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Last execution by guillotine in France

On September 10, 1977, Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant convicted of murder, became the last person executed by guillotine in France.The French death penalty was formally abolished by President Francois Mitterand in 1981. Learn more about the history of the guillotine.

July 15, 2002: The 'American Taliban' accepts a plea bargain

All charges but one against American citizen John Walker Lindh were dropped when he accepted a plea bargain July 15, 2002. U.S. forces found Lindh in the country's invasion of Afghanistan after Sept. 11 and learned he had served as a Taliban soldier. He pled guilty to one count of supplying services to the Taliban in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence and an agreement to cooperate with the U.S. government in its investigation of terrorist group al-Qaida.

July 14, 1798: Congress passes the Sedition Act

While the U.S. fought France, congressional Federalists exploited the public's fears by creating and passing the Alien and Sedition Acts, a set of four laws that affected the rights of both immigrants and citizens. One of those laws was the Sedition Act, which prohibited what the government considered "malicious" verbal and written comments about the U.S. president or government. The act directly violated the First Amendment's guarantee of the right to free speech.

July 13, 1789: Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance

Congress unanimously passed the Northwest Ordinance, also known as the Freedom Ordinance, on July 13, 1789. The primary result of the ordinance was the formation of the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the U.S. The region included areas south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River. The ordinance established a precedent by which western expansion would take place through the institution of new states rather than the expansion of existing ones. The ordinance also set the Ohio River as the boundary between free and slave territories.

July 12, 1994: Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court justice nominee, begins confirmation hearings

President Clinton first nominated Stephen Breyer in 1993 after the retirement of Bryon White, but Breyer was eventually selected to fill the seat of Harry Blackmun in 1994. The Senate confirmed Breyer's nomination by a vote of 87-9, and he took his seat Aug. 3, 1994.