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Loyalists
This term describes people who wanted a reconnection with Britain rather than declaring independence. They were typically Royal officials, Anglican clergymen, wealthy merchants with ties to London, de-mobilized Royal soldiers, or recent arrivals (especially from Scotland), together with many ordinary people. Though estimates vary, colonists with such sympathies likely accounted for as much as 30% of the colonial population of the day, compared to about 40% who were 'Patriot'.
Battle of Trenton
This took place on December 26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War after General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River. The hazardous crossing in adverse weather allowed Washington to lead the main body of the Continental Army to sneak attack Hessian soldiers. After a brief struggle, nearly the entire Hessian force was captured, with negligible losses to the Americans. The battle boosted the Continental Army's flagging morale, and inspired re-enlistments.
Patrick Henry (1736-1799)
An American orator and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses who gave speeches against the British government and its policies urging the colonies to fight for independence. In connection with a petition to declare a "state of defense" in Virginia in 1775, he gave his most famous speech which ends with the words, "Give me liberty or give me death." He served as Governor of Virginia from 1776-1779 and 1784-1786, and was instrumental in causing the Bill of Rights to be adopted as part of the U.S. Constitution.
Second Continental Congress
It met in 1776 and drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence, which justified the Revolutionary War and declared that the colonies should be independent of Britain.
Battle of Bunker Hill (Breed's Hill) June 1775
This Revolutionary War battle took place shortly after Lexington and Concord. It was the first major battle of the war. Although the British gained their objective, they paid dearly in lives lost. This battle proved that the American rebels would put up a fierce resistance to Britain.
Thomas Jefferson
He was a delegate from Virginia at the Second Continental Congress and wrote the Declaration of Independence. He later served as the third President of the United States.
Declaration of Independence
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson helped to draft this document during the Second Continental Congress. It proclaimed American separation from the British Empire on July 4th, 1776.
Abigail Adams
Wife of John Adams. During the Revolutionary War, she wrote letters to her husband describing life on the home front. She urged her husband to remember America's women in the new government he was helping to create.
Marquis de Lafayette
He was a French major general who aided the colonies during the Revolutionary War. He and Baron von Steuben (a Prussian general) were the two major foreign military experts who helped train the colonial armies.
Benedict Arnold
He had been a Colonel in the Connecticut militia at the outbreak of the Revolution and soon became a General in the Continental Army. He won key victories for the colonies in the battles in upstate New York in 1777, and was instrumental in General Gates victory over the British at Saratoga. After becoming Commander of Philadelphia in 1778, he went heavily into debt, and in 1780, he was caught plotting to surrender the key Hudson River fortress of West Point to the British in exchange for a commission in the royal army. He is the most famous traitor in American history.
Robert Morris (1734-1806)
A delegate to the Second Continental Congress. He agreed that Britain had treated the colonies unfairly, but he didn't believe that the colonies should dissolve ties with Britain. He argued against the Declaration of Independence.
Battle of Saratoga
In the fall of 1777, British General John Burgoyne attacked southward from Canada along the Hudson Valley in New York, hoping to link up with General Howe in New York City, thereby cutting the colonies in half. Burgoyne was defeated by American General Horatio Gates, at this battle, surrendering the entire British Army of the North, over 6,000 soldiers. The colonial victory in this battle convinced France that the Americans might defeat the British with more outside support. For this reason historians view this battle as a critical point of the American Revolution.
Valley Forge
This place was not a battle; it was the site where the Continental Army camped during the winter of 1777- '78, after its defeats at the Battles of the Brandywine and Germantown. The Continental Army suffered further casualties here due to cold and disease. Washington chose the site because it allowed him to defend the Continental Congress if necessary, which was then meeting in York, Pennsylvania after the British capture of Philadelphia.
Yorktown
Because of their lack of success in suppressing the Revolution in the northern colonies, in early 1780 the British switched their strategy and undertook a series of campaigns through the southern colonies. This strategy was equally unsuccessful, and the British decided to return to their main headquarters in New York City. While marching from Virginia to New York, British commander Lord Cornwallis became trapped along the Chesapeake Bay. His troops fortified the town and waited for reinforcements. The French navy, led by DeGrasse, blocked their escape. After a series of battles, Cornwallis surrendered to the Continental Army on October 19, 1781, which ended all major fighting in the Revolutionary War. What was this battle?
Treaty of Paris, 1783
This treaty ended the Revolutionary War, recognized the independence of the American colonies, and granted the colonies the territory from the southern border of Canada to the northern border of Florida, and from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River. This treaty was signed by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay.
'republican motherhood'
Women gained a small status increase for their efforts in the Revolutionary war, but they were primarily valued as mothers of future patriots. This term characterizes women's role in the emerging United States before and after the American Revolution. It centered on the belief that children should be raised to uphold the ideals of republicanism, making them the perfect citizens of the new nation.
state constitutions
These were drafted by the individual former colonies in the period directly after the Declaration of Independence. The exercise of creating one of these for each state greatly influenced the creation of a federal one in the following decade.
Articles of Confederation
This legal framework lasted from 1781-1789. It delegated most of the powers (the power to tax, to regulate trade, and to draft troops) to the individual states, but left the federal government power over war, foreign policy, and issuing money. A weakness was that they gave the federal government so little power that it couldn't keep the country united. These were abandoned for the Constitution.
Constitution
The document which established the present federal government of the United States and outlined its powers. It can be changed through amendments.
Legislature
One of the three branches of government, this branch makes laws and has the power to levy taxes. The House of Representatives and the Senate together to make up this branch.
bicameral legislature
This is a lawmaking body which consists of two chambers or houses. It is an essential and defining feature of the classical notion of mixed government.
House of Representatives
One of the two parts of Congress, considered the "lower house." Members are elected directly by the people, with the number for each state determined by the state's population.
Senate
One of the two parts of Congress, this is considered the "upper house." Members were originally appointed by state legislatures, but now two from each state are elected directly by the people.
Executive branch
One of the three branches of government, this branch is the head of government, administers government policies, and is the chief diplomat of foreign policy. It is headed by the president, who has the power to veto legislation passed by Congress.
Judiciary branch
One of the three branches of government, whose primary task is to determine the constitutionality of laws. The highest authority in this branch is the Supreme Court, which sets precedent for all lower courts. Created by Congress in 1789.
Supremacy clause
Article VI of the Constitution, which declares the Constitution, all federal laws passed pursuant to its provisions, and all federal treaties, to be the "supreme law of the land," which override any state laws or state constitutional provisions to the contrary.
Ratification
The Constitution was completed in 1787, but had to be accepted by at least 50% of delegates in 9 of the 13 original states in order to be put into effect. The 9th state approved in 1788, and by 1790, all 13 original states completed the process.
Checks and balances
This phrase represents a central structural theme of the America Constitution. Each of the three branches of government blocks the power of the other two, so no one branch can become too powerful. The president (executive) can veto laws passed by Congress (legislative), and also chooses the judges in the Supreme Court (judiciary). Congress can overturn a presidential veto if 2/3 of the members vote to do so. The Supreme Court can declare laws passed by Congress and the president unconstitutional, and hence invalid.
Northwest Ordinance, 1787
This law set the model for the annexation of western lands into the United States, in this case Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It determined the steps and requirements for new states. It was one of the few successes of the Articles of Confederation congress.
Shay's Rebellion
This civil unrest occurred in the winter of 1786-7 under the Articles of Confederation. Poor, indebted landowners in Massachusetts blocked access to courts and prevented the government from arresting or repossessing the property of those in debt. The federal government was too weak to help Boston remove the rebels, a sign that the Articles of Confederation weren't working effectively.
Constitutional Convention
This meeting took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from Great Britain. Ben Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and George Washington were some of the attendees.
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
(1632-1704) This English philosopher's ideas influenced the 'founding fathers'. He wrote that all human beings have a right to life, liberty, and property and that governments exist to protect those rights. He believed that a contract existed between a government and its people, and if the government failed to uphold its end of the contract, the people could rebel and institute a new government.
James Madison
This Virginian was one of America's early leading politicians and helped shaped the philosophy of American government. He wrote much of the Virginia Plan, Federalist Papers, as well as the Constitution. He served in the House of Representatives, as Jefferson's Secretary of State, and as the fourth president.
Great Compromise
1787 At the Constitutional Convention, larger states wanted to follow the Virginia Plan, which based each state's representation in Congress on state population. Smaller states wanted to follow the New Jersey Plan, which gave every state the same number of representatives. A deal was reached by creating the House and the Senate, and using both of the two separate plans as the method for electing members of each. What was this called?
Three-Fifths Compromise
This was a deal between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the population of slaves would be counted for both the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of the members of the United States House of Representatives. What was this called?
Anti-federalists
They opposed the ratification of the Constitution because it gave more power to the federal government and less to the states, and because it did not ensure individual rights. Many wanted to keep the Articles of Confederation. These people were instrumental in passing the Bill of Rights as a prerequisite to ratification of the Constitution. They included Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams. After the ratification of the Constitution, these people regrouped as the Democratic-Republican party.
Federalists
This early American political 'party' opposed the Articles of Confederation and instead supported a strong central government as created in the Constitution. Their leaders included John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.
The Federalist Papers
This collection of essays by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, explained the importance of a strong central government. They were published in 1787-1788 to convince New York to ratify the Constitution.
Bill of Rights
This is the name given to the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Adopted in 1791, this was the compromise that bridged the divide between federalists and anti-federalists.
George Washington
He established many of the presidential traditions, including limiting a president's tenure to two terms. He was against political parties and strove for political balance in government by appointing political adversaries to government positions.
Judiciary Act
This 1789 law created the federal court system and allowed the president to create federal courts and to appoint judges.
Alexander Hamilton
He was the leading Federalist, and supported industry and strong central government. He insisted that the federal government assume debts incurred by the states during the Revolutionary War. As Secretary of the Treasury under President Washington he created the National Bank and managed to pay off the U.S.'s early debts through tariffs and the excise tax on whiskey.
Thomas Jefferson
He had been America's ambassador to France during the Articles of Confederation, and then selected as Washington's Secretary of State. He was a leading Democratic-Republican, and was fiercely opposed to Hamilton's ideas.
electoral college
The Constitution laid out this method of indirectly electing a head of state rather than through a direct popular election. Each state has a number of electors equal to its total Congressional representation (in both houses). The electors generally cast their votes for the winner of the popular vote in their respective states, but in some states are not required by law to do so. What is this system called?
Proclamation of Neutrality
This was an announcement by United States President George Washington on April 22, 1793, declaring the nation non-aligned in the conflict between France and Great Britain. The action started a war of pamphlets between Hamilton (writing for the Federalists), and Madison (writing for the Democratic-Republicans), thus helping to create the landscape of America's 'first party system'.
Implied powers
Section 8 of Article I contains a long list of powers specifically granted to Congress, and ends with the statement that Congress shall also have the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." There has long been a debate as to how much power this "necessary and proper" clause grants to Congress. Critics of governmental power argue this elastic clause can be "stretched" to include almost any other power that Congress might try to assert. How are these powers referred to?
First Bank of the US
This institution was chartered by the United States Congress and lasted from 1791-1811. It was created to handle the financial needs and requirements of the central government of the newly formed United States, which had previously been thirteen individual states with their own, currencies, financial institutions, and policies.
Proposed by Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, it was supported by Northern merchants and New England state governments.
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Whiskey Rebellion
In 1794, farmers in Pennsylvania rebelled against Hamilton's tax hike, and several federal officers were killed in the riots caused by their attempts to serve arrest warrants on the offenders. In October, 1794, the army, led by Washington, put down the rebellion. The incident showed that the new government under the Constitution could react swiftly and effectively to such a problem, in contrast to the inability of the government under the Articles of Confederation to deal with Shay's Rebellion.
Election of 1796
This was the first true presidential election (when Washington ran, there was never any question that he would be elected). Adams was a Federalist, and won the presidency. Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican, and as second place was awarded the VP.
Washington's farewell address
This famous speech, near the end of the first president's second term in office, set precidents that other presidents have followed. In this speech, he announced his intention to decline a third term in office, argued that American independence among nations can only be achieved through unity at home, and gave a strong endorsement to American constitutional style of government.
Democratic-Republicans
The one of America's first political parties, many of its members had earlier been Anti-federalists, which had never organized into a formal political party. Leaders included Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (who was earlier a Federalist).
Alien and Sedition Acts
These consist of four laws passed by the Federalist Congress and signed by President Adams in 1798. They empowered the federal government to arrest and deport foreigners and suppress dissent. They were enacted, in part, because of the XYZ Affair, and were aimed at French and Irish immigrants, who were considered subversives. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which initiated the concept of "nullification" of federal laws were written in response to these Acts.
patriarchy
This terms describes the structuring of family units based on the man, as father figure, having primary authority over the rest of the family members. It also refers to the role of men in society more generally where men take primary responsibility over the welfare of the community as a whole. This authority often includes acting as the dominant figures in social, economic, and political procedures, including serving as representatives via public office.
Methodist
This Protestant denomination gained strength during the First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s. The English preacher George Whitefield played a major role, traveling across the colonies and preaching in a dramatic and emotional style, accepting everyone as his audience. Many people became passionately and emotionally involved in their religion, and began to study the Bible at home.
'farmers' republic'
This term describes the ideal of Jeffersonian America. This school of thought felt that a society of rural, independent, landowning agriculturalists would be the best way to create a stable democracy. Bound to responsibility by the land and to the community in times of need, Jefferson felt that this type of society would be far better than an urban, manufacturing society.
James Monroe
This Virginian was a Democratic-Republican with a long life in politics. He was the fifth President of the United States (1817-1825), and his time in office came to be known as the 'era of good feelings'. His administration was marked by the acquisition of Florida (1819); the Missouri Compromise (1820), and the profession of U.S. opposition to European interference in the Americas.
Election of 1800
The two Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr defeated Federalist John Adams, but tied with each other. The final decision went the House of Representatives, where there was another tie. After a long series of ties in the House, Jefferson was finally chosen as president. Burr became vice-president. This led to the 12th Amendment, which requires the president and vice-president of the same party to run on the same ticket.
Election of 1800
Thomas Jefferson's election changed the direction of the government from Federalist to Democratic- Republican, so it was called a "revolution." What year was this election?
Gabriel's Rebellion
This took place near Richmond Virginia in the summer of 1800 when a literate enslaved blacksmith planned and led a large slave revolt. Governor James Monroe and the state militia suppressed the uprising. The 27 enslaved people who participated were hanged. In reaction, the Virginia and other legislatures passed restrictions on free blacks, as well as the education, movement and hiring out of the enslaved.
John Adams
He is regarded as one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States. He came to prominence in Boston as a lawyer during the early stages of the American Revolution, pushed for the Declaration of Independence in 1776 as a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress, and later served as the second president of the United States. During his one term as president, he was frustrated by battles inside his own Federalist party (by a faction led by Alexander Hamilton) and the newly emergent partisan disagreements with Democratic Republicans.
12th Amendment
Brought about by the Jefferson/Burr tie, stated that presidential and vice-presidential nominees would run on the same party ticket. Before this law, all of the candidates ran against each other, with the winner becoming president and second-place becoming vice-president.
Second Great Awakening
This was a series of evangelical religious revivals starting in 1801 that helped to spread Methodism and Baptism. The revivals attracted women, Blacks, and Native Americans to a world long dominated by white men. Evangelical participation in social causes was fostered that changed American life in areas such as prison reform, abolitionism, and temperance.
French Revolution
This was the second great democratic revolution of the 1790s, occuring only a few years after the American Revolution. The people overthrew the king (and chopped off his head) and his government, and then instituted a series of unsuccessful democratic governments until Napoleon took over as dictator in 1799. The U.S. hotly debated involvement, but in the end did nothing to aid either side.
Citizen Genêt
(Edmond Charles Genêt) This Frenchmen was at the center of a great political affair from 1793-1794, which caused debate and polarization within American politics. As a French diplomat, he came to ask the American government to send money and troops to aid the revolutionaries in the French Revolution, and then proceeded to recruit men and arm ships in the US himself. His actions endangered American neutrality in the war between France and Britain, which Washington had pointedly declared in his Neutrality Proclamation.
Neutrality Proclamation
This was Washington's declaration that the U.S. would not take sides after the French Revolution touched off a war between France and a coalition consisting primarily of England, Austria and Prussia. This was a departure from the alliance formed with the Franco-American Treaty of 1778 (during the American Revolution).
XYZ Affair
This was a 1797-1798 political episode between France and the US. American refusal to honor the Franco-American Treaty of 1778, and President Adam's criticism of the French Revolution, led France to break off relations with the U.S. Adams sent delegates to meet with Talleyrand, the French foreign minister, in the hopes of working things out. His three agents told the American delegates that they could meet with Talleyrand only in exchange for a very large bribe. The Americans did not pay the bribe, and in 1798 Adams made the incident public, without disclosing the names of the three French agents in his report to Congress.
Democratic-Republican Party
This political party was founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison around 1792 in order to oppose the economic and foreign policies of the Federalists and Alexander Hamilton. The party opposed the Jay Treaty of 1794 ( friendship with Britain) and generally supported good relations with France. The party insisted on a strict construction of the Constitution, and denounced the national bank as unconstitutional. The party favored states' rights and the primacy of the yeoman farmer over bankers, industrialists, and merchants. It was the dominant political party in the United States from 1800 to 1824, when it split into competing factions.
Jay's Treaty
This 1794 agreement between Britain and the US settled some ongoing conflicts from the Revolutionary War, and lead to a short period of cooperation and trade. It dealt with the Northwest posts and trade on the Mississippi River. It was unpopular with most Americans because it did not punish Britain for the attacks on neutral American ships. It was particularly unpopular with France, because the U.S. also accepted the British restrictions on the rights of neutrals.
Pickney's Treaty
This 1795 friendship treaty between the U.S. and Spain clarified borders of Spanish Florida and Lousiana, guaranteed America access to the Mississippi river, and gave permission to store goods in the Spanish port of New Orleans.
Northwest Indian War
This 1785-1795 conflict was between the United States and a confederation of numerous Native tribes for control of what would become Ohio, Chicago, and Detroit. Still opposed to the US, some British agents in the region sold weapons and ammunition to the Nativess and encouraged attacks on American settlers. It followed centuries of conflict over this territory among the shifting alliances of the tribes, European powers, and their colonists.
Treaty of Greenville
This was signed on August 2, 1795, between a coalition of Native Americans and the United States following the Native American loss at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. It put an end to the Northwest Indian War. It turned over to the United States large parts of modern-day Ohio, the future site of downtown Chicago, and the Fort Detroit area.
Napoleonic Wars
(1804-1815) These conflicts were a continuation of those sparked by the French Revolution. In them, Great Britain and France fought for European supremacy--and treated weaker powers heavy-handedly. The United States attempted to remain neutral during the early 1800s, but eventually became embroiled in the European conflicts leading to the War of 1812 against Great Britain.
War of 1812 (1812-1814)
This conflict was caused by American outrage over British actions including the impressment of American sailors, the seizure of American ships, and aiding the Indian attacks along the western frontier. The war strengthened American nationalism and encouraged the growth of industry. It gave the U.S. an excuse to seize the British northwest posts and to annex Florida from Britain's ally Spain. Including several sea battles and frontier skirmishes, the war ground to a stalmate, although the British managed to invade and burn Washington, D.C.
