This Day in the Law
Today's Date – April 16
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On April 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law. This act required a Surgeon General’s warning label on packets of cigarettes and banned advertisements.

On April 2, 1917, Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, became the very first woman sworn into Congress and the first woman elected to a national legislature in a Western democracy.

On April 3, 1948, President Truman singed the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan is named after Secretary of State George Marshall, who proposed the plan to provide economic assistance to postwar Europe.

On April 4, 1721, Sir Robert Walpole is generally regarded by most scholars to have attained the de facto title as the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

On April 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102 in the midst of the Great Depression. An executive order is an order issued by the President as the head of the executive branch of the government.

On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and officially entered World War I. Prior to this, the United States had adopted a policy of isolationism.

On April 7, 1948, the United Nations (UN) established the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO acts as an international public health agency for the UN.

On April 8, 1913, the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution officially became law. The 17th Amendment grants citizens the power to elect their senators by popular vote.

On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee, the Commander of the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered to Union Army General Ulysess S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the Patent Act of 1790 which became the nation’s first patent law and laid the foundation for the patent system used today.

On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

On April 13, 1934, members of the American Federation of Labor union went on strike at Electric Auto-Lite in Toledo, Ohio. The strike lasted for nearly three months and culminated in a five day battle between strikers and the Ohio National Guard.

On April 14, 2000, Lars Ulrich of the band Metallica filed a lawsuit against the popular peer-to-peer music sharing program Napster, accusing the program of circulating pirated music and violating copyright laws.

On April 15, 1994, a group of 124 nations signed the Marrakech Agreement and established the World Trade Organization (WTO). Prior to the WTO, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was the leading authority on worldwide trade.

On April 16, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote a letter from the city jail in Birmingham, Alabama where he had been arrested for his non-violent protest against racial segregation laws.

On April 17, 1982, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Canada Act to end Canada’s legal dependence on the United Kingdom (UK).

On April 18, 1949 (Easter Monday), the Ireland Act went into effect and officially terminated Ireland’s status as a member of the United Kingdom’s (UK) Commonwealth of Nations.

On April 19, 1971, Charles Manson and three members of his “family” were sentenced to death following their convictions on twenty-seven separate counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy.

On April 20, 1871, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, was passed by President Ulysses S. Grant. The act was intended to protect southern blacks from the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) following the Civil War.

On April 21, 1952, the first Secretaries Day was celebrated. Two months later, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Charles Sawyer, officially proclaimed June 4 as National Secretary’s Day.

On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in an effort to raise awareness of our environment and inspire appreciation of our world.

On April 23, 1635, Boston Latin School was founded in Boston, Massachusetts as the first public school in the U.S. Boston Latin School is older than Harvard College by more than a year, and is the oldest existing school in the U.S.

On April 24, 1800, President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 to establish a U.S. Library of Congress for "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress."

On April 25, 1938, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938), and overturned a century of federal common law.

On April 26, 1970, the The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO Convention, entered into force.

On April 27, 1992, Betty Boothroyd became the first female elected to the position of Speaker of the British House of Commons

On April 28, 1952, the United States occupation of Japan ended with the ratification of the San Francisco Treaty.

On April 29, 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force, outlawing the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons.

On April 30, 1803, the U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, which more than doubled the size of the U.S. and greatly expanded the U.S.’s role as major developing country.