The Democratic Idea
This is the democratic idea: that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain natural rights, which only the possessor can alienate; that all men are equal in these rights; that amongst them is the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that the business of the government is to preserve for every man all of these rights until he alienates them. . . . This idea, in its realization, leads to a democracy, a government of all, for all, by all.
THE REV. THEODORE PARKER (1810-1860)
Unitarian minister, theologian, and social reformer. From "The State of the Nation," a Thanksgiving sermon delivered in Boston in 1850. President Abraham Lincoln immortalized the phrase "government of the people, by the people, for the people" in his 1863 Gettysburg Address, but found it in a sermon by Parker from 1858. Parker first used the complete phrase in a speech at the New England Anti-Slavery Convention in May 1850.
features MAY/JUNE 2003 · VOL XVII NO 3
Government for Whom?
U.S. courts began regarding corporations as "persons" more than a century ago, but no one foresaw the vast power they've since gained. What is becoming of "government of the people, by the people, and for the people"?
Corporations 1, Citizens 0
Who says you can't fight City Hall? Corporations win battles with local governments all the time, as the people of Wellfleet learned the hard way.
Communities Fight Back
People across the country are finding new ways to set democratic limits to corporate power. Plus, resources to help you get involved.
A Prodemocracy Visionary
Ward Morehouse took on Union Carbide after a chemical spill killed 15,000 people in India in 1984. What he learned helped chart a new course for the movement that wants to make corporations accountable to the people.
Cover art by Dennis Paiva and Kathy Todd, photographed by Tony Scarpetta. Background photograph by Dennis Paiva.
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