You say you want a revolution?

March 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Posted in Historical, Judiciary, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Concentrated wealth on increase. Washington D.C. Concentration of wealth in the control of a few corporations has increased since 1931. Dr. Charles A. Beard, (right) told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee today. Dr. Beard, noted political scientist and economist, was testifying in defense of the O'Mahoney Corporation Licensing Bill, which, if passed, will require corporations dealing in interstate commerce to comply with specified standards to aqcuire a federal license. Senator Joseph O'Mahoney, author of the bill and Chairman of the Committee, is on the left. 1937 January 27. (Library of Congress)

To Beard, the Constitution was a counter-revolution, set up by rich bond holders (bonds were “personal property”), in opposition to the farmers and planters (land was “real property.”) The Constitution, Beard argued, was designed to reverse the radical democratic tendencies unleashed by the Revolution among the common people, especially farmers and debtors (people who owed money to the rich). In 1800, said Beard, the farmers and debtors, led by plantation slaveowners, overthrew the capitalists and established Jeffersonian democracy.

Other historians supported the class-conflict interpretation noting the states confiscated great semifeudal landholdings of Loyalists and gave them out in small parcels to ordinary farmers. Conservatives such as William Howard Taft were shocked at the Progressive interpretation because it seem to belittle the Constitution. History professors, however, mostly adopted it and by 1930 it became the standard interpretation of the era among them, but was largely ignored by the legal community.

Beginning about 1950 revisionist historians argued that the progressive interpretation was factually incorrect.

[snip]

The Progressive interpretation of the era was largely replaced by the intellectual history approach that stressed the power of ideas, especially republicanism in stimulating the Revolution.

I would certainly agree that the country’s founders were motivated by ideals of liberty and individual rights, but that does not preclude motivations of economic bias.

A California study in 1969 revealed that the death penalty was imposed in only 4.8% of murder cases with “white collar” defendants but was imposed in 42% of cases that had “blue collar” defendants.

It’s hard to get away from the fact that there is an inherent belief that money equals virtue.

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