Thomas Jefferson, third president of the US, was a severe critic of what he called "the selfish spirit of commerce [that] knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain.” In the early years of the 19th century, as banks and corporations began to flex their political muscles, he announced that: “I hope we shall crush . . . in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." Physically unable to accept an invitation to speak in Washington on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson instead sent remarks to be read, including the following: “The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.” — John Nichols