America's second president, Adams served from 1797 to 1801. A Federalist, he supported a powerful centralized government. His most notable actions in office were the undertaking of the Quasi-war with France and the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
John Quincy Adams
Son of John Adams and president from 1825 to 1829. As James Monroe's secretary of state, Adams worked to expand the nation's borders and authored the Monroe Doctrine. His presidency was largely ineffective due to lack of popular support; Congress blocked many of his proposed programs.
A leader of the Sons of Liberty. Adams suggested the formation of the Committees of Correspondence and fought for colonial rights throughout New England. He is credited with provoking the Boston Tea Party.
A reformer and pacifist best known for founding Hull House in 1889. Hull House provided educational services to poor immigrants.
The Age of Reason
Written by Thomas Paine. The Age of Reason was published in three parts between 1794 and 1807. A critique of organized religion, the book was criticized as a defense of Atheism. Paine's argument is a prime example of the rationalist approach to religion inspired by Enlightenment ideals.
Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA)
Created in 1933 as part of FDR's New Deal. The AAA controlled the production and prices of crops by offering subsidies to farmers who stayed under set quotas. The Supreme Court declared the AAA unconstitutional in 1936.
Submitted by Benjamin Franklin to the 1754 gathering of colonial delgates in Albany, New York. The plan called for the colonies to unify in the face of French and Native American threats. Although the delegates in Albany approved the plan, the colonies rejected it for fear of losing their independent authority. The Crown rejected the Albany Plan as well, wary of cooperation between the colonies.
Author of popular young adult novels, such as Ragged Dick, during the Industrial Revolution. Alger's "rags to riches" tales emphasised that anyone could become wealthy and successful through hard work and exceptional luck.
Alien and Sedition Acts
Passed by Federalists in 1798 in response to the XYZ Affair and growing Republican support. On the grounds of "national security," the Alien and Sedition Acts increased the number of years required to gain citizenship, allowed for the imprisonment and deporation of aliens, and virtually suspended freedom of speech. Popular dissatisfaction with the acts secured Republican Thomas Jefferson's bid for presidency in 1800, and were the undoing of the Federalist Party.
The partership of Great Britain, France, and Italy during World War I. The Allies were pitted against the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. In 1917, the U.S. joined the war on the Allies' side. During World War II, the Allies included Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the U.S., and France.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Founded in 1920. The ACLU seeks to protect the civil liberties of individuals, often by bringing "test cases" to court in order to challenge questionable laws. In 1925, the ACLU challenged a Christian fundamentalist law in the Scopes Monkey Trial.
American Federation of Labor (AFL)
Founded in 1886. The AFL sought to organize craft unions into a federation. The loose structure of the organization differed from its rival, the Knights of Labor, in that the AFL allowed individual unions to remain autonomous. Eventually the AFL joined with the Congress of Industrial Organizations to form the AFL-CIO.
Crafted by Henry Clay and backed by the National Republican Party. The American System proposed a series of tariffs and federally funded transportation improvements, geared toward achieving national economic self-sufficiency.
Delegates from five states met in Annapolis in September 1786 to discuss interstate commerce. However, discussions of weaknesses in the government led them to suggest to Congress a new convention to amend the Articles of Confederation.
Susan B. Anthony
A leading member of the women's suffrage movement. She served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1892 until 1900.
During ratification, anti-federalists opposed the Constitution on the grounds that it gave the federal government too much political, economic, and military control. They instead advocated a decentralized governmental structure that granted the most power to the states.
Argued against American imperialism in the late 1890s. Its members included such luminaries as William James, Andrew Carnegie, and Mark Twain.
Founded in 1895, the league spearheaded the prohibition movement during the Progressive Era.
Articles of Confederation
Adopted in 1777 during the Revolutionary War. The Articles established the first limited central government of the United States, reserving most powers for the individual states. The Articles didn't grant enough federal power to manage the country's budget or maintain internal stability, and were replaced by the Constitution in 1789.
Industrialist Henry Ford installed the first assembly line while developing his Model T car in 1908, and perfected its use in the 1920s. Assembly line manufacturing allowed workers to remain in one place and master one repetitive action, maximizing output. It became the production method of choice by the 1930s.
Issued on August 14, 1941 during a meeting between President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The charter outlined the ideal postwar world, condemned military aggression, asserted the right to national self-determination, and advocated disarmament.
Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)
After World War II, the AEC worked on developing more effective ways of using nuclear material, such as uranium, in order to mass-produce nuclear weapons.
Written by Kate Chopin in 1899. The Awakening portrays a married woman who defies social convention first by falling in love with another man, and then by committing suicide when she finds that his views on women are as oppressive as her husband's. The novel reflects the changing role of women during the early 1900s.
During World War II, the Axis powers included Germany, Italy, and Japan. The three powers signed the Tripartite Pact in September 1940.
Nickname for the 1950s, when economic prosperity caused U.S. population to swell from 150 million to 180 million.
In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon, a Virginia planter, accused the royal governor of failing to provide poorer farmers protection from raiding tribes. In response, Bacon led 300 settlers in a war against local Native Americans, and then burned and looted Jamestown. The rebellion highlighted the increasing rift between rich and poor in the Chesapeake region.
Bank of the United States
Chartered in 1791, the bank was a controversial part of Alexander Hamilton's Federalist economic program.
Andrew Jackson's 1832 veto of the proposed charter renewal for the Second Bank of the United States. The veto marked the beginning of Jackson's five-year battle against the national bank.
Battle of Antietam
Fought in Maryland on September 17, 1863. Considered the single bloodiest day of the Civil War, casualties totalled more than 8,000 dead and 18,000 wounded. Although Union forces failed to defeat Lee and the Confederates, they did halt the Confederate advance through Northern soil.
Battle of Britain
Conducted during the summer and fall of 1940. In preparation for an amphibious assault, Germans lauched airstrikes on London. Hitler hoped the continuous bombing would destroy British industry and sap morale, but the British successfully avoided a German invasion.
Battle of the Bulge
The final German offensive in Western Europe, lasting from December 16, 1944, to January 16, 1945. Hitler amassed his last reserves against Allied troops in France. Germany made a substantial dent in the Allied front line, but the Allies recovered and repelled the Germans, clearing the way for a march toward Berlin.
Battle of Gettysburg
The largest battle of the Civil War. Widely considered to be the war's turning point, the battle marked the Union's first major victory in the East. The three-day campaign, from July 1 to 4, 1863, resulted in an unprecedented 51,000 total casualties.
Battle of Tippecanoe
Led by future president William Henry Harrison, U.S. forces defeated Shawnee forces in the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The U.S. victory lessened the Native American threat in Ohio and Indiana.
Bay of Pigs Invasion
A failed attempt by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro's communist government in April 1961.
Nonconformist writers such as Allan Ginsberg, the author of Howl (1956), and Jack Kerouac, who penned On the Road (1957). The Beats rejected uniform middle-class culture and sought to overturn the sexual and social conservatism of the period.
In June 1948, the Soviets attempted to cut off Western access to Berlin by blockading all road and rail routes to the city. In response, the U.S. airlifted supplies to the city, a campaign known as "Operation Vittles." The blockade lasted until May 1949.
Constructed by the USSR and completed in August 1961 to prevent East Berliners from fleeing to West Berlin. The wall cemented the political split of Berlin between the communist and authoritian East and the capitalist and democratic West. The Berlin wall was torn down on November 9, 1989, setting the stage for the reunification of Germany and signifying the end of the Cold War.
Big stick diplomacy
Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy summed up his aggressive stance toward international affairs with the phrase, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Under this doctrine, the U.S. declared its domination over Latin America and built the Panama Canal.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments of the Constitution, which guarantee the civil rights of American citizens. The Bill of Rights was drafted by anti-federalists, including James Madison, to protect individuals from the tyranny they felt the Constitution might permit.
Granted freedmen a few basic rights but also enforced heavy civil restrictions based on race. The codes were enacted in Southern states under Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction plan.
Organized in 1966 in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The Black Panthers stressed a black pride, economic self-sufficiency, and armed resistance to white oppression.
Coined by Stokely Carmichael, and adopted by Malcom X, the Black Panthers, and other civil rights groups. The term embodied the fight against oppression and the value of ethnic heritage.
