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STAAR Vocabulary Influential People

John Hancock

Founding Father; American revolutionary patriot who was president of the Continental Congress; First signer of the Declaration of Independence

John Jay

Founding Father; United States diplomat and jurist who negotiated peace treaties with Britain and served as the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1745-1829)

Declaration of Independence

the document recording the proclamation of the second Continental Congress (4 July 1776) asserting the independence of the colonies from Great Britain

U.S. Constitution

The document written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 that sets forth the institutional structure of the U.S. government and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.

Bill of Rights

a statement of fundamental rights and privileges (especially the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution)

Benjamin Rush

physician and Revolutionary American leader; founding father

John Witherspoon

American Revolutionary leader and educator (born in Scotland) who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and president of the college that became Princeton University (1723-1794); founding father

John Peter Muhlenberg

an American clergyman, Continental Army soldier during the American Revolutionary War, he served in the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate from Pennsylvania; Founding Father

Charles Carroll

only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence, Representative of Maryland, and served in Continental Congress

Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Tradesman; Governor of Conneticut; Trumbull was the only governor to support the position of the colonies. He had long been a supporter of colonial rights and during the war supplied General Washington with food, clothing, and munitions.

relative chronology

something that is in an order; does not necessarily have dates; time of an event in relation to another event

absolute chronology

sequential order of events including dates; Time and date measurements based upon an exact date (example: July 4, 1776)

Spanish-American War, 1898

Conflict between the U.S. and Spain that began the rise of the U.S. as a world power. The U.S. gained possession of Puerto Rico and the Philippines as a result. Cuba was liberated.

World War I, 1914-1918

First world war initiated by a conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.The two opposing military alliances were the Entente (allied) (Russian Empire, Great Brittan, France, Canada, Australia, Italy, the Empire of Japan, Portugal, and the United States) and the Central Powers (German Empire, the Austrian-Hungarian empire, the Ottoman empire, Turkey, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria). The allied powers were victorious, but led to WWII.

Great Depression, 1929

A period of global recession that lasted from October of 1929 to the outbreak of WWII in 1939; Stock Market Crash of 1929

World War II, 1939-1945

Truly a global war which was waged over 2/3 of the entire planet;World War II began in 1939, and the United States was fully involved after Pearl Harbor in 1941 until the defeat of Japan in August, 1945.

Sputnik, 1957

a Russian artificial satellite


of or relating to or characteristic of the former Soviet Union or its people

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968-1969

U.S. Baptist minister and civil rights leader. A noted orator, he opposed discrimination against blacks by organizing nonviolent resistance and peaceful mass demonstrations. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Nobel Peace Prize (1964)

moon landing, 1969

first manned mission to land on the Moon. launched July 16, 1969 and landed July 20th

Cold War, 1991

Conflict between US allied nations and Soviet allied nations that never broke out in real direct war

9/11, 2001

A series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001.

Barack Obama

44th U.S. President 2009-current Democratic; first African American President

Indian policies

1887 Dawes Act tried to assimilate or "Americanize" them by breaking up reservations, giving acres to individual Indians and selling the rest to settlers

political machines

Corrupt organized groups that controlled political parties in the cities. A boss leads the machine and attempts to grab more votes for his party.

Civil Service Reform

Congress took action in the late 19th century to protect ethical politicians and create standards for political service; including, a civil service test for those seeking a job in government.


Farm-based movement of the late 1800s that arose mainly in the area from Texas to the Dakotas and grew into a joint effort between farmer and labor groups against big business and machine-based politics. The movement became a third party in the election of 1892.


transition from an agricultural society to one based on industry

growth of railroads

-helps with trade
-provided goods to rural areas
-improvement of infrastructure which lead to economic growth

labor union

an organization of workers that tries to improve working conditions, wages, and benefits for its members


the process of starting, organizing, managing, and assuming the responsibility for a business

free enterprise

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

big business

commercial enterprises organized and financed on a scale large enough to influence social and political policies


People who settle in a country they weren't born in


movement of people from rural areas to cities

Social Gospel

Religious response to the problems created by industrialization and urbanization in the late 19th century supporters of tthe social gospel supported child labor laws civil service reform and control of trusts


charitable donation to public causes


policy of extending a nation's boundaries

Henry Cabot

Senator from Massachusetts who supported the right of the US to expand its interests

Henry Cabot Lodge

Led a group of senators during Woodrow Wilson's presidency known as the "reservationists" during the 1919 debate over the League of Nations.

