Tag Archives: Separation of Church and State

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

“Evolution Mama” from Even Dozen Jug Band

Theory of Evolution

Charles Darwin is more widely known than Alfred Russell Wallace, but both men’s observations led them to independently propose the theory of evolution through natural selection.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Wallace had published his paper (with some of Darwin’s writings) in 1858. It was called, “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection.” 

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

The following year, Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life) or more commonly and simply known as On the Origin of Species.

And while both men are credited with the theory of evolution, they themselves had built on others’ empirical  observation.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Butler Act

In certain parts of the United States, the ideas of natural selection and evolution became antithetical to those who believed that the world as they knew it had always been that way from the beginning.  And the beginning, for those who believers in the literal interpretation of the Bible, was relatively brief moments (“one week”) when God began the world.

Tennessee was one of those places and on  March 13, 1925, the state enacted the Butler Act names after John Washington Butler, the State Representative who had introduced it two months earlier.

The Butler Act stated: AN ACT prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution Theory in all the Universities, and all other public schools of Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, and to provide penalties for the violations thereof.

The Act did not make it illegal to teach evolution regarding other animals, only humans, though John Butler’s intent was to keep the idea completely out of Tennessee’s academic institutions and to strictly adhere to the Bible’s story.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

John Thomas Scopes

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

John T Scopes was born on August 3, 1900. Darwin had died just 18 years earlier; Wallace was still alive and would be so for another 13 years.

After he a degree from the University of Kentucky in 1924, with a major in law and a minor in geology, he moved to Dayton, Tennessee where he took a job as the Rhea County High School’s football coach and occasionally filled in as a substitute teacher when regular members of the staff were off work.

After the enactment of the Butler Act, the American Civil Liberties Union responded immediately with an offer to defend any teacher prosecuted under the law. John Scopes, who had covered evolution in a science class, agreed to stand as defendant in a test case to challenge the law.

He was arrested on May 7, 1925, and charged with teaching the theory of evolution. Three days later, Scopes was given a preliminary hearing before three judges and 15 days later,  he was indicted by a grand jury for violating Tennessee’s anti-evolution law.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial
Darrow v Bryan
John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial
Clarence Darrow, left, and William Jennings Bryan

The well-known and oft unsuccessful Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan was the lawyer for the prosecution. When the law had passed, Bryan had said, to Tennessee Governor Austin Peay, “The Christian parents of the state owe you a debt of gratitude for saving their children from the poisonous influence of an unproven hypothesis.”

Bryan chastised evolution for teaching children that humans were but one of (precisely) 35,000 types of mammals and bemoaned the notion that human beings were descended “Not even from American monkeys, but from old world monkeys

Clarence Darrow represented Scopes.

The trial was followed on radio transmissions throughout the United States.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Trial begins

July 10, 1925: the trial began with jury selection. Judge John Raulston asks the Rev. Lemuel M. Cartright to open the proceedings with a prayer.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Clarence Darrow

July 13, 1935: in an effort to have the Butler law declared unconstitutional, defense attorney Clarence Darrow delivered a long, fiery speech arguing that the law violates freedom of religion. Darrow argued that “we find today as brazen and as bold an attempt to destroy learning as was ever made in the Middle Ages.”

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Opening with prayer

July 14, 1925: the third day of the trial, Darrow objected to the practice of opening the trial with a prayer. Judge Raulston overruled the objection, noting that he has instructed the ministers who offer the prayer to “make no reference to the issues involved in this case.”

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Law not unconstitutional

July 15, 1925: Judge Raulston overruled the defense’s motion to have the Butler law declared unconstitutional. Raulston says in his ruling that the law “gives no preference to any particular religion or mode of worship. Our public schools are not maintained as places of worship, but, on the contrary, were designed, instituted, and are maintained for the purpose of mental and moral development and discipline.”

In an afternoon session that day, a not guilty plea is entered on Scopes’ behalf. Each side presents its opening statements. The prosecution questioned the superintendent of schools and two of Scopes’ students, who testified that Scopes taught his class about evolution. The defense questioned zoologist Maynard Metcalf, who testified that evolution was a widely embraced theory in the scientific community.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Bar expert testimony

July 17, 1925: Judge Raulston ruled in favor of a motion by prosecutors to bar expert testimony by scientists. Raulston argued that the experts’ opinions on evolutionary theory would “shed no light” on the issue at hand in the trial — whether Scopes violated the state’s anti-evolution laws. Many reporters leave town, believing that the trial is effectively over. Scopes was recruited to write news stories on the trial for some of the delinquent journalists.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Heat moves trial outdoors

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

July 20, 1925: with the proceedings taking place outdoors due to the heat, the defense — in a highly unusual move — calls Bryan to testify as a biblical expert. Clarence Darrow asks Bryan a series of questions about whether the Bible should be interpreted literally. As the questioning continued, Bryan accused Darrow of making a “slur at the Bible,” while Darrow mocks Bryan for “fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes.”