The stock market crash of October 24, 1929. After a decade of great prosperity, on "Black Thursday" the market dropped in value by an astounding 9 percent, kicking off the Great Depression.
The popular name for the Kansas Territory in 1856 after abolitionist John Brown led a massacre at a pro-slavery camp, setting off waves of violence. Brown's massacre was in protest to the recent establishment of Kansas as a slave state. Pro-slavery sympathizers had crossed into Kansas in order to vote illegally in the elections set up by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, resulting in the ousting of antislavery legislators.
Smugglers of alcohol into the United States during the Prohibition Era (1920-1933), often from Canada or the West Indies.
In March 1770, a crowd of colonists protested against Boston customs agents and the Townsend Duties. Violence flared and five colonists were killed.
Boston Tea Party
A protest against the 1773 Tea Act, which allowed Britain to use the profits from selling tea to pay the salaries of royal governors. In December 1773, Samuel Adams gathered Boston residents and warned them of the consequences of the Tea Act. Following the meeting, approximately fifty young men dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded the ships and dumped the cargo into the harbor.
A group of zealous Chinese nationalists terrorized foreigners and Chinese Christians, capturing Beijing (Peking) in June 1900 and threatening European and American interests in Chinese markets. The United States committed 2,500 men to an international force that crushed the rebellion in August 1900.
A religious zealot and an extreme abolitionist who believed God had ordained him to end slavery. In 1856, he led an attack against pro-slavery government officials in Kansas, killing five and sparking months of violence that earned the territory the name "Bleeding Kansas." In 1859, he led twenty-one men in seizing a federal arsenal in Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in a failed attempt to incite a slave rebellion. He was caught and hanged.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
A 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision that reversed the "separate but equal" segregationist doctrine established by the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision. The Court ruled that separate facilities were inherently unequal and ordered public schools to desegregate nationwide. This decision was characteristic of the Supreme Court rulings under liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren.
William Jennings Bryan
Democratic candidate for president in 1896. His goal of "free silver" (unlimited coinage of silver) won him the support of the Populist Party. Though a gifted orator, Bryan lost the election to Republican William McKinley. He ran again for president and lost in 1900. In the 1920s, Bryan made his mark as a leader of the fundamentalist cause and the key witness in the Scopes Monkey Trial.
A moderate Democrat with support from both the North and South who served as president of the United States from 1857 to 1861. Buchanan could not stem the tide of sectional conflict that eventually erupted into Civil War.
Bull Moose Party
The nickname of the Progressive Republican Party, led by Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 election. The Bull Moose Party had the best showing of any third party in the history of the United States. Its emergence dramatically weakened the Republican Party and allowed Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson to win the election with only 42 percent of the popular vote.
Republican, vice president to Ronald Reagan and president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. His presidency was marked by economic recession and U.S. involvement in the Gulf War.
Explored the northeast coast of North America in 1497 and 1498, claiming Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the Grand Banks for England.
John C. Calhoun
Political figure throughout the Era of Good Feelings and the Age of Jackson. Calhoun served as James Monroe's secretary of war, as John Quincy Adams's vice president, and then as Andrew Jackson's vice president for one term. A firm believer in states' rights, Calhoun clashed with Jackson over many issues, most notably nullification.
Camp David Accords
Negotiaged by President Carter, the Camp David Accords were signed by Israel's leader, Menachem Begin, and Egypt's leader, Anwar el-Sadat, on March 26, 1979. The treaty, however, fell apart when Sadat was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists in 1981.
Religious revivals on the frontier during the Second Great Awakening. Hundreds or even thousands of people—members of various denominations—met to hear speeches on repentance and sing hymns.
Once a prominent member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Carmichael abandoned his nonviolent leanings and became a leader of the Black Nationalist movement in 1966. He coined the phrase "Black Power."
A Scottish immigrant who in 1901 founded Carnegie Steel, then the world's largest corporation. In addition to being an entrepreneur and industrialist, Carnegie was a philanthropist who donated more than $300 million to charity during his lifetime.
Nickname given to northerners who moved South during Reconstruction in search of political and economic opportunity. The term was coined by Southern Democrats, who said that these northern opportunists had left home so quickly that they were able to carry all their belongings in rough suitcases made from carpeting materials.
Democratic president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. Carter is best known for his commitment to human rights. During his term in office, he faced an oil crisis, a weak economy, and severe tension in the Middle East.
A French sailor who explored the St. Lawrence River region between 1534 and 1542. Cartier searched for a Northwest Passage, a waterway through which ships could cross the Americas and access Asia. He found no such passage but opened the region up to future exploration and colonization by the French.
In September 1939, FDR persuaded Congress to pass a new, amended Neutrality Act, which allowed warring nations to purchase arms from the U.S. as long as they paid in cash and carried the arms away on their own ships. This cash-and-carry program allowed the U.S. to aid the Allies but stay officially out of the war.
A communist revolutionary. Castro ousted an authoritarian regime in Cuba in 1959 and established the communist regime that remains in power to this day.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Primarily concerned with international espionage and information gathering. In the 1950s, the CIA became heavily involved in many civil struggles in the Third World, supporting groups likely to cooperate with the U.S. rather than the USSR.
Germany and Austria-Hungary during World War I. The Central powers fought against the Allies (Great Britain, France, and Italy). In 1917, the U.S. joined the war effort against the Central Powers.
A Century of Dishonor
Written by Helen Hunt Jackson and published in 1881, A Century of Dishonor attempted to raise public awareness of the harsh and dishonorable treatment of Native Americans at the hands of the United States.
Samuel de Champlain
A Frenchman who explored the Great Lakes and established the first French colony in North America at Quebec in 1608.
Checks and balances
The principles established by the Constitution to prevent any one branch of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) from gaining too much power. Checks and balances represent the solution to the problem of how to empower the central government while also protecting against corruption and despotism.
In June 1807, the British naval frigate HMS Leopard opened fire on the American naval frigate USS Chesapeake, killing three men and wounding twenty. British naval officers then boarded the American ship, seized four men who had deserted the Royal Navy, hanged them from a yardarm, and sailed away. Outraged, Thomas Jefferson responded with the Embargo Act in an attempt to force Britain to respect American neutrality rights.
Chinese Exclusion Act
Passed by Congress in 1882 amid a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment among American workers. The act banned Chinese immigration for ten years.
Prime minister of England from 1940 to 1945. Churchill was known for his inspirational speeches and zealous pursuit of war victory. Together he, FDR, and Stalin mapped out the post-war world order as the "Big Three." In 1946, Churchill coined the term "iron curtain" to describe the USSR's division of eastern Europe from the West.
Civil Rights Act
Passed in 1964, the act outlawed discrimination in education, employment, and all public accommodations.
Civil Works Administration (CWA)
Created by FDR to cope with the added economic difficulties brought on by the cold winter months of 1933. The CWA spent approximately $1 billion on short-term projects for the unemployed but was abolished in the spring of that year.
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
Created in 1933 as part of FDR's New Deal, the CCC pumped money into the economy by employing the destitute in conservation and other projects.
An important political figure during the Era of Good Feelings and the Age of Jackson. Clay engineered and championed the American System, a program aimed at economic self-sufficiency for the nation. As speaker of the house during Monroe's term in office, he was instrumental in crafting much of the legislation that passed through Congress. A gifted negotiator, Clay helped resolve the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and designed the Compromise of 1833 and Compromise of 1850. He led the Whig Party until his death in 1852.
Clayton Antitrust Act
Spearheaded by Woodrow Wilson in 1914. The act improved upon the vague Sherman Antitrust Act by enumerating a series of illegal business practices.
A Democrat, Clinton served as president from 1993 to 2001, during a period of intense partisanship in the U.S. government. Clinton's few major domestic and international successes were overshadowed by the sex scandal that led to his impeachment and eventual acquittal.
Sailed to the New World under the Spanish flag in 1492. Although not the first European to reach the Americas, he is credited with the journey across the Atlantic that opened the New World to exploration. In 1493, he established Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola as a base for further exploration.
Committee to Defend America First
Advocated isolationism and opposed FDR's reelection in 1940. Committee members urged neutrality, claiming that the U.S. could stand alone regardless of Hitler's advances on Europe.
