FYI February 24, 2017




On this day:

1803 – In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court of the United States establishes the principle of judicial review.
Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. The landmark decision helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the American form of government.

The case resulted from a petition to the Supreme Court by William Marbury, who had been appointed Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia by President John Adams but whose commission was not subsequently delivered. Marbury petitioned the Supreme Court to force the new Secretary of State, James Madison, to deliver the documents. The Court, with John Marshall as Chief Justice, found firstly that Madison’s refusal to deliver the commission was both illegal and correctible. Nonetheless, the Court stopped short of ordering Madison (by writ of mandamus) to hand over Marbury’s commission, instead holding that the provision of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that enabled Marbury to bring his claim to the Supreme Court was itself unconstitutional, since it purported to extend the Court’s original jurisdiction beyond that which Article III established. The petition was therefore denied.



1831 – The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, the first removal treaty in accordance with the Indian Removal Act, is proclaimed. The Choctaws in Mississippi cede land east of the river in exchange for payment and land in the West.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was a treaty signed on September 27, 1830 (and proclaimed on February 24, 1831) between the Choctaw (an American Indian tribe) and the United States Government. This was the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act. The treaty ceded about 11 million acres (45,000 km2) of the Choctaw Nation (now Mississippi) in exchange for about 15 million acres (61,000 km2) in the Indian territory (now the state of Oklahoma). The principal Choctaw negotiators were Chief Greenwood LeFlore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee; the U.S. negotiators were Colonel John Coffee and Secretary of War John Eaton.

The site of the signing of this treaty is in the southwest corner of Noxubee County; the site was known to the Choctaw as Bok Chukfi Ahilha (creek “bok” rabbit “chukfi” place to dance “a+hilha” or Dancing Rabbit Creek). The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was the last major land cession treaty signed by the Choctaw.[1] With ratification by the U.S. Congress in 1831, the treaty allowed those Choctaw who chose to remain in Mississippi to become the first major non-European ethnic group to gain recognition as U.S. citizens.

On August 25, 1830, the Choctaw were supposed to meet with Andrew Jackson in Franklin, Tennessee, but Greenwood Leflore informed the Secretary of War, John H. Eaton, that the chiefs were fiercely opposed to attending.[2] The president was upset but, as the journalist Len Green wrote in 1978, “Although angered by the Choctaw refusal to meet him in Tennessee, Jackson felt from LeFlore’s words that he might have a foot in the door and dispatched Secretary of War Eaton and John Coffee to meet with the Choctaws in their nation.”[3] Jackson appointed Eaton and General John Coffee as commissioners to represent him to meet the Choctaws where the “rabbits gather to dance.”

The commissioners met with the chiefs and headmen on September 15, 1830, at Dancing Rabbit Creek.[5] In a carnival-like atmosphere, the US officials explained the policy of removal through interpreters to an audience of 6,000 men, women and children.[5] The Choctaws faced migration west of the Mississippi River or submitting to U.S. and state law as citizens.[5] The treaty would sign away the remaining traditional homeland to the United States; however, a provision in the treaty made removal more acceptable.

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was one of the largest land transfers ever signed between the United States Government and American Indians in time of peace. The Choctaw ceded their remaining traditional homeland to the United States. Article 14 allowed for some Choctaw to remain in the state of Mississippi, if they wanted to become citizens:

“ART. XIV. Each Choctaw head of a family being desirous to remain and become a citizen of the States, shall be permitted to do so, by signifying his intention to the Agent within six months from the ratification of this Treaty, and he or she shall thereupon be entitled to a reservation of one section of six hundred and forty acres of land, to be bounded by sectional lines of survey; in like manner shall be entitled to one half that quantity for each unmarried child which is living with him over ten years of age; and a quarter section to such child as may be under 10 years of age, to adjoin the location of the parent. If they reside upon said lands intending to become citizens of the States for five years after the ratification of this Treaty, in that case a grant in fee simple shall issue; said reservation shall include the present improvement of the head of the family, or a portion of it. Persons who claim under this article shall not lose the privilege of a Choctaw citizen, but if they ever remove are not to be entitled to any portion of the Choctaw annuity.”[6]

The Choctaw were the first of the “Five Civilized Tribes” to be removed from the southeastern United States, as the federal and state governments desired Indian lands to accommodate a growing agrarian American society. In 1831, tens of thousands of Choctaw walked the 800-kilometer journey to Oklahoma and many died.[citation needed] Like the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Seminole who followed them, the Choctaw attempted to resurrect their traditional lifestyle and government in their new homeland.

