Today is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. On this day in 1778 the Continental Congress passed what very well could be the world’s first whistleblower law. Our revolutionary forefathers, when they learned that two whistleblowers that had exposed misconduct by the highest-ranking U.S. naval official, were being prosecuted in the State of Rhode Island, agreed to act. 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.
Finally, the Founding Fathers, on July 30, 1778 passed our nation’s first whistleblower law. It’s message was clear and the vote was unanimous: “That it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or any other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”
The history behind this historic day was lost. However, fifteen years ago, when the National Whistleblower Center’s Executive Director Stephen Kohn was researching materials for an amicus brief filed by the NWC supporting the constitutionality of the False Claims Act, he discovered this law. He 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 whistleblower’s defense.
This history was spelled out for the first time in The Whistleblower’s Handbook. When Senator Charles Grassley learned of this historic event, he worked in a bi-partisan manner with Senator Levin to ensure that this day would be honored. On July 30, 2013 the U.S. Senate enacted their Joint Resolution recognizing National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.
Today, we call on all citizens of the world to honor National Appreciation Whistleblower Day. To remember the sacrifices whistleblowers have endured to protect the public interest. To demand that their governments rise to the call of justice for which our Founding Fathers did, while fighting a war for the very survival or our nation, on that day, July 30th, 1778.
The National Whistleblower Center When you make a donation of $25 or more to support the National Whistleblower Center* today, July 30, 2014, you will receive a copy of The Whistleblower’s Handbook as our gift in honor of National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.
*Please note the donation links take you to the National Whistleblower Center’s secure donation page.