Committees of Correspondence
Organized by New England patriot leader Samuel Adams. The Committees of Correspondence comprised a system of communication between patriot leaders in the towns of New England and provided the political organization necessary to unite the colonies in opposition to Parliament. These committees were responsible for sending delegates to the First Continental Congress.
Written by Thomas Paine in 1776. Paine argued that the colonists should free themselves from British rule and establish an independent government based on Enlightenment ideals. Common Sense became so popular and influential that many historians credit it with dissolving the final barriers to the fight for independence.
Compromise of 1833
In response to the escalating Nullification Crisis, Andrew Jackson signed two laws aimed at easing the crisis. Together, these laws were known as the Compromise of 1833. The first measure provided for a gradual lowering of import duties over the next decade, and the second measure, known as the Force Bill, authorized the president to use arms to collect customs duties in South Carolina.
Compromise of 1850
Designed by Henry Clay and pushed through Congress by Stephen A. Douglas. The Compromise of 1850 aimed to resolve sectional conflict over the distribution of slave-holding versus free states. It stipulated the admission of California as a free state; the division of the remainder of the Mexican cession into two separate territories, New Mexico and Utah, without federal restrictions on slavery; the continuance of slavery but abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia; and a more effective Fugitive Slave Law. The compromise, however, proved incapable of stemming controversy over slavery's expansion.
Confederate States of America
States that seceded during the Civil War.
Church system set up by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in which each local church served as the center of its own community. This structure stood in contrast to the Church of England, in which the single state church held sway over all local churches. Congregationalism assured colonists a role in directing the individual congregations, which became the center of religious, and often political, life in New England communities.
Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)
Emerged from within the American Federation of Labor in 1938. The CIO became an influential labor group, operating during an era of government and business cooperation. In 1955, it merged with the AFL to become the AFL-CIO.
Met during the early years of the United States to choose presidential candidates. The caucus is significant in that it denied the public any voice in the nomination process, instead leaving the choice up to a centralized group of politicians based in Washington, DC. By the election of 1824, the congressional caucus had become a symbol of undemocratic elitist rule. Resented by much of the American public, the caucus lost its political influence in the early 1820s.
Reconciled the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan for determining legislative representation in Congress. The Connecticut Compromise established equal representation for all states in the Senate and proportional representation by population in the House of Representatives.
A general term for any one of a group of Spanish explorers in the New World who sought to conquer the native people, establish dominance over their lands, and prosper from natural resources. The Conquistadors established a large Hispanic empire stretching from Mexico to Chile and wreaked havoc among native populations.
The Constitution is the document that outlines the operation and central principles of American government. As opposed to the Articles of Confederation, which it replaced, the Constitution created a strong central government with broad judicial, legislative, and executive powers, though it purposely restricted the extent of these powers through a system of checks and balances. Written at the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution was ratified by the states in 1789.
A meeting to amend the Articles of Confederation. Delegates came to the convention from every state except Rhode Island in May 1787, and decided to draft an entirely new framework of government that would give greater powers to the central government. This document became the Constitution.
A policy established during Truman's presidency, at the start of the Cold War, that called for the prevention of further Soviet expansion by any means. Containment soon evolved into a justification for U.S. global involvement against communism.
President from 1923 to 1929, nicknamed "Silent Cal." The reticent Coolidge believed that government should interfere with the economy as little as possible and spent his time in office fighting congressional efforts to regulate business.
James Fenimore Cooper
An influential American writer in the early nineteenth century. His novels, The Pioneers (1823), The Last of the Mohicans (1826), and others, employed distinctly American themes.
Although Andrew Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes in the 1824 election, he failed to win the requisite majority and the election was thrown to the House of Representatives. Speaker of the House Henry Clay backed John Quincy Adams for president, ensuring Adams's victory, and Adams rewarded Clay by making him secretary of state. Jackson and his supporters, enraged that the presidency had been "stolen" from them, denounced Adams and Clay's deal as a "corrupt bargain."
Invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney. The cotton gin separated the fibers of short-staple cotton from the seeds. The mechanization of this task made cotton plantations much more efficient and profitable, giving rise to a cotton-dominated economy in the South.
Court Packing scheme
A court reform bill proposed by FDR in 1937. It was designed to allow the president to appoint an additional Supreme Court justice for each current justice over the age of seventy, up to a maximum of six appointments. Though he claimed the measure was offered in concern for the workload of the older justices, the proposal was an obvious attempt to dilute the power of the older, conservative justices. The Senate voted against the proposal later that year. Many historians argue that the proposed bill resulted in a loss of credibility for FDR, helping slow the New Deal to a standstill.
Jim Crow laws
State laws that institutionalized segregation in the South from the 1880s through the 1960s. Along with segregating schools, buses, and other public accommodations, these laws made it difficult or impossible for Southern blacks to vote.
Cuban Missile Crisis
In 1962, a year after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, the U.S. government learned that Soviet missile bases were being constructed in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy demanded that the USSR stop shipping military equipment to Cuba and remove the bases. U.S forces set up a naval blockade, preventing Soviet ships from reaching Cuba without inspection. After a stressful waiting period during which nuclear war seemed imminent, Soviet Premier Khrushchev backed down and began dismantling the bases in return for a U.S. promise not to invade Cuba.
George Armstrong Custer
A Civil War hero. Custer was dispatched to the hills of South Dakota in 1874 to fight off Native American threats. When gold was discovered in the region, the federal government announced that Custer's forces would hunt down all Sioux not in reservations beginning January 31, 1876. Many Sioux refused to comply, and Custer mobilized his troops. At the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Sioux wiped out an overconfident Custer and his men.
A Chicago trial lawyer. Darrow earned fame in the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. Although Darrow's client, the teacher John Scopes, lost the case, Darrow argued masterfully in court, and in so doing weakened the influence and popularity of fundamentalism nationwide.
Dartmouth College v. Woodward
The Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the state of New Hampshire could not convert Dartmouth College to a state university because doing so would violate the college's contract, granted by King George III in 1769, and the Constitution forbids states from interfering with contracts. Republicans interpreted the decision and phrasing of the opinion as a shocking defeat for states' rights. Their reaction exposed political conflicts concealed under the facade of cooperation during the Era of Good Feelings.
Former secretary of war, Davis was elected president of the Confederacy shortly after its formation. Davis was never able to garner adequate public support and faced great difficulties in uniting the Confederate states under one central authority.
Devised by banker Charles G. Dawes in 1924. The Dawes plan scaled back U.S. demands for debt payments and reparations from World War I, and established a cycle of U.S. loans to Germany. These loans provided Germany with funds for its payment to the Allies, thus funding Allied debt payments to the U.S.
Dawes Severalty Act
Passed in 1887. The Dawes Severalty Act called for the breakup of Indian reservations and the treatment of Native Americans as individuals rather than as tribes. Any Native American who accepted the act's terms received 160 acres of farmland or 320 acres of grazing land and was guaranteed U.S. citizenship in twenty-five years. Intended to help Native Americans integrate into white society, in practice the Dawes Act caused widespread poverty and homelessness.
A prominent socialist leader and five-time presidential candidate. Debs formed the American Railway Union in 1893 and led the Pullman Strike a year later. He helped found the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies, in 1905. A pacifist, Debs opposed the government's involvement in World War I. In 1918, he was imprisoned for denouncing the government's aggressive tactics under the Espionage Act and Sedition Amendment; he was released in 1921.
Declaration of Independence
Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776. The document enumerated the reasons for the split with Britain and laid out the Enlightenment ideals (best expressed by John Locke) of natural rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" upon which the American Revolution was based.
Declaration of the United Nations
Prompted by American entry into World War II, representatives from 26 nations signed the declaration on January 1, 1942. The signing countries vowed not to make separate peace agreements with the enemy and to uphold the Atlantic Charter.
Passed in 1776 just after the repeal of the Stamp Act. The Declaratory Act stated that Parliament could legislate for the colonies in all cases. Most colonists interpreted the act as a face-saving mechanism and nothing more. Parliament, however, continually interpreted the act in its broadest sense in order to control the colonies.
The informant who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they delved into the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat's true identity remains a mystery to this day.
