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John Cabot

Italian explorer sent by England's King Henry VII to explore the northeastern coast of North America in 1497 and 1498.

Christopher Columbus

Genoese explorer who stumbled upon the West Indies in 1492 while in search of a new water route to Asia. He made three subsequent voyages across the Atlantic and briefly served as a colonial administrator on the island of Hispaniola, present day Haiti.

Francisco Coronado

Spanish explorer who ventured from Western Mexico through present-day Arizona and up to Kansas, in search of fabled golden cities.

Hernan Cortes

Spanish conquistador who defeated the Aztec Empire and claimed Mexico for Spain.

Ferdinand of Aragon

Spanish monarch, along with his wife Isabella of Castile, funded Christopher Columbus' voyage across the Atlantic in 1492, leading to his discovery of the West Indies.

Isabella of Castile

Spanish monarch, along with her husband Ferdinand of Aragon, funded Christopher Columbus' voyage across the Atlantic in 1492, leading to his discovery of the West Indies.

Robert de La Salle

French explorer who led an expedition down the Mississippi River in the 1680s.

Bartolome de Las Casas

Reform-minded Spanish missionary who worked to abolish the encomienda system and documented the mistreatment of Indians in the Spanish colonies.

Malinche

Indian slave who served as an interpreter for Hernán Cortés on his conquest of the Aztecs. She later married one of Cortés's soldiers, who took her with him back to Spain.

Montezuma

Last of the Aztec rulers, who saw his powerful empire crumble under the force of the Spanish invasion, led by Hernán Cortés.

Francisco Pizarro

Spanish conquistador who crushed the Incas in 1532 and founded the city of Lima, Peru.

Father Junipero Serra

Franciscan priest who established a chain of missions along the California coast, beginning in San Diego in 1769, with the aim of Christianizing and civilizing native peoples.

Lord Baltimore

Established Maryland as a haven for Catholics. He unsuccessfully tried to reconstitute the English manorial system in the colonies and gave vast tracts of land to Catholic relatives, a policy that soon created tensions between the seaboard Catholic establishment and backcountry Protestant planters.

Oliver Cromwell

Puritan general who helped lead parliamentary forces during the English Civil War, and ruled England as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658.

Lord De La Warr

Colonial governor who imposed harsh military rule over Jamestown after taking over in 1610. A veteran of England's brutal campaigns against the Irish, he applied harsh "Irish" tactics in his war against the Indians, sending troops to torch Indian villages and seize provisions. The colony of Delaware was named after him.

Sir Francis Drake

English sea captain who completed his circumnavigation of the globe in 1580, plundering Spanish ships and settlements along the way.

Elizabeth I

Protestant Queen of England whose forty-five year reign from 1558 to 1603 firmly secured the Anglican Church and inaugurated a period of maritime exploration and conquest. Never having married, she was dubbed the "Virgin Queen" by her contemporaries.

Henry VIII

Tudor monarch who launched the Protestant Reformation in England when he broke away from the Catholic Church in order to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Hiawatha

Along with Deganawidah, legendary founder of the Iroquois Confederacy, which united the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca tribes in the late sixteenth century.

James I

Formerly James VI of Scotland, he became king of England at the death of Elizabeth I. He supported overseas colonization, granting a charter to the Virginia Company in 1606 for a settlement in the New World. He also cracked down on both Catholics and Puritan Separatists, prompting the latter to flee to Holland and, later, to North America.

James Oglethorpe

Soldier-statesman and leading founder of Georgia. A champion of prison reform, he established Georgia as a haven for debtors seeking to avoid imprisonment. During the War of Jenkins's Ear, he successfully led his colonists in battle, repelling a Spanish attack on British territory.

Pocahontas

Daughter of Chief Powhatan, she "saved" Captain John Smith in a dramatic mock execution and served as a mediator between Indians and the colonists. In 1614, she married John Rolfe and sailed with him to England, where she was greeted as a princess, and where she passed away shortly before her planned return to the colonies.

Powhatan

Chief of the _____ Indians and father of Pocahontas. As a show of force, he staged the kidnapping and mock execution of Captain John Smith in 1607. He later led the _____ Indians in the first Anglo-_____ War, negotiating a tenuous peace in 1614.

