Timeline: Law

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150,000 BCE200,000 to 150,000 BCE

Modern Human Looks and Brains

lover couple of caucasian male and female lay down at the beach relaxing
6,000 Generations Ago

By circa 150,000 BCE, the size of our brain and it’s capabilities matured. Think about this. A human born today and a human born in 150,000 BCE had roughly the same mental and physical capacities. This includes all of our traits including our need for attention and power, our ingenuity, our gullibility to believe things, and our intolerance of the unknown and different. If a human from this time landed in a modern morgue, the doctor performing yet another autopsy would most likely think it was a modern human.

How many times since 150,000 BCE did humans create new religions and Gods? How many times did they discover or invent things that were then lost for thousands of years? Human knowledge builds on previous knowledge, but only if it can be passed down, and survive the test of time. It’s reasonable to believe that various forms of writing and labels were developed and lost countless times. Many interesting advances developed, and lost. No doubt, the stubborn belief in myth or dogma has led directly to the suppression of various human advances countless times. Many times through the use of war and genocide.

Let’s look at just one modern human example. We know the Greeks several thousand years ago knew the Earth was a globe. Over time, the information, the advance, was lost because of the belief in myth and a desire to control others.

 

60,000 BCE2,400 Generations Ago

“The” Human DNA

Spiral strands of DNA on the dark background

The modern human DNA evolved sometime between 71,000 and 51,000 BCE. Imagine that. A human baby born today, and a human baby born in 60,000 BCE have nearly indistinguishable DNA. There are differences but essentially humans are the same now as they were then. The popular website 23andme.com focuses on 23 changes in DNA that signify your ancestors recent migration. 23andMe.com, ancestry.com, and many others identify differences for their customers. Finally, the medical community is currently in an intense wave of identifying genetic differences that lead to medical problems with the idea of early diagnosis, prevention, and through the use of mRNA correction.

Through mtDNA sequencing, we currently believe the most recent common ancestor of all the Eurasian, American, Australian, Papua New Guinean, and African lineages dates to between 73,000 and 57,000 years ago.

1755 BCE

Code of Hammurabi

Code of Hammurabi

A set of about 300 legal laws written in stone from ancient Near East that withstood the test of time. Hammurabi, the sixth king of the First Dynasty of Babylonian, wrote it in cuneiform in the Old Babylonion dialect of Akkadian. The text itself was copied and studied by Mesopotamian scribes for over a millennium.

Translated examples:

  • If a man should blind the eye of another man, they shall blind his eye.
  • If a man bears false witness in a case, or does not establish the testimony that he has given, if that case is case involving life, that man shall be put to death.
  • If a man bears false witness concerning grain or money, he shall himself bear the penalty imposed in the case.
451 BCE

Law of the Twelve Tables

Law of the Twelve Tables

The Twelve Tables were rules citizens had to follow, and limits on the powers of the government. This idea was used several times during Roman history to force the Patricians, aristocrats, to consider the views of the plebeian citizens, commoners. In 451 BCE, plebeians went on strike to protest the tyranny of magistrates. The Twelve Tables came out of that strike. These bronze tablets were set up in the Forum of Rome for all citizens to see and students to study.

Content examples:

  • Table I – when a person is accused of something, both accused and accuser must be present at a trial. If only one party shows up, the judge is free to rule in their favor.
  • Table III – debtors have 30 days to pay off a debt. After that, a creditor is free to imprison them.
  • Table IV – approval to put to death a dreadfully deformed child.
  • Table V – all women, except Vestals (virgin priestesses), must have a guardian regardless of age. The guardian had no say in her private matters, but did guide her public matters especially matters of money.
  • Table VI – a man’s will is binding.
  • Table VIII – lists specific punishments for specific crimes. And, a person who fails to show up as a trial witness, can never again be a witness. And, a person shown to have lied in court will be put to death.
  • Table IX – judges who have taken a bribe as well as anyone committed of treason will be put to death.  
  • Table XI – prohibits marriages between plebeian (aristocrats) and patrician (commoners).
1215
1215

Magna Carta

Magna Carta

The Magna Carta in 1215 established the following principles:

  • everyone is subject to the law, even the King,
  • individuals have rights,
  • everyone has the right to justice,
  • and everyone has the right to a fair trial.

The Magna Carta recognized individual responsibility in all, including the King, and it established that the law “should” be applied to everyone equally. Although King John got the pope to void the Magna Carta only 10 weeks after signing it, it was reissued several times over the next century and became a seminal legal document when Sir Edward Coke used it extensively in the 17th century. (Sir Edward Coke was a mentor to Roger Williams.)

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1612
1612

Bartholomew Legate Burned at the Stake

Bartholomew Legate Burned at the Stake

Bartholomew Legate was the last man burned at the stake in Smithfield where Roger Williams grew up. Just like Roger’s father, Bartholomew was in the clothing industry and may have interacted with Roger’s father at his shop. Either way, Roger Williams was about ten years old when Bartholomew was burned at the stake for simply discussing and debating some of the details of his own Christian faith. Bartholomew was an early “Seeker”, someone seeking truth about his own religion while still believing in the religion generally.

Roger grew up in the Smithfield area where heretics were burned at the stake. This fact may have shaped his eventual decision to leave England for America and his views on the separation of church and state as well as his belief that religion and the lack of religion, is an individual right. Like Bartholomew, Roger Williams would eventually become a “Seeker” sometime in the 1640s.

 

1620
1620

Mayflower Compact

Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact set out rules for self-governance for the English settlers who traveled to Colonial America aboard the Mayflower ship in 1620. Of the 102 passengers aboard the Mayflower only 41 were Pilgrims. It was this minority body that established the rules for which they tried to force on all. The majority of passengers disagreed with and fought against the compact for many years–a rough start to American democracy. The document was signed by the 41 pilgrims, non of the other white male adults called “strangers” by the pilgrims signed it. 