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Guilty

July 21, 1925: the final day of the trial opened with Judge Raulston’s ruling that Darrow could not call Bryan back to the stand and that Bryan’s testimony should be expunged from the record. Raulston declared that Bryan’s testimony “can shed no light upon any issues that will be pending before the higher courts.”

Darrow then asked the court to bring in the jury and find Scopes guilty — a move that would allow a higher court to consider an appeal. The jury returned its guilty verdict after nine minutes of deliberation. Scopes was fined $100, which both Bryan and the ACLU offer to pay for him.

After the verdict was read, John Scopes delivered his only statement of the trial, declaring his intent “to oppose this law in any way I can. Any other action would be in violation of my ideal of academic freedom — that is, to teach the truth as guaranteed in our constitution, of personal and religious freedom.”

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Bryan dies

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

July 26, 1925: five days after the Scopes trial ends, Bryan died in his sleep in Dayton and on July 31 he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The words “He Kept the Faith” are inscribed on his tombstone.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Appeal

January 15, 1927: the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the Butler law was constitutional. However, it overturned Scopes’ verdict on a technicality, ruling that his fine should have been set by the jury hearing the case instead of by Judge Raulston. The justices declared in their ruling that “[n]othing is to be gained by prolonging the life of this bizarre case.”

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

The end…sort of

May 17, 1967, more than 40 years later, Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington signed into law the repeal of the Butler Act

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

John Scopes after trial

Scopes accepted a scholarship for graduate study in geology at the University of Chicago. Later he worked for Gulf Oil in Venezuela where he met and married his wife, Mildred.

In 1930, he returned to the University of Chicago for a third year of graduate study. In 1932 he took a position as a geologist with the United Gas Corporation, for which he studied oil reserves. He worked, in Houston, Texas then in Shreveport, Louisiana, until he retired in 1963.

He died on October 21, 1970, of cancer in Shreveport, Louisiana at the age of 70.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial

Legacy

Other state have since enacted laws that while not exactly copying the Butler Act, exactly copied its intent. These laws have met with resistance and typically failure after a court challenge.

Here are some examples:

Arkansas

November 12, 1968: the NY Times reported: “John Scopes hailed today the Supreme Court’s striking down Arkansas’s anti-evolution law.”

Tennessee, again

September 11, 1974 the NY Times reported Tennessee’s 1973 “Genesis law,” which rekindled memories of the John. Scopes monkey trial, has been held unconstitutional.

The. Tennessee Legislattire passed the law in 1973; specifying that all biology textbooks in the state’s public chools must give equal consideration to all theories of creation of man.

Nashville Chancellor Ben Cantrel ruled Yesterday that the law is an act “respectting the establishment Of religion” and thus runs counter to constititional doctrine of separation of state and Church. The Nashville Chancellery Court rules on all civi challenges to state laws.

The law decreed that the Adam and Eve theory of man’s origin be described in text books aongside the theory Of evolution.

Ohio

On February 15, 2006, the NY Times reportedThe Ohio Board of Education voted 11 to 4…to toss out a mandate that 10th-grade biology classes include critical analysis of evolution and an accompanying model lesson plan, dealing the intelligent design movement its second serious defeat in two months.

And Tennessee yet again

On April 15, 2012, the NY Times reportedEighty-seven years after Tennessee was nationally embarrassed for criminally prosecuting the teaching of evolution, the state government is at it again. This time it has enacted a law that protects teachers who invite students to challenge the science underlying evolution and climate change. The measure is a transparent invitation to indulge pseudoscience in the classroom and a transparent pandering to a vocal, conservative fringe.

Louisiana

On November 19, 2017, the NY Times reportedDarwinism has long been under siege in parts of the United States, even if its critics have practiced their own form of evolution, adapting their arguments to accommodate altered legal circumstances. This installment of Retro Report shows the enduring strength of the forces that embrace the biblical account of Creation or reasonable facsimiles of it. For some of them, the rejection of broad scientific consensus extends to issues like climate change and stem-cell research. And the beat goes on.

