Grassroots Commentary

100th Anniversary of the Beginning of the End? (Part 1)

Larry Reams · Apr. 25, 2013

One hundred years ago, our federal government, under control of the progressive Woodrow Wilson, took actions that have since become a disaster for these United States. Looking back, these actions were the beginning of what could be the end of our Constitutional Republic. With progressives in control in 2013, similar actions are underway that could complete a sinister view by progressives then and now to “transform” us into something our Founders never intended, and most Americans through the years never wanted and still don’t.

In 1913 our Constitution was amended by the ratification of two amendments, the Sixteenth and Seventeenth, and the passage of the Federal Reserve Banking Act creating the Federal Reserve System / Board. For the past 100 years various individuals and groups have raised the issue and fought to undo these atrocities. None have been successful and in today’s environment of rampant corruption among the political elites, an uninformed / misinformed populace, and a media that shirks its duty to expose and inform, the chances of doing so now are very remote. One hundred years ago there were less distractions and different values. The public was far more “tuned in” to matters of state than exists now and yet they were unsuccessful in stopping / reversing these issues. That doesn’t bode well for any efforts today.

It appears that the constitutional amendments ratified in 1913 were done through political corruption and technically were not ratified at all. Yet they were put into play nonetheless and have changed the political and economic landscape ever since. As we see in so many instances today, elected officials simply turned a blind eye to the laws and the constitutional process, cut corners and “declared” the action passed / the amendments ratified. The 16th Amendment was the imposition of the federal income tax and subsequent creation of the IRS. The 17th Amendment was the changing of the existing, constitutionally devised, election process for US Senators. And with the Federal Reserve Act, all three of these actions gave the federal government more power and control, strengthened the power of the political class, weakened the Constitution as written by our Founders and weakened the power of We The People. It was the beginning of our “limited government” becoming unlimited and abusive.

The US Constitution calls for amendments to be introduced one of two ways; by 2/3s of the members of both houses of Congress; or through a Constitutional Convention called by 2/3s the states. To be ratified and become part of the Constitution it takes 3/4s of the states approving. In 1913, there were 48 states meaning ratification required 36 states approving. Approval / ratification had to be in writing; an “official” notice from the States to the Federal Government.

The Sixteenth Amendment: Prior to the 16th Amendment, our federal government could not tax income or property, constitutionally. They could only levy excise taxes, duties and tariffs to raise funds. The 16th was conceived to remedy that. But there are serious questions as to whether the 16th Amendment was properly ratified by 36 states. It was proposed in 1909 and allegedly ratified on Feb. 25, 1913, so stated the Secretary of State at the time. He claimed that 38 states had ratified it. However, three states that are shown as having ratified the amendment, didn’t, at least not properly (Kentucky, California and Minnesota). The federal government claims that the Kentucky Senate ratified the 16th on Feb. 8, 1910 by a vote of 22 For, 10 Against. But, check the official journal for the Kentucky Senate and the vote is 9 For, 22 Against. Thus it did not pass in Kentucky. There is no record of other votes taken on the 16th Amendment in any official documents in Kentucky. So, the 38 states is down to 37 with 36 required.

In California, their law requires “concurrence” on the passage of all laws or ratification of amendments. Concurrence meaning the law passed in one house must be identical in wording to the law passed in the other house. Both must “concur” so as to eliminate confusion and turmoil in any legal challenges. They have conference committees to resolve any differences so as to pass one law. That is common sense and common practice in all states and the US Congress. California did not ratify the specific wording of the 16th as presented to them from the Congress. Their wording was different from the official version of the 16th Amendment. The political elite say it’s an issue for the courts to decide. The courts say it’s a political matter that Congress must address. Turn the blind eye; neither do anything. Now we’re down to 36 states, the minimum required.

Minnesota seems pretty clear cut. Some form of official, written, signed notice must be sent by each state to the US Secretary of State. Either Yea or Nay, it must be “officially” sent to the federal government. Minnesota sent absolutely nothing. No word one way or the other. Nada; zip. How can no notice whatsoever be construed by the Feds as ratification? And then there were 35, one short of ratification. But that’s OK, just pretend all the above didn’t happen and make the official statement from the Secretary of State, which was done by Secretary Philander Knox on February, 25, 1913. It became known as “The Law That Never Was” (Bill Benson). Keep quiet, wait long enough, and the problem will go away. Sound familiar – Benghazi?

I guess politics is politics, down through the ages, especially on the “progressive” side of the isle. That doesn’t say much for the integrity of the Oath of Office, or “Honor Among Men,” or a Nation of Laws. It says a lot about a nation of men, above the law.

The Seventeenth Amendment: Like the 16th, the 17th Amendment to our Constitution also was not properly ratified. Before discussing the reasons why, let’s hit the repercussions of the 17th. Under the original Constitution, before any amendments were added, our Senators were elected by the State Legislatures (Art. 1, Section 3). The Representatives to Congress were elected by We The People and represented the People. The Senators were elected by the various State Legislatures to represent the States. It was part of the balance of powers concept (“checks and balances.”) “The Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State Legislatures.” (James Madison, Federalist Papers #45). If the states were not satisfied with their Senators, they could recall and replace them. Speaking against any other method of electing our Senators, George Mason, at the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788 said: “Those gentlemen, who will be elected senators, will fix themselves in the federal town, and become citizens of that town more than your state.” A prophetic statement.