'war hawks'
The term was coined to describe young Democratic-Republicans, led by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, who argued for war in Congress leading into the War of 1812. The term is now used more generally to refer to those who advocate for war.
The Treaty of Ghent
This December 1814 treaty ended the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States. It restored the status quo and required the U.S. to give back Florida. Two weeks later, Andrew Jackson's troops defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans, not knowing that a peace treaty had already been signed.
Henry Clay
This Kentucky politician was one of the most prominent political figures of his day. He was a central player in the War of 1812, to the emergence of the Whig party in the 1830s , to the Compromise of 1850. His American system argued for using federal money for internal improvements (roads, bridges, industrial improvements, etc.), enacting a protective tariff to foster the growth of American industries, and strengthening the national bank.
Revolution of 1800
This term refers to the second presidential contest between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Jefferson's election was a political realignment that ushered in a generation of Democratic-Republican Party rule and the eventual demise of the Federalist Party.
Thomas Jefferson
This founding father was the main author of the Declaration of Independence. After serving as America's ambassador in France, he was Secretary of State under George Washington. As a founding member of the Democratic-Republican party, he believed in a less aristocratic presidency and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. He wanted to reduce federal spending and government interference in everyday life.
Aaron Burr
He was one of the leading Democratic-Republicans of New York, and served as a U.S. Senator from New York from 1791-1797. He was elected Vice President and served from 1801-1805. He was a principal opponent of Alexander Hamilton's Federalist policies. In 1804, he shot and killed Hamilton in perhaps the most famous duel in American history.
Barbary Wars (1801-1805)
(1801-1805) Also called the Tripolitan War, this was a series of naval engagements launched by President Jefferson in an effort to stop the attacks on American merchant ships by pirates from the Mediterranean coast of North Africa. The war was inconclusive, afterwards, the U.S. paid a tribute to North African states to protect their ships from pirate attacks.
Louisiana Purchase
In 1803 the U.S. bought the land from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains from Napoleon for $15 million. Jefferson was interested in the territory because it would give the U.S. the Mississippi River and New Orleans (both were valuable for trade and shipping) and also room to expand. Napoleon wanted to sell because he needed money for his European campaigns and because a rebellion against the French in Haiti had soured him on the idea of New World colonies. The Constitution did not give the federal government the power to buy land, so Jefferson used loose construction to justify the acquisition.
Lewis and Clark
From 1804-1806 these two explorers were commissioned by President Jefferson to map and explore the Louisiana Purchase region. Beginning at St. Louis, Missouri, the expedition traveled up the Missouri River to the Great Divide, and then down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. It produced extensive maps of the area and recorded many scientific discoveries, greatly facilitating later settlement of the region and travel to the Pacific coast.
Impressment
This term describes forced service of a person into an army or navy, and was a common occurrence in the era following the Revolutionary War. The British would board American merchant vessels in order to retrieve its numerous navy deserters, and often seized any sailor who could not prove that he was an American citizen and not British.
Embargo of 1807
This bill banned trade between the United States of America and other nations. The US was trying to assert its independence from European control. It was created at the request of President Thomas Jefferson in an attempt to prevent American involvement in the Napoleonic Wars. The bill proved unpopular and unenforceable and was repealed in 1808.
Tecumseh
(1763-1813) He was Shawnee chief who, along with his brother, Tenskwatawa, a religious leader known as The Prophet, worked to unite the Northwestern Indian tribes. His league of tribes was defeated by an American at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. Living to fight another day, he was then killed fighting for the British during the War of 1812.
The Battle of New Orleans
January, 1815 - This was a great victory for the U.S., but it took place two weeks after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent had ended the War of 1812. A large British invasion force was repelled by Andrew Jackson's army resulting in 2500 British soldiers killed or captured, while only 8 American men were killed.
Hartford Convention of 1814
This was an 1814 meeting of New England merchants who opposed the War of 1812, and its associated trade restrictions. This largely Federalist group proposed some Amendments to the Constitution and advocated the right of states to nullify federal laws. They also discussed the idea of seceding from the U.S. if their desires were ignored. This meeting turned public sentiment against the Federalists and led to the demise of the party.
Treaty of Ghent
December 24, 1814 - This agreement ended the War of 1812 and restored the status quo. For the most part, territory captured in the war was returned to the original owner.
Rush-Bagot Treaty
1817 - This treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain (which controlled Canada) provided for the mutual disarmament of the Great Lakes. This was later expanded into a disarmament of the entire 5,000+ mils long Canada/U.S. border.
Panic of 1819
This was the first major financial crisis in US history It caused widespread foreclosures, bank failures, unemployment, and a slump in agriculture and manufacturing. The economic collapse was caused by overproduction and the reduced demand for goods after the War of 1812, and some blame the policies on the National Bank.
Seminole Indians
This native American tribe was living in Spanish Florida in 1817, when it launched a series of raids into the U.S. President J. Q. Adams ordered Andrew Jackson, whose troops were on the U.S./Florida border, to seize Spanish forts in northern Florida. Jackson's successful attacks convinced the Spanish that they could not defend Florida against the U.S.
Adams-Onis Treaty
This 1819 agreement settled a border dispute between Spain and the United States. Spain gave up Florida to the U.S. and in exchange the US acknowledged Texas and the American Southwest as Spanish territory.
Monroe Doctrine
1823 - This declared that Europe should not interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere and that any attempt at interference by a European power would be seen as a threat to the U.S. It also declared that a New World colony which has gained independence may not be re-colonized by Europe.
Era of Good Feelings
A name for President Monroe's two terms, a period of strong nationalism, economic growth, and territorial expansion. Since the Federalist party dissolved after the War of 1812, there was only one political party and little partisan conflict.
John Marshall
This Federalist politician was an early Supreme Court Chief Justice whose decision promoted federal power over state power and established the judiciary as a branch of government equal to the legislative and executive.
John C Calhoun
(1782 - March 31, 1850) He was a leading Southern politician from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. A gifted politician, he began his political career as a Democratic-Republican, a nationalist and proponent of protective tariffs. Later, as a Democrat, and his views changed as he became a proponent of free trade, states' rights, limited government, and nullification.
American Temperance Society
This group was established in1826 in Boston to crusade against alcohol. Within ten years there were over 8,000 local groups and more than 1,500,000 members who had taken the pledge to abstain from drinking. The movement was most successful in northern states, where in time such groups increasingly pressed for the mandatory prohibition of alcohol rather than for voluntary abstinence.
Andrew Jackson
This lawyer and politician cut his teeth on the Tennessee Frontier. He served as a US Representative, US Senator, a member of Tennessee's Supreme Court. He then fought in the War of 1812 commander of the American forces at the Battle of New Orleans (1815). This polarizing figure dominated American politics in the 1820s and 1830s, his political ambition combined with widening political participation, shaping the modern Democratic Party.
Democratic Party
This political party came about in the mid 1820s after divisions within the Democratic-Republicans over the choice of a successor to President James Monroe. The faction that supported many of the old Jeffersonian principles, led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, became this new party. Along with the Whig Party, this was the chief party in the United States until the Civil War.
Industrial revolution
This was the name of a broad social and economic trend that brought America from the days of the 'agrarian republic' of 1800 to be the worlds leading economy and manufacturing center by 1900. The birth of mass manufacturing had occurred in England in the 1700s, but it was not until the period of growth after the
Nullification Crisis
This political episode began with the passage of the Tariff of 1828, which was fiercely opposed by southern politicians led by Vice President John C. Calhoun. When the Jackson administration failed to take any actions to address their concerns, some began to advocate that the state itself declare the tariff null and void within South Carolina. With the passage of a compromising Tariff Act of 1832, the tension subsided.
Eli Whitney
In 1794 this man developed the cotton gin, a machine which could separate cotton from its seeds. This invention increased cotton's profitablity. It fueled expansion into the west as farmers sought to farm more cotton, and the value of slaves to increase, as each slave could now produce much more cotton.
Interchangeable parts
1799-1800 - Eli Whitney developed a manufacturing system which uses standardized parts which are all identical and thus, interchangeable. Before this, each part of a given device had been designed only for that one device; if a single piece of the device broke, it was difficult or impossible to replace. With standardized parts, it was easy to get a replacement part from the manufacturer. Whitney first put used standardized parts to make muskets for the U.S. government.
Daniel Webster
(1782 - 1852) He was a leading American statesman during the nation's Antebellum Period. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests. His increasingly nationalistic views and the effectiveness with which he articulated them led Webster to become one of the most famous orators and influential Whig leaders of the Second Party System.
Cumberland Road (National Road)
This was the first highway built by the federal government. Constructed during 1825-1850, it stretched from Pennsylvania to Illinois. It was a major overland shipping route and an important connection between the North and the West.
Internal improvements
This was a general term for government investment in transportation infrastructure, including roads, canals, bridges, and railroads, during the 1800s. There was a dispute over whether the federal government should fund such projects, since it was not specifically given that power by the Constitution.
Erie Canal
Built from 1817 to 1825, this toll waterway connected New York to the Great Lakes, and was an amazing stimulant for growth and trade for Chicago, Detroit, and the west (now the Midwest). Along with the Cumberland Road, it helped connect the North and the West.
Missouri Compromise
This was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, which both sought political advantage as more states were added to the union. It called for admitting one new free state and one new slave state, and for a line of demarcation between free and slave territory to extend westward into the former Louisiana Territory.
Whig Party
This was a major political party during the Second Party System,operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s. The party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party. In particular, they supported the supremacy of Congress over the presidency, and favored a program of modernization and economic protectionism.
Nativism
This means opposition to immigration and immigrants because the groups are considered a threat to local culture and public safety, and competition for jobs and resources. Such an anti-foreign feeling arose in the 1840's and 1850's in response to the influx of Irish and German Catholics.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
A pioneer in the women's suffrage movement, she helped organize the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. She later helped edit the militant feminist magazine Revolution from 1868 - 1870.
Seneca Falls
This was the site of the first modern women's right convention in July 1848. At the gathering, Elizabeth Cady Staton read a Declaration of Sentiment listing the many discriminations against women, and adopted eleven resolutions, one of which called for women's suffrage.
Marbury v. Madison
This complicated 1803 Supreme court case arose out of Jefferson's refusal to deliver the commissions to the judges appointed by Adams' 'midnight appointments'.This case established the Supreme Court's right to judicial review, which allows the Supreme Court to declare laws unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Marshall presided.
Dartmouth College v. Woodward
1819 -- This was a landmark Supreme Court decision which helped establish the sanctity of private contracts, and put limits on government power over businesses. The case arose when the New Hampshire legislature attempted to force a private college to become a public institution and thereby place the ability to appoint trustees in the hands of the governor. The decision helped pave the way for the rise of the American business corporation.
McCulloch v. Maryland
1819 - This decision upheld the power of Congress to charter a bank as a government agency, and denied the state the power to tax that agency. It is an example of how the Marshall court strengthened the power of the central government over state governments.
Gibbons v. Ogden
This1824 Supreme Court was a dispute between steamboat operators, one of which had been granted a monopoly by the New York legislature to operate steamboats on New York waterways. A competitor sued to break the monopoly, which was upheld by the state but then overruled by the Supreme Court. This case established that only the federal government has authority over interstate commerce, and further established court protections of a free-market capitalist economic system.
Waltham-Lowell System
This was a labor and production model used in New England and elsewhere during the early years of the American textile industry(early 1800s) where all stages of textile production were done under one roof. Worked by a staff of mostly young, single women who lived in dorms on site and away from home and family. Mill girls came to the new textile centers from rural towns to earn more money than was possible at home, and to live a cultured life in "the city". They lived in company boardinghouses and were held to strict hours and a rigid moral code.
Rhode Island System
This was a labor and production model during the early years of the American textile industry(early 1800s). In this system companies built housing for the families of workers at the factory where thread was spun from raw materials. Weaving was then "put-out" to surrounding villagers to create the finished product.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
This is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the United States, so much in the latter case that the novel intensified the sectional conflict leading to the American Civil War. It was the best selling novel in the US of the 19th century.
Joseph Smith, Jr.
(1805 - 1844) He was the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, also known as Mormonism, and an important religious and political figure during the 1830s and 1840s. In 1827, this man gathered a religious following after announcing that an angel had shown him a set of golden plates describing a visit of Jesus to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In 1830, Smith published what he said was a translation of these plates as the Book of Mormon.
Mormons
This religious group was initiated in the 1830s by Joseph Smith. Facing violent opposition in Missouri, Illinois, and elsewhere, these people followed a new leader in the 1840s, Brigham Young, to settle what was then Mexico but became Utah.
minstrel show
This was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface. They lampooned black people in mostly disparaging ways: as ignorant, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, joyous, and musical. (1830s-1890s)
camp meeting
These were a phenomenon of American frontier Christianity that gained wide recognition and substantial popularity throughout the 1800s. These were huge contributing factors to what became known as the Second Great Awakening.
Nat Turner
He led a slave rebellion that took place in Southampton County, Virginia during August 1831. Rebel slaves killed approximately 55 white people, the highest number of fatalities caused by slave uprisings in the South. The rebellion was put down within a few days, but not before causing widespread fear. Across the South, state legislators passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free blacks, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free blacks, and requiring white ministers to be present at black worship services.
Horace Mann
(1796 - 1859) He was an American education reformer from Massachusetts who was an early champion of public education.
American Colonization Society
This organization was created in 1816 with the intention of resettling freed black Americans to Africa. It helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1821-22, as a place to send people who were formerly enslaved. Members such as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster thought slavery was unsustainable and should eventually end but did not consider integrating slaves into society a viable option.
'hard-money' Democrats
This term describes people who believed that metal coins were the only safe currency, and they condemned all banks that issued paper currency. Andrew Jackson was their most famous champion.
temperance
This is a general term for a social movement against alcohol. In the US this movement flared at various times in history, including in the early 1800s. Leaders, such as Lyman Beecher, included many Protestant church leaders.
Liberator
This is the name of a radical abolitionist newspaper founded by William Lloyd Garrison in 1831. Published weekly for 35 years, this paper promoted immediate emancipation of slaves in the United States. The paper also served as a prominent voice for the women's suffrage movement and a notable critic of the prevailing conservative religious orthodoxy that supported slavery and opposed suffrage for women.
American Anti-Slavery Society
(1833-1870) This was an abolitionist organization based in New York City. William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass were key leaders of the group and often spoke at its meetings. By 1838, the society had 1,350 local chapters with around 250,000 members. The groups' activities frequently met with violent public opposition, with mobs invading meetings, attacking speakers, and burning presses.
Second Bank of the Untied States
Lasting from 1816 to 1836, this federal institution was highly contentious. Originally forming in order to deal with economic woes coming on the heals of the War of 1812, it was eventually killed by Andrew Jackson who fiercely opposed its recharter.
Beringia
This land bridge joined present-day Alaska and Siberia at various times during the ice ages allowing people from Asia to populate the Americas.
Aztec
This pre-Colombian civilization dominated a large swath of today's central Mexico in the centuries prior to the arrival of the Conquistadors. In 1521, Hernan Cortes, his band of men, and rival native powers brought down Montezuma and his once mighty people.
Columbian Exchange
This has been one of the most significant events in the history of world ecology, agriculture, and culture. The term is used to describe the enormous widespread exchange of plants, animals, foods, human populations (including slaves), communicable diseases, and ideas between the Eastern and Western hemispheres that occurred after 1492.
Maya
This pre-Colombian civilization centered around the Yucatan peninsula (southern Mexico and Guatemala). It was well known for its written language, elaborate cities, and advanced astronomy.
Inca
This South American civilization had the largest empire in pre-Colombian America based from Cuzco (modern Peru). In 1533 Spanish Conquistadors lead by Francisco Pizarro conquered much of their territory.
Mound Builders
This general term refers to the Native American groups who thrived for thousands of years in the Great Lakes, Ohio River, and Mississippi River regions.
Cherokee
This prominent Native tribe held territory in what would become the SE of the United States. They played a critical role in white Native relations for hundreds of years. They warred against British encroachments on their traditional lands in 1760. Later, they'd be known as one of the Five Civilized Tribes and suffer the Trail of Tears.
Treaty of Tordesillas
1494 This agreement divided the "newly discovered" American territory between the royal governments of Spain and Portugal.
Hernando de Soto
He was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who first joined expeditions in Peru and Central America before leading his own. From 1640-1642 he was the first European to explore the SE of the US and "find" the Mississippi River.
Roanoke Colony
This colony, in present-day North Carolina, was an enterprise financed and organized by Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 16th century to establish a permanent English settlement in the Virginia Colony. Between 1585 and 1587, several groups attempted to establish a colony, but either abandoned the settlement or disappeared. The final group of colonists disappeared after three years elapsed without supplies from the King of England.
Jamestown
Founded in1607, it is commonly regarded as the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States of America, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. It was founded by the London Company (later to become the Virginia Company). Although it first struggled to survive, this settlement later thrived on tobacco exports.
Powhatan
This is the name of a Virginia Indian tribe, as well as a powerful confederacy of tribes that they dominated. The confederacy is estimated to have been about 14,000-21,000 people at the time of European contact. Beginning with the arrival of English settlers at Jamestown in 1607, encroachment of the new arrivals, and their ever-growing numbers on what had been Indian lands, resulted in almost continuous conflict for 37 years. By 1646, these people were largely destroyed by disease and war.
Pocahontas
(1595-1917)This Powhatan princess famously encountered John Smith of the Jamestown colony. She married an Englishman, John Rolfe, and became a celebrity in London, before dying young.
House of Burgesses
1619 - Established in Virginian, this was the first legislative body in colonial America.
Protestant Reformation
This movement resulted in the splitting of the Christian world into Catholics and Protestants. The European social conflict and religious oppression in the centuries following Martin Luther's 95 Theses caused many to seek more freedom in America.
Mayflower Compact
1620 - This was the first agreement between European colonists for self-government in America. It was signed by the 41 men aboard a ship from England who would establish a Puritan community named Plymouth.
Pilgrims
These English Puritans felt the Church of England (aka Anglicans) so corrupted that it could not be reformed, which differentiated it from mainline Puritans, who stayed within the Church of England. Such views, labeled Separatist, were illegal in England. So they fled first to Amsterdam in search of a place where they could openly follow their religious views, and then to America--founding Plymouth in 1620.
Massachusetts Bay Colony
1629 - King Charles gave the Puritans a right to settle and govern this colony. In the 1630s and 1640s, it grew to be the population and political center of the North. Here political freedom and a representative government were first established in America.
Calvinism
This is a branch of Protestantism that began it Europe. It differed from other Protestant sects in its emphasis on a strong moral code and belief in predestination (the idea that God decided whether or not a person would be saved as soon as they were born). Most of the settlers of New England and the northeast, including the Puritans, were Calvinists.
Pequot War
This war wiped out a tribe of the same name. It took place from 1634-1638 in southern New England between a powerful native group and Puritan colonists (and their native allies).
Anne Hutchinson
This Puritan woman challenged the religious authorities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony by claiming that other ministers were preaching only the covenant of works, rather than the more important covenant of grace. Furthermore, she claimed to have communicated directly to God instead of through the church elders, which resulted in her trial and expulsion from Massachusetts in 1638.