John Thomas Scopes Monkey Trial
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November 4 Peace Love Activism

November 4 Peace Love Activism

DEATH PENALTY

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
November 4 Peace Love Activism
November 4, 1646:  the Massachusetts General Court approved a law requiring all members of the colony to recognize the Bible as the Word of God, under penalty of death. (DP, see May 27, 1647; Separation, see April 21, 1649)
Rose Bird defeated
November 4, 1986: California Chief Justice Rose Bird and two other 'liberal' members of the state supreme court were ousted in a retention election. The election followed a bitter campaign that centered on the three justices' records in death penalty cases.  (see November 1987)

BLACK HISTORY

Benjamin Ryan Tillman
November 4, 1890: Benjamin Ryan Tillman was elected governor of South Carolina. An outspoken white supremacist, Tillman advocated for violence against African American voters and staunchly opposed educational access for black people.

Tillman’s political career catapulted to success after his involvement in the 1876 Hamburg Massacre, where white men rioted and killed nine people in a predominantly African American town in South Carolina. In his gubernatorial campaign, Tillman promised to keep the state’s African American population in a position of permanent inferiority. In his inaugural address and throughout his administration, he emphasized white supremacy and the necessity to revoke African Americans’ rights. Concerning the education of African Americans, Tillman argued, “when you educate a Negro, you educate a candidate for the penitentiary or spoil a good field hand.”

He served two terms as governor and played a critical role in the 1895 South Carolina Constitutional Convention. In order to vote under the revised constitution, a man had to own property, pay a poll tax, pass a literacy test, and meet certain educational standards. The 1895 constitution disenfranchised African American voters and served as a model for other southern states.


Tillman was elected United States Senator for South Carolina in 1895, and he served in this capacity for twenty-four years. Throughout his tenure, he opposed African American equality, women’s suffrage, and any federal interference in state government. Tillman’s philosophy helped shape the era of oppression and abuse of African Americans throughout the South. A statue honoring Tillman still stands on the grounds of South Carolina’s State Capitol and as with many statues today, there are many who feel that such recognition is undeserved. (Charleston City Paper article) (see September 1, 1891)
National Equal Rights League

November 4, 1922: the National Equal Rights League presented a petition signed by thousands of people from fifteen States calling for Congress to consider the Dyer Anti-Lynching bill. (see Nov 28) 
Statue of Liberty plot
November 4, 1965: Federal Judge William Herlands sentenced Robert Collier to 5 years in prison; Walter Bowe received a three-year sentence; and Khaleel Sayyed received an 18-month sentence for their conspiracy to blow up the Statue of Liberty on June 14, 1965.  (BH, see Nov 8; Terrorism, see September 5 – 6, 1972)
George Whitmore, Jr
November 4, 1988: Richard Robles, who had served 24 years in the famous ''career girls'' murder case, was denied parole for a second time. Mr. Robles, 45 years old, was given a life sentence for the killing of Janice Wylie, a Newsweek researcher, and Emily Hoffert, an elementary-school teacher, in an East Side apartment on Aug 28, 1963. ( see Whitmore for full story)
Autherine Lucy Foster
In 1989: Autherine Lucy Foster again enrolled at the University of Alabama. Her daughter Grazia also was a student at the time. (BH, see Feb 10; U of A, see May 9, 1992)
Barak Obama

November 4, 2008:  Barak Obama elected President. First Black American elected President of the US. (click for transcript of Obama's victory speech >>> Victory speech) (see Nov 5)
Murders of Three Civil Rights Workers
November 4, 2013: the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Edgar Ray Killen, convicted of manslaughter in 2005 for the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in what became known as the "Mississippi Burning" case. The decision means the justices won't review lower-court rulings that found no violations of Killen's constitutional rights during his trial in Mississippi. (see January 4, 2014)

 November 4 Music et al

Bob Dylan/Carnegie Chapter Hall

November 4 Peace Love Activism

November 4, 1961: Dylan played a concert at Carnegie Chapter Hall, a smaller room than the famous bigger room. There are varying reports on how many people attended the concert. The number ranges between 47 and 53, pretty much all friends and family.

