Beginnings of Copyright Law in America

Under the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress had no power to enforce any sort of copyright legislation, but it felt that it was an important enough issue that it passed a resolution that encouraged the states to pass their own copyright laws. Seven of the 13 did and used the language of the Statute of Anne as the basis of their copyright laws.

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The First Nine

The above list provides common characteristic three, i.e., that for the first 58 years the United States was in existence, its leaders all shared a common experience – the trial known as the American Revolution and the difficulties in founding a country that violated all the accepted precedents of the time. Many risked their lives in combat and understood that if we lost, all would have been hung as traitors by the British.

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Jefferson’s Purge of the U.S. Army

Using the authority of the Military Peace Establishment Act, Jefferson reduced the size of the U.S. Army by about one-third to 3,289 officers and men. Its order of battle now consisted of two regiments of infantry, one of artillery and a company of engineers.

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Founding of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

After Alexander Hamilton left office as the Secretary of the Treasury, Washington appointed him as the Inspector General of the U.S. Army. Believing that the relations with France would continue to deteriorate and lead to armed conflict, Hamilton introduced “a bill for establishing a military academy” in Congress to train officers. In addition to details on the curriculum, Hamilton recommended Fort Clinton, now the name of the fort at West Point, be the new school’s location.

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The Tale of Deborah Sampson, a.k.a. Robert Shirtliff

She didn’t want to be taken to a hospital, but one of her fellow soldiers did so against her wishes. There, her head wound was treated by a doctor, but she left before her leg could be treated. In a barn over a mile away, she removed one of the balls with her own knife and sewed her leg closed with a needle and thread. The second ball remained in her thigh until the day she died.

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Congressional Pay Has Always Been an Issue

Culture, precedent, and history played a role in the debate over how much we the people should pay our legislators. Many of the framers of the Constitution thought that members of the Senate would come from the “upper” or wealthier citizens and the members of the House would come from the masses a.k.a. the common people. This was a holdover from the British Parliament which has an upper house, the House of Lords, made up of members of the nobility, and the lower House of Commons, in which any citizen can run for office.

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America’s First Swiss Banker

Jefferson wanted Gallatin to be his Secretary of the Treasury. When he gave Gallatin a recess appointment on May 14th, 1801, Jefferson is reputed to have said, “He is the only man in the United States who understands, through all the labyrinths Hamilton involved it, the precise state of the Treasury.”

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Napoleon Plays Madison

 Jefferson responded (to Napoleon’s Berlin Decree) with the Non-Importation Act of 1806, which banned imports of any goods from Britain. Besides being unenforceable, it caused the U.S. economy to contract. Still not done, Jefferson forced the Embargo Act of 1807 through Congress, and between the two pieces of legislation, the U.S. economy contracted by about 10%.

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Madison’s Inherited Foreign Policy and National Security Mess

In the U.K., many British political leaders resented the new, upstart nation. They saw the 1783 Treaty of Paris as a humiliation as well as a military defeat. These men resented the fact that the U.S. did not want to be part of the British Commonwealth, not to be confused with the modern Commonwealth of Nations. And, if pressed, they believed that Britain should have never let the U.S. become independent. On the floor of Parliament, some urged the British government to invade the U.S. and force it to again become a British colony.

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