Alfred Thayer Mahan

Navy officer whose ideas on naval warfare and the importance of sea-power changed how America viewed its navy

Theodore Roosevelt

An assistant secretary of the Navy he favored expansion. He resigned his position in Washington to lead the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. He eventually became vice president and then president after McKinley was assassinated; Progressive Era President

Sanford B. Dole

led the committee formed by local sugar interests that overthrew Queen Liliuokalani and sought annexation by the U.S.; first president of the Republic of Hawaii


the largest and southernmost island in the Marianas which is administered as a territory of the United States


Area annexed (added to) by the United States in 1898 which became in 1959 America's 50th state.


Annexation of these islands touched off foreign policy debates and a questioning of US imperialist intentions


an advocate of the policy of dominating other nations by acquiring their land

Puerto Rico

ceded to the US by Spain as a payment for the cost of the Spanish American War

American Expeditionary Forces

All of the military personnel, equipment and weaponry, medical staff, support and maintenance supplies, and so on sent to the Western front by President Woodrow Wilson after his declaration of war in April 1917, under the command of Gen. John J. Pershing.

trench warefare

characterized fighting on the western front in France of WW I, in which soldiers fought in rows of trenches dug out of the earth


a situation in which no progress can be made or no advancement is possible; deadlock


A policy of avoiding political or military involvement with other countries.


policy of supporting neither side in a war

Woodrow Wilson

28th President of the United States

Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points

- Summary of how President Wilson thought the war should be concluded; included the ideas of a just peace for Germany, self-determination for all nations, and the creation of a League of Nations

Treaty of Versailles

Treaty of, 28 June 1919, the peace settlement imposed on Germany after World War I, drawn up at the Paris Peace Conference.

Battle of Argonne Forrest

The last major battle of WWI where allies defeated the Germans.

Progressive Era

Period of reform from 1890s-1920s. Opposed waste and corruption while focusing on the general rights of the individual. Pushed for social justice, general equality, and public safety. The significance of this movement included trust-busting, Sherman Anti-trust Act, President Theodore Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act of 1906.

initiative, referendum and recall

These were three changes intended to increase the individual voter's influence in government. It gives a person the power to propose laws, states that certain laws passed by the state legislature do not take effect unless they are approved by a majority of the citizens, and strengthens the control of voters over elected officials.

16th Amendment

Amendment to the United States Constitution (1913) gave Congress the power to tax income.

17th Amendment

Passed in 1913, this amendment to the Constitution calls for the direct election of senators by the voters instead of their election by state legislatures.

18th Amendment

Prohibited the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages

19th Amendment

Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1920) extended the right to vote to women in federal or state elections.


A group of investigative reporters who pointed out the abuses of big business and the corruption of urban politics; included Frank Norris (The Octopus) Ida Tarbell (A history of the standard oil company) Lincoln Steffens (the shame of the cities) and Upton Sinclair (The Jungle)

Upton Sinclair

muckraker who shocked the nation when he published The Jungle, a novel that revealed gruesome details about the meat packing industry in Chicago. The book was fiction but based on the things Sinclair had seen.

Susan B. Anthony

(1820-1906) An early leader of the women's suffrage (right to vote) movement, co-founded the National Women's Suffrage Association with Elizabeth Cady Stnaton in 1869.

Ida B. Wells

Muckracker who protested against lynching and spoke out in the newspaper Free Speech, asking the federal government for an anti-lynching law. She also wrote a Muckracking book about John Rockefeller.

W.E.B. DuBois

A black orator and eassayist. Helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He disagreed with Booker T. Washington's theories, and took a militant position on race relations. First black to obtain PhD from Harvard University.

Third Parties

electoral contenders other than the two major parties. American third parties are not unusual, but they rarely win elections.

Populist Party

a former political party in the United States

Progressive Party

Also known as the "Bull Moose Party", this political party was formed by Theodore Roosevelt in an attempt to advance progressive ideas and unseat President William Howard Taft in the election of 1912. After Taft won the Republican Party's nomination, Roosevelt ran on the Progressive party ticket.


