200 terms

United States History & Government Regents Review Terms and Names

The movement to end slavery in the United States.
Abraham Lincoln
Republican President who's election caused Southern states to secede, starting the Civil War. Lincoln sought to preserved the Union and refused to recognize the creation of the Confederate States of America. During the war, his goal shifted from reuniting the country to deciding the issue of slavery once and for all by abolishing it. This shift looms in the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address and, ultimately, in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution he fought for.
Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith was an Scottish economist. He wrote a book called The Wealth of Nations, which was published in 1776. The ideas he sets out in the book have caused him to be called the father of capitalism. It argues for the establishment of free markets to allow maximum economic growth, which led to the economic philosophy of lassiez faire.
Adams-Onis Treaty
This treaty was made in 1819, during future President John Quincy Adams' time as Secretary of State under President James Monroe. The agreement was made with Spain to ceded Florida to the United States and gave up its claims to the Oregon Territory after another future President, Andrew Jackson, created an issue by invading Florida to capture and execute British pirates hiding out there.
Albany Plan of Union
Plan proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 that aimed to unite the 13 colonies for trade, military, and other purposes. The plan was turned down by the colonies and the Crown.
Alexander Hamilton
Appointed by President George Washington to the cabinet position of Secretary of the Treasury (1789-1795), Hamilton was one of his key advisers. He advocated creation of a national bank, assumption of state debts by the federal government and a tariff system to pay off the national debt. All of these actions helped establish a strong economic system in the newly created United States.
Alien and Sedition Acts
1798 Acts passed by the Federalist-controlled Congress and approved by President John Adams that criminalized speech that was criticized to the government because of fear of a revolution instigated by foreigners. The passage of these laws caused voters to vote out the Federalists--including Adams--and vote in the Democratic-Republicans, including President Thomas Jefferson.
Alphabet soup agencies
These are government agencies created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal to help Americans during the Great Depression. The agencies were known by the acronyms from their names: CCC, WPA, TVA, etc. They provided some relief for people struggling, but it took World War II to pull the country out of the economic crisis.
Andrew Jackson
He was a Jeffersonian-Democrat who was robbed of the presidency in the "corrupt bargain," only to trounce John Quincy Adam in the next election. He unashamedly used the "spoils system" to give supporters government jobs, killed the national bank, asserted federal authority in the Nullification Crisis and forcibly moved Indians further west.
The adding of a region to the territory to a country. The United States annexed several parts of the country: Louisiana Purchase (1803), Spanish Cession [East Florida] (1819), Annexation of Texas (1845), Mexican Cession [West Coast] (1848), Annexation of Hawaii (1900), etc.
Appalachian Mountains
These are the mountains on the eastern part of the United States.
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union
First government of the United States, lasting only from 1781-1788. It was replaced by the Constitution because it was too weak (it had no executive, no judicial, no power to tax and no power to regulate trade).
Baby boom
The increase in the American population after World War II. When soldiers came home after the war, they got married and started families and almost 30 million people were born in the period after the war. This spurred a growth in suburbs and three to four children families.
balanced budget
Government spends only as much money as it collects. With the amount of government programs expected by people today, they usually have resort to deficit spending (spending more than they collect in taxes, going into debt).
Bank of the United States
This was the bank created at Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's urging. It was a privately owned bank that handled all of the federal government's money. It was given renewable charters--or licenses--by Congress, until President Andrew Jackson vetoed its renewal and ordered no more money be put back in the bank. It went out of business shortly after. Jackson's order also caused huge economic problems for the country.
Bay of Pigs invasion
In 1961, the United States backed Cuban exiles in an attempted overthrow of the Cuban socialist government of Fidel Castro. It failed, helping to cause America's poor relationship with Cuba.
Big Stick Diplomacy
Foreign policy developed by T.R where the "big stick" symbolized his power and readiness to use military force against other countries if necessary. It is a way of intimidating countries (usually without actually harming them) and was the basis of U. S. imperialistic foreign policy, particularly in Latin America.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution, containing a list of individual rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. These amendments were added right after ratification of the Constitution because the anti-Federalists refused to support the new government until a promise was made to add it.
Black Codes
Laws denying most legal rights to newly freed slaves passed by southern states during the Reconstruction period right after the Civil War. Later, the same type of laws became known as Jim Crows.
"Bleeding Kansas"
A sequence of violent events involving abolitionists and pro-Slavery elements in Kansas-Nebraska Territory gave the area this nickname. It was caused by Kansas-Nebraska Act, that established popular sovereignty as the way the issue of slavery in new states would be determined, causing extremists from both sides to move there. The dispute further strained the relations of the North and South, making civil war imminent.
Bonus Army
World War I veterans who were supposed to be given a "bonus" from the government for their services. But in 1932, because of the Depression, Congress pushed back the payments, causing the group to march onto Washington to demand their money. President Herbert Hoover ordered General Douglas MacArthur to to disband these protesters (clearing the "Hoovervilles" they were living in) and he used excessive force. Because they were veterans, Hoover's popularity plummeted because of it.
Booker T. Washington
Prominent black American, born into slavery, who believed that racism would end once blacks acquired useful labor skills and proved their economic value to society. To do this, he established Tuskegee Institute, a vocational school for African-Americans, in 1881. Wrote a book titled "Up from Slavery."
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
Landmark Supreme Court case from 1954 in which the Court overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, declared that racially segregated facilities are inherently unequal and ordered all public schools desegregated. By extension, it made all laws segregating of public facilities unconstitutional.