Roger Williams
He was a Puritan preacher banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636 for challenging the religious authorities. He went on to found the colony of Providence (Rhode Island), and be an advocate for religious liberty and the separation of church and state.
Harvard
Founded in 1636 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, this college was America's first. During its early years, it primarily trained Puritan ministers.
King Philip's War or Metacom's War
This was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of southern New England and English colonists with their Native America allies in 1675-1676. The war is named after the main leader on the Native American side, although he was killed and his opponents victorious. More than half of New England's towns were assaulted, and New England's future was threatened as each antagonist sought to eliminate the other.
Joint stock
This term describes company made up of a group of shareholders. Each shareholder contributes some money to the company and receives some share of the company's profits and debts. Its innovation allowed for smaller investors to pool their resources and sponsor English colonial expansion in America, such as the London Company.
headright
This is a legal grant of land to settlers, usually between 50-100 acres, for each laborer brought to the colonies. They were given to anyone who could pay for the cost of transporting someone across the Atlantic, either a settler himself, or associated indentured servants. They were used by the London Company and others to attract more colonists to New England, Virginia, and elsewhere.
John Smith
He helped found and govern Jamestown. His leadership and strict discipline helped the Virginia colony get through the difficult first winter.
John Rolfe
He was one of the English settlers at Jamestown (and he married Pocahontas). He discovered how to successfully grow tobacco in Virginia and cure it for export, which made Virginia an economically successful colony.
Bacon's Rebellion
This 1676 rebellion was named after its leader. Western Virginia settlers were angry with Virginia Governor Berkley for trying to appease the Doeg Indians after the Doegs attacked the western settlements. The frontiersmen formed an army that defeated the Indians and then marched on Jamestown and burned the city. The rebellion ended suddenly when its leader died of an illness.
Pueblo Revolt
A 1680 uprising against Spanish colonization of the Americas in the New Spain province of New Mexico.
New Netherland
(1609-1667) This was the seventeenth-century Dutch colonial province in areas now part of the Mid-Atlantic States of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. During the 1650s it boomed and became a major port for trade in the North Atlantic. Its capital, New Amsterdam, was ceded to the British in 1667, and has since been called New York.
Georgia
This was the last of the original thirteen colonies established in British America (1733). Originally intended to be a settlement of England's "worthy poor", it was started with strict laws, such as forbidding slavery and liquor sales. But by the late 1740s, the rules relaxed and the colony began to grow faster. Another motivation for the founding was as a buffer against Spanish expansion.
Carolinas
1665 - Charles II granted this land to pay off a debt to some supporters. They instituted headrights and a representative government to attract colonists. This colony grew rich off its ties to the sugar islands, and the exportation of rice.
William Penn
In 1681 this man received a land grant from King Charles II, and used it to form a colony that would provide a haven for Quakers. His colony allowed religious freedom and used a non-violent approach to Native Americans.
Peter Stuyvesant
He served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded to the English in 1664, after which it was renamed New York. He was a major figure in the early history of New York City, and the expansion of New Netherlands .
Five Nations Iroquois
This was the federation of tribes occupying northern New York: the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Seneca, the Onondaga, and the Cayuga. It was the most powerful and efficient North American Indian organization during the 1700s. Some of the ideas from its constitution were used in the Constitution of the United States.
Benjamin Franklin
Printer, author, inventor, diplomat, statesman, and Founding Father. One of the few Americans who was highly respected in Europe, partially due to his discoveries in the field of electricity.
Maryland
This colony was founded in 1634 by royal charter and soon became one of the few predominantly Catholic regions among the English in the colonies. As other colonies, it used the headright system to encourage people to bring in new settlers. Its Toleration Act of 1649 was one of the first laws in the colonies that explicitly protected religious freedom (for Christians, at least).
Great Awakening
This movement was a sudden outbreak of religious fervor that swept through the colonies. Puritanism had declined by the 1730s, and people were upset about the decline in religious piety. Leaders included Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. (1739-1744)
Huguenots
This is a name for French Protestants, who were persecuted in their home country for their Calvinist views. Fort Caroline, the first French colony in the present-day United States, was established in what is now Jacksonville, Florida, in 1564, and was intended as a refuge for this group. The Edict of Nantes (1598) freed them from persecution in France, but when that was revoked in the late 1685, hundreds of thousands fled to other countries, including America.
Mercantilism
This term describes the economic policy of Europe in the 1500s through 1700s. The government exercised control over industry and trade with the idea that national strength and economic security comes from exporting more than is imported. Possession of colonies provided countries both with sources of raw materials and markets for their manufactured goods. Great Britain exported goods and forced the colonies to buy them.
English Navigation Acts
(1650-1673) These were a series of laws that restricted the use of foreign shipping for trade between England and its colonies, which started in 1651. Their goal was to force colonial development into lines favorable to England, and stop colonial trade with the Netherlands and France. On the whole, the Acts were obeyed. Irritation with stricter enforcement in the 1760s became one source of resentment by merchants in the American colonies against Great Britain, helping cause the American Revolution.
Triangular Trade
This term describes the general flow and relationship of international business during the colonial period, but included many variables. For example, ships from New England could sail first to Africa, exchanging New England rum for slaves. The slaves were shipped from Africa to the Caribbean (this was known as the Middle Passage, when many slaves died on the ships). In the Caribbean, the slaves were traded for sugar and molasses. Then the ships returned to New England, where the molasses were used to make rum.
Primogeniture
This was a British legal doctrine governing the inheritance of property. It required that a man's property and title pass in its entirety to his oldest son. The colonies broke with this tradition.
Indentured servants
People who could not afford passage to the colonies came under this system. Another person would pay their passage, and in exchange, the immigrant would serve that person for a set length of time (usually seven years) and then would be free.
"Salutary neglect"
This phrase describes Great Britain's policy in dealing with the American colonies prior to the French and Indian War (1754). The British believed that unrestricted trade in the colonies would be more profitable for England than would taxation of the colonies, and were primarily concerned with more local affairs.
The Enlightenment
A philosophical movement that started in Europe in the 1700's and spread to the colonies. It emphasized reason and the scientific method. Writers of this movement tended to focus on government, ethics, and science, rather than on imagination, emotions, or religion. Many members of this movement rejected traditional religious beliefs.
Town meetings
These were the most common form of local government in colonial New England, but were common in other colonies as well. In general, a communitiy's voting population would gather once a year to elect officers, levy taxes, and pass laws.
John Peter Zenger
In 1735, this man published articles critical of British governor William Cosby. He was taken to trial, but found not guilty. The 1735 trial set a precedent for freedom of the press in the colonies.
Glorious Revolution
This event took place in England in 1688 when powerful Protestant Parliamentarians invited the seizing of power by William of Orange, after a long string of grievances against King James II. The main concern was that King James II would pass the crown to his Catholic son. It ended in the creation of the English Bill of Rights, which forever limited the powers of the monarch and initiated modern English parliamentary democracy.
John Locke
(1632-1704) He was an English political philosopher whose ideas inspired the American Revolution. He wrote that all human beings have a right to life, liberty, and property, and that governments exist to protect those rights. He believed that government was based upon an unwritten "social contract" between the rulers and their people, and if the government failed to uphold its end of the contract, the people had a right to rebel and institute a new government.
Stono Rebellion (aka Cato's Rebellion)
This 1739 slave uprising in South Carolina was the largest in the British mainland colonies prior to the American Revolution. Accounts of slaves' gaining freedom by escaping to Spanish-controlled Florida gave the Carolina slaves ambition for freedom.
French and Indian War
(1754-1763) This was the North American theater of the Seven Years' War in Europe. Britain and France fought for supremacy in North America. Britain eventually won, and gained control of all of the remaining French possessions in Canada, as well as India. Spain, which had allied with France, ceded Florida to Britain, but received Louisiana in return.
Treaty of Paris
This 1763 agreement between Britain, France, and Spain ended the Seven Years War (aka the French and Indian War). France lost Canada, the land east of the Mississippi, some Caribbean islands and India to Britain. France also gave New Orleans and the land west of the Mississippi to Spain, to compensate it for ceding Florida to the British.
Pontiac's Rebellion
This was a 1763 Indian uprising led by an Ottawa chief. The Indians opposed British expansion into the western Ohio Valley and began destroying British forts in the area. The attacks ended when its leader was killed.
Proclamation of 1763
This law forbade colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains, and which required any settlers already living west of the mountains to move back east. It passage was an attempt to build better relations between the colonies and Native groups, but it resulted in many colonists resenting the authority of the Crown.
Prime Minister Grenville
This British leader passed the Sugar Act in 1764 and the Stamp Act in 1765 to help finance the cost of maintaining a standing force of British troops in the colonies. He believed in reducing the financial burden on the British by enacting new taxes in the colonies.
Currency Act
This was British legislation enacted in 1764 that banned the production of paper money in the colonies in an effort to combat the inflation caused by Virginia's decision to get itself out of debt by issuing more paper money.
Stamp Act
This British legislation was passed in 1765 as part of Prime Minister Grenville's revenue measures. It required that all legal or official documents used in the colonies, such as wills, deeds and contracts, had to have proof of a tax payment. It was so unpopular in the colonies that it met widespread resistance, and the British officials sent to collect the tax felt their lives threatened. Because of this opposition, and the decline in British imports caused by the non- importation movement, London merchants convinced Parliament to repeal the act in 1766.
Patrick Henry
(1736-1799) He was an American orator and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses who gave speeches against the British government and its policies urging the colonies to fight for independence. In connection with a petition to declare a "state of defense" in Virginia in 1775, he gave his most famous speech that ends with the words, "Give me liberty or give me death." He served as Governor of Virginia from 1776-1779 and 1784-1786, and was instrumental in causing the Bill of Rights to be adopted as part of the U.S. Constitution.
Sons of Liberty
This was a radical political organization that formed in 1765 after the passage of the Stamp Act, and pushed for colonial independence. They incited riots and burned the customs houses where the stamped British paper was kept. After the repeal of the Stamp Act, many of the local chapters formed the Committees of Correspondence that continued to promote opposition to British policies towards the colonies. The leaders included Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.
Internal (taxes)
These were a category of tax that arose out of activities that occurred within the colonies, rather than overseas trade. The Stamp Act was considered this type of tax, because it taxed the colonists on legal transactions they undertook locally. Many colonists and Englishmen felt that Parliament did not have the authority to levy such taxes on the colonies.
External (taxes)
These were a category of taxes on activities that originated outside of the colonies, such as customs duties. The Sugar Act was considered this type of tax, because it only operated on goods imported into the colonies from overseas. Many colonists who objected to Parliament's "internal" taxes on the colonies felt that Parliament had the authority to levy these taxes on imported goods.
Declaratory Act
Passed at the same time that the Stamp Act was repealed, this 1766 Act declared that Parliament had the power to tax the colonies both internally and externally, and had absolute power over the colonial legislatures.
Sam Adams
(1722-1803) He was a Massachusetts politician who was a radical fighter for colonial independence. He helped organize the Sons of Liberty and the Non-Importation Commission, and is believed to have lead the Boston Tea Party. He served in the Continental Congress throughout the Revolution, and served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1794-1797.
John Adams
He was a Massachusetts attorney and politician who was a strong believer in colonial independence. He argued against the Stamp Act and was involved in various patriot groups. As a delegate from Massachusetts, he urged the Second Continental Congress to declare independence. He helped draft and pass the Declaration of Independence. He later served as the President of the United States.
Boston Tea Party
This took place in 1773 when British ships carrying tea sailed into a colonial port, but were unable to unload its cargo. Colonists were boycotting the tea in protest of increased British regulation and would not let the ships bring the tea ashore. On the night of December 16, 1773, colonials disguised as Indians boarded the ships and threw the tea overboard.
Quebec Act
This 1774 act, passed by Parliament, alarmed the colonies because it recognized the Roman- Catholic Church in a neighboring colony to the north. Some colonials took it as a sign that Britain was planning to impose Catholicism upon the colonies.
Lexington and Concord
(1775) These were the first two military engagements in what became the Revolutionary War. King George III had ordered British troops to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock. As the British marched to find these radicals and a cache of weapons, the colonial militias attempted to block the progress of the troops and were fired on by the British.
George Washington
He had led troops (rather unsuccessfully) during the French and Indian War, and had surrendered Fort Necessity to the French. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and was much more successful in this second command.
Olive Branch Petition
On July 8, 1775, the colonies made this final offer of peace to Britain. Congress agreed to be loyal to the British government if it addressed their grievances (repealed the Coercive Acts, ended the taxation without representation policies). This peace offer was rejected, and the Revolutionary War ensued.
Thomas Paine
A British citizen, he wrote Common Sense, published on January 1, 1776, to encourage the colonies to seek independence. It spoke out against the unfair treatment of the colonies by the British government and was instrumental in turning public opinion in favor of the Revolution.
Thomas Jefferson
He was a delegate from Virginia at the Second Continental Congress and wrote the Declaration of Independence. He later served as the third President of the United States.
Salem witch trials
This fiasco took place in Massachusetts in 1692. It began when a group of girls began to act very strangely—howling, barking, and stretching themselves into frightful contortions. The girls accused several members of the community of evil magic. Brought before a court, 18 people were found guilty and hanged. By the end, public support for the accusations collapsed, and the Puritan era of New England was brought to a close.
Albany Congress
This was a meeting of colonial leaders and the Iroquois in 1754. Britain, fearful that native groups would ally with the French if war broke out, encouraged the meeting to address the grievances of the natives. At this meeting the idea of a colonial union was proposed by Ben Franklin and others.
Writs of Assistance
These were search warrants issued by the British government in colonial America. They allowed officials to search houses and ships for smuggled goods, and to enlist colonials to help them search. They could be used anywhere, anytime, as often as desired—and led to severe resentment by colonists towards the Crown.
Paxton Boys
This name refers to a group of Scots-Irish frontiersmen in Pennsylvania, who were fighting with Indians. The British governor sought to have justice on the frontier, but could not contain the murderous rage of this group who massacred groups of Indians in 1763.
Sugar Act
Part of Prime Minister Grenville's revenue program, this 1764 act place duties on wine, coffee, and molasses, and for the first time adopted provisions that would insure that tax collection was strictly enforced. The passage of this act launched Grenville's war against smugglers, and vastly increased the oversight of trade.
'non-importation'
This was an act of colonial resistance, where colonists agreed to stop buying goods from Britain, that gathered momentum in the late 1760s. But this movement was controversial. Since British trade played a bigger role in the North American economy than the British economy, to hurt Britain a little, the colonies would have to hurt themselves a lot.
Stamp Act Congress
This was a secret meeting, organized by members of the Massachusetts assembly, in October 1765 in New York City of representatives from among the colonies to discuss a bill recently passed by Parliament. The result was a Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which stated that: -Only the colonial assemblies had a right to tax the colonies. -Trial by jury was a right, and the use of Admiralty Courts was abusive. -Colonists possessed all the Rights of Englishmen. -Without voting rights, Parliament could not represent the colonists.
The Boston Massacre
This incident resulted in the deaths of five civilians at the hands of British troops on March 5, 1770. A heavy British military presence caused tension between soldiers and civilians and eventually led to troops discharging their muskets after being abused and taunted by a rowdy crowd. This outraged the colonies and increased anti-British sentiment.
Carolina Regulators
These were western frontiersmen who rose in rebellion throughout the 1760s in protest against dept payments and taxes imposed by the colonial government. These men gathered into groups of vigilantes who organized to fight outlaw bands along the frontier. They were eventually crushed by military force in 1771 by the colonial government.
Quartering Acts
These laws, passed by Parliament in 1765 and 1774, were used by the British forces in the American colonies to ensure that British soldiers had adequate housing and provisions. Originally intended as a response to problems that arose during Britain's victory in the Seven Years War they later became a source of tension between colonists and the government in London.
Coercive Acts / Intolerable Acts
These names refer to the same group of acts, passed in 1774 in response to the Boston Tea Party and colonial resistance of British authority. They included the Boston Port Act, which shut down Boston Harbor; the Massachusetts Government Act, which disbanded the Boston Assembly (but it soon reinstated itself); the Quartering Act, which required the colony to provide provisions for British soldiers; and the Administration of Justice Act, which removed the power of colonial courts to arrest royal officers.
First Continental Congress
This September 1774 meeting of colonial leaders was Called in response to the passage of the Coercive Acts, and ongoing friction with England. The Congress, which was made up of representatives from 12/13 colonies met briefly to consider options, including an economic boycott of British trade; publishing a list of rights and grievances; and petitioning King George III for redress of those grievances. In response, in February 1775, Parliament declared the colonies to be in rebellion.
Declaration of Independence
This was a pronouncement by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now separate from the British Empire. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, this document justifies the revolution through the natural law of self-government, and a list of grievances against King George III.
George III
He was the King of England from 1760-1820. Sharing power with Parliament, this "limited" monarch and his ministers fought and won the Seven Years War (aka French and Indian War), and then lost the Revolutionary War.
proprietary colony
This is a type of colony in which one or more private land owners retain rights that are normally the privilege of the state, such as creating laws and levying taxes. The method was most notably used during the early colonization along the Atlantic coasts of North America and the Caribbean by Great Britain. A good example is the Province of Pennsylvania, granted to William Penn by King Charles II of England.
charter colony
This is one of the three classes of government in the British colonies in North America. In Virginia, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, the King gave authority to the establishment of a colonial government, setting forth the rules under which the colony was to be governed. This class of colony granted the colonists significantly more political liberty than other colonies.
Crown (or Royal) colony
These were colonies ruled by a governor appointed by the King. The first such colony was the Colony of Virginia after the King took control from the London Company in 1624. By 1775 all but four of the thirteen colonies had been taken over by the King.
Conquistador
This term refers to the Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the centuries following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Examples include Hernán Cortés and Pedro de Alvarado who subdued the Aztec Empire, and Francisco Pizarro who subdued the Inca. Francisco Coronado first explored the Rio Grande Valley in 1540, in modern New Mexico, and Hernando de Soto was the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day southeastern United States.
Hernán Cortés
He was a conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under Spanish rule in the early 16th century. He was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
The London Company (also called the Virginia Company of London)
This was an English joint stock company established to create colonial settlements in North America. Its first venture, Jamestown, struggled financially for a number of years, with results improving after sweeter strains of tobacco than the native variety were cultivated and successfully exported from Virginia as a cash crop beginning in 1612. In 1624, the company lost its charter, and Virginia became a royal colony.
Opechancanough
At the time of the English settlement at Jamestown, this man was a much-feared warrior and a charismatic leader of the Powhatan Indians. The natives and the colonists came into increasingly irreconcilable conflicts as the land-hungry export crop, tobacco, became the cash crop of the colony. Beginning with the Indian massacre of 1622, this Powhatan chief abandoned diplomacy with the English settlers of the Virginia Colony as a means of settling conflicts and tried to force them to abandon the region. He launched one more major effort to get rid of the colonists in 1644, but was killed by colonial forces.
Puritans
This was a grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, who came to play a central role in the founding of New England. These Calvinists felt that the English Reformation had not gone far enough, and that the Church of England was tolerant of practices which they associated with the Catholic Church. They emphasized the importance of a covenant of grace, as well as personal and group piety.