Influenced by the spirit of rationalism, Deists believed that God, like a celestial clockmaker, had created a perfect universe and then stepped back to let it operate according to natural laws.
Andrew Jackson's party, organized at the time of the election of 1828. Throughout the mid- and late 1800s, the Democrats championed states' rights and fought against political domination by the economic elite. They opposed tariffs, federal funding for internal improvements, and other extensions of the power of the federal government. The party found its core support in the South. The party underwent a major transformation in the 1930s during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency, when Democrats began to embrace a more aggressive and involved federal government. FDR's New Deal policies cost Democrats the support of the white South—their traditional stronghold—and won them the support of many farmers, urban workers, blacks, and women. This Democratic support base remains in place today.
The relaxation of tensions between the U.S. and USSR in the 1960s and 1970s. During this period, the two powers signed treaties limiting nuclear arms productions and opened up economic relations. One of the most famous advocates of this policy was President Richard Nixon's secretary of state, Henry Kissinger.
William Howard Taft's foreign policy. Taft sought to address international problems by extending American investment overseas, believing that such activity would both benefit the U.S. economy and promote stability abroad.
A Massachusetts schoolteache. Dix studied the condition of the insane in poorhouses and prisons. Her efforts helped bring about the creation of asylums, where the mentally ill could receive better treatment.
The theory that if any nation fell to communism, the surrounding nations would likely fall as well. Expounded by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the domino theory served to justify U.S. intervention in Vietnam.
Stephen A. Douglas
Rose to national prominence as Speaker of the House, when he pushed the Compromise of 1850 through Congress. Douglas was the leading Northern Democrat of his day, a supporter of popular sovereignty and the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He battled Abraham Lincoln for a seat in the Senate (successfully) in 1858, and for president (unsuccessfully) in 1860.
Perhaps the most famous of all abolitionists. An escaped slave, Douglass worked closely withWilliam Lloyd Garrison to promote abolitionism in the 1830s.
Dred Scott v. Sandford
In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that no black, whether slave or free, could become a citizen of the United States or sue in federal court. The decision further argued that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment's protection of property, including slaves, from being taken away without due process.
W.E.B. Du Bois
An African American leader opposed to the gradual approach of achieving equal rights argued by Booker T. Washington. Du Bois advocated immediate equal treatment and equal educational opportunities for blacks. He was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
The name given to the southern Great Plains region (Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma) during the 1930s, when a severe drought and fierce winds led to violent dust storms that destroyed farmland, machinery, and houses, and led to countless injuries. Roughly 800,000 residents migrated west from the dust bowl toward California during the 1930s and 1940s.
President Eisenhower's philosophy of government. He called it "dynamic conservatism" to distinguish it from the Republican administrations of the past, which he deemed backward-looking and complacent. He was determined to work with the Democratic Party rather than against it and at times opposed proposals made by more conservative members of his own party.
Economic Opportunity Act
A component of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. The Economic Opportunity Act established an Office of Economic Opportunity to provide young Americans with job training. It also created a volunteer network devoted to social work and education in impoverished areas.
Ratified on January 16, 1919. The Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the manufacture, transport, or sale of alcoholic beverages. It was sporadically enforced, violated by many, and repealed in 1933.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
A Republican, served as president from 1953 to 1961. Along with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower sought to lessen Cold War tensions. One notable success in this realm was the ending of the Korean War. Before serving as president, Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II, coordinating Operation Overlord and the American drive from Paris to Berlin.
Announced in 1957. The doctrine committed the U.S. to preventing Communist aggression in the Middle East, with force if necessary.
Article I, Section VIII of the Constitution. The article states that Congress shall have the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution . . . powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States." This clause was a point of much contention between those who favored a loose reading of the Constitution and those who favored a strict reading.
Issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. The proclamation freed all slaves under rebel (Confederate) control. It did not affect the slave states within the Union or Confederate states under Union control, and therefore in practice freed few slaves. Nevertheless, the proclamation gave the war a new objective—emancipation—and crystallized the tension between the Union and the Confederacy.
Endorsed by Thomas Jefferson and passed in December 1807. The act ended all importation and exportation in response to the Chesapeake-Leopard affair. Jefferson hoped the embargo would put enough economic pressure on the French and British that the two nations would be forced to recognize U.S. neutrality rights in exchange for U.S. goods. The embargo, however, hurt the American economy more than it did Britain's or France's, leading to the act's repeal in March 1809.
Emergency Banking Relief Act
The first act of FDR's New Deal. The Emergency Banking Relief Act provided a framework for the many banks that had closed early in 1933 to reopen with federal support.
Emergency Committee for Unemployment
Herbert Hoover's principal effort to lower the unemployment rate. Established in October 1930, the committee sought to organize unemployment relief by voluntary agencies, but Hoover granted the committee only limited resources with which to work.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A leader of the transcendentalist movement and an advocate of American literary nationalism. He published a number of influential essays during the 1830s and 1840s, including "Nature" and "Self Reliance."
Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871
Sought to protect black suffrage in the wake of Klu Klux Klan activities.
An intellectual movement that spread through Europe and America in the eighteenth century. Also known as the Age of Reason, Enlightenment ideals championed the principles of rationalism and logic. Their skepticism toward beliefs that could not be proved by science or clear logic led to Deism.
Era of Good Feelings
The period between the end of the War of 1812 and the rise of Andrew Jackson in 1828, during which the United States was governed under a one-party system that promoted nationalism and cooperation. At the center was James Monroe's presidency, as Monroe strove to avoid political conflict and strengthen American nationalism and pride.
The alleged leader of a group of Vikings who sailed to the eastern coast of Canada and attempted, unsuccessfully, to colonize the area around the year 1000—nearly 500 years before Columbus arrived in the Americas.
America's first major canal project. Begun in 1817 and finished in 1825, the Erie Canal stretched from Albany to Buffalo, New York, measuring a total of 363 miles.
Passed in 1917, the act enumerated a list of antiwar activities warranting fines or imprisonment.
Founded on the premise that the "perfect" human society could be achieved through genetic tinkering. Popularized during the Progressive era, writers on eugenics often used this theory to justify a supremacist white Protestant ideology, which advocated the elimination of what they considered undesirable racial elements from American society.
Truman's attempt to extend the policies of the New Deal. Beginning in 1949, the Fair Deal included measures to increase the minimum wage, expand Social Security, and construct low-income housing.
Fair Labor Standards Act
Passed in 1938. The Fair Labor act provided for a minimum wage and restricted shipment of goods produced with child labor, and symbolized the FDR administration's commitment to working with with labor forces.
Replaced the Grange as a support group for the nation's farmers during the 1880s. The alliances were politically active in the Midwest and South, and were central to the founding of the Populist Party.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Created as a part of the first New Deal to increase faith in the banking system by insuring individual deposits with federal funds.
Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA)
One of the New Deal's most comprehensive measures, passed May 1933. FERA appropriated $500 million to support state and local treasuries that had run dry.
Federal Home Loan Bank Act
A late attempt by President Hoover to address the problems of destitute Americans. The 1932 Federal Home Loan Bank Act established a series of banks to make loans to other banks, building and loan associations, and insurance agencies in an attempt to prevent foreclosures on private homes.
Led by Alexander Hamilton. Federalists believed in a strong central government at the expense of state powers and were staunch supporters of the Constitution during the ratification process. They remained a political force throughout the first thirty or so years of the United States. The Federalists entered into decline after the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency and disappeared as a political party after the the Hartford Convention, at the close of the War of 1812.
The Federalist Papers
A series of newspaper articles written by John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers enumerated the arguments in favor of the Constitution and refuted the arguments of the Anti-federalists.
Federal Reserve Act
Woodrow Wilson's most notable legislative success. The 1913 Federal Reserve Act reorganized the American banking system by creating a network of twelve Federal Reserve banks authorized to distribute currency.
Federal Reserve Board ("The Fed")
Responsible for making monetary policy in the United States. The Fed operates mainly through the mechanisms of buying and selling government bonds and adjusting the interest rates. During the Great Depression, the Fed was given greater power and freedom to directly regulate the economy.
Federal Securities Act
Passed in 1914. The act made corporate executives liable for any misrepresentation of securities issued by their companies. It paved the way for future acts to regulate the stock market.
