Appendix 7: Important Events in the Development of American Constitutional Law

Author:Leonard W. Levy, Kenneth L. Karst

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1215 Magna Carta.
1225 Magna Carta reissued in the modified form that became the English statute.
1295 Parliament of three estates established, the model for all future English parliaments.
1297 Confirmatio Cartarum.
1322 That no statute could be made except by consent of both lords and commons was established and declared.
1354 The phrase "due process of law" was first used in a statute.
1387 By statute the king was forbidden to levy imposts, duties, or surcharges without consent of Parliament; the king could no longer legally raise revenue by his own authority alone.
1407 The king agreed that all revenue measures must originate in the House of Commons; this practice was followed in Article I, section 7, of the Constitution.
1606 Edward Coke was appointed Chief Justice of Common Pleas. He was made Chief Justice of the King's Bench ("Lord Chief Justice of England") in 1613.
First Virginia Charter.
1608 Calvin's Case.
1610 Bonham's Case.
1619 The General Assembly of Virginia met, the first representative assembly in the New World.
1620 Mayflower Compact.
1628 Petition of Right.
1629 Charter of Massachusetts Bay Company.
1635 Massachusetts General Court established a committee to write fundamental laws to limit magistrate, "in resemblance to a Magna Carta."
Roger Williams banished by the General Court of Massachusetts. He founded Providence Plantation in 1636.
In instructions to Governor Wyatt, the Virginia Assembly was officially recognized as a permanent institution, to meet at least annually.
1639 Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.
1641 Courts of High Commission and Star Chamber abolished; oath ex officio abolished.
Massachusetts Body of Liberties.
The Grand Remonstrance charged King Charles I with various unlawful acts and demanded that executive power be exercised by ministers in whom Parliament had confidence.
1643 Roger Williams's The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution.
1644 John Milton's Areopagitica, a plea against prior restraint and censorship, published.
1644 Massachusetts General Court became bicameral, as Assistants met separately from Assembly.
1647 Massachusetts General Laws and Liberties.

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1649 Maryland Toleration Act.
1652 Roger Williams's pamphlet The Bloudy Tenent Yet More Bloudy published.
1653 The Instrument of Government, the short-lived written constitution of the English commonwealth, promulgated by Oliver Cromwell.
1660–1696 Navigation Acts.
1662 Royal Charter for Connecticut (constitution until 1818).
1663 Royal Charter of Rhode Island (constitution until 1842).
1664 New York granted to Duke of York as proprietary colony; the proprietor to have complete power to make laws.
1670 Bushell's Case.
1679 Habeas Corpus Act.
1682 Pennsylvania Frame of Government.
1687 William Penn's The Excellent Priviledge of Liberty and Property published; it included the first text of and commentary on Magna Carta published in America.
1689 Act of Toleration.
English Bill of Rights.
John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration.
1690 John Locke's Two Treatises of Government.
1695 The last English licensing act, restricting freedom of the press, expired.
1698 Algernon Sidney's Discourses Concerning Government.
1701 Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties.
1720–1721 Trenchard and Gordon's essays, Cato's Letters and The Independent Whig, first published.
1733 Molasses Act.
1735 Zenger's Case.
1748 Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws.
1754 Albany Plan of Union proposed by the Albany Congress.
1758 Emerich de Vattel's Law of Nations and of Nature.
1762 Massachusetts General Court voted a ban on general warrants; it was disallowed by the Governor.
1763 Paxton's Case (Writs of Assistance Case).
1764 James Otis, in The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved, denied the right of Parliament to tax the Americans and maintained that a court could judge an act of Parliament void if it was contrary to natural justice.
The Sugar Act (American Revenue Act) was the first attempt by the British Parliament to tax the colonists for revenue purposes.
1765 Entick v. Carrington.
Stamp Act.
Stamp Act Congress.
1765–1769 William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England published.
1766 A county court in Northhampton County, Virginia, in an advisory opinion, declared the Stamp Act unconstitutional and therefore void.
Declaratory Act.
1767–1768 John Dickinson's Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania published.
1768 Massachusetts Circular Letter.
1772 Somerset's Case.
1773 Constitutional debate in Massachusetts; Governor James Hutchinson, in a message to the General Court, asserted that supreme power must rest somewhere; the alternatives were parliamentary rule or independence. The General Court replied that sovereignty could be, and, in fact, already was, divided.
1774 Coercive Acts (Intolerable Acts), including Administration of Justice Act.
First Continental Congress.
The Association.
Joseph Galloway proposes his Plan of Union.
Thomas Jefferson's Summary View of the Rights of British America.
1775 Second Continental Congress convened.
Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms.

