Socialism in America
"The struggle of History is not
between the bourgeoisie and the
proletariat; it is between government
and the governed."
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|Philosophy of Evil
Socialism In America
By Jerry McDaniel
Progressive Era Amendments
Progressive Era Amendments
Woodrow Wilson was a committed progressive and outspoken critic of the U.S. Constitution. He believed that the checks
and balances of the Constitution were the cause of America’s problems in administering the government. “The ‘literary
theory’ of checks and balances is simply a consistent account of what our Constitution makers tried to do;” he stated,
“and those checks and balances have proved mischievous just to the extent which they have succeeded in establishing
themselves.” Wilson was concerned with the implementation of government, criticizing those who focused on
philosophical issues and the “proper role” of government.
With a majority Democratic Congress, Wilson was able to persuade it to pass the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade
Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act and America's first-ever federal progressive
income tax in the Revenue Act of 1913. All four of the Progressive Era Amendments were ratified during his term in
office. (Amendments 16, 17, 18, 19)
The Sixteenth Amendment gave the federal government the power to lay and collect an income tax regardless of the source
of that income. A graduated income tax has always been the number one goal of socialism. It is the means whereby
government redistributes the produce of labor among the people. The practice is little different from the early socialist
systems of the colonies of Jamestown and Plymouth. Back then, all of the products of the people’s labor were taken from
them and placed in a common storehouse to be doled out by the colony’s leaders as they saw fit. We have become more
sophisticated in the technique and less demanding in the portion, but the principle is still the same. The government decides
the percentage of time each of us must expend laboring on behalf of others. Only when we have satisfied that demand are
we then free to labor for our own benefit and the benefit of our families.
The Communist Manifesto of 1848 called for the establishment of a graduated income tax. The Socialist Labor Party
began advocating for the tax in 1887, and the Populist Party included it in its party platform of 1892. An income tax law
was also promoted by William Jennings Bryan and the Democratic Party. A bill was passed by Congress in 1894 calling for
a tax on rents, dividends and interests. It was signed into law by President Cleveland, but declared unconstitutional by the
Supreme Court in 1895. The sixteenth amendment was specifically to override the court’s decision, hence the reference to
income source and apportionment in its text. The Democratic Party again called for an income tax in its 1908 platform. In
1911, the Sixteenth Amendment was passed by Congress and submitted to the states for ratification. It was ratified
February 3, 1913.
The Seventeenth Amendment provided for the direct election of Senators by the people rather than by the state legislatures
as the original Constitution called for. This amendment, more than any other act of Congress helped to bring about the
consolidated government railed against by Patrick Henry in the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788. In the aftermath of
the seventeenth amendment, the checks and balances derided by Woodrow Wilson would gradually diminish, if not
In the Philadelphia Convention, the debate over the number of Senators and their selection threatened to scuttle the
deliberations. A compromise was finally reached whereby each state would be represented by Two Senators appointed by
the state legislatures. In the system of checks and balances set up by the Constitution, the Senate was key. The Executive
was given the power to negotiate treaties, appoint ambassadors and judges, and appoint the high-ranking officers of the
Executive Branch. That power was balanced by the requirement that all treaties and appointments must be approved by the
Senate before they took effect. The Senate also acted as a counter-balance to the impulsive and sometimes rash actions of
the House of Representatives. The large number of Representatives, the frequency of their elections and their relative
closeness to the people made the House more subject to the fickle populist fads that sprang up from time to time. The
Senate was designed to be a more reasoned and deliberative body to counteract these often misinformed whims of the
The Senate also provided the balance of power between the central government and the state governments since it was the
state legislatures who appointed the Senators. To further balance the Powers of the central and state governments, the
President of the United States and the President of the Senate (Vice-President) were both elected indirectly by the people
nationwide, through the Electoral College. The “two-hat” nature of the office of the Vice-President provided for an
additional check on the powers of both the Executive and Legislative Branches. The power of the people was balanced
through the frequent elections of their Representatives who had sole control over the nation’s purse strings and their
indirect election of the President, Vice-President and Senate through their state legislatures and the Electoral College. The
balance of power between the Congress and the Executive Branch was in the veto power of the Executive.
This intricate and complicated system of checks and balances in the republican government established by the Constitution
began to unravel with the ratification of the sixteenth and seventeenth amendments. The seventeenth amendment was the
first big step in converting the U.S. Government from a republic to a democracy. A “people’s democracy” has ever been
the goal of the socialist movement. A pure democracy is much more easily manipulated by demagogues than a republican
system governed by a rule of law embodied in a written constitution that cannot be changed at the whim of power hungry
professional politicians. The seventeenth amendment was ratified two months after the sixteenth, on April 8, 1913.
The Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the import, export, transport, manufacture or sale of intoxicating beverages. Unlike
the sixteenth and seventeenth amendments, prohibition did not stem from socialist dogma, but from the social gospel
which was instrumental in the shaping of American socialism. The emergence of the social gospel as a religious movement
is often referred to as the second great awakening and took place during the early 1800’s. Many believers believed that the
second awakening was heralding in a new millennium age referred to in Rev. 20:6. Many of the reform movements during
the nineteenth century were intended to build the “Kingdom of Heaven” on earth to prepare for the return of Christ at the
end of the millennium just before the final judgment.
A number of new Christian sects came into existence during this period based on post-millennium and a-millennium
theology. Among them were the Seventh Day Adventist, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Churches of
Christ, and the Disciples of Christ. Prominent preachers during this period included Lyman Beecher, Alexander Campbell,
William Miller, Charles Finney, Lyman Abbot and Joseph Smith, among others. The most popular social reform of the time
was the temperance movement.
The American Temperance Society was established in February 1826. Within ten years, it would grow to more than
1,500,000 “signers of the pledge” with some 8,000 chapters across the country. A later group more closely associated
with passage of the eighteenth amendment was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union established in Cleveland, Ohio in
1874. As the name implies WCTU was not only interested in Temperance but in other social problem of interest to women
as well. Its second President, Frances Willard was also a leader in the women‘s suffrage movement. Willard’s concern for
social problems extended to the abolition of poverty, prison reform, the plight of immigrants, prostitution and public health.
Willard’s WCTU supported a program called the “White Life for Two”. This program encouraged men to rise up to
women’s “higher moral standards” by engaging in a lust-free, alcohol-free, tobacco-free marriage.
The temperance movement was primarily a women’s movement and would result in the passage and ratification of both
the eighteenth and nineteenth amendments. Aside from the fact that prohibition would result in an exponential increase in
organized crime, the social atmosphere of the big city “speakeasies” and the “roaring twenties” also made it fashionable for
women to drink in public. The eighteenth amendment was ratified January 16, 1919. It was repealed by the twenty-first
amendment December 5, 1933 making it the only constitutional amendment to date ever to be repealed.
The Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote. Modern feminists are surprised to learn that the average woman
of 1919 was opposed to the suffragists. They believed in the social reforms promoted by the WCTU but considered it and
other suffragists as radicals. The average woman did not take a major interest in politics, preferring to leave the running of
the world to their husbands while they concentrated on child-rearing and domestic issues.
The fight for women’s suffrage began at the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. Susan B.
Anthony, America’s best-known suffragette joined the movement in 1852, declaring "the right women needed above every
other...was the right of suffrage." In 1872, Anthony was arrested and charged with illegally voting in the 1872 elections.
There were many court cases, based on the Fourteenth Amendment, brought by the suffragettes in the 1870s. The first
one to make its way to the Supreme Court was the 1875 case, Minor vs. Happersett. The Court unanimously rejected the
argument that either the privileges and immunities clause or the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment extended
the vote to women.
Disappointed in court, the suffragettes turned their attention to the states and Congress. In 1878 a Constitutional
Amendment was introduced in Congress providing that "The right of citizens to vote shall not be abridged by the United
States or by any State on account of sex." It continued to be introduced in every session of Congress for the next 41
years. The Wyoming Territory was the only place in America where women were allowed to vote. When Wyoming was
admitted to the Union in 1890, it became the first state to permit women’s suffrage. In 1912, Roosevelt’s Progressive
Party became the first party to have a plank supporting suffrage for women.
The prevailing attitude toward women in America was summed up by an 1872 Supreme Court case, Bradwell vs. Illinois.
In that case, brought by Myra Bradwell, the Court upheld an Illinois law that restricted admission to the Illinois Bar to men
only. In a concurring opinion, Justice Bradley wrote,
"It is true that many women are unmarried and not affected by any of the duties, complica-tions, and incapacities
arising out of the married state, but these are exceptions to the general rule. The paramount destiny and mission of
woman are to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator. And the rules
of civil society must be adapted to the general constitution of things, and cannot be based upon exceptional cases."
The Nineteenth Amendment was passed by Congress June 4, 1919 and ratified by the states August 18, 1920.
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