Archive for the ‘legal history’ Category

  • U.S. Supreme Court Rules on the Amistad Case, March 9, 1841

    The Amistad case is a seminal case in the history of slavery in America. A group of men captured in West Africa and being transported to America revolted and took control of the transport ship, the Amistad. Intending to sail back to Africa, the ship was instead diverted to New York where the men were […] Read more...
  • Dred Scott Decision Announced by the U.S. Supreme Court, March 6, 1857

    The infamous Dred Scott case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court after winding through trials and appeals in both state and federal courts. By the time it reached the Court, the main issues were whether the Court had jurisdiction and whether Scott was a citizen. Seven of the nine justices who heard the […] Read more...
  • Today in Legal History: Constitution Goes into Effect

    The Constitutional Convention was the result of intense negotiation and compromise, although it is said that George Washington, who was president of the assembly, spent much of that time fishing. One of the central controversies was the form of government for the new country. Some delegates favored the adoption of a monarchy, but Madison, an […] Read more...
  • Today in Legal History: Dawes Severalty Act Signed, Tribes Further Dispossessed

    On February 8, 1887, President Grover Cleveland signed the Dawes Act, dividing up tribal lands into plots for individuals to farm.  The effect of the Act was to weaken tribes, break up traditional families, and put Indian lands into non-Indian hands.  Under the Act, farmers did not get ownership of the land for 25 years; […] Read more...
  • Today in Legal History: First session of first Supreme Court

    The first session of the U.S. Supreme Court met on February 1st, 1790. President George Washington’s inaugural nominations were John Jay (Chief Justice), John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson. The Court got off to a faltering start. Robert Harrison refused the nomination, John Jay was abroad attending diplomatic duties during […] Read more...
  • Today in Legal History: Gandhi Assassinated, 1948

    Gandhi was the leading figure in India’s drive for independence.  He studied law in England and practiced for a short time in South Africa where he encountered the racism of the apartheid system first hand.  His first success with political activism and civil disobedience occurred in South Africa.  Gandhi returned to India in 1914 and […] Read more...
  • In Legal History: Roe v. Wade Decided

    On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued one of the most famous and controversial legal decisions of our era.  Justice Harry Blackmun authored the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion.  At the time, news of the decision was pushed off the front page of many newspapers when former President Lyndon B. […] Read more...
  • Why is Veteran’s Day celebrated on a Tuesday rather than a Monday?

    In 1968, Congress passed what is known as the Monday holiday law, establishing Monday as the day to celebrate many holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day and Veteran’s Day. After the enactment, most states enacted conforming legislation for most of the holidays but refrained from doing so for Veteran’s Day. According to House Report […] Read more...
  • This Week in Legal History

    Congress Probes Communism in Hollywood, October 20, 1947 “Are you now, or have you ever been, a Communist?” Senator Joe McCarthy’s crusade to stamp out communism reached Hollywood when film industry members were called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to testify about communism in the film industry. Ten writers and directors (later known […] Read more...
  • This Week in Legal History

    Formal Transfer of Alaska Territory to the United States, October 18, 1867 Although considered foolish at the time, the United States bought the Alaska territory for $7,200,000 from Russia at the behest of William Seward, Secretary of State. Opposition in the House of Representatives postponed appropriation of funds for over a year. The new territory […] Read more...