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 11, 1921: President Taft is sworn in as chief justice

President Harding nominated former President Taft for the position of chief justice of the Supreme Court after the death of Chief Justice Edward Douglass White. Taft was the president from 1909 to 1913 and is the only person to have held the position of both president of the United States and chief justice of the Supreme Court.

July 10, 1925: The 'Scopes Monkey Trial' begins

On July 10, 1925, Tennessee teacher John Scopes went on trial for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in a public school. With the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, Scopes agreed to be the first to challenge the recent Tennessee law that banned the teaching of evolution in public schools. The town of Dayton set up the trial as a publicity stunt to boost its economy. The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, also known as the "Scopes Monkey Trial," was the first trial covered by the broadcast media. The defense attorneys knew Scopes was guilty of breaking the law, but they hoped to send an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the law's constitutionality. The trial court's verdict of guilty was overturned by the state Supreme Court, however, based on a technicality.

July 9, 1868: The 14th Amendment is ratified

The 14th Amendment, also called the Reconstruction Amendment, is one of the most important components of the Constitution. It was intended to secure rights for former slaves by providing a broad definition of citizenship, requiring states to provide equal protection under the law to all persons within their jurisdiction. In addition, the amendment includes both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. The amendment was used extensively to bring down segregation and has been a force behind key issues such as privacy rights and abortion.

July 8, 1999: A Florida execution raises more doubt about the use of the electric chair

On July 8, 1999, Allen Lee Davis was executed in Florida by means of the electric chair, bringing further debate over whether the use of the chair as a means of execution constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The issue arose after Davis was observed to have blood running from his nose and was said to have suffered burns on his head, leg and groin area. His execution was the last use of the electric chair in Florida.