John Winthrop
(1588- 1649) He obtained a charter, along with other wealthy Puritans, from King Charles I for the Massachusetts Bay Company and led a group of English Puritans to the New World in 1630. He was elected the governor of the colony a total of 12 times. He is most famous for his "City upon a Hill" sermon (as it is known popularly, its real title being A Model of Christian Charity) in which he declared that the Puritan colonists emigrating to the New World were part of a special pact with God to create a holy community.
Quakers (or Religious Society of Friends)
This religious group began in England in the late 1640s around the leadership of George Fox. They believed that it was possible to have a direct experience of Jesus Christ without the mediation of clergy, and that war was wrong. As the movement expanded, it faced opposition and persecution in Great Britain and its colonies. In the Massachusetts Bay colony, they were banished on pain of death — some (most famously Mary Dyer) were hanged for returning to preach their beliefs. Pennsylvania was founded in 1682 as a safe place for these people to live in and practice their faith.
The English Civil War
(1642-1651) This was a series of armed conflicts and political clashes between Parliamentarians and Royalists. It led to the trial and execution of Charles I, the exile of his son, Charles II, and replacement of English monarchy with first, the Commonwealth of England (1649-53), and then with a Protectorate (1653-59), under Oliver Cromwell's personal rule.
Townshend Acts
These were a series of laws passed beginning in 1767 by the Parliament of Great Britain relating to the British colonies in North America. Named for the British official who proposed the program, the purpose was to raise revenue in the colonies and to establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies. They were met with resistance in the colonies, prompting the occupation of Boston by British troops in 1768, which eventually resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770.
Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania
This a series of essays written by the lawyer and legislator John Dickinson (1732-1808) and published from 1767 to 1768. They were widely read and reprinted throughout the thirteen colonies, and were important in uniting the colonists against the Townshend Acts. While acknowledging the power of Parliament in matters concerning the whole British Empire, Dickinson argued that the colonies were sovereign in their internal affairs.
The Second Continental Congress
This was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that met beginning in May 1775, in Philadelphia, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It managed the colonial war effort, and moved incrementally towards independence, adopting the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. By raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and making formal treaties, it acted as the de facto national government of what became the United States.
The Pueblo Revolt or Popé's Rebellion
This was an uprising in 1680 against Spanish colonization in New Mexico, after several episodes of severe repression of Native religious practices. It resulted in over 400 Spaniards being killed, and a reconquest of all the territory in the region, except for Santa Fe, that lasted until 1692.
Anglicization
This term refers to a trend that took place in the 18th century colonial America as British colonists sought to emulate their homeland. Many of the institutions, such as newspapers, and material goods, such as London fashions, that they had left behind in the 17th century began to reappear.
George Whitefield
(1714 - 1770) He was an Anglican Protestant minister who helped spread the Great Awakening in the Britain in the colonies. He was one of the founders of Methodism and of the evangelical movement generally. He became perhaps the best-known preacher America in the 18th century, traveled through all of the American colonies, and drew great crowds and media coverage.
second front
The term used to describe an eventual Allied invasion of Western Europe to force Germany to fight in the west as well as on the existing eastern front in Russia.
D-Day
June 6,1944,when the Allies invaded Normandy in France to open a second front in the war against Germany.
Battle of the Bulge
A battle in which Hitler launched a large-scale counter-attack against American and British armies on the western front in December 1944.
concentration camps
Nazi-run work and death camps in which millions of people were imprisoned and died during World War II.
Bataan Death March
A cruel, deadly march Japanese troops forced upon American and Filipino prisoners captured in the Philippines in 1942.
The Battle of Midway
A fierce battle in the Pacific between Japan and the United States; the first battle ever fought entirely by planes from aircraft carriers.
Manhattan Project
A secret U.S. project responsible for building the first atomic bombs during World War II.
The Treaty of Versailles
The treaty that ended World War I. Its harsh conditions upon Germany set the stage for World War II.
Nazi Party
Adolf Hitler's political party in Germany; also known as the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
Totalitarian state
A state whose government, ruled by a dictator, has total and unlimited authority over the people.
fascism
A system of government that glorifies the state and is led by a single powerful ruler.
blitzkrieg
A German word meaning "lightning war" first used by Hitler in World War II. Hitler's strategy involved the use of fast-moving tanks, or Panzers, to invade other European countries.
Battle of Britain
The 1940 Nazi air assault that failed to subdue England.
Axis Powers
The alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II formed by the signing of the Tripartite Pact in 1940.
Neutrality Acts
Laws passed by the U.S. Congress before World War II to prevent American involvement.
Isolationists
People who believed that America should isolate itself and not participate in the affairs of the world outside of the Western Hemisphere.
embargo
The refusal to sell goods to or buy goods from another nation or nations.
Lend-Lease Program
President Roosevelt's way of bypassing the Neutrality Acts by lending and leasing financial and material resources to nations attacked by Germany.
Pearl Harbor
An American military base in the Pacific that was attacked by Japan on December 7,1941;the United States declared war on Japan the next day.
Arsenal of Democracy
A term coined by President Roosevelt to describe the role of American industry during the war.
Fair Employment Practices Committee
A U.S. agency that enforced President Roosevelt's executive order to ban discrimination in the hiring of workers for war production and for government work. (during WW II)
Harry Truman
vice president under Roosevelt. Assumed office of president on the eve of the Allied victory over Europe. Upon assuming the office, Truman had very little knowledge of foreign affairs and little knowledge of the Manhattan Project.
A. Philip Randolph
African-American leader who threatened Franklin Roosevelt with a march on Washington in order to get the government to open up defense-plant jobs to African Americans and to integrate the military. Canceled march after Roosevelt promised to create the Fair Employment Practices Commission.
Office of War Information
branch of the U.S. government that centralized and coordinated policies related to propaganda and censorship during WW II.
Operation Overlord
massive Allied operation to open a second front on the western front of the war. Accomplished on June 6, 1944—D-Day.
Holocaust
Adolf Hitler's attempt to exterminate Jews and "unfit" groups. Millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and others died in the Nazi concentration camps.
Zionism
the movement to establish a Jewish state in the Middle East. After World War II, Palestine was partitioned between Arabs and Jews, and the state of Israel was created.
East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Japanese goal for Asia. Called for liberating peoples throughout Asia from Western colonialism and creating a self-sufficient and self-government economic zone under Japanese political control.
Bataan Death March
forced 60-mile march of American and Filipino prisoners of war. Packed on ships and transported to prison camps. 7,000 died. Came to represent Japanese cruelty.
Jiang Jieshi
incompetent and corrupt nationalist leader of China supported by Roosevelt to prevent communist leader Mao Zedong from coming to power. Tying U.S. policy to him caused difficulties for post-war China policy.
The Fair Deal
President Truman's name for his postwar legislative program to extend the policies of the New Deal.
The GI Bill of Rights
Passed by Congress in 1944, the G.I. Bill provided returning World War II veterans with unemployment benefits, free education, and low-interest loans for the purchase of houses, farms, and small businesses.
Dixiecrats
A political party made up of southern Democrats who opposed the civil rights program of the Democratic Party, and who nominated Strom Thurmond of South Carolina for president in 1948.
Baby boomers
The large generation of children born during the post- World War II era.
The Cold War
A general term to describe the rivalry and hostility short of actual war between the United States and the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1989.
Iron Curtain
The figurative term first used by Winston Churchill in 1946 to describe the barriers the Soviet Union built across Europe after the war to divide its conquered eastern European communist lands from the capitalist democracies of the West.
Truman Doctrine
A policy announced by President Truman in 1947 to stop the spread of communism, specifically by sending financial and military aid to Greece and Turkey. This policy is also known as containment.
massive retaliation
A foreign policy of President Eisenhower, promulgated by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, to threaten nuclear retaliation in the event of an attack by the Soviet Union and China against the U.S. or any of its allies.
Second Red Scare
A time after World War II when politicians, especially Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, exploited Americans' fears of communism and nuclear war by investigating communist influence in the United States.
McCarthyism
The practice of investigating communist influence in the 1950s.Today,the term suggests unproven accusations against innocent individuals.
blacklisting
A method used by the entertainment industry during the McCarthy era to deny work to any persons who had been accused of being communist.
Brown vs. the Board of Education
An important case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the practice of separate but equal schools was unconstitutional.
General Douglas MacArthur
U.S. commander in the Pacific theater during World War II and commander of U.N. forces in Korea. Was relieved of duty by President Truman after clash over military and political strategy during the Korean war.
Joseph McCarthy
Republican senator from Wisconsin who became one of the nation's leading "Red hunters" during the early 1950s. Accused government agencies, including the State Department, of being infiltrated with communists. Eventually gave his name to extreme anticommunism—McCarthyism. Censured in 1954 for discrediting his own party.
National Security Act
passed in 1947. Created the National Security Council (with broad powers over the planning of foreign policy), the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Air Force (as a separate branch of the military)—all of these as part of a broad strategy to contain communism.
Levittown
Long Island suburban community, one of the first of its kind. Came to symbolize both the hopes of middle-class families to own their own homes and flight from the cities.
Fair Deal
Harry Truman's addition to Roosevelt's New Deal. Called for extension of Social Security, higher minimum-wage levels, a national health-care proposal, and other social-welfare measures.
apartheid
a legal system of racial segregation and discrimination as set up in South Africa in 1948. Despite this system, the Truman administration decided to cement an alliance with the non-Communist state.
Strom Thurmond
the southern segregationist who ran as a Dixiecrat presidential candidate in 1948. His candidacy revealed that some southern Democrats would abandon the Democratic Party if it supported federal civil rights policies. Based his candidacy on the principle of states' rights.
National Labor Relations Act
popularly referred to as the Taft-Hartley Act. A 1947 measure that limited a union's power to conduct boycotts, limited or outlawed use of the closed shop (which forced workers to join a union as a condition of their employment), empowered the president to call for a cooling off period before workers in strategically important industries could go on strike, and required that union officials sign affidavits declaring that they were not members of the Communist Party. Seriously eroded the gains labor had made during the 1930s. Vetoed by President Harry Truman, but his veto was overridden.
Third World
The group of developing countries in the world not linked with the United States or the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
capitalism
An economic system characterized by private ownership of property and free enterprise.
communism
An economic system in which all goods are owned jointly; in the Soviet Union, this developed into a government in which all social and economic policy decisions were made by a single party.
containment
The foreign policy of the United Sates designed to stop the growth of communism.
Iron Curtain
An imaginary line that separated the countries in Western Europe from the countries under Soviet domination in Eastern Europe.
Truman Doctrine
A 1947 pronouncement by President Truman that offered aid to the governments of Greece and Turkey in their fight against Soviet influence; the first application of the containment policy.
Marshall Plan
A program implemented by the United States in 1948 to help bolster the economies of European countries trying to recover after World War II.
blockade
A military strategy that attempts to isolate a country by preventing the movement of its people and goods.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
A mutual defense alliance established in 1949 between the United States, Canada and several Western European countries designed to safeguard Western Europe against Soviet attack.
Warsaw Pact
A mutual defense organization established in 1955 by the Soviet Union and several Eastern European countries.
nuclear arms race
The development and warehousing of weapons of mass destruction by the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
Sputnik
A Russian space satellite launched in 1957 that caused the United States to reassess its role as a world leader in technology and develop its own space agency.
Berlin Wall
A barrier surrounding the German city of West Berlin, constructed by the Soviet Union in 1961 to stop people from fleeing Communist East Berlin.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
An organization in the United States responsible for gathering information and facilitating overseas communications.
Bay of Pigs
An unsuccessful attempt by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles to overthrow Communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro in April 1961.
domino theory
The fear that the spread of communism would run rampant among neighboring countries if one were to fall under Communist influence.
détente
The relaxation of tensions between nations.
Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I)
Agreement between the United States and Soviet Union intended to limit the proliferation of long-range nuclear weapons.
Contra
A member of a military group that fought the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
Strategic Defense Initiative(SDI)
A program proposed by President Reagan in 1983 that was intended to provide the United States with a space-based defense system to guard against possible nuclear attacks.
Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty (INF)
An agreement signed by President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev in 1987 that called for the elimination of medium-range nuclear weapons.
glasnost
A policy of political openness in Soviet society instituted by leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
perestroika
The restructuring of the failing Soviet economy, allowing for limited free enterprise under Mikhail Gorbachev.
the sit-in movement
when young civil rights protestors demanded equal access to segregated lunch counters and other public facilities, they seated themselves and asked for service. Began in Greensboro, NC, in early 1960.
Ho Chi Minh
the European-educated Vietnamese Communist nationalist leader who fought the French, Japanese, and Americans to establish a unified, independent Vietnam. As a result of the Geneva Peace Accords of 1954, Ho Chi Minh's government was established in North Vietnam.
Jim Crow laws
Laws that were designed to enforce racial segregation and maintain white supremacy in the South after the Civil War.
boycott
A group effort to protest unfair practices by refusing to deal with businesses or people regarded as unfair.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Organization of black ministers founded in 1957 and headed by Martin Luther King, Jr., whose goal was to fight discrimination and work for equality for African Americans.
civil disobedience
A protest strategy where resistance to unjust laws or government is undertaken in a nonviolent public way.
Freedom Riders
Protestors who traveled through the South in 1961 challenging segregation laws in interstate transportation and public facilities.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Major, comprehensive legislation intended to end discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin. This was one of the major achievements of the Civil Rights era. It ended public segregation.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
A major achievement of the Civil Rights movement, this legislation ended discriminatory practices that made it impossible for some people to exercise their right to vote.
Nation of Islam
An African-American religious and nationalist movement in the United States that advocated for the establishment of a separate nation for African Americans.
Black Panthers
A radical revolutionary group founded in 1966;originally formed to protect African-American citizens from police brutality.
United Farm Workers (UFW)
Originally called the National Farm Workers Union, an organization formed in 1971 and led by César Chávez to represent the interests of farm labor.
American Indian Movement (AIM)
A civil rights organization formed by American Indians in 1968 to address the needs of Native Americans.
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Organization formed in 1966 and led by Betty Friedan that was dedicated to pursuing equal rights for women.
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
A proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that tried to eliminate discriminatory laws against women. The Senate approved the amendment in 1972, but it was not ratified by the states.
affirmative action
A policy that attempts to address past discrimination against various groups by improving employment and educational opportunities.
nationalist
A member of a political group fighting for national independence.
Vietcong
A Communist-led army and guerrilla force in South Vietnam that fought its American backed government and was supported by North Vietnam.
guerrilla
A person who is not part of a regular military force but engages in warfare. They mix into the local population and use techniques such as ambush, hit and run, sabotage, and booby traps.
Ho Chi Minh trail
The route used by the North Vietnamese military to conduct raids in South Vietnam and to deliver supplies to the Vietcong.
domino theory
The fear that the spread of communism would run rampant among neighboring countries if one were to fall under communist influence.
Pentagon
The headquarters of the United States Department of Defense.
Tonkin Gulf Resolution
Resolution passed by Congress in 1964 in response to perceived aggression by North Vietnamese against the United States Navy, which gave President Johnson approval to escalate the use of military force in Vietnam without declaring war.
Operation Rolling Thunder
A series of bombing attacks started in 1965 that were conducted by the United States in North Vietnam in an attempt to cut supply lines to the Vietcong in South Vietnam.
Agent Orange
An herbicide used by the United States military during the Vietnam War to destroy forests and crops.
napalm
A mixture of chemicals used by the United States military in flamethrowers and firebombs during the Vietnam War.
Tet Offensive
A major Communist attack against South Vietnamese and U.S. positions in South Vietnam in January 1968 during the Vietnamese New Year. Although a military victory for America and its allies, it was a turning point in Americans' attitude toward the war.
New Left
A political movement that evolved out of the 1960s with concerns about the Vietnam War, civil rights and the environment.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
A student movement in the 1960s that actively protested the Vietnam War.
conscientious objector
A person who will not fight in the military for moral, religious or philosophical reasons.
Vietnamization
A U.S. policy during the Vietnam War of giving the South Vietnamese government responsibility for carrying on the war, so as to allow for the withdrawal of American troops.
Watergate
A White House political scandal involving President Nixon that ultimately led to his resignation in 1974.
Malcolm X
black civil rights leader, member of the Nation of Islam. Advocated a rejection of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "passive resistance" approach to the civil rights movement in favor of a more active building of black cultural traditions and a more aggressive defense of African-American institutions.
Watergate
name given to the broad pattern of law-breaking—including obstruction of justice and illegal wire-tapping—that ultimately destroyed the Nixon presidency. More narrowly refers to the illegal entry in the summer of 1972 into Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington, DC, by operatives tied to the Committee to Re-Elect the President.
Civil Rights Act (1964)
Fought for by civil rights leaders, this created new federal remedies for job discrimination based on race or gender. Also prohibited racial discrimination in public accommodations associated with interstate commerce, such as hotels or restaurants.
George Wallace
former governor of Alabama. Segregationist Democrat who created the American Independent Party and ran for president in 1968. His grassroots campaign and his attacks on the counterculture gained him 13.5 percent of the popular vote.
Henry Kissinger
the German-Jewish Harvard University professor who served as secretary of state for both Nixon and Ford. Was not involved in the Watergate scandal. Negotiated the peace accord with North Vietnam in 1973.
Rachel Carson
author of Silent Spring. Raised public awareness of the dangers of pesticide use in agriculture, especially DDT. Had a significant impact on the expansion of the environmental movement.
New Right
coalition of various conservative groups, particularly the religious right, that emerged as the most successful social movement in the late twentieth century.
multiculturalism
educational and intellectual theory that sought to emphasize the diverse traditions that make up--and always made up--American culture. Often became a flash point for conservative groups that saw it as a way of denigrating traditional, European-centered, cultural traditions and educational programs.
Moral Majority
organization founded by Jerry Falwell that opposed cultural change and helped foster the growth of the New Right.
United Farm Workers
brought to prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s by the charismatic Cesar Chavez. Undertook effective boycotts of grapes and lettuce. Won major contract victory in 1970. Steadily lost ground in the late 1970s and 1980s due to employer resistance and the influx of new immigrants eager for work at any wage.
Roe v. Wade
Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to get an abortion. Galvanized the religious right.
New Frontier
The name of President Kennedy's platform to help the economy, address poverty, and develop the space program.
Peace Corps
An organization established by President Kennedy in 1961 through which American volunteers worked in developing nations around the world.
Bay of Pigs Invasion
An unsuccessful attempt by Cuban exiles, sponsored by the U.S., to overthrow communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro in April 1961.
Berlin Wall
A concrete and barbed wire barrier surrounding the German city of West Berlin, constructed by the Soviet Union in 1961 to stop people from fleeing communist East Berlin.
The Great Society
President Lyndon Johnson's domestic program that attempted to solve the problems of poverty, hunger and racial injustice by providing federal resources to improve housing, health and educational opportunities for all Americans.
Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
Program that attempted to get to the roots of poverty by providing federal resources to improve educational and job opportunities. Part of the Great Society.
Medicare, Medicaid
Programs established in 1965 designed to guarantee medical care to America's elderly and address the medical needs of low- income Americans.
The Immigration Act of 1965
Immigration law that set aside quotas based on country of origin, and established more general and flexible limits.
Gideon v. Wainwright
Landmark 1963 Supreme Court decision that established the right of the accused in criminal trials to have a lawyer, even if they cannot afford one.
