On July 30, 2014, by a unanimous resolution the U.S. Senate declared July 30 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” for the second year in row. The resolution comes on the anniversary of the first ever whistleblower protection law enacted on July 30, 1778.
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, first discovered the importance of this date to whistleblowers. Fifteen years ago, while conducting research for an amicus brief filed by the NWC supporting the constitutionality of the False Claims Act, Kohn discovered a resolution passed by the Continental Congress. The resolution, enacted on July 30, 1778, can be considered the world’s first whistleblower law. Kohn then carefully researched why our Founding Fathers enacted the resolution, and learned the details of America’s first whistleblower case. He reviewed the letters the whistleblowers wrote in jail pleading their case to the revolutionary Congress. He obtained from the National Archives a copy of the check the Continental Congress wrote to Sam Adams, honoring Congress’ agreement to pay the costs of the whistleblowers’ defense.
Our revolutionary founders acted swiftly when they learned that two whistleblowers had exposed misconduct by the highest-ranking U.S. naval official and were being prosecuted in the State of Rhode Island. They voted to spend precious monies from the new government’s treasury to ensure that the whistleblowers had lawyers to defend them. They voted to release all of the naval records documenting the whistleblower’s concerns.