Federal Trade Commission Act
Created the Federal Trade Commission in 1914 to monitor and investigate firms involved in interstate commerce and to issue "cease and desist" orders when business practices violated free competition. The act was a central part of Wilson's plan to aggressively regulate business.
The Feminine Mystique
Written by Betty Friedan in 1963. The book was a rallying cry for the women's liberation movement. It denounced the belief that women should be tied to the home and encouraged women to get involved in activities outside their home and family.
Ratified in March 1870. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited the denial of voting rights to any citizen based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
Vice president to Zachary Taylor until Taylor's death in 1850. Fillmore took over as president and served out the remainder of Taylor's term, until 1853. He helped to push the Compromise of 1850 through Congress.
FDR's public radio broadcasts during his presidency. Through these broadcasts he encouraged confidence and national unity and cultivated a sense of governmental compassion.
First Continental Congress
Convened on September 5, 1774, with all the colonies but Georgia sending delegates chosen by the Committees of Correspondence. The congress endorsed the Suffolk Resolves, voted for an organized boycott of British imports, and sent a petition to King George III that conceded to Parliament the power of regulation of commerce, but stringently objected to Parliament's arbitrary taxation and unfair judicial system.
First Great Awakening
A time of religious fervor during the 1730s and 1740s. The movement arose in response to the Enlightenment's increased religious skepticism. Protestant ministers held revivals throughout the English colonies in America, stressing the need for individuals to repent and urging a personal understanding of truth instead of an institutionalized one. The Great Awakening precipitated a split within American Protestantism.
First hundred days
Refers to the first hundred days of FDR's presidency, from March 4 to June 16, 1933. During this period of dramatic legislative productivity, FDR laid out the programs that constituted the New Deal.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
A prominent author during the Roaring Twenties, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote stories and novels that both glorified and criticized the wild lives of the carefree and prosperous. His most famous works include This Side of Paradise, published in 1920, and The Great Gatsby, published in 1925.
A central stereotype of the Jazz Age. The flapper was a flamboyant, liberated, pleasure-seeking young woman seen more in media portrayals than in reality. The archetypal flapper look was tomboyish and fashionable: short bobbed hair; knee-length, fringed skirts; long, draping necklaces; and rolled stockings.
Authorized President Jackson to use arms to collect customs duties in South Carolina as part of the Compromise of 1833.
Vice president to Nixon after Spiro Agnew. Ford took over the presidency after the Watergate scandal forced Nixon to resign on August 9, 1974. Ford pardoned Nixon and pushed a conservative domestic policy, but was little more than a caretaker of the White House until his defeat in the election of 1976.
Woodrow Wilson's liberal and idealistic peace program. His plan, outlined January 1918, called for unrestricted sea travel, free trade, arms reduction, an end to secret treaties, the territorial reorganization of Europe in favor of self-rule, and most importantly, the creation of "a general association of nations" to protect peace and resolve conflicts.
Ratified in July 1868. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed the rights of citizenship to all people, black or white, born or naturalized in the United States. It also provided for the denial of congressional representation for any state that denied suffrage to any of its male citizens.
Controlled the rightist forces during the Spanish Civil War. His fascist government ruled Spain from 1939 until 1975.
Inventor, patriot, and statesman. Franklin served as an ambassador to France during the Revolutionary War, playing a key role in getting France to recognize the United States' independence. As the oldest delegate to the Constitutional Convention, the other delegates admired his wisdom, and his advice proved crucial in the drafting of the Constitution. Franklin has often been held up as the paradigm of Enlightenment thought in Colonial America because of his fascination with—and contributions to—the fields of science and philosophy.
Established in 1865 and staffed by Union army officers. The Freedmen's Bureau worked to protect black rights in the South and to provide employment, medical care, and education to Southern blacks.
A 1961 program, led by the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in which black and white members of the two organizations rode through the South on public buses to protest illegal segregation in interstate transportation.
Democrat Stephen A. Douglas's attempt to reconcile his belief in popular sovereignty with the Dred Scott decision. In the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, Douglas argued that territories could effectively forbid slavery by failing to enact slave codes, even though the Dred Scott decision deprived government of the right to restrict slavery in the territories.
A political party supporting abolition. It was formed from the merger of a northern faction of the Democratic Party, the abolitionist Liberty Party, and antislavery Whigs. The Free-Soilers nominated Martin Van Buren as their candidate for president. The party didn't win the election, but it did earn 10 percent of the national popular vote—an impressive showing for a third party. The relative success of the Free-Soil Party demonstrated that slavery had become a central issue in national politics.
French and Indian War
Fought in North America from 1754-1763. The war mirrored the Seven Years War in Europe (1756-1763). English colonists and soldiers fought the French and their Native American allies for dominance in North America. England's eventual victory brought England control of much disputed territory and eliminated the French as a threat to English dominance in the Americas.
Fugitive Slave Act
Passed in 1793 and strengthened as part of the Compromise of 1850. The act allowed Southerners to send posses into Northern soil to retrieve runaway slaves. During the early 1850s, Northerners mounted resistance to the act by aiding escaping slaves and passing personal liberty laws.
Emerged in the early 1900s as a reaction to the many scientific and social challenges facing conservative American Protestantism. Protestant fundamentalists insisted upon the divine inspiration and absolute truth of the Bible, and sought to discredit or censure those who questioned the tenets of Protestant faith. Fundamentalism peaked in the 1920s with the anti-evolution movement, culminating in the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Passed by Southerners in Congress in 1836. The gag rule tabled all abolitionist petitions in Congress and thereby prevented antislavery discussions. The gag rule was repealed in 1845, under increased pressure from Northern abolitionists and those concerned with the rule's restriction of the right to petition.
William Lloyd Garrison
Founder of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. Garrison was the most famous white abolitionist of the 1830s. Known as a radical, he pushed for equal legal rights for blacks and encouraged Christians to abstain from all aspects of politics, including voting, in protest against the nation's corrupt and prejudicial political system.
A powerful African American leader during the 1920s. Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and advocated a mass migration of African Americans back to Africa. Garvey was convicted of fraud in 1923 and deported to Jamaica in 1927. While the movement won a substantial following, the UNIA collapsed without Garvey's leadership.
Lincoln's famous "Four score and seven years ago" speech. Delivered on November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a cemetery for casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln's speech recast the war as a historic test of the ability of a democracy to survive.
Gibbons v. Ogden
1824 Supreme Court case involving state versus federal licensing rights for passenger ships between New York and New Jersey. A devoted Federalist, Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the states could not interfere with Congress's right to regulate interstate commerce. He interpreted "commerce" broadly to include all business, not just the exchange of goods.
The founding leader of the American Federation of Labor. Under Gompers, the AFL rarely went on strike, and instead took a more pragmatic approach based on negotiating for gradual concessions.
"Good Neighbor" policy
FDR's policy toward Latin America, initialized in 1933. He pledged that no nation, not even the U.S., had the right to interfere in the affairs of any other nation.
The last Soviet political leader. Gorbachev become general secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the USSR in 1988. He helped ease tension between the U.S. and the USSR—work that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. He oversaw the fall of the Soviet Union and resigned as president on December 25, 1991.
Gospel of Success
Justification for the growing gap between rich and poor during the Industrial Revolution. The "Gospel" centered on the claim that anyone could become wealthy with enough hard work and determination. Writers like Horatio Alger incorporated this ideology into their work.
The Patrons of Husbandry, known as "the Grange." Formed in 1867 as a support system for struggling western farmers, the Grange offered farmers education and fellowship, and provided a forum for homesteaders to share advice and emotional support at biweekly social functions. The Grange also represented farmers' needs in dealings with big business and the federal government.
Ulysses S. Grant
Commanding general of western Union forces for much of the war, and for all Union forces during the last year of the war. Grant later became the nation's eighteenth president, serving from 1869 to 1877 and presiding over the decline of Reconstruction. His administration was marred by corruption.
An eight-month discussion in Congress over Henry Clay's proposed compromise to admit California as a free state, allow the remainder of the Mexican cession (Utah and New Mexico territories) to be decided by popular sovereignty, and strengthen the Fugitive Slave Act. Clay's solution was passed as separate bills, which together came to be known as the Compromise of 1850.