Suze Rotolo
In mid-December 1961,: shortly after recording his first album for Columbia, Dylan moved into his first rented apartment in the middle of West Fourth Street, a tiny, scruffy place above Bruno's Spaghetti Shop, and persuaded his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, to move in with him. (see January 1962)
The Beatles/Royal Variety Show
November 4
The Beatles greet the Queen Mother
November 4, 1963: The Beatles performed their legendary Royal Command Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, before the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Technically The Beatles were 7th on a 19-act bill, but there was no doubt that they were, in fact, the main attraction. The Beatles called upon their masterful showmanship to put on a stunning four-song performance. They began playing their first song, "From Me to You", before the curtain opened. John and Paul, at the end of the first song, moved their microphones nearer to the audience. After playing their second song, "She Loves You", The Beatles bowed to the audience. A nervous Paul cracked a joke about Sophie Tucker being The Beatles' favorite American group, then they performed "Till There Was You". At the end of that song, Paul and John moved their microphone stands back to their original position. After waiting for the applause to die down, John introduced "Twist and Shout", requesting that persons in the cheaper seats join in by clapping their hands, while everyone else should just "rattle your jewelry". At the end of "Twist and Shout", Ringo came down from his drum kit and joined the others; as the curtain closed behind them, they bowed to the audience, then they bowed to the royal box, and then they ran off the stage to thunderous applause.

The show was taped for later broadcast on both television and radio. Their entire performance was broadcast on television, by ATV, on November 10. BBC radio broadcast all but "She Loves You", also on November 10. The Beatles were a sensation all across Britain, the Royal Command Performance being a huge triumph for them. The Beatles were the entertainment kings in the UK; soon they would be ready to tackle America and the rest of the world. Three of the performances ("She Loves You", "Till There Was You", and "Twist and Shout") are included on "The Beatles Anthology 1" (Disc 2, Tracks 1-3).(see Nov 11 - 12)

FREE SPEECH

November 4, 1964:  NYC police arrested comedian Lenny Bruce  for obscenity. He was arrested many times in his career on charges of obscenity (October 4, 1961). His style of humor, radical for its time, savagely attacked American hypocrisy on sex, religion and race. Many believe that his arrests were provoked more by his attacks on the Catholic Church than for the dirty words in his routines. (see Dec 2)
November 4 Peace Love Activism

Iran hostage crisis

November 4
Iranian students climb over the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4,
November 4, 1979, : Iran hostage crisis begins: 3,000 Iranian radicals, mostly students, invade the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and take 90 hostages (53 of whom are American). They demand that the United States send the former Shah of Iran back to stand trial. (click >>> NYT article re Students invade embassy) (see Nov 12)

USS Cole

November 4

November 4, 2002: Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, a suspected al-Qaeda operative, who was believed to have planned the Cole attack, was killed by the CIA using an AGM-114 Hellfire missile launched from an MQ-1 Predator drone. (NYT article) (see Nov 25)

Ronald Reagan elected President

November 4

November 4, 1980: Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent President Jimmy Carter, exactly 1 year after the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis. (click >>> "After the celebrations over Ronald Reagan's spectacular victory, come the hangovers.")

Jack Kevorkian
November 4, 1996: Kevorkian's lawyer announced a previously unreported assisted suicide of a 54-year-old woman. This brings the total number of his assisted suicides, since 1990, to 46. (see June 12, 1997)

Gay marriage

November 4

No on Prop 8 posterNovember 4, 2008: California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage called Proposition 8. The attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, asked the state's Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The ban threw into question the validity of the more than 18,000 marriages already performed, but Attorney General Brown reiterated in a news release that he believed the same-sex marriages performed in California before November 4 should remain valid and the California Supreme Court, which upheld the ban in May 2009, agreed, allowing those couples married under the old law to remain that way; also, voters in Arizona, and Florida approved the passage of measures that ban same-sex marriage. Arkansas passed a measure intended to bar gay men and lesbians from adopting children. (click for article re day before California vote >>> Rush to marry) (see Nov 12)

