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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: Secretary of the Interior J. P. Usher Creates the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation

On July 8, 1864, Secretary of the Interior J.P. Usher created the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. For centuries the Salish-speaking people had lived along the Chehalis River in two groups, the Upper and Lower Chehalis, until American settlers arrived. In 1855, the Chehalis groups did not sign the treaties offered by the U.S. Government, refusing to give up their traditional lands. However, American settlers continued to move into the area, filing claims on the Chehalis lands. In order to preserve a place for the Chehalis groups within their original territory, Usher authorized purchase of 4,224.63 acres of land at the confluence of the Black and Chehalis Rivers, including both prairie and timberlands.

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Today in Legal History: Independence Day

On July 4, 1776, the First Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence and ordered it to be printed. The document was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and served to formally sever ties with Great Britain, declaring the colonies independent. Independence Day celebrations date back to the eighteenth century, but Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941.

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Today in Legal History: Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act

From WikipediaOn July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the historic Civil Rights Act, which outlawed segregation in businesses, public places, and banned discriminatory practices in employment.  In 1963, President John F. Kennedy proposed civil rights legislation, and after his assassination, Johnson vowed to carry out civil rights reform.  Passage of the act was not easy.  The act faced opposition in the House and a filibuster in the Senate before it was passed, providing for equal treatment of all peoples regardless of race.

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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: 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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Today in Legal History: Former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew Disbarred

From WikipediaOn May 2, 1974, the Maryland Court of Appeals disbarred Former Vice President Spiro Agnew. A Baltimore grand jury had linked Agnew to political corruption—bribery, extortion, and tax evasion.  Agnew avoided indictments on bribery and extortion by pleading no contest to tax evasion. Agnew resigned from office in 1973, and while the government did not prosecute him on charges of bribery and extortion, he was nonetheless disbarred as a result of his no-contest plea.

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  • ABA Journal
  • U.S. Senate History

 

Today in Legal History: Bay of Pigs Invasion

On April 17, 1961, a CIA-backed group of Cuban refugees tried to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. As soon as the party landed, they were met with resistance from Castro’s forces, and promised US air support never materialized. Of the 1,200 exiles trying to recapture their homeland, 100 died and the rest were captured.

Not only did the plan fail, it made the situation in Cuba even less desirable to the US government. Castro was able to put pressure on his Soviet allies for more support, and denounced the US to the world. Far from displacing Castro, the actions of the CIA cemented Castro’s control on Cuba, and made new president John F. Kennedy look weak and indecisive.

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