This Week in History: February 6-12
A week of amendments and a presidential impeachment trial.
By: Kelli Ballard | February 6, 2022 | 767 Words
“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” – Theodore Roosevelt
February 7, 1795: The 11th Amendment Was Ratified
“The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.”
Before the 11th Amendment, there was a lot of confusion about whether states could be sued in federal courts, either by other states or by individuals.
For example, in 1793, in Chisholm v. Georgia, someone who lived in South Carolina sued the state of Georgia in the Supreme Court. The lawsuit was brought by Alexander Chisholm for unpaid debts from the Revolutionary War. In another instance, Vassall v. Massachusetts was a case brought by a British citizen (William Vassall), who sued the state for violating the Treaty of Peace by confiscating his property.
As a result, Senator Caleb Strong of Massachusetts proposed an amendment to the Constitution, which became the 11th Amendment. It says that federal courts aren’t allowed to hear legal cases against states. In general, states can’t be sued by someone who lives in another state or a foreign country.
February 10, 1967: The 25th Amendment was Ratified
20th Amendment, Section 1: “In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.”
Who takes over if something happens to the president? The 25th Amendment clarifies this and gives the duties to the vice president. Section 4 of the amendment also created a way for the vice president and Cabinet to remove a president who isn’t fit for duty.
February 12, 1999: Impeachment Trial of President Bill Clinton Ends
After a White House scandal, former President Bill Clinton was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice. The House of Representatives impeached him on December 19, 1998. After that, he went to trial in the Senate.
The trial ended with 55 senators (45 Democrats and 10 Republicans) voting not guilty for the perjury charge. On the allegation of obstruction of justice, the senators were split with 50 for and 50 against the president. Since there was not a two-thirds majority vote, Clinton was acquitted.
There have been three presidents in America’s history who have been formally impeached: Clinton was the second. The first was Andrew Johnson, and the most recent was Donald Trump. So far, no presidents have been found guilty in a Senate impeachment trial.
Other Notable Mentions
February 6, 1952: King George VI of England died. His daughter, Princess Elizabeth, became Queen Elizabeth II. She was crowned on June 2, 1953.
February 8, 1587: Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was beheaded after being a prisoner of Queen Elizabeth I for 19 years.
February 8, 1910: The Boy Scouts of America was founded by William Boyce.
February 10, 1942: The first Medal of Honor during World War II was awarded to Alexander Nininger for his courage during the Battle of Bataan.
February 11, 1990: In South Africa, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years for attempting to overthrow the government. In April 1994, he was elected that nation’s president.
February 6, 1756: Former Vice President Aaron Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel for negative remarks and won, killing Hamilton. Burr was later tried for treason on a different matter but was acquitted.
February 6, 1895: Legendary baseball player George Herman “Babe” Ruth was born in Baltimore, Maryland.
February 6, 1911: Former Republican President Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois.
February 7, 1812: Author Charles Dickens, who wrote A Christmas Carol, was born in Portsmouth, England.
February 8, 1820: Union Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman was born in Lancaster, Ohio.
February 9, 1773: President William Henry Harrison was born on the Berkeley Plantation, Virginia. He was president for just 32 days before dying with pneumonia.
February 9, 1847: Inventor Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. Some of his inventions include the incandescent light bulb, the movie camera, and the phonograph.
February 12, 1809: Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. Darwin is best known for his Origin of the Species, which explains the theory of evolution.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” ~ Marcus Garvey