Camp David Accords
Agreement from 1978, negotiated at the presidential retreat of Camp David. It was between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin and brokered by U. S. President Jimmy Carter. It was a peace treaty--the first one between an Arab country and Israel--that returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, guaranteed Israeli access to the Red Sea and Suez Canal and more-or-less normalized diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries. This isolated Egypt from the other Arab countries and led to Sadat's assassination in 1981.
Carlisle Indian School
Pennsylvania school for Indians funded by the U. S. government. It's goal was to assimilate Indians into American culture, forcing them to abandon their heritage. Children were separated from their tribe and were forced to learn English and white values and customs. Motto of founder: "Kill the Indian and save the man."
The Constitution requires that the government conduct an "actual enumeration" of the population every 10 years. The Census is important for taxes and determining how many representatives states have in the House. It also allows the collection and study of other valuable demographic data about the country.
central government
Another way to refer to the federal (or national government). Yet another term used for it is the Union. The federal government has three branches: the Legislative, Executive and Judicial.
Cesar Chavez
Farm worker, labor leader and civil-rights activist who helped form the National Farm Workers Association, later the United Farm Workers.
Checks and balances
A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power
Civil rights
Personal, human rights recognized and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, right to bear arms, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, etc., etc.
Civil War
War started when Southern states attempted to secede from the Union after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. The war started as a battle over whether or not states were legally allowed to quit being part of the United States. But the issue of slavery was an underlying cause. As the war dragged on, with horrific results, Lincoln decided to settle the issue of slavery once and for all, first with the Emancipation Proclamation and eventually by pushing for the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. Lincoln was assassinated within weeks of the Confederacy's surrender to the Union in 1865.
Cold War
Lasting from 1945-1991), this period after the Second World War was marked by competition and tension between the two nuclear superpowers, the United States and the communist government of the Soviet Union. The two never directly fought each other, but did indirectly (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc.). Their rivalry dominated world politics during the era, forcing most countries to pick one of their sides. The Cold War ended when the Soviet government collapsed in 1991.
Commodore Mathew Perry's "opening of Japan"
American admiral who's arrival with U. S. gunships forced Japan to abandon isolationism open to western trade in 1854. This event prompted the Japanese to begin the modernization of the Meiji Restoration.
Constitutional Convention
A meeting in Philadelphia in 1787 originally called to revise the Aricles of Confederation because that government had proved to be too weak. Instead, the meetings produced a new government under the Constitution that was much stronger than the Articles.
The U.S. foreign policy adopted by President Harry Truman in the Truman Doctrine (late 1940's), in which the United States tried to stop the spread of communism by creating alliances and helping weak countries to resist Soviet advances. It was put in action in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
critical period (1781-1789)
Period in American history between the Revolutionary War through the inauguration of President George Washington. It is called this because this was the era the country was in crucial development.
Cuban Missile Crisis
An international crisis in October 1962--in the middle of the Cold War--that nearly started a nuclear war between the U.S. and the U. S. S. R. when the U. S. discovered Soviet nuclear missile bases being built in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy demanded their removal and ordered a naval blockade of the island. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave in and removed the bases after American promises to remove missiles from Turkey.
Cuban Missile Crisis
Dawes Act of 1887
This law passed by Congress was designed to try to force Indian assimilation. It broke up Native American reservation land, distributing small farms to each Native American family. Leftover land was sold. It was thought that this would change Indian life enough to force them to give up their traditional ways.
Declaration of Independence
The document written primarily by Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It asserted colonial independence from Great Britain, using the ideas of Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke (natural rights and social contract theory of government) as justification.
Declaration of Sentiments
This document, written and signed by women's rights supporters at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, listed the ways women were treated unfairly in American society. Written primarily by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it copies the format and style of the Declaration of Independence. It also went as far as demanding political as well as social equality, including the vote.
In the middle of the Cold War, this was the lessening of tensions between U. S. and Soviet Union in the 1970's. It was the result of a foreign policy orchestrated by President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who used relations with communist China as a way to get to the Soviet Union. It led to limits on nuclear weapons and, arguably, put things on the path to the end of the Cold War.
A process of negotiation and communication through diplomats and ambassadors between countries that seeks to resolve conflict without recourse to war.
Domino Theory
During the Cold War, this was the theory that if one nation came under Communist control, then neighboring nations will also come under Communist control.
Dred Scott v. Sanford
Supreme Court case that decided US Congress did not have the power to prohibit slavery in federal territories and slaves, as private property, could not be taken away without due process. In addition, slaves could not sue because they were not citizens of the United States (meaning they have no rights).
Dust Bowl
Ecological disaster in the 1930's caused by over-farming in the parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Dry topsoil--caused by a drought--and high winds created blinding dust storms. This area of the Great Plains became called that because winds blew away crops and farms, and blew dust across the country. The disaster caused further suffering during the Great Depression.
Emancipation Proclamation
Executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, declaring that all slaves in the rebelling states (the Confederacy) would be freed if they did not surrender. They didn't. This was a major change in the Civil War, as it signifies the shift from only trying to restore the Union to ending slavery.
A law forbidding the trade, either of specific products or with specific countries. Often they are used to influence other countries to adopt policies the United States wants them to follow or as punishment for not doing what America wants. Other countries have enacted them against America as well.
Embargo Act of 1807
This act issued by Congress at the insistence of President Thomas Jefferson forbade American businesses from trading with any foreign countries. It was meant avoid war with Britain and/or France and stop their policies of seizure ships and cargo and impressment of American sailors. Instead of punishing them by depriving them of trade with America, it hurt the American economy as merchants had not outlet for their goods. At the end of Jefferson's presidency, it was replaced by the Non-Intercourse Act.