The Choctaw at this crucial time became two distinct groups: the Nation in Oklahoma and the Tribe in Mississippi. The nation retained its autonomy to regulate itself, but the tribe left in Mississippi had to submit to state and U.S. laws. Under article XIV, in 1830 the Mississippi Choctaws became the first major non-European ethnic group to gain U.S. citizenship.[7][8] The Choctaw sought to elect a representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The preamble begins with,
“     A treaty of perpetual, friendship, cession and limits, entered into by John H. Eaton and John Coffee, for and in behalf of the Government of the United States, and the Mingoes, Chiefs, Captains and Warriors of the Choctaw Nation, begun and held at Dancing Rabbit Creek, on the fifteenth of September, in the year eighteen hundred and thirty …     ”
— -Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, 1830[9]

The following terms of the treaty were:

1. Perpetual peace and friendship.
2. Lands (in what is now Oklahoma) west of the Mississippi River to be conveyed to the Choctaw Nation.
3. Lands east of the Mississippi River to be ceded and removal to begin in 1831 and end in 1833.
4. Autonomy of the Choctaw Nation (in Oklahoma) and descendants to be secured from laws of U.S. states and territories forever.
5. U.S. will serve as protectorate of the Choctaw Nation.
6. Choctaw or party of Choctaws part of violent acts against the U.S. citizens or property will be delivered to the U.S. authorities.
7. Offenses against Choctaws and their property by U.S. citizens and other tribes will be examined and every possible degree of justice applied.
8. No harboring of U.S. fugitives with all expenses to capture him or her paid by the U.S.
9. Persons ordered from Choctaw Nation.
10. Traders require a written permit.
John Eaton was a close personal friend of Andrew Jackson. He was Secretary of War for the Jackson administration. Painted 1873 by Robert Weir.

11. Navigable streams will be free for Choctaws, U.S. post-offices will be established in the Choctaw Nation, and U.S. military posts and roads may be created.
12. Intruders will be removed from the Choctaw Nation. U.S. citizens stealing Choctaw property shall be returned and offender punished. Choctaw offending U.S. laws shall be given a fair and impartial trial.
13. U.S. agent appointed to the Choctaws every four years.
14. Choctaws may become U.S. citizens and are entitled to 640 acres (2.6 km2) of land (in Mississippi) with additional land for children.
15. Lands granted to the Choctaw chiefs (Greenwood LeFlore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee) with annuities granted to each of them.
16. Transportation in wagons and steamboats will be provided at the costs of the U.S. Ample food will be provided during the removal and 12 months after reaching the new homes. Reimbursements will be provided for cattle left in Mississippi Territory.
17. Annuities to Choctaws to continue from other treaties. Additional payments after removal.
18. Choctaw Country to be surveyed
19. Lands granted to I. Garland, Colonel Robert Cole, Tuppanahomer, John Pytchlynn, Charles Juzan, Johokebetubbe, Eaychahobia, and Ofehoma.
20. Improve the Choctaw condition with Education. Provide tools, weapons, and steel.
21. Choctaw Warriors who marched and fought in the army of U.S. General Wayne during the American Revolution and Northwest Indian War will receive an annuity.
22. Choctaw delegate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Unratified section

The following paragraph of the treaty was not ratified:

“WHEREAS the General Assembly of the State of Mississippi has extended the laws of said State to persons and property within the chartered limits of the same, and the President of the United States has said that he cannot protect the Choctaw people from the operation of these laws; Now therefore that the Choctaw may live under their own laws in peace with the United States and the State of Mississippi they have determined to sell their lands east of the Mississippi and have accordingly agreed to the following articles of treaty”.[9]

The main signatories included John Eaton, John Coffee, Greenwood Leflore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee. Nearly 200 other signatures are on the treaty.
Main article: Choctaw Trail of Tears
John R Coffee

After ceding nearly 11,000,000 acres (45,000 km2), the Choctaw emigrated in three stages: the first in the fall of 1831, the second in 1832 and the last in 1833.[10] The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was ratified by the U.S. Senate on February 25, 1831, and the President was anxious to make it a model of removal.[10] The chief George W. Harkins wrote a letter to the American people before the removals began.
“     It is with considerable diffidence that I attempt to address the American people, knowing and feeling sensibly my incompetency; and believing that your highly and well improved minds would not be well entertained by the address of a Choctaw. But having determined to emigrate west of the Mississippi river this fall, I have thought proper in bidding you farewell to make a few remarks expressive of my views, and the feelings that actuate me on the subject of our removal … We as Choctaws rather chose to suffer and be free, than live under the degrading influence of laws, which our voice could not be heard in their formation … Much as the state of Mississippi has wronged us, I cannot find in my heart any other sentiment than an ardent wish for her prosperity and happiness.     ”
— -George W. Harkins, George W. Harkins to the American People


Around 15,000 Choctaws left the old Choctaw Nation for the Indian Territory – much of the state of Oklahoma today.[1] The Choctaw word Oklahoma means “red people”.

Late twentieth-century estimates are that between 5,000–6,000 Choctaws remained in Mississippi in 1831 after the first removal.[1][8] For the next ten years they were objects of increasing legal conflict, harassment, and intimidation. The Choctaw describe their situation in 1849,

we have had our habitations torn down and burned, our fences destroyed, cattle turned into our fields and we ourselves have been scourged, manacled, fettered and otherwise personally abused, until by such treatment some of our best men have died.[1]

Joseph B. Cobb, a settler who moved to Mississippi from Georgia, described the Choctaw as having

no nobility or virtue at all, and in some respect he found blacks, especially native Africans, more interesting and admirable, the red man’s superior in every way. The Choctaw and Chickasaw, the tribes he knew best, were beneath contempt, that is, even worse than black slaves.[12]

The removals continued well into the early 20th century. In 1903, three hundred Mississippi Choctaws were persuaded to move to the Nation in Oklahoma. The Choctaw did not gain a delegate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representative. Greenwood LeFlore, a Choctaw leader, stayed in Mississippi, where he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate.

The Choctaw Nation continued to thrive until Oklahoma was created as a state. Their government was dismantled under the Curtis Act, along with those of other Native American nations in the former Indian Territory, in order to permit the admission of Oklahoma as a state. Their communal lands were divided and allotted to individual households under the Dawes Act to increase assimilation as American-style farmers. The US declared communal land remaining after allotment to be surplus and sold it to American settlers. In the twentieth century, the Choctaw reorganized and were recognized by the government as the Choctaw Nation.

The descendants of the Choctaw who stayed in Mississippi reorganized themselves as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in 1945 and gained federal recognition.



Born on this day:

1709 – Jacques de Vaucanson, French engineer (d. 1782)
Jacques de Vaucanson (February 24, 1709 – November 21, 1782) was a French inventor and artist who was responsible for the creation of impressive and innovative automata and machines such as the first completely automated loom.