Lyndon B. Johnson's program for domestic policy. The Great Society aimed to achieve racial equality, end poverty, and improve health-care. Johnson pushed a number of Great Society laws through Congress early in his presidency, but the Great Society failed to materialize fully, as the administration turned its attention toward foreign affairs—specifically, Vietnam.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
Passed by the Senate in 1964 following questionable reports of a naval confrontation between North Vietnamese and U.S. forces. The resolution granted President Johnson broad wartime powers without explicitly declaring war.
Began when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990. In January 1991, the U.S. attacked Iraqi troops, supply lines, and bases. In late February, U.S. ground troops launched an attack on Kuwait City, successfully driving out Hussein's troops. A total of 148 Americans died in the war, compared to over 100,000 Iraqi deaths.
The outspoken leader of the Federalists and one of the authors of The Federalist Papers. Hamilton supported the formation of the Constitution and later, as secretary of treasury under Washington, spearheaded the government's Federalist initiatives, most notably through the creation of the Bank of the United States.
Warren G. Harding
President from 1921 until his death in 1923. Harding ushered in a decade of Republican dominance in the U.S. He accommodated the needs of big business and scaled back government involvement in social programs. After his death, Harding's administration was found to be rife with corruption.
The flowering of black culture in New York's Harlem neighborhood during the 1920s. Black writers and artists produced plays, poetry, and novels that often reflected the unique African American experience in America and in Northern cities in particular.
1859 raid on a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, led by John Brown. Twenty-one men seized a federal arsenal in a failed attempt to incite a slave rebellion. Brown was caught and hanged.
A meeting of Federalists near the end of the War of 1812, in which the New England-based party enumerated its complaints against the ruling Republican Party. The Federalists, already losing power steadily, hoped that antiwar sentiment would lead the nation to support their cause and return them to power. Perceived victory in the war, however, turned many against the Federalists, whose actions in Hartford were labeled traitorous and antagonistic to the unity and cooperation of the Union.
Early American fiction writer. His most famous work, The Scarlet Letter (1850), explored the moral dilemmas of adultery in a Puritan community.
Resolved the conflict arising from the election of 1876, in which Democrat Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote but Republican leaders contested some states' election returns, thereby ensuring Republican Rutherford B. Hayes's victory. To minimize protest from the Democratic Party, Republicans agreed to end Reconstruction by removing federal troops from the last two occupied states in the South.
1886 rally in Chicago to protest police brutality against striking workers. The rally became violent after someone threw a bomb, killing seven policemen and prompting a police backlash. After the riot, leaders of the Knights of Labor were arrested and imprisoned, and public support for the union cause plunged.
William Randolph Hearst
A prominant publisher who bought the New York Journal in the late 1890s. His paper, along with Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, engaged in yellow journalism, printing sensational reports of Spanish activities in Cuba in order to win a circulation war between the two newspapers.
Signed in 1975 by Gerald Ford, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, and the leaders of thirty-one other states in a promise to solidify European boundaries, respect human rights, and permit freedom of travel.
One of the best-known writers of the 1920s' "lost generation." An expatriate, Hemingway produced a number of famous works during the 1920s, including The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929). A member of the Popular Front, Hemingway fought in the Spanish Civil War, depicted in his 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. His work, like that of many of his contemporaries, reflects the disillusionment and despair of the time.
A Japanese city that was site of the first-ever atomic bomb attack. On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing 70,000 of its citizens instantaneously and injuring another 70,000, many of whom later died of radiation poisoning.
Longtime government employee who, in 1948, was accused by Time editor Whitaker Chambers of spying for the USSR. After a series of highly publicized hearings and trials, Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950 and sentenced to five years imprisonment, emboldening conservatives to redouble their efforts to root out subversives within the government.
Became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Hitler led the nation to economic recovery by mobilizing industry for the purposes of war. His fascist Nazi regime attempted to secure global hegemony for Germany, undertaking measures of mass genocide and ushering Europe into World War II.
The Nazis' systematic persecution and extermination of European Jews from 1933 until 1945. More than 6 million Jews died in concentration camps throughout Germany and Nazi-occupied territory.
Passed in 1862. The Homestead Act encouraged settlement of the West by offering 160 acres of land to anyone who would pay $10, live on the land for five years, and cultivate and improve it.
1892 Pittsburgh steel workers' strike against the Carnegie Steel Company to protest a pay cut and 70-hour workweek. Ten workers were killed in a riot that began when 300 "scabs" from New York (Pinkerton detectives) arrived to break the strike. Federal troops were called in to suppress the violence.
President from 1929 to 1933, during the stock market collapse and the height of the Great Depression. A conservative, Hoover made only limited efforts to control the economic and social problems of the nation—efforts that were generally considered to be too little, too late. He did, however, set the stage for many future New Deal measures.
J. Edgar Hoover
Head of the FBI from 1924 until his death in 1972. He aggressively investigated suspected subversives during the Cold War.
Communities of destitute Americans living in shanties and makeshift shacks. Hoovervilles sprung up around most major U.S. cities in the early 1930s, providing a stark reminder of Herbert Hoover's failure to alleviate the poverty of the Great Depression.
House of Burgesses
Established in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The House of Burgesses is considered to be the New World's first representative government. It consisted of 22 representatives from 11 districts of colonists.
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
During McCarthyism, provided the congressional forum in which many hearings about suspected communists in the government took place.
An English explorer sponsored by the Dutch East India Company. In 1609, Hudson sailed up the river than now bears his name, nearly reaching present-day Albany. His explorations gave the Dutch territorial claims to the Hudson Bay region.
An early settlement house founded in Chicago in 1889 by Jane Addams. Hull House provided education, health care, and employment aid to poor families.
Saddam Hussein was the leader of Iraq. In August 1990, he led an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, sparking the Gulf War.
A dissenter in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who caused a schism in the Puritan community. Hutchinson's faction lost out in a power struggle for the governorship and she was expelled from the colony in 1637. She traveled southward with a number of her followers, establishing the settlement of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
During the 1800s, a British policy whereby the British boarded American ships in search of British naval deserters, whom they would force (impress) back into service. Often naturalized or native-born Americans were also seized, provoking outrage in America. Impressment was one of a string of British violations against U.S. neutrality rights that helped spark the War of 1812.
The system by which adult males—usually English—bound themselves to labor on plantations for a fixed number of years in exchange for transport to the colonies and eventual freedom. Some immigrants came willingly, while others were manipulated and kidnapped; often, the indentured servents were never able to secure their release due to debt. The first Africans brought to the colonies were also indentured servants, but in the seventeenth century, as massive, labor-intensive tobacco plantations spread throughout the South, slavery became the preferred means of labor.
Independent Treasury Bill
Signed into law in 1840. The bill established an independent treasury to hold public funds in reserve and prevent excessive lending by state banks, thus guarding against inflation. The Independent Treasury Bill was a response to the panic of 1837, which many blamed on the risky and excessive lending practices of state banks.
Indian Removal Act
Granted Jackson the funds and authority to move Native Americans to assigned lands in the West. Passed in 1830, the Indian Removal Act primarily targeted the Cherokee tribe in Georgia as part of the federal government's broad plan to claim Native American lands inside the boundaries of the states.
Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies)
A radical labor organization founded in 1905. The IWW advocated revolution and massive societal reorganization. The organization faded away around 1920.
The increase of available paper money and bank credit, leading to higher prices and less-valuable currency.
Interstate Commerce Act
Passed in 1887. The Interstate Commerce Act forbade price discrimination and other monopolistic practices of the railroads.
A combination of the four Coercive Acts—meant to punish the colonists after the 1773 Boston Tea Party—and the unrelated Quebec Act. Passed in 1774, the Intolerable Acts were seen as the blueprints for a British plan to deny the Americans representative government and were the impetus for the convening of the First Continental Congress.
A series of investigations in 1987 exposed evidence that the U.S. had been selling arms to the anti-American government in Iran and using the profits from these sales to secretly and illegally finance the Contras in Nicaragua. (The Contras were a rebel group fighting against the communist-linked Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.) Oliver North, a member of the National Security Council, had organized the operation from within the White House. There was no proof that Ronald Reagan was aware of North's actions.
