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Antebellum America

National Trades' Union

In the mid-1830s, hard times and frustration with the inutility of their expanded voting rights drove tens of thousands of urban wage earners toward unionism. Established in 1834 under the presidencies of first Ely Moore then John Commerford. collapsed with most of its constituent bodies during the panic of 1837.

George Henry Evans

key figure in the trade unions movements of the 1830s. founded the National Reform Association with his allies. Was radical. Efforts of him and Horace Greeley led to the Homestead Act of 1862.

Dorr's Rebellion

short-lived armed insurrection in Rhode Island in 1841 and 1842, led by Thomas Wilson Dorr who was agitating for changes to the state's electoral system because it wasn't UMS and still had restrictions. Dorr was sentenced to life in prison but the governor gave him a pardon the next year and the year after that the electorate in RI was broadened by a law.

Second Great Awakening

1820s and 1830s. stressed individual free will and immediate salvation. Optimistic. Literal interpretation of the bible emphasizing the Second Coming of Christ. Also a "women's awakening" because many of the converts were female and it gave them a sense of purpose. Perfectionism, enthusiasm.

Charles Grandison Finney

evangelist of the second great awakening. Rejected the harsh traditional Calvinist view of original sin and predestination and preached that any good Christian could attain eternal salvation.


religious utopian society. Celibate people that shook their bodies of sin. Gradually died out. Height was in the 1830s (6,000 members)

Mother Ann Lee

leader of the Shakers in America.

Joseph Smith

founder of Mormonism. Publisher of the Book of Mormon. Claimed to have transcribed it from golden plates that had lain undisturbed in a nearby hillside for more than 1,000 years and he was directed there by the angel Moroni. Founded the city of Nauvoo, Illinois—self-sufficient religious community. Polygamist. Became increasingly eccentric and was murdered.

Brigham Young

Smith's successor to the Mormon church presidency. Led the Mormons on the long difficult exodus from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake. Really helped their community there thrive.

William Miller

foremost exponent of millennialism. Farming origins. Calculated judgement day to be in 1843 but let everyone down because it wasn't true and he admitted it wasn't basically.


also called animal magnetism?? magnetic fluid or ethereal medium residing in the bodies of animate beings, as postulated by Franz Mesmer. I'm not sure!


a defunct field of study, once considered a science, by which the personality traits of a person were determined by "reading" bumps and fissures in the skull. Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall around 1800


produced after the death of John Wesley but inspired by him. Belief in free will, element of emotional revivalism, preached a rigorous piety and a morality of self-discipline, industry, thrift, and good works. Attractive to frontier people. Gave ordered moral life. Distinct and effective system—preachers worked a circuit.

Home Missionary Society

Christian missionary society. It was established in New York City in 1832 to operate in the American frontier, with the stated mission "to preach the Gospel, establish churches and give support and ministry to the unchurched and destitute."


those who prescribed to the new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that emerged in New England in the early to middle 19th century. Distinctly american. protest against the general state of society. Belief in an ideal spiritual state that transcends the physical and empirical and is only realized through the individual's intuition, not through the doctrines of established religions. Emerson, Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, etc.

P.T. Barnum

from Connecticut. an American showman remembered for hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.


had been prominent in American society and politics; the American Republican Party called for limiting the right to vote to native-born American Protestants; in 1844, nativists established the American Republican Association at Philadelphia; its anti-immigrant rhetoric led to rioting in Philadelphia and the deaths of twenty people; the next year, the group became known as the American Party, or the Know-Nothing Party, after a popular perception of its members as secretive, refusing to acknowledge that they knew anything about the movement

Birds of Passage

unlike most other immigrants, the Chinese were known as these; they were immigrants who did not intend to stay in the United States; the vast majority of them were men who simply wanted to earn a reasonable sum of money, return to China, and purchase land for their families.

King Cotton

was a phrase used in the Southern United States mainly by Southern politicians and authors who wanted to illustrate the importance of the cotton crop to the Confederate economy during the American Civil War. However, the attempt to use this trade as a diplomatic weapon to force Europe's hand in the American Civil War proved a serious strategic blunder.

