Flashcards US Midterm

Terms in this set (55)

• Protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures
• This means that a police officer must have a warrant issued by a judge in order to enter and search a person's house
• The warrant can only be issued if there is evidence to suggest wrongdoing
• In addition, the police officer may only search for the item or items listed on the search warrant
• However, there are moments when the individual freedoms and liberties can be suspended such as in times of rebellion or invasion
• In other words, if the nation is threatened, some rights can be temporarily suspended
• "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." ~ The Fourth Amendment
• But "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." ~ Article I, Section 9 of U.S. Constitution
• The writ of habeas corpus is a court order that commands an individual or a government official who has restrained another to produce the prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody and decide whether to order the prisoner's release
• Habeas corpus means to bring the person to court and to either charge the person with a crime or release the person
• But notice: the writ of habeas corpus can be suspended in times of national emergency
• Thus, the Constitution balances individual liberty with the need for order in American society
• Manifest Destiny was the idea that the United States should stretch from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast
• The passage of the Homestead Act and the completion of the transcontinental railroad helped to fulfill the United States commitment to manifest destiny
• Manifest Destiny was the idea that God have given Americans all of the land from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast
• The Homestead Act gave settlers free land in the Great Plains
• The Homestead Act encouraged Americans to move west and therefore encouraged westward expansion which helped Americans realize Manifest Destiny
• The Transcontinental railroad or a railroad connecting the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast made movement across the continent easier and therefore also encouraged westward expansion too
• Acquiring territory from Mexico in 1848 as a result of the Mexican-American War also furthered the goal of Manifest Destiny
• The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) marked the first U.S. armed conflict chiefly fought on foreign soil
• It pitted a politically divided and militarily unprepared Mexico against the expansionist-minded administration of U.S. President James K. Polk, who believed the United States had a "manifest destiny" to spread across the continent to the Pacific Ocean
• A border skirmish along the Rio Grande started off the fighting and was followed by a series of U.S. victories
• When the dust cleared, Mexico had lost about one-third of its territory, including nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico
• At the beginning of the 1830s, nearly 125,000 Native Americans lived on millions of acres of land in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida - land their ancestors had occupied and cultivated for generations
• By the end of the decade, very few natives remained anywhere in the southeastern United States
• Working on behalf of white settlers who wanted to grow cotton on the Indians' land, the federal government forced them to leave their homelands and walk thousands of miles to a specially designated "Indian territory" across the Mississippi River
• This difficult and sometimes deadly journey is known as the Trail of Tears
• Andrew Jackson had long been an advocate of what he called "Indian removal"
• In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for land to the west, in the "Indian colonization zone" that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase
• The law required the government to negotiate removal treaties fairly, voluntarily and peacefully: It did not permit the president or anyone else to coerce Native nations into giving up their land
• However, President Jackson and his government frequently ignored the letter of the law and forced Native Americans to vacate lands they had lived on for generations
• In the winter of 1831, under threat of invasion by the U.S. Army, the Choctaw became the first nation to be expelled from its land altogether
• They made the journey to Indian territory on foot (some "bound in chains and marched double file," one historian writes) and without any food, supplies or other help from the government
• Thousands of people died along the way
• It was, one Choctaw leader told an Alabama newspaper, a "trail of tears and death"
• By 1838, only about 2,000 Cherokees had left their Georgia homeland for Indian territory
• President Martin Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott and 7,000 soldiers to expedite the removal process
• Scott and his troops forced the Cherokee into stockades at bayonet point while whites looted their homes and belongings
• Then, they marched the Indians more than 1,200 miles to Indian territory
• Whooping cough, typhus, dysentery, cholera and starvation were epidemic along the way, and historians estimate that more than 5,000 Cherokee died as a result of the journey
• By 1840, tens of thousands of Native Americans had been driven off of their land in the southeastern states and forced to move across the Mississippi to Indian territory
• The federal government promised that their new land would remain unmolested forever, but as the line of white settlement pushed westward, "Indian country" shrank and shrank
• In 1907, Oklahoma became a state and Indian territory was gone for good
• The discovery of gold nuggets in the in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848 sparked the Gold Rush, arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century
• As news spread of the discovery, thousands of prospective gold miners traveled by sea or over land to San Francisco and the surrounding area; by the end of 1849, the non-native population of the California territory was some 100,000 (compared with the pre-1848 figure of less than 1,000)
• A total of $2 billion worth of precious metal was extracted from the area during the Gold Rush, which peaked in 1852
• On January 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter originally from New Jersey, found flakes of gold in the American River at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Coloma, California
• At the time, Marshall was working to build a water-powered sawmill owned by John Sutter, a German-born Swiss citizen and founder of a colony of Nueva Helvetia (New Switzerland)
• The colony would later become the city of Sacramento
• As Marshall later recalled of his historic discovery: "It made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold."
