Today in History – April 15 Continental Congress Ratifies Preliminary Articles of Peace with Great Britain
The United States in Congress assembled…Now know ye, that we the United States in Congress assembled, have ratified and confirmed…the said articles… Broadside printed by David C. Claypoole, Philadelphia, 1783. Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774 to 1789. Rare Book & Special Collections Division
The June 1, 1781, entry in the Journals of the Continental Congress notes “that Congress have received undoubted intelligence…that the Courts of Vienna and Petersburg have offered their mediation to the belligerent powers for the re-establishment of peace…” A few days later, on June 15, 1781, the Congress issued “instructions to honourable John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens and Thomas Jefferson, ministers plenipotentiary on behalf of the United States to negotiate a treaty of peace.” Although Jefferson did not go to Europe to negotiate, he eventually shepherded the treaty through Congress and later drafted the legislation for the political organization of the western lands acquired by the treaty.
From the beginning, Congress instructed the U.S. commissioners:
…to make the most candid and confidential communications upon all subjects to the ministers of our generous ally, the King of France; to undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace or truce without their knowledge and concurrence; and ultimately to govern yourselves by their advice and opinion…
The Americans determined, however, that Europe’s secret diplomacy and intrigues did not facilitate peace for the U.S. and concluded a separate preliminary treaty with Great Britain. Care was yet taken to ensure that the final formal treaties (U.S. and Great Britain, France and Great Britain, Spain and Great Britain) were all signed on the same day, September 3, 1783. “We were better tacticians than was imagined,” said John Adams.1
The treaty’s main terms guaranteed U.S. independence from Britain and acquisition of territory that lay between the thirteen colonies and the Mississippi River. This territory, ceded to Britain under a previous Treaty of Paris which concluded the French and Indian War in 1763, became known as the Northwest Territory.
1. Richard B. Morris, The Peacemakers (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 459, quoting John Adams, December 14, 1782, letter to Elbridge Gerry, “The Adams Family Papers,” Massachusetts Historical Society. (Return to text)
See the Special Presentation of essays To Form a More Perfect Union to learn more about the documents featured in Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774 to 1789.
Search across the entire A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875 collection on a topic such as Treaty of Paris for a rich documentary history of the development of the nation, the federal government, and its role in the national life.
Browse Journals of the Continental Congress (which are one portion of A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875). Click on “View Navigator” and then select a particular date. These Journals are the records of the daily proceedings of the Congress as kept by the office of its secretary, Charles Thomson.
Search Today in History on the term Northwest Territory to learn more about events in the history of that region.
Today, April 15, is Tax Day. From its beginnings the United States raised revenue. Whiskey and tobacco taxes provided much of the government’s early revenue. But, financing the Revolutionary War was expensive and the young United States struggled to raise funds from the thirteen states:
Resolved, That these United States be called on to pay in their respective quotas of fifteen millions of dollars in the year 1779, and of six millions of dollars annually for 18 years from and after the year 1779, as a fund for sinking the emissions and loans of these United States to the 31st day of December, 1778, inclusive.
In Congress, January 13, 1779: We cannot review the progress of the revolution which has given freedom to America, without admiring the goodness and gratefully acknowledging the interposition of Divine Providence…. Philadelphia: Printed by John Dunlap, . Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774 to 1789. Rare Book & Special Collections Division
An income tax was first collected during the Civil War from 1862 to 1872. During the administration of President Grover Cleveland, the federal government again levied an income tax, enacted by Congress in 1894. However, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the following year. As a result, supporters of an income tax embarked on the lengthy process of amending the Constitution. Not until the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified in 1913 was Congress given the power “to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census of enumeration.”
Homer S. Cummings, chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the Woodrow Wilson administration, counted the income tax among the most notable accomplishments of the Democratic Party. Provision for an income tax, he observed in “Achievements of the Democratic Party,” in American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I and the 1920 Election, relieved the law “of the reproach of being unjustly burdensome to the poor.”
Arthur Botsford, interviewed in “Connecticut Clockmakers,” an American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940 interview, had a different point of view. “If you got money in the bank, they want to know just how much, and how much interest is comin’ on it, and everything else. It may be only two dollars, and if you got money in the bank, they want to know”.
Search across the collections on the term tax to locate a wide range of additional related materials.
Search on the term tax or taxes in Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774 to 1789 to read more about early discussions of the nation’s revenue.
Nils Pederson Haugen was a distinguished Norwegian American who had emigrated to Wisconsin in 1855. He served on the state’s tax commission from 1901 to 1921, a critical period in defining government’s taxation and regulatory powers. His biography Pioneer and Political Reminiscences, part of Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820 to 1910, discusses tax issues in detail and the populist leadership of Robert La Follette.
Search on the term money in American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment 1870-1920 for an assortment of references to legal tender.
In case you need to download tax forms at the last minute, go to the Internal Revenue Service External Web site for Forms and Publications.
Jackie Robinson Breaks the Color Line
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson put on his first Brooklyn Dodgers uniform (number 42) and broke the Major League Baseball “color line”. Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey signed a contract with Robinson to play for the team on October 23, 1945. Robinson then spent a year on a minor league team to sharpen his skills. Rickey, who called the move baseball’s “great experiment,” chose Robinson because of his excellent athletic record and strength of character. The first player to “cross the color line” would have to be able to withstand intense public scrutiny and to avoid confrontation even when met with insults and hostility.
Robinson was a well-rounded athlete, having competed in college baseball, football, basketball, and track. He had served in the Army and was active in the Civil Rights Movement. Robinson was a professional player for the Kansas City Monarchs, an all-black team in the Negro American League.
America is…more interested in the grace of a man’s swing, in the dexterity of his cutting a base, and his speed afoot, in his scientific body control, in his excellence as a competitor on the field…than they are in the pigmentation of a man’s skin…
Speech by Branch Rickey for the “One Hundred Percent Wrong Club” Banquet, Atlanta, Georgia, January 20, 1956. Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson, By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s
In 1955, after getting close several times, Robinson finally played on a world-champion team when the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the World Series. He retired from baseball after the 1956 season with a lifetime batting average of .311 and the distinction of having stolen home an incredible 19 times. A legend even in his day, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame External in 1962, his first year of eligibility.The Ball Game. Thomas A. Edison, Inc., 1898. America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915. Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division
The collection By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s draws on manuscripts, books, photographs, and ephemera from the Library’s collections which tell Robinson’s story and the story of the history of the sport. View the special presentation Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson to see these artifacts of America’s national pastime. See the collection’s annotated bibliography to read more about Jackie Robinson’s life and this era of baseball.
See the special presentation Early Baseball Pictures, 1860s-1920s in the collection By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s to find pictures and stories of the game.
Browse the collection Baseball Cards to see baseball greats pictured in this collection of 2100 early baseball cards.
Search across the collections on baseball to find more images and stories about the great American pastime. See, for example, the photograph The Brooklyn Baseball Club  in the collection Panoramic Photographs.
Search Today in History on baseball for features on legendary players in baseball history such as Cy Young, Satchel Paige, and Connie Mack and on other important baseball events such as the first World Series.
—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: April 15, 2018 at 09:05AM