See the Major Laws That Passed the Year You Were Born
The first documented law in the United States was passed in 1789 by Congress and signed by President George Washington. Americans have been voting on, passing, repealing, and amending legislation ever since. Many of these laws were impactful and significant to the nation’s history and growth and still are today.
From 1919 to 2019, Stacker has put together the following slideshow of major legislation passed in the United States federal government. Some state and local laws that are significant and garnered national attention are also included, but you’ll mostly read about legislation that has affected the country as a whole—be it culturally, politically, socially, or economically.
You cannot find a decade without a groundbreaking moment in legal history: Major voting rights legislation passed in the 1920s that broke domestic gender barriers, while the 1930s saw a radical attempt to isolate and distance America from international conflict. A G.I. Bill in the ‘40s revolutionized our perspective on veterans’ rights, rehabilitation, and reintegration into society, while the ‘50s saw the first Civil Rights Acts passed since Reconstruction. A ‘60s Equal Pay Act was a seminal step in curtailing workplace discrimination, and the landmark ‘70s case Roe v. Wade kickstarted a discussion on abortion rights that persists today.
The last four decades, too, have included monumental examples like the biggest tax cut in history in the 1980s, a unanimously passed digital copyright right law in the ‘90s, the post-9/11 PATRIOT Act in response to 21st-century terrorism, and the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which overhauled and expanded the entire American health-care system.