American Nation Glossary Terms Civil War - WWI

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Allied Powers

the military alliance during World War I, chiefly consisting of Britain, France, Russia, and Italy, that opposed Germany, Austria, and Turkey

American Federation of Labor (AFL)

A union, formed in 1886, that organized skilled workers along craft lines. It focused on workplace issues rather than political or social reform.

Ashcan School

Artists in the early twentieth century who used as their subject matter the things and people found in city streets and slums. These artists often supported progressive political and social reform.

Atlanta Compromise

A social policy, propounded by black leader Booker T. Washington in 1895, advocating that blacks concentrate on learning useful skills rather than agitate over segregation, disfranchisement, and discrimination. In Washington's view, black self-help and self-improvement was the surest way to economic advancement.

Black Codes

Special laws passed by southern state and municipal governments after the Civil War that denied free blacks many rights of citizenship.

Bland-Allison SIlver Purchase Act

An 1878 compromise law that provided for the limited coinage of silver.

carpetbaggers

A pejorative term for northerners who went South after the Civil War to exploit the new political power of freed blacks and the disenfranchisement of former Confederates.

Central Powers

Germany and its WWI allies-Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria.

Chinese Exclusion Act

A law passed by Congress in 1882 that prohibited Chinese immigration to the United States; it was overturned in 1943.

Civil Rights Cases

A group of cases in 1883 in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which had prohibited racial discrimination in hotels, theaters, and other privately owned facilities. The Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment barred state governments from discriminating on the basis of race but did not prevent private individuals, businesses, or organizations from doing so.

Clayton Antitrust Act

Legislation that strengthened antitrust laws. Passed in 1914, it outlawed interlocking directorates, exempted labor unions from antitrust laws, and limited the use of injunctions in labor disputes.

Compromise of 1877

A brokered arrangement whereby Republican and Democratic leaders agreed to settle the disputed 1876 presidential election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes; and Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, ensuring an end to Reconstruction.

Comstock Lode

The first major vein of silver ore in the United States, discovered in the late 1850s, near Virginia City, Nevada.

conservation

The efficient management and use of natural resources, such as forests, grasslands, and rivers; it represents a "middle-of-the-road" policy as opposed to the uncontrolled exploitation of such resources or the preservation of those resources from any human exploiters.

crop-lein system

A system of agriculture in which local landowners and merchants loaned money to farm workers in return for a portion of the harvest of cash crops, the system discouraged diversified agriculture in the South.

Dawes Severalty Act of 1887

A law terminating tribal ownership of land and allotting some parcels of land to individual Indians with the remainder of the land left open for white settlement. It included provisions for Indian education and eventual citizenship. The law led to corruption, exploitation, and the weakening of Indian tribal culture. It was reversed in 1934.

dollar diplomacy

A policy of President William Taft to promote American economic penetration to underdeveloped nations, especially in Latin America; it sought to strengthen American influence without requiring the presence of U.S. troops.

Espionage Act

A law passed in 1917 that made it a crime to obstruct the nation's effort to win World War I.

Federal Reserve Act

A 1913 law establishing a Federal Reserve Board, which controlled the rediscount rate and thus the money supply; this helped regularize the national banking system.

Fifteenth Amendment

An amendment championed by the Republican party, that sought to guarantee the vote to blacks in the South following the Civil War.

Force Acts

Three laws passed by the Republican-dominated Congress in 1870-1871 to protect black voters in the South. The laws placed state elections under federal jurisdiction and imposed fines and imprisonment on those guilty of interfering with any citizen exercising his right to vote.

Fourteen Points

A comprehensive plan, proposed by President Woodrow Wilson in January 1918, to negotiate an end to World War I. It called for freedom of the seas, free trade, arms reduction, national self-determination and an end to colonial rule and secret diplomacy.

Fourteenth Amendment

An amendment, passed by Congress in 1866 and ratified in 1868, that prohibited states from depriving citizens of the due process or the equal protection of the laws against blacks in the South, it figured prominently in the expansion of individual rights and liberties during the last half of the twentieth century.

Freedmen's Bureau

A federal refugee agency to aid former slaves and destitute whites after the Civil War. It provided them food, clothing, and other necessities as well as helping them find work and set up school.