Erie Canal
"Clinton's Big Ditch" that transformed transportation and economic life across the Great Lakes region from Buffalo to Chicago. Agricultural goods were transported along it to the Hudson River and down to New York City, where they were distributed to the world.
The policy of increasing military involvement, usually used in reference to U. S. involvement in Vietnam. Implied in it is that, if known in advance how involved it might be,
Executive orders
A rule or order issued by the president to the executive branch of the government and having the force of law. They aren't laws, but are supposed to be policy on how the executive branch will enforce laws passed by Congress. Famous examples include Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, FDR's 2040 (bank holiday and 9066 (Japanese internment), Truman's 9981 (desegregation of the armed forces), Kennedy's 10924 (Peace Corps) and 1092 (affirmative action), etc.
favorable balance of trade
Occurs when a country exports/sells more goods to other countries than it imports/buys from other countries. It is considered good policy for a country to ensure this. However, America imports far more than it exports today.
FDR's court packing plan
Failed attempt by FDR in 1937 to stop conservative Supreme Court from declaring liberal New Deal laws unconstitutional. He wanted to double size of Supreme Court, "packing" it with pro-New Deal supporters. Theoretically possible (number of Supreme Court Justices set by law, not by the Constitution) but it was rejected by his own supporters in Congress because it would upset the constitutional system of checks and balances.
Federal Reserve System
Created during Woodrow Wilson's presidency under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, it is the central bank of the United States. One of the most powerful agencies in the government, it makes and administers policy for national credit and monetary policies. The Fed supervises and regulates bank functions across the country, thus maintaining a sound and stable banking industry, able to stabilize the economy.
Federal supremacy
A concept established in Article VI of the Constitution providing that the Constitution and all federal laws and treaties shall be the "supreme Law of the Land;" therefore, all federal laws take precedence over state and local laws.
The system in which power is divided between the national and state governments. The federal government is supreme, but some powers are reserved for states in the Constitution.
Federalists v. anti-Federalists
The Federalists supported the Constitution and a strong national government, while the Anti-Federalists supported states rights and wanted a weak national government. The Anti-Federalists only agreed to allow the ratification of the Constitution when the Federalists agreed to add a Bill of Rights.
Foreign v. Domestic Policy
Foreign policy is how the United States deals with other countries. Domestic policy is how issues within the country are dealt with. Presidents are usually better at one over the other.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
President, elected to four terms (though he died at the beginning of the fourth), that saw the country through two major crises: the Great Depression and World War II. First elected during the Depression because the previous president, Hoover, didn't do enough to help people. FDR began New Deal programs to provide assistance and help the nation out of the Depression. Then, he was the nation's leader during most of World War II.
This term refers to African-Americans that were slaves, but given freedom after the Civil War. The ending of slavery didn't improve their lives immediately. Because of this, the Freedman's Bureau was set up by Congress. This agency set up to aid former slaves in adjusting themselves to freedom. It furnished food, clothing and education to the needy and helped them get jobs. Still, freedman had few opportunities and faced discrimination and had their civil rights violated.
G. I. Bill
First created for World War II veterans, this law, passed by Congress and signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, provided for college or vocational training for returning veterans as well as one year of unemployment compensation. In addition, it also provided low-cost, government subsidized loans for veterans to buy homes and start businesses. It changed the country because a much larger portion of the country got college educations. It also help create suburbs in the 1950's as vets bought homes outside American cities.
Gideon v. Wainwright
Landmark Supreme Court case in which the Court unanimously ruled that state courts are required under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants unable to afford their own attorneys.
Granger movement and the Populist Party
The National Grange of Patrons of Husbandry was an organization of American farmers formed to try defended farmers against big business. A political party formed to do the same thing. It was called the People's Party, but is referred to as the Populist Party in history (to avoid confusion with communist parties that usually use the word "people's" in their names))
Great Compromise
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. The convention compromised by creating the House and the Senate, and using both of the two separate plans as the method for electing members of each.
Great Depression
Sparked by the collapse of the stock market in 1929 and caused by the ensuing panic (causing a collapse of the banking industry), this was the period of worldwide economic stagnation and depression through the 1930's. Sharp declines in income and production as buying and selling slowed down caused widespread unemployment. President Herbert Hoover was voted out of office for not helping people enough. His successor, Franklin Roosevelt ambitiously tried many things to jump start the economy, but it took World War II to cause a change that pull the country out of the Depression.
Great Migration
This refers, specifically, to the movement of over 300,000 African American from the rural south (where they had worked as sharecroppers) to Northern cities (to work in factories) during the World Wars. Once these people moved, they stayed North.
Great Plains
A mostly flat and grassy region of western North America.
Habeas Corpus
Constitutional guarantee that no one can be held in prison without charges being filed. Famously, President Abraham Lincoln suspended it during the Civil War so he could prevent border states from seceding.
Harlem Renaissance
A period in the 1920's when African-American achievements in art and music and literature flourished.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States
Segregation had been made illegal in public facilities starting with the Brown v. Board case in 1954. But privately owned businesses asserted that the ruling did not apply to them. This 1964 Supreme Court case said that there would be penalties for those who deprived others of equal enjoyment of places of accommodation on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.
Homestead Act
Passed by Congress in 1862, the federal government gave 160 acres of public land to any settler who would farm the land for five years. The settler would only have to pay a registration fee of $25.
Shanty towns that the unemployed built in the cities during the early years of the Depression; the name given to them shows that thte people blamed Hoover directly for the Depression.
How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis
1890 book by muckraker Jacob Riis that exposed the conditions of the New York slums. It shocked the middle class and deeply influenced Progressive politician, such as Theodore Roosevelt. It helped lead to the creation of laws to improve conditions in American cities.
