Censorship and the Hays Office 1921

Censorship and the Hays Office 1921
Will H. Hayes (c. 1921), the postmaster general behind the crusade to save America from Hollywood. | Censorship and the Hays Office 1921

Censorship and the Hays Office 1921

The Hays Office, formerly the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, was an American organization that established a cinema moral code. Following a series of controversies involving Hollywood celebrities, film industry officials created the organization in 1922 to combat the prospect of government censorship and to promote the industry. The Hays Office, led by Will H. Hays, a politically active lawyer, established a blacklist, incorporated morals provisions into performers’ contracts, and published the Production Code in 1930, which specified what was morally acceptable on screen. In 1966, the code was replaced by a voluntary rating system.

Read more

The Chicago “Black Sox” Trial 1921

The Chicago “Black Sox” Trial 1921
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson was one of the players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox banned from baseball for life. | The Chicago “Black Sox” Trial 1921

The Chicago “Black Sox” Trial 1921

In 1921, the Black Sox trial – baseball’s Trial of the Century — took place. The Chicago White Sox were charged with conspiring to manipulate the 1919 World Series, which the much favored Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds, along with some of the gamblers who bribed them.

For six weeks in the summer of 1921, baseball’s fallen heroes gathered in a Chicago courtroom to await their fate, including Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the game’s best pure hitters. Their criminal trial generated front-page news all around the country. Today, it’s unusual to see an athlete’s transgressions, whether on or off the field, be completely investigated by the judicial system.

Read more

New York State Legalizes Boxing 1920

New York State Legalizes Boxing 1920
A zoopraxiscope, c. 1893, created by English motion-picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904), shows two athletes boxing. | New York State Legalizes Boxing 1920

New York State Legalizes Boxing 1920

The Walker Law, adopted in the state of New York under the leadership of James J. Walker, the state senate speaker, was the first significant U.S. legislation concerning the sport of boxing. The bill made professional boxing legal in New York, and its set of boxing regulations, largely drafted by William Gavin, an English promoter, served as a model for similar legislation in other states. The New York State Athletic Commission was also founded under the statute, which has remained autonomous and continues to publish its own list of world boxing champions.

Read more

Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater – Schenck v. US

Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater - Schenck v. US
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., c. 1924, introduced the clear-and-present-danger test. | Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater – Schenck v. US

Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater – Schenck v. US

During World War I, socialists Charles Schenck and Elizabeth Baer distributed pamphlets claiming that the draft was in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s ban on involuntary servitude. The leaflets urged people to oppose the conscription, but only in a peaceful way. Schenck was charged with conspiring to break the 1917 Espionage Act by inciting military insubordination and obstructing recruitment. Schenck and Baer were found guilty of breaking this legislation and filed an appeal claiming that the statute was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Read more

19th Amendment: Women’s Right to Vote (1920)

19th Amendment: Women's Right to Vote (1920)
The cover of the program from a women’s suffrage procession in Washington, D.C., on March 3, 1913. | 19th Amendment: Women’s Right to Vote (1920)

19th Amendment: Women’s Right to Vote (1920)

The 19th amendment, passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, gave women the right to vote.

The 19th Amendment provides women in the United States the right to vote. This achievement came after a long and arduous struggle—victory came after decades of agitation and resistance. Several generations of women’s suffrage supporters spoke, wrote, marched, lobbied, and engaged in civil disobedience beginning in the mid-nineteenth century to obtain what many Americans considered a radical amendment in the Constitution. Only a small percentage of early supporters lived to see the final victory in 1920.

Read more

18th Amendment 1919 (National Prohibition Act)

18th Amendment 1919 (National Prohibition Act)
New York City police officers watch as agents pour booze into a sewer after a raid, c. 1921. | 18th Amendment 1919 (National Prohibition Act)

18th Amendment 1919 (National Prohibition Act)

The 18th Amendment, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, was ratified by Congress on January 19, 1919. However, no provisional funds were available for anything other than token enforcement.

The 18th Amendment Divides the Country – Everyone is forced to make a decision: you are either a “dry” who supports Prohibition or a “wet.” But one thing is certain: Prohibition has had little impact on America’s thirst. While organized crime fights for control of illegal alcohol markets, underground distilleries and saloons supply bootlegged liquor to a large clientele. The mayhem prompts the United States Department of Treasury to beef up its law enforcement capabilities.

Read more

Expansion of Consumer Rights 1916 US

The Expansion of Consumer Rights 1916 US

The Expansion of Consumer Rights 1916 US
A car accident involving a Buick Runabout, like the one pictured here, expanded consumer rights by focusing legal attention on products liability.
The Expansion of Consumer Rights 1916 US

MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co., Benjamin Cardozo (1870–1938)

MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co. – 217 N.Y. 382, 111 N.E. 1050 (1916)

Rule

The maker is responsible to make the product carefully if manufacturing carelessness is fairly guaranteed to cause harm, knowing that others may use it. Whether or not anything is thus harmful is an issue for the court at times and a jury at other times. The relationship’s proximity or distance is a consideration to consider.

Read more