Miranda v. Arizona
Controversial 1966 Supreme Court case that established rules for police interrogation of the accused and protected suspect's rights against self-incrimination.
Watergate
Scandal that involved an illegal break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972 that eventually led to President Nixon's resignation in 1974.
Three Mile Island
Nuclear power facility near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that overheated and almost led to a meltdown in 1979.
impeach
To formally charge a public official with misconduct in office.
Reaganomics
The Reagan Administration's economic philosophy that believed that low taxes on wealthy citizens would lead to a "trickle down" prosperity for all.
recession
An economic condition in which there is an overall slow- down, characterized by declining production and high unemployment.
deficit
What occurs when you spend more money than you take in over a one year period.
debt
An accumulation of annual deficits, or the total amount of money you owe.
deregulation
The process of removing legal and environmental restrictions on businesses.
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)
A program proposed by President Reagan in 1983 that was intended to provide the United States with a space based defense system to guard against possible nuclear attacks.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
An organization in the United States responsible for gathering information and facilitating overseas communications.
United Nations (UN)
A world political organization established in 1945.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA )
An agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico that was intended to stimulate trade among these North American countries.
Gulf War
A 1991 conflict in the Middle East in which the United States led a group of nations in an effort to expel Saddam Hussein's Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
Mikhail Gorbachev
new-style Soviet leader who became head of the Communist Party in 1985 and advocated economic liberalization (perestroika) and political openness (glasnost).
contras
a U.S.-trained and -equipped military force that opposed socialism in Nicaragua. When Congress cut off funds, the Reagan administration financed them through secret arms sales to Iran.
Abraham Lincoln Brigade
This refers to volunteers from the United States who served in the Spanish Civil War(1936-1939). They fought for Spanish Republican forces against Franco and the Spanish Nationalists. Many of the people who volunteered were official members of the Communist Party USA or affiliated with other socialist or anarchist organizations.
Munich Pact
This was a 1938 agreement between European powers permitting Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. Today, it is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement toward Nazi Germany.
Joseph Stalin
He became the leader of the Soviet Union in the years following Lenin's death in 1924. He directed a period of rapid industrialization and economic collectivization, and transformed the Soviet Union into one of the world's superpowers. An uneasy ally of the United States during WW II, he became a bitter foe during the Cold War. He ruled until his death in 1953.
German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
This 1939 agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union pledged neutrality by either party if the other were attacked by a third party. The treaty included a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence, anticipating potential "territorial and political rearrangements" of these countries. Thereafter, Germany and the Soviet Union invaded their respective sides of Poland, dividing the country between them. It remained in effect until 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
Atlantic Charter
This was a 1941 published statement agreed between Britain and the United States. It was intended as the blueprint for the postwar world after World War II, and turned out to be the foundation for many of the international agreements that currently shape the world. It was drafted by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, before the United States has entered the war.
Battle of Stalingrad
This was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union. It took place between July 1942 and February 1943, and is often cited as one of the turning points of the war. The German failed offensive was the first substantial German land defeat of the war. It was amongst the bloodiest in the history of warfare, with the upper estimates of combined casualties coming to nearly two million.
Operation Torch
This was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started November 1942.
Mao Zedong
He was a Chinese revolutionary, political theorist and communist leader. He led the People's Republic of China (PRC) from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976.
Hiroshima / Nagasaki
These Japanese cities were attacked with nuclear bombs by the United States during World War II. These August 1945 bombings effectively ended the Pacific theater of the war.
Navajo code talkers
This term describes Native Americans that served in the United States Marine Corps, and whose primary job was the transmission of secret tactical messages, based on their Native languages. Their service was very valuable because it enhanced the communications security of vital front line operations during World War II.
War Production Board
This government agency existed during World War II to regulate the production and allocation of materials and fuel in the United States. It rationed such things as gasoline, heating oil, metals, rubber, paper and plastics.
National War Labor Board
This federal agency was created during both of the World Wars to arbitrate disputes between workers and employers in order to ensure labor reliability and productivity during the war. It prevented work stoppages, and administered wage control in national industries such as automobiles, shipping, railways, airlines, telegraph lines, and mining.
Double V
This was a campaign of African Americans during World War II that pushed for victory vs. fascism abroad and for victory against racial discrimination at home.
Zoot Suit Riots
This was a series of social unrest that erupted in Los Angeles during World War II, between white sailors and Marines stationed throughout the city and Latino youths. Although Mexican-American men were, disproportionately for their population, well represented in the military, many servicemen with no prior experience with Chicanos and Chicano culture considered Latinos socializing unpatriotic and extravagant in wartime.
Japanese American internment
This was the forced relocation and detention by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese residing along the Pacific coast of the United States in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the exclusion orders.
The International Monetary Fund
This was created in 1946 with a goal to stabilize exchange rates and assist the reconstruction of the world's international financial system. It was important when it was first created because it helped the world stabilize the economic system after the chaos of WW II.
World Bank
This international financial institution was created at the Bretton Woods Conference in the wake of WW II, initially to provide loans for war torn countries to rebuild. The most powerful countries in attendance were the United States and United Kingdom which dominated negotiations. It later provides loans to developing countries with a stated goal of reducing poverty.
Jackie Robinson
He was the first African American Major League Baseball (MLB) player of the modern era. He broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. As the first black man to openly play in the major leagues since the 1880s, he was instrumental in bringing an end to racial segregation in professional baseball, which had relegated African-Americans to the Negro leagues for six decades.
Alger Hiss
He was an American peace activist and diplomat who was famously put on trial during the McCarthy era. He was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department and UN official. Hiss was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948 and convicted of perjury in connection with this charge in 1950.
Berlin Blockade and Airlift
During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and road access to the sectors of the German capital under their control. Their aim was to force the western powers to give the Soviets practical control over the entire city. In response, the Western Allies organized an airlift to drop supplies to the trapped Germans. This 1948-49 stand-off was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War.
Chinese Civil War
(1927-1949) This conflict represented an ideological split between the Western-supported Chinese Nationalist Party KMT and the Soviet-supported Communist Party of China. Interrupted by Japanese invasion and WWII, the end result was the victory for Mao Zedong's Communists, and the fleeing of the KMT to Taiwan.
Korean War
This was a military conflict in the power vacuum left by Japan in Asia after WW II between the southern, American ally and the northern ally of Communist China and the Soviet Union. The war began in 1950 and a cease fire was signed in1953. However, the war ended in stalmate, causing a political separation between north and south that lasts to today.
House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC)
1938-1975 The anti-communist investigations led by this group were similar, but not the same as those of Senator Joseph McCarthy. This government empowered panel investigated suspected threats of subversion or propaganda that attacked "the form of government guaranteed by our Constitution." It was most famous for its investigation of the charges of espionage brought against Alger Hiss in 1948.
Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg
These were American communists who were executed in 1953 for conspiracy to commit espionage. The charges related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. This was the first execution of civilians for espionage in United States history. The decision to execute these suspected spies was, and still is, controversial.
Nikita Khrushchev
(1894 -1971) He was a leader of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, including as Premier from 1958 to 1964. He was responsible for the partial de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, the backing the Soviet space program, and for Soviet backing of Cuba during the missile crisis.
French Indochina
This territory was part of the France's colonial empire in southeast Asia that today occupies Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. During World War II, the colony was under Japanese occupation. Beginning in 1941, the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh, began a revolt against French rule. The Americans supported continued French colonialism, fearing that the nationalists would turn the country communist.
Military-industrial complex
This refers to the relationships between governments, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them. It includes political approval for research, development, production, use, and support for military training, weapons, equipment, and facilities within the national defense and security policy. The term is most often played in reference to the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address speech of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Earl Warren
(1891- 1974) He was an influential and controversial Supreme Court Chief Justice during the 1950s and 1960s. Although nominated by a Republican (Eisenhower), he was responsible for a string of liberal rulings, including those concerning the legal status of racial segregation, civil rights, separation of church and state, and police arrest procedure. His court became recognized as a high point in the use of judicial power in the effort to effect social progress.
Highways Act of 1956
This bill was a major legacy of the Eisenhower administration, appropriating $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles of road over a 20-year period. It was the largest public works project in American history to that point.
Montgomery Bus Boycott
This was a political and social protest campaign started in 1955 in Alabama to oppose the city's policy of racial segregation on its public transit system. The ensuing struggle lasted from December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person, to December 20, 1956 when a Supreme Court decision declared laws requiring segregation to be unconstitutional.
Little Rock Nine
This was a group of African-American students who were prevented from entering a racially segregated high school by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus in 1957. After the intervention of President Eisenhower, the students successfully integrated the school. This is considered to be one of the most important events in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
Apollo program
This was an American spaceflight endeavor that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower and conducted by NASA, Apollo began in earnest after President John F. Kennedy's May 25, 1961 special address to a joint session of Congress declaring a national goal of "landing a man on the Moon" by the end of the decade.
Fidel Castro
He is a communist Cuban politician and was one of the primary leaders of the Cuban Revolution. He led Cuba from 1959 as its Prime Minister, until resigning from the Presidency. He has been a major advisory of the United States through most of the Cold War. He was the target of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and played a central role in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cuban Missile Crisis
This was a confrontation between the United States, the Soviet Union and a small country allied with the Soviet Union. In September 1962, the Soviet government placed nuclear missiles in this country, and within striking distance of many American cities. Although approaching the brink of war, diplomacy between JLK and Nikita Khruschev triumphed. The crisis is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to a nuclear war.
counterculture
This is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of people that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day. In the United States, a movement during the 1960s became identified with the rejection of conventional social norms of the 1950s. Youth rejected standards of their parents, especially with respect to racial segregation and support for the Vietnam War.
welfare
This term describes actions or procedures on the part of governments that strive to promote the basic well-being of individuals in need, such as the elderly or disabled. Expanded during the New Deal, Great Society, and at other times, this type of government program deeply divides the American left from right.
Elvis Presley
This man was launched to superstardom in the mid 1950s as a young, rebellious rock and roll musician. A pioneer for his day, he brought the sound of African American music to a wider audience, but in a form palatable to whites. He birthed the genre of rockabilly, an up-tempo fusion of country and rhythm and blues, and became one of America's biggest pop stars of all time.
The Beatles
This was an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960 and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. The group came to be perceived as the embodiment of progressive ideals, seeing their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
Barry Goldwater (1909 - 1998)
He was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona (1953-1965, 1969-1987) and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. He was known as "Mr. Conservative". He is the politician most often credited for sparking the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
This was one of the principal organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Its young activists played a major role in the sit-ins and freedom rides, the 1963 March on Washington, and Mississippi Freedom Summer. This group organizing voter registration drives all over the South, especially in Georgia and Mississippi. By the late 1960s, the group would protest the Vietnam War, and a more militant attitude.
Ralph Nader
(1934-) He is a left-wing political activist and social reformer. He first rose to prominence as a consumer advocate, charging that many American cars were unsafe. His areas of particular concern include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government. He has been a third-party Presidential candidate four times.
1968
This year was one of the most chaotic in American history and domestic politics. It included the Tet Offensive, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the clashes between police and anti-war protestors at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and the assassination of Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.
Stagflation
This occurs when a country's inflation rate and unemployment rate are high simultaneously and have remained unchecked for a significant period of time. The United States experienced this problem during much of the 1970s.
Betty Friedan (1921 - 2006)
She was one of the most visible and influential feminist intellectuals of the 20th century. Her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is sometimes credited with sparking the "second wave" of feminism. She co-founded the National Organization for Women in 1966, was a prominent campaigner for a woman's right to an abortion, pushed hard for the failed Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s.
Nixon Doctrine
This reformation of American foreign policy took place in the Vietnam era. It stated that the United States henceforth expected its allies to take care of their own military defense, but that the U.S. would aid in defense as requested. It marked US retreat from unconditional defense guarantees to lesser Cold War, and to a dramatic increase in the sales of weaponry.
Environmental Protection Agency
This institution of the federal government was created in 1970 under the leadership of President Richard Nixon.
Kent State (OH) / Jackson State (MS)
These colleges gained international attention in May, 1970 when anti-war protests resulted in students being shot and killed by Army National Guard and police. The main cause of the protests was the United States' invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.
Sunbelt shift
This refers a demographic trend in the United States that began in the 1950s and accelerated in the 1980s whereby population has slowly migrated from the traditionally-dominant North to the previously rural and underdeveloped South. This trend has had significant economic and political consequences for the United States.
Downsizing
This economic term describes permanent personnel reductions in an attempt to improve efficiency and cut costs. The term became associated with the American business climate of the 1980s and 1990s, where many firms cut their domestic work forces.
Racial profiling
This is using skin color or ethnic characteristics in determining whether a person is considered likely to commit a crime or an illegal act. It has been perceived to be directed most often toward non-white individuals. Although it has been common for centuries, the practice became particularly controversial toward the end of the 20th century as discrimination by law enforcement has received ever closer scrutiny.
Religious right
This is a term used predominantly in the United States of America to describe a spectrum of Christian political and social movements and organizations characterized by their strong support of conservative social and political values.
Jimmy Carter
(1924-) This Democratic politician was a peanut farmer, a born again Christian, and a human rights advocate, but won election to only one term in office. He promoted energy conservation and the middle east peace process, but was seen as ineffective in improving a weak American economy. His perceived failure in dealing with the Iran Hostage Crisis, caused many Americans to not support his second run for the White House.
Camp David Accords
This peace treaty was signed by Egypt and Israel in 1978, following twelve days of secret negotiations, under the direction of Jimmy Carter.
Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
This man was a close Cold War ally of the United States in Iran. Concerned that Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mosadeq was leading Iran towards socialism, the United States and Britain helped to institute a coup that placed this man back into absolute power. He ruled and modernized Iran until the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Iran hostage crisis
This was a diplomatic conflict where 53 Americans were held captive for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over an American Embassy. The episode reached a climax when, after failed attempts to negotiate a release, the United States military attempted a rescue operation, Operation Eagle Claw, which resulted in a failed mission. This incident was a black mark on the Presidency of Jimmy Carter.
Supply-side
This theory argues that economic growth can be most effectively created by lowering barriers for people to produce goods and services, by lowering income tax and capital gains tax rates, and by allowing greater flexibility by reducing regulation. Consumers will then benefit from more goods and services at lower prices.
Iran-Contra affair
This was a political scandal in the United States which came to light in November 1986, in which senior U.S. figures, including President Ronald Reagan, agreed to facilitate an illegal sale of arms in order to channel money to right-wing rebels in Nicaragua.
collective bargaining
In organized labor/industrial relations this involves workers organizing together (usually in unions) to meet, discuss, and negotiate upon the wages, hours, and other conditions of their employment with their employer. The National Labor Relations Act (1935) protects this workers' right.
gilded age
This general term represents a period of time (1877-1901) that witnessed the creation of a modern industrial economy. A national transportation and communication network was created, the corporation became the dominant form of business organization, and a managerial revolution transformed business operations. At the same time the gap between the rich and poor grew drastically, as well as class tensions.
monopoly
A situation in which a single company owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. This would happen in the case that there is a barrier to entry into the industry that allows the single company to operate without competition (for example, vast economies of scale or governmental regulation).
antitrust law
This is the body of laws that prohibits anti-competitive behavior (monopoly) and unfair business practices. These laws are designed to encourage competition in the marketplace.
Sherman Anti-trust Act
(1890) It was the first federal statute to limit cartels and monopolies, and today still forms the basis for competitive policy. Although intended to break up large businesses, it was used to restrict union activities in the 1890s. Not until TR was this law used for its intended purpose.
National Labor Union
This group was the first nation wide worker federation in the United States. Founded in 1866 and dissolved in 1873, it paved the way for other organizations, such as the Knights of Labor and the AF of L (American Federation of Labor). It sought to bring together all of the worker organizations in existence, as well as the "eight-hour leagues" established to press for the eight-hour day, to create a powerful voice to press for reforms and extend worker organization.
Great Railroad Strike of 1877
Wage cuts during the economic downturn precipitated by the Panic of 1873 caused workers to protest, prevent trains from operating, and violently clash with local and state militias. Initially starting in West Virginia, this work freeze spread from Chicago to Philadelphia, with the worst violence in Pittsburgh where 45 people were killed. The unrest lasted 45 days, and led to employers preparing for clashes with labor and workings streaming into the Knights of Labor.
Munn v. Illinois (1877)
This 1877 Supreme Court case delt with corporate rates and agriculture. This decision allowed states to regulate certain businesses within their borders, including railroads, and is commonly regarded as a milestone in the growth of federal government regulation. The decision upheld legislation proposed by the National Grange to regulate grain elevator rates, declaring that business interests (private property) used for public good be regulated by government.
The Knights of Labor
This was one of the most important American worker organizations of the 19th century. Relatively inclusive for its day in time, this union actively recruited women and blacks. Founded in 1869 with aims to end child and convict labor, equal pay for women, a progressive income tax, and the cooperative employer-employee ownership of mines and factories.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL)
This was one of the first 'union of unions', and grew to be America's largest union for the first half of the 20th century. It was founded in 1886 by Samuel Gompers, who served as its president from 1886-1924. Founded and dominated by craft unions throughout the first fifty years of its existence, many of its craft union affiliates turned to organizing on an industrial basis in the 1940s.
The Haymarket affair (1886)
(1886) This rally supporting striking workers in Chicago, exploded into violence when an unknown person threw a bomb at police as they dispersed the public meeting. The bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of eight police officers and an unknown number of civilians. In the internationally publicized legal proceedings that followed, eight anarchists were tried for murder.
Homestead strike
(1892) This was an industrial lockout and strike which began on June 30, 1892, culminating in a battle between strikers and private security agents on July 6, 1892. It is one of the most serious labor disputes in US history. The dispute occurred near in Pittsburgh between the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers and the Carnegie Steel Company.
Pinkertons
detectives who provided security for management and acted as strike breakers in labor disputes. Involved most notably in the 1892 Homestead strike.
The Pullman Strike(1894)
(1894) What began as a local railcar builders protest against wage reductions became a nationwide conflict between the American Railway Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, and America's railroad giants. President Grover Cleveland ordered federal troops to Chicago to end the strike.
Eugene Debs
He was the founder of the American Railway Union, and was arrested for activities during the Pullman strike(1894). He emerged from prison a socialist, whose cause he represented in multiple presidential candidicies. He was arrested for his opposition to World War I, and ran for President from prison in 1920, polling almost a million votes.
corporation
This is an institution that is granted a charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. In 1819, the U.S. Supreme Court granted these institutions a plethora of rights, signaling the future of commerce in the US.
collusion
This is an agreement, usually secretive, which occurs between two or more persons to limit open competition by an agreement among firms to divide the market, set prices, or limit production. Today considered a violation of anti-trust laws, many industrialists actively sought to limit competition through trusts and similar means in the late 1800s.
The Farmers' Alliance
This was an organized agrarian economic movement that resulted from the amalgamation of numerous smaller agarian unions in the 1880s. It promoted higher commodity prices through collective action by groups of individuals. One of its goals was to end the adverse effects of the crop-lien system, where farmers get credit before the planting season by borrowing against the value for anticipated harvests. It is regarded as the precursor to the United States Populist Party, which grew out of its ashes in 1892.
populism
This political ideology fights for the interests of the common man, and against the entrenched power of an elite minority. Considered by opponents as pandering to the ignorant masses, such rhetoric and policies have proved politically effective from Andrew Jackson to Barak Obama.
free silver movement
popular among farmers during the Gilded Age. Wanted the federal government to purchase all silver offered for sale at a ratio of 16 to 1 and turn it into coin. Its adherents believed that the resulting inflation would ease their economic burdens.