• Just days after Marshall's discovery at Sutter's Mill, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the Mexican-American War and leaving California in the hands of the United States
• At the time, the population of the territory consisted of 6,500 Californios (people of Spanish or Mexican decent); 700 foreigners (primarily Americans); and 150,000 Native Americans (barely half the number that had been there when Spanish settlers arrived in 1769)
• Though Marshall and Sutter tried to keep news of the discovery under wraps, word got out, and by mid-March at least one newspaper was reporting that large quantities of gold were being turned up at Sutter's Mill
• Though the initial reaction in San Francisco was disbelief, storekeeper Sam Brannan set off a frenzy when he paraded through town displaying a vial of gold obtained from Sutter's Creek
• By mid-June, some three-quarters of the male population of San Francisco had left town for the gold mines, and the number of miners in the area reached 4,000 by August
• As news spread of the fortunes being made in California, the first migrants to arrive were those from lands accessible by boat, such as Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), Mexico, Chile, Peru and even China
• Only later would the news reach the East Coast, where press reports were initially skeptical
• Gold fever kicked off there in earnest, however, after December 1848, when President James K. Polk announced the positive results of a report made by Colonel Richard Mason, California's military governor, in his inaugural address
• Throughout 1849, people around the United States (mostly men) borrowed money, mortgaged their property or spent their life savings to make the arduous journey
• Thousands of would-be gold miners, known as '49ers, traveled overland across the mountains or by sea, sailing to Panama or even around Cape Horn, the southernmost point of South America
• The Gold Rush undoubtedly sped up California's admission to the Union as the 31st state
• In late 1849, California applied to enter the Union with a constitution preventing slavery, provoking a crisis in Congress between proponents of slavery and abolitionists
• According to the Compromise of 1850, proposed by Kentucky's Senator Henry Clay, California was allowed to enter as a free state, while the territories of Utah and New Mexico were left open to decide the question for themselves
• What led to the outbreak of the bloodiest conflict in the history of North America?
