U.S. Legislative History

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Can you name the landmark laws and executive orders?

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President (Year)Legislation/OrderDetail
Washington (1789)Established federal courts, judicial districts, and set number of Supreme Court justices at six
Adams (1798)Stifled citizens' criticism of government and permitted deportation of foreigners
Jefferson (1803)Executive land acquisition that doubled the size of U.S. territory
Jefferson (1807)Restricted American ships from engaging in foreign trade; led to War of 1812
Monroe (1820)Allowed admission of slave state with concurrent admission of free state; prohibited slavery in territories north of 36th parallel
Jackson (1830)Led to forced mass emigration of Native Americans to the West
Polk (1848)Agreement that ended the Mexican War; Mexico recognized the annexation of Texas and ceded California to the U.S.
Fillmore (1850)Strengthened Fugitive Slave Law; admitted California as free state; organized Utah & New Mexico under popular sovereignty
Pierce (1854)Repealed 1820 law barring slavery north of 36th parallel; allowed western territories to determine slavery laws by popular sovereignty
Lincoln (1862)Gave each applicant a title to 160 acres of undeveloped land west of Mississippi River
Lincoln (1862)Gave funds to states to establish agricultural, scientific, and engineering universities
Lincoln (1863)Executive order freeing slaves in 'territories under rebellion'
Johnson (1868-70)Laws that abolished slavery, guaranteed equal protection to all citizens, and granted suffrage regardless of race
Arthur (1883)Ended 'spoils system' by mandating that federal jobs must be awarded on basis of merit
Harrison (1890)Limited monopolies and cartels; used to break up railroad, tobacco, and oil monopolies
Roosevelt (1906)Provided government inspection of meat products and other food in response to book 'The Jungle'; paved way for creation of FDA
Wilson (1913)Created a central banking system and granted it authority to issue legal tender
Wilson (1913)Allowed Congress to levy a national tax on wages
Wilson (1919)Barred the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol
Wilson (1920)Prohibited denying any citizen the right to vote based on gender
Hoover (1930)Dramatically raised tariffs on imported goods to protect American jobs; likely contributed to severity of Great Depression
Roosevelt (1933)Laws aimed at alleviating unemployment, including Tennessee Valley Authority
President (Year)Legislation/OrderDetail
Roosevelt (1941)Supplied other Allied powers with aircraft, ships, and war materials during World War II
Roosevelt (1944)Provided college education for returning World War II soldiers
Truman (1947)Regulated activities of labor unions, including prohibiting unfair labor practices
Truman (1947)Reorganized the military into the Defense Department; established both the National Security Council and CIA
Truman (1948)Gave economic assistance to rebuilding European nations; sought to prevent spread of Communism
Eisenhower (1956)Authorized construction of a national highway system to modernize U.S. transportation
Eisenhower (1958)Formed a national space agency in response to Soviet launch of 'Sputnik'
Johnson (1964)Outlawed major forms of discrimination; legally ended racial segregation
Johnson (1965)Outlawed discriminatory voting practices
Nixon (1970)Required private and public sectors to provide employees with safe work environments
Nixon (1972)Prohibited discrimination in any educational program on account of gender; had major impact on college athletics
Nixon (1972-74)Required disclosure of financial contributions to political campaigns; established FEC
Reagan (1986)Landmark restructuring and simplification of income tax code
Bush (1990)Prohibited discrimination based on disabilities
Clinton (1994)Required federal background checks for gun buyers; spurred by assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan
Clinton (1994)Barred openly gay individuals from serving in the military
Bush (2001)Reduced restrictions on domestic intelligence gathering against terrorism suspects
Bush (2002)Reformed education system to increase school performance and accountability
Bush (2002)Authorized use of military force to remove Saddam Hussein from power
Obama (2009)Appropriated federal funds to boost infrastructure development and economic recovery
Obama (2010)Landmark reform of U.S. medical and health insurance laws

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