Act of an individual moving into a region or country to live. The move is motivated by either something pushing them from where they lived (famine, war) or something pulling them (opportunities for a better life) to their new homes. Often, they are received with suspicion as they represent competition for jobs.
An action by the House of Representatives to accuse the president, vice president, or other government officials of committing "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." It is followed by a trial in the Senate, who decides guilt and punishment--including possible removal from office--of the official. Two presidents have been impeached (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton), a third (Richard Nixon) resigned before he could be (and he was going to be).
imports v. exports
Imports are goods coming into the country; exports are goods being sold to foreign countries.
Income Tax
Created by the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, citizens are required to pay taxes to the federal government based on income earned over the past year. The creation of this new federal tax helped allow the passage of the 18th Amendment, creating Prohibition because it replaced the money the government made on taxes on alcohol.
Indian Removal Act
(1830) Signed by President Andrew Jackson, the law permitted the negotiation of treaties to obtain the Indians' lands in exchange for their relocation to what would become Oklahoma.
Jim Crow laws
After Reconstruction, laws legalizing racial segregation of blacks and whites that were enacted in Southern states beginning in the 1880's and enforced through the 1950's.
John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan
These three men were the richest industrialists during the industrialization of the United States. Their companies (Rockefeller's Standard Oil, Carnegie Steel and J. P. Morgan's bank) were examples of big business and their establishment of monopolies and poor treatment of their workers (not allowing unions, low wages, long hours, poor working conditions) allowed them to rake in huge profits. Towards the end of their lives they all donated large sums of money to build nice things for society, making remembered as philanthropists. But the should be remembered for being "robber barons."
John Locke
17th century English Enlightenment philosopher who asserted that people have a Natural Rights (life, liberty, and property) and opposed the Divine Right of Kings by supporting the Social Contract Theory of Government. His ideas inspired the founding fathers in their writing of the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson) and the Constitution (Madison).
Judicial powers
The powers to interpret laws, to determine their meanings, and to settle disputes in society. The Constitution provides for the establishment of a federal judicial branch of government, though the details of how it works were left to Congress, who passed judicial acts to structure the federal court system.
Judicial review
Power of the US Supreme Court--established in the 1803 case Marbury v. Madison--to strike down laws that in violation of the Constitution. This power is not outlined in the Constitution directly, but it emerged as an important check and balance in American government.
Kansas-Nebraska Act
In 1854, Congress paved the way for the creation of two new states out of the Louisiana Territory, Nebraska and Kansas. They also gave the people in those territories the right to chose to be a free or slave state through popular sovereignty. Instead of settling it, it created widespread violence in those territories between pro- and anti-slavery radicals and increased tension leading towards the Civil War.
Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
Written anonymously by Jefferson and Madison in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, these two state legislatures passed a statement that attempted to declared that states could nullify federal laws that the states considered unconstitutional. The debate continued for quite some time until President Andrew Jackson asserted that states could not do this when he handled the Nullification Crisis over the Tariff of Abominations.
Korematsu v. the United States
Landmark Supreme Court case concerning the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, which ordered Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II. The Court ruled that the relocation was constitutional because it was based not on race but on military urgency.
Korematsu v. United States
Ku Klux Klan
A secret society created by white southerners in 1866 that used terror and violence to keep African Americans from obtaining their civil rights, specifically from exercising their right to vote (by preventing registration) to keep them powerless.
The idea--popular at the beginning of industrialization--that government should play as small a role as possible in economic affairs because government interference would hamper economic growth.
LBJ's Great Society
Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson's domestic policy that sought to improve life in America in the 1960's. There were three major components of it: 1) war against poverty, 2) improving education and 3) strengthening Civil Rights enforcement.
League of Nations
A world organization established in 1920 as part of the Treaty of Versailles to promote international cooperation and peace. It was first proposed in 1918 by President Woodrow Wilson, although the United States never joined the League because the Senate refused to approve the Treaty. Essentially powerless, it was officially dissolved in 1946.
Legislative powers
The powers of the legislature, meaning Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate. Included in the Constitution: making laws, overriding Presidential veto, controling spending of money, establishing federal courts, impeaching and removing officials found guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Lend-Lease Act
Approved by Congress in March 1941 at President Franklin Roosevelt's urging, this law allowed America to sell, lend or lease arms or other supplies to nations considered "vital to the defense of the United States." It was a step from isolation to involvement in World War II.
literacy tests and polls taxes
Southern states, as part of black codes/Jim Crow laws, disenfranchising black voters by requiring people to pass these test or pay these fees in order to register to vote. Whites were exempted by grandfather clauses. These laws kept African-Americans from registering to vote until these practices were made illegal by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Little Rock Crisis
After the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, segregation in schools was supposed to be illegal. In 1957, nine African-American students were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in an effort to desegregate the school. Governor Faubus tried to stop the students from attending. President Eisenhower had to step in, sending troops to escort the students to school, showing that the federal government would use for to integration.
Loose v. Strict Interpretation
In early American government, debates between Federalists and Jeffersonian Democrats centered around whether the Constitution need to be followed word for word or if government was allowed to do things not specifically spelled out in the document. Over time, it has been accepted that a loose interpretation is acceptable as long as its within the spirit of the Constitution.
Louisiana Purchase
1803 decision by President Thomas Jefferson to purchased the land from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains from Napoleon of France for $15 million. It gave the U.S. the Mississippi River and New Orleans (both were valuable for trade and shipping) and also room to expand. The Constitution did not give the federal government the power to buy land, so Jefferson used loose construction (despite always arguing for a strict interpretation) to justify the purchase.