Marijuana

Michigan
November 4, 2013: "Sixty-three percent of Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 (the law took effect on December 4, 2008). It removed state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess written documentation from their physicians authorizing the medical use of marijuana." (see February 25, 2009)
November 4, 2014
  • Oregon voters approved Measure 91, a proposal which would legalize the possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis, a limit that was eight times higher than that of Washington and Colorado. The initiative would also allow everyone 21 and older to cultivate up to four plants, and purchase cannabis from state-licensed outlets, which would open by 2016.
  • In Alaska, Ballot Measure 2 was approved with 52% of the vote. This initiative legalized the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, as well as the private cultivation of up to six plants. The proposal also allowed for cannabis retail outlets. (see February 24, 2015)
  • In Washington D.C voters approved Initiative 71. Once it takes effect – after a 30-day congressional review period – the proposal would legalize the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis for those 21 and older, in addition to allowing for the private cultivation of up to six plants. Although the initiative did not allow for cannabis retail outlets, the district’s Council was considering legislation to change that.
  • In California, voters approved Proposition 47, a proposal which removed felony charges for numerous nonviolent crimes such as drug possession and petty theft. The initiative, which would free up prison space and save the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually, was approved with 57% of the vote.
  • In Florida, Amendment 2 (legalization of medical cannabis ) was defeated, failing to garner the 60% required to be passed into law.
  • In Michigan, voters gave approval to cannabis decriminalization initiatives in the cities of Saginaw, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron, Mount Pleasant and Berkley. These initiatives removed criminal penalties within the city for the possession, use and transfer of up to an ounce of cannabis. Similar initiatives were voted down in Clare, Frankford, Harrison, Lapeer and Onaway counties.
  • In Maine, voters in South Portland passed an initiative to legalize up to an ounce of cannabis, joining Portland which approved a similar initiative last year. A legalization initiative was rejected in Lewiston (see Dec 13)

Women’s Health

November 4, 2013:  the US Supreme Court left intact a state court decision invalidating an Oklahoma law that effectively banned the so-called abortion pill RU-486. (see Nov 26)

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October 27 Peace Love Activism

October 27 Peace Love Activism

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

October 27 Peace Love Activism

October 27, 1659: during the late 1650s, the government of colonial Massachusetts felt deeply threatened by the Quaker religion. Puritan leaders thought it could destabilize society by undermining their culture and religion. Laws were passed that outlawed Quakerism. Being a Quaker, meeting with or aiding a Quaker, or publishing Quaker material was punished by banishment from the territory, on pain of death.

The first Quakers to break the laws were Marmaduke Stevenson, William Robinson, Mary Dyar, and Nicholas Davis. On September 12, 1659, they were banished from Massachusetts, and told that if any of them returned, they would be put to death. Dyar and Davis left Massachusetts. Stevenson and Robinson ignored the ruling, and went to Salem, MA to spread their gospel. The pair were quickly apprehended and imprisoned in Boston. Dyar left Massachusetts but was compelled to return, and she was also locked up.

On October 27, 1659, Stevenson, Robinson, and Dyar were paraded by 200 armed men through the town of Boston to the place of execution at Boston Neck. They tenderly hugged each other, and each cheerfully climbed the gallows-ladder while praising the Lord. Stevenson and Robinson were executed, but Dyar received a reprieve. She demanded to be hanged like her brethren, but was not executed. Dyar was banished once again, and was eventually hanged in 1660 for returning to the colony. (see May 27, 1668)
Technological Milestone & US Labor History
October 27, 1904: New York City Mayor George McClellan took the controls on the inaugural run of the city's innovative new rapid transit system: the subway. While London boasts the world's oldest underground train network (opened in 1863) and Boston built the first subway in the United States in 1897, the New York City subway soon became the largest American system. More than 100 workers died during the construction of the first 13 miles of tunnels and track (TM, see December 24, 1906; Labor, see January 2, 1905) (NYT subway)

The Red Scare

October 27 Peace Love Activism
October 27, 1947: the famous confrontations between the “Hollywood Ten” and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began on this day. The first “hostile witness” was the screenwriter John Howard Lawson, who like the other members of the Hollywood Ten who followed, was aggressively confrontational with the committee, refusing to answer questions and challenging the committee’s legitimacy.

HUAC had launched an investigation into alleged Communist influence in Hollywood that is probably the most famous event in the entire history of the committee. The hearings had begun on October 20, 1947, with a series of “friendly” witnesses who testified that there was Communist influence in Hollywood. Beginning on this day, a group of so-called “unfriendly” witnesses who refused to testify about their beliefs and associations resulted in stormy confrontational hearings. This group of directors and screenwriters became known as the “Hollywood Ten.” In retrospect (and for many people, almost immediately), it was apparent that the aggressive, confrontational tactics of the Hollywood Ten only alienated potential support across the country.

