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434 Cards in this Set

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George Washington
1st President, Federalist, 1789-1797 (2 terms)

The first president of the United States, and the commanding general of the victorious American army in the Revolutionary War. He was born in 1732 in Virginia. He served as an army officer in the French and Indian War, as a member of the Virginia legislature, and as a delegate to the Continental Congress. In the summer of 1775, a few weeks after the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he took command of the American army. Washington is particularly remembered for keeping up morale during the hardships of winter encampment at Valley Forge.

Washington presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and in 1789 he was unanimously elected the first president under the new Constitution. As president, he pursued a careful foreign policy, endorsed the financial program of Alexander Hamilton, and put down the Whisky Rebellion. Refusing to seek a third term as president, he retired from the office in 1797, issuing a Farewell Address that advised against party politics at home and against permanent alliances abroad.
John Adams
2nd president, Federalist, 1797-1801 (1 term)

John Adams was more remarkable as a political philosopher than as a politician. Adams was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1735. A Harvard-educated lawyer, he early became identified with the patriot cause; a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, he led in the movement for independence.

During the Revolutionary War he served in France and Holland in diplomatic roles, and helped negotiate the treaty of peace. He served as Vice President under George Washington.

When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States on the high seas and intense partisanship among contending factions within the Nation. Long negotiations ended the quasi war.

In the campaign of 1800, Adams polled only a few less electoral votes than Jefferson, who became President. Adams retired to his farm in Quincy.
Thomas Jefferson
3rd president, Republican, 1801-1809 (2 terms)

Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia, inheriting from his father, a planter and surveyor, some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a Randolph, high social standing. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then read law. Jefferson, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France in 1785.

Jefferson gradually assumed leadership of the Republicans, who sympathized with the revolutionary cause in France. He opposed a strong centralized Government and championed the rights of states.

In 1800 Republican electors cast a tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House of Representatives settled the tie. As President, Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803. During Jefferson's second term, he was increasingly preoccupied with keeping the Nation from involvement in the Napoleonic wars. Jefferson retired to Monticello. He died on July 4, 1826.
James Madison
4th president, Republican, 1809-1817 (2 terms)

Born in 1751, Madison was brought up in Orange County, Virginia, and attended Princeton (then called the College of New Jersey). A student of history and government, well-read in law, he participated in the framing of the Virginia Constitution in 1776, served in the Continental Congress, and was a leader in the Virginia Assembly. Madison made a major contribution to the ratification of the Constitution by writing, with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, the Federalist essays. In Congress, he helped frame the Bill of Rights. Out of his leadership in opposition to Hamilton's financial proposals, which he felt would unduly bestow wealth and power upon northern financiers, came the development of the Republican, or Jeffersonian, Party. As President Jefferson's Secretary of State, Madison protested to warring France and Britain that their seizure of American ships was contrary to international law.

Madison was elected President in 1808. Britain and France were at war. On June 1, 1812, he asked Congress to declare war against Britain. A few notable naval and military victories convinced Americans that the War of 1812 had been gloriously successful, resulting in an upsurge of nationalism.

Whatever his deficiencies in charm, Madison's buxom wife Dolley compensated for them with her warmth and gaiety.
James Monroe
5th president, Republican, 1817-1825 (2 terms)

Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1758, Monroe attended the College of William and Mary, fought with distinction in the Continental Army, and practiced law.

He was elected President in 1816 and easily won re-election in 1820. Early in his administration was an "Era of Good Feelings." Monroe followed nationalist policies, which led to ugly sectional cracks. In foreign affairs Monroe proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine. Monroe died in 1831.
John Quincy Adams
6th president, Republican, 1825-1829 (1 term)

Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1767. After graduating from Harvard College, he became a lawyer. He served as a diplomat in Europe, and in 1802 he was elected to the United States Senate.

Serving under President Monroe, Adams was one of America's great Secretaries of State, formulating with the President the Monroe Doctrine.

In the election of 1824, each section of the lone Republican party put up its own candidate for the Presidency. Adams, the candidate of the North, fell behind Gen. Andrew Jackson in both popular and electoral votes, but received more than William H. Crawford and Henry Clay. The election was decided by the House of Representatives. With Clay's support, Adams won. In the campaign of 1828, his Jacksonian opponents charged him with corruption and public plunder.

After his defeat he served as a powerful leader in the House of Representatives. Above all, he fought against circumscription of civil liberties.
Andrew Jackson
7th president, Democrat, 1829-1837 (2 terms)

More nearly than any of his predecessors, Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote; as President he sought to act as the direct representative of the common man.