Manhattan Project
Code name for the top-secret U.S. effort during World War II to produce an atomic bomb. The weapon's destructive power come from the splitting of atoms to create a nuclear chain-reaction. To end the war with Japan, the United States dropped two bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Manifest Destiny
A notion held by a nineteenth-century (1800s) Americans that the United States was destined to rule the continent, from the Atlantic the Pacific Oceans.
Marbury v. Madison
The 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The decision established the Court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress., an important check and balance that is part of the "unwritten" Constitution.
Marshall Plan
Also known as the European Recovery Program, the United States sent roughly $13 billion to war torn European countries to help rebuild after World War II. The plan was proposed by Secretary of State George C. Marshall. The Soviet Union and its "allies" refused to accept American assistance (the USSR offering the Warsaw Pact to them instead).
Mass Killing of the Buffalo
As Americans moved west, the buffalo on the Great Plains were hunted near extinction (mostly for their coats). This became a problem for Plains Indians, who were dependent on the buffalo as a vital part of their lives.
Mayflower Compact
Signed in 1620 aboard the Mayflower, this was the first agreement for self-government in America. It was signed by the 41 men on board and set up a government for the Plymouth colony (established in New England). It helped set an expectation of colonists that they could rule themselves.
The term associated with Senator Joseph McCarthy who led the search (or "witchhunt") for communists in America during the early 1950s through his leadership in the House Un-American Activities Committee. This was one of the "Red Scares"--fear of communist spies lurking throughout the country, causing problem--in U. S. history.
McCulloch v. Maryland
1819 Supreme Court case in which a state law taxing out of state banks was challenged. The Court ruled that power of federal government was supreme that of the states.
Meat Inspection and Pure Food and Drug Acts
1906 law passed by Congress at President Teddy Roosevelt's request after the public outcry caused by muckracker Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle. It authorized the Department of Agriculture to inspect and condemn any meat product found unfit for human consumption. It also required all labels on any type of food had to be accurate.
Middle Eastern oil
The United States imports most of its oil from the Middle East. Oil production from the region is controlled by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. In the 1970's OPEC punished the U. S. for its foreign policy by cutting production of oil, causing a shortage which create inflation.
Region of the United States nickenamed America's "breadbasket." The area's fertile soil makes it possible for farmers to grow lots of wheat, oats and corn.
Miranda v. Arizona
1966 Supreme Court decision that sets guidelines for police questioning of accused persons to protect them against self-incrimination and to protect their right to counsel.
Mississippi River
A major North American river and the chief river of the United States. It flows south to the important port of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico.
Monroe Doctrine
1823 American foreign policy opposing interference in the Western hemisphere from outside powers.
A group of investigative reporters who pointed out the abuses of big business and the corruption of urban politics. Examples include: 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).
A position of not taking sides in a conflict. President George Washington urged, in his Farewell Address, warned against American involvement in European affairs and many presidents followed his advice.
New Deal
This was President Franklin Roosevelt's domestic agenda intended to bring economic relief, recovery and reforms to the country after the Great Depression. New government agencies were created to do this, earning the nickname Alphabet Soup agencies because they were known by the acronym of their names (CCC, WPA, NRA, TVA, etc.).
Nixon and the Watergate Affair
After a break-in to the Democratic headquarters in Watergate Hotel, President Richard Nixon abused his power as president to cover it up. He was forced to resign in disgrace before the impeachment hearing.
No taxation without representation
When Parliament started taxing the colonies after the French and Indian War, colonists cried that they should not be taxed because they had no direct representatives in Parliament.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Agreement entered into by Canada, Mexico, and the United States in December 1992 (which took effect on January 1, 1994) to eliminate trade barriers and facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services between the countries of North America to allow them to compete in the global marketplace.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
In 1949, the United States, Canada, Turkey and ten European nations formed this military mutual-defense pact. In response, in 1955, the Soviet Union countered NATO with the formation of the Warsaw Pact.
Northern economy vs. Southern economy
The economy of the northern part of the United States was based more on industry and trade. There was, of course, lots of agriculture there too, mostly growing staple crops like wheat and corn. In contrast, the south's economy was based on agriculture, using slave labor. The farms there were large plantations and the crops were cash crops like cotton and tobacco.
nuclear proliferation
This is the spread of nuclear weapons technology to nations that didn't have it before. At first, only the United States had the atomic bomb. Then the Soviet Union got it. Over time, more countries have developed nuclear weapons. Fear of the "wrong countries" getting "the bomb" is a hot issue today, and the United Nations is trying to stop nuclear programs in countries like Iran and North Korea.
nuclear proliferation
An unsuccessful legal theory that a stated that states had the right to invalidate any federal law they deemed unconstitutional. John C Calhoun was the foremost proponent, though Thomas Jefferson and James Madison also supported the idea (they wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions).
Nullification Debate
Also known as the Nullification Crisis, this event happened during Andrew Jackson's presidency when Southern states reacted to a the Tariff of 1828, which they nicknamed the "Tariff of Abominations." South Carolina attempted to assert states' power to nullify federal laws and threatened to secede over the issue. Jackson responded fiercely, threatening to march troops into South Carolina and execute the traitors in its legislature. In the end, states are not allowed to nullify federal laws.
Nuremberg Trials
Series of trials in 1945 conducted by an International Military Tribunal (made up of a panel of judges from each of the Allied powers: US, USSR, Britain and France) in which surviving NAZI leaders were charged with crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This is the first example of an international court. Many of the NAZI leaders were found guilty and were hanged.
Open Door Policy
A policy proposed by the United States in 1899, under which all nations would have equal opportunities to trade in China so that no one country had a reason to try to invade and take China over for themselves.
