Massachusetts Law Updates

Official Blog of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries

Category Archives: Legal History

Portraits in Massachusetts Law: John Adams Posted on Jan 26

Portraits in Massachusetts Law: John Adams

Portraits in Massachusetts Law is intended to be a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates. These pages will provide links to biographical information about people who have been particularly important in legal history in Massachusetts, as our government took shape in the cauldron of the   …Continue Reading Portraits in Massachusetts Law: John Adams

Thanksgiving in Massachusetts History Posted on Nov 23

We wanted to trace the history of Thanksgiving in Massachusetts for you, but the task proved challenging. We all know the story of the “first Thanksgiving” in Plymouth in 1621, but what happened in the following years? As it turns out, it was not uncommon for authorities   …Continue Reading Thanksgiving in Massachusetts History

The legacy of Alexander Hamilton’s Death by Duel Posted on Jul 11

The legacy of Alexander Hamilton's Death by Duel

July 11 marks the 212th anniversary of the duel in Weehawken, New Jersey, between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr that took Hamilton’s life. In the eighteenth century, the Irish Code Duello was adopted as a set of guidelines that were known and used in America   …Continue Reading The legacy of Alexander Hamilton’s Death by Duel

The Miranda Warning at 50 Posted on Jun 13

On June 13,1966: Miranda rights were established. Also known as the Miranda warning, the Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona established the principle that every person taken into police custody must be informed of their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination before questioning, and Sixth Amendment rights   …Continue Reading The Miranda Warning at 50

Alexander Hamilton Writes to Raise the Eleventh Federal Pillar Posted on May 12

Alexander Hamilton Writes to Raise the Eleventh Federal Pillar

Massachusetts Invents the Constitutional Convention “In 1779, the Massachusetts legislature issued a call to the towns for every male inhabitant to elect representatives to form a Convention for the sole purpose of framing a new Constitution, which would then require ratification by two-thirds of the   …Continue Reading Alexander Hamilton Writes to Raise the Eleventh Federal Pillar

A Salute to John Adams for his role in establishing judicial review Posted on Apr 28

A Salute to John Adams for his role in establishing judicial review

Robert Brink, executive director of the Social Law Library, recently offered a toast to John Adams on the occasion of the 215th anniversary of John Adams’ appointment of John Marshall as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. In his 1803 decision, Marbury v.   …Continue Reading A Salute to John Adams for his role in establishing judicial review

Happy New Year? Posted on Mar 25

Until 1752, England and its British dominions, including those in America, celebrated March 25th as the first day of the calendar year. Since ancient times, England had used the “Julian calendar”, instituted by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE.  The Julian calendar followed a solar year   …Continue Reading Happy New Year?

Celebrate Pi Day on March 14 – Truth or Law? Posted on Mar 14

Celebrate Pi Day on March 14 – Truth or Law?

Pi by Hart Zeitler, 2003 First celebrated at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988, Pi Day has become an international holiday, celebrated live and online all around the world. What has Pi Day to do with the law? In 1897, an amateur mathematician in Indiana   …Continue Reading Celebrate Pi Day on March 14 – Truth or Law?

What’s a Usufruct? Posted on Mar 9

What's a Usufruct?

Reading a case from 1884 the other day, Moulton v. Newburyport Water Company, 137 Mass. 163, we came upon the following: “The petitioners contended that they had the right to dispose of all the waters running in the brook, as there were no lower owners   …Continue Reading What’s a Usufruct?

Why do we drive on the right side of the road? Posted on Mar 1

Why do we drive on the right side of the road?

An Act establishing the Law of the Road was approved by the Governor of the Commonwealth on February 14th, 1821. It said “That in all cases of persons meeting each other on any bridge, turnpike, or other road, within this Commonwealth, travelling with carriages, waggons,   …Continue Reading Why do we drive on the right side of the road?