To enter and settle in a country or region to which one is not native

Social Darwinism

A social application of Charles Darwin's biological theory of evolution by natural selection, this late-nineteenth century theory encouraged the notion of human competition and opposed intervention in the natural human order. Social Darwinists justified the increasing inequality of late-nineteeth-century industrial American society as natural; cultual changes


study of factors that influence the hereditary qualities of the human race and ways to improve those qualities


An anti-foreign feeling that arose in the 1840's and 1850's in response to the influx of Irish and German Catholics.

The Red Scare

Occurred shortly after the end of WWI when American soldiers returned from Europe in which there was a fear of communist infiltration in the country led primarily by attorney General A. Mitchell palmer.


the period from 1920 to 1933 when the sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the United States by a constitutional amendment

Clarence Darrow

Chicago trial lawyer and leading member of the ACLU who earned fame defending the values of science and modernism in the 1925 Scopes Trial (and effectively weakening fundamentalism)

William Jennings Bryan

An American lawyer, statesman, and politician. He was a three-time Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States. Greatly supported and led the progressive movement and helped to enact the 18th amendment (prohibition). Fundamentalist; opposed evolution

Henry Ford

1863-1947. American businessman, founder of Ford Motor Company, father of modern assembly lines, and inventor credited with 161 patents.

Glenn Curtiss

Was an American aviation pioneer and founder of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, now part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation. His company sold the first airplanes in the USA. Huge industrial enterprise during WWI

Marcus Garvey

African American leader during the 1920s who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and advocated mass migration of African Americans back to Africa. Was deported to Jamaica in 1927.

Charles A. Lindbergh

Celebrity hero who was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic in a small single engine plane. He success gripped the public's imagination.


in the decade after WWI, American foreign policy objectives were aimed at maintaining peace and have been described as "independent internationalism" (Kellogg-Briand Pact, Good Neighbor Policy); began when Germany invaded Poland; US became involved when Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan; FDR signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which was the first peacetime draft; internment of Japanese Americans; at Yalta, land was split up between the Allies; the beginning of the USSR's dominance

Pearl Harbor

Naval base in Hawaii attacked by Japanese aircraft on December 7, 1941. The sinking of much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet brought the United States into World War II.

U.S. Office of War Information

To control the content and imagery of war messages, the government created the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI) in June 1942. Among its wide-ranging responsibilities, OWI sought to review and approve the design and content of government posters.


Nazis' program during World War II to kill people they considered undesirable. Some 6 million Jews perished during the Holocaust, along with millions of Polish, Gypsies, Communists, Socialists, and others.


Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial

Executive Order 9066

A United States presidential executive order signed and issued during World War II by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 ordering Japanese Americans to internment camps.

Conventional Weapons

Soldiers, small arms, artillary, tanks, war plants, and ships (as opposed to chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons).

Atomic Weapons

Devices that are highly radioactive and able to destroy entire cities.

Battle of Midway

U.S. naval victory over the Japanese fleet in June 1942, in which the Japanese lost four of their best aircraft carriers. It marked a turning point in World War II.

Bataan Death March

Involved the forcible transfer of 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in the Philippines from the Bataan peninsula to prison camps; was characterized by wide-ranging physical abuse and murder and resulted in very high fatalities inflicted upon the prisoners and civilians along the route by the armed forces of the Empire of Japan.

Invasion of Normandy

June 6, 1944; "D-Day"; Eisenhower directed an assault on a beach in France; Established the second front through France, only one of three successful invasions across the English Channel.

Concentration camps

Prison camps used under the rule of Hitler in Nazi Germany. Conditions were inhuman, and prisoners, mostly Jewish people, were generally starved or worked to death, or killed immediately.

Omar Bradley

American general who led the ground forces at D Day (Invasion of Normandy 6-6-44).

Dwight D. Eisenhower

34th president of the US; Nicknamed Ike; General in the US army; During WWII, was supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe; Supervised invasion of France and Germany; Interstates

Douglas MacArthur

American general, United Nations general, and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army; Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and later played a prominent role in the Pacific theater of World War II; designated to command the proposed invasion of Japan and officially accepted the nation's surrender; led the United Nations Command forces defending South Korea against the North Korean invasion; removed from command by President Truman for publicly disagreeing with Truman's Korean War Policy.

