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President John Adams oversees the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts. In response, Thomas Jefferson introduces the “Kentucky Resolution” and James Madison issues the “Virginia Resolution” to give states the power to determine the constitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Acts. On Sept. 12, newspaper editor Benjamin Franklin Bache, the grandson of Benjamin Franklin,... Read more Read more


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The Federalist Papers are a unique collection of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay urging ratification of the Constitution Read more


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The Continental Congress adopts the final draft of the Declaration of Independence on July 4. To view more information on the image featured on this post, view the Library of Congress listing for this item.   Read more


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Virginia’s House of Burgesses passes the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The Virginia Declaration is the first bill of rights to be included in a state constitution in America. To view more information on the image featured on this post, view the Library of Congress listing for this item.   Read more


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In his bid for the Virginia House of Burgesses, George Washington spends £39 to treat voters to 160 gallons of rum and other alcoholic beverages. To view more information on the image featured on this post, view the Library of Congress listing for this item. Read more


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New York publisher John Peter Zenger is tried for libel after publishing criticism of the Royal Governor of New York. Zenger is defended by Andrew Hamilton and acquitted. His trial establishes the principle that truth is a defense to libel and that a jury may determine whether a publication is defamatory or seditious. To view... Read more Read more


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The Massachusetts General Court formally adopts the first broad statement of American liberties, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. Read more


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The Petition of Right is a statement of the objectives of the 1628 English legal reform movement that leads to civil war and the deposing of King Charles I in 1649. This important document sets out the rights and liberties of the common man as opposed to the prerogatives of the crown and expresses many... Read more Read more


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Abuses by England’s King John cause a revolt by nobles, who compel him to recognize rights for both noblemen and ordinary Englishmen. This document, known as the Magna Carta, establishes the principle that no one, including the king or a lawmaker, is above the law, and establishes a framework for future documents such as the... Read more Read more



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