Top 100 History Facts

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Jamestown

the first permanent English settlement, was founded in 1607

Declaration of Independence

signed on July 4, 1776

Constitution

written in 1787

Louisiana Territory

President Thomas Jefferson purchased this land from France in 1803, it doubled the size of the United States.

Civil War

war fought from 1861-1865

Lexington, Massachusetts

The first shots of the American Revolution were fired here in April 1775.

Concord, Massachusetts

the site of the first battle of the American Revolution

Battle of Saratoga

the turning point of the American Revolution

Battle of Yorktown

signaled the end of the Revolution - Cornwallis surrendered, British lost.

Fort Sumter

First shots of the Civil War were fired here.

Battle of Gettysburg

the turning point in the Civil War for the North. Confederate troops were forced to retreat and never invaded the North again.

Vicksburg, Mississippi

The capture of this place by the North in 1863, effectively split the Confederacy in two and gave control of the Mississippi River to the Union.

Appomattox Court House

small town in Virginia where Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army to Ulysses S. Grant ending the Civil War.

Mercantilism

an economic theory that a country's strength is measured by the amount of gold it has, that a country should sell more than it buys and that the colonies exist for the benefit of the Mother Country.

abolitionist

a person who wanted to end slavery in the United States.

tariff

tax on goods brought into a country

protective tariff

a tax placed on goods from another country to protect the home industry.

Sectionalism

a strong sense of loyalty to a state or section instead of to the whole country.

Manifest Destiny

the belief that the United States should own all of the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Temperance Movement

a campaign against the sale or drinking of alcohol.

Representative Government

a system of government in which voters elect representatives to make laws for them.

Republic

a nation in which voters choose representatives to govern them.

House of Burgesses

the first representative assembly in the new world.

Three Branches of Government

the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, and the Executive branch.

Checks and Balances

a system set up by the Constitution in which each branch of the federal government has the power to check, or control, the actions of the other branches.

Free Enterprise

the freedom of private businesses to operate competitively for profit with minimal government regulation.

Federalism

the sharing of power between the states and the national government.

Separation of Powers

system in which each branch of government has it's own powers.

Popular Sovereignty

the practice of allowing each territory to decide for itself whether or not to allow slavery.

Amend

means to change.

Unalienable rights

rights that cannot be given up, taken away or transferred. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are some of those rights.

Tyranny

a cruel and unjust government

Democracy

a form of government that is run for and by the people, giving people the supreme power.

Ratify

to approve by vote

Judicial Review

the right of the Supreme Court to judge laws passed by Congress and determine whether they are constitutional or not.

Civil Disobedience

the refusal to obey a government law or laws as a means of passive resistance because of one's moral conviction or belief.

Federalists

supporters of the Constitution who favored a strong national government.

Antifederalists

people opposed to the Constitution, preferring more power be given to the state governments than to the national government.

Nullification

the idea of a state declaring a federal law illegal

Primary Sources

the original records of an event. They include eyewitness reports, records created at the time of an event, speeches, and letters by people involved in the event, photographs and artifacts.

Secondary Sources

the later writings and interpretations of historians and writers. Often secondary sources, like textbooks and articles, provide summaries of information found in primary sources

Republicanism

an attitude toward society in the late 1700s based on the belief that the good virtue and morality of the people was essential to sustain the republican form of government.

Industrial Revolution

the era in which a change from household industries to factory production using powered machinery took place.

Magna Carta

signed in 1215 by William and Mary of England, was the first document that limited power of the ruler.

English Bill of Rights

protected the rights of English citizens and became the basis for the American Bill of Rights.

Declaration of Independence

a document written by Thomas Jefferson, declaring the colonies independence from England

Articles of Confederation

was the first American constitution. It was a very weak document that limited the power of the Congress by giving states the final authority over all decisions.

Constitution

sets out the laws and principles of the government of the United States.

49. George Washington's Farewell Address

advised the United States to stay "neutral in its relations with other nations" and to avoid "entangling alliances".

Monroe Doctrine

was a foreign policy statement by President James Monroe stating that 1) the U.S. would not interfere in European affairs, and 2) that the western hemisphere was closed to colonization and/ or interference by European nations.

Treaty of Paris of 1763

ended the French and Indian War and effectively kicked the French out of North America.

Treaty of Paris of 1783

ended the American Revolution and forced Britain to recognize the United States as an independent nation.

Northwest Ordinance

a policy of establishing the principles and procedures for the orderly expansion of the United States.

Mayflower Compact

the agreement signed in 1620 by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, to consult each other about laws for the colony and a promise to work together to make it succeed.