• A common explanation is that the Civil War was fought over the moral issue of slavery
• In fact, it was the economics of slavery and political control of that system that was central to the conflict
• Geographic differences had led to the development of different economies in the North and the South
• The South with its fertile land and long growing season had developed a plantation economy depended on slave labor
• The North did not have a long growing season and as such, farms were small and manufacturing and shipbuilding became important economic activities
• Another key issue was states' rights
• The Southern states wanted to assert their authority over the federal government so they could abolish federal laws they didn't support, especially laws interfering with the South's right to keep slaves and take them wherever they wished
• Another factor was territorial expansion
• The South wished to take slavery into the western territories, while the North was committed to keeping them open to white labor alone
• Meanwhile, the newly formed Republican Party, whose members were strongly opposed to the westward expansion of slavery into new states, was gaining prominence
• The election of a Republican, Abraham Lincoln, as President in 1860 sealed the deal
• His victory, without a single Southern electoral vote, was a clear signal to the Southern states that they had lost all influence
• Feeling excluded from the political system, they turned to the only alternative they believed was left to them: secession or withdrawing from the Union, a political decision that led directly to war
• In 1867, the American flag flew for the first time in Alaska
• This marked the formal transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States
• Alaska was only separated from Russia by the Bering Strait
• The Russians had been the first Europeans to significantly explore and develop Alaska
• During the early 19th century, the state-sponsored Russian-American Company established the settlement of Sitka and began a lucrative fur trade with the Native Americans
• However, Russian settlement in Alaska remained small, never exceeding more than a few hundred people
• By the 1860s, the Russian-American Company had become unprofitable
• So, the tsar and his ministers chose to sell Alaska to the Americans
• Seeing the giant Alaska territory as a chance to cheaply expand the size of the nation, William H. Seward, President Andrew Johnson's secretary of state, moved to arrange the purchase of Alaska
• Agreeing to pay a mere $7 million for some 591,000 square miles of land - a territory twice the size of Texas and equal to nearly a fifth of the continental United States - Seward secured the purchase of Alaska at the ridiculously low rate of less than 2¢ an acre
• Later myths to the contrary, most Americans recognized that Seward had made a smart deal with the Alaska Purchase
• Still, a few ill-informed critics did not miss the opportunity to needle the Johnson administration by calling the purchase "Seward's Folly" and "Seward's Icebox" or joking that the administration had only bought the territory to create new political appointments like a "Polar Bear's Bureau" and a "Superintendent of Walruses"
• Johnson's opponents (who were trying to impeach him at the time) also succeeded in delaying approval of the $7 million appropriation
• But after a year of squabbling, Congress approved the purchase, and Russia formally transferred control of the vast northern land to the United States
• Within a few decades, Alaska would prove to be an amazing treasure trove of natural resources from gold to oil, proving Seward's wisdom and exposing the shortsightedness of those who had once poked fun at the purchase
• In 1862, the Pacific Railroad Act chartered the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroad Companies, and tasked them with building a transcontinental railroad that would link the United States from east to west
• Over the next seven years, the two companies would race toward each other from Sacramento, California on the one side and Omaha, Nebraska on the other, struggling against great risks before they met at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869
• After General Grenville Dodge, a hero of the Union Army, took control as chief engineer, the Union Pacific finally began to move westward in May 1866
• The company suffered bloody attacks on its workers by Native Americans - including members of the Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes - who were understandably threatened by the progress of the white man and his "iron horse" across their native lands
• Still, the Union Pacific moved relatively quickly across the plains, compared to the slow progress of their rival company through the Sierra
• Ramshackle settlements popped up wherever the railroad went, turning into hotbeds of drinking, gambling, prostitution and violence and producing the enduring mythology of the "Wild West"
• In 1865, after struggling with retaining workers due to the difficulty of the labor, Charles Crocker (who was in charge of construction for the Central Pacific) began hiring Chinese laborers
• By that time, some 50,000 Chinese immigrants were living on the West Coast, many having arrived during the Gold Rush
• This was controversial at the time, as the Chinese were considered an inferior race due to pervasive racism
• The Chinese laborers proved to be tireless workers, and Crocker hired more of them; some 14,000 were toiling under brutal working conditions in the Sierra Nevada by early 1867
• By contrast, the work force of the Union Pacific was mainly Irish immigrants and Civil War veterans
• To blast through the mountains, the Central Pacific built huge wooden trestles on the western slopes and used gunpowder and nitroglycerine to blast tunnels through the granite
• When the transcontinental railroad was completed, it encouraged westward expansion as it made movement west easier