The Greenback Party
This political party was active between 1874 and 1884. Its name referred to paper money that had been issued during the American Civil War and afterward. The party opposed the shift from paper money back to a bullion coin-based monetary system because it believed that privately owned banks and corporations would then reacquire the power to define the value of products and labor. Conversely, they believed that government control of the monetary system would allow it to keep more currency in circulation, as it had in the war. This would better foster business and assist farmers by raising prices and making debts easier to pay.
Populist Party
national political party representing farmers in the South and West; advocated curbs on growing commercial-financial America. Organized in 1892 and endorsed a broad reform program that included a graduated income tax, the direct election of senators, government regulation or ownership of businesses, a subtreasury system for farmers, and free coinage of silver.
Andrew Carnegie
(1835 - 1919) This Scottish-American steel man was viewed as a captain of industry by some, and a robber-baron by others. He was known for his harsh suppression of unions, and for the Homestead lockout of 1892. His Pittsburgh-based steel company merged with several smaller companies in 1901 to create U.S. Steel. A strong believer in philanthropy, this man gave his vast fortune to found libraries, schools, and endowments.
lockout
when management shut down a factory in order to oust union members and then reopen with non-union workers. Employed by Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick during the Homestead strike.
John D. Rockefeller
(1839 - 1937) In 1870, he founded the Standard Oil Company and aggressively sought to monopolize the industry. He became the world's richest man and first American worth more than a billion dollars. He is often regarded as the richest person in history.
John P. Morgan
(1837 - 1913) He dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during the late 1800s. He arranged the merger to form General Electric in 1982, and the United States Steel Corporation in 1901.
Henry Ford (1863 - 1947)
He founded a prominent car company and is considered the father of modern assembly lines used in mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. He became one of the richest people in the world, while substantially raising the wages of his factory workers.
The Chinese Exclusion Act
Asian immigrants came to America in large numbers during the 1848 California Gold Rush and in the 1860s when the Central Pacific Railroad recruited labor to build the Transcontinental railroad. With the post Civil War economy in decline by the 1870s, anti-foreigner animosity became politicized by labor leaders and politicians who blamed "coolies" for depressed wage levels. This 1882 law effectively stifled immigration from Asia in effect until the law was repealed in 1943.
Social Darwinism
belief that there was a struggle among races, with the fittest and strongest surviving. Rooted in the conviction that scientific principles governed human society and stemmed from a growing awareness of other cultures. Encouraged intolerance and suspicion of foreigners and immigrants.
Social Gospel
broad movement that deeply affected mainstream Protestant denominations in urban Gilded Age America. Its supporters were shocked by poverty and overcrowding in the growing tenement districts and believed that ameliorating the plight of the poor was as important as saving souls. Accordingly, they backed the settlement houses that appeared beginning in the 1890s and pressed for legislation to curb the exploitation of the poor and provide them with opportunities for betterment.
Samuel Gompers
(1850 -1924) He founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and served as the AFL's president from 1886 until his death in 1924. He promoted harmony among the different craft unions that comprised the AFL, collective bargaining to secure shorter hours and higher wages, and political action to "elect their friends" and "defeat their enemies." During World War I, he and the AFL worked with the government to avoid strikes and boost morale, while raising wage rates and expanding membership.
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
union headed by William "Big Bill" Haywood. Goal was to unite workers in one big union and eventually overthrow capitalism.
imperialism
This term refers to a country that exerts control over another country's affairs. Examples from the early 20th century include the United States control of the Philippines, or Great Britain's control of India.
Alfred Thayer Mahan
(1840 - 1914) He was an Admiral in the United States Navy, and wrote The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (1890). His ideas helped prompt the US to build up its navy prior to World War I, and project its influence in international affairs.
jingoism
Referred to those who thought that a swaggering foreign policy and a willingness to go to war would enhance their nation's glory. Extreme patriotism coupled with a warlike foreign policy
anarchist
This term generally refers to a person who tries to bring about a state of disorder or non-acceptance of authority. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, these people inspired a fear in American society that foreign radicals were threatening the peace and stability of American society.
laissez-faire
This economic term refers to allowing industry to be free of state intervention, especially restrictions in the form of tariffs and government regulations. The Republican administrations of the 1920s are often associated with this economic philosophy.
18th Amendment
(1920) This Amendment banned alcohol. The sentiment that alcohol hurts society had been long held by progressives and 'old stock' American Protestants. Bouyied by a strong nativist surge, reformers saw a drinking culture as somewhat a foreign invasion.
Fundamentalism
This refers to a belief in a strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often religious in nature), sometimes as a reaction to modern social and political life. This term was originally coined to describe a narrowly defined set of beliefs that developed into a movement within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century, in the era of the Scopes trial. (William Jennings Bryan, Billy Graham)
William Jennings Bryan
A populist, progressive, and evangelical, he was the Democratic Party nominee for the Presidency in 1896, 1900 and 1908. He was an advocate for 'free silver', a prohibitionist, and an opponent of Darwinism.
William McKinley
This President followed Grover Cleveland, serving from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. This Republican's signature issue was high tariffs on imports as a formula for prosperity, as which he passed in 1890. As the Republican candidate in the 1896 presidential election, he upheld the gold standard, and promoted pluralism among ethnic groups. He presided over a return to prosperity after the Panic of 1893. He launched the Spanish-American War.
Spanish-American War
(1898) The Americans only needed one summer to defeat this old European empire, after the explosion of our battle ship Maine off the coast of Cuba. Under the direction of President William McKinnley, the US supported indigenous struggles for independence in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands against a foreign empire, only to establish imperial control ourselves in the end.
Rough Riders
A volunteer cavalry unit that fought in Cuba; it was made up of Ivy League gentlemen, western Indian fighters, and cowboys. Led by Teddy Roosevelt.
yellow journalism
the practice, common among newspapers at the turn of the century, of exaggerating and sensationalizing news stories in order to generate more attention. Employed by the New York Journal and the New York World in the lead up to the Spanish-American War.
Platt Amendment
outlined conditions for Cuban independence. Prohibited Cuba from making its own treaties; allowed the United States to intervene in Cuban politics and economy; required Cuba to lease or sell land to the United States for use as a navy base. Accepted by Cuba in 1901 largely due to the desire for special protections for Cuban sugar within the U.S. market.
William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer
newspaper publishers whose sensational stories encouraged U.S. involvement in Cuba in 1898. Controlled the New York Journal and the New York World, respectively, and competed for readers by practicing yellow journalism.
Great White Fleet
main portion of the U.S. navy sent by Theodore Roosevelt on a 45,000-mile world tour in 1907. The cornerstone of the tour was a stop in Tokyo Bay to demonstrate American naval strength to the Japanese. Deplored by critics as a waste of money and a potential provocation to Japan. Ended up being a stunning success and confirmed Roosevelt's practice of "speaking softly and carrying a big stick."
The Maine
U.S. battleship sent to Cuba that exploded in Havana, Cuba. Though the explosion was probably caused by a faulty boiler, Americans blamed the Spanish and demanded war.
Philippine-American War
This conflict followed the Spanish-American War and lasted from 1899-1902. It involved an Asian Pacific archipelago that was fighting for independence from the United States, after the US had forced the Spanish to relinquish position of their colonial territory. Opposition to the war inspired Mark Twain to found the Anti-Imperialist League.
Foraker Act (1900)
This 1900 law established Puerto Rico as an American territory, which had been newly acquired by the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War. Section VII of the Foraker Act also established Puerto Rican citizenship. Under the law, Puerto Ricans were US citizens, but they had only a non-voting representative in Congress. The new territory had a governor, an executive council, and a Supreme Court appointed by the President of the United States. A local House of Representatives was also established with 35 elected members.
Open Door Policy
This foreign policy stated that all European nations, and the United States, could trade with China. It was first advanced by the United States in September-November 1899. In 1898, when the partition of China by the European powers and Japan seemed imminent, the United States felt its commercial interests in China threatened. U.S. Secretary of State John Hay sent notes to the major powers (France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, and Russia), asking them to declare formally that they would uphold Chinese territorial and administrative integrity and would not interfere with the free use of the treaty ports within their spheres of influence in China.
Roosevelt Corollary
This 1904 amendment to and extension of the Monroe Doctrine was by a U.S. President who wanted to see America's role in world affairs increased. It asserted a right of the United States to intervene to "stabilize" the economic affairs of small states in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts. The alternative was intervention by European powers, especially Britain and Germany, which loaned money to the countries that did not repay.
Panama Canal
This is a 77 km (48 mile) shipping channel that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. After having failed in negotiations over its construction with Colombia, the US gained rights to build the waterway from the newly independent Panama in 1904.
William Howard Taft (1857 - 1930)
(1857 - 1930) He was the President of the United States (1909-1913) and later the Chief Justice of the United States. He is the only person to have served in both offices. In his first and only term, his domestic agenda emphasized trust-busting, civil service reform, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, improving the performance of the postal service, and passage of the Sixteenth Amendment. Abroad, he sought to further the economic development of undeveloped nations in Latin America and Asia through the method he termed "Dollar Diplomacy."
dollar diplomacy
A phrase used to describe the foreign policies of President William H. Taft. This type of diplomacy focused on expanding American investments abroad, especially in Latin America and China.
Coal Strike of 1902
This protest by the United Mine Workers of America in eastern Pennsylvania. It threatened to shut down the winter fuel supply to all major cities. President Theodore Roosevelt became involved and set up a fact-finding commission that ended the holdout. The miners received more pay for fewer hours; the owners got a higher price for coal, and did not recognize the union as a bargaining agent. It was the first labor episode in which the federal government intervened as a neutral arbitrator.
Socialism
refers to the various theories of economic organization which advocate either public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources. Advocates of this ideology generally share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital and derives its wealth through a system of exploitation.
progressive tax
This a method of generating revenue for a government where people with higher incomes pay a larger proportion of their income than those with lower incomes. Since the permanent adoption of the income tax in 1913 with the passage of the 16th Amendment, the United States has always had such a system.
The Jungle
Muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair published this novel in 1906 to highlight the plight of the working class and to remove from obscurity the corruption of the American meatpacking industry during the early-20th century. The novel depicts in harsh tones the poverty, absence of social programs, unpleasant living and working conditions, and hopelessness prevalent among the working class, which is contrasted with the deeply-rooted corruption on the part of those in power.
muckraker
term coined by Theodore Roosevelt that referred to a group of investigative journalists who published stories exposing shady practices and corruption in business and politics.
Hull House
the first settlement house in the United States. Opened in Chicago by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr in 1889. Set up a nursery for the children of working mothers, a penny savings bank, an employment bureau, a baby clinic, a playground, and a social club. Also promoted the arts by sponsoring an orchestra, reading groups, and a lecture series.
realism
way of thinking that prized detachment, objectivity, and skepticism. Began in the 1890s as intellectuals and artists of all sorts set about creating truer, more realistic ways of portraying and analyzing American society. Emphasized the goal of describing society as it "truly was."
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 - 1902)
She was an American social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early woman's movement. Her Declaration of Sentiments, presented at the first women's rights convention held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, is often credited with initiating the first organized woman's rights and woman's suffrage movements in the United States.
Susan B Anthony (1820 - 1906)
She was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to introduce women's suffrage into the United States. She traveled the United States, and Europe, and gave 75 to 100 speeches every year on women's rights for 45 years.
Robert La Follette (1855- 1925)
Nicknamed "Fighting Bob", he was an American politician who served as a U.S. Congressman, the Governor of Wisconsin (1901-1906), and Republican Senator from Wisconsin (1906-1925). He ran for President of the United States as the nominee of his own Progressive Party in 1924, carrying Wisconsin and 17% of the national popular vote. He is best remembered as a proponent of Progressivism and a vocal opponent of railroad trusts, bossism, World War I, and the League of Nations.
Niagara Movement
This was a black civil rights organization founded in 1905 by a group led by W. E. B. Du Bois and others. It was named for the "mighty current" of change the group wanted to effect; it was a call for opposition to racial segregation and disenfranchisement as well as policies of accommodation and conciliation promoted by African American leaders such as Booker T. Washington.
WEB DuBois
He was one of the most prominent black American intellectuals and social reformers. The first African-American graduate of Harvard University, where he earned his Ph.D in History, he later became a professor of history and economics at Atlanta University. He became the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910, becoming founder and editor of the NAACP's journal The Crisis. He rose to national attention in his opposition of Booker T. Washington's ideas of social integration between whites and blacks, campaigning instead for increased political representation for blacks, and the formation of a Black elite that would work for the progress of African Americans.
NAACP
This is one of the oldest and most influential civil rights organizations in the United States. It was formed in 1909 as the outcome of the African American-empowerment Niagra movement. In its early years, this group concentrated on using the courts to overturn the Jim Crow statutes that legalized racial segregation. By the 1950s, the efforts of Thurgood Marshall and others brought about the reversal of the "separate but equal" doctrine announced by the Supreme Court's decision in Plessey v. Ferguson.
Square Deal
This was President Theodore Roosevelt's domestic program formed upon three basic ideas: conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection. Thus, it aimed at helping middle class citizens and involved attacking the plutocracy and trusts while at the same time protecting business from the extreme demands of organized labor.
New Freedom
This is the policy of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson which promoted antitrust modification, tariff revision, and reform in banking and currency matters. This policy stood in opposition to former President Theodore Roosevelt's ideas of New Nationalism, particularly on the issue of antitrust modification. According to Wilson, "If America is not to have free enterprise, she can have freedom of no sort whatever."
Sixteenth Amendment
This 1913 change to the Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax. The law made good on the progressive pledge to reduce the power and privileges of wealthy Americans by requiring them to surrender a higher proportion of their income to taxes.
Triple Entente
This was the name given to the alliance between the United Kingdom, France, and Russia in the years leading up to World War I.
Central Powers
This was one of the two sides that participated in World War I, the other being the Entente (Allied) Powers. It consisted of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Bulgaria. The name "Central Powers" is derived from the location of these countries.
Lusitania
This British passenger ship was torpedoed by a German u-boat killing 1,198 people, many of them American civilians, in May 1915. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, and was instrumental in bringing the United States into World War I two years later.
The League of Nations
This international organization was founded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919-1920, and was the precurser to the United Nations. At its greatest extent in 1935, it had 58 members. Its primary goals included preventing war through collective security, disarmament, and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Other goals in this and related treaties included labor conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, trafficking in persons and drugs, arms trade, global health, etc.
Zimmermann telegram
This was a secret message from Germany to Mexico during World War I that was intercepted and decoded by the Allies. It encouraged Mexico to fight the United States in return for a promise from Germany to see that the lands taken by the US in the Mexican Cession of 1848 be returned.
The National War Labor Board (NWLB)
This was a federal agency created in April 1918 by President Woodrow Wilson. It was composed of representatives from business and labor. Its purpose was to arbitrate disputes between workers and employers in order to ensure labor reliability and productivity during the war. It was disbanded after the war in May, 1919. Overall, its decisions generally supported and strengthened the position of labor. Although it opposed the disruption of war production by strikes, it supported an eight-hour day for workers, equal pay for women, and the right to organize unions and bargain collectively.
The Committee on Public Information
This was an US government agency created to influence U.S. popular opinion regarding American participation in World War I. Over just 28 months, from April 13, 1917 to August 21, 1919, it used every media available to create enthusiasm for the war effort and enlist public support against foreign attempts to undercut America's war aims.
Espionage Act of 1917 / Sedition Act of 1918
These laws passed shortly after the US entered World War I. The basic idea was to stop citizens from spying, interfering with military actions, or publicly opposing the war. In 1918, Eugene V. Debs, Socialist Party presidential candidate in 1904, 1908, and 1912 was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison for making a speech that "obstructed recruiting".
Fourteen Points
This was a speech on foreign policy principles by President Woodrow Wilson that was intended to assure the country that the Great War was being fought for a moral and peaceful cause. It translated progressive principles into foreign policy (free trade, open agreements, democracy and self-determination). People in Europe generally welcomed Wilson's intervention, but many Allied leaders and US Senators were skeptical of the applicability of Wilsonian idealism.
Treaty of Versailles
This ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers in June 1919. Although the armistice signed in November 1918 ended the actual fighting, it took six months at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude negotiations. Germany was forced to accept sole responsibility for causing the war and, to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. Influenced by the opposition of Henry Cabot Lodge, the United States Senate voted against ratifying the treaty.
Henry Cabot Lodge (1850 - 1924)
This Republican politician was one of the most prominent conservatives of his era, and a noted historian. He was a staunch supporter of the gold standard, vehemently opposing the populists, the silverites, and William Jennings Bryan. He advocated U.S. intervention in Cuba in 1898, and following an American victory in the Spanish-American War, he came to represent the imperialist faction of the Senate. He was a staunch advocate of entering World War I on the side of the Allied Powers, attacking President Woodrow Wilson's perceived lack of military preparedness and accusing pacifists of undermining American patriotism. After the war he led opposition to Woodrow Wilson's 'fourteen points'.
Calvin Coolidge (1872 - 1933)
He was the 30th President of the United States (1923-1929). Serving as a Republican governor in Massachusetts during the Boston Police Strike of 1919, he was first thrust into the national spotlight for "standing up" to unions. He was elected Vice President in 1920 and succeeded to the Presidency upon the sudden death of Warren G. Harding in 1923. Elected in his own right in 1924, he gained a reputation as a small-government conservative.
Immigration Act of 1924
This limited the number of new arrivals who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890, according to the Census of 1890. It excluded Asians altogether, and was aimed at further restricting the Southern and Eastern Europeans who were coming in large numbers starting in the 1890s.
Marcus Garvey
(1887 - 1940) He was a prominent Black Nationalist, who reached the peak of his noterity between WWI and WW II. He promoted social, political, and economic advancement for blacks, in ways that were highly controversial. He envisioned a return to Africa for decendants of slaves, and for the removal of European colonial powers from Africa. He fell from prominace after being charged with mail fraud by the U.S. and anti-radical crusader J. Edgar Hoover.
Charles Lindbergh
(1902 - 1974) This person was valted to world fame at age 25 as the result of completing the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Remaining in the celebrity spotlight, he was an activist in support of American aviation, an inventor, and an author. He again reached the peak of prominence in the years approaching WW II as a leader of the anti-war 'America First' movement.
American Civil Liberties Union
Founded in 1920, this controversial group's stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Working through litigation, legislation, and community education, with most of their support coming from the left, it has played a role in the Scopes trial, Brown vs. Board of Education, the resignation of Richard Nixon, Roe v. Wade, and other critical moments in US history. Conservatives often view its stance of separation of church and state as anti-religious, and their defense of both accused and convicted criminals as undermining law and order.
Scopes Trial
This was an American legal case that tested Tennessee's prohibition on the teaching of evolution in public schools. It drew intense national publicity, with modernists (ACLU) pitted against traditionalists (William Jennings Bryan) over the teaching of a Fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible in schools.
New Negro
This is a term popularized during the Harlem Renaissance implying a more outspoken advocacy of dignity and a refusal to submit quietly to the practices and laws of Jim Crow racial segregation.