Sir Walter Raleigh

English courtier and adventurer who sponsored the failed settlements of North Carolina's Roanoke Island in 1585 and 1587. Once a favorite of Elizabeth I, he fell out of favor with the Virgin Queen after secretly marrying one of her maids of honour. He continued his colonial pursuits until 1618, when he was executed for treason.

John Rolfe

English colonist whose marriage to Pocahontas in 1614 sealed the peace of the First Anglo-Powhatan War.

John Smith

English adventurer who took control of Jamestown in 1608 and ensured the survival of the colony by directing gold-hungry colonists toward more productive tasks. He also established ties with the Powhatan Indians through the Chief's daughter, Pocahontas, who had "saved" him from a mock execution the previous year.

Sir Edmund Andros

Much loathed administrator of the Dominion of New England, which was created in 1686 to strengthen imperial control over the New England colonies. He established strict control, doing away with town meetings and popular assemblies and taxing colonists without their consent. When word of the Glorious Revolution in England reached the colonists, they promptly dispatched him back to England.

William Bradford

Erudite leader of the separatist Pilgrims who left England for Holland, and eventually sailed on the Mayflower to establish the first English colony in Massachusetts. His account of the colony's founding, Of Plymouth Plantation, remains a classic of American literature and in indispensable historical source.

John Calvin

French Protestant reformer whose religious teachings formed the theological basis for New England Puritans, Scottish Presbyterians, French Huguenots and members of the Dutch Reformed Church. He argued that humans were inherently weak and wicked, and believed in an all-knowing, all-powerful God, who predestined select individuals for salvation.

Charles II

Assumed the throne with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. He sought to establish firm control over the colonies, ending the period of relative independence on the American mainland.

Henry Hudson

English explorer who ventured into New York Bay for the Dutch in 1609 in search of a Northwest Passage across the continent.

Anne Hutchinson

Antinomian religious dissenter brought to trial for heresy in Massachusetts Bay after arguing that she need not follow God's laws or man's, and claiming direct revelation from God. Banished from the Puritan colony, she moved to Rhode Island and later New York, where she and her family were killed by Indians.

Martin Luther

German friar who touched off the Protestant Reformation when he nailed a list of grievances against the Catholic Church to the door of Wittenberg's cathedral in 1517.

Massasoit

Wampanoag chieftain who signed a peace treaty with Plymouth Bay settlers in 1621 and helped them celebrate the first Thanksgiving.

Metacom

Wampanoag chief who led a brutal campaign against Puritan settlements in New England between 1675 and 1676. Though he himself was eventually captured and killed, his wife and son sold into slavery, his assault halted New England's westward expansion for several decades.

William Penn

Prominent Quaker activist who founded Pennsylvania as a haven for fellow Quakers in 1681. He established friendly relations with neighboring Indian tribes and attracted a wide array of settlers to his colony with promises of economic opportunity, and ethnic and religious toleration.

Peter Stuyvesant

Director general of Dutch New Netherland from 1645 until the colony fell to the British in 1664.

William and Mary

Dutch-born monarch and his English-born wife daughter of King James II, installed to the British throne during the Glorious Revolution of 1689. They relaxed control over the American colonies, inaugurating a period of "salutary neglect" that lasted until the French and Indian War.

Roger Williams

Salem minister who advocated a complete break from the Church of England and criticized the Massachusetts Bay colony for unlawfully taking land from the Indians. Banished for his heresies, he established a small community in present-day Rhode Island, later acquiring a charter for the colony from England.

John Winthrop

First governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. An able administrator and devout Puritan, Winthrop helped ensure the prosperity of the newly-established colony and enforce Puritan orthodoxy, taking a hard line against religious dissenters like Anne Hutchinson.

Duke of York

Catholic English monarch who reigned as James II from 1685 until he was deposed during the Glorious Revolution in 1689. When the English seized New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, they renamed it in the Duke's honor to commemorate his support for the colonial venture.

Nathaniel Bacon

Young Virginia planter who led a rebellion against Governor William Berkeley in 1676 to protest Berkeley's refusal to protect frontier settlers from Indian attacks.

William Berkeley

Royal governor of Virginia, with brief interruptions, from 1641 until his death. A member of Virginia's seaboard elite, he drew the ire of backwater settlers for refusing to protect them against Indian attacks, eventually leading to Bacon's Rebellion.

Anthony Johnson

African slave who purchased his freedom and himself became a slave holder in Virginia, serving a testament to the relative fluidity of early colonial society.