Born in a backwoods settlement in the Carolinas in 1767, he read law. Jackson prospered sufficiently to buy slaves and to build a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville. A major general in the War of 1812, Jackson became a national hero.

Jackson won the presidency in 1828. Decrying officeholders who seemed to enjoy life tenure, he believed that offices should rotate among deserving applicants. Hostile cartoonists portrayed him as King Andrew I. Behind their accusations lay the fact that Jackson, unlike previous Presidents, did not defer to Congress in policy-making but used his power of the veto and his party leadership to assume command. His views were popular and he won the 1832 election.

"Old Hickory" retired to the Hermitage, where he died in June 1845.
Martin Van Buren
8th president, Democrat, 1837-1841 (1 term)

Van Buren was born in 1782, the son of a tavernkeeper and farmer, in Kinderhook, New York. In 1821 he was elected to the United States Senate, and he served as Vice President in Jackson's second administration.

He won the Presidency in 1836. Less than three months later the panic of 1837 punctured the prosperity. Van Buren's remedy--continuing Jackson's deflationary policies--only deepened and prolonged the depression.

Defeated by the Whigs in 1840 for reelection, he was an unsuccessful candidate for President on the Free Soil ticket in 1848. He died in 1862.
William Henry Harrison
9th president, Whig, 1841 (less than 1 term)

Harrison was a scion of the Virginia planter aristocracy. He was born at Berkeley in 1773. In 1791, Harrison headed to the Northwest, where he spent much of his life. In 1801 he became Governor of the Indiana Territory. He was famous for the Battle of Tippecanoe against chief Tecumseh. In the War of 1812 Harrison defeated the combined British and Indian forces.

Harrison won the presidency in 1840. On April 4, 1841, he died of pneumonia--the first President to die in office.
John Tyler
10th president, Whig, 1841-1845 (1 term)

Born in Virginia in 1790, Tyler attended the College of William and Mary and studied law. He served in Congress and as Governor of Virginia. Tyler joined the states' rights Southerners in Congress. The Whigs nominated Tyler for Vice President in 1840, hoping for support from southern states'-righters. When President Harrison died and Tyler became President, he took action against Whig doctrine, and the Whigs expelled Tyler from their party. But despite their differences, President Tyler and the Whig Congress enacted much positive legislation.

He died in 1862, a member of the Confederate House of Representatives.
James K. Polk
11th president, Democrat, 1845-1849 (1 term)

James K. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795. As a young lawyer he entered politics. He was nominated for the presidency as the candidate committed to the Nation's "Manifest Destiny" of expansion.

In his stand on Oregon, the President seemed to be risking war with Great Britain. He offered to settle by extending the Canadian boundary, along the 49th parallel. He also instigated the Mexican War, in which Mexico ceded New Mexico and California in return for some compensation.

Polk died in June 1849.
Zachary Taylor
12th president, Whig, 1849-1850 (less than 1 term)

Born in Virginia in 1784, Taylor was taken as an infant to Kentucky and raised on a plantation. He was a career officer in the Army. In the Mexican War he won major victories.

Taylor was elected to the presidency in 1848. He soon fell ill and died in office.
Millard Fillmore
13th president, Whig, 1850-1853 (1 term)

Born in the Finger Lakes country of New York in 1800, Fillmore as a youth endured the privations of frontier life. He became a lawyer and then was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1848, he was elected Vice President. When he became President after Taylor’s death, Taylor's Cabinet resigned and President Fillmore became aligned with the moderate Whigs who favored the Compromise of 1850. Some of the more militant northern Whigs would not forgive Fillmore for signing the Fugitive Slave Act and helped deprive him of the Presidential nomination in 1852. He died in 1874.
Franklin Pierce
14th president, Democrat, 1853-1857 (1 term)

Born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, in 1804, Pierce attended Bowdoin College. After graduation he studied law, then eventually entered Congress.

He served in the Mexican War and won the presidency in 1852. Tensions between North and South were renewed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act and "bleeding Kansas". Democrats refused to renominate Pierce as too controversial. Pierce returned to New Hampshire, where he died in 1869.
James Buchanan
15th president, Democrat, 1857-1861 [1 term]

James Buchanan was the only President who never married. He was born into a well-to-do Pennsylvania family in 1791. He was elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate. He became Polk's Secretary of State and Pierce's Minister to Great Britain. As President of a rapidly dividing Nation, Buchanan failed to understand that the North would not accept constitutional arguments which favored the South. The Federal Government reached a stalemate. President Buchanan denied the legal right of states to secede but held that the Federal Government legally could not prevent them.
Abraham Lincoln
16th president, Republican 1861-1865 (more than 1 term)

The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln had to struggle for a living and for learning. In 1858 Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. He lost the election, but in debating with Douglas he gained a national reputation.

