This Month in U.S. Legal History – November

Each month of the year is packed with legal events of historical significance. Here are some of the most memorable and important legal events that have taken place in the United States in November over the years.

  • 11/1/1943. During World War II, the first rent control law is passed in New York by the Office of Price Administration, restricting the ability of landlords to raise rents on tenants for certain properties.
  • 11/2/1951. The passage and signing of the Boggs Act creates mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug offenses. Today, there are generally two tiers: 5 years (without parole) for a specified “small” amount of a given drug and 10 years for a larger amount.
  • 11/3/1964. Citizens of Washington, D.C. are permitted to vote in a presidential election for the first time. Electoral college votes from the region go to Lyndon Johnson, the eventual winner of the election.
  • 11/4/1646. Massachusetts establishes the death penalty for those who would not acknowledge the verity of the Bible. This law has since been nullified.
  • 11/5/2006. The trial of Saddam Hussein comes to an end when he is sentenced to death for his role in the Dujail Massacre.
  • 11/6/1965. The U.S. and Cuba enter into a formalized agreement regarding an airlift program for Cubans, eventually leading to a quarter-million relocations in the following six years.
  • 11/7/1973. Congress adopts the War Powers Resolution of 1973, providing that a U.S. President can only send troops into action upon a declaration of war by Congress, a statutory authorization or in the case of a national emergency.
  • 11/8/1994. Oregon passes the Death with Dignity Act, making it the first state to permit physician-assisted suicide. Several other states follow Oregon’s lead in the coming years.
  • 11/10/1919. The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Abrams v. U.S. that speech can be prohibited when such speech tends to bring about certain harmful results in connection with wartime efforts.
  • 11/11/1918. The armistice ending World War I is signed.
  • 11/12/1997. Ramzi Yousef and two others are convicted in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
  • 11/13/1956. The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear an appeal in Browder v. Gayle, ending bus segregation in Alabama.
  • 11/15/1777. America’s original founding document, the Articles of Confederation, is adopted by the first Continental Congress.
  • 11/16/1806. Moses Cleaveland, a lawyer and the founder of Cleveland, Ohio, passes away.
  • 11/17/1969. Representatives from the U.S. and Soviet Union meet in Helsinki for SALT I negotiations regarding strategic weapons reductions.
  • 11/18/1903. The Panama Canal treaty is signed, making it possible for the U.S. to build a canal through the Isthsmus of Panama.
  • 11/20/1974. The Justice Department brings an antitrust suit against AT&T that would eventually lead to the breakup of the communications giant.
  • 11/22/1963. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated, leading to the swearing in of Vice President Lyndon Johnson.
  • 11/24/1993. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act is passed in the U.S. Senate, ultimately leading to mandatory background checks prior to any U.S. citizen purchasing firearms from federally licensed dealers.
  • 11/25/1783. After the signing of the Treaty of Paris, ending the American Revolutionary War, the last British troops depart New York.
  • 11/26/1863. The first national Thanksgiving Day is celebrated, after President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation formally establishes it.
  • 11/29/1994. The revised General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is passed in the U.S. Congress.
  • 11/30/1804. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase begins his impeachment trial in the Senate for “arbitrary and oppressive conduct of trials.” Several months later, he is acquitted.


Image credit: U.S. Embassy New Delhi