Jacobus Arminius

Dutch theologian who rejected predestination, preaching that salvation could be attained through the acceptance of God's grace and was open to all, not just the elect.

John Singleton Copley

Massachusetts-born artist best known for his portraits of prominent colonial Americans, including Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. A loyalist during the Revolutionary war, he spent the rest of his life in London, painting portraits of British aristocrats and depicting scenes from English history.

Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur

French settler whose essays depicted life in the North American colonies and described what he saw as a new American identity—an amalgam of multiple ethnicities and cultures.

Jonathan Edwards

New England minister whose fiery sermons helped touch off the First Great Awakening. He emphasized human helplessness and depravity and touted that salvation could be attained through God's grace alone.

John Trumbull

Connecticut-born painter who, like many of his contemporaries, traveled to England to pursue his artistic ambitions. He was best known for his depictions of key events in the American Revolution, including the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Phyllis Wheatley

African-American poet who overcame the barriers of slavery to publish two collections of her poems. As a young girl, she lived in Boston, and was later taken to England where she found a publisher willing to distribute her work.

George Whitefield

Iterant English preacher whose rousing sermons throughout the American colonies drew vast audiences and sparked a wave of religious conversion, the First Great Awakening. His emotionalism distinguished him from traditional, "Old Light," ministers who embraced a more reasoned, stoic approach to religious practice.

John Peter Zenger

New York printer tried for seditious libel against the state's corrupt royal governor. His acquittal set an important precedent for freedom of the press.

Edward Braddock

Hardheaded and imperious British general, whose detachment of British and colonial soldiers was routed by French and Indian forces at Fort Duquesne.

Samuel de Champlain

French soldier and explorer, dubbed the "Father of New France" for establishing the city of Quebec and fighting alongside the Huron Indians to repel the Iroquois.

Louis XIV

Long reigning French monarch who took a keen interest in colonization, sending French explorers throughout North America, establishing outposts in present day Canada and Louisiana, and launching France to global preeminence. He oversaw the construction of the magnificent palace at Versailles, from where he ruled until his death.

William Pitt

British parliamentarian who rose to prominence during the French and Indian War as the brilliant tactician behind Britain's victory over France.

Pontiac

Ottawa chief who led an uprising against the British in the wake of the French and Indian war. Initially routing British forces at Detroit, _he and his men succumbed after British troops distributed small-pox infected blankets among the Indians.

James Wolfe

Young British commander who skillfully outmaneuvered French forces in the Battle of Quebec during the French and Indian War.

John Hancock

Boston smuggler and prominent leader of the colonial resistance, who served as president of the Second Continental Congress. In 1780 he became the first governor of Massachusetts, a post he held with only a brief intermission until his death.

George Grenville

British prime minister who fueled tensions between Britain and her North American colonies through his strict enforcement of navigation laws and his support for the Sugar and Stamp Acts.

Charles Townshend

British prime minister whose ill-conceived duties on the colonies, the _____ Acts, sparked fierce protests in the colonies and escalated the imperial conflict.

Crispus Attucks

Runaway slave and leader of the Boston protests that resulted in the "Boston Massacre," in which he was first to die.

George III

British monarch during the run-up to the American Revolution, he contributed to the imperial crisis with his dogged insistence on asserting Britain's power over her colonial possessions.

Lord North

Tory prime minister and pliant aide to George III from 1770 to 1782. His ineffective leadership and dogged insistence on colonial subordination contributed to the American Revolution.

Samuel Adams

Boston revolutionary who organized Massachusetts' committees of correspondence to help sustain opposition to British policies. A delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, he continued to play a key role throughout the revolutionary and early national periods, later serving as governor of his home state.

Thomas Hutchinson

Royal governor of Massachusetts during the run-up to the Revolution, he misjudged colonial zeal during the Tea Act controversy and insisted that East India Company ships unload in Boston Harbor, thereby prompting the Boston Tea Party.

Marquis de Lafayette

French nobleman who served as major general in the colonial army during the American Revolution and aided the newly-independent colonies in securing French support.

Baron von Steuben

German-born inspector general of the Continental army, who helped train the novice colonial militia in the art of warfare.

Lord Dunmore

Royal governor of Virginia who, in 1775, promised freedom to runaway slaves who joined the British army.

Ethan Allen

Revolutionary war officer who, along with Benedict Arnold, fought British and Indian forces in frontier New York and Vermont.

