Tag: The Law Day

The WJA in History: Charles Rhyne and the proclamation of the US Day on May 1

The Law Day is celebrated in the United States since May 1, 1958, when President Eisenhower proclaimed this date to honor the importance of the law in the creation of the United States.

The idea originated in 1957 when Charles Rhyne, founder of the World Jurist Association and then president of the American Bar Association, envisioned a special day to celebrate America’s legal system. Since Labor Day on May 1 had communist connotations for many Americans, as it celebrated the working people as the ruling class in the Soviet Union, Rhyne proposed celebrating the Law Day instead.

The origins of this day can be traced back to Wewoka, Oklahoma, where attorney Hicks Epton, along with the Seminole County Bar Association, initiated it with the “Know Your Courts, Know Your Freedoms” program on May 1, 1946. Later, in 1954, the celebrations known as Law Day gained national recognition within the legal community.

Charles Rhyne escalated the idea in 1958 and proposed it to President Eisenhower’s cabinet. And, although the proposal was shelved, on May 1 that year, Rhyne commented it directly to the US President, who agreed with it and made the first presidential proclamation of Law Day that same day.

Since 1958, every president of the United States of America has issued an annual Law Day proclamation. This date, according to the American Bar Association, is “a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law, highlighting how the law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms shared by all Americans.” A date that in many parts of the world inspires devotion to the rights of the working classes to participate in government, the Law Day asks Americans to focus on the rights of all Americans, as set forth in the foundational documents of American democracy: the Declaration of Independence and the Federal Constitution.