Lincoln thought secession illegal, and was willing to use force to defend Federal law and the Union. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy. Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion. On April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who thought he was helping the South.
Andrew Johnson
17th president, Democrat, 1865-1869 (less than 1 term)

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808, Johnson grew up in poverty. He served in the House of Representatives and the Senate. During the secession crisis, Johnson remained in the Senate even when Tennessee seceded. In 1864 the Republicans nominated Johnson, a Southerner and a Democrat, for Vice President.

After Lincoln's death, President Johnson pardoned all who would take an oath of allegiance. Radical Republicans in Congress moved vigorously to change Johnson's program. They refused to seat any Senator or Representative from the old Confederacy and passed measures dealing with the former slaves. Johnson vetoed the legislation. The Radicals mustered enough votes in Congress to pass legislation over his veto--the first time that Congress had overridden a President on an important bill. They passed laws placing restrictions upon the President. When Johnson allegedly violated one of these, the Tenure of Office Act, by dismissing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the House voted eleven articles of impeachment against him. He was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and acquitted by one vote. In 1875, Tennessee returned Johnson to the Senate. He died a few months later.
Ulysses S. Grant
18th President, Republican, 1869-1877 (2 terms)

Born in 1822, Ulysses S. Grant was the son of an Ohio tanner. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was appointed to command an unruly volunteer regiment. Lincoln appointed him General-in-Chief in March 1864.

As the symbol of Union victory, Grant the Republicans’ logical candidate for President in 1868. Although a man of scrupulous honesty, Grant’s Presidency was associated with graft. Grant allowed Radical Reconstruction to run its course in the South, bolstering it at times with military force.

After retiring from the Presidency, Grant became a partner in a financial firm, which went bankrupt. He died in 1885.
Rutherford B. Hayes
19th President, Republican, 1877-1881 (1 term)

Born in Ohio in 1822, Rutherford B. Hayes was educated at Kenyon College and Harvard Law School. Elected by a heavy majority, Hayes entered Congress in December 1865. Safe liberalism, party loyalty, and a good war record made Hayes an acceptable Republican Presidential candidate in 1876. He lost the popular vote to Samuel J. Tilden of New York, but an Electoral Commission appointed by Congress decided in favor of Hayes. He brought to the Executive Mansion dignity, honesty, and moderate reform. He withdrew troops from the South, thus ending Reconstruction. Hayes had announced in advance that he would serve only one term, and retired to his home in Fremont, Ohio. He died in 1893.
James A. Garfield
20th President, Republican, 1881 (less than 1 term)

James A. Garfield was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in 1831. He was graduated from Williams College. He served in the army, and then became the leading Republican in the House. At the 1880 Republican Convention, Garfield became the "dark horse" nominee. On July 2, 1881, in a Washington railroad station, an embittered attorney who had sought a consular post shot the President. Mortally wounded, on September 19, 1881, he died.
Chester Arthur
21st President, Republican, 1881-1885 (less than 1 term)

The son of a Baptist preacher who had emigrated from northern Ireland, Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont, in 1829. He practiced law in New York City. Honorable in his personal life and his public career, as President Arthur was eager to prove himself above machine politics and passed legislation to end the spoils system. He was not renominated, and died in 1886.
Grover Cleveland
22nd and 24th President, Democrat, 1885-1889, 1893-1897 (2 non-consecutive terms)

One of nine children of a Presbyterian minister, Cleveland was born in New Jersey in 1837. He emerged into a political prominence that carried him to the White House. Cleveland won the Presidency with the combined support of Democrats and reform Republicans. Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. Elected again in 1892, Cleveland faced an acute depression. His policies during the depression were generally unpopular and his party deserted him in 1896. After leaving the White House, Cleveland lived in retirement in Princeton, New Jersey. He died in 1908.
Benjamin Harrison
23rd President, 1889-1893 (1 term)

