What Does the Declaration of Independence and Electric Cooperatives Have In Common?

When Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence, he is credited with saying, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

No wonder Franklin was also the founder of the first successful cooperative formed in the United States. He organized the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire in 1752.

The principles behind the Declaration of Independence that form the basis of American democracy are also the beliefs that form the basis of cooperatives.

A cooperative is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use its services. Each member has one vote regardless of their equity in the company; that is, wealthy members can not buy more control and everyone has an equal say. This is in contrast to investor-owned businesses where only shareholders have a vote in how the business is run; and even among shareholders, some have more votes than others depending on their shares of stock.

The Declaration of Independence also declared the equality of rights of its citizens and that people had the right to organize to secure their futures when their rights were infringed upon.

At the time the Declaration was written, democracy was a pretty untested idea — but the founders of our country were determined to make it work.

So when you celebrate the many liberties and rights we enjoy with our families and friends this year, think about those principles that inspired our Founding Fathers. They also inspired the founders of rural electric cooperatives, who were determined to provide reliable, affordable power to secure the futures of rural communities.

The Electric Cooperatives of Minnesota have always operated under the principles of democracy and are dedicated to fulfilling the promise existing to serve our members today and in the future.

Comments are closed.