Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ohio passes Anti-Seduction Law (1886), Richard Nixon Dies (1994), & Actor Jack Nicholson is Born (1937)

On this date in 1886, Ohio passes a statute that makes seduction unlawful.

Covering all men over the age of 18 who worked as teachers or instructors of women, this law even prohibited men from having consensual sex with women (of any age) whom they were instructing. The penalty for disobeying this law ranged from two to 10 years in prison. 

Ohio's seduction law was not the first of its kind. A Virginia law made it illegal for a man to have an "illicit connection with any unmarried female of previous chaste character" if the man did so by promising to marry the girl. An 1848 New York law made it illegal to "under promise of marriage seduce any unmarried female of previous chaste character." Georgia’s version of the seduction statute made it unlawful for men to "seduce a virtuous unmarried female and induce her to yield to his lustful embraces, and allow him to have carnal knowledge of her." 

These laws were only sporadically enforced, but a few men were actually prosecuted and convicted. In Michigan, a man was convicted of three counts of seduction, but the appeals court did everything in its power to overturn the decision. It threw out two charges because the defense reasoned that the woman was no longer virtuous after the couple's first encounter. The other charge was overturned after the defense claimed that the woman's testimony--that they had had sex in a buggy--was medically impossible. 

On some occasions, women used these laws in order to coerce men into marriage. A New York man in the middle of an 1867 trial that was headed toward conviction proposed to the alleged victim. The local minister was summoned, and the trial instantly became a marriage ceremony.

On this day in 1994, former President Richard Nixon, dies after suffering a stroke. One of Orange County’s very own, eh was born in Yorba Linda, California on January 9, 1913.

In a 1978 speech at Oxford University, Nixon admitted he had screwed up during his presidency but predicted that his achievements would be viewed more favorably with time. He told the young audience, "You'll be here in the year 2000, see how I am regarded then." 

Nixon did not owe his success in politics to personality or charm: in fact, even many of his staunch supporters described him as cold, aloof, crude, arrogant and paranoid. President Eisenhower himself, whom Nixon served as vice president, claimed that Nixon would never win the presidency because the people don't like him. After proving his former boss wrong, Nixon left the office in disgrace, resigning in the face of impending impeachment. His paranoia of political sabotage by his opponents had inspired him to authorize the wire-tapping of enemies and supporters alike. Ironically, it was the conversations he taped in his own office that led to his ultimate downfall. 

Nixon is most often remembered for his involvement in the Watergate scandal as president and for his Cold War era persecution of suspected communists while serving as a U.S. senator. However, Nixon left a legacy as complex as his personality. Despite the immense disappointment and distrust in government that the Watergate scandal inspired in most Americans, Nixon was correct in assuming that some aspects of his leadership would be judged favorably with the passage of time. These include his bold efforts to improve diplomatic relations with China and Russia, as well as pushing lasting and influential legislation through Congress. Nixon's legislative legacy includes the National Environmental Policy Act, passed in 1969, which created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Water Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. He also lowered the voting age to 18, established Amtrak, launched the space-shuttle program and authorized the formation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). During his retirement, several subsequent presidents consulted Nixon for his expertise in international affairs. Nixon and his wife Pat are both buried on the grounds of his birthplace in Yorba Linda, California. The site is also the home of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.  

Actor Jack Nicholson is born on this date in 1937.

He will become known as one of the greatest actors of his generation and famous for his roles in such movies as Easy Rider, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and As Good As it Gets, is born in Neptune, New Jersey.

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