to all citizens.  The principle behind the progressive income tax – the more you earn, the larger the percentage of tax you must pay – would have been appalling to the founders. They recognized that, in James Madison’s words, “the spirit of party and faction” would prevail if Congress could tax one group of citizens and confer the benefits on another group.

In Federalist No. 10, Madison asked, “What are the different classes of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine?” He talked about political factions, the reasons for them, the “mischiefs” presented by them, and apportionment of taxes. He wrote, most prophetically:

A faction is a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

      There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

      There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

       It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

       The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

       The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation….

       The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.

So, our founders took the view that taxation of wealth by the government should be equal and apportioned.

Before the Civil War, the government received most of it revenue through tariffs (that is, taxing goods as they came into the ports). The South, being an agricultural community, relied heavily on imports and therefore generated most of the tariff revenue for the government (at least 70%).  But then came the war, which meant ports were blockaded, ships were sunk, and in general, there was little money to spend on things that were not considered essential, and hence, there was almost no revenue from tariffs.  Besides, the southern states had seceded and formed a new county and so their tariff revenue did not go to the federal government. So during the Civil War, Congress decided to try an income tax. It devised a really clever plan to get people to pay. It made the tax returns public. Essentially what would happen was this: If your neighbor saw you driving around on a brand new plow, he’d inquire through the public record how much he reported on his income tax. In order to avoid scrutiny and accusations, the rich would pay their required taxes. And in fact, the income tax fell almost exclusively on the rich.

The financial requirements of the Civil War prompted the first American income tax in 1861. On August 5, Lincoln imposed the first federal income tax by signing the Revenue Act of 1861. Strapped for cash with which to pursue the Civil War, Lincoln and Congress came up with a tax scheme to impose a 3% tax on annual incomes exceeding $800. The Revenue Act’s language was broadly written to define income as gain “derived from any kind of property, or from any professional trade, employment, or vocation carried on in the United States or elsewhere or from any source whatever.” (Interestingly, according to the US Treasury Department, the comparable minimum taxable income in 2003, after adjustments for inflation, would have been approximately $16,000).  By 1862, however, the United States government realized that the war would not end quickly, and that revenue gained by this income tax would not be sufficient.  So the tax was repealed and replaced by another income tax, one of a progressive nature, in the Revenue Act of 1862.

Thus, it was the Revenue Act of 1862 that introduced the first progressive income tax in America.

The First Progressive Income Tax –

The Revenue Act of 1862 proved to be more effective at raising money to fund the War. It contained three main provisions: (i) it established the office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a department in charge of the collection of taxes; (ii) it levied excise taxes on many (a majority of)  every day goods and services; and (iii) it introduced the first progressive tax.  Indeed, this new tax reflected the taxpayers’ “ability to pay” by separating citizens into multiple categories and taxing accordingly:

  • For individuals whose annual incomes were less than $600, no tax was collected.
  • For individuals whose annual incomes were greater than $600 and less than $10,000, a percentage of 3% of total income was demanded in tax.
  • For individuals whose annual incomes were greater than $10,000, a percentage of 5% of total income was demanded in tax.
  • The act also stated that in order to assure timely collection, income tax was “withheld at the source.”

After the war when the need for federal revenues decreased, Congress, in the Revenue Act of 1870, let the tax law expire in 1873. However, one of the challenges to the validity of this tax finally reached the Supreme Court in 1880. The challenge was brought by a taxpayer. In Springer v. United States, the taxpayer contended that the income tax on his professional earnings and personal property income violated the “direct tax” requirement of the Constitution; that is, that is needed to be apportioned among the states. The Supreme Court concluded that the income tax was not a “direct tax” but rather an “excise tax,” and hence did not need to be apportioned. The tax was upheld. [Excise taxes are taxes on the on the sale, or production for sale, of specific goods within a country. Excises are distinguished from customs duties, which are taxes on importation. Typical examples of excise duties are taxes on gasoline and other fuels, and taxes on tobacco and alcohol (sometimes referred to as sin tax].

Although the Revenue Act of 1862 was allowed to expire, government had already gotten a taste of the revenue that could be generated by taxing the income of American citizens, It wouldn’t be long before it looked once again to American purses. During the years of Reconstruction and rebuilding the nation, the growing industrial and financial markets of the eastern US generally prospered. But the farmers of the south and west suffered from low prices for their farm products, while they were forced to pay high prices for manufactured goods. Throughout the 1870′s and 1880′s, farmers formed various political organizations such as the People’s (Populist) Party and the National Farmers’ Alliance) and advocated for a graduated income tax to relieve them of their tax burden. And so, in 1894, a Democratic-led Congress passed the Wilson-Gorman tariff (a high tariff bill) which imposed the first peacetime income tax. The rate was 2% on income over $4000, which meant fewer than 10% of households would pay any income tax. The purpose of the tax was to make up for revenue that would be lost by tariff reductions. This was a controversial provision at the time and it was almost immediately struck down by the Supreme Court in 1895, in a case calledPollock v. Farmers Loan & Trust Company.  Once again, a taxpayer challenged the legality of the income tax. In Pollock, a taxpayer sued the corporation in which he owned stock, contending that they should never have paid the income tax because it was unconstitutional. In this case, the tax was paid on income from land, and Mr. Pollock argued that since a tax on real estate is a direct tax, then a tax on the income from such property must be a direct tax as well. Since the Constitution prohibited a “direct tax” unless certain conditions are met, Pollock argued that the income tax should be declared unconstitutional. (The “direct tax” argument had also been used by Mr. Springer in 1880, but because the income tax had been expired for eight years at that point, it is believed that the Court just wasn’t interested in looking closely at the wording in the Constitution and making distinctions between the different types of taxes).

The Court in Pollock held that the income tax was a direct tax and as such, it had to be apportioned among the states according to their populations, as the Constitution sets forth in Article I, Section 2, clause 3 and in Article I, Section 9, clause 4. Since the tax at issue was not apportioned, it was struck down as unconstitutional.

The provisions at issue in the Pollock (and Springer) cases are as follows:  Article I, Section 2, clause 3: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”  Article I, Section 8, clause 1 provides that “all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”  Article I, Section 9, clause 4 provides that “no capitation, or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to a census or enumeration herein before to be taken.”  Section 2 of the Constitution deals with the House of Representatives specifically. Section 8 gives to Congress certain enumerated powers. And Section 9 lists what is prohibited to Congress.

How does apportionment work, as per Article I, Section 2, clause 3?  How would an “apportioned” income tax work?  If an income tax is subject to apportionment, a state with one-tenth the national population, for example, has to bear one-tenth the aggregate tax liability, regardless of the state’s financial condition. Suppose the populations of Iowa and Maine were equal, but Iowa’s per capita income were twice Maine’s. The rates for an apportioned income tax would have to be twice as high in Maine, the poorer state, as in Iowa.

How is direct tax supposed to based on a census, as per Article I, Section 9, clause 4?  If the government desired to raise $10 million and New York had 20% of the total U.S. population at that time, then New York would be required to raise $2 million. If New York had 1 million residents, each resident would owe $2 in taxes. Obviously, a tax based on income could not achieve such proportionality, since incomes differed across individuals.

By the turn of the century, the progressive movement was entrenched in politics. It was the era of social unrest. The movement began after the Reconstruction era (the 1890′s) in order to modernize society to the new industrial age. The movement was based on the assumption that the old principles of our founding were no longer adequate and so it sought to reform society and the role of government by addressing certain economic, political, and cultural issues. The common view of the Progressive movement, aside from the dismantling of traditional institutions and founding principles, was that government would need to grow and be actively involved in these reforms at every level. Furthermore, it held that the existing constitutional system was too constrained and outdated and must be transformed into a dynamic, evolving instrument to effect social change. Another theme was that the focus of government on the rights of the individual would have to be surrendered to seek the best for society as a whole. In certain aspects, such as basic rights and protections for factory workers, the movement helped government serve society well. But in many other aspects, such as the movement’s inherent hostility and resentment of the wealthy and its need to increase taxation to seek social justice, government veered sharply from its constitutional course.

At the same time, as public sentiment was changing, so did the complexion of the Supreme Court. The idea of using a tax to “soak the rich” began to take root among liberals in both major parties. Several times the Democrats introduced bills to provide a tax on higher incomes but each time the conservative branch of the Republican party killed it in the Senate. The Democrats used this as evidence that the Republicans were the “party of the rich” and should be thrown out of power.

In a speech on April 14, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt endorsed a progressive estate tax:

“It is important to this people to grapple with the problems connected with the amassing of enormous fortunes, and the use of those fortunes, both corporate and individual, in business. We should discriminate in the sharpest way between fortunes well-won and fortunes ill-won; between those gained as an incident to performing great services to the community as a whole, and those gained in evil fashion by keeping just within the limits of mere law-honesty.

      Of course no amount of charity in spending such fortunes in any way compensates for misconduct in making them. As a matter of personal conviction, and without pretending to discuss the details or formulate the system, I feel that we shall ultimately have to consider the adoption of some such scheme as that of a progressive tax on all fortunes, beyond a certain amount either given in life or devised or bequeathed upon death to any individual — a tax so framed as to put it out of the power of the owner of one of these enormous fortunes to hand on more than a certain amount to any one individual; the tax, of course, to be imposed by the National and not the State Government.  Such taxation should, of course, be aimed merely at the inheritance or transmission in their entirety of those fortunes swollen beyond all healthy limits.” 

In 1907, he stepped up his campaign for several progressive additions to the nation’s tax system. In his message to Congress on December 7, he urged lawmakers to consider an income tax:

      “When our tax laws are revised the question of an income tax and an inheritance tax should receive the careful attention of our legislators. In my judgment both of these taxes should be part of our system of Federal taxation. I speak diffidently about the income tax because one scheme for an income tax was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court; while in addition it is a difficult tax to administer in its practical working, and great care would have to be exercised to see that it was not evaded by the very men whom it was most desirable to have taxed, for if so evaded it would, of course, be worse than no tax at all; as the least desirable of all taxes is the tax which bears heavily upon the honest as compared with the dishonest man. Nevertheless, a graduated income tax of the proper type would be a desirable feature of Federal taxation, and it is to be hoped that one may be devised which the Supreme Court will declare constitutional.”

The inheritance tax was even more desirable, Roosevelt continued. Not only did it serve the cause of social justice, but it had been upheld by the federal courts:

“The inheritance tax, however, is both a far better method of taxation, and far more important for the purpose of having the fortunes of the country bear in proportion to their increase in size a corresponding increase and burden of taxation. The Government has the absolute right to decide as to the terms upon which a man shall receive a bequest or devise from another, and this point in the devolution of property is especially appropriate for the imposition of a tax. Laws imposing such taxes have repeatedly been placed upon the National statute books and as repeatedly declared constitutional by the courts; and these laws contained the progressive principle, that is, after a certain amount is reached the bequest or gift, in life or death, is increasingly burdened and the rate of taxation is increased in proportion to the remoteness of blood of the man receiving the bequest.”

Roosevelt rejected arguments that an estate tax would penalize thrift.

“A heavy progressive tax upon a very large fortune is in no way such a tax upon thrift or industry as a like would be on a small fortune. No advantage comes either to the country as a whole or to the individuals inheriting the money by permitting the transmission in their entirety of the enormous fortunes which would be affected by such a tax; and as an incident to its function of revenue raising, such a tax would help to preserve a measurable equality of opportunity for the people of the generations growing to manhood. We have not the slightest sympathy with that socialistic idea which would try to put laziness, thriftlessness and inefficiency on a par with industry, thrift and efficiency; which would strive to break up not merely private property, but what is far more important, the home, the chief prop upon which our whole civilization stands. Such a theory, if ever adopted, would mean the ruin of the entire country–a ruin which would bear heaviest upon the weakest, upon those least able to shift for themselves. But proposals for legislation such as this herein advocated are directly opposed to this class of socialistic theories. Our aim is to recognize what Lincoln pointed out: The fact that there are some respects in which men are obviously not equal; but also to insist that there should be an equality of self-respect and of mutual respect, an equality of rights before the law, and at least an approximate equality in the conditions under which each man obtains the chance to show the stuff that is in him when compared to his fellows.”

The Bailey Bill –

In 1909, progressives in Congress were talking once again about enacting an income tax. They were going to  attempt, once again, to attach a provision for an income tax to a tariff bill. President William Howard Taft had called Congress into a special session in 1909, shortly after his inauguration, to discuss the issue. He wanted Congress to address tariff reform. House of Representatives immediately passed a tariff bill sponsored by Sereno E. Payne (R-NY), the House Majority Leader, which called for reduced tariffs, but including an inheritance tax to make up for lost revenue. However, the Senate quickly substituted a bill, written by Senator Nelson W. Aldrich (R-RI), Senate Majority Leader and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which called for fewer reductions and more increases in tariffs. Aldrich was a long-time advocate of protective tariffs. His answer was to increase the amount of duty items. The problem, however, was that there was an impending budget deficit that had to be addressed. A protracted debate ensued, and progressive Republicans maneuvered to add an income tax amendment to the Aldrich bill. In April, Senators Joseph W. Bailey, a populist Democrat from Texas, and Albert B. Cummins, a progressive Republican from Iowa, introduced separate versions of an income tax provision.  A compromise version was reached between the two – which became known as the Bailey-Cummins amendment – for inclusion in the Senate bill. In response to this amendment, Senator Aldrich defiantly declared: “There will be no income tax, no inheritance tax, no stamp tax, and no corporation tax!”  It soon became evident, however, that the opposition, comprised of Democrats and progressive Republicans from the Midwest, had enough votes to force the issue in the Senate and thereby enact an income tax.  Seeking to avoid that humiliation, Aldrich met with President Taft.

In a message to a joint session of Congress on June 16, Taft first reiterated his support for tariff reform but warned of an impending budget deficit.  On June 16, in a joint message to Congress, Taft  In order to fend off Congress’ proposed initiative for an income tax but yet provide for a mechanism to raise the revenue necessary (while making tariff reduction possible!), Taft  recommended that Congress enact a tax of 2% on the income of a corporation “for the privilege of carrying on or doing business as a corporation in the United States.” (Taft predicted – accurately, as it would later turn out – that the Supreme Court would view the corporate tax as an “excise” tax and not a “direct tax”). In his message, President Taft also endorsed the idea for a constitutional amendment that would grant Congress authority to impose a progressive income tax.

The debate in Congress was whether to include the income tax provision (Bailey-Cummins amendment) or the corporate tax provision in the tariff bill. This was June. Progressive Republicans (also known as “insurgent” Republicans) were joining the Democratic block in support of the income tax.  Their position on income tax was summed up by comments made by Rep. William Sulzer (D-NY) on the House floor:

“I am now, always have been, and always will be in favor of an income tax, because, in my opinion, an income tax is the fairest, the most just, the most honest, the most democratic, and the most equitable tax ever devised by the genius of statesmanship. . . . At the present time nearly all the taxes raised for the support of the Government are levied on consumption—on what the people need to eat and to wear and to live: on the necessities of life; and the consequence is that the poor man, indirectly, but surely in the end, pays practically as much to support the Government as the rich man—regardless of the difference of incomes. This system of tariff tax on consumption, by which the consumers are saddled with all the burdens of Government, is an unjust system of taxation, and the only way to remedy the injustice and destroy the inequality is by a graduated income tax that will make idle wealth as well as honest toil pay its share of the taxes needed to administer the National Government.”

The showdown by Democrats and Progressives regarding the Bailey amendment was perhaps intentionally orchestrated. The theory was that after the regular Republicans rejected the bill, the Democrats could then point a finger at them and claim, for political purposes, that Republicans rejected the Bailey bill to protect their corrupt wealthy corporate friends. They would use the rejection as proof of such an alignment between Republicans and the wealthy.

The conservative Republicans knew what the Democrats were up to and they launched a counter move. Facing an embarrassing loss on the income tax issue, regular Republicans in the Senate decided to make a political maneuver, capitalizing on the endorsement of a constitutional amendment made by President Taft. They proposed a constitutional amendment that would impose an income tax on the rich. The theory behind their plan was that  when the States refused to ratify the amendment, the Republicans could use that failure as proof that the people, through their State legislatures, were against the idea of a new income tax.  They could then use that argument to defeat the Bailey Bill, for how could Congress approve an income tax against the rich after the people, through their state legislatures, had spoken on the issue. Conservative Republicans were sure they did their homework. They were most certain that it could and would be defeated when it went to the states for ratification. They calculated that there were more than enough conservative states to defeat the 3/4 majority that were required under Article V to approve an amendment.

Senator Norris Brown (R-NE) was the first to propose an income-tax amendment to the Constitution, on June 17, 1909, but it was rejected. On June 28, Senator Aldrich submitted a proposal (Senate Joint Resolution 40). It authorized Congress to “lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states and without regard to any census or enumeration.” It passed the Senate by a vote of 77 to 0, with 15 members abstaining. On July 12, the proposal passed in the house, by a vote of 318 to 14. The resolution proposing the 16th Amendment therefore passed the 61st Congress and was submitted to the state legislatures.

Once the amendment was submitted, it was clear that it had more support than was anticipated. Rep. Sereno Payne, a conservative Republican, was so concerned and was so convinced that their plan would backfire that he took to the House floor, denounced the resolution that he himself introduced in the House, and made a last-ditch effort to appeal to Congress:

As to the general policy of an income tax, I am utterly opposed to it. I believe with William Gladstone that it tends to make a nation of liars. I believe it is the most easily concealed of any tax that can be laid, the most difficult of enforcement, and the hardest to collect; that it is, in a word, a tax upon the income of honest men and an exemption, to a greater or lesser extent, of the income of rascals; and so I am opposed to any income tax in time of peace…I hope that if the Constitution is amended in this way the time will not come when the American people will ever want to enact an income tax except in time of war.”

Not all states were initially in favor of an amendment. The gamble that the conservative Republicans were taking at first seemed to pay off.  Many states realized that the imposition of a federal income tax would mean the rise of a federal revenue bureaucracy that extended from Washington, D.C., throughout the country and into the personal and business transactions of every American and every business. Private transactions would no longer be private; government would be able to monitor what everyone was doing.

Richard E. Byrd, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, voiced his concerns on March 3, 1910, during the debate on whether to ratify the 16th Amendment:

“It means that the state must give up a legitimate and long established source of revenue and yield it to the Federal government. It means that the state actually invited the Federal government to invade its territory, to oust its jurisdiction and to establish Federal dominion within the innermost citadel of reserved rights of the Commonwealth. This amendment will do what even the 14th and 15th Amendments did not do — it will extend the Federal power so as to reach the citizens in the ordinary business of life. A hand from Washington will be stretched out and placed upon every man’s business; the eye of a Federal inspector will be in every man’s counting house.

      The law will of necessity have inquisitorial features, it will provide penalties. It will create a complicated machinery. Under it, businessmen will be hauled into courts distant from their homes. Heavy fines, imposed by distant and unfamiliar tribunals, will constantly menace the taxpayer. An army of Federal inspectors, spies and detectives will descend upon the state. They will compel men of business to show their books and disclose the secrets of their affairs. They will dictate forms of bookkeeping. They will require statements and affidavits. On the one hand the inspector can blackmail the taxpayer and on the other, he can profit by selling his secret to his competitor.

      When the Federal government gets a strangle hold on the individual businessman, state lines will exist nowhere but on the maps. Its agents will everywhere supervise the commercial life of the states…. I am not willing by any voluntary act to give up revenue which the State of Virginia herself needs, nor to surrender that measure of state’s rights which was, and the construction of the Federal courts have permitted to remain.”