A term coined by Winston Churchill for the area of Eastern Europe controlled indirectly by the USSR, usually through puppet governments. This area was cut off from noncommunist Europe.
President from 1829 to 1837. A strong-willed and determined leader, Jackson opposed federal support for internal improvements and the Second Bank of the United States and fought for states' rights and Native American removal. His opponents nicknamed him "King Andrew I" because of his extensive and unprecedented use of the veto power, which they deemed to be tyrannical and against the spirit of democracy. Before becoming president, Jackson gained popularity as a general who launched aggressive military campaigns against Native Americans and led the U.S. to a stunning victory over British forces at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.
One of the authors of The Federalist Papers. Jay was instrumental in the drafting of the Constitution.
1795 treaty which provided for the removal of British troops from American land and opened up limited trade with the British West Indies, but said nothing about British seizure of American ships or the impressment of American sailors. While the American public criticized the treaty for favoring Britain, it was arguably the greatest diplomatic feat of the Washington administration, since it preserved peace with Britain.
Nickname for the 1920s due to the development and flourishing of jazz music, as well as the highly publicized (if exaggerated) accounts of wild parties, drinking, and dancing.
Third president of the United States (1801-1809). Jefferson resigned as George Washington's first secretary of state in opposition to Alexander Hamilton's continued efforts to centralize power in the national government. Along with James Madison, Jefferson took up the cause of the strict constructionists and the Republican Party, advocating the limitation of federal power. He organized the national government according to Republican ideals, doubled the size of the nation through the Louisiana Purchase, and struggled to maintain American neutrality in foreign affairs.
President from 1865 (after Lincoln's assassination) until 1869. Johnson's plan for Reconstruction in the South was considered too lenient by the Radical Republicans in Congress; as a result, Congress fought his initiatives and undertook a more retributive Reconstruction plan. Johnson's relationship with Congress declined steadily during his presidency, culminating in impeachment proceedings in 1868. He was ultimately acquitted.
Lyndon B. Johnson
John F. Kennedy's vice president until Kennedy's assassination made him president in 1963. He stayed in office until 1968, when he declined to seek reelection. Johnson is best known for his attempts to enact his Great Society program at home and his decision to commit troops to Vietnam.
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Created by FDR in February 1942 to oversee the rapidly growing military. The Joint Chiefs included representatives from the army, navy, and air force.
Formed in the absence of support from the British Crown, joint-stock companies accrued funding for colonization through the sale of public stock. These companies dominated English colonization throughout the seventeenth century.
Established by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison (1803). The principle of judicial review held that the Supreme Court could declare an act of Congress unconstitutional.
Judiciary Act of 1789
Created the American court system. The act established a federal district court in each state and gave the Supreme Court final jurisdiction in all legal matters.
Passed in 1854. The act divided the Nebraska territory into two parts, Kansas and Nebraska, and left the issue of slavery in the territories to be decided by popular sovereignty. It nullified the prohibition of slavery above the 36º30' latitude established by the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
John F. Kennedy
Democrat, served as president from 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. A young and charismatic leader, Kennedy cultivated a glorified image in the eyes of the American public. His primary achievements came in the realm of international relations, most notably the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
King George III
King of England from 1760-1820. Colonists were torn between loyalty to the king and resistance to acts carried out in his name. After George III rejected the Olive Branch Petition, the colonists considered him a tyrant.
Martin Luther King Jr.
A prominent Civil Rights leader who rose to fame during the 1956 Montgomery bus boycott. Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, King tirelessly led the struggle for integration and equality through nonviolent means. He was assassinated in 1968.
National security adviser and, later, secretary of state under President Nixon. A major proponent of détente, Kissinger often met secretly with communist leaders in efforts to improve East-West cooperation.
Jackson's presidential cabinet, dubbed so because the members were his close political allies and many had questionable political skill. Instead of serving as a policy forum to help shape the president's agenda, as previous cabinets had done, Jackson's cabinet assumed a mostly passively supportive role.
Knights of Labor
One of the first major labor organizations in the U.S., founded in 1869. The Knights fell into decline after one of several leaders was executed for killing a policeman in the Haymarket riot of1886.
The American Party. The Know-Nothings took the place of the Whig Party between 1854 and 1856, after the latter's demise. They focused on issues of antislavery, anti-Catholicism, nativism, and temperance. The party collapsed during the latter half of the 1850s, in part because of the rise of the Republican Party.
On June 24, 1950, troops from the Soviet-supported People's Democratic Republic of Korea, known as North Korea, invaded the Republic of Korea, known as South Korea. Without asking for a declaration of war, Truman committed U.S. troops as part of a United Nations "police action." The Korean War was conducted by predominantly American forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Limited fighting continued until June 1953, when an armistice restored the prewar border between North and South Korea.
Korematsu v. U.S.
In this 1944 case, the Supreme Court upheld FDR's 1942 executive order for the evacuation of all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast into internment camps. The camps operated until March 1946.
Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
A southern vigilante group founded in 1866 in Tennessee. By 1868, the Klan operated in all Southern states. The group often conducted raids and lynchings to intimidate black voters and Republican officials. The Klan faded away in the late nineteenth century, but resurfaced in 1915. Capitalizing on middle-class Protestant dismay at changing social and economic conditions in America, the Klan took root throughout the South as well as in Western and Midwestern cities, and was dominated by white native-born Protestants. Membership and influence declined again in 1925, when corruption among Klan leaders was exposed.
A "hands-off" approach to the economy, allowing markets to regulate themselves. "Laissez-faire" means "let do" in French.
League of Nations
Woodrow Wilson's idea for a collective security body meant to provide a forum for the resolution of conflict and to prevent future world wars. The League's covenant was written into the Treaty of Versailles. The U.S. Senate, however, voted against joining the League, making it a weak international force.
Robert E. Lee
The commanding general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War. Lee was a brilliant strategist, commander, and fighter. Many historians believe that the Confederacy held out as long as it did only because of Lee's skill and the loyalty of his troops.
Passed in March 1941. The act allowed the president to lend or lease supplies to any nation deemed "vital to the defense of the United States," such as Britain, and was a key move in support of the Allied cause before the U.S. formally entered World War II. Lend-lease was extended to Russia in November 1941 after Germany invaded Russia.
Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer
A series of twelve letters published by John Dickinson. The letters denounced the Townshend Duties by demonstrating that many of the arguments employed against the Stamp Act were valid against the Townshend Duties as well. The letters inspired anti-British sentiment throughout the colonies.
Lewis and Clark
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The two were commissioned by Thomas Jefferson to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. They traveled 3,000 miles between 1804 and 1806, collecting scientific data and specimens and charting the territory to the west of the Mississippi. Their journey spurred national interest in exploration and settlement of the West.
Formed in 1872 when a faction split from the ranks of the Republican Party in opposition to President Ulysses S. Grant. Many Liberals argued that the task of Reconstruction was complete and should be put aside. Their defection served a major blow to the Republican Party and shattered what congressional enthusiasm remained for Reconstruction.
An influential abolitionist newspaper published by radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison from 1831 to 1865. The Liberator expressed controversial opinions, such as the belief that blacks deserved legal rights equal to those of whites.
Limited Test-Ban Treaty
Agreed to in July 1963 by JFK and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The treaty prohibited undersea and atmospheric testing of nuclear weaponry and was characteristic of a period of lessening tensions—known as détente—between the world's two superpowers.
President of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln's eloquent and forceful performance in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 earned him the Republican nomination for president in 1860. His victory in the election precipitated the secession of the first southern states, paving the way for the Civil War. A moderate Republican, Lincoln's primary goal during and after the Civil War was to restore the Union. He began planning for a lenient Reconstruction in 1863, but was assassinated before it could be fully implemented.
A series of seven debates held from August 21 and October 15, 1858 between senatorial candidates, the debates pitted Abraham Lincoln, a free-soil Republican, against Stephen A. Douglas, a Democrat in favor of popular sovereignty. The debates were hard-fought, highly attended, and ultimately inconclusive, but they crystallized the dominant positions of the North in regard to slavery and propelled Lincoln into the national arena.