"Field Hollers"

as well as work songs were African American styles of music from before the American Civil War, this style of music is closely related to spirituals in the sense that it expressed religious feelings and included subtle hints about ways of escaping slavery, among other things

Nat Turner Rebellion

a slave preacher led a band of armed followers through Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831, killing 57 men, women and children. Terrified whites retaliated by slaughtering one hundred blacks

"Gag Rule"

rule that limits or forbids the raising, consideration or discussion of a particular topic by members of a legislative or decision-making body

George Fitzhugh

was a social theorist who published racial and slavery-based sociological theories in the antebellum era. He argued that "the Negro is but a grown up child" who needs the economic and social protections of slavery. Fitzhugh decried capitalism as spawning a "war of the rich with the poor, and the poor with one another" - rendering free blacks "far outstripped or outwitted in the chase of free competition." Slavery, he contended, ensured that blacks would be economically secure and morally civilized

Stephen Austin

known as the "Father of Texas." led the second and ultimately successful colonization of the region by settlers from the United States.

Sam Houston

influential in the history of Texas. President of the Republic of Texas, Senator for Texas after it joined the United States, and finally governor.

Santa Anna

Mexican political leader who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government, first fighting against the independence from Spain, and then supporting it, rising to the ranks of general and president at various times over a turbulent 40-year career. He was President of Mexico on eleven non-consecutive occasions over a period of 22 years.

"Remember the Alamo!"

During the battle of the Alamo many texians shouted this war cry.

Cyrus McCormick

an American inventor and founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, which became part of International Harvester Company in 1902. invented a reaper.

John Tyler

President who wanted to annex TX.

Annexation of Texas

why the Mexican-american war happened. We wanted TX. We got TX.

James K. Polk

US prez during mex-am war after Tyler. Enjoyed expansionism. War hero during the war.

Oregon Question

boundary dispute between US and Britain. British knew the region as the Columbia District, while Americans referred to it as the Oregon Country. Both claimed it. We got in in a treaty in 1846.

Young America

political concept popular in the 1840s. formed as a political organization in 1845 by Edwin de Leon and George H. Evans. It advocated free trade, social reform, expansion southward into the territories, and support for republican movements abroad. It became a faction in the Democratic Party in the 1850s. Sen. Stephen A. Douglas promoted its nationalistic program in an unsuccessful effort to compromise sectional differences.

John L. O'Sullivan

coined the term Manifest Destiny to promote the annexation of Texas and the Oregon Country to the United States. Democrat. Columnist and editor.

Zachary Taylor

twelfth president of the united states. War hero in Mexican-american war and became president after it. Whig.

John C. Fremont

American military officer, explorer, the first candidate of the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States, and the first presidential candidate of a major party to run on a platform in opposition to slavery. The Great Pathfinder. Governor of California.

Slidell's Mission

Slidell was sent to Mexico, by Polk, to negotiate an agreement whereby the Rio Grande River would be the southern border of Texas. He also was instructed to offer, among other alternatives, a maximum of $30 million for California by Polk and his administration. With the guidance of General Zachary Taylor, U.S. troops were stationed at the U.S./Mexico border, ready defend against Mexican attack. The Mexican government rejected Slidell's mission. War ensued.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

1848 ended the Mexican-american war. Boundaries were redrawn and we payed a lot of reparations. Mexican Cession.

Gadsden Purchase

29,670-square-mile (76,800 km2) region of what is today southern Arizona and New Mexico that was purchased by the United States in a treaty signed by President Franklin Pierce on June 24, 1853, and then ratified by the U.S. Senate on April 25, 1854.

Ostend Manifesto

secret document written in 1854 by U.S. diplomats at Ostend, Belgium, describing a plan to acquire Cuba from Spain. Aggressively worded and advocated slavery which angered the north. Cuba OBVIOUSLY did not become part of the U.S.


someone who engages in an unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country to foment or support a revolution. The term is usually used to describe United States citizens who attempted to foment insurrections in Latin America in the mid-19th century.