Palmer raids
A 1920 operation coordinated by Attorney General Mitchel Palmer in which federal marshals raided the homes of suspected radicals (especially communists, as the post-World War I Red Scare was in full swing) and the headquarters of radical organization in 32 cities.
Panama Canal
The United States built this man-made waterway to have a quicker passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans for the Navy. The site was in Columbia, but when they wouldn't let Americans build it, President Teddy Roosevelt assisted a local revolution, which resulted in the formation of Panama. The new country gave the United States to the land to build the canal. It was eventually returned to Panama in 1999.
Pentagon Papers
The Pentagon Papers was a defense department report about United States involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. It was highly critical of President Lyndon Johnson's administration's handling of the conflict. Parts of the report were leaked to the media and were published in newspapers in 1971, when Richard Nixon was President. Nixon attempted to stop them from being published in the Supreme Court case New York Times v. Nixon.
Persian Gulf War
Occurring from 1990 to 1991, conflict between Iraq--who had just invaded it oil-rich neighbor Kuwait--and a coalition of countries led by the United States. The goal was to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait, which they did quickly and easily. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was forced to agree to punishment by the United Nations, such as not building weapons of mass destruction and allow inspectors to ensure he wasn't, but he didn't follow them, causing the US invasion of Iraq that removed him from power in 2003.
Plessy v. Ferguson
This 1896 Supreme Court decision upheld state segregation laws as long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal.
Popular Sovereignty
As the debate over slavery intensified, Senator and Presidential candidate Stephen A. Douglas championed the idea that new territories would decided for themselves whether they would be free or slave states. This way, the issue wouldn't be fought over in Congress. It blew up in their face when it was the centerpiece of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and pro- and anti-slavery radicals poured into the territory in anticipation of the vote and started killing each other.
popular vote v. electoral college
According to the Constitution, American Presidents are not selected directly by the people. Instead, they are indirectly chose through the electoral college. After the popular vote, special electors in each state use the popular vote to inform their vote for the President-but they are not bound to vote the way their state did. In several cases the electoral college vote ended up different than the popular vote.
Presidential cabinet
President George Washington hired a group of advisers to help him make decisions. Every President after him has followed his example and had a group of advisers called the Cabinet. In 2013, there were 22 Cabinet positions-most called Secretaries-that advised President Barrack Obama on a wide range of issues.
Presidential powers
1. runs executive branch 2. Commander-In-Chief of military 3. makes treaties 4. appoints government officials (with Senate approval) 5. Approve of vetos laws passed by Congress 6. grant pardons to people convicted of crimes
Problems faced by farmers
Throughout American history, farmers have had issues. For instance, farmers were hit the hardest and couldn't pay debt after prices dropped from loss of consumer buying power during the Depression. These issues begin with America's ability to produce too much food, which would cause a collapse in prices. Often, American farmers have flooded the market with their produce, causing prices to drop and making it hard for them to stay in business.
problems with health care
Lots of issues plague heath care, which led to the Affordable Care Act, such as access, affordability, quality of care, liability and costs.
Proclamation of 1763
A proclamation from the British government which forbade British colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains, and which required any settlers already living west of the mountains to move back east. It was motivated by the French and Indian War that had just ended and was designed to prevent another conflict like it happening. Colonists saw it as a violation of their rights and it helped push the country towards revolution.
Progressive Era
A period of reform, motivated by the ills of the Industrial Revolution, lasting in the United States from 1890s-1920s. It opposed waste and corruption while focusing on the general rights of individuals. Specific parts of the movement include women's rights, the labor movement, consumer protection, conservation and civil rights.
This was the period from 1920 to 1933 when the sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the United States by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. It was later repealed by the 21st Amendment because it caused a rise in organized crime.
Radical Republicans
After the Civil War, this group controlled Congress and had their own view of Reconstruction. They believed the South should be harshly punished and thought that Lincoln and Johnson were too compassionate towards the South. They wanted to bring total social, political and economic equality to the freedmen, but faced fierce opposition from the white population of the South.
Approval of a proposal by a formal vote.
A system of allocating scarce goods and services. It was used in both world wars to ensure the military had adequate supplies. The American public did without many goods, such as rubber, steel, sugar, flour, meat, etc.
This was the period after the Civil War in the United States when the southern states were reorganized and reintegrated into the Union. A battle between Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, and the Radical Republicans in Congress. The period was very violent as Southerns resented the occupation of the Union Army and the changes the federal government tried to impose on them. The period ended in 1870 without fixing many of the problems the end of the war created, especially for the freedmen.
Representative government
Government in which citizens elect representatives to make laws for them. If the politicians don't do a good job, they hold them accountable by not voting them when they run for re-election.
Rights during wartime
During times of war, the Supreme Court has upheld limits on people's civil rights (such as freedom of speech, etc.) in order to maintain national security.
Rocky Mountains
A major mountain system of the United states and Canada, extending 3,000 miles from Alaska south to New Mexico. It was a natural barrier for a long time, but eventually American were motivated--by events like the California Gold Rush, starting in 1849--to find a way over them.
Sacco and Vanzetti trial
These two Italian immigrants were convicted in 1921 for the murder with circumstantial evidence. The jury and judge were prejudiced because defendants were Italians, atheists, anarchists, draft dodgers, etc. Despite the weak case, they were convicted and sentenced to death, being killed by electric chair. This case is evidence of anti-immigrant hostility during a Red Scare following World War I.
Schenck v. United States
World War I Supreme Court that set the precedent that any action that creates a "clear and present danger" to the public or government can be limited by the government. This is not protected by free speech. It established the "clear and present danger" test for future free speech cases.