Henry Cabot Lodge
Leader of a group of senators known as "reservationists" during the 1919 debate over the League of Nations. Lodge and his followers supported U.S. membership in the League of Nations only if major revisions were made to the covenant (part of the Treaty of Versailles). President Wilson, however, refused to compromise, and the treaty was rejected. The U.S. never joined the League of Nations.
A Senator from Louisiana and one of the most vocal critics of FDR's New Deal. Long's liberal "Share Our Wealth" program proposed a 100 percent tax on all income over $1 million, and large redistribution measures. His passionate orations won him as many followers as enemies: he was assassinated in September of 1935 at the capitol building in Baton Rouge.
The core of the Federalist Pary, led by Alexander Hamilton. They favored a loose reading of the Constitution—especially of the elastic clause—in order to expand the powers of the central government to include implied constitutional powers, not just enumerated ones.
A small but prominent circle of writers, poets, and intellectuals during the 1920s. Artists like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound grew disillusioned with America's postwar culture, finding it overly materialistic and spiritually void. Many became expatriates, and their writings often expressed their disgust with America.
Territory purchased from Napolean by the U.S. in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the nation and opened the West to exploration and settlement. But the new aquisition also caused strife: border disputes with foreign powers as well as congressional debates over the admission of new states from the region (whether the states would be slave-holding or free).
A British vessel sunk by a German U-boat in May 1915, killing more than 120 American citizens. The sinking of the Lusitania prompted President Woodrow Wilson to plan for a military buildup, and encouraged American alliance with Britain and France in opposition to Germany.
Douglas MacArthur was an American general who commanded the United States army in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he oversaw the American occupation of Japan and later led American troops in the Korean War. Though MacArthur pushed for total victory in the Korean War, seeking to conquer all of Korea and perhaps move into China, Harry S. Truman held him back from this aggressive goal. After a month of publicly denouncing the administration's policy, MacArthur was relieved from duty in April 1951.
The means by which political parties during the Industrial Revolution controlled candidates and voters through networks of loyalty and corruption. In machine politics, party bosses exploited their ability to give away jobs and benefits (patronage) in exchange for votes.
Macon's Bill No. 2
James Madison's 1810 ploy to induce either Britain or France to lift trade restrictions. Under the bill, U.S. trade sanctions were lifted with the promise that if one country agreed to free trade with the U.S., sanctions would be reimposed against the other nation.
Fourth president of the United States (1809-1817). Madison began his political career as a Federalist, joining forces with Alexander Hamilton during the debate over the Constitution. He was one of the authors of The Federalist Papers and a staunch advocate of strong central government. Madison later became critical of excessive power in central government and left the Federalist Party to join Thomas Jefferson in leading the Republican Party.
U.S. battleship sunk by an explosion in Havana harbor in February 1898. Though later investigations suggested that an onboard fire had caused the blast, popular rumor was that the Spanish were responsible. The sinking of the Maine, combined with sensationalist news reports of Spanish atrocities, led the American public to push for war against Spain.
A secret American scientific initiative to develop the atomic bomb. Scientists worked for almost three years in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and on July 16, 1945 succeeded in detonating the first atomic blast. The bombs produced by the Manhattan Project were subsequently dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
The belief of many Americans in the mid-nineteenth century that it was the nation's destiny and duty to expand and conquer the West. Journalist John L. O'Sullivan first coined the phrase "manifest destiny" in 1845, as he wrote of "our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of our continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty."
Appointed secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837. Mann reformed the public school system by increasing state spending on schools, lengthening the school year, dividing the students into grades, and introducing standardized textbooks. Mann set the standard for public school reform throughout the nation.
Founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921. In 1949, Mao defeated Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist forces and established the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Marbury v. Madison
In this 1803 case, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional because Congress had overstepped its bounds in granting the Supreme Court the power to issue a writ of mandamus (an ultimatum from the court) to any officer of the United States. This ruling established the principle of judicial review.
March Against Death
In November 1969, 300,000 people marched in a long, circular path through Washington, D.C. for 40 hours straight, each holding a candle and the name of a soldier killed or a village destroyed in Vietnam. The march was a high point in the student antiwar movement and a poignant symbol of antiwar sentiment in the United States.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 until his death in 1835. Under Marshall's leadership, the Court became as powerful a federal force as the executive and legislative branches. Marshall's most notable decision came in the 1803 Marbury v. Madison case, in which he asserted the principle of judicial review. During James Monroe's presidency, Marshall delivered two rulings that curtailed states' rights and exposed the latent conflicts in the Era of Good Feelings.
Attorney who successfully argued the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in front of the Supreme Court in 1954. In 1967, Marshall became the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.
A four-year plan (begun in 1948) to provide American aid for the economic reconstruction of Europe. The U.S. government hoped that this plan would prevent further communist expansion by eliminating economic insecurity and political instability in Europe. By 1952, Congress had appropriated some $17 billion for the Marshall Plan, and the Western European economy had largely recovered.
The ship that carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic, from the Netherlands to Plymouth Plantation in 1620, after intially fleeing England.
Often cited as the first example of self-government in the Americas. The Pilgrims, having arrived at a harbor far north of the land that was rightfully theirs, signed the Mayflower Compact to establish a "civil body politic" under the sovereignty of James I.
The extreme anticommunism in American politics and society during the early 1950s. The term derives from the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who led an intense campaign against alleged subversives during this period.
McCulloch v. Maryland
1896 Supreme Court case that determined states could not tax federal institutions such as the Second Bank of the United States. The ruling asserted that the federal government wielded supreme power in its sphere and that no states could interfere with the exercise of federal powers. The ruling angered many Republicans, who favored states' rights.
Republican candidate who defeated William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election. A supporter of big business, McKinley pushed for high protective tariffs. Under his leadership, the U.S. became an imperial world power. He was assassinated by an anarchist in 1901.
Raised protective tariffs by nearly 50 percent in 1890, the highest in U.S. history.
Meat Inspection Act
Passed in 1906. The act set federal regulations for meatpacking plants and established a system of federal inspection after the muckrakers' exposés revealed the unsanitary and hazardous conditions of food processing plants.
Medical Care Act
An element of President Johnson's 1965 Great Society program. The Medical Care Act created Medicare and Medicaid to provide senior citizens and welfare recipients with health care.
A prominent American fiction writer in the 1840s and 1850s. His best-known novel is Moby-Dick (1851).
Writer who satirized political leaders and American society in the 1920s. Mencken's magazine American Mercury served as the journalistic counterpart to the postwar disillusionment of the "lost generation."
Theory of trade which stresses that a nation's economic strength depends on exporting more than it imports. British mercantilism manifested itself in the triangular trade and in a series of laws, such as the Navigation Acts (1651-1673), aimed at fostering British economic dominance.
Tension between the U.S. and Mexico grew after Texas accepted Congress's offer of admission to the Union despite the Mexican government's opposition. In 1846, after Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande, the U.S. declared war against Mexico. The U.S. won the war easily. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and granted the U.S. possession of Texas, New Mexico, and California in exchange for $15 million.
The nickname given to local militiamen who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. "Minutemen" were supposedly able to be ready for battle at a minute's notice.
Resolved the conflict surrounding the admission of Missouri to the Union as either a slave or free state. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 made Missouri a slave state, admitted Maine as a free state, and prohibited slavery in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory.
President from 1817 until 1825. His presidency was at the core of the Era of Good Feelings, characterized by a one-party political system, an upsurge of American nationalism, and Monroe's own efforts to avoid political controversy and conflict.
Issued by President Monroe in December 1823. The doctrine asserted that the Americas were no longer open to European colonization or influence, and paved the way for U.S. dominance of the Western Hemisphere.
A Wall Street financier and business leader during the era of industrialization. In 1901, Morgan bought Carnegie Steel and established the world's first billion-dollar corporation, U. S. Steel Corporation.
The Church of Latter-Day Saints, founded by Joseph Smith in 1831. The church's core tenets derive from the Book of Mormon, a book of revelation similar to the Bible. Led by Smith, the Mormons moved steadily westward during the early 1830s, seeking to escape religious persecution. After Smith was murdered in 1844, a new leader, Brigham Young, led the Mormons to Utah, where they settled and are still centered today.