With the ratification(?) of the 17th Amendment and popular election of Senators, the State Legislatures lost control of their representation in Congress and their ability to recall / replace Senators. Over the past 100 years the Senate has become a very elitist, self-serving body. Some even say a dysfunctional body. With six year terms Senators are able to stay in their seat long enough to establish name recognition within their state, accumulate vast sums of money, garner the support of special interest groups, and thus have little difficulty in getting re-elected to subsequent terms. And, they don’t have to worry about any recall provisions. Accountability is lost. Opposing candidates are at a distinct disadvantage when facing an incumbent Senator and thus the faces seem to rarely change in the US Senate. A “good old boy club” develops that is not genuinely concerned about constituents, only big dollar donors and re-election.

Over the past 100 years, the states have lost ground against an ever-growing federal government. Their interests are not properly served, accountability is lost, and state sovereignty is waning. The states have lost power; the Feds have gained it. There have been many attempts to repeal the 17th, none successfully. Why? Because the Senators have a vote in the matter and they prefer the current system. Besides that, Representatives desire to become Senators and Senators desire to become President. There is a school of thought that says you can’t repeal something that never existed to begin with. Like the issue with President Obama’s status as a non Natural Born Citizen making him not constitutionally qualified to be President. You can’t impeach him because he was not legitimately elected in the first place. Impeachment would add legitimacy to his election. Repealing the 17th would do likewise for the non amendment.

The Seventeenth Amendment was declared ratified by the US Secretary of State on April 8, 1913. Again, California is an issue. According to the US Secretary of State’s documentation, California ratified the amendment on January 28, 1913. According to California’s own official records, they have no record of a debate or a vote on the 17th Amendment. And, according to a memorandum from the Department of State, May 10, 1913, 35 state legislatures made errors in their resolutions. States didn’t have the authority to alter the wording of a proposed constitutional amendment submitted to them by the Congress. It’s either Yea or Nay. Again 36 states were necessary in 1913 for ratification. California was supposedly number 36 but they have no record of doing so, and 35 others screwed it up in some way. Apparently government was no more efficient 100 years ago than they are today, federal or state. It appears the amendment was simply “deemed” ratified.

An additional concern was with state legislatures who were not even in session at the time of the ratification process. According to Thomas Jefferson’s Manual and Rules that’s supposed to be a guide for the House of Representatives in developing proposed amendments to the Constitution, “…no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” If states legislatures are not even in session when this process takes place and does not vote at all, yet it is declared ratified, are they being deprived of “equal suffrage?” Last but not least, allegedly five states didn’t ratify the 17th Amendment until months after the announcement was made that ratification had already occurred. Fraud and corruption is readily apparent. If an amendment was passed / ratified through fraud and corruption, is it really part of the Constitution and the law of the land?

In addition to all the negativity we’ve incurred by the imposition of the 17th Amendment, ratified or not, there is another important consideration. The Senate ratifies treaties and confirms federal judges and Supreme Court Justices, among other duties. If the 17th were declared null and void, or repealed, what happens to all those ratified treaties and Justices who have been confirmed since 1913? Did any of that legally, constitutionally, occur? Are we bound by these treaties? Same argument as with Obama now. If he’s not legally in the White House then Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are not really on the Supreme Court. Any decisions they’ve voted on, didn’t occur. Obamacare is not the law of the land or any other law Obama has signed. And he really didn’t spend $5 Trillion after all. On and on it goes. A dilemma. According to some, the solution is for an individual state to challenge the 17th Amendment by passing a state bill reverting back to the system in the Constitution prior to the 17th. Once one state does this, it will no doubt be challenged and the US Supreme Court can decide the issue. Several states have tired this but the bill hasn’t passed the State House to become law. There is such a bill introduced into the Texas Legislature during the current session, still underway.

When elected officials place themselves above the law, circumvent the law, turn a blind eye to the law, to truth, fact and corruption, we become a dysfunctional state open to tyranny. The unintended consequences years later are compounded many times over. It’s always easier to remove cancer in the early stages and not wait until it has consumed the whole body / state. We’re 100 years into this cancerous growth. Consider Obamacare right now. A national cancer that could be stopped by a GOP controlled House by simply defunding it. Where’s the courage?

Then there’s the ongoing progressive attempts to circumvent the Second Amendment, we still have an administration spending like there’s no tomorrow and millions being encouraged and added to the welfare rolls. We have a chief executive who decides which laws his DOJ will enforce and which they won’t, and is deliberately dividing the nation into sub-groups, pitting one against the other so as to better control all. Political correctness has run amuck, our Armed Forces being reduced in capability, on and on. And no one in the Congress with a spine to fight back! What will the next 100 years hold for us? Will we be a Constitutional Republic in 2113?

For good references on the 16th and 17th Amendment histories, visit:,,, and

(Mr. Reams is a family man, Army veteran and a retired small business owner; and )

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