William Walker

an American filibuster, and adventurer who attempted to conquer several Latin American countries in the mid-19th century. He elected 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. He was a weirdo but his wikipedia picture is pretty cute.

Liberty Party

a minor political party in the United States in the 1840s. The party was an early advocate of the abolitionist cause.

Underground Railroad

an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th century Black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists who were sympathetic to their cause.

Fugitive Slave Act of 1793

made it a federal crime to assist an escaping slave, and established the legal mechanism by which escaped slaves could be seized (even in "free" states), brought before a magistrate, and returned to their masters. The Act made every escaped slave a fugitive-for-life, liable to recapture at any time anywhere within the territory of the United States, along with any children subsequently born of enslaved mothers.

personal liberty laws

a series of laws passed by several U.S. states in the North in response to the Fugitive Slave Acts. designed to protect free blacks, freedmen, and fugitive slaves by effectively nullifying the Fugitive Slave Law without actually invoking the doctrine of nullification, which is unconstitutional. This was done through provisions such as forbidding the use of state jails to imprison alleged fugitives, to prevent state officials from enforcing the strict law, and compelling slave bounty hunters to furnish corroborative proof that his captive was a fugitive, as well as according the accused the rights to trial by jury and appeal. Laws in some states made it easier to extradite a runaway if slave status were confirmed.

Prigg v. Pennsylvania

fed law is superior to state law. determined that personal liberty laws were unconstitutional. The court held that the laws interfered with the Fugitive Slave Act and that while states were not compelled to enforce the federal law, they could not override it with other enactments.

Wilmot Proviso

introduced on August 8, 1846, in the United States House of Representatives as a rider on a $2 million appropriations bill intended for the final negotiations to resolve the Mexican-American War. The intent of the proviso, submitted by Democratic Congressman David Wilmot, was to prevent the introduction of slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico. DID NOT PASS, but many consider it as the one of first events on the long slide to secession and Civil War

Gold Rush

a period of feverish migration of workers into the area of a dramatic discovery of commercial quantities of gold. California.

"Conscience Whigs"

faction of the Whig Party in Massachusetts noted for their moral opposition to slavery. They were noted as opponents of the more conservative "Cotton" Whigs who dominated the state party

Free Soil Party

short-lived political party in the United States active in the 1848 and 1852 presidential elections, and in some state elections. It was a third party that largely appealed to and drew its leadership from former anti-slavery members of the Whig Party and the Democratic Party; its membership was largely absorbed by the Republican Party in 1854. Its main purpose was opposing the expansion of slavery into the western territories, arguing that free men on free soil comprised a morally and economically superior system to slavery.

Compromise of 1850

series of bills aimed at resolving the territorial and slavery controversies arising from the Mexican-American War. There were five laws which balanced the interests of the slave states of the South and the free states to the north. California was admitted as a free state; Texas received financial compensation for relinquishing lands; the Territory of New Mexico was organized without any specific prohibition of slavery; the slave trade was terminated in the District of Columbia; and the Fugitive Slave Law was passed.

Popular sovereignty

the legitimacy of the state is created by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power.

Great Triumvirate

refers to the three statesmen who dominated the United States Senate in the 1830s and 1840s: Henry Clay of Kentucky, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. All three were extremely active in politics, had been appointed as Secretary of State in their careers, and had served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each was a distinguished orator and debater.

Stephen A. Douglas

the "Little Giant." an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and the Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. lost to Abraham Lincoln. He had defeated Lincoln in some very important debates in a senate contest two years earlier though.

Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

one of the most controversial acts of the 1850 compromise and heightened Northern fears of a 'slave power conspiracy'. It declared that all runaway slaves be brought back to their masters.


refers to a group of extremist pro-slavery politicians from the South who urged the separation of southern states into a new nation, which became known as the Confederate States of America.

Harriet Tubman

a black abolitionist and former slave. After escaping from captivity, she made thirteen missions to rescue over seventy slave using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. I'm sure you know who she is lol

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