Scopes Trial
This 1925 local court case in Tenessee pitted defense lawyer Clarence Darrow (defending Scopes) and politican William Jennings Bryan (for the prosecution) against each other in a debate over a Tenessee state law forbidding the teaching of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in public schools. The case shows the conflicting values of the 1920's, half modern and half conservative at the same time.
Formal withdrawal of states or regions from a nation. At different times, states had threatened to do so when they disliked something the federal government did. But in 1860, when Republican Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, Southern states attempted to break away and form their own country. The federal government claimed the couldn't and the Civil War resulted.
Secret ballot, referendum and recall
In the Progressive Era, reforms to politics made the United States more democratic. Innovations included: initiative (laws proposed by the public), secret, or Austrialian ballot (so you had privacy when voting), referendum (where the public gets to vote directly on a proposed law), recall (when the public can vote to remove a public official), primaries (where the people selected candidates for office, not the party bosses) and the 17th Amendment, which called for the direct election of Senators (instead of being selected by state legislatures).
Segregation vs. desegregation
Segregation was the separation of races and was enforced by law in Southern states after the Civil War. When the federal government declared these laws unconstitutional, changes had to be made. The integration--or desegregation--of public schools, as one examples, was hotly contested by people in the South (and even in many Northern cities).
Seneca Falls Convention
This meeting took place in western New York in 1848. Women and even some men went to discuss the rights and conditions of women in American society. There, they wrote the Declaration of Sentiments, which among other things, tried to get women equal rights, including the right to vote. It didn't make immediate change, but motivated the women's suffrage movement around the turn of the Century.
Separation of Powers
Constitutional division of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, with the legislative branch making law, the executive applying and enforcing the law, and the judiciary interpreting the law.
After the Civil War former landowners "rented" plots of land to blacks and poor whites in such a way that the renters were always in debt and therefore tied to the land. In essence, it keep African-Americans poor and powerless.
Sherman Antitrust Act
First federal action against monopolies, it was extensively used by Theodore Roosevelt for trust-busting. However, it was initially misused against labor unions. It was later replaced by the Clayton Antitrust Act.
Social contract theory of government
Enlightenment idea that government was created as an agreement between society and government. The society agreed to follow the rules in exchange for protection. The government agreed to provide order and protect their Natural Rights. If either side violated the agreement, Enlightenment thinkers argued, the contract is void. For instance, the people could revolt and get a new government.
Social Darwinism
Although rejected by biologists, this theory from the 1870s is often associated with Herbert Spencer and is said to have justified the competition of laissez-faire capitalism, the new racial superiority ideas, and imperialist policies.
Social Security Act
This 1935 federal law created a federal insurance program based upon the automatic collection of taxes from employees and employers throughout people's working careers. Those payments would then be used to make monthly payments to retired persons over the age of 65. Workers who lost their jobs, people who were blind or disabled, and dependent children and their mothers also received benefits.
Space Race
A competition of space exploration between the United States and Soviet Union. The technology developed helped them spy on each other (communications satellites and spy planes) and were also used for nuclear missiles.
Spanish-American War
In 1898, a conflict between the United States and Spain, in which the U.S. supported the Cubans' fight for independence, kicking Spain out. It started by false reports by yellow journalists claiming that the Spanish blew up the USS Maine, an American Naval ship docked in Havana. At the conclusion of the war, the United States took control of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines from the Spain.
Spoils system
This is the system in which incoming political parties throw out former government workers and replace them with their own supporters and friends. President Andrew Jackson defended the practice, claiming that he was bringing government back to the people by kicking out career government workers he claimed were out of touch.
Standard Oil
Established in 1870, this company was a multinational oil corporation lead by John D. Rockefeller, making him one of the most powerful and richest men in the world. It's unfair business practices were exposed by muckraker Ida Tarbell's book The History of the Standard Oil Company.
States' rights
One argument through American history has been the balance of federal supremacy and states' rights. Usually, the federal government wins these arguments. The Constitution gives the states certain "reserved powers." The Civil War, caused by secession of slave-holding states, was motivated by assertions of states rights.
This means the right to vote.
Supreme Court/judicial branch/judiciary
At the top of the judiciary branch, the Supreme Court is the top court in the country. It has final say on legal issues, including its power of judicial review--which is deciding on the constitutionality of laws (local, state and/or federal). It is made up of nine justices, appointed by the president and approved by the Senate, for life terms.
A special tax added to imported goods to raise the price, thereby protecting American businesses and workers from foreign competition.
tax cuts
Democrats believe that lower taxes on the working and middle class encourage consumers to make beneficial decisions that can benefit the economy. Republicans believe that lower taxes on the rich and businesses leads to investment in the economy, creating jobs. Both are true, to different degrees.
Teddy Roosevelt
26th President, who took over in 1901 when McKinley was shot. He took on big business and trusts, had Congress pass consumer protection laws (Meat Inspection Act), built the Panama canal, reasserted the Monroe Doctrine (with Big Stick Diplomacy) and make our America a world power.
Movement to decrease the amount of alcohol consumed. Over the years, the movement became gradually more radical, eventually leading to Prohibition--the banning of all alcohol--with the 18th Amendment.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
A New Deal agency created to build a hydro-electric dams on the Tennessee River to generate inexpensive electric power and control floods in a seven-state region around that river valley. The area was the poorest part of the country before hand, but the project helped improve life in the area.
The Feminine Mystique
This book, written by journalist Betty Friedan, described the problems of middle-class American women and the fact that women were being denied equality with men. It argued said that women were kept from reaching their potential by American culture by being confined to the roles of mother and housewife.