Chester A. Nimitz

Commander of the U.S Navy in the Pacific.

George Marshall

United States secretary of state who formulated a program providing economic aid to European countries after World War II. The Marshall Plan provided massive American economic assistance to help Europe recover from the war.

George Patton

Known as "Old Blood and Guts," George S. Patton, Jr. was one of the most colorful generals of World War II. During World War II he served in North Africa and Sicily before becoming the commander of the Third Army.


Love of one's country and willingness to make sacrifices for it.


A general term, but specifically referring to the American spirit of noncompulsory personal contribution to the war effort during World War I. Examples of this include "wheatless Wednesdays", "meatless Tuesdays", and "Victory Gardens".

War Bonds

Certificates of debt(loans) issued by a government -- the government uses the money to pay for a war and pays the investor at a certain future date.

Victory Gardens

Private gardens which American citizens were encouraged to create as a source of food during the war period.

Tuskegee Airmen

African American fighter pilots who trained in Tuskegee, Alabama, during World War II.

Flying Tigers

1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force; trained in Burma before the American entry into World War II with the intention of defending China against Japanese forces.

Navajo Code Talkers

Native American men who served in the military by transmitting radio messages in their native languages, which were undecipherable by German and Japanese spies.

ethnic minorities

People classified according to common traits and customs.

Truman Doctrine

First established in 1947 by President Truman after Britain no longer could afford to provide anti-communist aid to Greece and Turkey, it pledged to provide U.S. military and economic aid to any nation threatened by communism.

Marshall Plan

Introduced by Secretary of State George G. Marshall in 1947, he proposed massive and systematic American economic aid to Europe to revitalize the European economies after WWII and help prevent the spread of Communism.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

In 1949, the United States, Canada, and ten European nations formed this military mutual-defense pact. In 1955, the Soviet Union countered NATO with the formation of the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance among those nations within its own sphere of influence.

Berlin Airlift

Successful effort by the United States and Britain to ship by air 2.3 million tons of supplies to the residents of the Western-controlled sectors of Berlin from June 1948 to May 1949, in response to a Soviet blockade of all land and canal routes to the divided city.

Cuban Missile Crisis

An international crisis in October 1962, the closest approach to nuclear war at any time between the U.S. and the USSR. When the U.S. discovered Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba, President John F. Kennedy demanded their removal and announced a naval blockade of the island; the Soviet leader Khrushchev acceded to the U.S. demands a week later.

President John F. Kennedy

Second youngest president, entered presidency as tensions of the Cold War increased; unable to get major initiatives through Congress due to conservative bloc; tax cuts (economic stimulation); reluctantly gets involved in civil rights; emphasizes Space Race (man on the moon).

Cold War

A state of political conflict using means short of armed warfare.

Arms Race

Cold war competition between the U.S. and Soviet Union to build up their respective armed forces and weapons

Space Race

Many scientists and military leaders believed that control of space would be very important. Consequently, the USA and USSR invested billions of dollars in developing satellites, space stations, rockets, etc. This investment led to great scientific advances, but also caused friction and insecurities.


In 1950, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy began a sensational campaign against communists in government that led to more than four years of charges and countercharges, ending when the Senate censured him in 1954. McCarthyism became the contemporary name for the red scare of the 1950's.

House of Un-American Activities Committees

(HUAC) Congressional committee that played a prominent role in attempting to
uncover and punish those suspected of aiding the communist cause in the early years of the Cold War.

Venona Papers


Sherman Antitrust Act

First federal action against monopolies, it was signed into law by Harrison and was extensively used by Theodore Roosevelt for trust-busting. However, it was initially misused against labor unions

Federal Reserve System

The system created by Congress in 1913 to establish banking practices and regulate currency in circulation and the amount of credit available.

Interstate Commerce Commission

a former independent federal agency that supervised and set rates for carriers that transported goods and people between states

Booker T. Washington

African American progressive who supported segregation and demanded that African American better themselves individually to achieve equality.