Mike Prestwood Note: One of the Pilgrims and signers of the Mayflower Compact was my direct ancestor Richard Warren (my 10th great grandpa on my mom’s mom side).

Homann-Rudisill Note: My wife Lisa Jane Unsicker is a direct descendent of 4 Mayflower passengers John Tilley, his wife, and daughter are direct ancestors. Also, John Howland, the future husband of 13 year old Elizabeth Tilley is also a direct ancestor of Lisa’s.

1689
1689

English Bill of Rights

The 1689 English Bill of Rights was a precursor to our Bill of Rights and is referred to in our law. For example, it is referred to in Scalia’s Heller opinion.  The bill outlined specific constitutional and civil rights and ultimately gave Parliament power over the monarchy.

  • The monarchy cannot rule without consent of the Parliament.
  • Freedom to elect members of Parliament.
  • Freedom of speech in Parliament.
  • Freedom from royal interference with the law.
  • Freedom to petition the king.
  • Freedom to bear arms for self-defense.
  • Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bail.
  • Freedom from taxation by royal prerogative, without the agreement of Parliament.
  • Freedom of fines and forfeitures without a trial.
  • Freedom from armies being raised during peacetimes.
1776
1776

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Common Sense is a pamphlet published by Thomas Paine in early 1776 advocating independence for the thirteen colonies from England. It was sold and distributed widely and read aloud at taverns and meeting places. Per capita, it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history.

  • the distinction between kings and subjects is a false distinction

Of note, Thomas Paine was a self-proclaimed monotheist (believing in one God), but disdained organized religion, proclaiming that his only church was his own mind.

1776

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence expresses the ideals on which the United States was founded and the reasons for separation from Great Britain.

  • The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (among others).
  • People have a say in their government.
1787
1787

The Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States

The Constitution is a merger uniting the original 13 states with different cultures and laws. Under America’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, the states acted together only for specific purposes. The final Constitution of 1887 united all the states as members of a whole, vesting the power of the people in a Federal government.

1791
1791

Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights was written two years after the signing of the Constitution and ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1791. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia refused. In 1939, the three decliners symbolically sent their approvals to Congress.

Amendments:

1st: Freedom of speech, press, of and from religion, assembly, and the right to petition the government.

2nd: Right to bear arms

3rd: Protection against housing soldiers in civilian homes

4th: Protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and the issuing of warrants without probable cause.

5th: Protection against trial without indictment, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, and property seizure.

6th: Right to a speedy trial, to be informed of charges, confronted by witnesses, witnesses, and legal counsel.

7th: Right to trial by jury

8th: Protection against excessive bail, fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.

9th: Rights granted in the Constitution shall not infringe on other rights.

10th: Powers not granted to the Federal Government in the Constitution belong to the states or the people.

1795
1795

11th Amendment

One state cannot sue another. US courts cannot hear cases nor make decisions against a state if it is sued by a someone who lives in another state or country.

12th Amendment: Procedure to elect a president and VP, then updated in 20th Amendment.

1833
1833

Barron v. Baltimore

The Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states because the Federal government does not have jurisdiction.

 “[the Constitution was created] by the people of the United States…not for the government of the individual states.” –Decision written by Chief Justice John Marshall, 1833.

This was the law of the land until the 14th Amendment which was ratified after the Civil War in 1866.

 

1865
1865

13th Amendment

Abolished slavery in the United States. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation nearly three years earlier and the Civil War which started nearly five years earlier paved the path forward on this issue.

1868
1868

14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment was passed after the Civil War in 1866 and ratified by the states in 1868. It provided all citizens with “equal protection under the laws.” The 14th Amendment bans states from depriving citizens of life, liberty, or property without “due process of law” making the Constitution including the Bill of Rights the law of the land at all levels (a.k.a. “Incorporation Doctrine”). The 14th Amendment made the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, applicable at all levels of law (state and federal) and to all citizens.

 

1913
1913

16th Amendment

Allows the government via Congress to collect income taxes.

1913

17th Amendment

Direct election of Senators by the people instead of the state legislature.

1919
1919

18th Amendment

Prohibition started with the 18th Amendment and lasted for just 14 years until the 21st Amendment repealed it in 1933.

1920
1920

19th Amendment

Granted women the right to vote, but not Native Americans.

1947
1947

22nd Amendment

Term limits on President.

1962
1962

All States “allow” Native Americans to Vote

silhouette of native american shaman with pikestaff

Basic Timeline:

  • 1787 – Article 1, S2, P3 of the Constitution states, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be … determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons…excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”
  • 1868 – 14th Amendment passed, it declared all persons “born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” were citizens. However, the “jurisdiction” requirement was interpreted to exclude most Native Americans.
  • 1870 – 15th Amendment passed, “The right of citizens…to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” 
  • 1924 – Indian Citizenship Act, a.k.a. The Snyder Act, made Native Americans citizens and gave them the rights granted by the 15th amendment. State constitutions and laws still needed to be challenged and changed 1 by 1.
  • 1948 – Arizona changes constitution.
  • 1965 – Voting Rights Act passed allowing federal enforcement of voting rights.
  • 2013 – Republicans using the Supreme Court gut the 1965 Voting Rights act in a purely partisan vote.

Native American voter suppression continues and is increased by Republicans, the Republican Party, and their supporters. 

1964
1964

24th Amendment

Outlawed poll taxes as a voting requirement in federal elections. Conservatives used poll taxes to disenfranchise black voters in several states.

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