Environmental Law Notes
Timeline of the United States Law
1066 - William of Normandy invaded England in the Battle of Hastings. Took over with complete and absolute
1215 - Magna Carta: Made laws more people-oriented. Nobles protesting the absolute powers of imposing tax
by the king, and with the Magna Carta, the king was unable to impose taxes without first consulting the
Late 1500s - Early 1600’s - Parliament started to form.
The king owned all of the land and rivers in all land under his rule. Colonization growing, and when the
colonists step foot on new land, it is immediately owned by the king.
1620 - Puritans on the Mayflower designed the Mayflower Compact
The first law made by settlers, set up a self-government away from rule of king. Pilgrims didn’t want
someone ruling without being there. On day-to-day stuff, they decide on issues for themselves. King
acknowledged as the “boss”. Power does not go king - down, but from the people - up.
1639 - “The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut”
Things have changed since the Mayflower Compact. Thomas Hooker took a lot of people from Plymouth
Colony, led them out of Massachusetts to Connecticut for religious freedom and governing rights. Not a
separate colony yet - still considered Mass. They got together and set up a new form of government,
called The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. They chose qualified people to govern without approval
of the king. Established: All power rests with the people, delegates some power to qualified governing
people. Major break with absolute power.
1662 - King James II granted Connecticut a charter, establishing it as its own state.
1689 - Glorious Revolution (In England).
Religious strife caused King James II to leave (overthrown). William III and Mary (Mary is King James’s
Daughter) were allowed to be king of England if they agreed that Parliament was the supreme
lawmaking body (People were able to vote on who was in Parliament. They agreed, but this
arrangement was vague on who made what laws, and how governing American colonies would work.
1770’s - England was fighting French Indian war, England needed lots of money. They put their burden on the
American Colonies. “We can only give you taxes if parliament decides to give it to you, king.”. Taxation
without representation, and we were not pleased.
1776 - Declaration of Independence - Did not grant rights other than to self-government.
Did not change from “United Colonies” to “United States” until later that year. Laid framework for the
1781 - Articles of Confederation (Of Perpetual Union) established.
First written constitution. Very weak, no central government. States retained most power.
1783 - Now fully independent, free and sovereign.
1787 - Everyone agreed Articles of Confederation were not working.
May through September of that year, the Constitutional Convention occurred. The draft of the
constitution needed to have a majority vote to be put into effect, and when 9/13 states had approved it,
it was put into effect (1788). Set up doctrine of separation of powers. A tension of power was the goal
as a mean of restricting and limiting exercise of power. A president – not elected directly by people so all
states have equal say. Legislative – makes laws. Judicial – interpret the law.
1788 - George Washington unanimously elected president of the United States.
“O Tempora, O Mores” - Cicero (Oh the times, of the morals). Customs of various historical periods are
so incomparably different than they are to ours in modern day. Apples & oranges.
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