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Today in Legal History: FDR Signs Social Security Act

From WikipediaOn August 15, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Responding to the widespread suffering caused by the Great Depression, President Roosevelt asked Congress for “social security” legislation on January 17, 1935. The Act would provide old-age benefits that would be financed by a payroll tax on employers and employees. The system later expanded to provide benefits for the disabled, dependents, and the unemployed. Prior to the Social Security Act, elderly people often faced the prospect of poverty upon retirement.

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Today in Legal History: Lincoln Signs the Revenue Act, Imposing First Federal Income Tax

On August 5, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Revenue Act, passed by Congress, implementing the first income tax ever levied by the federal government. A month earlier, President Lincoln met with Congress to deal with the national emergency caused by the outbreak of the Civil War.  In an effort to generate the funds necessary to pursue the war efforts, Lincoln and Congress decided to impose a 3 percent tax on annual incomes over $800. In 1871, Congress repealed Lincoln’s tax law, but passed the 16th amendment in 1909, which established the federal income-tax system in place today. In 1913, Congress ratified the 16th Amendment.

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Today in Legal History: Delegates Sign Declaration of Independence

On August 2, 1776, the Continental Congressional delegates signed the Declaration of Independence, announcing that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as independent states and no longer part of the British Colonies. The American colonies formed a new nation, the United States of America. News of the Declaration of Independence arrived in London on August 10. Mary Catherine Goddard printed the first official copy of the historic document in 1777.

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Today in Legal History: President Truman Signs National Security Act

On July 26, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, a central document in U.S. Cold War policy. The Act, which took more than a year to craft, directed a major reorganization of the foreign policy and military establishments of the U.S. Government. The Act established the National Security Council (NSC), merged the War and Navy departments into the Department of Defense headed by the secretary of defense, and recognized the Air Force as independent from the Army. The Act also established the role of the CIA by assigning the responsibility of foreign intelligence to the CIA.

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Today in Legal History: Apollo 11 Mission

President John F. Kennedy predicted in 1960 that by the end of the decade the country would put a man on the moon and return him home safely.  The triumphant Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, began an era of moon exploration that has so far gone unrivaled.  American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to land on the moon. About six and a half hours after landing, Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.

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Today in Legal History: Truman Orders U.S. Troops to Korea

On June 27, 1950, President Truman ordered U.S. Air and Naval forces to join forces with South Korea’s army in order to prevent the communist conquest of the independent nation.  Two days earlier, 90,000 communist troops of the North Korean Army invaded South Korea, prompting a U.N. Security Council emergency meeting and the call for a cease-fire order.  Truman’s action, in the midst of the Cold War, met with approval from Congress and the U.S. public. The Korean War continued until July 27, 1953, when after two years of negotiations an armistice was signed and the war ended.

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Today in Legal History: Statue of Liberty Arrives in New York

The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor on June 19, 1885. The statue was a gift from France to the United States commemorating the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The 151-foot statue, Liberty Enlightening the World, was designed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, and was dismantled into 350 pieces to be transported to the United States. The statue took four months to reassemble on Bedloe’s Island where it remains a symbol of freedom and democracy to the nation and the world.

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Today in Legal History: Flag Day

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the stars and stripes design for the flag of the United States. While the first national observance of Flag Day occurred on June 14, 1877, the centennial of the adoption of the flag, it was not an official national observance until years later. President Wilson in 1916, and President Coolidge again in 1927, issued proclamations asking for June 14th to be observed as National Flag Day. However, Congress did not approve the national observance until August 3, 1949, and President Truman signed it into law.

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Today in Legal History: Miranda Rights Established

From WikipediaErnesto Miranda’s wrongful conviction led to the landmark case, Miranda v. Arizona (384 U.S. 436). On June 13, 1966, the Supreme Court delivered its decision, establishing that before a defendant’s statement to the police can be admitted as evidence, there must be proof that the defendant was informed of his/her right to counsel and against self-incrimination—what is now called the “Miranda Rights.”

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Today in Legal History: Memorial Day

Memorial Day, initially called Decoration Day, was first observed on May 30, 1868, to honor the Civil War soldiers who died in battle by decorating their graves. While Memorial Day was celebrated in the years following 1868, it was not declared a national holiday until 1971 when Congress declared it be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Today, Americans celebrate Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, participating in parades, and gathering with family and friends.

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