Much to everyone’s surprise, the amendment was ratified by one state legislature after another, and on February 25, 1913, with the certification by Secretary of State Philander C. Knox (Woodrow Wilson had just taken office), the Sixteenth amendment took effect.  “Soaking the Rich” was clearly a popular policy. “Shifting the growing burden of federal finance to the wealthy” make a lot of sense to those who, at the time, were sure they weren’t in the income bracket that would be targeted.  The end run of the Republican leadership did indeed backfire.

As James Madison had feared, the seeds of class warfare were sown in the strategy of different rates for different incomes.

Not only were conservative Republicans burned by their attempt to end Congress’ scheming for a progressive income tax by in fact ensuring that such a tax would become the law of the land, but the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909 was also passed and signed by President Taft on August 5, 1909. (The corporate tax was reduced to 1% by the time the bill was signed)

[As a side note, the bill hurt Taft greatly, and in fact, would have disastrous consequences for the Republican Party in general. Lowering the tariff caused a big split in the party by pitting producers (manufacturers and farmers) against merchants and consumers. Failure to address tax reform was another sore spot. The debate split the Republican Party into Progressives and Old Guards and led the split party to lose the 1910 congressional election. Two years later, with the 1912 presidential election, the tariff issue continued to split votes amongst Republicans in most states, resulting in Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson being elected. That was the election where Teddy Roosevelt returned to politics to “save the Republican party from Taft” by running for president under the new political party he created, the Progressive Party – commonly called the “Bull Moose.” He had entered the race too late and Taft has already secured the GOP nomination].

It turns out that Sixteenth Amendment was Congress’ way to get around the Pollock decision (much the way the 14th Amendment got around the Dred Scott decision) and enact an income tax, progressive in nature, without having to worry about whether the tax is classified as “direct” or not and whether it needs to be apportioned among the states on the basis of population.

It should be noted that there is credible evidence to suggest that the 16th Amendment was not properly and legally ratified pursuant to the requirements set out in Article V of the US Constitution (the “Amendment Process”).   See the Appendix for a summary of this evidence, as researched by Bill Benson.

How the Income Tax Grew –

On April 21, 1913, the House Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Rep. Oscar W. Underwood (D-AL), took up consideration of a revenue bill, which included tariff reductions as well as an income tax. The Underwood bill (H.R. 3321) was heartily approved by the Democratic-controlled House but reached opposition in the Senate. While the bill was clearly a Democratic bill, it was the Democrats and regular Republicans that wanted the most modest progressive tax rates. It was the progressives, on the other hand, that wanted higher rates.  For the conservative (regular) Republicans and the vast majority of Democrats, wealth redistribution of any significance was not among the sanctioned uses. When Robert La Follette, the progressive Republican from Wisconsin proposed a maximum individual income tax of 10% and an inheritance tax reaching 75%,  John Sharp Williams (D-MS) protested that “the object of taxation is not to leave men with equal incomes after you have taxed them.”  Explaining that the Democrats had no such radical intentions for the power to impose an income tax, Williams declared:

No honest man can wage war upon great fortunes, per se. The Democratic party never has done it, and when the Democratic party begins to do it, it will cease to be the Democratic party and become the Socialistic party of the United States; or better expressed, the Communistic Party of the United States.”

Neither traditional Democrats nor regular Republicans were willing to use income taxation to redistribute wealth.  Such a radical policy was repudiated by all but a handful of Progressives and Populists on the fringe. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA) warned that “it will be an evil day for us when we enter on confiscation of property under the guise of taxation.”  The income tax of 1913 was intended to raise revenue to finance tariff reduction and not to level incomes or to destroy the wealthy as a class. According to those representatives who looked at the income tax objectively, they believed it was only fair that the wealthy pay the bulk of the income tax because they benefited most from the high tariffs. In other words, they felt it was only “equitable” that they should contribute their “fair share” of the cost of government via the federal income tax.

On October 3, the Underwood bill was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. It enacted the first income tax – a minor income tax – under the authority of the new constitutional amendment. After decades of political controversy and conflict, the federal government once again had an income tax. To be sure, this was a minor levy. Most federal revenue still came from the tariff and federal excise taxes (especially those on alcohol and tobacco products).  Corporations were subject to a flat tax of 1%, with no exemption allowed and for individuals, a tax of 1% was imposed on income above $3,000 for single taxpayers (and above $4,000 for married couples). Those were very generous exemptions, as fewer than 4% of families had an annual income

of $3,000 in 1913. As a result, less than 1% of the population (or 2% of households) was subject to income taxation the first year of the new tax regime. With regard to the progressive aspect of the tax, there was a surtax of 1% imposed on income above $20,000 and 6% on incomes above $500,000.  Thus, the maximum marginal rate reached 7% on income above $500,000. In 1913, there were very few taxpayers in that upper bracket.  The tax provided for only a handful of exemptions, exclusions, and deductions, and the same tax rate applied to both earned and unearned income.

All that would change over the next 100 years. Even more dramatically, it would require only a few years for the federal income tax to become the chief source of income for the government, far outdistancing tariff revenues.  The age of big government had officially begun.

The Underwood Act defined taxable income as:

“….. subject only to such exemptions and deductions as are hereinafter allowed, the net income of a taxable person shall include gains, profits, and income derived from salaries, wages, or compensation for personal service of whatever kind and in whatever form paid, or from professions, vocations, businesses, trade, commerce, or sales, or dealings in property, whether real or personal, growing out of the ownership or use of or interest in real or personal property, also from interest, rent, dividends, securities, or the transaction of any lawful business carried on for gain or profit, or gains or profits and income derived from any source whatever…”

And the Act then provided, in part:

  • An income tax of 1% on individual income over $3,000 (or $4,000 for married couples), up to incomes of $20,000.
  • A progressive surtax ranging from 1% to 6%, depending on income.
  • Returns for the new tax were to be kept secret
  • Exemptions for charitable organizations (using language from the 1894 and 1909 tariff bills with regard to charitable purpose – Under these statutes, tax exemption was granted to “any corporation or association organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, or educational purposes…” In other words, these organizations were to be considered “non-profits”; Under the 1913 bill, tax-exempt organizations could earn tax-free income from both mission-related activities and commercial business activities that were unrelated to the purpose for which they were exempt, as long as they used the net profits for exempt purposes. That would change with the Revenue Act of 1950)
  • Income taxes to be collected at the source, meaning that some kinds of income would be taxed before it reached the taxpayer, as with the modern system of tax withholding.
  • The Bureau of Internal Revenue established a Personal Income Tax Division to collect the new tax. (Recall that the IRS has its roots in the Lincoln administration. The position of Commissioner of Internal Revenue, within the Treasury Department, was created by the Revenue Act of 1862).
  • In general, it established the modern federal income tax system

When the Act was passed and sent out to the people, Congress predicted confidently that “all good citizen will willingly and cheerfully support and sustain this, the fairest and cheapest of all taxes.” And indeed it was harmless at first. The first tax ranged from merely 1% on the first $20,000 of taxable income and was only 7% on incomes over $500,000. Who could complain?  (How harmless was this tax?  Famed author, Cleon Skousen, put it this way: “If the tax was expressed in 1994 dollars, this sentence (above) would read, ‘the first tax ranged from merely 1% on the first $298,000 of taxable income and was only 7% on incomes above $7,460,000.’”)

In the beginning, hardly anyone had to file a tax return because the tax did not apply to the vast majority of America’s work-a-day citizens. As mentioned above, when the tax was first imposed, only 1% of the population was subject to a federal income tax.  In 1939, twenty-six years after the Sixteenth Amendment was adopted, only 5% of the population, counting both taxpayers and their dependents, was required to file returns. In 1994, more than 80% of the population were required to file and pay.  Today, it is 50% of the population.

Those who support this scheme of taxation are exactly what our Founders warned us about.  Thomas Jefferson wrote: “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”    

Today, it is still a popular idea to tax the wealthy so that the less fortunate can live easier and more comfortably with their more modest salaries and without having any income tax liability. For example, 82% of Democrats polled in 2011 supported raising taxes on millionaires (compared to 54% of Republicans). In 2008, 58% of Americans (mind you, 48-49% weren’t required to pay income taxes) thought it was a good idea to raise taxes for the wealthy (by wealthy, they meant those who have an income in excess of $250,000)  in order to pay for “new government programs and tax cuts for those making less money,” as well as to help lower the nation’s deficit.

As our Founders would frown upon that mindset if they were here today, they would surely comment: Those who don’t respect the rights of others don’t deserve it for themselves.

American economist Thomas Sowell has written quite a lot about this mindset of allowing the government to arbitrarily decide what is considered “poverty” and what is considered “wealth.” When that happens, of course, classes of people are treated differently. Different sets of standards and rules apply, which is not what “Equal Protection of Laws” is all about. Even worse, Sowell writes, is allowing the people themselves to decide when others should be taxed. That is exactly what Founders like James Madison labored to avoid. He referred to a democracy as “mob rule.” He, as well as the other Founders, understood that individual rights could never be secure in a pure democracy. A republic – a constitutional republic – would be the system of choice.

A republic is representative government ruled by law (specifically, the US Constitution). That’s why we say that we are a nation of laws and not of men.  A democracy, on the other hand, is government ruled by the will of the majority (mob rule; “mobocracy”). Benjamin Franklin defined it as: “A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!” And Thomas Jefferson defined: “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

A republic recognizes the unalienable rights of individuals (which no majority rule can violate) while democracies are only concerned with the wants or needs of a majority group. Social justice is easier to pursue when there is mob rule or when the rule of law disintegrates.

In a constitutional republic as ours, lawmaking is a slow, deliberate process, requiring approval (and surviving scrutiny) from all three branches of government, in order that cool heads prevail and the fairest laws are produced.  In a democracy, laws are passed by majority polls or voter referendums. 50% plus 1 vote (ie, the majority) is enough to take away anything away from the 50% minus 1 vote (ie, the minority). For purposes of this article, a perfect example would be this: If 51% of the people don’t pay taxes and want to keep up that lifestyle or even want more from those 49% that pay taxes, they can easily vote a tax increase. Income is no longer a protected property right in the United States, thanks to the Sixteenth Amendment, so in effect, taxation is subject to mob rule. And to the conscience of every elected official in Washington DC.

History records that democracies always self-destruct when the non-productive majority realizes that it can vote itself handouts from the productive minority by electing the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury. These candidates, in order to remain popular, must adopt ever-increasing tax and spend policies to satisfy the ever-increasing desires of the majority. As taxes increase, the incentive to produce decreases, causing many of the once productive to drop out and join the non-productive. When there are no longer enough producers to fund the legitimate functions of government and the socialist programs, the democracy inevitably collapses due to economic depression and chaos, and almost always, it is followed by some sort of dictatorship or socialist/communist regime. Prior to its decline (around 100-44 BC), Roman emperors couldn’t meet the demands of its poor They taxed heavily to provide “bread and circuses” (free grain, gladiator games) to the poor and the disillusioned – those who no longer valued historic Roman civic virtues. This system of state bribery worked for awhile; it placated them so that they wouldn’t riot and cause problems for the Emperor. “For the People who once upon a time took an interest in military command, high civil office, the legions, and the state of the republic, they now restrain themselves and anxiously hope for just two things: bread and circuses.” But in the end, the policies disillusioned too many Romans and the empire simply wasn’t worth fighting for any longer.

Back to Thomas Sowell and his views regarding the government’s power to arbitrarily decide what is considered “poverty” and what is considered “wealth” for purposes of re-distribution…  On that subject, he wrote:

“Leaders of the left in many countries have promoted policies that enable the poor to be more comfortable in their poverty. But that raises a fundamental question: Just who are ‘the poor’? … ‘Poverty’ once had some concrete meaning — not enough food to eat or not enough clothing or shelter to protect you from the elements, for example. Today it means whatever the government bureaucrats, who set up the statistical criteria, choose to make it mean. … Most Americans with incomes below the official poverty level have air-conditioning, television, own a motor vehicle and, far from being hungry, are more likely than other Americans to be overweight. But an arbitrary definition of words and numbers gives them access to the taxpayers’ money. This kind of ‘poverty’ can easily become a way of life, not only for today’s ‘poor,’ but for their children and grandchildren. Even when they have the potential to become productive members of society, the loss of welfare state benefits if they try to do so is an implicit ‘tax’ on what they would earn that often exceeds the explicit tax on a millionaire. If increasing your income by $10,000 would cause you to lose $15,000 in government benefits, would you do it? In short, the political left’s welfare state makes poverty more comfortable, while penalizing attempts to rise out of poverty.”   

“Soaking the Rich” or Re-distribution of Wealth? –

So, did the income tax actually “soak the rich” as the slogan described?  The wealthy, especially the super-wealthy, had anticipated the adoption of a progressive federal income tax and had created a clever device to protect their riches. It was called a “charitable foundation.” The idea was to co-sign the ownership of wealth, including stocks and securities, to a foundation and then get Congress and the state legislatures to declare all such charitable institutions exempt from taxes. By setting up boards which were under the control of these wealthy benefactors they could escape the tax and still maintain control over the disposition of their fabulous fortunes.

In fact, long before the federal income tax was in place, multimillionaires such as John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie had their foundations set up and operating. What they needed to do was make certain that the tax bill passed by Congress contained a provision specifically exempting their treasure houses from taxation. And sure enough, the Underwood bill included such a provision (Section 2, paragraph G). The bill borrowed language from the 1894 and the 1909 tariff bills, both of which provided exemptions for charitable organization. Under these statutes, tax exemption was granted to “any corporation or association organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, or educational purposes…” In other words, these organizations were to be considered “non-profits.” Under the 1913 bill, charitable (non-profit) organizations could earn tax-free income from both mission-related activities and commercial business activities that were unrelated to the purpose for which they were exempt, as long as they used the net profits for exempt purposes. (That would change with the Revenue Act of 1950; In 1950, Congress established the “unrelated business income tax,” or UBIT, which would be imposed on any activity that was not “regularly carried on” and “substantially related” to the organization’s charitable purpose).

Section 2, paragraph G provides: “Provided, however, that nothing in this section shall apply…to any corporation or association organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific or educational purposes.” This magical provision locked up the riches of the super wealthy for all of their foundations were specifically designed to qualify under one or more of these categories.

Within a few years, President Woodrow Wilson would hijack the income tax to pay for WWI. He would tax the very wealth at 67% and then up to 77%.  On April 2, 1917, he stood before a joint session of Congress, requesting a declaration of war. This, of course, led to an even greater need for additional revenue. The debate over taxing versus borrowing to finance the war raged over several months across the country. Taxes would have to be increased.  But what taxes should be imposed, and by how much? Once again the question was raised as to whether to broaden the tax base or raise the rates on the wealthiest. The War Revenue Act of 1917 imposed a 2% tax on individual incomes over $1,000 (or $2,000 for married couples), featured graduated surtaxes reaching as high as 67% (63% on incomes over $1 million and 67% on incomes over $2 million), and increased a variety of excises and duties (including on automobiles). It also added an additional tax of 4% to the existing corporate income tax. Revenue grew exponentially. In the years prior to 1917, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) took in an average of about $281 million. In the years following the War Revenue Act of 1917, the average was $2.78 billion….   ten times the amount of tax revenue!

The Agency grew dramatically; it had to. The number of income tax returns that were filed after the Act of 1917 increased by over 1000%.

In his famous “Politics is Adjourned” address to a joint session of Congress on May 27, 1918, President Wilson made a strong pitch for more revenues. He urged: “Our financial program must sustain it to the utmost. Our financial program must no more be left in doubt or suffered to lag more than our ordnance program or our ship program, or our munitions program or our program for making millions of men ready.” In defense of the new taxes requested on war profits, he said the American people were not just willing to send their men to possible death overseas, but “to bear any burden or undergo any sacrifice” to win the war including taxes. “We need not be afraid to tax them, if we lay taxes justly.” If the American people know that the burden is being distributed equally, he went on, “they will carry it cheerfully and with a sort of solemn pride.”  Wilson made it sound almost as if Americans were actually seeking a tax increase in order to feel the joy of sacrificing their hard earned money for a righteous cause.

And so, the Revenue Act of 1918 (which actually passed in early 1919) increased taxes further. Corporations were given an exemption of $2,000, but rates were raised to 12% on net taxable income and the surcharge on the highest incomes was increased to 77%.  The income tax now occupied a central place in the federal revenue system. In 1916, income taxes had been providing 16% of federal revenue, but from 1917 to 1920, that percentage ranged as high as 58%. The tax was now a pillar of federal finance. Still, however, it remained a narrow levy on the American people. In 1920, only 5.5 million returns showed any tax due.

By 1919, there was a clear and broad consensus that held that steep wartime tax rates were unsustainable. Even Wilson himself finally agreed, and in his State of the Union that year, he suggested the possibility of reducing taxes.  A series of tax cuts (called Mellon tax cuts, for Andrew Mellon, the Treasury Secretary at the time) began in 1921, as legislators from both parties set about revising the wartime tax system. In the end, the tax cuts in the Revenue Act of 1921 were generally a disappointment for everyone and actually included a hike in the corporate tax rate.

Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, using the excuses of depression and war, permanently enlarged the income tax. Under Hoover, the top rate was hiked from 24 to 63%. Under Roosevelt, the top rate was again raised – first to 79% and later to 90%.  [If he had his way, in 1941, a 99.5% marginal tax rate of 99.5% would have been imposed on all incomes over $100,000. That was his proposal. After that proposal failed, Roosevelt issued an executive order to tax all income over $25,000 at the astonishing rate of 100%. Congress later repealed the order, but still allowed top incomes to be taxed at a marginal rate of 90%].

It was one thing to impose taxes but another to collect them. The collection process was greatly facilitated in 1943 by a device created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to pay the costs of WWII.  It was the tax withholding provision, also called “withholding from wages and salaries.” In other words, income tax would be collected at the source – collected at the payroll window before it was paid to the taxpayer.  Economists point out that this device, more than any other single factor, shifted the tax from its original design as a tax on the wealthy to a tax on the masses – mostly the middle class.

In 1946, Beardsley Ruml, then the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, wrote an article in American Affairs in which he explained the real function of the income tax. The article was entitled “Taxes for Revenue Are Obsolete.” Ruml theorized that with the Federal Reserve, an institution and mechanism were in place to provide the federal government with a constant and virtually unlimited flow of dollars. That, of course, is inflationary, so Ruml believed that income taxes served the purpose of dampening inflation by lowering demand, a measure achieved by reducing the purchasing power of the masses by taking money out of their paychecks.

That was but one purpose of taxation, according to Ruml. The other was the redistribution of wealth from one class of citizens to another. Though done under the banner of social justice and equality, the real purpose was to supplant the decisions of a free people in a free market with the rule of the masters of a planned economy. As Ruml put it in his own words:

“The second principal purpose of federal taxes is to attain more equality of wealth and of income than would result from economic forces working alone. The taxes which are effective for this purpose are the progressive individual income tax, the progressive estate tax, and the gift tax. What these taxes should be depends on public policy with respect to the distribution of wealth and of income. These taxes should be defended and attacked in terms of their effect on the character of American life, not as revenue measures.”

