15
Dec
08

On This Day, 12-15-2008: Bill of Rights Day

December 15, 1791

The Bill of Rights becomes law

On this day in 1791, Virginia becomes the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights, making the first ten amendments to the Constitution law and completing the revolutionary reforms begun by the Declaration of Independence. Before the Massachusetts ratifying convention would accept the Constitution, which they finally did in February 1788, the document’s Federalist supporters had to promise to create a Bill of Rights to be amended to the Constitution immediately upon the creation of a new government under the document.

The Anti-Federalist critics of the document, who were afraid that a too-strong federal government would become just another sort of the monarchical regime from which they had recently been freed, believed that the Constitution gave too much power to the federal government by outlining its rights but failing to delineate the rights of the individuals living under it. The promise of a Bill of Rights to do just that helped to assuage the Anti-Federalists’ concerns.

The newly elected Congress drafted the Bill of Rights on December 25, 1789. Virginia’s ratification on this day in 1791 created the three-fourths majority necessary for the ten amendments to become law. Drafted by James Madison and loosely based on Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, the first ten amendments give the following rights to all United States citizens:

1. Freedom of religion, speech and assembly
2. Right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of a well-regulated militia
3. No forcible quartering of soldiers during peacetime
4. Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure
5. Right to a grand jury for capital crimes and due process. Protection from double jeopardy, self-incrimination and public confiscation of private property without “just compensation.”
6. Right to “speedy and public” trial by jury and a competent defense
7. Right to trial by jury for monetary cases above $20
8. Protection against “excessive” bail or fines and “cruel and unusual” punishments
9. Rights not enumerated are “retained by the people”
10. Rights not given to the federal government or prohibited the state governments by the Constitution, “are reserved to the States… or to the people”

“The Bill of Rights becomes law.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Dec 2008, 10:53 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=44.

On This Day

1654 – A meteorological office established in Tuscany began recording daily temperature readings.

1840 – Napoleon Bonaparte’s remains were interred in Les Invalides in Paris, having been brought from St. Helena, where he died in exile.

1890 – American Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, SD, during an incident with Indian police working for the U.S. government.

1938 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt presided over the ground-breaking ceremonies for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.

1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt singed into practice Bill of Rights Day.

1961 – Former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death in Jerusalem by an Israeli court. He had been tried on charges for organizing the deportation of Jews to concentration camps.

1961 – The U.N. General Assembly voted against a Soviet proposal to admit Communist China as a member.

1965 – Two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6 and Gemini 7, maneuvered within 10 feet of each other while in orbit around the Earth.

1970 – The Soviet probe Venera 7 became the first spacecraft to land softly on the surface of Venus. The probe only survived the extreme heat and pressure for about 23 minutes and transmitted the first date received on Earth from the surface of another planet.

1978 – U.S. President Carter announced he would grant diplomatic recognition to Communist China on New Year’s Day and sever official relations with Taiwan.

1979 – The former shah of Iran, Muhammad Riza Pahlavi, left the United States for Panama. He had gone to the U.S. for medical treatment on October 22, 1979.

1979 – In a preliminary ruling, the International Court of Justice ordered Iran to release all hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979.

2001 – It was announced that Siena Heights University would begin offering a class called “Animated Philosophy and Religion.” The two-credit class would cover how religion and philosophy are part of popular culture and is based on the television series “The Simpsons.”

 

December 15, 1945

MacArthur orders end of Shinto as Japanese state religion

On this day, General Douglas MacArthur, in his capacity as Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in the Pacific, brings an end to Shintoism as Japan’s established religion. The Shinto system included the belief that the emperor, in this case Hirohito, was divine.

On September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, MacArthur signed the instrument of Japanese surrender on behalf of the victorious Allies. Before the economic and political reforms the Allies devised for Japan’s future could be enacted, however, the country had to be demilitarized. Step one in the plan to reform Japan entailed the demobilization of Japan’s armed forces, and the return of all troops from abroad. Japan had had a long history of its foreign policy being dominated by the military, as evidenced by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye’s failed attempts to reform his government and being virtually pushed out of power by career army officer Hideki Tojo.

Step two was the dismantling of Shintoism as the Japanese national religion. Allied powers believed that serious democratic reforms, and a constitutional form of government, could not be put into place as long as the Japanese people looked to an emperor as their ultimate authority. Hirohito was forced to renounce his divine status, and his powers were severely limited–he was reduced to little more than a figurehead. And not merely religion, but even compulsory courses on ethics–the power to influence the Japanese population’s traditional religious and moral duties–were wrenched from state control as part of a larger decentralization of all power.

“MacArthur orders end of Shinto as Japanese state religion.” 2008. The History Channel website. 15 Dec 2008, 10:56 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6644.

On This Day in Wisconsin: December 15

1847 – Wisconsin’s Second Constitutional Convention Convenes in Madison
On this date the first draft of the Wisconsin Constitution was rejected in 1846. As a result, Wisconsin representatives met again to draft a new constitution in 1847. New delegates were invited, and only five delegates attended both conventions. The second convention used the failed 1846 constitution as a springboard for their own, but left out controversial issues such as banking and property rights for women that the first constitution attempted to address. The second constitution included a proposal to let the people of Wisconsin vote on a referendum designed to approve black suffrage. [Source: Attainment of Statehood by Milo M. Quaife]

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