The hearings ended on October 30, but HUAC conducted another set of hearings in 1951, which resulted in more blacklisting. (see Nov 24, 1947) (NYT article)

BLACK HISTORY

US Labor History
October 27, 1951: the National Labor Council was formed in Cincinnati to unite Black workers in the struggle for full economic, political and social equality. The group was to function for five years before disbanding, having forced many AFL and CIO unions to adopt non-discrimination policies. (BH, see Dec 25; Labor, see Dec 21)
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR
October 27, 1960: King released from jail. Word about President Kennedy’s call circulated widely in the African-American community. Some political commentators believed the publicity gained Kennedy enough African-American votes to give him victory in the November presidential election, but others dispute this interpretation.. (BH, see Oct 29; MLK, see Nov 26)
Ruby Bates
October 27, 1976: Ruby Bates died at age sixty-three. (see Scottsboro Travesty for whole story)

Cuban Missile Crisis

October 27 Peace Love ActivismOctober 27, 1962: Radio Moscow began broadcasting a message from Khrushchev. The message offered a new trade, that the missiles on Cuba would be removed in exchange for the removal of the Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey.  Cuba shot down a US U2 plane with surface to air missile killing the pilot, Rudolph Anderson. U.S. Army anti-aircraft rockets sat, mounted on launchers and pointed out over the Florida Straits in Key West, Florida. (see Cuban missile crisis; Anderson, see Nov 6)

October 26 Music et al

Love Me Do
October 27, 1962, The Beatles before their US appearance:  “Love Me Do/PS I Love You” #48 on UK Melody Maker hit parade. (see November 26)
Future Woodstock Performers
October 27, 1967: Ten Years After released its first album, Ten Years After. Alvin Lee, age 22. 
In 1968 these artists will release their first albums: 
  • Johnny Winter (age 22) released  The Progressive Blues Experiment
  • Sweetwater released Sweetwater
  • Bert Sommer (age 18) released , The Road to Travel. It was produced by Artie Kornfeld. Sommer was a schoolmate of Leslie West. (see Feb 21)
LSD
October 27, 1970: The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act  passed. Part II of this is the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) which defined a scheduling system for drugs. It placed most of the known hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, mescaline, peyote, cannabis, & MDA) in Schedule I. It placed coca, cocaine, and injectable methamphetamine in Schedule II. Other amphetamines and stimulants, including non-injectable methamphetamine were placed in Schedule III. (see September 3, 1971)
October 27 Peace Love Activism

Vietnam

October 27, 1968: in London, 50,000 protest the Vietnam war. (NYT article)(see Oct 30)

INDEPENDENCE DAYS

October 27 Peace Love Activism

October 27, 1979: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines independent of the United Kingdom. (see April 18, 1980)

October 27, 1991, Dissolution of the USSR: Turkmenistan declared its independence from the Soviet Union. (see Dec 16)

Crime and Punishment

October 27 Peace Love Activism

October 27, 1986: President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The law created a significant disparity in the sentences imposed in federal courts for crimes involving powdered cocaine versus the sentences imposed for crimes involving crack cocaine. The law imposed certain mandatory minimum sentences for crimes involving certain quantities of powdered cocaine, but those mandatory sentences could also be triggered by crimes involving only one percent of that quantity in cases of crack cocaine. For instance, a drug crime involving five grams of crack cocaine resulted in a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison, but crimes involving less than 500 grams of powdered cocaine would not trigger the five year minimum sentence.

This one hundred-to-one sentencing disparity, which was not based on credible scientific evidence about differing biological impacts between cocaine in powder form versus crack form, has had a significant impact on the mass incarceration of African Americans. In the years following the enactment of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, admissions of African Americans to federal prison spiked from approximately 50 admissions per 100,000 adults to nearly 250 admissions per 100,000 adults, while there was almost no change among whites. Disparities in sentence lengths also increased. In 1986, African Americans received drug sentences that were 11% longer than sentences received by whites, on average, but that disparity increased to 49% in the years following the law's enactment. This law, and similar laws, had a significant role in increasing the incarcerated population from approximately 500,000 in 1980 to nearly 2.3 million in 2013. (see May 26, 1987)

Jack Kevorkian

October 27,  1997: the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which was approved by referendum on November 8, 1994, and which allows voluntary end of life, took effect on this day. The law allows individuals to voluntarily end their own lives by ingesting a life-ending drug that is prescribed by a licensed physician. The law has survived two challenges. Oregon voters rejected a repeal measure by a margin of 60 percent in 1997. And in 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the law, in Gonzales v. Oregon. (see March 14, 1998)

LGBTQ

October 27, 2014: the Judicial Council of the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination ruled that a Pennsylvania church jury was wrong to defrock Frank Schaefer last year after he would not promise never to perform another same-sex wedding.

 The council ruled on technical grounds and did not express support for gay marriage in general. Its decision was final. (see Nov 6)

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