Benedict Arnold

Revolutionary war general turned traitor, who valiantly held off a British invasion of upstate New York at Lake Champlain, but later switched sides, plotting to sell out the Continental stronghold at West Point to the redcoats. His scheme was discovered and the disgraced general fled to British lines.

Richard Montgomery

Irish-born British army veteran, who served as a general in the Continental army during the Revolution. He joined Benedict Arnold in a failed attempt to seize Quebec in 1775.

Thomas Paine

British-born pamphleteer and author of Common Sense, a fiery tract that laid out the case for American independence. Later an ardent supporter of the French Revolution, he became increasingly radical in his views, publishing the anticlerical The Age of Reason in 1794, which cost him the support of his American allies.

Richard Henry Lee

Virginia planter and revolutionary, who served as a member of the Continental Congress. He first introduced the motion asserting America's independence from Britain, later supplanted by Thomas Jefferson's more formal and rhetorically moving declaration. He went on to become the first U.S. senator from Virginia under the new constitution.

Lord Charles Cornwallis

British general during the Revolutionary War who, having failed to crush Greene's forces in South Carolina, retreated to Virginia, where his defeat at Yorktown marked the beginning of the end for Britain's efforts to suppress the colonial rebellion.

William Howe

British general who, despite victories on the battle field, failed to deal a crushing blow to Washington's Continental army. By attacking Philadelphia instead of reinforcing General Burgoyne at Saratoga, he also inadvertently contributed to that crucial American victory.

John Burgoyne

British general who led an ill-fated invasion of upstate New York, suffering a crushing defeat by George Washington at Saratoga.

Benjamin Franklin

American printer, inventor, statesman and revolutionary. He first established himself in Philadelphia as a leading newspaper printer, inventor and author of Poor Richard's Almanac. He later became a leading revolutionary and signatory of the Declaration of Independence. During the Revolutionary War, he served as commissioner to France, securing the nation's support for the American cause.

Comte de Rochambeau

General in command of French forces during the American Revolution, he fought alongside George Washington at Yorktown.

Nathanael Greene

General in command of the Continental army in the Carolina campaign of 1781, the "Fighting Quaker" successfully cleared most of Georgia and South Carolina of British troops despite loosing a string of minor battles.

Joseph Brant

Mohawk chief and Anglican convert, who sided with the British during the Revolutionary war, believing that only a British victory could halt American westward expansion.

George Rogers Clark

American frontiersman who captured a series of British forts along the Ohio River during the Revolutionary war.

Admiral de Grasse

French admiral, whose fleet blocked British reinforcements, allowing Washington and Rochambeau to trap Cornwallis at Yorktown.

Lord Sheffield

Parliamentarian who persuaded Britain to take a hard line in negotiations with the newly in de pendent United States, closing off American trade with the West Indies and continuing to enforce navigation laws. His approach prompted many Americans to call for a stronger central government, culminating in the 1787 Philadelphia convention.

Daniel Shays

Revolutionary war veteran who led a group of debtors and impoverished backcountry farmers in a rebellion against the Massachusetts government in 1786, calling for paper money, lighter taxes and an end to property seizures for debt. Though quickly put down, the rebellion raised the specter of mob rule, precipitating calls for a stronger national government.

Patrick Henry

American revolutionary and champion of states' rights, Henry became a prominent anti-federalist during the ratification debate, opposing what he saw as despotic tendencies in the new national constitution.

George Washington

Revolutionary war general and first president of the United States. A Virginia-born planter, he established himself as a military hero during the French and Indian War. He served as commander in chief of the Continental Army during the War of Independence, securing key victories at Saratoga and Yorktown. Unanimously elected president under the new national Constitution in 1788, he served two terms, focusing primarily on strengthening the national government, establishing a sound financial system and maintaining American neutrality amidst the escalating European conflict.

Alexander Hamilton

Revolutionary War soldier and first treasury secretary of the United States. A fierce proponent of a strong national government, he convincingly argued for the Constitution's ratification in The Federalist. As treasury secretary, he advocated the assumption of state debts to bolster the nation's credit and the establishment of a national bank to print sound currency and boost commerce. He died from a gunshot wound suffered during a duel with Aaron Burr.

Louis XVI

King of France from 1774 to 1792, he, along with Queen Marie Antoinette, was beheaded during the French Revolution.