• Harriet Tubman became famous as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad during the turbulent 1850s
• Born a slave on Maryland's eastern shore, she endured the harsh existence of a field hand, including brutal beatings
• In 1849 she fled slavery, leaving her husband and family behind in order to escape
• Despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family and hundreds of other slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad
• Tubman also served as a scout, spy and nurse during the Civil War
• Two things sustained Harriet Tubman: the pistol at her side and her faith in God
• She would not hesitate to use the pistol in self-defense, but it was also a symbol to instruct slaves, making it clear that "dead Negroes tell no tales"
• Timid slaves seemed to find courage in her presence; no one ever betrayed her
• Tubman collaborated with John Brown in 1858 in planning his raid on Harpers Ferry
• The two met in Canada where she told him all she knew of the Underground Railroad in the East
• Advising him on the area in which he planned to operate, she promised to deliver aid from fugitives in the region
• Brown's admiration for her was immeasurable, and he wanted her to accompany him on the raid
• Tubman planned to be present but was ill at the time and could not participate
• Tubman's resistance to slavery did not end with the outbreak of the Civil War
• Her services as nurse, scout, and spy were solicited by the Union government
• For more than three years she nursed the sick and wounded in Florida and the Carolinas, tending whites and blacks, soldiers and contrabands
• Tubman was a short woman without distinctive features
• With a bandanna on her head and several front teeth missing, she moved unnoticed through rebel territory
• This made her invaluable as a scout and spy under the command of Col. James Montgomery of the Second Carolina Volunteers
• As leader of a corps of local blacks, she made several forays into rebel territory, collecting information
• Armed with knowledge of the location of cotton warehouses, ammunition depots, and slaves waiting to be liberated, Colonel Montgomery made several raids in southern coastal areas
• Tubman led the way on his celebrated expedition up the Combahee River in June 1863
• For all of her work, Tubman was paid only two hundred dollars over a three-year period and had to support herself by selling pies, gingerbread, and root beer
• Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) was an author, teacher and reformer
• Her efforts on behalf of the mentally ill and prisoners helped create dozens of new institutions across the United States and in Europe and changed people's perceptions of these populations
• Charged during the American Civil War with the administration of military hospitals, Dix also established a reputation as an advocate for the work of female nurses
• Her own troubled family background and impoverished youth served as a galvanizing force throughout her career, although she remained silent on her own biographical details for most of her long, productive life
• Prisons at the time were unregulated and unhygienic, with violent criminals housed side by side with the mentally ill
• Inmates were often subject to the whims and brutalities of their jailers
• Dix visited every public and private facility she could access, documenting the conditions she found with unflinching honesty
• She then presented her findings to the legislature of Massachusetts, demanding that officials take action toward reform
• Her reports - filled with dramatic accounts of prisoners flogged, starved, chained, physically and sexually abused by their keepers, and left naked and without heat or sanitation - shocked her audience and galvanized a movement to improve conditions for the imprisoned and insane
• As a result of Dix's efforts, funds were set aside for the expansion of the state mental hospital in Worcester
• Dix went on to accomplish similar goals in Rhode Island and New York, eventually crossing the country and expanding her work into Europe and beyond
• A bicameral system is a system of government in which the legislature consists of two houses
• The Constitution provided for the structure and powers of Congress in Article I
• It created a bicameral legislature, set qualifications for holding office in each house, and provided for methods of selecting representatives and senators
• The House of Representatives is based on the population of each state
• There are two senators for every state
• As per the Constitution, the U.S. House of Representatives makes and passes federal laws
• The House is one of Congress's two chambers (the other is the U.S. Senate), and part of the federal government's legislative branch
• The number of voting representatives in the House is fixed by law at no more than 435, proportionally representing the population of the 50 states
• The role of the Senate was conceived by the Founding Fathers as a check on the popularly elected House of Representatives
• Thus, each state, regardless of size or population, is equally represented
• Further, until the Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution (1913), election to the Senate was indirect, by the state legislatures
• Senators are now elected directly by voters of each state.
• The Senate shares with the House of Representatives responsibility for all lawmaking within the United States
• For an act of Congress to be valid, both houses must approve an identical document
• The Senate is given important powers under the "advice and consent" provisions (Article II, section 2) of the Constitution: ratification of treaties requires a two-thirds majority of all senators present and a simple majority for approval of important public appointments, such as those of cabinet members, ambassadors, and judges of the Supreme Court
• The Senate also adjudicates impeachment proceedings initiated in the House of Representatives, a two-thirds majority being necessary for conviction
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