Today in History (1862) - The U.S. government forbids all Union army officers from returning fugitive slaves, thus effectively annulling the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and setting the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation. On the same day in 1865, the Confederate Congress voted to enlist 300,000 black troops, granting them freedom with the consent of their owners. Lee surrendered a few weeks later.
Today in History (1918) - Congress passes the Sedition Act, an amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917 that makes criticism of the government a jailable offense. Though upheld by the Supreme Court in Debs v. U.S., the Acts were repealed in 1921.