Born in 1833 on a farm by the Ohio River, Harrison read law. After the Civil War, Harrison became a pillar of Indianapolis. In the Presidential election, Harrison lost the popular vote but carried the Electoral College. Harrison was proud of the vigorous foreign policy which he helped shape. Substantial appropriation bills were signed by Harrison for internal improvements, as well as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. He was defeated by Cleveland in 1892. After he left office, Harrison returned to Indianapolis and died in 1901.
William McKinley
25th President, Republican, 1897-1901 (less than 2 terms)

Born in Niles, Ohio, in 1843, McKinley studied law and served in Congress. When McKinley became President, he called Congress into special session to enact the highest tariff in history. Foreign policy dominated McKinley's Administration with the Spanish-American War. His second term came to a tragic end in September 1901, when a deranged anarchist shot him twice. He died eight days later.
Theodore Roosevelt
26th President, Republican, 1901-1909 (2 terms)

Roosevelt was born in New York City in 1858 into a wealthy family. During the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt was lieutenant colonel of the Rough Rider Regiment. He was one of the most conspicuous heroes of the war. He served as Governor of New York.

With the assassination of President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President in the Nation's history. Roosevelt emerged spectacularly as a "trust buster" by forcing the dissolution of a great railroad combination in the Northwest. Roosevelt ensured the construction of the Panama Canal. His corollary to the Monroe Doctrine prevented the establishment of foreign bases in the Caribbean and arrogated the sole right of intervention in Latin America to the United States. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War. Some of Theodore Roosevelt's most effective achievements were in conservation. Leaving the Presidency in 1909, he ran for President on a Progressive ticket in 1912. He died in 1919.
William Howard Taft
27th President, Republican, 1909-1913 (1 term)

Born in 1857, the son of a distinguished judge, William Howard Taft graduated from Yale, and returned to Cincinnati to study and practice law. He rose in politics through Republican judiciary appointments. President Roosevelt made him Secretary of War, and decided that Taft should be his successor. As President, Taft was caught in the intense battles between Progressives and conservatives, and got scant credit for the achievements of his administration. In 1912, when the Republicans renominated Taft, Roosevelt split the party as leader of the Progressives, thus guaranteeing the election of Woodrow Wilson.

Taft subsequently became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a position he held until just before his death in 1930.
Woodrow Wilson
28th President, Democrat, 1913-1921 (2 terms)

Wilson was born in Virginia in 1856, the son of a Presbyterian minister. After graduation from Princeton, Wilson entered upon an academic career. His growing national reputation led some conservative Democrats to consider him Presidential timber. In the three-way election of 1912 he received only 42 percent of the popular vote but an overwhelming electoral vote.

Wilson maneuvered through Congress three major pieces of legislation. The first was a lower tariff, attached to a graduated Federal income tax. In 1914 antitrust legislation established a Federal Trade Commission to prohibit unfair business practices. In 1916, social legislation prohibited child labor and limited railroad workers to an eight-hour day. Wilson narrowly won re-election that year and then concluded that America could not remain neutral in the World War. In 1917 he proclaimed American entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world "safe for democracy." Wilson went before Congress in January 1918, to enunciate American war aims--the Fourteen Points. After the Germans signed the Armistice in November 1918, Wilson presented to the Senate the Versailles Treaty, containing the Covenant of the League of Nations. But the Versailles Treaty failed in the Senate.

Wilson lived until 1924.
Warren G. Harding
29th President, Republican, 1921-1923 (less than 1 term)

Harding, born near Marion, Ohio, in 1865, became the publisher of a newspaper and was involved in Ohio politics. He won the Presidential election of 1920 by an unprecedented landslide of 60 percent of the popular vote.

Harding interpreted his election as a mandate to stay out of the League of Nations. Republicans in Congress easily got the President to support eliminating wartime controls, slashing taxes, restoring the high protective tariff, and imposing tight limitations upon immigration. He did not live to find out how the public would react to the scandals of his administration, dying in August of 1923 of a heart attack.
Calvin Coolidge
30th President, Republican, 1923-1929 (1 term)

Born in Plymouth, Vermont, on July 4, 1872, Coolidge was the son of a village storekeeper. He was graduated from Amherst College with honors, and entered law and politics.

