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Historical Glossary

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Bunker Hill, battle of (Mass.)

On 17 June 1775 Colonel William Prescott's 1,200 Mass. militia repulsed two assaults by Major General Thomas Gage's 2,500 British troops before shortage of ammunition forced their withdrawal during a third attack. US losses: 140 killed, 271 wounded, 30 captured. British losses: 226 killed, 828 wounded. Heavy British casualties reinforced American determination to resist British authority and ended any hope that Britain's government would compromise with the rebels.

Burch v. Louisiana

On 17 April 1979, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of jury trials is violated when juries of just six persons convict defendants without a unanimous vote. In Ballew v. Georgia (21 March 1978), the Court declared that state juries must have at least six persons.

Burger, Warren Earl

(b. St Paul, Minn., 17 September 1907)    He was US assistant attorney general (1953–6), active in Republican party politics, and judge on the US court of appeals for Washington, D.C. (1956–69), before being confirmed as chief justice on 9 June 1969. Burger led the Court in modifying the judicial activism that characterized its decisions under Earl Warren, but upheld most of Warren's landmark decisions, if rather modified in scope. The Burger court was often deeply divided over abortion and the rights of criminal defendants. Burger announced his retirement on 17 June 1986. His major opinions include Griggs v. Duke Power Company, Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenberg County Board of Education, Lemon v. Kurtzman,  Miller v. California, Milliken v. Bradley, and Fullilove v. Klutznik.


A term for a state congress. The Virginia House of Burgesses was the first popularly elected legislative body in America, its first meeting took place on July 30, 1619.

Burgh, James

(1714-1775) English whig who made a significant contribution to free speech doctrine is his Political Disquisitions. Many of his other writings contributed in other areas such as educational reform. Thomas Jefferson included the work with other writings in a course of recommended reading for James Madison and James Monroe, and in 1803, while Jefferson was President, he "urged" the work on Congress. The book was popular among American colonists and became a source of inspiration for American Revolutionists. Many critics claim his work is nothing more than a collection of other writer's ideas and propositions. While he does draw extensively from outside theorists and authors, many of his ideas on Parliamentary reform, free speech, and equal opportunity are novel.