"Lost Generation"
This is a term used to characterize a general feeling of disillusionment of American literary notables who lived in Europe, most notably Paris, after the First World War. Figures identified with this grouping included authors and artists such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, John Steinbeck, Erich Maria Remarque and Cole Porter.
Herbert Hoover
(1874 - 1964) He was the 31st President of the United States (1929-1933). When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 struck less than eight months after he took office, he tried to combat the ensuing Great Depression with volunteer efforts, none of which produced economic recovery during his term. The consensus among historians is that his defeat in the 1932 election was caused primarily by failure to end the downward economic spiral.
'buying on the margin'
This investment term refers to buying stocks or securities with borrowed money. It was an increasingly popular way to invest in the 1920s, as people gambled that the stock market would continually rise. Such risky investing was one of the principal causes of the stock market crash of 1929.
The Federal Reserve Act
This 1913 legislation created the central banking system of the United States, which is still in use today. It was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, and was viewed as a response to prior financial panics and bank runs, the most severe of which being the Panic of 1907. Over time, the roles and responsibilities of the system have expanded and its structure has evolved.
The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930
This 1930 law raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels. Supported by Herbert Hoover and congressional Republicans, the hope was to protect American agricultural and manufacturing products from foreign competition. But, the ensuing retaliatory tariffs by U.S. trading partners reduced American exports and imports by more than half and contributed to the severity of the Great Depression.
Works Progress Administration
This was the largest New Deal agency, employing millions to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Almost every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency, which especially benefited rural and Western populations. Expenditures from 1936 to 1939 totaled nearly $7 billion.
New Deal
This was a series of economic programs passed by Congress during the first term of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States, from 1933 to his reelection in 1937. Few new programs were enacted after 1936, and many agencies were disbanded during World War II. The programs were responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the 3 Rs: relief, reform and recovery.
Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation
After FDR instituted a bank holiday in March of 1933, this law was passed in order to stop bank runs and stabilize the banking system. It provides a government guarantee of money put into government approved and regulated banks, initially guaranteeing $2,500 in bank accounts. One of the enduring legacies of the New Deal, it currently guarantees up to $250,000 per person per bank.
Civilian Conservation Corps
This was a public work relief program for unemployed men, providing vocational training through the performance of useful work related to preservation and development of natural resources from 1933 to 1942. As part of the New Deal legislation proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), it became one of the more popular programs among the general public, providing government support to a total of 3 million men.
'alphabet soup'
This term refers to the numerous (over 100) offices that were created during Roosevelt's terms of office as part of the New Deal. Some agencies were established by Congress, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority. Others were established through Roosevelt executive orders, such as the Works Progress Administration. Some of the agencies still exist today, while others have merged with other departments and agencies or were abolished, or found unconstitutional.
Communist Party
During the first half of the 20th century it was a large and widely influential far-left political organization, and played a prominent role in the U.S. labor movement from the 1920s through the 1940s. It survived the Palmer Raids, the first Red Scare, and many attempts at suppression of activity by the US government through the end of World War II. By the 1950s, however, the combined effects of the second Red Scare, McCarthyism, and the Cold War relegated this group to the fringe of American politics.
National Industrial Recovery Act
This legislation was enacted in June 1933 during the Great Depression as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislative program. It authorized the President to regulate industry and permit cartels and monopolies in an attempt to stimulate economic recovery. In 1935, this law was struck down by the Supreme Court, claiming that the bill overstepped the boundary of government involvement in business affairs.
Reciprocal Tariff Agreement
This act was passed in 1934 under the direction of Franklin Roosevelt, and was considered a big victory for free trade advocates. In a reversal of Hoover's Hawley-Smoot, this act brought down trade barriers between the US and trade partners—intending to stimulate exports. It gave the President temporary authority to negotiate terms of trade without approval of Congress, as long as any reductions in US trade duties were matched by partnering countries.
'court-packing'
This is a derogatory nickname for the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, an initiative to add more justices to the Supreme Court proposed by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt shortly after his victory in the 1936 presidential election. During Roosevelt's first term in office, the Supreme Court had struck down several prominent New Deal measures intended to bolster economic recovery, leading to charges from New Deal supporters that a narrow majority faction of the court was obstructionist and political. FDR sought to create a pro-New Deal majority on the bench, but ultimately failed to do so.
irreconcilables
A group of fourteen midwesterners and westerners who opposed the Treaty of Versailles in the Senate. Most of them were conservative isolationists who wanted to preserve American separation from Europe.
red scare
Fear of internal subversion. Many Americans assumed that there existed a radical movement determined to establish a communist government in the United States.
bank holiday
Term Franklin Roosevelt used shortly after taking office to describe his plan to prevent any more panic runs on the nation's financial institutions. He started by closing them for business, and then used the federal government to sure up their financial footing
a sit-down
when union members go on strike and refuse to leave the plant. Used by workers at the Homestead plan to combat management's attempt to lock them out.
Frederick Winslow Taylor
creator of the theory of "scientific management." He hoped to rationalize and calibrate workers on the job. Conducted "time and motion studies" to break down each production process into its component steps and determine how those steps could be streamlined.
Henry Ford
inventor of the Model-T. Introduced the assembly line to manufacturing.
separate spheres
belief that men and women occupied different social worlds—males a public world, females a domestic one. Used to keep women at home, out of the world of business and politics.
industrial union
union that accepted as members all workers regardless of skill or job, in a particular industry.
craft union
a union that restricted membership to skilled workers only. Type of organizational structure used by the American Federation of Labor.
assembly line
pioneered in 1913 by Henry Ford for the manufacture of automobiles. Involved carrying cars in production to each workstation on a continuously moving conveyor belt. Dramatically increased the efficiency of the production line; also forced workers to work at a faster pace.
gospel of wealth
idea that the rich should consider all income in excess of their needs as a "trust fund" for their communities. Popularized by Andrew Carnegie as early as 1889. Encouraged the rich to donate funds for libraries, educational institutions, and cultural/arts institutions.
'strenuous life'
term popularized by Theodore Roosevelt in an 1889 essay. Exhorted Americans to live vigorously, to test their physical strength and endurance in competitive athletics, and to experience nature through hiking, hunting, and mountain climbing. Articulated a way of living that influenced countless Americans from a variety of classes and cultures.
graft
term used to describe bribes paid to machine politicians by businessmen seeking contracts. By 1900, graft had become essential to day-to-day operations in most cities around the country. It also made local office holding a rich source of personal financial gain.
Bull Moosers
name given to Theodore Roosevelt's supporters when he ran as the Progressive Party candidate in the 1912 presidential election.
Palmer raids
the name given to raids conducted at the direction of the Attorney General during the height of the postwar Red Scare. Government officials raided private homes and meeting places of suspected subversives; they sought, but did not find, substantial evidence of plots to lead a violent revolt.
Sacco and Vanzetti
in one of the most sensational trials of the 1920s, these Italian immigrant anarchists were tried, convicted, and executed for robbery and murder.
War Industries Board
federal agency established in 1917 to coordinate domestic manufacturing during the First World War. It allowed industrialists to set their own prices and won antitrust exemptions for corporations that supported his requests. Chairman Bernard Baruch was more than willing to push corporations that resisted. War production increased dramatically during Baruch's term as chairman, although big corporations fared better than smaller firms.
Teapot Dome
scandal during Warren Harding's administration involving Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall. Fall allowed two private petroleum interests to pump oil from publicly owned wells. Accepted kickbacks from the companies involved in exchange. Spent a year in prison as punishment.
Harlem Renaissance
literary and artistic awakening among African-American communities in which black artists created works reflecting their own distinct cultural heritage instead of imitating the styles of Europeans and Americans.
Birth of a Nation
1915 silent film by D. W. Griffith. Depicted the Ku Klux Klan as heroes and inspired the revival of the Klan.
flappers
single, young, middle-class women of the 1920s. Donned short skirts, rolled their stockings down, wore red lipstick, and smoked in public. Sought independence and equality through the creation of a new female personality endowed with self-reliance, outspokenness, and a new appreciation for life's pleasures.
welfare capitalism
adopted by some U.S. employers during the 1920s. Involved such measures as employee cafeterias, on-site medical clinics, company sports teams, employee newsletters, and performance awards for employees who did their jobs well. Designed to encourage employee loyalty to the firm and to the capitalist system.
Huey Long
popular former governor of Louisiana and critic of Roosevelt's New Deal. Advocated a major redistribution of wealth in American society and started the "Share the Wealth" movement. Until his assassination in 1935 he was considered a potential challenger to Franklin Roosevelt in 1936.
Congress of Industrial Organizations
new labor federation put together by John L. Lewis and Sidney Hillman. Determined to organize the millions of nonunion workers into effective unions.
Social Security Act
1935 congressional act of historic importance. Created the first comprehensive system of universal public insurance and enrolled a majority of working Americans in a pension program that guaranteed them a steady income upon retirement.
Wagner Act
known officially as the National Labor Relations Act. Passed by Congress in 1935. Guaranteed the right of every worker to join a union of his or her own choosing and obligated employers to bargain in good faith.
Eleanor Roosevelt
wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Probably the best advocate for him among America's powerless: the unemployed, women, and African Americans. Played a key role in shaping modern liberalism.
Hoovervilles
Depression-era shack towns where the homeless and unemployed lived. Named as an insult to President Herbert Hoover.
Tennessee Valley Authority
1933 New Deal agency that built twenty dams to control flooding and to provide electricity to six southern states. Involved the federal government itself, rather than private corporations, in promoting regional economic development. One of the New Deal's most celebrated successes.
Good Neighbor Policy
FDR pledged that the United States would not interfere in the internal affairs of Latin American countries. Resulted in withdrawal of the marines from Haiti and Nicaragua, scuttling the Platt Amendment in Cuba, and greater political autonomy for Panama, along with greater administrative control operating the Panama Canal.
Reconstruction Finance Corporation
created by Herbert Hoover in 1932. Would make $2 billion available in loans to ailing banks and to corporations willing to build low-cost housing, bridges, and other public works. Its expenditures gave rise to the largest peacetime deficit in U.S. history, which prompted Hoover to place limits on expenditures and curtail its spending.
liberalism
reform movement embodied in the philosophy of Franklin Roosevelt. Supported governmental regulation of the economy but believed that the government had no business telling people how to behave.
Bonus Army
This was a group of unemployed World War I veterans who converged on Washington in 1932. They were seeking early payment of a $1,000 promised them by Congress in 1924. Although the payout was not due until 1945, the marchers hoped to prevail on Congress to pay it early. The Hoover administration refused to meet with the marchers. Public outcry over Hoover's handling of the situation, which resulted in violence against the marchers and their families, worsened the president's re-election chances.
fireside chats
radio addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The first was delivered on the second Sunday after the president's inauguration. These addresses spoke directly to the American forlorn and discouraged and were riveting for the American people, who appreciated Roosevelt's folksy manner and direct approach.
The Crisis
magazine of the NAACP. Edited by W. E. B. Du Bois. Took an aggressive stand in demanding racial equality and full social, economic and political rights for African Americans.
Bank war
During Jackson's presidency, this was a struggle between those who wanted to keep the national bank in operation and those who wanted to abolish it. Jackson and states' rights advocates opposed the national bank, which they felt imposed discriminatory credit restrictions on local banks, making it more difficult for farmers and small businessmen to obtain loans. The bank was defended by Nicholas Biddle and Henry Clay, the National Republicans, the wealthy, and larger merchants, who felt that local banks credit policies were irresponsible and would lead to a depression. In 1832 President Jackson vetoed the bill to recharter the national bank.
John Quincy Adams
He served as Secretary of State under President Monroe. In 1819, he drew up the Adams-Onis Treaty in which Spain gave the U.S. Florida in exchange for the U.S. dropping its claims to Texas. He was also the principal advocate and author of the Monroe Doctrine.
"Corrupt Bargain"
The charge make by Jacksonians in 1825 that Henry Clay had supported John Quincy Adams in the House presidential vote in return for the office of Secretary of State. Clay knew he could not win, so he traded his votes for an office.
Tariff of Abominations
1828 - Also called Tariff of 1828, it raised the tariff on imported manufactured goods. The tariff protected the North but harmed the South; South said that the tariff was economically discriminatory and unconstitutional because it violated state's rights. It passed because New England favored high tariffs.
nullification
John Calhoun of South Carolina proposed this political maneuver as a southern response to the Tariff of 1828, which he said placed the Union in danger and stripped the South of its rights. Vice-President Calhoun anonymously published the essay South Carolina Exposition, which proposed that each state in the union counter the tyranny of the majority by asserting the right to invalidate an unconstitutional act of Congress.
Age of the Common Man
This term is used to refer to the Jacksonian era. When Andrew Jackson was elected president from humble beginnings, people thought he could make the American Dream come true. Jackson appointed common people to government positions. Jefferson's emphasis on farmers' welfare gave way to Jackson's appeal to city workers, small businessmen, and farmers. Jackson was the first non-aristocrat to be elected president.
Missouri Compromise
Admitted Missouri as a slave state and at the same time admitted Maine as a free state. Declared that all territory north of the 36°30" latitude would become free states, and all territory south of that latitude would become slave states.
Manifest Destiny
This term that was used in the 19th century to designate the belief that the United States was destined, even divinely ordained, to expand across the North American continent, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean.
Second Party System
This term is used by historians and political scientists to name the political system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854. The system was characterized by rapidly rising levels of voter interest beginning in 1828, as demonstrated by election day turnout, rallies, partisan newspapers, and a high degree of personal loyalty to party. The major parties were the Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson, and the Whig Party, assembled by Henry Clay and other opponents of Jackson. Minor parties included the Anti-Masonic Party, from 1827-34; the Liberty Party in 1840; and the Free Soil Party in 1848 and 1852.
Lewis and Clark Expedition
This(1804-1806) was the first overland expedition undertaken by the United States to the Pacific coast and back. The expedition's goal was to gain an accurate sense of the resources acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, and to find navigable water routes. It laid much of the groundwork for the westward expansion of the United States.
Panic of 1819
This was the first major financial crisis in the United States. Earlier economic turmoil had originated in the broader Atlantic economy. In contrast, the causes of this crisis largely originated within the U.S. economy, and resulted in widespread foreclosures, bank failures, unemployment, and a slump in agriculture and manufacturing. It marked the end of the economic expansion that had followed the War of 1812.
Monroe Doctrine
This 1823 pronouncement asserted that the Western Hemisphere was not to be further colonized by European countries, and that the United States would not interfere with existing European colonies nor in the internal concerns of European countries. It was issued at the time when many Latin American countries were on the verge of becoming independent from Spain, and the US hoped to avoid having any European power take Spain's colonies.
Henry Clay
(1777 - 1852) He was a nineteenth-century American statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in both the House of Representatives and Senate. He served as Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. He was a dominant figure in both the First Party System and the Second Party System. Known as "The Great Compromiser" for his ability to bring others to agreement, he was the founder and leader of the Whig Party.
American system
This plan to strengthen and unify the nation was advanced by the Whig Party and a number of leading politicians including Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and John Quincy Adams. This controversial federal 'modernizing' program included tariffs to protect industry from international competition, a national bank, and internal improvements to promote canals, ports and railroads.
Martin Van Buren
(1782 - 1862) This life long New York politician became a key organizer of the 'Jacksonian' Democrats. He served as Vice President (1833-1837) and Secretary of State under Andrew Jackson, and then as the eighth President from 1837 to 1841.
John Calhoun
(1782 - 1850) He was a leading Southern politician from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century, and the seventh Vice President. He was an advocate of slavery, states' rights, limited government, and nullification. He famously defended slavery as a "positive good" rather than as a "necessary evil", and was partially responsible for escalating Southern threats of secession in the face of mounting abolitionist sentiment in the North.
Daniel Webster
(1782 - 1852) He was a leading Whig statesman during the nation's Antebellum Period. A long-time senator and a three time presidential candidate, he became the northern member of a trio known as the "Great Triumvirate", with his colleagues Henry Clay from the west and John C. Calhoun from the south.
'petticoat war' (Eaton affair)
This was an 1830-1831 scandal involving members of President Andrew Jackson's cabinet and their wives. Jackson appointed a man to be Secretary of war who had been ostracized by some political elite due to marrying his wife shortly after her previous husband died. The scandal intensified, finally resulting in the resignation of all members of the cabinet.
Peggy Eaton Affair
Social scandal (1829-1831) - John Eaton, Secretary of War, stayed with the Timberlakes when in Washington, and there were rumors of his affair with Peggy Timberlake even before her husband died in 1828. Many cabinet members snubbed the socially unacceptable Mrs. Eaton. Jackson sided with the Eatons, and the affair helped to dissolve the cabinet - especially those members associated with John C. Calhoun (V.P.), who was against the Eatons and had other problems with Jackson.
Whig Party
This was a political party during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from 1833 to 1856, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party. In particular, this party supported the supremacy of Congress over the executive branch and favored a program of modernization and economic protectionism.
Indian Removal Act
President Andrew Jackson called for this act in his 1829 "State of the Union" message, and signed it into law in 1830. The act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the "Five Civilized Tribes".
Supreme Court: Worchester v. Georgia
This 1832 Supreme Court case expanded tribal authority by declaring tribes sovereign entities, like states, with exclusive authority within their own boundaries. President Jackson and the state of Georgia ignored the ruling.
Joseph Smith
(1805-1844) He founded Mormonism in New York in 1830 with the guidance of an angel. In 1843, he announced that God sanctioned polygamy, which split the Mormons and let to an uprising against Mormons in 1844. He translated the Book of Mormon and died a martyr.
Brigham Young
(1801 - 1877) He was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint (LDS) movement and led followers to settle Utah. He was the founder of Salt Lake City and the first governor of Utah Territory. A university was named in his honor.
Republic of Texas
This was an independent state in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846. America's support for its break from Mexico, and eventual annexation in 1846, would become a trigger for the Mexican-American War.
Alamo
A Spanish mission converted into a Texan fort, it was besieged by Mexican troops in 1836. The Texas garrison held out for thirteen days, but in the final battle, all of the Texans were killed by the larger Mexican force. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texans defeated the Mexican Army several weeks later, declaring independence from Mexico.
Treaty of Guadelupe Hildago
This 1848 treaty ended the Mexican-American War. It required Mexico to cede the American Southwest, including New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California, to the U.S. in exchange for $15 million.
Wilmot Proviso
This proposed legislation never made it into law. It would have banned slavery in any territory to be acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War or in the future, including the area later known as the Mexican Cession.
George Fitzhugh
(1806 - 1881) He was a leading pro-slavery intellectual and spoke for many of the Southern plantation owners. He published racial and slavery-based sociological theories in the antebellum era. Slavery, he contended, ensured that blacks would be economically secure and morally civilized. He argued that "the negro is but a grown up child" who needs the economic and social protections of slavery.
General Zachary Taylor
Commander of the Army of Occupation on the Texas border. On President Polk's orders, he took the Army into the disputed territory and built a fort on the north bank of the Rio Grande River. When the Mexican Army tried to capture the fort, his forces engaged in is a series of engagements that led to the Mexican War. His victories in the war and defeat of Santa Ana made him a national hero. He was elected President in 1848.