T. Coleman Andrews, who served as Commissioner of the IRS for nearly 3 years during the early 1950s, made the following remarks after his resignation in 1955:

Congress, in implementing the Sixteenth Amendment, went beyond merely enacting an income tax law and repealed Article IV of the Bill of Rights, by empowering the tax collector to do the very things from which that article says we were to be secure. It opened up our homes, our papers and our effects to the prying eyes of government agents and set the stage for searches of our books and vaults and for inquiries into our private affairs whenever the tax men might decide, even though there might not be any justification beyond mere cynical suspicion.

The income tax is bad because it has robbed you and me of the guarantee of privacy and the respect for our property that were given to us in Article IV of the Bill of Rights. This invasion is absolute and complete as far as the amount of tax that can be assessed is concerned. Please remember that under the Sixteenth Amendment, Congress can take 100% of our income anytime it wants to. As a matter of fact, right now it is imposing a tax as high as 91%. This is downright confiscation and cannot be defended on any other grounds.

      The income tax is bad because it was conceived in class hatred, is an instrument of vengeance and plays right into the hands of the communists. It employs the vicious communist principle of taking from each according to his accumulation of the fruits of his labor and giving to others according to their needs, regardless of whether those needs are the result of indolence or lack of pride, self-respect, personal dignity or other attributes of men.

      The income tax is fulfilling the Marxist prophecy that the surest way to destroy a capitalist society is by steeply graduated taxes on income and heavy levies upon the estates of people when they die.

[As matters now stand, if our children make the most of their capabilities and training, they will have to give most of it to the tax collector and so become slaves of the government. People cannot pull themselves up by the bootstraps anymore because the tax collector gets the boots and the straps as well.]

The income tax is bad because it is oppressive to all and discriminates particularly against those people who prove themselves most adept at keeping the wheels of business turning and creating maximum employment and a high standard of living for their fellow men.

      I believe that a better way to raise revenue not only can be found but must be found because I am convinced that the present system is leading us right back to the very tyranny from which those, who established this land of freedom, risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to forever free themselves…

Taxation today is clearly used as a scheme of wealth distribution. In his bid for the presidency in 2008 and again in 2012, Obama talked about increasing taxes on the wealthy. His favorite line was: “We can restore the American dream where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” He was referring to some sort of “advantage” that those who work hard and earn more money have over those who don’t have much. Even Joe Biden, in 2009, urged the wealthy to pay more in taxes, to “do their patriotic duty.”  And as we see, what President Obama wasn’t willing to do outright (raise taxes on the wealthy) because of political backlash, he did deviously.  Obamacare contains a whole host of new taxes, only a few of which apply to middle-class Americans.

Under what notion of fairness is it OK for people to be relieved in their economic “discomfort” by using the funds that taxpayers have to work 1/3 of the year for and then surrender to the government?  Under what notion of fairness is it OK for people can be relieved in their decisions not to become educated, seek training, or look for work by simply living off the finances that taxpayers have to work 1/3 of the year for and then surrender to the government?  Under what notion of fairness is it OK for people to have lots of children without adequate ability to provide for them while the funds to raise them come from taxpayers who take money from their own families (affecting their own decisions to have more children) and who have to work 1/3 of the year for and then surrender to the government?  President Obama should not surrender the American Dream of one segment of society to serve the dreams of another segment.

IRS Scandal #5 (childrens Tea Party)

Audits for Enemies –

FDR became the first president to practice on a large scale what James Madison called “the spirit of party and faction” and what Justice Stephen Field called the “war of the poor against the rich.” With a steeply progressive income tax in place, Roosevelt used the federal treasury to reward, among others, farmers (who were paid not to plant crops), silver miners (who had the price of their product artificially inflated), and southerners in the vote-rich Tennessee Valley (with dams and cheap electricity).  In the 1936 presidential election, Senator Hiram Johnson (D-CA), a Roosevelt supporter, watched in amazement as the President mobilized “the different agencies of government” to “dole out subsidies for votes.” In other words, he was using government funding to ultimately serve his re-election. Johnson calculated: “He started out with probably 8 million votes bought. The other side will have to buy their votes one by one, and they cannot hope to match his money.” In that campaign, Roosevelt defeated the Republican Alf Landon by an electoral vote of 523–8.

The flip side of rewarding supporters was investigating political opponents. It started with an investigation of Senator Huey Long of Louisiana, who had threatened to run for president against Roosevelt. Next came an audit of William Randolph Hearst, whose newspaper empire strongly opposed Roosevelt for president in 1936. Moses Annenberg, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, criticized the New Deal and vehemently opposed Roosevelt’s re-election campaign in 1936 and ‘coincidently,’ became a target of a full-scale audit the following year (which was followed by a prison term). But perhaps no one was harassed more aggressively than Andrew Mellon, a powerful Republican and former Treasury Secretary. Remember it was Andrew Mellon who fought so hard to reduce the federal income tax rate, both for individuals and corporations.  The Roosevelt administration tasked the IRS and an army of tax inspectors and prosecutors to scrutinize Mellon’s financial records, especially to find out whether deductions for his vast philanthropic activities amounted to tax evasion. Even after IRS agents found nothing irregular, the Justice Department pursued the investigation. Historians have found no documents explaining the Roosevelt administration’s focus on Mellon, but a comment Roosevelt made about him in 1926 may offer a clue: Roosevelt dubbed him “the master mind among the malefactors of great wealth. A federal grand jury declined to indict Mellon for tax fraud in 1934. But the IRS was still pursuing claims against Mellon for at least $3 million in back taxes. Mellon’s “tax trial” before the Board of Tax Appeals in Pittsburgh and Washington lasted 14 months. At a private meeting with Roosevelt during the trial in 1936, Mellon offered to build the National Gallery and endow it with his own collection. Roosevelt accepted the offer, but instructed federal prosecutors to make “no change whatsoever” in the government’s position on the Mellon tax case (according to Mellon biographer David Cannadine). Mellon died the next year, and the suits, including any against his estate, died with him.

The president’s own son, Elliott Roosevelt, conceded in 1975 that “my father may have been the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution.”

President John F. Kennedy  – together with his brother, Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General – used the IRS to go after mobsters and similar types suspected of racketeering for possible tax evasion. But JFK soon expanded the scope of IRS investigation to include political enemies as well. In November 1961, President Kennedy turned to the IRS to challenge the tax-exempt status of “right-wing extremist groups,” as well as fundamentalist Christian ministers who had been openly opposed him for president because of his religion – a Roman Catholic.  In a move not made public at the time, the Kennedy administration established an “Ideological Organizations Audit project” within the IRS, which targeted  conservative groups, such as the John Birch Society. In November, the IRS launched audits of 22 “extremist organizations,” several of which lost their tax-exempt status, jeopardizing their fundraising.

President Richard Nixon used the IRS as his own special gestapo agency. In effect, he re-directed Kennedy’s “Audit Project” to target left-wing groups. After he took office, his administration quickly created a Special Services Staff to mastermind what a memo called “all IRS activities involving ideological, militant, subversive, radical, and similar type organizations.” More than 10,000 individuals and groups were targeted for tax audits because of their political activism or slant between 1969 and 1973, including Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling (a left-wing critic of the Vietnam War) and the far-right John Birch Society. Nixon went after quite a wide range of political “enemy” groups, including anti-war groups (and the churches and other nonprofits that sheltered them), civil rights groups, reporters, and prominent Democrats.

Additionally, the IRS was also given Nixon’s enemies list to, in the words of White House counsel John Dean, “use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.” Luckily, as a result of Watergate investigation (1973-4) and, especially, the disclosure of White House tapes, many of these unethical, unauthorized activities became public. The tapes provided a direct line of accountability from the IRS to the Oval Office that was often missing in previous administrations. They provide unambiguous evidence that Nixon used his power to direct aides to use the IRS to get back at political enemies. In a taped conversation on Sept. 8, 1971, Nixon told his chief domestic policy adviser, John Ehrlichman, to direct the IRS to audit potential Democratic rivals, including Sens. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and Edmund Muskie of Maine.  “Are we going after their tax returns? I … you know what I mean? There’s a lot of gold in them thar hills,” Nixon said.

Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment brought against President Nixon in 1974 charged him with “acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, to endeavor to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”

Bill Clinton liked to deny that he would ever use the IRS to target political and personal enemies. Yet the audits speak for themselves..  The list of women, and other persons who faced tax audits – some immediately after going public with their accusations of sexual harassment or rape (Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick), who alleged sexual affairs (Gennifer Flowers and Liz Ward Gracen), or who agreed to offer testimony in such cases (such as Linda Tripp), as well as persons involved with the Whitewater scandal – suggests a pattern of political retaliation.  Even Bill O’Reilly was audited three times by the Clinton administration and the watchdog group, Judicial Watch, was audited as well.  It was no wonder the IRS targeted Judicial Watch. The organization alone filed more than 50 lawsuits against the Clinton administration for improper targeting of individuals by the IRS, in violation of privacy rights and IRS policy. In a meeting with Judicial Watch officials in January 12, 1999 to discuss the audits, an IRS agent boldly stated: “What do you expect when you sue the President?”

Under Clinton, the IRS was notoriously used as a tool to harass and intimidate.  As was done by the administrations before him, the IRS was tasked with auditing a wide range of organizations that were viewed as hostile to the White House agenda. These included leading conservative publications, think tanks, and interest groups, among them The American Spectator, the National Review, the Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the National Center for Public Policy Research, the American Policy Center, American Cause, Citizens for Honest Government, Citizens Against Government Waste, Progress and Freedom Foundation, Landmark Legal Foundation, and Concerned Women for America.

IRS official Paul Breslan knew exactly what the organization was doing. And a memo was used to tie Clinton himself to the audits. In the memo, White House Associate Counsel William Kennedy is documented as saying that the IRS is “on top of it.”  In a speech on the House floor in 1996, Rep. John Mica (R-FL) said: “The fact is, the White House in this case misused the IRS and the FBI in an incredible abuse of power.”  During the Clinton years, conservatives used to joke back that if Clinton didn’t have the IRS audit you, then you weren’t a real conservative.

And now we see that the Obama administration has used the IRS to single out and target Tea Party, patriot groups, and other conservative organizations in their applications for tax-exempt status.  According to a House probe, for the past 18 months (although it is likely the abuse has gone back as far as 2010), the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” – that is, focusing on groups with conservative-sounding words or phrases in their name, such as “Tea Party,” or “patriot – for scrutiny in their tax-exemption applications. As if that wasn’t bad enough, IRS agents also misappropriated the information contained in the confidential tax returns of conservative organizations and donors to GOP candidates (such as Mitt Romney) and leaked it to political enemies, in violation of federal law.

IRS - Internal Revenge Service

Conclusion –

Glenn Beck summarized the Tax Code and the IRS rather well a few years ago: “The tax code is not meant to be read and understood by the people. It’s meant as a shelter for those who’ve taken power from us, and a weapon of selective enforcement to be used against any who would dare to raise an opposing voice. The law is not for them; it’s for you.” I guess what we are seeing right now is this explanation being exposed for the truth that it offers.  Beck continued: “Right now, at least a hundred thousand federal employees together owe a billion dollars in back taxes, and the Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, himself is one of them. There is no reason why the person who runs the IRS, the congressmen who writes our tax code, including repeat tax cheat Charlie Rengal, or the CEO who has friends in the White House, should get a free pass when you and I must pay taxes and pay the consequences of our decisions not to do so.”

John Adams once said: “We are a government of laws, not men.”  Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost this fundamental truth.

Also, somewhere along the way, the government has gotten off track in its goal of enlarging its powers and responsibilities. Of course, government couldn’t grow without the financial resources to do so. First it created the Federal Reserve to print the money and provide the loans it needed and then came the unlimited ability to tax citizens.  There is a fine line between taxation and plunder. What isn’t such a fine line is that which is constitutional and what is unconstitutional. The Founders wrote our Constitution for the common man to understand.  The average citizen was meant to read the Constitution and easily understand the bounds of government and its extent in his life. Again, transparency and simplicity are what is expected in a free society. Our Founders never expected the Constitution to be interpreted according to the whims and views of nine justices who too often have rejected the principles on which the nation was founded and have lost the ability “to see the forest for the trees” (meaning, they’ve lost the ability to see the most relevant points because they’re too busy focusing on smaller issues that take their eye off the big picture). The pressure of necessity (the need for government to take control of matters) has often clouded their view of what government was instituted for.

Our government is bloated because it is funding too projects not authorized by the Constitution. In addition to its constitutional responsibilities, Congress is taxing for unconstitutional purposes as well. State grants (to coerce financially what it can’t require constitutionally) is an example. And this brings us to the current state of taxation, which amounts to plunder – legal plunder.

Frederic Bestiat (1801-1850), the French economist who championed private property, free markets, and limited government, defined legal plunder: “Legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways.  We have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole – with their common aim of legal plunder – constitute socialism.” 

We know our federal government was able to sell its plan of progressive income taxation – its plan of legal plunder – on its promise to “soak the wealthy.” After all, who doesn’t look at the very wealthy and conclude that they have more than enough and that they won’t miss millions of their dollars. The current administration continues to sell this plan as a “patriotic duty” and a “fairness” thing.  Bestiat explained why legalized plunder is such an attractive plan by explaining the human nature behind its mentality: “Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain – and since labor is pain in itself – it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it….   It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.”

Socialism recognizes that there are some people who, by their human nature and ability to develop their gifts, will be producers and there are those who will reject the opportunities to invest in themselves  and resist the need to become producers. And so, for the common good comes the policy that states: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  (the slogan popularized by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program). In other words, only in the situation where the government organizes and arranges for the abundance of goods and services will there be enough to satisfy everyone’s needs. That’s the Marxist view.  But this is the United States. We don’t think like that. That’s not in the lifeblood that courses through our veins. We are not Russia or Germany or any other nation that looks at people only in the collective sense. People are individuals first, with individual God-given rights to be individuals.

Bestiat warned those who value freedom to be ever vigilante for legislation that “takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong… That benefits one citizen at the expense of another by giving to that person what he has the ability to provide for himself.” He explains how essential it is that such legislation be rooted out.  “The tool of socialists is legal plunder. To prevent this, you must exclude socialism from entering into the making of laws. You must prevent socialists from entering the Legislative Palace.  If you do not succeed, legal plunder will continue to be the main business of the legislature…. Socialism is the state whereby everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

That’s why the time has come for the legalized plunder to stop and for the innovative, liberty-minded people of the United States to come up with a viable solution for government revenue that doesn’t imperil individual freedom and prosperity.  The Fair Tax – a national consumption tax – is one such plan.

As it is so true about history, the past holds the answers to the future. That’s why we have the saying: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  Frederic Bestiat (1801-1850), who, like our Founders, saw the wisdom and inherent freedom in a government that was: (i) designed primarily to protect the lives, liberty, and private property of citizens from theft or aggression and the designs of evil-intentioned individuals (and from government itself) and (ii) sufficiently limited in its ability to coerce the People in their exercise of freedom as well as in their economic pursuits, wrote that men will naturally rebel against an injustice when they find that they have sufficiently become its victims. It is also human nature, he explained. This was the case of the Boston Tea Party, various other displays of civil disobedience, and eventually, the American Revolution itself.  (He also suggested a second course – instead of a rebellion against the plunder, men will capitulate on a large scale, refuse to work, invent, educate, etc and demand government provide for everyone).

Bestiat wrote that burdensome government restrictions, legalized plunder, indentured servitude, and slavery find defenders only among those who profit from them. Unfortunately, as almost 100 years of American history has shown, defenders will also be found among those who suffer from them. The question is whether the time has come for another simple act of civil disobedience — the petition and protest of honest, hard-working Americans against our current unfair system of taxation.

“In our time, many seem to think ‘the Declaration’ was penned to proclaim eternal verities about the human condition — a poetic tribute to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ — as if it were a collection of fine words about high-minded ideals. No!  It was a rebellion against bad governance, against political arrogance, against oppressive laws, against restriction, constraint, and imposition without representation.” (Scott Ott, of PJ Media) We call it ‘The Declaration,’ as if it merely declares our moral purpose.  But that’s not the object. Its purpose is to provide the blueprint for true and everlasting human liberty… for true ‘Independence.’  ”The members of the Second Continental Congress did not expect to forfeit their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for stating the obvious about the ‘laws of nature and of nature’s God.’  Their necks ripened for the noose because they altered, abolished, and threw off the yoke of their government.” (Ott)  They desired to be absolved of any allegiance to a government that did not respect their rights.  They counted all as loss to obtain freedom; to be absolved of allegiance to their government, to dissolve all political connections between themselves and the state which they had always referred to as their own.

The Declaration of Independence offers a daily reminder of the exhaustive reasons for holding government accountable and rejecting it when it becomes corrupt, abusive, and oppressive…   to preserve Liberty.

The Declaration would clearly instruct us to move (peacefully) to abolish the federal income tax and to do away with the IRS.

IRS Scandal #2

 

RESOLUTION TO ABOLISH THE INCOME TAX and THE IRS

T. Coleman Andrews served as commissioner of IRS for nearly 3 years during the early 1950s. Following his resignation, he made the following statement:

“Congress, in implementing the Sixteenth Amendment, went beyond merely enacting an income tax law and repealed Article IV of the Bill of Rights, by empowering the tax collector to do the very things from which that article says we were to be secure. It opened up our homes, our papers and our effects to the prying eyes of government agents and set the stage for searches of our books and vaults and for inquiries into our private affairs whenever the tax men might decide, even though there might not be any justification beyond mere cynical suspicion.

      The income tax is bad because it has robbed you and me of the guarantee of privacy and the respect for our property that were given to us in Article IV of the Bill of Rights. This invasion is absolute and complete as far as the amount of tax that can be assessed is concerned. Please remember that under the Sixteenth Amendment, Congress can take 100% of our income anytime it wants to. As a matter of fact, right now it is imposing a tax as high as 91%. This is downright confiscation and cannot be defended on any other grounds 

      The income tax is bad because it was conceived in class hatred, is an instrument of vengeance and plays right into the hands of the communists. It employs the vicious communist principle of taking from each according to his accumulation of the fruits of his labor and giving to others according to their needs, regardless of whether those needs are the result of indolence or lack of pride, self-respect, personal dignity or other attributes of men 

      The income tax is fulfilling the Marxist prophecy that the surest way to destroy a capitalist society is by steeply graduated taxes on income and heavy levies upon the estates of people when they die.

[As matters now stand, if our children make the most of their capabilities and training, they will have to give most of it to the tax collector and so become slaves of the government. People cannot pull themselves up by the bootstraps anymore because the tax collector gets the boots and the straps as well.]

The income tax is bad because it is oppressive to all and discriminates particularly against those people who prove themselves most adept at keeping the wheels of business turning and creating maximum employment and a high standard of living for their fellow men.

      I believe that a better way to raise revenue not only can be found but must be found because I am convinced that the present system is leading us right back to the very tyranny from which those, who established this land of freedom, risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to forever free themselves…”

The progressive income tax was imposed on the American people in 1913 following the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, which states: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” It was never intended to be a primary source of funding for government. It was merely intended to make up for revenue losses from tariffs, which were the primary source of funding for the constitutional.