Federalist Papers

a series of essays written by James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton, defending the Constitution and the principles on which the government of the United States was founded

Common Sense

a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine to convince colonists that it was time to become independent from Britain

Bill of Rights

the first ten amendments to the Constitution and detail the protection of individual liberties.

Gettysburg Address

a short speech given by Abraham Lincoln to dedicate a cemetery for soldiers who died at the Battle of Gettysburg. It is considered to be a profound statement of American ideals

Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln issued this on January 1, 1863, setting all slaves in the Confederate states free.

Lincoln's First Inaugural Address

stated that, "no state...can lawfully get out of the Union", but pledged there would be no war unless the South started it.

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

was meant to help heal and restore the country after four years of Civil War.

Great Compromise

created two houses of Congress. One based on population, the other gave equal representation to each state.

Sam Adams

leader of the Sons of Liberty who started the Committee of Correspondence to stir public support for American independence.

Ben Franklin

was an inventor, statesman, diplomat, signer of the Declaration of Independence and delegate to Constitutional Convention.

King George III

was the King of England who disbanded the colonial legislatures, taxed the colonies, and refused the Olive Branch Petition leading to the final break with the colonies.

Thomas Jefferson

wrote the Declaration of Independence; became the 3rd President of the United States and purchased the Louisiana territory, doubling the size of the United States.

Thomas Paine

wrote pamphlets like Common Sense and The Crisis to encourage American independence and resolve

George Washington

the leader of the Continental Army who became the first President of the United States

Andrew Jackson

the leader of the original Democratic Party and a "President of the people". He was also responsible for the Trail of Tears, which forced Native Americans west of the Mississippi River

John C. Calhoun

a South Carolina Congressman and Senator who spoke for the South before and during the Civil War

Henry Clay

a powerful Kentucky Congressman and Senator who proposed the American System and the Compromise of 1850.

Daniel Webster

a Massachusetts Congressman and Senator who spoke for the North and the preservation of the Union

Jefferson Davis

the President of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Ulysses S. Grant

the General of the Union Army and was responsible for winning the Civil War for the North.

Robert E. Lee

the General of the Confederate Army

Abraham Lincoln

the 16th President of the United States who successfully put the Union back together only to be assassinated 5 days after the Civil War ended.

Alexander Hamilton

a leader of the Federalists, first Treasurer of the United States, creator of the Bank of the U.S., and killed in a duel by the Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr.

Patrick Henry

a passionate patriot who became famous for his fiery speeches in favor of American independence. His most famous quote included the words, "Give me liberty or give me death!"

James Madison

considered to be the "Father of the Constitution".

Frederick Douglass

a former slave who became the best-known black abolitionist in the country.

James Monroe

the author of the Monroe Doctrine, which shut down the western hemisphere to European expansion or interference.

Harriet Tubman

an escaped slave who became a Conductor on the Underground Railroad and helped over 300 slaves to freedom in the North.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

organized the Seneca Falls Convention creating the Women's Rights Movement in the United States.

First Amendment

states that "Congress shall make no law" restricting freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition.

Second Amendment

guarantees the right of states to organize militias, or armies, and the right of individuals to bear arms.

Third Amendment

forbids the government to order private citizens to allow soldiers to live in their homes

Fourth Amendment

requires that warrants be issued if property is to be searched or seized (taken) by the government.

Fifth Amendment

protects an accused person from having to testify against him or herself (self-incrimination); bans double jeopardy, and guarantees that no person will suffer the loss of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

Sixth Amendment

guarantees the right to a speedy public trial by an impartial jury; the right to a lawyer; the right to cross examine witnesses; and the right to force witnesses at a trial to testify.

Seventh Amendment

guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil suits.

Eighth Amendment

prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bail or fines.

Ninth Amendment

states that the people have rights other than those specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

Tenth Amendment

states that powers not given to the federal government belong to the states.

Thirteenth Amendment

abolished slavery.

Fourteenth Amendment

guarantees citizenship and rights to all people born or naturalized in the United States

Fifteenth Amendment

guarantees the right to vote to all citizens regardless of race.

Marbury v. Madison

was the 1803 Court decision that gave the Supreme Court the right to determine whether a law violates the Constitution. It set up the principle of judicial review.

Dred Scott v. Sanford

the Supreme Court decision that said slaves were property and not citizens.

Cotton Gin

an invention by Eli Whitney that speeded the cleaning of cotton fibers and in effect, increased the need for slaves - the interchangeable parts revolutionized industry.

steamboat

Robert Fulton revolutionized
transportation and trade in the United States

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