James Polk
(1795 - 1849) He was the 11th President (1845-1849). A Jacksonian Democrat, he served as Speaker of the House (1835-1839) and Governor of Tennessee (1839-1841) before becoming president. He is noted for his foreign policy successes. He threatened war with Britain then backed away and split the ownership of the Northwest with Britain. He led the nation into the Mexican-American War.
James Buchanan
He served as President for one term just before the election of Abraham Lincoln plunged the nation into civil war. His nomination in the election of 1856 was a compromise between the two sides of the slavery issue. His subsequent election was largely due to the even more divided state of the opposition. As President he was a "doughface", a Northerner with Southern sympathies.
Free Soil Party
This was a short-lived third political party in the United States active in the 1848 and 1852 elections, and most popular in New York State. Its leaders were former anti-slavery Whigs and Democrats, who opposed the expansion of slavery into the western territories, arguing that free men on free soil comprised a morally and economically superior system to slavery. The party membership was largely absorbed by the Republican Party in 1854.
Compromise of 1850
Called for the admission of California as a free state, organizing Utah and New Mexico with out restrictions on slavery, adjustment of the Texas/New Mexico border, abolition of slave trade in District of Columbia, and tougher fugitive slave laws. Its passage was hailed as a solution to the threat of national division.
Fugitive Slave Law
Enacted by Congress in 1793 and 1850, these laws provided for the return of escaped slaves to their owners. The North was lax about enforcing the 1793 law, with irritated the South no end. The 1850 law was tougher and was aimed at eliminating the underground railroad.
Stephen Douglas
(1813 - 1861) He was an American politician from Illinois who dominated the Senate in the 1850s, and was the Democratic Presidential nominee in 1860. He lost to the Republican Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed series of debates. He was largely responsible for the Compromise of 1850 that apparently settled slavery issues. However, in 1854 he reopened the slavery question by the highly controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act that allowed the people of the new territories to decide for themselves whether or not to have slavery. The protest movement against this became the Republican Party.
Kansas - Nebraska Act
1854 - This act repealed the Missouri Compromise and established a doctrine of congressional nonintervention in the territories. Popular sovereignty (vote of the people) would determine whether Kansas and Nebraska would be slave or free states.
Know Nothing
This was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s that started in New York City. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to U.S. values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. It strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. Its membership fragmented over the issue of slavery.
Dred Scott case
A Missouri slave sued for his freedom, claiming that his four year stay in the northern portion of the Louisiana Territory made free land by the Missouri Compromise had made him a free man. The U.S, Supreme Court decided he couldn't sue in federal court because he was property, not a citizen. Furthermore, the court ruled that the federal government could not prohibit citizens from taking slaves into territories.
Free Labor ideology
This is a set of beliefs and ideas that presented slavery as a threat to a white male economic independence. It was central to the Republican party's attack on slavery. It asserted that the ability of working men to achieve economic independence was the basis of northern superiority.
"Bleeding Kansas"
Following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, pro-slavery forces from Missouri, known as the Border Ruffians, crossed the border into Kansas and terrorized and murdered antislavery settlers. Antislavery sympathizers from Kansas carried out reprisal attacks, the most notorious of which was John Brown's 1856 attack on the settlement at Pottawatomie Creek. The war continued for four years before the antislavery forces won. The violence it generated helped precipitate the Civil War.
Popular Sovereignty
This doctrine stated that the people of a territory had the right to decide their own laws by voting. In the Kansas-Nebraska Act, such a policy would decide whether a territory allowed slavery. This idea was pushed by Stephen Douglas, who sought to find a compromise position on slavery.
Lincoln-Douglas Debates
These were a series of seven debates in 1858 for an Illinois seat in the US Senate between a rising star in the Republican party and the "little giant" Democratic incumbent. The debates previewed the debates and candidates of the 1860 presidential election, with a overwhelming focus on slavery.
Charles Sumner
(1811 - 1874) He was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. His severe beating in 1856 by South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks on the floor of the United States Senate helped escalate the tensions that led to war.
John Brown
In 1859, this militant abolitionist seized the U.S. arsenal at Harper's Ferry, with the plan to spark a revolutionary slave insurrection. He was captured and executed.
Election of 1860
This election saw the sectional tensions in the antebellum era finally come to a head, fracturing the formerly dominant Democratic Party into Southern and Northern factions and bringing Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party to power without the support of a single Southern state. Hardly more than a month following Lincoln's victory came declarations of secession by South Carolina.
Jefferson Davis
(1808 - 1889) He was an American politician who served as a Senator from Mississippi until he received word that his state had seceded from the Union. He then served as President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history, 1861 to 1865, throughout the American Civil War.
Fort Sumter
This was the site of the opening engagement of the Civil War in April 1861. In December 1860, South Carolina had seceded from the Union, and had demanded that all federal property in the state be surrendered. Learning that Lincoln planned to send supplies to reinforce the fort, Confederate General Beauregard demanded surrender, which was refused. On April 12, 1861, the Confederate Army began bombarding the fort, which surrendered on April 14, 1861. Congress declared war on the Confederacy the next day.
Trent Affair
This was an international diplomatic incident that occurred during the American Civil War. On November 8, 1861, the Union navy intercepted a British ship and removed two Confederate diplomats, who were bound for the United Kingdom (then the most powerful nation in the world) and France to press the Confederacy's case for diplomatic recognition by Europe.
Battle of Monitor and Merrimac
This was an important naval battle of the American Civil War -- it was the first meeting in combat of ironclad warships. The battle was a part of the effort of the Confederacy to break the Union blockade, which had cut off Virginia's largest cities, Norfolk and Richmond, from international trade.
George McClellan
(1826 - 1885) He was a general during the Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army, yet he chronically overestimated the strength of enemy units and was reluctant to be aggressive, frequently leaving large portions of his army unengaged at decisive points. McClellan became the unsuccessful Democratic nominee opposing Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election.
Emancipation Proclamation
This was an executive order issued by President Lincoln during the Civil War. It declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederacy that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. Lincoln's decision was criticized at the time for freeing only the slaves over which the Union had no power.
Robert E. Lee
(1807 - 1870) This man was a career Army officer, who rose to be among the most celebrated generals in American history. After serving in the US Army for 32 years, including in the Mexican-American War, and then at Harper's Ferry, he is best known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War. His surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865 ended the Civil War.
Ulysses S. Grant
(1822 - 1885) Leading important Union victories at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga, established his reputation as Lincoln's most aggressive and successful general. Appointed general-in-chief in 1864, he implemented a coordinated strategy of simultaneous attacks aimed at destroying the South's armies and its economy's ability to sustain its forces. Popular due to the Union victory in the war, he was elected President as a Republican in 1868 and re-elected in 1872.
Ulysses S. Grant
U.S. president 1873-1877. Military hero of the Civil War, he led a corrupt administration, consisting of friends and relatives. Although personally a very honest and moral man, his administration was considered the most corrupt the U.S. had had at that time.
William Tecumseh Sherman
(1820 - 1891) He served as a General in the Union Army during the Civil War (1861-65), for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of his "scorched earth" and "total war" practices. His capture of the city of Atlanta in 1864 and subsequent march though Georgia was a military success that contributed to the re-election of Lincoln.
Copperheads
These were vocal Democrats in the North who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. They wanted President Lincoln and the Republicans ousted from power, seeing the president as a tyrant who was destroying American republican values with his despotic and arbitrary actions. Perhaps the most famous of this group was Ohio's Clement L. Vallandigham.
The Battle of Antietam
September 17, 1862--This was the first major battle in the Civil War to take place on Northern soil. Despite ample reserve Union forces, McClellan failed to destroy Lee's army. Nevertheless, Lee's invasion of Maryland was ended, and the victory gave President Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000 casualties.
The Battle of Gettysburg
(Central Pennsylvania) (July 1-3, 1863), This massive Civil War battle was General Lee's (and the South's) most offensive strike into the North, but ended in Union victory. In combination with the fall of Vicksburg the following day, this battle marked a significant shift in the North's favor.
The Siege of Vicksburg
(May 19- July 4, 1863) This was a critical western victory for the Union in the Civil War, and followed a long campaign led by Ulysses S. Grant to gain command of the Mississippi River. It cut off communication with Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department for the remainder of the war.
Thirteenth Amendment
1865 - Freed all slaves, abolished slavery.
Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV)
This amendment was adopted after the Civil War (1868) to extend citizenship rights to former slaves. It requires states to provide equal protection under the law to all people within their jurisdictions. The amendment provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling the decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which had excluded slaves, and their descendants, from possessing Constitutional rights.
Fifteenth Amendment
Ratified 1870 - This amendment declared that no one could be denied the right to vote on account of race, color, or having been a slave. It was to prevent states from amending their constitutions to deny black suffrage.
Morrill Land-Grant College Acts
This 1862 law created land-grant colleges. Under the act, each eligible state received a total of 30,000 acres of federal land for each member of congress the state had as of the census of 1860. This land, or the proceeds from its sale, was to be used toward establishing and funding the educational institutions. Aided by the secession of many states that did not support the plans, this reconfigured Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862.
Pacific Railway Act
(1862) This act authorized extensive land grants in the West, and the issuance of inexpensive loans, to companies in order to construct a transcontinental railroad. It granted 10 square miles of public land for every mile laid except where railroads ran through cities and crossed rivers. This grant was apportioned on alternating sides of the railroad, with each section measuring one fifth of a mile in length by 10 miles in height. From 1850-1871, the railroads received more than 175 million acres of public land - an area more than one tenth of the whole United States.
Lost Cause
This is the name commonly given to a literary and intellectual movement that sought to reconcile the traditional white society of the Southern United States to the defeat of the Confederate States of America in the Civil War of 1861-1865. Those who contributed to the movement tended to portray the Confederacy's cause as noble and most of the Confederacy's leaders as exemplars of old-fashioned chivalry, defeated by the Union armies not through superior military skill, but by overwhelming force. They also tended to condemn Reconstruction.
Black Codes
These were laws passed on the state and local level in the United States to limit the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans. Despite the fact that the United States constitution originally discriminated against African Americans and both northern and southern states had passed discriminatory legislation since the early 19th century, the term refers to legislation passed by Southern states at the end of the Civil War to control the labor, movements and activities of newly freed slaves.
Sharecropping
This is a system of agriculture or agricultural production in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land (e.g., 50 percent of the crop). Sharecropping became widespread as a response to economic upheaval caused by the emancipation of slaves and disenfranchisement of poor whites in the agricultural South during Reconstruction.
William Walker
(1824- September 1860) was an American filibuster or pirate who attempted to conquer several Latin American countries in the mid-19th century. He appointed himself President of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled from that year to 1857. He was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.
Ghost Dance
This was a religious movement incorporated into numerous Native American belief systems. The practice swept throughout much of the American West in the late 1880s, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. Perhaps the best-known facet of this movement is the role it reportedly played in instigating the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890, which resulted in the deaths of at least 153 Lakota Sioux.
Panic of 1873
This was the start of the Long Depression, a severe nationwide economic depression in the United States that lasted until 1879. Reasons for the downturn included overproduction, risky speculation, and the demonetization of silver. Public discontent frequently found scapegoats in recently freed slaves.
'peace policy'
By the late 1860s,President Ulysses S. Grant pursued newly stated policy towards Native Americans. It included a reorganization of the Indian Service, with the goal of relocating various tribes from their ancestral homes to parcels of lands established specifically for their inhabitation. The policy called for the replacement of government officials by religious men, to oversee the Indian agencies on reservations in order to teach Christianity to the native tribes.
Dawes Act
This law was enacted in 1887 regarding the distribution of land to Native Americans in Oklahoma. The act provided for the division of tribally held lands into individually owned parcels and opening "surplus" lands to settlement by non-Indians and development by railroads. By dividing reservation lands into privately-owned parcels, legislators hoped to complete the assimilation process by forcing the deterioration of the communal life-style of the Native societies and imposing Western-oriented values of strengthening the nuclear family and values of economic dependency strictly within this small household unit.
Jim Crow
These were state and local laws enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated racial segregation in all public facilities, such as schools, buses, trains, and restrooms, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans.
Frederick Jackson Turner
(1861 - 1932) He was an American historian in the early 20th century. He is best known for The Significance of the Frontier in American History, where he stated that the spirit and success of the United States is directly tied to the country's westward expansion. According to Turner, the forging of the unique and rugged American identity occurred at the juncture between the civilization of settlement and the savagery of wilderness.
Plessy v. Ferguson
(1896) This was a landmark Supreme Court case upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation in public accommodations. "Separate but equal" remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.
National Republicans
After the 1824 election, part of the Democratic - Republican party joined John Q. Adams, Clay, and Daniel Webster to oppose Andrew Jackson. They favored nationalistic measures like recharter of the Bank of the United States, high tariffs, and internal improvements at national expense. They were supported mainly by Northwesterners and were not very successful. They joined with the Whigs in the 1830's.
Kitchen Cabinet
This was a nickname for a small group of Andrew Jackson's friends who were especially influential in the first years of his presidency. Jackson conferred with them instead of his regular cabinet. Many people didn't like Jackson ignoring official procedures, and having this informal group of advisors.
Worchester v. Georgia; Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
Worchester v. Georgia: 1832 - The Supreme Court decided Georgia had no jurisdiction over Cherokee reservations. Georgia refused to enforce decision and President Jackson didn't support the Court. Cherokee Nation v. Georgia: 1831 - The Supreme Court ruled that Indians weren't independent nations but dependent domestic nations which could be regulated by the federal government. From then until 1871, treaties were formalities with the terms dictated by the federal government.
Panic of 1837
When Jackson was president, many state banks received government money that had been withdrawn from the Bank of the U.S. These banks issued paper money and financed wild speculation, especially in federal lands. Jackson issued the Specie Circular to force the payment for federal lands with gold or silver. Many state banks collapsed as a result. A panic ensued. Bank of the U.S. failed, cotton prices fell, businesses went bankrupt, and there was widespread unemployment and distress.
Transcendentalism
A philosophy pioneered by Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 1830's and 1840's in which each person has direct communication with God and Nature, and there is no need for organized churches. This school of thought promoted individualism, self-reliance, and freedom from social constraints, and emphasized emotions.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882) This essayist, poet, and orator was a leading thinker of his day. He was a leading transcendentalist, emphasizing freedom and self-reliance. He spoke and wrote many works on the behalf of the abolitionists.
Henry David Thoreau
(1817-1862) This famous author was a transcendentalist and friend of Emerson. He lived alone on Walden Pond with only $8 a year from 1845-1847 and wrote about it in Walden. In his essay, "On Civil Disobedience," he inspired social and political reformers because he had refused to pay a poll tax in protest of slavery and the Mexican-American War, and had spent a night in jail. He was an extreme individualist and advised people to protest by not obeying laws (passive resistance).
54º40' or Fight!
An aggressive slogan adopted in the Oregon boundary dispute, a dispute over where the border between Canada and Oregon should be drawn. This was also Polk's slogan - the Democrats wanted the U.S. border drawn at the 54º40' latitude. Polk settled for the 49º latitude in 1846.
William Lloyd Garrison
(1805-1879) A militant abolitionist, he came editor of the Boston publication, The Liberator, in 1831. Under his leadership, The Liberator gained national fame and notoriety due to his quotable and inflammatory language, attacking everything from slave holders to moderate abolitionists, and advocating northern secession.
The Liberator
This was a militantly abolitionist weekly, edited by William Garrison from 1831 to 1865. Despite having a relatively small circulation, it achieved national notoriety due to Garrison's strong arguments.
Nat Turner
This slave led an uprising in 1831. Believing he was a divine instrument sent to free the slaves, he led his mob killed almost 60 whites in South Hampton, Virginia. This let to a sensational manhunt in which 100 blacks were killed. As a result, slave states strengthened measures against slaves and became more united in their support of fugitive slave laws.
Frederick Douglass
(1817-1895) A self-educated slave who escaped in 1838, he became the best-known abolitionist speaker. He edited an anti-slavery weekly, the North Star.
Underground Railroad
This was a secret, shifting network of safe houses and human smugglers which aided slaves escaping to the North and Canada, mainly after 1840.
Harriet Tubman
(1821-1913) A former escaped slave, she was one of the shrewdest conductors of the underground railroad, leading 300 slaves to freedom.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this famous abolitionist book. It helped to exacerbate the rift between the North and South. It has been called the greatest American propaganda novel ever written, and helped to bring about the Civil War.
Republican Party
A coalition of the Free Soil Party, the Know-Nothing Party and renegade Whigs merged in 1854 to form this party--a liberal, anti-slavery party. The party's Presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, captured one-third of the popular vote in the 1856 election.
John Wilkes Booth
On April 14, 1865, he shot Lincoln at Ford's Theatre and cried, "Sic Semper Tyrannis!" ("Thus always to tyrants!") When he jumped down onto the stage his spur caught in the American flag draped over the balcony and he fell and broke his leg. He escaped on a waiting horse and fled town. He was found several days later in a barn. He refused to come out; the barn was set on fire. Booth was shot, either by himself or a soldier.
Reconstruction Acts
1867 - Pushed through congress over Johnson's veto, it gave radical Republicans complete military control over the South and divided the South into five military zones, each headed by a general with absolute power over his district.
Thaddeus Stevens
(1792 - 1868) He was a radical Republican from Pennsylvania, and a central figure the United States House of Representatives. He and Senator Charles Sumner were the prime leaders of the Radical Republicans during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. Austin Stoneman, the naive and fanatical congressman in D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, was modeled on him.
Andrew Johnson
(1808-1875)A Southerner form Tennessee, as V.P. when Lincoln was killed, he became president. He opposed radical Republicans who passed Reconstruction Acts over his veto. The first U.S. president to be impeached, he survived the Senate removal by only one vote. He was a very weak president.
Freedmen's Bureau
This agency was set up in 1865 to aid former slaves in adjusting themselves to freedom. It furnished food and clothing to needy blacks and helped them get jobs.
Ku Klux Klan
This white supremacy group was first founded in the south in 1865 by veterans of the Confederate Army, but then spread throughout the South. It resisted Reconstruction by assaulting, murdering and intimidating freedmen and white Republicans. In 1870 federal prosecution of crimes and enforcement of the new laws somewhat suppressed white supremacist activity.
Scalawags
A derogatory term for Southerners who cooperated with Northern reconstruction efforts, or were working with Northerners to buy land from desperate Southerners.
Carpetbaggers
This derogatory term applied to Northerners who migrated south during the Reconstruction to take advantage of opportunities to advance their own fortunes by buying up land from desperate Southerners and by manipulating new black voters to obtain lucrative government contracts.
The Compromise of 1877
This was an informal, unwritten deal that settled the disputed 1876 U.S. Presidential election. Through it, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded the White House over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden on the understanding that Hayes would remove the federal troops that were propping up Republican state governments in South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. As soon as the troops left, the "Redeemer" Democrats took control. With this law, Reconstruction was brought to an end.
Solid South
This term applied to the one-party (Democrat) system of the South following the Civil War. For 100 years after the Civil War, the South voted Democrat in every presidential election.
Pendleton Civil Service Act
1883 - This was the first federal regulatory commission. Office holders would be assessed on a merit basis to be sure they were fit for duty. Brought about by the assassination of Garfield by an immigrant who was angry about being unable to get a government job. The assassination raised questions about how people should be chosen for civil service jobs.