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Aug. 10, 1988: President Reagan signs the Civil Liberties Act of 1988

On Aug. 10, 1988, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 became a federal law, allowing reparations to be paid to Japanese-Americans who had been interned or relocated by the U.S. government during World War II. The law, which was restricted to American citizens or legal permanent residents of Japanese ethnicity, granted each surviving internee about $20,000 in compensation, with payments beginning in 1990. The legislation stated that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership" as opposed to genuine legitimacy.

Aug. 9, 1997: A Florida court compensates a long-time smoker

On Aug. 9, 1997, a Florida court ruled against Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. and awarded $750,000 to a man who smoked for 44 years and contracted lung cancer. The world's largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris, was hit with a $12 billion loss of the market value of its stocks in one day after the verdict, even though the company was not a defendant in the case.

Aug. 8, 1945: President Truman signs the U.N. Charter

By signing the U.N. Charter on Aug. 8, 1945, the U.S. became the first nation to complete the ratification process and become an official member of the U.N. Although both President Truman and Secretary of State James F. Byrnes signed the treaty in August 1945, the charter did not become effective until China, France, Great Britain, Russia and other creators of the document completed ratification. The U.N. was viewed as a means to resolving international disputes and maintaining world peace.


Aug. 7, 1964: The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution expands the U.S. military role in Southeast Asia

When Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on Aug. 7, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson gained the power to fight "communist aggression" in Southeast Asia. In 1964, communist North Vietnam controlled parts of South Vietnam, an ally of the U.S. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy previously ordered U.S. military training for South Vietnam to no avail. Johnson decided military action was necessary and asked Congress to pass the resolution, which gave him the authority to "take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." The act's name stemmed from the Aug. 2 attack of a U.S. destroyer on the Gulf of Tonkin by North Vietnam.

Aug. 6, 1965: The Voting Rights Act is signed into law

The Voting Rights Act was created to guarantee African-Americans the right to vote and to place restrictions on federal, state and local elections that were specifically designed to keep blacks out of the polls. President Lyndon Johnson signed the act with the belief that stronger voting rights laws would improve the American way of life. However, because state and local enforcement of the new law was weak, it often was ignored in areas where the African-American community threatened the political status quo. Regardless of lax enforcement of the law, it greatly increased voter turnout, giving African-Americans the legal ability to challenge voting restrictions.