Whereas, the current U.S. tax system is huge convoluted mess. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has six federal income tax brackets ranging from 10% to 35%, depending on “income.” This progressive tax system punishes the most productive members of society with a higher tax rate yet turns around and gives a tax credit to lower income earners that often amounts to a tax refund larger than the amount of tax paid in through withholding. The current tax system is riddled with loopholes and biases that hurt individuals who save money for the future. Not only does our tax code treat citizens differently but it is so hopelessly complicated that it frightens most taxpayers. It is far too complex, intrusive, and long; and

Whereas, once government undertakes to tax income, it acquires even more power through its authority to define “income,” “taxable income,” subsidiary terms, and the rules of exemption. The potential for abuse, capriciousness (arbitrary treatment), harassment, and corruption is great; and

Whereas, there is credible evidence to show that there were significant ratification discrepancies which call into question the legality of the Sixteenth Amendment; the evidence supports the conclusion that the Sixteenth Amendment was not properly and legally ratified by 3/4 of the states of the Union in 1913, as per Article V of the US Constitution; and

Whereas, the progressive income tax has become an instrument of government plunder of American income and property, in total disregard of our founding principle which states that property is as essential to a free man as his Life and Liberty. Rather, a heavy progressive income tax (as we have) is the second plank of the Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1948; and

Whereas, the current tax code is 73,954 pages of legalese (over 3 million words; taller than a giraffe and weighs 145 pounds), which the ordinary person living in the United States has no time to read or is capable of understanding, and it continues to grow and become more convoluted. (To emphasize this point, consider this: the average person can read 250 words per minute.  Assuming the average reader took no breaks, it would take 15,200 minutes, 253 hours, or 10.5 days (without a single break) to read the tax code. Ayn Rand’s famous book Atlas Shrugged has 645,000 words.  The tax code has 5.9 times that amount); and

Whereas, the progressive income tax scheme (the Tax Code) imposes a heavy burden on all American taxpayers, with respect to both money and time. Saving and collecting records and receipts is time-consuming, a hassle, and a big headache. According to the IRS, the average taxpayer spends 26.5 hours preparing and sending in their taxes. Just complying with our voluminous and complicated federal tax system costs Americans about $431 billion a year, according to economist Arthur Laffer (although other estimates go as high as $600 billion). American taxpaying families often have to hire a CPA. Furthermore, another $1000 to $2000 in embedded costs are passed on to the average consumer each year by businesses who have to add the cost of tax compliance to their “cost of doing business” and therefore to the cost of their products and services (for every dollar sent to the IRS, it costs 30 cents in compliance); and

Whereas, the progressive income tax allows the federal government to pry into the private records, private accounts, private business, and personal affairs of individual citizens in order to find out what income and property it considers to be “taxable income”; and

Whereas, with the IRS able to look at the financial records of Americans, it gives the government power to make decisions as to when certain citizens “have enough already,” and then wage war on their “excess”; an

Whereas, the average working American, poor, rich, or in-between, hates, and fears the IRS for good reason. It is able to seize one’s bank account or house without a court order, able to shut down one’s business overnight, and subject one to fines for failure to report income correctly, even when it is done innocently. In the eyes of the average American taxpayer, the tax code is unfair, overly complex, arbitrary in its requirements and exemptions, horribly politicized, harmful to individuals and the economy, helpful to the forces of Big Government, and impossible to understand without a CPA; and

Whereas, the harmful effects of the income tax are obvious. First and foremost, it has enabled government to expand far beyond its proper constitutional limits, regulating virtually every aspect of our lives. It has given government a claim on our lives and work, has created class warfare (taxpayers v. non-taxpayers), and it has destroying our privacy in the process. It takes billions of dollars out of the legitimate private economy, with most Americans giving more than a third of everything they make to the federal government. This economic drain destroys jobs and penalizes productive behavior. It has created class warfare (taxpayers v. non-taxpayers; producers v. non-producers; contributors v. takers) and in many cases, it has destroyed the incentive to work, to become more successful, and to accumulate wealth and property. The ridiculous complexity of the tax laws makes compliance a nightmare for both individuals and businesses. All things considered, our Founders would be dismayed by the income tax mess and the tragic loss of liberty which has resulted; and

Whereas, the progressive income tax is inherently corruptible and subject to arbitrary rules and application. The tendency is for government to create exemptions in return for political favors or to coerce a political agenda. The language providing guidelines for such exemptions is invariably vague, which means the IRS has room to “interpret” and decide who qualifies and who doesn’t qualify for a particular exemption. The line between vigilance and harassment is not bright and the potential for abuse is great. This power, which is inherently arbitrary, ill suits a society that sees itself as free.  Furthermore, where possible, people will naturally strive for tax exemption and will push the boundaries of tax guidelines. Such a tax scheme, therefore, encourages dishonesty and corruption; and

Whereas, the progressive income tax relieves some people from a shared responsibility to contribute to a government that serves them. Philosophically, no person or business should be exempt from a general taxation scheme. The current tax code imposes a tax burden on approximately half the US population while half are excused or exempted. The common government protects everyone equally (except under the taxation scheme) yet serves some more extensively than others. The tax code is progressive in tax burden but not progressive in services/benefits enjoyed.  The current tax scheme – the progressive income tax created by the 16th Amendment – should be replaced by a Fair Tax (a national sales tax of about 23%) so that every American does his patriotic duty, has skin in the game, and has an interest in fiscal responsibility by their government. At the very least, the progressive income tax should be replaced by a low, flat-rate income tax (Flat Tax), 10% or lower, to be applied to all wage earners; and

Whereas, the federal income tax has become a wealth distribution scheme. Taxes that are soaked from the middle and upper classes are used to fund social programs that they are not entitled to and which go towards relieving a huge segment of society of their lower economic status.  The object of federal taxation was not to leave men with equal incomes after they’ve been taxed”; and

Whereas, the IRS puts the government tax collector in a position of extraordinary power over fellow citizens (the “gorilla” role); he has the power to intimidate citizens who are unlucky enough to be audited by making them feel that they somehow “cheated” the government (rather than the most likely scenario – that they are merely “victims” of an unfair system); and

Whereas, the IRS often finds it difficult to avoid the attitude that each taxpayer is a cheat, even a criminal, who must somehow be cornered and caught. This has brought the nature of the entire income tax collection process into question; and

Whereas, thousands of complaints have poured into the IRS concerning the tactics used by some of its agents. Citizens feel they are treated as criminals rather than suspects who are innocent until proven guilty; and

Whereas, the IRS has been guilty of many transgressions and has cost the American taxpayers billions of dollars. For example, one of the things the IRS is well known for is giving incarcerated criminals who prepare fraudulent returns tens of millions of dollars in refunds they’re not entitled to. The figure actually increases annually, which means the IRS continues to do so. According to a federal audit, the latest count is that the IRS has doled out more than $35 million to criminals. A few years ago the IRS came under fire for allowing 1 million foreigners, many in the U.S. illegally, to improperly claim close to $9 billion in tax credits even though they did not provide valid Social Security numbers on their return.  Not long after that, the tax agency got in trouble for handing out $33 million in bogus electric car credits. As recently as April 2013, two dozen IRS employees were charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in government benefits, including food stamps, welfare and housing vouchers. The scheme fleeced U.S. taxpayers out of at least a quarter of a million dollars, according to federal prosecutors; and

Whereas, the IRS chills the First Amendment rights of churches and nonprofit organizations which now hesitate to use them for fear of losing tax-exempt status; and

Whereas, the most damaging aspect of the Sixteenth Amendment is the fact that it violates the unalienable rights provided in the 4th Amendment. This is the amendment which protects privacy–privacy of the home, business, personal papers and personal affairs of the private citizen. None of these are disturbed by a poll (head or capitation) tax because it is so much per person regardless of the circumstances, but when the tax is based on income, the IRS is assigned the most unpleasant task of making certain that everyone pays his fair share. This task is physically impossible without prying into the private papers, private business and personal affairs of the individual citizens. By any standard, it is a miserable assignment. Furthermore, it is impossible to run audits and surveys of all taxpayers and so the audits seldom check more than 2% of them;  and

Whereas, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the closest thing to the Gestapo that the United States has ever had; administrations have used its awesome power to audit tax returns as an effective means to silence and intimidate political opponents; and

Whereas, the IRS has gotten out of control:

– The IRS has admitted to intentionally and deliberately targeting conservative groups (especially those containing the terms “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names) since at least 2011. In some cases, conservative individuals have been targeted. The targeting was done with malicious intent;

– The IRS has admitted that it has deliberately harassed said conservative political organizations claiming tax exempt status by singling them out for additional scrutiny and investigation;

–  Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax exempt groups, has admitted that at least 75 organizations were singled out because they included the words “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax exempt status. She acknowledged that actions were clearly violations of IRS policies;

–  The IRS’ inappropriate and intimidating investigation tactics included probing questions about organizations’ board members, officers, employees, and their families. There were also demands for extraordinary detail on employee training, vending, and advertising. Among other IRS demands, they required lists of “all issues important to your organization” with requests to “indicate your position regarding each issue”;

–  The IRS intentionally and maliciously leaked confidential taxpayer information of said conservative groups to Leftist allies;

–  The IRS has admitted that it engaged in political profiling while processing applications for tax-exempt status. It searched tax applications for words like “Tea Party” and even “patriot.” Once it found those groups, it made intrusive and unconstitutional inquiries, demanding answers “upon penalty of perjury.”  [In this case it was against organizations with “tea-party” or “patriot ” in their names and other right-wing groups. Next time it could be libertarian or left-wing antiwar and pro-civil-liberties groups. No dissenter can ever rest assured he is safe from the arbitrary power of the IRS];

–  The IRS targeted conservative groups in swing states before the 2012 election. The chilling effect on such organizations because of said targeting together with alleged instances of voter fraud (showing higher than expected voter turn-out for Democrats) in the same areas calls into question the results of the election;

–  This ongoing IRS abuse continues today, as the ACLJ represents dozens of these targeted groups;

– IRS officials threw lavish parties for themselves, spending millions of dollars even as Americans struggled to keep their jobs and pay their taxes;

– Pro-life and Christian groups report extreme and intrusive demands, including one reported demand that a pro-life group promise not to picket Planned Parenthood. The intent was to chill and even shut down their First Amendment rights of free speech expression and of conscience;

– The IRS conducted mass-scale audits of adoptive families, auditing 100,000 in 2011 alone – simply because they adopted a child.

In consideration of all of the above, the ________________________  (group name) concludes that –

Taxation, other than sales tax (which is tied to contract law and includes an element of consent), is nothing less than confiscation under threat of force of the property and/or income of individuals. Progressive taxation is government plunder of the wealthy, offensive to our notions of equal treatment and equal protection under the law; and

The progressive income tax is the targeted confiscation of the fruits earned by creative, industrious, and productive individuals; it punishes success, productivity, creativity, ingenuity, hard work, investment, and risk-taking and is inconsistent with a nation committed to the freedom to “pursue happiness;  and

The progressive income tax has no place in a free society. It amounts to the plunder of property and the frustrates the Pursuit of Happiness;

Elimination of an income tax will do more than anything else to return political and government power from Washington DC back to the People; and

The IRS targeting of political opponents represents some of the most shameful abuses of government power in 20th century American history. A government organization like the IRS discriminating against political organizations is an outrageous abuse of power, and the American people have every right to demand answers and accountability; and

As recent testimony has made clear, the IRS is institutionally incapable of governing itself (let alone that it has no constitutional authority) and departments such as the legislative and executive branches are incapable of managing it, providing oversight, or providing transparency to the American people in its regard; and

The Internal Revenue Service cannot be used as a weapon against political enemies. There must be a thorough investigation of IRS abuse (as well as abuse at the hands of other government agencies), and those responsible must be punished. There is no excuse for turning the full power of the IRS – and the federal government in general – on American citizens; and

Use of the IRS as a harassment, intimidation, and bullying arm of the President’s administration has set a dangerous precedent (we’ve also seen it use Homeland Security for the same purpose); and

The IRS has successfully chilled the fundamental rights that Americans are entitled to under the US Constitution (and specifically, the Bill of Rights); and

When government goes after political opponents, that is the very definition of tyranny; and

Americans have a rightful expectation to have trust in their government. Trust in government is a hallmark of a free society.  The current IRS scandal has destroyed that trust; and

Because trust in government has been destroyed and because it appears that the IRS has become a Gestapo agency, the American people cannot be expected to allow it  to be the enforcement arm of Obamacare – the healthcare program the government has forced them to comply with; and

Therefore, be it –

Resolved, that the American people can no longer trust the IRS to enforce Obamacare, apply tax laws fairly, evenly, and without bias, and to be respectful of the information shared in healthcare records, tax records, and even private, personal information to be mined through Common Core; and

Resolved, that the  progressive federal income tax has become arbitrary, unfair, overly convoluted, and an exercise of government plunder, and the IRS has become an agency used by government for the improper scrutiny of American citizens; and

 Resolved, that the ________________________  (group name) believes the time has come to reform the tax code and by extension, abolish the Internal Revenue Service.

 

References:

The US Constitution

The Fair Tax –  http://www.fairtax.org

Congressional Record-House, July 12, 1909, p.4404

Congressional Record-House, July 12, 1909, p.439

Pollock v. Farmers Loan & Trust Company, 157 U.S. 429 (1895)

Federalist No. 10.  http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm

“The Income Tax Arrives,” Tax History.  http://www.taxhistory.org/www/website.nsf/Web/THM1901

“How Some States Did Not Legally Ratify the Sixteenth Amendment”  –http://www.givemeliberty.org/features/taxes/notratified.htm

Jack Kenny and John Larabell, “100 Years Ago: Instituting the Income Tax,” The New American, February 4, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/history/item/14410-100-years-ago-instituting-the-income-tax

Sheldon D. Pollack, “Origins of the Modern Income Tax,” Tax Lawyer Winter, Vol. 66, No. 2, Winter 2013.  (Very detailed history of the Modern Income Tax).   Referenced at:  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CFsQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.buec.udel.edu%2Fpollacks%2FDownloaded%2520SDP%2520articles%2C%2520etc%2Facademic%2520articles%2FOrigins%2520of%2520the%2520Modern%2520Income%2520Tax%2520in%2520Tax%2520Lawyer%2520Winter%25202013.pdf&ei=-67IUZLPM9On4AOuoYDAAg&usg=AFQjCNELWbU-x8YvwgSiReYZAXs18HA36A&sig2=znteVrEa3AsercrlR6YVCA

W. Cleon Skousen, “History of the 16th Amendment,” Latter Day Conservative.  Referenced at: http://www.latterdayconservative.com/articles/history-of-the-16th-amendment/

Burton Fulsom, “The Progressive Income Tax in US History,” The Freeman, May 1, 2003.  Referenced at: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/the-progressive-income-tax-in-us-history

“History of Federal Individual Income Bottom and Top Bracket Rates,” National Taxpayers Union.  Referenced at:  http://www.ntu.org/tax-basics/history-of-federal-individual-1.html

Diane Schrader, “The Top 7 Reasons (and One Promising Way) to Abolish the IRS For Good,” News Real Blog, February 2, 2011.  Referenced at: http://www.newsrealblog.com/2011/02/02/the-top-7-reasons-and-one-promising-way-to-abolish-the-irs-for-good-1/ 

Frederic Bestiat (1801-1850) –  http://mises.org/page/1447/Biography-of-Frederic-Bastiat-18011850

“Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 12, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=1258

Gail Russell Chaddock, “Playing the IRS Card: Six Presidents Who Used the IRS to Bash Political Foes,”The Christian Science Monitor, May 17, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/2013/0517/Playing-the-IRS-card-Six-presidents-who-used-the-IRS-to-bash-political-foes/President-John-Kennedy-D

“IRS Conservative Witch Hunt is Just Latest of Many Offenses,” Judicial Watch, May 17, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2013/05/irs-conservative-witch-hunt-just-latest-of-many-offenses/

 

APPENDIX:

I.   HOW SOME STATES DID NOT LEGALLY RATIFY THE 16TH AMENDMENT

http://www.givemeliberty.org/features/taxes/notratified.htm

Bill Benson’s findings, published in “The Law That Never Was,” make a convincing case that the 16th amendment was not legally ratified and that Secretary of State Philander Knox was not merely in error, but committed fraud when he declared it ratified in February 1913. What follows is a summary of some of the major findings for many of the states, showing that their ratifications were not legal and should not have been counted.

The 16th amendment had been sent out in 1909 to the state governors for ratification by the state legislatures after having been passed by Congress. There were 48 states at that time, and three-fourths, or 36, of them were required to give their approval in order for it to be ratified. The process took almost the whole term of the Taft administration, from 1909 to 1913.

Secretary Knox had received responses from 42 states when he declared the 16th amendment ratified on February 25, 1913, just a few days before leaving office to make way for the administration of Woodrow Wilson. Knox acknowledged that four of those states (Utah, Conn, R.I. and N.H.) had rejected it, and he counted 38 states as having approved it. We will now examine some of the key evidence Bill Benson found regarding the approval of the amendment in many of those states.

In Kentucky, the legislature acted on the amendment without even having received it from the governor (the governor of each state was to transmit the proposed amendment to the state legislature). The version of the amendment that the Kentucky legislature made up and acted upon omitted the words “on income” from the text, so they weren’t even voting on an income tax! When they straightened that out (with the help of the governor), the Kentucky senate rejected the amendment. Yet Philander Knox counted Kentucky as approving it!

In Oklahoma, the legislature changed the wording of the amendment so that its meaning was virtually the opposite of what was intended by Congress, and this was the version they sent back to Knox. Yet Knox counted Oklahoma as approving it, despite a memo from his chief legal counsel, Reuben Clark, that states were not allowed to change it in any way.

Attorneys who have studied the subject have agreed that Kentucky and Oklahoma should not have been counted as approvals by Philander Knox, and, moreover, if any state could be shown to have violated its own state constitution or laws in its approval process, then that state’s approval would have to be thrown out. That gets us past the “presumptive conclusion” argument, which says that the actions of an executive official cannot be judged by a court, and admits that Knox could be wrong.

If we subtract Kentucky and Oklahoma from the 38 approvals above, the count of valid approvals falls to 36, the exact number needed for ratification. If any more states can be shown to have had invalid approvals, the 16th amendment must be regarded as null and void.

The state constitution of Tennessee prohibited the state legislature from acting on any proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution sent by Congress until after the next election of state legislators. The intent, of course, is to give the proposed amendment a chance to become an issue in the state legislative elections so that the people can have a voice in determining the outcome. It also provides a cooling off period to reduce the tendency to approve an idea just because it happens to be the moment’s trend. You’ve probably already guessed that the Tennessee legislature did not hold off on voting for the amendment until after the next election, and you’d be right – they didn’t; hence, they acted upon it illegally before they were authorized to do so. They also violated their own state constitution by failing to read the resolution on three different days as prescribed by Article II, Section 18. These state constitutional violations make their approval of the amendment null and void. Their approval is and was invalid, and it brings the number of approving states down to 35, one less than required for ratification.

Texas and Louisiana violated provisions in their state constitutions prohibiting the legislatures from empowering the federal government with any additional taxing authority. Now the number is down to 33.

Twelve other states, besides Tennessee, violated provisions in their constitutions requiring that a bill be read on three different days before voting on it. This is not a trivial requirement. It allows for a cooling off period; it enables members who may be absent one day to be present on another; it allows for a better familiarity with, and understanding of, the measure under consideration, since some members may not always read a bill or resolution before voting on it (believe it or not!). States violating this procedure were: Mississippi, Ohio, Arkansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, West Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Colorado, and Illinois. Now the number is reduced to 21 states legally ratifying the amendment.