Edmond Genet

Representative of the French Republic who in 1793 tried to recruit Americans to invade Spanish and British territories in blatant disregard of Washington's Neutrality Proclamation.

Little Turtle

Miami Indian chief whose warriors routed American forces in 1790 and 1791 along the Ohio frontier. In 1794, he and his braves were defeated by General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, and were forced to cede vast tracts of the Old Northwest under the Treaty of Greenville.

Anthony Wayne

Revolutionary war soldier and commander in chief of the U.S. Army from 1792-1796, he secured the Treaty of Greenville after soundly defeating the Miami Confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

John Jay

Leading American revolutionary and diplomat, who negotiated the Treaty of Paris and later, the much-criticized _____ Treaty of 1794, which averted war with Britain but failed to address key American grievances. He also served as the first chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1789-1795, a post he left to become governor of New York.

John Adams

American revolutionary, statesman and second president of the United States. One of the more radical patriots on the eve of the Revolution, he helped guide the Continental Congress toward a declaration of independence from Britain. From 1778 to 1788, he served as minister to France, Britain and the Netherlands. After serving as Washington's vice president, he was elected president in his own right in 1796. His administration suffered from Federalist infighting, international turmoil, and domestic uproar over the Alien and Sedition Acts, all of which contributed to his defeat in the election of 1800.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

French foreign minister whose attempts to solicit bribes from American envoys in the infamous XYZ Affair prompted widespread calls for war with France.

Thomas Jefferson

Author of the Declaration of Independence, ambassador to France, and third president of the United States. As one of the leaders of the Democratic-Republican Party, he advocated a limited role for the national government, particularly in the area of finance. As president, however, he oversaw significant expansion of the federal state through the purchase of Louisiana Territory and the enactment of the Embargo of 1807.

Sally Hemings

One of Thomas Jefferson's slaves on his plantation in Monticello. DNA testing confirms that Thomas Jefferson fathered her children.

Albert Gallatin

Secretary of the treasury from 1801- 1813 under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, he sought to balance the federal budget and reduce the national debt.

John Marshall

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 until his death in 1835, he strengthened the role of the courts by establishing the principle of judicial review. During his tenure, the court also expanded the powers of the federal government through a series of decisions that established federal supremacy over the states.

Samuel Chase

Federalist Supreme Court Justice who drew the ire of Jeffersonian Republicans for his biting criticism of Republican policies. In 1804, the House of Representatives brought charges of impeachment against him but failed to make the case that his unrestrained partisanship qualified as "high crimes and misdemeanors." Acquitted by the Senate, he served on the court until his death.

Napoleon Bonaparte

French emperor who waged a series of wars against his neighbors on the European continent from 1800 until his final defeat at Waterloo in 1815. In 1803, having failed to put down the Haitian rebellion, he relinquished France's remaining North American possessions by selling Louisiana Territory to the United States.

Robert Livingston

American statesman who served as minister to France from 1801-1804 and negotiated the purchase of Louisiana Territory in 1803.

Toussaint L'Ouverture

Haitian revolutionary who led a successful slave uprising and helped establish an in de pen dent Haiti in 1797. In 1802, he was captured by a French force sent to reestablish control over the island. Shipped back to France and imprisoned for treason, he succumbed to pneumonia in 1803.

Meriwether Lewis

American soldier and explorer who led the famous expedition through Louisiana territory from 1804-1806. After briefly serving as governor of Upper Louisiana territory, he died in an apparent suicide in 1809.

William Clark

Joined Meriwether Lewis in leading the expedition of Louisiana territory from 1804-1806. After the expedition, he played a key role in shaping America's Indian policy, seeking to strengthen American relations with the Indians through trade.

Aaron Burr

Revolutionary War soldier and vice president under Thomas Jefferson, he is perhaps most famous for fatally wounding Hamilton in a duel in 1804. In 1806, he led a failed plot to separate the trans-Mississippi West from the United States.

James Madison

Principal author of the Constitution, co-author of The Federalist, and fourth president of the United States. A leading advocate of a strong national government in the 1780s, he later joined Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans in advocating a more limited role for the federal state. As president, he inherited the conflict over trade with Britain and France, which eventually pushed him to declare war on Britain in 1812.

Tecumseh

Accomplished Shawnee warrior, he sought to establish a confederacy of Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. He opposed individual tribes' selling of land to the United States, arguing the land belonged to all the Native peoples. After 1811, he allied with the British, fighting fiercely against the United States until his death in 1813.