Hepburn Act

Federal legislation, passed in1906, that gave the Interstate Commerce Commission sufficient power to inspect railroad companies' records, set maximum rates, and outlaw free passes.

Industrial Workers of the World

A militant labor organization, founded in 1905 and inspired by European anarchists, that advocated "abolition of the wage system" and called for a single union of all workers, regardless of trade or skill level; it was repressed during and after World War I.

Interstate Commerce Act

Federal law establishing the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887, the nation's first regulatory agency.

isolationism

A national policy that eschews foreign alliances, such as was propounded by George Washington in his "Farewell Address." Isolationism was also embraced by the part of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 and after the First World War, when the United States refused to join the League of Nations and sought to distance is elf during the 1930s from the rumblings of another world war. Isolationism ended as national policy when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Knights of Labor

A national labor organization, organized in 1869 and headed by Uriah Stephens and Terence Powderly, that promoted union solidarity, political reform, and sociability among members, Its advocacy of the eight-hour day led to violent strikes in 1886 and the organization's subsequent decline.

Ku Klux Klan

Founded as a social club in 1866 by a handful of former Confederate soldiers in Tennessee, it became a vigilante group that used violence and intimidation to drive African Americans out of politics. The movement declined in the late 1870s but resurfaced in the 1920s as a political organization that opposed all groups-immigrant, religious, and racial-that challenged Protestant white hegemony.

laissez-faire

A french term-literally, "to let alone"-used in economic contexts to signify the absence of governmental interference in or regulation of economic matters.

League of Nations

A worldwide assembly of nations, proposed by Woodrow Wilson, that was included in the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I. The refusal of the United States to join the League limited its effectiveness.

muckrakers

A term for progressive investigative journalists who exposed the seamy side of American life at the turn of the twentieth century by "raking up the muck."

mugwumps

A group of eastern Republicans, disgusted with corruption in the party, who campaigned for the Democrats in the 1884 elections. These anti-corruption reformers were conservative on the money question and government regulation.

National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)

An organization, founded in 1890, that united the National Woman Suffrage Association, headed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and the American Woman Suffrage Association, headed by Lucy Stone. After ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the vote in 1920, it became the League of Women Voters.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

A national interracial organization, founded in 1909, that promoted the rights of African Americans. Initially it fought against lynching, but from 1955 through 1977, under the leadership of Roy Wilkins, it launched the campaign that overturned legalized segregation and it backed civil rights legislation. It remains the nation's largest African American organization.

National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry

A farmers' organization, founded in 1867 by Oliver H. Kelley, that initially provided social and cultural benefits but then supported legislation, known as the Granger laws, providing for railroad regulation.

nativism

A fear of or hatred for immigrants, ethnic minorities, or alien political movements.

New Freedom

Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson's term in the 1912 presidential campaign for a proposed policy that would restore competition by breaking up the trusts and punishing corporations that violated rules of business conduct.

new immigration

A reference to the influx of immigrants to the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century predominantly from southern and eastern Europe.

New Nationalism

Progressive candidate Theodore Roosevelt's term in the 1912 presidential election for an expansion of federal power to regulate big business and enact legislation to promote social justice.

Niagara movement

A response by W.E.B. Du Bois and other blacks, following a meeting in Niagara Falls in 1905, in opposition to Booker T. Washington's advocacy of black accommodation to white prejudice; these leaders drafted a political program to achieve equal opportunity, equal justice, and and end to segregation that led to the founding of the NAACP.

Open Door policy

A policy, propounded by Secretary of State John Hay in 1899, affirming the territorial integrity of China and a policy of free trade.

Pendleton Act

An 1883 law bringing civil service reform to federal employment; it classified many government jobs and required competitive exams for these positions.

People's (Populist) party

The People's Party of America was an important "third party," founded in 1891, that sought to unite various disaffected groups, especially farmers. The party nominated James B. Weaver for president in 1892 and in 1896 joined with the Democratic party in support of William Jennings Bryan for president.

Platt Amendment

A law, passed in 1901 and superseding the Teller Amendment, which stipulated the conditions for the withdrawal of American forces from Cuba; it also transferred ownership of the naval base at Guantanamo Bay to the United States.