Women's Rights Movement

the organized effort to improve political, legal, and economic status of women in American society; it was largely inspired by women's frustration with their limited participation rights in the abolitionist movement

Articles of Confederation

This document, the nation's first constitution, was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1781 during the Revolution. The document was limited because states held most of the power, and Congress lacked the power to tax, regulate trade, or control coinage.

Federal System

a government that divides the powers of government between the national government and state or provincial governments

Progressive Reforms

A middle-class urban movement demanding reforms to regulate city services and stop corruption. It became a national movement which called for change to help US adjust to changes of the new century (early 1900's) such as industrialization, new technologies, rise of corporations and urban living.

Korean War

conflict between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in which at least 2.5 million persons lost their lives. The war reached international proportions in June 1950 when North Korea, supplied and advised by the Soviet Union, invaded the South. The United Nations, with the United States as the principal participant, joined the war on the side of the South Koreans, and the People's Republic of China came to North Korea's aid. After more than a million combat casualties had been suffered on both sides, the fighting ended in July 1953 with Korea still divided into two hostile states. Negotiations in 1954 produced no further agreement, and the front line has been accepted ever since as the de facto boundary between North and South Korea.

The Containment Policy

policy that called on the United States to take steps to prevent Soviet expansion. The Policy would adopt two approaches. One approach was military; the other was economic.

Domino Theory

The idea that countries bordering communist countries were in more danger of falling to communism unless the United States and other western nations worked to prevent it.

Vietnam War

A prolonged war (1954-1975) between the communist armies of North Vietnam who were supported by the Chinese and the non-communist armies of South Vietnam who were supported by the United States.

Tet Offensive

1968; National Liberation Front and North Vietnamese forces launched a huge attack on the Vietnamese New Year (Tet), which was defeated after a month of fighting and many thousands of casualties; major defeat for communism, but Americans reacted sharply, with declining approval of LBJ and more anti-war sentiment.


President Richard Nixons strategy for ending U.S involvement in the Vietnam war, involving a gradual withdrawl of American troops and replacement of them with South Vietnamese forces

Fall of Saigon

Marked the end of the Vietnam War in April, 1975 when North Vietnamese invaded South Vietnam, forcing all Americans left to flee in disarray as the capitol was taken

The Draft

"Conscription." compulsory military service. - all males join, start at age 18, - first used in civil war, last used WW2.

26th Amendment

lowered the voting age to 18.

The Credibility Gap

• What the government was telling the people about Vietnam was different from what the media was telling them
• Mid-late sixties
• LBJ's presidency
• Significance: People were starting to distrust the government, starting with the Gulf of Tonkin, people become MORE anti-war, LBJ knew how unpopular he was becoming
o End up pulling out of the war, start peace talks and not run for re-election

The Silent Majority

-a term popularized by Nixon about people who did not express their public opinion: those Americans who did not protest against the Vietnam War
-people who were tired of hearing about instability, racial injustice, and the poor.

The Anti-War Movement

Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War is significant because it was the first time a war was shown and accessed through the media to the public in the United States.

Civil Rights Movement

A social movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, in which people organized to demand equal rights for African Americans and other minorities. People worked together to change unfair laws. They gave speeches, marched in the streets, and participated in boycotts.

13th Amendment

This amendment freed all slaves without compensation to the slaveowners. It legally forbade slavery in the United States. 1865

14th Amendment

Declared that all persons born or naturalized in the United States were entitled equal rights regardless of their race, and that their rights were protected at both the state and national levels. 1868

15th Amendment

Ratified 1870. One of the "Reconstruction Amendments". Provided that no government in the United States shall prevent a citizen from voting based on the citizen's race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Martin L. King Jr.

Famous civil rights leader that believed in passive resistance. He wrote the "I have a dream" speech and was an icon for racial harmony and a champion for civil rights.

Cesar Chavez

1927-1993. Farm worker, labor leader, and civil-rights activist who helped form the National Farm Workers Association, later the United Farm Workers.

Rosa Parks

United States civil rights leader who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery (Alabama) and so triggered the national civil rights movement (born in 1913)

Hector P. Garcia

founded the American GI Forum to help minority veterans obtain the same benefits other veterans recieved

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