When Secretary Knox transmitted the proposed amendment to the states, official certified and sealed copies were sent. Likewise, when state results were returned to Knox, it was required that the documents, including the resolution that was actually approved, be properly certified, signed, and sealed by the appropriate official(s). This is no more than any ordinary citizen has to do in filing any legal document, so that it’s authenticity is assured; otherwise it is not acceptable and is meaningless. How much more important it is to authenticate a constitutional amendment! Yet a number of states did not do this, returning uncertified, unsigned, and/or unsealed copies, and did not rectify their negligence even after being reminded and warned by Knox. The most egregious offenders were Ohio, California, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Minnesota – which did not send any copy at all, so Knox could not have known what they even voted on! Since four of these states were already disqualified above, California is now subtracted from the list of valid approvals, reducing it to 20.

These last five states, along with Kentucky and Oklahoma, have particularly strong implications with regard to the fraud charge against Knox, in that he cannot be excused for not knowing they shouldn’t have been counted. Why was he in such a hurry? Why did he not demand that they send proper documentation? They never did.

Further review would make the list dwindle down much more, but with the number down to 20, sixteen fewer than required, this is a suitable place to rest, without getting into the matter of several states whose constitutions limited the taxing authority of their legislatures, which could not give to the federal govern authority they did not have.

The results from the six states Knox had not heard from at the time he made his proclamation do not affect the conclusion that the amendment was not legally ratified. Of those six: two (Virginia and Pennsylvania) he never did hear from, because they ignored the proposed amendment; Florida rejected it; two others (Vermont and Massachusetts) had rejected it much earlier by recorded votes, but, strangely, submitted to the Secretary within a few days of his ratification proclamation that they had passed it (without recorded votes); West Virginia had purportedly approved it at the end of January 1913, but its notification had not yet been received (remember that West Virginia had violated its own constitution, as noted above).

THERE IS NO LAW REQUIRING ORDINARY AMERICAN EMPLOYEES TO PAY FEDERAL INCOME TAX !! –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1UCcW0RoNdc#at=282

***  Bill Benson wrote a book in 1985 – The Law That Never Was.  Summary:  The authority of the federal government to collect its income tax depends upon the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the federal income tax amendment, which was allegedly ratified in 1913. After a year of extensive research, Bill Benson discovered that the 16th Amendment was not ratified by the required 3/4 of the states, but nevertheless Secretary of State Philander Knox fraudulently announced ratification.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution defines the ratification process and requires three-fourths of the states to ratify any amendment proposed by Congress. There were forty-eight states in the American Union in 1913, meaning that affirmative action of thirty-six was necessary for ratification. In February 1913, Secretary of State Philander Knox proclaimed that thirty-eight had ratified the Amendment.

In 1984 Bill Benson began a research project, never before performed, to investigate the process of ratification of the 16th Amendment. After traveling to the capitols of the New England states and reviewing the journals of the state legislative bodies, he saw that many states had not ratified. He continued his research at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.; it was here that Bill found his Golden Key.

This damning piece of evidence is a sixteen-page memorandum from the Solicitor of the Department of State, among whose duties is the provision of legal opinions for the Secretary of State. In this memorandum, the Solicitor lists the many errors he found in the ratification process.

These four states are among the thirty-eight from which Philander Knox claimed ratification:

  • California: The legislature never recorded any vote on any proposal to adopt the amendment proposed by Congress.
  • Kentucky: The Senate voted on the resolution, but rejected it by a vote of nine in favor and twenty-two opposed.
  • Minnesota: The State sent nothing to the Secretary of State in Washington.
  • Oklahoma: The Senate amended the language of the 16th Amendment to have a precisely opposite meaning.

When his project was finished at the end of 1984, Bill had visited the capitol of every state from 1913 and knew that not a single one had actually and legally ratified the proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution. Thirty-three states engaged in the unauthorized activity of altering the language of an amendment proposed by Congress, a power that the states do not possess.

Since thirty-six states were needed for ratification, the failure of thirteen to ratify was fatal to the Amendment. This occurs within the major (first three) defects tabulated in Defects in Ratification of the 16th Amendment. Even if we were to ignore defects of spelling, capitalization and punctuation, we would still have only two states which successfully ratified.

 

II.     Historical Income Tax Rates & Brackets

   

Tax Rates

 

Bottom bracket

Top bracket

Calendar Year

President

Rate
(percent)

Taxable Income Up to

Rate
(percent)

Taxable
Income over

1913-15

Woodrow Wilson

1 20,000 7 500,000
1916

Woodrow Wilson

2 20,000 15 2,000,000
1917

Woodrow Wilson

2 2,000 67 2,000,000
1918

Woodrow Wilson

6 4,000 77 1,000,000
1919-20

Woodrow Wilson

4 4,000 73 1,000,000
1921

Warren Harding

4 4,000 73 1,000,000
1922

Warren Harding

4 4,000 56 200,000
1923

Warren Harding

3 4,000 56 200,000
1924

Calvin Coolidge

1.5 4,000 46 500,000
1925-28

Calvin Coolidge

1? 4,000 25 100,000
1929

Herbert Hoover

4? 4,000 24 100,000
1930-31

Herbert Hoover

1? 4,000 25 100,000
1932-33

Hoover, then FDR

4 4,000 63 1,000,000
1934-35

Franklin D. Roosevelt

4 4,000 63 1,000,000
1936-39

Franklin D. Roosevelt

4 4,000 79 5,000,000
1940

Franklin D. Roosevelt

4.4 4,000 81.1 5,000,000
1941

Franklin D. Roosevelt

10 2,000 81 5,000,000
1942-434

Franklin D. Roosevelt

19 2,000 88 200,000
1944-45

FDR, then Truman

23 2,000 94 200,000
1946-47

Harry S. Truman

19 2,000 86.45 200,000
1948-49

Harry S. Truman

16.6 4,000 82.13 400,000
1950

Harry S. Truman

17.4 4,000 91 400,000
1951

Harry S. Truman

20.4 4,000 91 400,000
1952

Harry S. Truman

22.2 4,000 92 400,000
1953

Dwight D. Eisenhower

22.2 4,000 92 400,000
1954-60

Dwight D. Eisenhower

20 4,000 91 400,000
1961-63

John F. Kennedy

20 4,000 91 400,000
1964

Lyndon B. Johnson

16 1,000 77 400,000
1965-67

Lyndon B. Johnson

14 1,000 70 200,000
1968

Lyndon B. Johnson

14 1,000 75.25 200,000
1969

Richard M. Nixon

14 1,000 77 200,000
1970

Richard M. Nixon

14 1,000 71.75 200,000
1971

Richard M. Nixon

14 1,000 70 200,000
1972-73

Richard M. Nixon

14 1,000 70 200,000
1974-76

Gerald R. Ford

14 1,000 70 200,000
1977-1978

Jimmy Carter

14 1,000 70 200,000
1979-80

Jimmy Carter

814 2,100 70 212,000
1981

Ronald Reagan

13.825 2,100 69.125 212,000
1982

Ronald Reagan

12 2,100 50 106,000
1983

Ronald Reagan

11 2,100 50 106,000
1984

Ronald Reagan

11 2,100 50 159,000
1985

Ronald Reagan

11 2,180 50 165,480
1986

Ronald Reagan

11 2,270 50 171,580
1987

Ronald Reagan

11 3,000 38.5 90,000
1988

Ronald Reagan

15 29,750 28 29,750
1989

George H. Bush

15 30,950 28 30,950
1990

George H. Bush

15 32,450 28 32,450
1991

George H. Bush

15 34,000 31 82,150
1992

George H. Bush

15 35,800 31 86,500
1993

Bill Clinton

15 36,900 39.6 250,000
1994

Bill Clinton

15 38,000 39.6 250,000
1995

Bill Clinton

15 39,000 39.6 256,500
1996

Bill Clinton

15 40,100 39.6 263,750
1997

Bill Clinton

15 41,200 39.6 271,050
1998

Bill Clinton

15 42,350 39.6 278,450
1999

Bill Clinton

15 43,050 39.6 283,150
2000

Bill Clinton

15 43,850 39.6 288,350
2001

George W. Bush

15 42, 200 39.1 297,350
2002

George W. Bush

10 12,000 38.6 307,050
2003

George W. Bush

10 14,000 35.0 311,950
2004

George W. Bush

10 14,300 35.0 319,100
2005

George W. Bush

10 14,600 35.0 326,450
2006

George W. Bush

10 15,100 35.0 336,550
2007

George W. Bush

10 15,650 35.0 349,700
2008

George W. Bush

10 16,050 35.0 357,700
2009

Barack Obama

10 16,700 35.0 372,950
2010

Barack Obama

10 16,700 35.0 373,650
2011

Barack Obama

10 17,000 35.0 379,150

 

 

III.    WHERE DO OUR FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS GO?

April 12, 2013, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The federal government collects taxes to finance various public services. As policymakers and citizens weigh key decisions about revenues and expenditures, it is instructive to examine what the government does with the money it collects.

In fiscal year 2012, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, amounting to 23 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Of that $3.5 trillion, nearly $2.5 trillion was financed by federal revenues. The remaining amount (about $1.1 trillion) was financed by borrowing; this deficit will ultimately be paid for by future taxpayers. As the graph on the next page shows, three major areas of spending each make up about one-fifth of the budget:

  • Defense and international security assistance: In 2012, 19 percent of the budget, or $689 billion, paid for defense and security-related international activities. The bulk of the spending in this category reflects the underlying costs of the Department of Defense. The total also includes the cost of supporting operations in Afghanistan and other related activities, described as Overseas Contingency Operations in the budget, funding for which totaled $127 billion in 2012.
  • Social Security: Another 22 percent of the budget, or $773 billion, paid for Social Security, which provided monthly retirement benefits averaging $1,262 to 36.7 million retired workers in December 2012. Social Security also provided benefits to 2.9 million spouses and children of retired workers, 6.3 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers, and 10.9 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents in December 2012.
  • Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP: Three health insurance programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — together accounted for 21 percent of the budget in 2012, or $732 billion. Nearly two-thirds of this amount, or $472 billion, went to Medicare, which provides health coverage to around 48 million people who are over the age of 65 or have disabilities. The remainder of this category funds Medicaid and CHIP, which in a typical month in 2012 provided health care or long-term care to about 60 million low-income children, parents, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Both Medicaid and CHIP require matching payments from the states.

Two other categories together account for another fifth of federal spending:

  • Safety net programs: About 12 percent of the federal budget in 2012, or $411 billion, supported programs that provide aid (other than health insurance or Social Security benefits) to individuals and families facing hardship.  Spending on safety net programs declined in both nominal and real terms between 2011 and 2012 as the economy continued to improve.

These programs include:  the refundable portions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which assist low- and moderate-income working families through the tax code; programs that provide cash payments to eligible individuals or households, including Supplemental Security Income for the elderly or disabled poor and unemployment insurance; various forms of in-kind assistance for low-income families and individuals, including SNAP (food stamps), school meals, low-income housing assistance, child care assistance, and assistance in meeting home energy bills; and various other programs such as those that aid abused and neglected children.

Such programs keep millions of people out of poverty each year. A CBPP analysis shows that government safety net programs kept some 25 million people out of poverty in 2010. Without any government income assistance, either from safety net programs or other income supports like Social Security, the poverty rate would have been 28.6 percent in 2010, nearly double the actual 15.5 percent.

  • Interest on the national debt: The federal government must make regular interest payments on the money it has borrowed to finance past deficits — that is, on the national debt held by the public, which reached $11 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2012. In 2012, these interest payments claimed $220 billion, or about 6 percent of the budget.

As the chart above shows, the remaining fifth of federal spending goes to support a wide variety of other public services. These include providing health care and other benefits to veterans and retirement benefits to retired federal employees, assuring safe food and drugs, protecting the environment, and investing in education, scientific and medical research, and basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and airports. A very small slice — about 1 percent of the total budget — goes to non-security programs that operate internationally, including programs that provide humanitarian aid.

***  Estimates of spending in fiscal year 2012 were based on the most recent historical data released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). (The federal fiscal year 2012 ran from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012.)

Reference:   “Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 12, 2013.  Accessed at:  http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=1258

Advertisements

Why Have African-Americans Abandoned the Republican Party When the Republican Party Has Never Abandoned Them?

          by Diane Rufino

“I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored. I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries. My country, right or wrong.”    –  Zora Neale Hurston.

The history of African-Americans is a history of cruelty and callousness. But then it became a history of triumph and character.  As Frederick Douglass once said, in the beginning we watched how a man was made a slave, but then we saw how a slave was made a man.

When the delegates from twelve of the original thirteen states met in Philadelphia in 1787 (Rhode Island didn’t participate) to draft a new constitution that would “create a more perfect union,” the hope, and indeed the plan, was to abolish slavery. At first, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina refused to join that union if the institution was outlawed, but then North Carolina gave in, noting that it already had a state law which banned the slave trade (although not directly).  But South Carolina and Georgia were steadfast and unyielding.  The plan for a Union would not work without those states.  [1]

Thomas Jefferson said: “There is preparing, I hope, under the auspices of heaven, a way for a total emancipation.” George Washington said, near the end of his life, wrote these words:  “It is among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this country shall be abolished by law. I know of but one way by which this can be done, and that is by legislative action; and so far as my vote can go, it shall not be wanting.”  Patrick Henry said, “We should transmit to posterity our abhorrence of slavery.”  And George Mason, of Virginia, who refused to sign the Constitution because it did not abolish slavery outright, was particularly passionate on the subject: “Slavery is slow poison, which is daily contaminating the minds and morals of our People. Practiced in acts of despotism and cruelty, we become callous to the dictates of humanity, and all the finer feelings of the soul. Taught to regard a part of our own species in the most abject and contemptible degree below us, we lose that idea of the dignity of Man, which the hand of nature had implanted in us, for great and useful purposes…..    Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. Slaves bring the judgment of heaven on a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.”  [Mason’s prediction about “national calamities” would come to pass in 1861].

A compromise was needed to bring South Carolina and Georgia together with the other states.

In the final draft of the Constitution, as submitted on September 17, 1787, a provision was intentionally included in Article I, respecting the duties of the legislative branch.  In Section 9 (“Limits on Congress”), our drafters included the following prohibition: “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.”  In other words, the government could not ban the importation of slaves for 20 years after the adoption of the Constitution.

The compromise on slavery occurred because the delegates as a whole agreed with Roger Sherman of Connecticut, who made the observation that it was better to let the Southern states import slaves than to part with those states.

As the designated year 1808 approached, those opposed to slavery began making plans for legislation that would ban, or outlaw, the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

In fact, in 1805, the first such piece of legislation was introduced by a senator from Vermont. The following year, in his annual address to Congress, President Thomas Jefferson urged Congress to pass the bill, which it did.  The law was finally passed by both houses of Congress on March 2, 1807, and then signed it into law on March 3, 1807 by Jefferson.  However, given the restriction imposed by Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, the law would only become effective on January 1, 1808.

The 1807 law ending the importation of slaves did nothing to stop the buying and selling of slaves within the United States and that turned out to be another battle for another day.  This issue of slavery would not be resolved until the end of the Civil War and then with the passage of the 13th Amendment.

The condition of the Negro during the time of slavery here in the United States can be summed up by a sermon delivered in 1808 by Bishop Absalom Jones:

The history of the world shows us, that the deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage, is not the only instance, in which it has pleased God to appear in behalf of oppressed and distressed nations, as the deliverer of the innocent, and of those who call upon his name. He is as unchangeable in his nature and character, as he is in his wisdom and power. He has seen the affliction of our countrymen, with an eye of pity. He has seen the wicked arts, by which wars have been fomented among the different tribes of the Africans, in order to procure captives, for the purpose of selling them for slaves. He has seen ships fitted out from different ports in Europe and America, and freighted with trinkets to be exchanged for the bodies and souls of men. He has seen the anguish which has taken place, when parents have been torn from their children, and children from their parents, and conveyed, with their hands and feet bound in fetters, on board of ships prepared to receive them. He has seen them thrust in crowds into the holds of those ships, where many of them have perished from the want of air. He has seen such of them as have escaped from that noxious place of confinement, leap into the ocean; with a faint hope of swimming back to their native shore, or a determination to seek early retreat from their impending misery, in a watery grave. He has seen them exposed for sale, like horses and cattle, upon the wharves; or, like bales of goods, in warehouses of West India and American sea ports. He has seen the pangs of separation between members of the same family. He has seen them driven into the sugar; the rice, and the tobacco fields, and compelled to work–in spite of the habits of ease which they derived from the natural fertility of their own country in the open air, beneath a burning sun, with scarcely as much clothing upon them as modesty required. He has seen them faint beneath the pressure of their labors. He has seen them return to their smoky huts in the evening, with nothing to satisfy their hunger but a scanty allowance of roots; and these, cultivated for themselves, on that day only, which God ordained as a day of rest for man and beast. He has seen the neglect with which their masters have treated their immortal souls; not only in withholding religious instruction from them, but, in some instances, depriving them of access to the means of obtaining it. He has seen all the different modes of torture, by means of the whip, the screw, the pincers, and the red hot iron, which have been exercised upon their bodies, by inhuman overseers: overseers, did I say? Yes: but not by these only. Our God has seen masters and mistresses, educated in fashionable life, sometimes take the instruments of torture into their own hands, and, deaf to the cries and shrieks of their agonizing slaves, exceed even their overseers in cruelty. Inhuman wretches! though You have been deaf to their cries and shrieks, they have been heard in Heaven. The ears of Jehovah have been constantly open to them: He has heard the prayers that have ascended from the hearts of his people; and he has, as in the case of his ancient and chosen people the Jews, come down to deliver our suffering country-men from the hands of their oppressors. He came down into the United States, when they declared, in the constitution which they framed in 1788, that the trade in our African fellow-men, should cease in the year 1808.  He came down into the British Parliament, when they passed a law to put an end to the same iniquitous trade in May, 1807.  He came down into the Congress of the United States, the last winter, when they passed a similar law, the operation of which commences on this happy day.”

Bishop Jones delivered that sermon on January 1, 1808, in St. Thomas’s, or the African Episcopal, Church, Philadelphia, in recognition of the legislation that was passed that day by the US Congress to abolish the African slave trade.

By 1820, most of the Founding Fathers were dead and Thomas Jefferson’s party, the Democratic-Republican Party, had become the majority party in Congress, outnumbering the Federalists.  In fact, 1820 is said to be the year which marked the death of the Federalist Party.  With this new Democratic-Republican Party in charge, a change in congressional policy emerged.  At the time, a law that was enacted in 1789, prohibiting slavery in federal territory, was still on the books. In 1820, the Democratic-Republican Congress passed the Missouri Compromise and reversed that earlier policy and thereby permitted slavery in almost half of the federal territories. Several States were subsequently admitted as slave States.  For the first time since the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, slavery was being officially promoted by congressional policy. Yet, the only way for the Congress to promote slavery was to ignore the principles in the founding documents. As Founding Father and President John Quincy Adams explained:  “The first step of the slaveholder to justify by argument the peculiar institutions of slavery is to deny the self-evident truths of John Quincy Adams the Declaration of Independence. He denies that all men are created equal. He denies that they have inalienable rights.”

Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party would lay the foundation for the Democratic Party.  In 1828, the Democratic-Republicans split over the choice of a successor to President James Monroe, and the party faction that supported many of the old Jeffersonian principles, led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, became the Democratic Party.  Andrew Jackson is considered our first Democratic president.  Ironically, the Democratic party believed in strict adherence and strict interpretation of the Constitution, as well as limited government and states’ rights, and it opposed a national bank and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.  [2]

The Democrats soon became the leading party in Congress and they passed several pro-slavery laws, including the infamous 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.  The Fugitive Slave Law required Northerners to return escaped slaves back into slavery or else pay huge fines. In many instances, the law became little more than an excuse for southern slave hunters to kidnap free blacks in the North and carry them into slavery in the South.

In 1854, the democratically-controlled Congress passed another law which strengthened slavery – the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Even though Democrats in Congress had already expanded the federal territories in which slavery was permitted through their passage of the Missouri Compromise, the compromise retained a ban on slavery in the particular territory that would later become the states of Kansas and Nebraska. But through the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Democrats were able to repeal that ban and therefore allow slavery to be introduced into parts of the new territory where it previously had been forbidden, thereby increasing the national area in which slavery would be permitted. This law led to what was called “bleeding Kansas,” where pro-slavery forces came pouring into the territory that was previously free and began fighting violent battles against the anti-slavery inhabitants there.

Northern leaders such as Horace Greeley (famous NY newspaper editor of his day), Ohio Senator Salmon Chase (a senator from Ohio, and Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner (senator from Massachusetts, known as a powerful orator) could not sit back and watch the flood of pro-slavery settlers cross the parallel. They began to toss around the idea for a new party.  In 1854, six anti-slavery members of Congress – belonging to the Democratic Party, the Whig Party, and the Free Soil Party – wrote an article entitled “Appeal of the Independent Democrats” which was widely published in major newspapers all over the states and territories and which criticized the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  The six authors were as follows:

Salmon P. Chase  (Senator from Ohio; member of the Free Soil Party; later to become Lincoln’s Secretary of Treasury and then appointed by him to the Supreme Court where he later wrote an opinion announcing that states have no right to secede from the Union)

Charles Sumner (Senator from Massachusetts; although he helped found the Free Soil Party, he took his seat in the US Senate in 1851 as a Democrat. Sumner was known as a powerful orator. In fact, in 1856, after he delivered an intensely anti-slavery speech called “The Crime Against Kansas” on the Senate floor, he was almost beaten to death by a senator from South Carolina)

J. R. Giddiugs   (anti-slavery congressman from Ohio; member of the Whig Party who would befriend a fellow Whig, Abraham Lincoln)

Edward Wade  (Congressman from Ohio, member of the Free Soil Party)

Gerritt Smith  (Congressman from New York, member of the Free Soil Party; staunch abolitionist)

Alexander De Witt  (Congressman from Massachusetts, member of the Free Soil Party)

The “Appeal of the Independent Democrats” stated:

      “The original settled policy of the United States, clearly indicated by the Jefferson provision of 1784 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, was non-extension of slavery.  In 1803 Louisiana was acquired by purchase from France and the plain language of the treaty under which the territory had been acquired from France emphasized that national policy……

     We appeal to the people. We warn you that the dearest interests of freedom and the Union are in imminent peril. Demagogues may tell you that the Union can be maintained only by submitting to the demands of slavery. We tell you that the Union can only be maintained by the full recognition of the just claims of freedom and man. The Union was formed to establish justice and secure the blessings of liberty. When it fails to accomplish these ends it will be worthless, and when it becomes worthless it cannot long endure.

     We entreat you to be mindful of that fundamental maxim of Democracy—EQUAL RIGHTS AND EXACT JUSTICE FOR ALL MEN. Do not submit to become agents in extending legalized oppression and systematized injustice over a vast territory yet exempt from these terrible evils.

     We implore Christians and Christian ministers to interpose. Their divine religion requires them to behold in every man a brother, and to labor for the advancement and regeneration of the human race.

     Whatever apologies may be offered for the toleration of slavery in the States, none can be offered for its extension into Territories where it does not exist, and where that extension involves the repeal of ancient law and the violation of solemn compact. Let all protest, earnestly and emphatically, by correspondence, through the press, by memorials, by resolutions of public meetings and legislative bodies, and in whatever other mode may seem expedient, against this enormous crime.

      For ourselves, we shall resist it by speech and vote, and with all the abilities which God has given us. Even if overcome in the impending struggle, we shall not submit. We shall go home to our constituents, erect anew the standard of freedom, and call on the people to come to the rescue of the country from the domination of slavery. We will not despair; for the cause of human freedom is the cause of God.”

Following the publication of this “Appeal,” spontaneous anti-slavery demonstrations occurred throughout 1854.  Sentiment was quickly building for this new political party which would oppose slavery and help secure equal civil rights for negroes.  It would become known as the Republican Party.  The Republican Party name was christened in an editorial written by newspaper magnate Horace Greeley. Greeley printed in June 1854: “We should not care much whether those thus united against slavery are designated ‘Whig,’ ‘Free Democrat’ or something else.  We  think some simple name like ‘Republican’ would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery.”

By 1855 it would already have a majority in the US House of Representatives.  By 1856, it held its first nominating convention, in Philadelphia, where it announced that it had become a unified political force.  It’s first presidential candidate would be Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  And his platform would specifically include a pledge not to permit slavery to exist into any US territory that was not already a state.

Before Lincoln would run for president, there would be one more insult to the negro – the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857. This decision would energize the growing abolitionist movement.

In Dred Scott v. Sandford, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether a slave who escaped from a slave state to a free state is considered free.  And the words and thought which flowed from the minds of such supposed constitutional scholars entrusted with the bench of the highest court in the land represented the lowest point in American constitutional jurisprudence.

On March 6th, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a Democrat, a staunch supporter of slavery, and one intent on protecting the South from northern aggression, delivered the majority opinion. He summed the case up in one question: “The question is simply this: Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country (from Africa), and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, guaranteed by that instrument to the citizen?  One of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the United States in the cases specified in the Constitution.”

Taney answered: “We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.”

Seven of the nine justices agreed that Dred Scott should remain a slave, but Taney did not stop there. He referred to blacks as an “inferior race” and an “unfortunate race” and a degraded and unhappy race.”  He said they are “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery.”  He ruled that blacks, whether slaves or as free men, are descended from an inferior race which was never intended to be included among the class of persons protected by our Declaration of Independence or Constitution.  As he explained, the framers of the Constitution believed that blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it.” Justice Taney ruled that as a slave, Scott was not a citizen of the United States, could never be a citizen, was therefore not entitled to any rights or privileges afforded by the Constitution, and therefore had no right to bring suit in the federal courts on any matter.  In other words, because blacks (Africans, as Taney referred to them) are an inferior race, they are only fit to serve the interests of other human beings. No African, therefore, can ever be protected by the Constitution.  Referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, “all men are created equal,” Taney reasoned that “it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration….”

In addition, he declared that Scott had never been free, due to the fact that slaves were personal property; thus the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional, and the Federal Government had no right to prohibit slavery in the new territories. The court appeared to be sanctioning slavery under the terms of the Constitution itself, and saying that slavery could not be outlawed or restricted within the United States.

There was a growing abolitionist movement in the United States at the time, particularly in the northern states.  And the Dred Scott decision gave further fuel to ignite the movement.  As mentioned above, Abraham Lincoln ran in 1860 on a platform which promised to end the spread of slavery. He would prohibit slavery in any territory of the United States; only those states already established would be able to keep the institution. He believed if slavery was contained, it would easily die a natural death.  [3]

When Lincoln won the election, and even before he was inaugurated, the southern states began to secede from the Union.  South Carolina led the way.  Eleven southern states would secede and form a new nation – the Confederate States of America – with their own constitution, government, and leaders. Their new constitution permitted slavery outright.  President Lincoln, believing the states had no right to secede, attacked the Confederacy (at Fort Sumter) and engaged them a Civil War from 1861-1865.

The Civil War was fought for many reasons but one instigating factor was slavery, indeed.  While the North did not invade the South for the purpose of abolishing slavery, in 1863, it became politically expedient for Lincoln to announce that slaves will be emancipated.  He figured it would energize the war effort, hasten the defeat of the South, and end the war.  And so, on January 1, as the nation approached its third year of horrible bloodshed, Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation which declared that “all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward, shall be free.”  The 1963 Emancipation Proclamation was a great boost for moral, particularly among slaves and abolitionists.

Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways.  First, it would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was solely based on Lincoln’s war powers. Furthermore, the Proclamation did not free any slaves in the border states nor itself make slavery illegal. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.  What it did, however, was to invigorate the abolitionist sentiment in the north, and more importantly, it changed the character of the war.  The war went from being a war to re-unite and save the Union to a war to free the slaves.  After Lincoln delivered the Proclamation, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, approximately 186,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and for freedom.  But how to overcome the limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation and memorialize the intent and spirit it represented?

A constitutional amendment would have to be the answer.

Even before the war had come to an end, in April 1865, an amendment to the US Constitution was drafted to abolish slavery and a vote was taken in Congress.  It would be the 13th Amendment, which provides: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  The Senate proposed the amendment in February of 1864 and passed it two months later.  But the House refused to pass it.  President Lincoln then got involved.  If the House wouldn’t pass it, then he would make sure the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential election. His efforts must have worked because the House passed the joint resolution (the 13th Amendment) on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56.  It was a very partisan amendment, with 100% of House republicans voting in favor and only 23% of democrats supporting it. It was then sent to the states for adoption.  Note that the Civil War had not yet been won at this point.  The bloody war would not end until April 9, when the great General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia (the confederate army) to the victorious General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.

The 13th Amendment was finally ratified on December 6, 1865 when 27 out of the 36 states ratified it (= 3/4 of the states, as required by Article V of the Constitution).  Unfortunately, Lincoln would not live to see the day when slavery would be officially abolished in the country for he was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14.

When the war ended, and the Confederate States of America were defeated, plans had to be made for the individual southern states to re-enter the Union.  Conditions had to be required. And as it turned out, some degree of punishment would be inflicted as well.  While the 13th Amendment received the approval of 3/4 of the states and became effective as part of the Constitution, many of the southern states were still bitter and not willing to recognize blacks as anything other than slaves or an inferior race of people. Slavery may have been abolished by the Constitution but it didn’t mean that they, as states, had to treat them any differently.  Blacks may have been free, but the states weren’t about to permit them to be citizens.  And so Congress came up with the Civil Rights Act.

That was still the year of 1865.

In 1865,  Republican Senator Lyman Trumbull (of Illinois) proposed the Civil Rights Act.  (He was also the co- drafter of the 13th Amendment).  The Civil Rights Act declared that people born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power are entitled to be citizens, without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude.  It also said that any citizen has the same right as a white citizen to make and enforce contracts, sue and be sued, give evidence in court, and inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property.  The Civil Rights Act passed both houses of Congress, but President Andrew Johnson vetoed it – in 1865 and then again in 1866.  But in 1866, a 2/3 majority in each house overcame the veto and the bill became law (hence, the official name of the legislation – the Civil Rights Act of 1866).  But that victory didn’t come without a fight by the Democrats.  Democrats tried to stall the passing of this legislation by declaring it was unconstitutional, but Trumball, an attorney and former chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, countered by arguing that Congress had power to enact it in order to eliminate a discriminatory “badge of servitude” prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment.  [In the 20th century, the US Supreme Court would ultimately adopt Trumbull’s rationale in finding congressional power to ban racial discrimination by states and by private parties].

To eliminate any doubt about its constitutionality and to make sure that no subsequent Congress would later repeal or alter its core provisions, Republican members of  Congress decided to memorialize the Civil Rights Act in a constitutional amendment. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 would become our 14th Amendment.  Republican members of the US Congress took advantage of the fact that the southern states were not yet restored to the Union.  In order to be sure that they had the required majority of Senators to pass the amendment (2/3, as required by Article V of the Constitution), they pulled a fast one.  They simply refused to seat Senators from the southern states.

The 14th Amendment declares that free slaves are citizens – not only of the United States but also of the state in which they reside – and as such are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizenship.  (“All persons born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the state they reside.”)   It also provides that freed slaves cannot be deprived of Life, Liberty, and Property without Due Process and that they are entitled to the Equal Protection of the laws.  The Citizenship Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment paralleled the “citizenship” language and the “nondiscrimination” language, respectively, in the Civil Rights Act of 1866.  (They would not be re-admitted until 1868- 1870).

Specifically, the 14th Amendment reads:   Section 1:  “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that expressly overruled the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857, which declared that all blacks – slaves as well as free – were not and could never become citizens of the United States.  The Due Process Clause prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness. This clause has been used to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural rights. And the Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. This clause was the basis for the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which precipitated the dismantling of racial segregation in our schools.

The 14th Amendment was proposed on June 13, 1866, as House Joint Resolution 127, and was then immediately sent to the states for ratification.  At that time, the eleven defeated confederate states were not yet re-admitted to the Union. Nonetheless, as with the 13th Amendment, they were asked to ratify the 14th Amendment, which all refused to do – except Tennessee, which adopted it immediately and was therefore permitted re-admission. It was re-admitted on July 24, 1866. (Tennessee had been conflicted even from the very beginning as to whether it wanted to secede or not.  In fact, after the state legislature voted to secede from the Union, a large portion of the population tried to secede from Tennessee and remain with the Union).  In addition, the 14th Amendment was decidedly rejected by the border states as well. By March 1867, twenty states had ratified and thirteen had rejected the proposed amendment. With the southern and border states refusing to adopt the 14th Amendment, it failed to secure the 3/4 of states necessary for ratification as required under Article V.   And so the amendment failed to pass.

After learning that the proposed amendment’s failure, the Republicans (specifically referred to as the “Radical Republicans”) in Congress responded by passing the Reconstruction Act of March 2, 1867, which essentially put the south under martial law and restricted their abilities to govern themselves and to participate in the federal government.  Under the congressional plan, the former confederacy (minus Tennessee) was broken up into five military districts. Each district was under the control of federal troops and headed by a particular northern Civil War general.  This was the notorious Reconstruction Era, which would have longstanding impressions on the southern states.  The purpose of Reconstruction, as was made clear by the Reconstruction Act, was to punish the South.  The law set out to determine the conditions under which the southern states would be permitted to return to the Union, how they would be re-seated in government, how they would govern themselves, what would become of their “rebellious” leaders, and how they would treat their freedmen.  All this would be determined while the states were under martial law and under the scrutiny of the federal government.  Specifically, in order to be re-admitted to the Union , the states would have to rewrite their constitutions to disqualify former Confederate officials from office and guarantee black males the right to vote.  Most importantly, the states would have to ratify the 14th Amendment.  Once these conditions were met and military rule was ended, then could the former confederate states be re-admitted to the Union.  As one Republican (northern) representative described the situation: “The people of the South have rejected the constitutional amendment and therefore we will march upon them and force them to adopt it at the point of the bayonet.”

By July 9, 1868, with ratification by North Carolina, Louisiana, and then South Carolina, enough states had ratified the 14th Amendment so that it was certified to become part of the US Constitution.  It would not be until 1870 that the last southern state, Georgia, would be re-admitted and the Union would be reconstituted.  [4]

Let’s return again to the year 1865.  In that year, the Republican Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedman, and Abandoned Lands (aka, “Freedman’s Bureau”) to help freed slaves transition from bondage to freedom.  An Inquiry Commission was tasked with assessing the needs of Freedman to justify whether such a Bureau was  worthwhile, and in their Final Report, the Commission concluded:

“Let us beware the temptation to treat the colored people with less than even justice, because they have been, and still are, lowly and feeble. Let us bear in mind that, with governments as with individuals, the crucial test of civilization and sense of justice is their treatment of the weak and the dependent.

God is offering to us an opportunity of atoning, in some measure, to the African for our former complicity in his wrongs. For our own sakes, as well as for his, let it not be lost. As we would that He should be to us and to our children, so let us be to those whose dearest interests are, by His providence, committed for the time to our charge.

As regards the question, What amount of aid and interference is necessary or desirable to enable the freedmen to tide over the stormy transition from slavery to freedom?   We have chiefly to say that there is as much danger in doing too much as in doing too little. The risk is serious that, under the guise of guardianship, slavery, in a modified form, may be practically restoredThose who have ceased, only perforce, to be slave-holders, will be sure to unite their efforts to effect just such a purpose. It should be the earnest object of all friends of liberty to anticipate and prevent it. Benevolence itself, misdirected, may play into the hands of freedom’s enemies, and those whose earnest endeavor is the good of the freedman may, unconsciously, contribute to his virtual re-enslavement.

The refugees from slavery, when they first cross our lines, need temporary aid, but not more than indigent Southern whites fleeing from secessionism, both being sufferers from the disturbance of labor and the destruction of its products incident to war. The families of colored men, hired as military laborers or enlisted as soldiers, need protection and assistance, but not more than the families of white men similarly situated. Forcibly deprived of education in a state of slavery, the freedmen have a claim upon us to lend a helping hand until they can organize schools for their children. But they will soon take the labor and expense out of our hands, for these people pay no charge more willingly than that which assures them that their children shall reap those advantages of instruction which were denied to themselves.

For a time we need a freedman’s bureau, but not because these people are negroes, only because they are men who have been, for generations, despoiled of their rights. The Commission has, in supplemental report made to you last December, recommended the establishment of such a bureau, and they believe that all that is essential to its proper organization is contained, substantially, in a bill to that effect reported on April 12 from the Senate Committee on Slavery and Freedmen.”

The Freedman’s Bureau established schools to teach freed slaves how to read and write and provide them with a basic education. The Bureau also provided food, set up courts to protect emancipated slaves’ contractual and other civil rights, and founded savings banks to protect their assets. The crowning achievement of the Freedman’s Bureau was its significant accomplishments in the area education, particularly in the face of the hostile political environment towards blacks at the time. By the end of 1867, the number of schools had doubled and the number of blacks (adults and children) being educated had tripled.  At the same time, the number of banks (including the “Freedman’s Saving & Trust Company,” chartered by Congress) had increased and freedmen were saving at a rate of four times higher than the previous year to purchase homestead plots and businesses.

Unfortunately, the activities of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), as well as state action in the form of Black Codes and then Jim Crow, would present barriers to the Republican’s plan to advance the freed slaves and make sure that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 would fail to secure their civil rights. The KKK, as we’ll soon see, was started in 1866 to frustrate the attempts of Republicans to infect the South.  Black Codes were laws that were passed in the 1860′s by the Southern states (and varying from state to state), to maintain the inferiority of freed blacks and to undermine their civil rights. The black codes were passed in retaliation to the abolition of slavery and the defeat by the North.  They had their roots in the former slave codes, which were premised on the notion that Africans were property, or chattel (and therefore, had very few, if any, legal rights).  Black Codes were distinct from Jim Crow. Jim Crow refers to an era ushered in later in the 19th century, following Reconstruction.

As mentioned earlier, 1867 was the start of the Reconstruction Era.  In order to be re-admitted to the Union , the former confederate states would have to endure military rule until they met the conditions set forth in the Reconstruction Act –  including rewriting their constitutions to disqualify former Confederate officials from office, guaranteeing black males the right to vote, and ratifying the 14th Amendment.  During Reconstruction, military governors oversaw the registration of voters, in order that freed slaves were not disenfranchised. Under the scrutiny of federal troops, elections were held in which the freed slaves could vote. At the same time, while whites who held leading positions under the Confederacy were not only barred from running for office but were also temporarily denied the right to vote.  It was a profoundly bitter time for the South.

Reconstruction was never part of Lincoln’s plan to restore the Union.  We have to take him at his word.  In his second Inaugural Address, he declared: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace.”

