When you consider it, the year 1913 was probably one of the most liberty crushing years in American history. What I mean is that this was the year in which several things were done that set in motion may vehicles of oppression that we are dealing with today.
In the first place, the Federal Reserve was created in 1913. It was the product of a bunch of elite bankers who met in secret, some even pretending to go hunting when they didn’t hunt, in order to take control of the money supply. By taking control of the money supply, they essentially took control of the medium of exchange in the United States, which opens up several possibilities including the eventual foreclosure on the United States itself. If you don’t think that could happen, look at what happened to Greece and Italy where two bankers essentially took control of those countries. If that is not a foreclosure, I don’t know what is.
I could probably go on about the Federal Reserve, but there is plenty of literature and websites out there which have been dedicated to its evils so I’ll move on.
Secondly, the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified, which allowed the Federal government to impose an income tax. Originally, this kind of taxation was struck down by the Supreme Court (in one of their more rational decisions) because it violated the Fourth Amendment. You see, when you have to report your income to the government, that is considered a search. And when you have to pay taxes out of your income, that is a government seizure. The Supreme Court said that it was unconstitutional because the income tax was an unlawful search and seizure. So Congress passed an amendment in order to make it legit. The tax ranged from 1% on income exceeding $3,000 ($69,083.27 in today’s dollars) to 7% on incomes exceeding $500,000 ($11,513,877.55 in today’s dollars). Of course they promised to only soak the rich.
Thirdly, Public Law 62-5 was passed which capped the number of House Representatives to 435. Their excuse was that they couldn’t build enough office space. The truth is, the Federal government has never stopped building things, especially in DC. I suspect the real reason was to dilute the representation in Congress so that the people did not have adequate representation while at the same time tricking them into thinking that elections do matter. This law is, of course, unconstitutional as the Constitution (see Article 1 Section 2) requires that the ratio of representatives to people should not exceed 1 in 30,000.
Lastly, the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified. This amendment basically took away the right of the legislatures of the Several States to pick their Senators and placed it into the hands of the people of those States. This also served to dilute the will of the people in that representation in the Senate was now in the millions rather than representing the interests of the States. The whole point of the Constitution was to give a relatively strong, yet limited in scope, central government that they could rally around. With the passage of this amendment, you could say that Federalism died that day and the rise of central planning and central controls was born. I firmly believe that had this amendment not passed, we would have seen much less Federal government overreach.
The fact is, all of these things paved the way for corporate take overs of Congress and allowed them to gradually expand Federal government power all the while assuring the people that the next election would roll things back. Now that nearly a century has passed, I think a formal evaluation should be done of these actions taken by the Progressives and the bankers who foisted these radical changes upon so quickly and without too much forethought.
On a side note, isn’t it odd that the Progressives of those times wanted everyone to vote for every political office yet changed the system so as to make the vote of the individual so meaningless? Perhaps that was their goal all along.