Tenskwatawa

Shawnee religious leader, also known as "the Prophet," who led a spiritual revival, emphasizing Indian unity and cultural renewal and urging Indians to limit contact with Americans. He lost his following in 1811, after he and a small army of followers were defeated by Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe.

Isaac Brock

British general who helped stave off an American invasion of Upper Canada during the War of 1812. He successfully captured Detroit from American forces in August of 1812, but was killed in battle later that year.

Oliver Hazard Perry

American naval officer whose decisive victory over a British fleet on Lake Erie during the War of 1812 reinvigorated American morale and paved the way for General William Henry Harrison's victory at the Battle of the Thames in 1813.

Thomas Macdonough

American naval officer who secured a decisive victory over a British fleet at the Battle of Plattsburg, halting the British invasion of New York.

Francis Scott Key

American author and lawyer who composed the "Star Spangled Banner"—now the national anthem—purportedly while observing the bombardment of Fort McHenry from the deck of a British ship where he was detained.

James Monroe

Revolutionary war soldier, statesman and fifth president of the United States. As president, he supported protective tariffs and a national bank, but maintained a Jeffersonian opposition to federally-funded internal improvements. Though he sought to transcend partisanship, his presidency was rocked by bitter partisan and sectional conflicts.

George Canning

British foreign secretary who proposed what would later become the Monroe Doctrine—a declaration issued by James Monroe, warning European powers to refrain from acquiring new territories in the Americas.

John Quincy Adams

Secretary of State under James Monroe before becoming the sixth president of the United States. A strong advocate of national finance and improvement, he faced opposition from states' rights advocates in the South and West. His controversial election—the allegedly "corrupt bargain" of 1824—and his lack of political acumen further hampered his presidential agenda.

Andrew Jackson

War hero, congressman and seventh president of the United States. A Democrat, he ushered in a new era in American politics, advocating white manhood suffrage and cementing party loyalties through the spoils system. As president, he dismantled the Bank of the United States, asserted federal supremacy in the nullification crisis, and oversaw the harsh policy of Indian removal in the South.

Denmark Vesey

Free black who orchestrated an aborted slave uprising in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822. His plan was uncovered before he could put it in motion, and he and thirty-four accomplices were put to death.

John C. Calhoun

Vice president under Andrew Jackson, he became a U.S. senator from South Carolina after a public break with the administration. A fierce supporter of states' rights, he advocated South Carolina's position during the nullification crisis. In the 1840s and 1850s, he staunchly defended slavery, accusing free-state Northerners of conspiring to free the slaves.

Black Hawk

Sauk war chief who led the Sauk and Fox resistance against eviction under the Indian Removal Act in Illinois and Wisconsin. Brutally crushed by American forces, he surrendered in 1832 and lived out his days on a reservation in Iowa.

Nicholas Biddle

Banker, financier, and President of the Second Bank of the United States from 1822 until the bank's charter expired in 1836.

Daniel Webster

Lawyer, congressman and secretary of state, he teamed up with Clay in the Bank War against Jackson in 1832. Hoping to avoid sectional conflict, he opposed the annexation of Texas but later urged the North to support the Compromise of 1850.

Henry Clay

Secretary of state and U.S. senator from Kentucky, he was known as the "Great Compromiser," helping to negotiate the Missouri Compromise in 1820, the Compromise Tariff of 1833 and the Compromise of 1850. As a National Republican, later Whig, he advocated a strong national agenda of internal improvements and protective tariffs, known as the American System.

Martin Van Buren

Jacksonian Democrat who became the eighth president of the United States after serving as vice president during Jackson's second term. As president, he presided over the "hard times" wrought by the Panic of 1837, clinging to Jackson's monetary policies and rejecting federal intervention in the economy.

Stephen Austin

Established the first major Anglo settlements in Texas under an agreement with the Mexican government. Though loyal to Mexico, he advocated for local Texans' rights, particularly the right to bring slaves into the region. Briefly imprisoned by Santa Anna for inciting rebellion, he returned to Texas in 1836 to serve as secretary of state of the newly-independent republic until his death later that year.

Sam Houston

President of the Republic of Texas and U.S. senator, he led Texas to independence in 1836 as commander in chief of the Texas army. As President of the Republic, he unsuccessfully sought annexation into the United States. Once Texas officially joined the Union in 1845, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, later returning to serve as Governor of Texas until 1861.

