The Revolution of 1913

An Old Right man not read enough is Frank Chodorov, a libertarian’s libertarian who believed in individualism and distrusted all political power.  Eulogized by Murray Rothbard and infrequently referenced on Lew Rockwell’s blog, Chodorov is conspicuously absent from most debate nowadays.  He helped found the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (now Intercollegiate Studies Institute) with the young William F. Buckley Jr. in 1953. Chodorov served as the first president of the country’s first national conservative student organization. 


Frank Chodorov rightly understood the federal income tax (Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution) as a direct assault on private property because the federal government was granted the power to impose a lien on all production.  His essay “Revolution of 1913” explains the fundamental transformation achieved by progressive Statists in 1913. Here’s an excerpt:



…the immunities written into the compact of 1789 have been eradicated by the proceeds of the Sixteenth Amendment. This one measure effected a change in the relationship between society and its ruling regime as thoroughly as if it had been done by invasion and conquest. The revolution of 1913 undid the profits of the revolution of 1789.


Indeed, the political regime of 1913 fundamentally transformed the United States.  Although the ideas which transformed the relationship between the State and society in 1913 had been around for decades, the general election of 1912 was the opening salvo of the Revolution of 1913.


Let’s consider how closely the election of 1912 resembles the general election of 2008:



  1. The Republican Party was split between Progressives and conservatives.  Conservatives supported the Republican candidate William Howard Taft and the Progressives supported Republican turned Progressive Teddy Roosevelt, John McCain’s hero.  McCain/Palin comes to mind.

  2. Democrat, Progressive intellectual and Princeton University President Woodrow Wilson took advantage of the split Republican party and won the election.

  3. The 63rd Congress was elected with Democrats winning solid majorities in both the House and the Senate.

Now ponder the major victories the Statists won in the Revolution of 1913:



  1. Feb. 3 – Sixteenth Amendment – Authorizes unapportioned taxation on income.

  2. April 8 – Seventeenth Amendment – Establishes direct election of senators

  3. Oct. 3 – United States Revenue/Tariff Act of 1913 – Re-imposed the federal income tax and initially lowered basic tariffs.

  4. Dec. 23 – Federal Reserve Act – Created Federal Reserve System of central banking in the United States.

Thomas DiLorenzo tackled the subject in 2006 at the Steven Berger seminar at the Mises Institute:



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