Day-By-Day Walk Through US Legal History: July
1 July 1862 – President Lincoln signs off on the Tax Act of 1862 – the first US federal income tax act.
2 July 1890 – Congress passes the Sherman Antitrust Act – putting limitations on business activities that were considered to be anti-competitive or conducive to the creation of monopolies.
3 July 1978 – In FCC v Pacifica Foundation, the Supreme Court held that the Federal Communications Commission was not acting wrongly when it reprimanded the radio station WBAI for a Filthy Words sketch that it broadcast.
4 July 1776 – The Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress; the document was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and declared that the 13 American colonies were no longer under the rule of the British Empire.
5 July 1935 – The National Labor Relations Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt – the Act guaranteed the right of employees to organize in trade unions, take collective action and engage in collective bargaining with their employers.
6 July 1983 – The Supreme Court in Barclay v Florida decided to uphold a death sentence for a racially motivated murder.
7 July 1911 – The first treaty motivated by wildlife preservation objectives – the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911 – is signed by the US, Great Britain, Japan and Russia. The treaty banned open-water seal hunting.
8 July 1777 – Vermont adopts a new state constitution which bans slavery – making it the first state to formally abolish slavery.
9 July 1868 – The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting African Americans equal protection under the law.
10 July 1850 – The 13th President of the United States, Millard Fillmore, was sworn in after his predecessor, President Taylor, died. His work towards the Compromise of 1850 led to a short truce in the slavery debate.
11 July 1921 - William Howard Taft, who served as the 27th President of the United States from 1909 to 1913, is sworn in as new chief justice of the Supreme Court.
12 July 1804 – Alexander Hamilton is killed in a duel with Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr. Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers of the US, and the first Secretary of the Treasury.
13 July 1787 – The Congress of the Confederation of the United States passes the Northwest Ordinance, organizing the territory of the US and allowing for the creation of no less than 3 and no more than 5 new states where slavery was to be prohibited.
14 July 1798 – Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1798 – making it a crime to publish false or scandalous statements that criticized the federal government. After much public and government concern, the Act was allowed to expire in 1800.
15 July 1949 – Congress passes the Federal Housing Act, a key part of Truman’s Fair Deal, which increased the role of the federal government in insuring and issuing mortgages and providing public housing.
16 July 1790 – The District of Columbia becomes the capital of the US after the Residence Act was signed.
17 July 1984 – Congress passes the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, requiring that all states increase the drinking age to 21 or lose 10% of federal highway funds (many had been decreasing the legal age since the age of voting had become 18).
18 July -
19 July 1848 – Women gather at Seneca Falls for the first time in US history to protest for women’s rights. Almost 100 women attended the gathering.
20 July 1848 – 100 of the attendees at the Seneca Falls Convention sign the Declaration of Sentiments, part of a continuing struggle to achieve civil, political, property and legal rights for women.
21 July 1925 – A trial in Dayton, Tennessee, dubbed the ‘monkey trial’ came to an end. John T. Scopes was convicted of violating state law because he taught Darwin’s theory of evolution in a state funded school.
22 July 1939 – Jane Matilda Bolin becomes the first black woman to be appointed as a judge in the US. She was appointed to New York City’s Domestic Relations Court.
23 July 1885 – The 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, dies. He had worked closely with Lincoln to achieve victory over the Confederacy in the American Civil War, was fiercely anti-slavery and protected African American civil rights.
24 July 1866 – Tennessee is the first state to be re-admitted to the Union. Many residents of the state were unhappy with the move, especially those that were unwilling to accept that slavery was now prohibited.
25 July 1969 – President Nixon proclaims his ‘Nixon Doctrine’ – making it clear that allies of the U.S. in Asia would be expected to take care of their own military defense.
26 July 1948 – In signing into existence Executive Order 9981, President Truman allowed for fair treatment and equality in the armed services.
27 July 1974 – The House Judiciary Committee votes 27-11 to recommend that President Nixon be impeached for his role in the Watergate scandal.
28 July 1868 – The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed equal protection of the laws and due process for former slaves, was declared to be in effect.
29 July 1958 – NASA was created when President Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, motivated by the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch and the inability of the US to compete in a space race.
30 July 1965 – The foundations of the Medicare system are laid when President Lyndon Johnson signs the Medicare Bill into law. It came into effect in 1966.
31 July 1790 – The first patent in the US is issued under the patent statute that came into effect in April 1790. The inventor Samuel Hopkins petitioned for a patent to apply to his invention of an improved way of making potash.