Santa Anna

Mexican general, president and dictator, who opposed Texas' independence and later led the Mexican army in the war against the United States.

William Henry Harrison

Hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe and ninth president of the United States. A Whig, he won the 1840 election on a "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" campaign, which played up his credentials as a backwoods westerner and Indian fighter. He died of pneumonia just four weeks after his inauguration.

Samuel Slater

British-born mechanic and father of the American "Factory System," establishing textile mills throughout New England.

Eli Whitney

Great American inventor, best known for his Cotton Gin, which revolutionized the Southern economy. He also pioneered the use of interchangeable parts in the production of muskets.

Elias Howe

Massachusetts-born inventor of the sewing machine. Unable to convince American manufacturers to adopt his invention, he briefly moved to England before returning to the United States to find his sewing machine popularized by Isaac Singer. He won a patent infringement suit against Singer in 1854 and continued to produce sewing machines until his death.

Isaac Singer

American inventor and manufacturer, who made his fortune by improving on Elias Howe's sewing machine. His machine fueled the ready-made clothing industry in New England.

Samuel Morse

Inventor of the telegraph and the telegraphic code that bears his name. He led the effort to connect Washington and Baltimore by telegraph and transmitted the first long-distance message—"What hath God wrought"—in May of 1844.

John Deere

Inventor of the steel plow, which revolutionized farming in the Midwest, where fragile wooden plows had failed to break through the thick soil.

Cyrus McCormick

Inventor of the _____ mower-reaper, a horse-drawn contraption that fueled the development of large-scale agriculture in the trans-Allegheny West.

Robert Fulton

Pennsylvania-born painter-engineer, who constructed the first operating steam boat, the Clermont, in 1807.

DeWitt Clinton

Governor of New York state and promoter of the Erie Canal, which linked the Hudson River to the Great Lakes. "_____'s Big Ditch", as the canal was called, transformed upstate New York into a center of industry and gave rise to the Midwestern cities of Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago.

Cyrus Field

Promoter of the first transatlantic cable which linked Ireland and Newfoundland in 1854. After the first cable went dead, he lobbied for a heavier cable, which was finally laid in 1866.

John Jacob Astor

German-born fur trader and New York real estate speculator, who amassed an estate of $30 million by the time of his death.

Peter Cartwright

Methodist revivalist who traversed the frontier from Tennessee to Illinois in the first decades of the nineteenth century, preaching against slavery and alcohol, and calling on sinners to repent.

Charles Grandison Finney

One of the leading revival preachers during the Second Great Awakening, he presided over mass camp meetings throughout New York state, championing temperance and abolition, and urging women to play a greater role in religious life.

Joseph Smith

Founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), he gained a following after an angel directed him to a set of golden plates which, when deciphered, became the Book of Mormon. His communal, authoritarian church and his advocacy of plural marriage antagonized his neighbors in Ohio, Missouri and finally Illinois, where he was murdered by a mob in 1844.

Brigham Young

Second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he led his Mormon followers to Salt Lake City, Utah after Joseph Smith's death. Under his discipline and guidance, the Utah settlement prospered, and the church expanded to include over 100,000 members by his death in 1877.

Horace Mann

Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education and a champion of public education, advocating more and better school houses, longer terms, better pay for teachers and an expanded curriculum.

Dorothea Dix

New England teacher-author and champion of mental health reform, she assembled damning reports on insane asylums and petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to improve conditions.

Neal S. Dow

Nineteenth century temperance activist, dubbed the "Father of Prohibition" for his sponsorship of the Main Law of 1851, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the state.

Lucretia Mott

Prominent Quaker and abolitionist, she became a champion for women's rights after she and her fellow female delegates were not seated at the London antislavery convention of 1840. She, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, held the first Woman's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Abolitionist and woman suffragist, she organized the first Woman's Rights Convention near her home in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. After the Civil War, she urged Congress to include women in the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, despite urgings from Frederick Douglass to let freedmen have their hour. In 1869, she, along with Susan B. Anthony, founded the National Woman Suffrage Association to lobby for a constitutional amendment granting women the vote.

Susan B. Anthony

Reformer and woman suffragist, who, with long-time friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton, advocated for temperance and women's rights in New York State, established the abolitionist Women's Loyal League during the Civil War, and founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 to lobby for a constitutional amendment giving women the vote.

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