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1776 Thomas Paine's Common Sense.
Declaration of Independence.
Dickinson's draft of Articles of Confederation submitted to Congress.
1776–1780 First state constitutions written.
1777 Articles of Confederation approved by Congress and submitted to states.
1779 Congressional resolution asked states to cede their western lands to the United States.
1780 Holmes v. Walton (New Jersey).
1781 Articles of Confederation ratified and in force.
1783 Quock Walker's Case (Massachusetts).
1784 Rutgers v. Waddington (New York).
James Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance" against religious assessments.
1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
Ten Pound Act Cases (New Hampshire).
Trevett v. Weeden (Rhode Island).
Annapolis Convention.
1787 Bayard v. Singleton.
Congress adopted resolution calling federal Constitutional Convention.
John Adams's Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States.
Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia and drafted Constitution of the United States.
Northwest Ordinance.
Congress transmitted Constitution to the states for ratification.
1787–1788 The Federalist.
1788 Constitution ratified by required nine states.
Congress adopted ordinance to put Constitution into effect.
1789 George Washington chosen President.
Departments of State, War, and Treasury created.
Judiciary Act of 1789.
Habeas Corpus Act.
Bill of Rights proposed.
President Washington appeared in person to ask the Senate's advice and consent relative to an Indian treaty; failure to act cost the Senate a role as the President's council of advice.
1790 Alexander Hamilton's Report on the Public Credit.
Treason Act.
1791 Champion and Dickason v. Casey.
Bank of the United States Act.
Bill of Rights ratified and in effect.
Hamilton's Report on Manufactures.
1792 Hayburn's Case.
President Washington used the presidential veto power for the first time, vetoing a reapportionment bill he thought unconstitutional.
1793 Chisholm v. Georgia.
First Fugitive Slave Act.
The Supreme Court, presented with a list of questions from the President and the cabinet concerning relations with France, refused to give an advisory opinion.
Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality in the Wars of the French Revolution.
1794 Jay's Treaty.
Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania against federal alcohol tax. Suppressed by militia of four states under federal control.
1795 Van Horne's Lessee v. Dorrance.
Post Office Department created.
Ware v. Hylton.
1796 Hylton v. United States.
Washington's Farewell Address.
XYZ Affair began three-year undeclared war with France.
1798 Alien and Sedition Acts.
Calder v. Bull.

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Department of the Navy created.
Eleventh Amendment ratified and in effect.
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.
1799 Second set of Kentucky Resolutions claimed states could nullify unconstitutional acts of Congress.
1801 Electoral College tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr resolved in House of Representatives; this led to the Twelfth Amendment.
John Marshall became Chief Justice.
Judiciary Act of 1801.
1802 Judiciary Act of 1801 repealed; Judiciary Act of 1802 enacted.
1803 Marbury v. Madison.
Stuart v. Laird.
Louisiana Purchase Treaty.
1804 John Pickering, United States District Court judge for New Hampshire, having been impeached by the House of Representatives of malfeasance and intemperance, was convicted by the Senate and removed from office.
Twelfth Amendment ratified and in effect.
1805 Samuel Chase, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, having been impeached by the House of Representatives of oppressive and partisan conduct, was acquitted by the Senate.
1807 Ex Parte Bollman and Swartwout.
Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.
Embargo Act.
Trial of Aaron Burr (United States v. Burr).

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