He was born in Grenoble, France in 1709 as Jacques Vaucanson (the particle “de” was later added to his name by the Académie des Sciences[1]). The tenth child, son of a glove-maker, he grew up poor, and in his youth he reportedly aspired to become a clockmaker. [2] He studied under the Jesuits and later joined the Order of the Minims in Lyon. It was his intention at the time to follow a course of religious studies, but he regained his interest in mechanical devices after meeting the surgeon Le Cat, from whom he would learn the details of anatomy. This new knowledge allowed him to develop his first mechanical devices that mimicked biological vital functions such as circulation, respiration, and digestion. [3]

Automaton inventor
At just 18 years of age, Vaucanson was given his own workshop in Lyon, and a grant from a nobleman to construct a set of machines. In that same year of 1727, there was a visit from one of the governing heads of Les Minimes. Vaucanson decided to make some androids. The automata would serve dinner and clear the tables for the visiting politicians. However one government official declared that he thought Vaucanson’s tendencies “profane”, and ordered that his workshop be destroyed.[4]

In 1737, Vaucanson built The Flute Player, a life-size figure of a shepherd that played the tabor and the pipe and had a repertoire of twelve songs. The figure’s fingers were not pliable enough to play the flute correctly, so Vaucanson had to glove the creation in skin. The following year, in early 1738, he presented his creation to the Académie des Sciences.[5] At the time, mechanical creatures were somewhat a fad in Europe, but most could be classified as toys, and de Vaucanson’s creations were recognized as being revolutionary in their mechanical lifelike sophistication.

Later that year, he created two additional automata, The Tambourine Player and The Digesting Duck, which is considered his masterpiece. The duck had over 400 moving parts in each wing alone, and could flap its wings, drink water, digest grain, and defecate.[6] Although Vaucanson’s duck supposedly demonstrated digestion accurately, his duck actually contained a hidden compartment of “digested food”, so that what the duck defecated was not the same as what it ate; the duck would eat a mixture of water and seed and excrete a mixture of bread crumbs and green dye that appeared to the onlooker indistinguishable from real excrement. Although such “frauds” were sometimes controversial, they were common enough because such scientific demonstrations needed to entertain the wealthy and powerful to attract their patronage. Vaucanson is credited as having invented the world’s first flexible rubber tube while in the process of building the duck’s intestines. Despite the revolutionary nature of his automata, he is said to have tired quickly of his creations and sold them in 1743.

His inventions brought him to the attention of Frederick II of Prussia, who sought to bring him to his court. Vaucanson refused, however, wishing to serve his own country.[7]

Government service
In 1741 he was appointed by Cardinal Fleury, chief minister of Louis XV, as inspector of the manufacture of silk in France. He was charged with undertaking reforms of the silk manufacturing process. At the time, the French weaving industry had fallen behind that of England and Scotland. Vaucanson promoted wide-ranging changes for automation of the weaving process. In 1745, he created the world’s first completely automated loom,[8] drawing on the work of Basile Bouchon and Jean Falcon. Vaucanson was trying to automate the French textile industry with punch cards- a technology that, as refined by Joseph-Marie Jacquard more than a half century later, would revolutionize weaving and, in the twentieth century, would be used to input data into computers and store information in binary form. His proposals were not well received by weavers, however, who pelted him with stones in the street[9] and many of his revolutionary ideas were largely ignored.

He invented several machine tools, such as the first fully documented, all metal slide rest lathe, around 1751 (Though Derry & Williams[10] place this invention around 1768). It was described in the Encyclopédie.

In 1746, he was made a member of the Académie des Sciences.[11]

Jacques de Vaucanson died in Paris in 1782. Vaucanson left a collection of his work as a bequest to Louis XVI. The collection would become the foundation of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris. His original automata have all been lost. The flute player and the tambourine player were reportedly destroyed in the Revolution. His proposals for the automation of the weaving process, although ignored during his lifetime, were later perfected and implemented by Joseph Marie Jacquard, the creator of the Jacquard loom.

Lycee Vaucanson in Grenoble is named in his honor, and trains students for careers in engineering and technical fields.


1827 – Lydia Becker, English-French activist (d. 1890)
Lydia Ernestine Becker (24 February 1827 – 18 July 1890) was a leader in the early British suffrage movement, as well as an amateur scientist with interests in biology and astronomy. She is best remembered for founding and publishing the Women’s Suffrage Journal between 1870 and 1890.