As one reference describes that period of time for the South: “Reconstruction is the period after the war when the South was under martial law and when the people basically lost their rights as Americans, was a terrible time for the citizens of the former Confederate States of America. It was intended by the US Congress as punishment for secession. The South was controlled by military leaders, who may have been excellent commanders in battle, but were pretty much universally horrible as governors. A ‘carpetbagger’ government was put in place… Men who were generally scoundrels and often criminals served as ‘rulers’ of the states and communities. They appointed former Union sympathizers and former slaves in positions of authority, to infuriate and humiliate the people. This was pretty much a lawless time throughout much of the south, not unlike that in the western territories. [Former Civil War General Nathaniel Bedford] Forrest described that government as ‘I believe that party to be composed, as I know it is in Tennessee, of the worst men on Gods earth – men who would not hesitate at no crime, and who have only one object in view – to enrich themselves.’ “  [ www.freesociety.com]

Reconstruction would last for 17 years and would be responsible for much of the resentment that the South continues to feel for the North and for the government in general.

In ten out of the eleven seceding southern states (again, all except Tennessee), black freedmen and white transplants from the North (known as “carpetbaggers” because many brought their belongings in large carpet bags)  and white Southerners who switched allegiance and supported Reconstruction (known as “scalawags“) joined together to establish republican bi-racial state governments during the Reconstruction era. They introduced various reconstruction programs, secured massive federal aid to re-build railroads and other transportation, established public school systems, and raised taxes to fund it all.  They also helped freed blacks become involved in the local government, become educated, and become employed. These groups, however, were seen as outsiders and/or traitors and were attempting to transform the South into a society that it wasn’t ready to accept. They would have to be stopped.  Thus was born the Ku Klux Klan.

History teaches us that the Ku Klux Klan was a violent organization aimed at terrorizing and intimidating former slaves. They operated as a secret society – a bunch of cowards with white gowns and masks, often carrying guns and a noose.  We know the Klan’s record of burning crosses and lynching negroes. We know its record on civil rights.

But the reason the Ku Klux Klan was formed was for a far different purpose.  The KKK was founded in 1866 in Pulaski, Tennessee, by six former Confederate officers of the Civil War.  These men approached distinguished General Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the great heroes of the war, with the idea of a “police force” and asked for his “blessings,” for he held the love and respect of the people.  He gave his blessings, and in return, he was appointed their first leader. He was the first Grand Wizard.  He would describe the organization as a social club and as “a protective political military organization.”  It was initially formed to help take care of poor Confederate widows.  They also fought crime and “took care” of criminals.  In other words, they basically restored order to the South, where for years there was none.

In an interview, General Forrest had this to say: “Yes, sir. It is a protective political military organization. I am willing to show any man the constitution of the society. The members are sworn to recognize the government of the United States. It does not say anything at all about the government of Tennessee. Its objects originally were protection against Loyal Leagues and the Grand Army of the Republic; but after it became general it was found that political matters and interests could best be promoted within it, and it was then made a political organization, giving its support, of course, to the democratic party…….Since its organization, the leagues have quit killing and murdering our people. There were some foolish young men who put masks on their faces and rode over the country, frightening negroes, but orders have been issued to stop that, and it has ceased. You may say, further, that three members of the Ku-Klux have been court-martialed and shot for violations of the orders not to disturb or molest people.”

But soon, the Klan took on a more aggressive nature.  It began to “persuade” freed blacks to assume their former status and to “scare” them into not voting or running for any elected office, as well as to harass and intimidate northern transplants, southern republicans, and other southerners who were supportive of the Union.

Controversy exists over whether Forrest actually played an active part in the organization and when he decided to sever his associate with it.  Within a year or two of the Klan’s founding,  Forrest was asked if he was a member and he answered: “I am not, but am in sympathy and will co-operate with them. I know that they are charged with many crimes that they are not guilty of.”  In 1869  he asked the KKK to disband, stating: “being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace.”

Again, the KKK, as originally intended, did not target Negroes.  In fact, Forrest gave many speeches and talks around the Memphis area from 1866, the year the KKK was founded, until 1874.  Most of these speeches talked of peace, patriotism for the US Constitution, and trying to bring the country back together.  On several occasions, he addressed black groups, to which he spoke these words: “We are born on the same soil, breathe the same air, live on the same land, and why should we not be brothers and sisters?”  This is hardly the rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan that it would later become — a murderous hate group.

[Someone once asked Robert E. Lee to name the greatest soldier produced on either side during the war and he replied, “A man I have never seen, sir. His name is Forrest.”  William Tecumseh Sherman, General of the Army of the Potomac, who during the War called him “that devil Forrest,” also had a high opinion of Forrest and said, “Forrest was the most remarkable man our Civil War produced on either side.” ]

As we all know, the KKK would continue on to spread into nearly every Southern state, launching a “reign of terror” against Republican leaders – black and white.  It would become the “militant arm” of the Democratic Party.  Forrest’s grandson, Nathan Bedford Forrest II, a democrat and Grand Dragon of the KKK, wrote in the September 1928 edition of the Klan’s The Kourier Magazine: “I have never voted for any man who was not a regular Democrat.  My father  never voted for any man who was not a Democrat.  My grandfather was the head of the Ku Klux Klan in the Reconstruction days….  My great-grandfather was a life-long Democrat….  My great-great-grandfather was…one of the founders of the Democratic party.”

In Dr. Eric Foner’s book, A Short History of Reconstruction, he wrote: “In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired the restoration of white supremacy.  It aimed to destroy the Republican party’s infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.”  [pg. 184].  He provides many accounts of the horrific acts of terror inflicted by Democrats on black and white Republicans.  Professor Foner recounts one such act of  terror: “Jack Dupree was a victim of a particularly brutal murder in Monroe County, Mississippi. Assailants cut his throat and disemboweled him, all within sight of his wife, who had just given birth to twins.  He was ‘president of a republican club‘ and known as a man who ‘would speak his mind.’”   [pp. 184-185].

After examining the abundant evidence concerning this violence, US Senator Roscoe Conkling concluded that the Democratic Party was determined to exterminate blacks in those States where Democratic supremacy was threatened.  As a response to Democratic violence in the South, and in order to further secure the civil rights of blacks, Congress passed the 15th Amendment, explicitly guaranteeing voting rights for blacks.

The 15th Amendment – the final of the three post-war civil rights amendments was proposed by the US Congress on February 26, 1869.  It was ratified by the states in 1870.  It was the first-ever constitutional expansion of voting rights.  Like the two previous civil rights amendments, it was passed along partisan lines. Not a single one of the 56 Democrats in Congress at that time voted for the 15th Amendment.  Not a single Democrat, either from the North or the South, supported granting explicit voting rights to black Americans. Several fierce advocates of equal rights, like Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, abstained from voting because it did not go far enough, in their opinion.  They wanted the amendment to prohibit such arbitrary schemes which states might use to restrict black suffrage, such as literacy tests and poll taxes. Yet, despite the opposition from Democrats, the 15th Amendment did pass, thanks to the overwhelming support by Republican legislators. With the passage of this Amendment, leading abolitionist Wendell Phillips joyfully exclaimed, “We have washed color out of the Constitution!”

Reconstruction officially ended with the presidential election of 1876, which is discussed below. The newly-elected president, Rutherford B. Hayes, removed the remaining federal soldiers from the military districts and the southern states were once again free to resume their traditional state functions. Once the soldiers were gone, however, southern Democrats started mistreating the black people again with no fear of punishment because there were no soldiers to enforce the new laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the civil rights amendments.  As Republican influence was waning in the former confederacy, there was little political protection for the emancipated blacks from the Republican Party. It would only get worse in the years following the end of martial law.

The period that followed Reconstruction was known as “Redemption.”  Redeemers were part of the Southern Democrats who sought to oust the Republican coalition of freedmen, carpetbaggers, and scalawags and “redeem” the states from the Republicans back to the Democrats.  Redemption would be complete before the election of 1880.

It wasn’t until 1876 that the Southern Democrats were finally able to regain state political control. And it occurred thanks to the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan and other more formal paramilitary (terrorist/intimidation) groups affiliated with the Democratic Party, such as the White League and the Red Shirts.  And it most specifically occurred thanks to the fraud and controversy which surrounded the 1876 election between Republican presidential candidate Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden.  By 1876, only 3 states – Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida – were not yet “redeemed.”  The election ended up with 20 disputed electoral votes.  On election night, as the votes were counted and the results circulated about the country by telegraph, it was clear that Tilden had won the popular vote.  His final popular vote tally would be 4,288,546. The total popular vote for Hayes was 4,034,311. But the election was deadlocked. Tilden had 184 electoral votes, one vote short of the required majority. Four states – Oregon, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida – had disputed elections, and those states held 20 electoral votes.

A special commission, the Electoral Commission, was established by Congress to resolve those votes. There were 15 members – 7 members from the Democratic House, 7 members from the Republican Senate, and one member from the Supreme Court (who turned out to be a Republican). The commission voted along strict partisan lines to award all the disputed voted to Hayes, making him the winner by an electoral count of 185-184.  Infuriated Democrats threatened to contest the election results until a deal was struck with Republicans. The Democrats would agree to support the commission’s finding in exchange for removing federal troops from the South, naming a Southerner to the Hayes’ cabinet, and allocating federal aid to the South.  The Democratic Party regained power in South Carolina in 1877 and other states quickly followed.  Thus was the quick rise and fall of the Republican Party in the South.

The 1880′s began the period known as the Jim Crow era.  This was the era where democratic state legislatures attempted to roll back the advances on behalf of freed slaves and other blacks by the Republicans. It was during this time that democratic state legislatures disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites through a combination of state constitutional amendments and electoral laws. They segregated blacks from white society and plantation owners found new ways to bind their former slaves as miserably-paid workers through sharecropping and other contractual arrangements. For all intents and purposes, many blacks found themselves in virtually the same position they had occupied before their emancipation.

In 1896, the Supreme Court heard the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which addressed a  Louisiana Jim Crow law that segregated rail cars. Homer Plessy, a black man, tried to board a “whites-only” train in Louisiana when the car designated for blacks was full.  Once he boarded, he was forcibly removed and jailed. He sued the state, claiming the Louisiana segregation laws violated both his 13th and 14th Amendment rights. The Supreme Court, by a vote of 8-1, ruled that the 14th Amendment did not include a requirement that the races needed to be co-mingled and therefore upheld the doctrine of “Separate but Equal” when it came to facilities for blacks.  Segregation was justified, providing the facilities and services were essentially equal.  Plessy marked the beginning of a 58-year period where Jim Crow laws were largely unchallenged and condoned by the federal government.  It not only perpetuated the white supremacist beliefs of the time, but also made it possible for states to make and enforce Jim Crow laws with impunity.

As admirable and inspiring as blacks were in the years following their liberation, a stark contrast in human nature was seen by the forces against them. Groups like the KKK and southern democrats behaved shamefully, deplorably, and inhumanely. Blacks began a distinguished, dignified, and long-overdue chapter in their history after the Civil War, but the opposite was true for the groups who acted in opposition to their freedom and to their rapid success. Many southern Democrats despised blacks and Republicans and they utilized every means possible to keep them from voting – including not only the use of devious and cunning means but also the direct use of violence. Here’s the thing. After slavery was abolished, ALL freed slaves and other blacks were Republicans. [In the South, whites were mostly Democratic, but some could be Republican. Southern whites loyal to the antebellum South were mostly Democratic. Whites who sympathized with the North and wanted civil rights for blacks were Republican (scalawags). The worst thing you could be in the Reconstruction era South, and in the years that followed, was a Republican. And the most offensive Republican was a black one.

By 1900, democrats actually began actively to seek a repeal of the 14th and 15th Amendments.  As democratic Senator Ben Tillman from South Carolina explained:  “We made up our minds that the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were themselves null and void; that the civil rights acts of Congress were null and void; that oaths required by such laws were null and void.”  Prominent democratic leader A. W. Terrell of Texas said that the 15th Amendment guaranteeing black voting rights was “the political blunder of the century.”

Democrats from both the North and the South agreed with Terrell and Tillman, and several asked for a repeal of the  amendments.  Louisiana Senator Samuel McEnery, who was one of those democrats, was confident that the effort would succeed.  He even declared: “I believe that not a single southern Senator would object to such a move.”  Fortunately, the attempt failed.

In 1901, at the same time that democrats were seeking to roll back the civil rights amendments, republican President Teddy Roosevelt infuriated many democrats by inviting Booker T. Washington, a mulatto former slave who went on to become the leader of the Tuskegee Institute, to the White House.  Washington became the first American of African descent to dine with a President at the White House.  He served as an advisor to three republican US presidents – William McKinley, Roosevelt, and William Taft.  Democrat President Woodrow Wilson, however, would not seek his counsel.

In 1915, the pro-Klan movie “Birth of a Nation” by D.W. Griffith was released to help beef up the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan.  It was based on a book called “The Clansman” which was written by an avid racist, Thomas Dixon Jr.  Dixon’s text incorporated some material from Woodrow Wilson’s book, “History of the American People” – particularly the part portraying the Ku Klux Klan in a sympathetic light.  For example, it includes this piece from Wilson’s book: “The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation until at last there had spring into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.”  This section also made it into Griffith’s movie.  Democratic president Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) held a private showing of this racist Klan-recruiting film at the White House.  It was the first film to ever be shown at the White House.  How racist was this film?  It would become a major recruiting tool.  It would be so successful that it helped the Klan to reach its peak membership of almost two million. Could the success in recruitment stem, perhaps, from an endorsement of the film from the highest office in the land?

President Woodrow Wilson was the first southerner to be elected to the White House since 1844 and only the second Democrat to be elected since Reconstruction. While he is respected as a scholar (serving as president of Princeton University) and viewed as a man of peace, especially in the public school system (he presented his “Fourteen Points of Peace” to Congress for establishing a lasting peace in Europe after WWI and wanted so badly to establish his particular version of a League of Nations), he was also regarded as an outright racist and a white supremacist. There is certainly an abundance of historical documentation to support this statement. While serving as the president of Princeton, Wilson discouraged black from applying to the university.  And then when he served as Governor of New Jersey, he refused to confirm the hiring of blacks in his administration. As Wilson was known to say: “Segregation is not humiliating; it’s a benefit!” As historians explain, he was a product of the pre- and post-war South and was brought up under the assumption at the time that the black race was inferior to the Saxon people. He was also bitter over the forced policies of Reconstruction on the southern states.  He feared what might arise from a South “ruled by an ignorant and inferior race.”  Ironically, in the election of 1912, “an unprecedented number” of blacks left the Republican Party to cast their vote for Wilson, a Democrat because they were encouraged by his promises of support for minorities.

But once he took office however, he acted contrary to his campaign promises. Black leaders quickly noticed that he put segregationist white southern democrats in charge of many executive departments.  He fired most of the blacks who held appointed posts within the federal government, and then permitted his segregationist cabinet appointees to establish official segregation policies in the Post Office, Treasury, and Navy, which until that time had been desegregated.  (Many of these would remain segregated clear into the Truman administration, in the 1940’s). Suddenly, under his authority, photographs were required of all applicants for federal jobs and new facilities were designed to keep the races working there separated (including separate toilets and lunch rooms).  And then the democrat-controlled House proposed passed a bill making it a felony for any black person to marry a white person in Washington DC.

In the early 20th century, African-Americans needed a President to offer them hope.  In many parts of the country, mostly in the South however, whites made them feel inferior.  State laws enshrined a presumption of inferiority. And the Supreme Court had upheld those laws, thereby allowing the perpetuation of such laws and establishing cruel stereotypes.  In the early 1860’s, Abraham Lincoln was one such president who offered hope.  In a time when it wasn’t necessarily acceptable, he formed a strong friendship with a man of color – Frederick Douglass, a freed slave.  Douglass was welcome at the White House and was often there to speak with the President.  The mutual affection the men had for each other inspired Douglass to write these words in his memoirs after Lincoln was assassinated: “I have often said elsewhere what I wish to repeat here, that Mr. Lincoln was not only a great president, but a great man — too great to be small in anything. In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color.”

But Woodrow Wilson would not be that kind of president.  His government policies would remind black Americans of their humble origin and of their unpopular color.  It would remind them of the low expectations that the country still had of them.  Robert Kennedy once spoke most eloquently about the importance of standing up for the rights of others. “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

The Jim Crow effectively ended in 1954 when the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in the Brown v. Board of Education case.  The case addressed de jure(legislative) segregation in public schools.  Segregation was permissible at the time, supported by the Plessy standard – “separate-but-equal.” As long as facilities were fairly equal, the Supreme Court did not interpret the 14th Amendment to require a physical mixing of the races. With Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court kept the spirit of Jim Crow alive by proclaiming from the highest legal tribunal that segregation was permissible under the 14th Amendment’s notion of Equal Protection of the laws.  But after looking at the particular case of public school segregation, Chief Justice Earl Warren, who delivered the Court’s opinion, declared that the doctrine of “separate-but-equal” doctrine of Plessy had no place in public education. It was a personal opinion that he held strongly and which he apparently withheld during his Senate confirmation for the high court.  He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1953 by President Harry Truman just in time for oral arguments in the Brown case.  As soon as the Senate confirmed him, he told his colleagues on the bench that he believed racial segregation violated the Constitution and that only if one considered African Americans inferior to whites could the practice be upheld.

Chief Justice Earl Warren was a Republican. In fact, he ran as a Republican for the seat of Governor of California, which he won. He served three terms. 

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9–0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This ruling paved the way for integration and was a major victory of the civil rights movement.  It is said that the case was decided by the results of a “doll test.”

The doll test at the heart of the Brown decision was designed by Mamie and Kenneth Clark, African-American (husband and wife) psychologists, to study the effects of segregation and racism on the self-esteem of black children.  In the test, black children were put in a room with two types of dolls – a white doll with blonde hair and a brown doll with black hair – and then observed to see which dolls they preferred to play with. The children were then asked questions inquiring as to which doll is the nice doll, which one looks bad, which one has the nicer color, etc.  (Mamie used a similar test as the basis of her master’s thesis).  All the black children preferred the white dolls.  The findings of the Clarks’ doll test were submitted to the Supreme Court as evidence of the negative impact of segregation on the mental and psychological status of black schoolchildren. The Clarks concluded that the children felt the impact of segregation and felt a sense of inferiority.

The key holding of the Court was that, even if segregated black and white schools were of equal quality in facilities and teachers, segregation by itself was harmful to black students and unconstitutional. They found that a significant psychological and social disadvantage was given to black children from the nature of segregation itself (drawing on the “doll study” research). This aspect was vital because the question was not whether the schools were “equal,” which under the Plessy standard, they should have been, but whether the doctrine of “separate-but-equal” was constitutional with respect to public education. The justices answered with a strong “no.”  Chief Justice Warren wrote:

Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does… Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system… We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The decision did not sit well with Southern Democrats.  After 90 years, they still weren’t willing to allow blacks to “sit at the same table” with whites.

In a campaign known as “Massive Resistance,” Southern white legislators and school boards enacted laws and policies to evade or defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown ruling and its mandate to desegregate schools “with all deliberate speed.”  [Brown v. Board of Education II (1955), where the Supreme Court specifically addressed the relief that would be appropriate in light of the 1954 Brown decision].  In 1956, nearly every congressman in the Deep South – 101 in all (out of the 128 total in the region) – signed a document entitled the “Southern Manifesto,” drafted by Senator Strom Thurmond, to repudiate the decision.  19 Senators and 77 members of the US House from the southern states signed it.  Of all the 101 southern legislators who signed the document, all were Southern Democrats – except two congressman from Virginia who were Republicans. The Southern Manifesto said the Brown decision not only represented “a clear abuse of judicial power,” but it was an unconstitutional interpretation. It argued that the Constitution does not grant the government the power to legislate in the area of education and it has no power to force states to integrate their schools. Furthermore, the signers urged their state officials to resist implementing the Court’s mandates.