Plessy v. Ferguson

Supreme Court ruling (1896) that held that racial segregation of public accommodations did not infringe on the "equal protection" clause of the Constitution; this "separate but equal" doctrine was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

pragmatism

A philosophical system, chiefly associated with William James, that deemphasized abstraction and assessed ideas and cultural practices based on their practical effects; it helped inspire political and social reform during the late nineteenth century.

progressivism

A cluster of movements for various forms of social change-some of them contradictory-during the early twentieth century; members generally opposed corruption and inefficiency in government, monopoly power among corporations, and wayward behavior among immigrants and others.

"reconcentration" camps

A term that referred to the Spanish refugee camps into which Cuban farmers were herded in 1896 to prevent them from providing assistance to rebels fighting for Cuban independence from Spain.

"red scare"

Public hysteria over Bolshevik influence in the United States after World War I; it led to the arrest and deportation of thousands of radicals, labor activists, and ethnic leaders.

Roosevelt Corollary

An addendum to the Monroe Doctrine, propounded in 1904 by President Theodore Roosevelt, asserting that the UNited States had a right to intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American nations that had become unstable; through it, the United States assumed the role of a hemispheric policemen.

scalawags

White southern Republicans-mainly small landowning farmers and well-off merchants and planters-who cooperated with the congressionally imposed Reconstruction governments set up in the South following the Civil War.

Sedition Act

Federal legislation, first passed in 1798 and expired in 1801, that placed limits on freedom of speech during wartime. Another such act was passed in 1918 and led to the imprisonment of Socialist Eugene V. Debs and others during World War I.

settlement houses

Community centers, founded by reformers such as Jane Addams and Lillian Wald beginning in the 1880s, that were located in poor urban districts of major cities; the centers sought to Americanize immigrant families and provide them with social services and a political voice.

sharecropping

A type of agriculture, frequently practiced in the South during and after Reconstruction, in which landowners provided land, tools, housing, and seed to a farmer who provided his labor; the resulting crop was divided between them.

Sherman Antitrust Act

A federal law, passed in 1890, that outlaws monopolistic organizations that functioned to restrain trade.

Sherman Silver Purchase Act

An 1890 law that obliged the federal government to buy and coin silver, thereby counteracting the deflationary tendencies of the economy at the time; its repeal in 1894, following the Depression of 1893, caused a political uproar.

social Darwinism

A belief that Charles Darwin's theory of the evolution of species applied as well to social and economic institutions and practices: The "fittest" enterprises or individuals prevailed, while those that were defective naturally faded away; society thus progressed most surely when competition was unrestricted by the government.

Social Gospel

A doctrine preached by many urban Protestant ministers during the early 1900s that focused on improving living conditions for the city's poor rather than on saving souls; proponents advocated civil service reform, child labor laws, government regulation of big business, and a graduated income tax.

Square Deal

The phrase, initially employed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, to describe an arbitrated settlement between workers and an employer, but more generally employed as a goal to promote fair business practices and to punish "bad" corporations that used their economic clout unfairly.

Teller Amendment

A rider to the 1898 war resolution with Spain whereby Congress pledged that it did not intend to annex Cuba and that it would recognize Cuban independence from Spain.

Ten Percent Plan

A measure drafted by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to readmit states that had seceded once 10 percent of their prewar voters swore allegiance to the Union and adopted state constitutions outlawing slavery.

tenements

Four- to six-story residential apartment houses, once common in New York and certain other cities, built on a tiny lot with little regard for adequate ventilation and light.

Tenure of Office Act

A law passed by Congress in 1867 that prohibited the president from removing any official who had been appointed with the consent of the Senate. When President Andrew Johnson the following year dismissed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Congress tried Johnson in impeachment proceedings for violating this act.

Thirteenth Amendment

Passed in 1865, this amendment declared an end to slavery and negated the Three-fifths Clause in the Constitution, thereby increasing the representation of the southern states in Congress.

Underwood Tariff

A 1913 reform law that lowered tariff rates and levied the first regular federal income tax.

Wade-Davis bill

An 1864 alternative to Lincoln's "Ten Percent Plan," this measure required a majority of voters in a southern state to take a loyalty oath in order to begin the process of Reconstruction and guarantee black equality. It also required the repudiation of the Confederate debt. The president exercised a pocket veto, and it never became a law.

War Industries Board (WIB)

A federal agency, established during World War I, that reorganized industry for maximum efficiency and productivity.

woman suffrage

The right of women to vote, ensured by the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment 1(1920).

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