Born in Cooper Street, Manchester, the oldest daughter of Hannibal Becker, whose father, Ernst Becker had emigrated from Ohrdruf in Thuringia. Becker was educated at home, like many girls at the time. Intellectually curious, she studied botany and astronomy, winning a gold medal for an 1862 scholarly paper on horticulture.[1] Five years later, she founded the Ladies’ Literary Society in Manchester. She began a correspondence with Charles Darwin and soon afterwards convinced him to send a paper to the society.[2][3][4] In the course of their correspondence, Becker sent a number of plant samples to Darwin from the fields surrounding Manchester.[5] She also forwarded Darwin a copy of her “little book”, Botany for Novices (1864).[6] Becker is one of a number of 19th-century women who contributed, often routinely, to Darwin’s scientific work.[7] Her correspondence and work alike suggest that Becker had a particular interest in bisexual and hermaphroditic plants which, perhaps, offered her powerful ‘natural’ evidence of radical, alternative sexual and social order.[8]

In autumn 1866 Becker attended the annual meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Social Science, where she was excited by a paper from Barbara Bodichon entitled “Reasons for the Enfranchisement of Women”. She dedicated herself to organising around the issue, and in January 1867 convened the first meeting of the Manchester Women’s Suffrage Committee, the first organisation of its kind in England.[9]

Several months later, a widowed shop owner, Lilly Maxwell, mistakenly appeared on the register of voters in Manchester. She was not the first but she was a good opportunity for publicity.[10] Becker visited Maxwell and escorted her to the polling station. The returning officer found Maxwell’s name on the list and allowed her to vote. Becker immediately began encouraging other women heads of households in the region to petition for their names to appear on the rolls. Their claims were presented in court by Sir John Coleridge and Richard Pankhurst in Chorlton v. Lings, but the case was dismissed.[11]

On 14 April 1868, the first public meeting of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. The three main speakers were Agnes Pochin, Anne Robinson and Becker.[12] Becker moved the resolution that women should be granted voting rights on the same terms as men.

Becker subsequently commenced a lecture tour of northern cities on behalf of the society. In June 1869, Becker and fellow campaigners were successful in securing the vote for women in municipal elections.[13] Having campaigned for the inclusion of women on school boards, in 1870 she was one of four women elected to the Manchester School Board on which she served until her death.[14] In the same year Becker and her friend Jessie Boucherett founded the Women’s Suffrage Journal and soon afterward began organising speaking tours of women – a rarity in Britain at the time.[15] At an 1874 speaking event in Manchester organised by Becker, fifteen-year-old Emmeline Pankhurst experienced her first public gathering in the name of women’s suffrage.[16]

The Journal was the most popular publication relating to women’s suffrage in 19th-century Britain. Roger Fulford, in his study of the movement Votes for Women: The Story of a Struggle, writes: “The history of the decades from 1860 to 1890 – so far as women’s suffrage is concerned – is the history of Miss Becker.”[17] The Journal published speeches from around the country, both within and outside of Parliament. Becker published her correspondence with her supporters and her opponents, notably in 1870, when she chastised the MP for Caernarvonshire after he voted against a proposal offering women the vote.[18]

In 1880, Becker and co-workers campaigned in the Isle of Man for the right of women to vote in the House of Keys elections. Unexpectedly, they were successful and they secured for women voting rights in the Isle of Man for the first time in the elections of March 1881.[19]

Becker differed from many early feminists in her disputation of essentialised femininity. Arguing there was no natural difference between the intellect of men and women, Becker was a vocal advocate of a non-gendered education system in Britain.[20] She also differed with many suffrage activists in arguing more strenuously for the voting rights of unmarried women. Women connected to husbands and stable sources of income, Becker believed, were less desperately in need of the vote than widows and single women. This attitude made her the target of frequent ridicule in newspaper commentary and editorial cartoons.[21]

In 1890 Becker visited the spa town of Aix-les-Bains, where she fell ill and died of diphtheria, aged 63.[20] Rather than continue publishing in her absence, the staff of the Women’s Suffrage Journal decided to cease production.





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