Two years later, in response to the Southern Manifesto and in response to southern opposition in general, the Supreme Court revisited the Brown decision in Cooper v. Aaron(1958), asserting that the states were bound by the ruling and affirming that its interpretation of the Constitution was the “supreme law of the land.”

The Southern Manifesto on Integration (of March 12, 1956) read:

      The unwarranted decision of the Supreme Court in the public school cases is now bearing the fruit always produced when men substitute naked power for established law.

     The Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution of checks and balances because they realized the inescapable lesson of history that no man or group of men can be safely entrusted with unlimited power. They framed this Constitution with its provisions for change by amendment in order to secure the fundamentals of government against the dangers of temporary popular passion or the personal predilections of public officeholders. 

     We regard the decision of the Supreme Court in the school cases as clear abuse of judicial power. It climaxes a trend in the Federal judiciary undertaking to legislate, in derogation of the authority of Congress, and to encroach upon the reserved rights of the states and the people. 

     The original Constitution does not mention education. Neither does the Fourteenth Amendment nor any other amendment. The debates preceding the submission of the Fourteenth Amendment clearly show that there was no intent that it should affect the systems of education maintained by the states. 

     The very Congress which proposed the amendment subsequently provided for segregated schools in the District of Columbia. 

     When the amendment was adopted in 1868, there were thirty-seven states of the Union. Every one of the twenty-six states that had any substantial racial differences among its people either approved the operation of segregated schools already in existence or subsequently established such schools by action of the same law-making body which considered the Fourteenth Amendment. 

     As admitted by the Supreme Court in the public school case (Brown v. Board of Education), the doctrine of separate but equal schools “apparently originated in Roberts v. City of Boston (1849), upholding school segregation against attack as being violative of a state constitutional guarantee of equality.” This constitutional doctrine began in the North – not in the South – and it was followed not only in Massachusetts but in Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other northern states until they, exercising their rights as states through the constitutional processes of local self-government, changed their school systems. 

      In the case of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 the Supreme Court expressly declared that under the Fourteenth Amendment no person was denied any of his rights if the states provided separate but equal public facilities. This decision has been followed in many other cases. It is notable that the Supreme Court, speaking through Chief Justice Taft, a former President of the United States, unanimously declared in 1927 in Lum v. Rice that the “separate but equal” principle is “within the discretion of the state in regulating its public schools and does not conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment.” 

     This interpretation, restated time and again, became a part of the life of the people of many of the states and confirmed their habits, customs, traditions and way of life. It is founded on elemental humanity and common sense, for parents should not be deprived by Government of the right to direct the lives and education of their own children. 

     Though there has been no constitutional amendment or act of Congress changing this established legal principle almost a century old, the Supreme Court of the United States, with no legal basis for such action, undertook to exercise their naked judicial power and substituted their personal political and social ideas for the established law of the land. 

     This unwarranted exercise of power by the court, contrary to the Constitution, is creating chaos and confusion in the states principally affected. It is destroying the amicable relations between the white and Negro races that have been created through ninety years of patient effort by the good people of both races. It has planted hatred and suspicion where there has been heretofore friendship and understanding. 

      Without regard to the consent of the governed, outside agitators are threatening immediate and revolutionary changes in our public school systems. If done, this is certain to destroy the system of public education in some of the states. 

     With the gravest concern for the explosive and dangerous condition created by this decision and inflamed by outside meddlers. 

     We reaffirm our reliance on the Constitution as the fundamental law of the land. 

     We decry the Supreme Court’s encroachments on rights reserved to the states and to the people, contrary to established law and to the Constitution.

     We commend the motives of those states which have declared the intention to resist forced integration by any lawful means. 

     We appeal to the states and people who are not directly affected by these decisions to consider the constitutional principles involved against the time when they too, on issues vital to them, may be the victims of judicial encroachment. 

     Even though we constitute a minority in the present congress, we have full faith that a majority of the American people believe in the dual system of government which has enabled us to achieve our greatness and will in time demand that the reserved rights of the states and of the people be made secure against judicial usurpation. 

     We pledge ourselves to use all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation. 

     In this trying period, as we all seek to right this wrong, we appeal to our people not to be provoked by the agitators and troublemakers invading our states and to scrupulously refrain from disorder and lawless acts.

Signed by:

Members of the United States Senate:
Alabama:  John Sparkman and Lister Hill.
Arkansas:  J. W. Fulbright and John L. McClellan.
Florida:  George A. Smathers and Spessard L. Holland.
Georgia:  Walter F. George and Richard B. Russell.
Louisiana:  Allen J. Ellender and Russell B. Lono.
Mississippi:  John Stennis and James O. Eastland.
North Carolina:  Sam J. Ervin Jr. and W. Kerr Scott.
South Carolina:  Strom Thurmond and Olin D. Johnston.
Texas:  Price Daniel.
Virginia:  Harry F. Bird and A. Willis Robertson.

Members of the United States House of Representatives:
Alabama:  Frank J. Boykin, George M. Grant, George M. Andrews, Kenneth R. Roberts, Albert Rains, Armistead I. Selden Jr., Carl Elliott, Robert E. Jones and George Huddleston Jr.
Arkansas:  E. C. Gathings, Wilbur D. Mills, James W. Trimble, Oren Harris, Brooks Hays, F. W. Norrell.
Florida:  Charles E. Bennett Robert L. Sikes, A. S. Her Jr., Paul G. Rogers, James A. Haley, D. R. Matthews.
Georgia:  Prince H. Preston, John L. Pilcher, E. L. Forrester, John James Flint Jr., James C. Davis, Carl Vinson, Henderson Lanham, Iris F. Blitch, Phil M. Landrum, Paul Brown.
Louisiana:  F. Edward Hebert, Hale Boggs, Edwin E. Willis, Overton Brooks, Otto E. Passman, James H. Morrison, T. Ashton Thompson, George S. Long.
Mississippi:  Thomas G. Abernethy, Jamie L. Whitten, Frank E. Smith, John Bell Williams, Arthur Winsted, William M. Colmer.
North Carolina:  Herbert C. Bonner, L. H. Fountain, Graham A. Barden, Carl T. Durham, F. Ertel Carlyle, Hugh Q. Alexander, Woodrow W. Jones, George A. Shuford.
South Carolina:  L. Mendel Rivers, John J. Riley, W. J. Bryan Dorn, Robert T. Ashmore, James P. Richards, John L. McMillan.
Tennessee:  James B. Frazier Jr., Tom Murray, Jere Cooper, Clifford Davis.
Texas:  Wright Patman, John Dowdy, Walter Rogers, O. C. Fisher.
Virginia:  Edward J. Robeson Jr., Porter Hardy Jr., J. Vaughan Gary, Watkins M. Abbitt, William M. Tuck, Richard H. Poff, Burr P. Harrison, Howard W. Smith, W. Pat Jennings, Joel T. Broyhill.

[From Congressional Record, 84th Congress Second Session. Vol. 102, part 4. Washington, D.C.: Governmental Printing Office, 1956. 4459-4460]

***  Joel Broyhill and Richard Poff of Virginia were the only Republicans to sign the Southern Manifesto.  All the others were Southern Democrats

It was not unexpected that Strom Thurmond would draft something like the “Southern Manifesto.”  In 1948, after serving as Governor of South Carolina, he ran for President. But he didn’t run as any ordinary Democrat.  He ran as a Dixiecrat, which was an extremist wing of the Democratic Party – also known as the States’ Rights Democratic Party.  In 1948, the Dixiecrats issued their nine-point platform.  Points four through six read as follows:

(4)  We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one’s associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one’s living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.

(5)  We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of private employment practices, voting and local law enforcement.

(6)  We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive to the social, economic and political life of the Southern people, and of other localities in which there may be differences in race, creed or national origin in appreciable numbers.

As a presidential candidate, Thurmond said: “All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the nigger into our homes, our schools, our churches.”  He lost the election but carried four of the states from the deep South (Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama).  In 1954, he was elected to the US Senate, as the only successful write-in candidate. And thus began his infamous career in Washington DC.

Fast-forward to the year 1963.

On August 23, 1963, civil rights organizers held a massive march on Washington DC, calling for legislative action to end discrimination. Set on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and broadcast to a television audience, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would deliver a stunningly eloquent speech that helped advance the cause of civil rights and define a standard of civility.  He spoke the timeless words “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  This was the Dream.

He invoked powerful imagery:

We have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

      It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice…..

       Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.  I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Dr. King was a Republican. He believed in the “opportunity” afforded Americans under the Declaration of Independence – the “equal” opportunity.  He talked about Natural Rights… Inalienable Rights.  He didn’t preach about equal outcomes or equal things.  He didn’t preach about dependency on government or a political party.  He preached about accomplishment…  the intangible qualities of character and dignity and the tangible ones of education and success.  He preached about a colorless society; one that is based on the dignity of every human being and the notion of common brotherhood.  ”I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

Author Zora Neale Hurston once wrote: “I am not tragically colored.  There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes…. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less.  No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”   (1928)

The 1960′s was the era of the great Civil Rights movement.  It was John F. Kennedy who originally pushed for Civil Rights legislation, after the 1963 summer of racial violence. But he knew he didn’t have the support he needed in the House. The House was controlled by Democrats.  As was the Senate. He was hopeful, however, when meetings with Senate Republicans showed that he had firm support among them.  But just two days after the House announced the bill would be heard, Kennedy was assassinated. LBJ asserted he would continue the support for Civil Rights legislation.

But in 1964, the legislation would never have passed without Republican support.  In the US House, 78% of Republicans supported while only 58% of Democrats did.  In the Senate, Democrats showed even less support.  In fact, the ‘Southern-bloc’ of the Senate Democrats – 18 of them – launched a 57-day filibuster which they intended would prevent the Senate from passing the bill. They boldly declared: “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states.”   Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond (of South Carolina) said: “These Civil Rights Proposals, which the President has sent to Capitol Hill for enactment into law, are unconstitutional, unnecessary, unwise and extend beyond the realm of reason. This is the worst civil-rights package ever presented to the Congress and is reminiscent of the Reconstruction proposals and actions of the radical Republican Congress.”

On the morning of June 10, 1964, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd (of West Virginia), who entered politics as the “Exalted Cyclops” and recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, filibustered the Senate for over 14 hours – the second longest filibuster ever in our nation’s history.  As part of this filibuster, he cited a racist study that claimed black people’s brains are statistically smaller than white people’s brains.  Only 17 years earlier, he urged the re-birth of the Klan, claiming that “It is needed like never before.”  [And just before that, in 1945, he wrote:  “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”]  When he died at age 92, Democrats still referred to him as the “Conscience of the Senate.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen (Illinois) condemned the filibuster and offered the final remarks in support of the legislation: “Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come. The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing in government, in education, and in employment.  It will not be stayed or denied. It is here!”  Republicans then rallied to support a cloture vote – which means a vote to end a filibuster. Never in history had the Senate been able to muster enough votes to cut off a filibuster on a civil rights bill.

The clerk then proceeded to call the roll. When the decisive 67th vote was reached, Senate Republicans cheered and many Democrats slumped over in disgust.  In the end, 80% of Senate Democrats voted ‘nay’ on the legislation and only 20% voted to support it.  Because of his strong support of the bill and his efforts to hold Republicans together and build support for the cloture vote, Senator Dirksen – again, a Republican – is generally seen as the hero of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The following year, Senator Dirksen, together with Senate Majority leader Mike Mansfield, introduced the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

How is it possible that we have forgotten so much of our nation’s history?  In an era where so much attention is given to the accomplishments of each political party, how is it that the Republican party continues to get short-changed?

How is it that our nation’s leaders, our media, and especially our school system are not reminding the American people of the proud achievements of Republican leaders and the Republican Party with respect to Human Dignity and Equal Rights?  At what point did these achievements magically impute to the Democrats?  Are African-Americans suffering some sort of selective amnesia regarding their history?  Africanesia?   How is the Democratic Party – the party of slavery, secession, segregation, and now socialism – all of a sudden the party of fairness and equal rights?

Why have African-Americans aligned themselves so tightly and blindly to the Democratic Party – the party which historically has stood for the racist policies of the antebellum South  and the vindictive policies of Redemption and Jim Crow?  In promising African-Americans a new American Dream – one of greater government rights and benefits – rather than the American Dream enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often spoke about, is the Democratic Party fulfilling the warning that the Freeman Bureau addressed in its Inquiry Commission of 1865 – that with respect to the amount of government aid to provide, “there is as much danger in doing too much as in doing too little. The risk is serious that, under the guise of guardianship, slavery, in a modified form, may be practically restored. Those who have ceased, only perforce, to be slave-holders, will be sure to unite their efforts to effect just such a purpose.“  Too much aid is the enemy of a free man. It will only “contribute to his virtual re-enslavement.”   

And so I ask this question:  Why have African-Americans abandoned the Republican Party when the Republican Party has never abandoned them?

The Republican Party has never thought them worthy of enslavement, either physically or virtually.

References:

David Barton, “What is Slavery?” and  “The Fugitive Slave Law.”   Referenced at: http://www.davidbarton.biz/page/2/

David Barton, “Civil Rights Acts”  and  “Civil Rights Amendments to the Constitution.  Referenced at:  http://davidbartonushistory.weebly.com/

The Dred Scott decision (1857)  –  http://americancivilwar.com/colored/dred_scott.html  and   http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2933t.html

The 13th Amendment:  Ratification and Results, Harp Week.   Referenced at: http://13thamendment.harpweek.com/HubPages/CommentaryPage.asp?Commentary=05Results

The 14th Amendment: Congressional Passage, Harp Week.   Referenced at: http://14thamendment.harpweek.com/HubPages/CommentaryPage.asp?Commentary=03Passage

Gene Healy, “The Squalid 14th Amendment,” Lew Rockwell, August 1999.  Referenced at:  http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/healy1.html   [Originally posted in Liberty Magazine]

Southern Manifesto on Integration – http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/rights/sources_document2.html

TheLies and Racism of Woodrow Wilson. http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/war.crimes/US/Wilson.htm

Bishop Absalom Jones, “A Thanksgiving Sermon,” Anglican History.  Referenced at: http://anglicanhistory.org/usa/ajones/thanksgiving1808.html    [The “Thanksgiving Sermon” was preached January 1, 1808, in St. Thomas’s, or the African Episcopal, Church, Philadelphia, in recognition of the abolition of the African slave trade, on that day, by the Congress of the United States].

Zora Neale Hurston, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” The World Tomorrow, May 1928.  Referenced at:  http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma01/grand-jean/hurston/chapters/how.html

Joseph E. Fallon, “Power, Legitimacy, and the 14th Amendment.”  Referenced at:  http://southernloyalists.tripod.com/id18.html

“George Mason’s Views on Slavery,” Gunston Hall.  Referenced at: http://gunstonhall.org/georgemason/slavery/views_on_slavery.html

The Original Intent of the 14th Amendment.   http://www.14thamendment.us/index.html

Alex Knepper, “Remembering Byrd’s Racism,”  Frum Forum, June 29, 2010.  Referenced at:  http://www.frumforum.com/remembering-robert-byrds-racism/

Frances Rice, “KKK Terrorist Arm of the Democratic Party,”  National Black Republican Association.  Referenced at:  http://www.nationalblackrepublicans.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=pages.DYKKKKTerroristArmoftheDemocratParty&page_id=93

Dr. Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction; Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1990.   [Dr. Foner is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University].

Our Nation’s Archives: A History of the United States in Documents (ed. Erik Bruun and Jay Crosby); Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1999.  [pg. 417 and pp. 731-34]

Inquiry Commission Report (for Freedman’s Bureau) –  Preliminary Report  – http://www.civilwarhome.com/prelimcommissionreport.htm

Inquiry Commission Report (for Freedman’s Bureau)  –  On the Topic of Slavery  – http://www.civilwarhome.com/commisionreportchapt1.htm

Inquiry Commission Report (for Freedman’s Bureau) –  On the Topic of Emancipation – http://www.civilwarhome.com/commissionreportchapt2.htm

Inquiry Commission Report (for Freedman’s Bureau) –  Conclusion: “The Future in the US of the African Race” http://www.civilwarhome.com/commissionreportchapt3.htm

Nathan Bedford Forrest –  http://www.freeinfosociety.com/article.php?id=184     [“The Cause for which you have so long and so manfully struggled, and for which you have braved dangers, endured privations, and sufferings, and made so many sacrifices, is today hopeless. The government which we sought to establish and perpetuate, is at an end. Reason dictates and humanity demands that no more blood be shed. Fully realizing and feeling that such is the case, it is your duty and mine to lay down our arms — submit to the “powers that be” — and to aid in restoring peace and establishing law and order throughout the land.”]

NOTES:

[1]  North Carolina’s ban on the slave trade at the time of the Philadelphia Convention was not an express ban.  “Maryland and Virginia he said had already prohibited the importation of slaves expressly. North Carolina had done the same in substance.”

See James Madison’s Notes on the Constitutional Convention:http://www.constitution.org/dfc/dfc_0525.htm  or  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_514525.asp  (the Avalon Project)

Specifically, the Slavery debate:http://www.academicamerican.com/revolution/documents/ConstDebate.html

[2]  The Federalist Party was the party of most of our Founding Fathers and Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party would go on to give birth to the Democratic Party, although elements of the platform ultimately made it into the Republican Party as well, such as the requirement for strict interpretation of the Constitution and limited government.

[3]  The Republican Platform was announced in Philadelphia in 1856 – http://www.ushistory.org/gop/convention_1856republicanplatform.htm

[4]  It is argued that the 14th Amendment was never properly ratified.

Before an amendment can be ratified, it must first be proposed. The Constitution provides two methods of proposing an amendment: (i) An amendment can be proposed by 2/3 of the states;  or (ii) It can be proposed by 2/3 of both houses of Congress. The method was used in the case of the 14th Amendment was the latter – the congressional method.  Section V of the Constitution addresses the amendment process and explains that “no state without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”  When Congress proposed the amendment in 1866, twenty-three Senators were unlawfully excluded from the U. S. Senate in order for the republicans to secure a 2/3 vote for the adoption of proposed amendment. Those excluded included both senators from each of the eleven southern states and one Senator from New Jersey. This alone is sufficient to invalidate the so-called fourteenth because it was never properly proposed.).

Furthermore, history records that Tennessee was the first state to ratify the 14th Amendment – on July 24, 1866.  But did Tennessee improperly ratify it?  The Tennessee legislature was not in session when the proposed amendment was sent, so a special session of the legislature had to be called. The Tennessee Senate ratified the proposed amendment. However, the Tennessee House could not assemble a quorum as required in order to legally act. Finally, after several days and “considerable effort, two of the recalcitrant members were arrested and brought into a committee room opening into the Chamber of the House. They refused to vote when their names were called, whereupon the Speaker ruled that there was no quorum. His decision, however, was overruled, and the amendment was declared ratified on July 19, 1866, by a vote of 43 to 11, the two members under arrest in the adjoining committee room not voting.”