Thomas Paine's Common Sense
Published in 1776, Thomas Paine, an American Revolutionary thinker wrote this pamphlet to convince people that the colonies needed to separate from Great Britain.
transcontinental railroad
Railroad connecting the west and east coasts of the continental United States.
Transcontinental Railway Act
Congress passed this law, creating a train route across the entire United States, by grating government land to railroad companies to build it. It was the project of two railroad companies: the Union Pacific built from the east, and the Central Pacific built from the west. The two lines met in Utah. The Central Pacific laborers were predominantly Chinese, and the Union Pacific laborers predominantly Irish. Both groups often worked under harsh conditions. It was finished in 1869 and changed trade almost immediately and further accelerated westward expansion.
Treaty of Versailles
This was the treaty imposed on Germany by the Allied powers in 1920 after the end of World War I which demanded exorbitant reparations from the Germans and humiliated them in other ways, which helped create a situation for an extremist like Hitler to take over. President Woodrow Wilson helped negotiate it, trying to get the Allies to adopt his Fourteen Points peace plan, but only got the League of Nations included in the treaty. When he returned home, the Senate refused to ratify it and the U. S. never signed it.
Truman Doctrine
In the beginning of the Cold War, President Harry Truman established this policy of providing economic and military aid to any country threatened by communism or totalitarian ideology (Greece and Turkey, specifically were under threat at the time). It led to the policy of containment, which caused American involvement in Korea and Vietnam, for example.
Truman's desegregation of the Armed Forces
In 1948, with executive order 9981, President Harry Truman ordered the United States military to be integrated. Before this (both world wars, for example), the services were segregated by race.
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
1852 book about the life a slave that depicted the cruelty that was typical of the institution. Its author was an active abolitionist. It was a bestseller and brought more national attention to the abolition debate, ultimately helping to widen the rift that caused the Civil War.
United Nations
An international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate co-operation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress and human rights issues. It was founded in 1945 at the signing of the United Nations Charter by 50 countries, replacing the League of Nations, founded in 1919.
United States v. E. C. Knight Co.
Also known as the "Sugar Trust Case," was a United States Supreme Court case that limited the government's power to control monopolies. The case, which was the first heard by the Supreme Court concerning the Sherman Antitrust Act, was argued on October 24, 1894 and the decision was issued on January 21, 1895.
unwritten Constitution
Practices involving the way the U.S. government operates that are not actually in the Constitution but are followed because of custom and tradition.
An increase in the percentage and in the number of people living in cities. It coincided with industrialization.
USA Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security
This law was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in response to to 9/11 terrorist attacks. It sought to prevent future attacks by allowing greater government surveillance, including electronic communications and other information. It is often criticized by some as violating civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.
Veto power
As outlined in the Constitution, bills passed by Congress must be either approved by or vetoed by the President within ten days of the President receiving the bill. Congress may override a veto by a 2/3 vote in both the Senate and the House. This is an important check and balance in American government.
Vietnam War
The 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. U. S. involvement was motivated by the policy of containment.
Virginia House of Burgesses
The first representative assembly,or legislature in the English colonies. It led to the creation of the expectation of colonial participation in government, which helped create demands for independence when Britain began taking more direct control over the colonies following the French and Indian War.
W. E. B. DuBois
Prominent black activist that believed that African-Americans should strive for full rights immediately. He also believed to get accepted, African-Americans need to achieve higher levels of education. He helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad vs. Illinois
An 1886 Supreme Court decision that severely limited the rights of states to control interstate commerce (saying only the federal government had the power to do so). It also led to the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Washington's Farewell Address
Washington wanted retire after his first term, but was talked into serving a second because the bitter fighting between the new political parties threaten to rip the country apart. At the end of that first term, he penned this letter, put waited to publish it until he retired after his second term. In it, he warned Americans not to get involved in European affairs, not to make permanent alliances, not to form political parties and to avoid sectionalism.
Westward Expansion
A movement westward, past the Appalachian Mountains, for jobs, land, the gold, adventure, a new beginning and the transcontinental railroad. It lasted from 1850-1890.
Whiskey Rebellion
In 1794, farmers in Pennsylvania rebelled against Hamilton's excise tax on whiskey, and several federal officers were killed in the riots caused by their attempts to serve arrest warrants on the offenders. In October, 1794, Washington personally led the army to 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.
Woodrow Wilson
28th president of the United States, known for his leadership during World War I (at first pledging neutrality, but then asking Congress for a declaration of war "to make the world safe for democracy," then drafting his Fourteen Point plan for peace and negotiating the Treaty of Versailles). Domestically, he was also part of many Progressive reforms, such as the creation of the Federal Reserve system, establishment of the Federal Trade Commission. During his presidency, key laws and Constitutional Amendments were passed: Clayton Anti-trust Act, 16th Amendment (creating the federal, progressive income tax), 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators), 18th Amendment (Prohibition), 19th Amendment (women's suffrage, though he was originally against it).
Yellow Journalism
This was one of the causes of the Spanish-American War (1898). At that time, newspapers (such as those run by Hearst and Pulitzer) sensationalized--meaning exaggerated or even made up--news events to sell more newspapers. One example was these newspapers reporting that the explosion aboard the USS Maine in Havana, Cuba was done by the Spanish, which angered Americans and led to calls for the war.lower tariffs
Zenger Trial
Colonial era trial (1735) in which a NY Newspaper publisher was sued for libel--or spreading false and damaging information--about the royal governor. Zenger was defended by Alexander Hamilton. The case is important because it helped promoted the idea of freedom of the press, which eventually made its way into the government the colonists created after winning independence.