Becoming President after Harding’s death, Coolidge refused to use Federal economic power to check the growing boom or to ameliorate the depressed condition of agriculture and certain industries. He rapidly became popular and took few actions. He chose not to stand for reelection. He died in January 1933.
Herbert Hoover
31st President, Republican, 1929-1933 (1 term)

Son of a Quaker blacksmith, Herbert Clark Hoover was born in an Iowa village in 1874, he grew up in Oregon. Hoover became the Republican Presidential nominee in 1928. He brought to the Presidency an unparalleled reputation for public service as an engineer, administrator, and humanitarian. However, within months of his election the stock market crashed, and the Nation spiraled downward into depression. Hoover proposed some action, but he became the scapegoat for the depression and was badly defeated in 1932. He died in New York City on October 20, 1964.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
32nd President, Democrat, 1933-1945 (less than 4 terms)

Born in 1882 at Hyde Park, New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School. Roosevelt entered public service through politics. In the summer of 1921, when he was 39, he was stricken with polio.

Roosevelt was elected President in November 1932. Assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, he helped the American people regain faith in themselves. In his first "hundred days," he proposed, and Congress enacted, a sweeping program to bring recovery to business and agriculture, relief to the unemployed, and reform. In 1935 Roosevelt passed Social Security, heavier taxes on the wealthy, new controls over banks and public utilities, and an enormous work relief program for the unemployed. In 1936 he was re-elected by a top-heavy margin. Feeling he was armed with a popular mandate, he sought legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court, which had been invalidating key New Deal measures. Roosevelt lost the Supreme Court battle.

Roosevelt worked to keep the United States out of the war in Europe while strengthening nations threatened or attacked. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt directed organization of the Nation's manpower and resources for global war. Feeling that the future peace of the world would depend upon relations between the United States and Russia, he devoted much thought to the planning of a United Nations.

As the war drew to a close, Roosevelt's health deteriorated, and on April 12, 1945, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Harry S Truman
33rd President, Democrat, 1945-1953 (2 terms)

Harry S Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri, in 1884. He prospered as a Missouri farmer. Active in the Democratic Party, Truman became a Senator. Truman became Vice President in Roosevelt’s fourth term. He had received no briefing on the development of the atomic bomb or the unfolding difficulties with Soviet Russia when he became President on April 12, 1945.

As President, Truman made some of the most crucial decisions in history. Truman ordered atomic bombs dropped on cities devoted to war work in Japan. He presented to Congress the Fair Deal. In 1947 he asked Congress to aid Greece and Turkey, enunciating the Truman Doctrine. He also presided over the Marshall Plan, the Berlin airlift (1948), the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1949), and the Korean War.

Deciding not to run again, he retired to Independence. He died December 26, 1972.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
34th President, Republican, 1953-1961 (2 terms)

Born in Texas in 1890, Dwight D. Eisenhower pursued an Army career. On D-Day, 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the troops invading France. After the war, assumed supreme command over the new NATO forces. "I like Ike" was the irresistible slogan in 1952; Eisenhower won a sweeping victory.

As President, Eisenhower obtained a truce in Korea and worked incessantly during his two terms to ease the tensions of the Cold War. In domestic policy the President pursued a middle course, continuing most of the New Deal and Fair Deal programs, emphasizing a balanced budget.

He died on March 28, 1969.
John F. Kennedy
35th President, Democrat, 1961-1963 (less than 1 term)

Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy and then politics. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote against Richard Nixon in 1960, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President.

His Inaugural Address offered the memorable injunction: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." He took vigorous action in the cause of equal rights, and negotiated the nuclear test ban treaty of 1963. More controversially, Kennedy presided over the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. On November 22, 1963, he was assassinated as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas.
Lyndon B. Johnson
36th President, Democrat, 1963-1969 (more than 1 term)

Lyndon B. Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas. He served in the House and Senate, ultimately as Majority Leader. He served as John F. Kennedy's Vice President and, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as President. The defining program of his Presidency was the Great Society program: aid to education, Medicare, conservation, development of depressed regions, a wide-scale fight against poverty, removal of obstacles to the right to vote. Under Johnson, the country made spectacular explorations of space. In contrast to these successes, fighting continued in Viet Nam and controversy over the war was acute. He withdrew as a candidate for re-election.

He died suddenly of a heart attack at his Texas ranch on January 22, 1973.
Richard Nixon
37th President, Republican, 1969-1974 (more than 1 term)

Born in California in 1913, Nixon practiced law. After the war he served in Congress and then as Eisenhower’s Vice President. He ran for President in 1960 and then won in 1968.

During his Presidency, Nixon succeeded in ending American fighting in Viet Nam and improving relations with the U.S.S.R. and China. His domestic program included the end of the draft, new anticrime laws, and a broad environmental program. In his 1972 bid for office, Nixon defeated Democratic candidate George McGovern by one of the widest margins on record. But the Watergate scandal brought fresh divisions to the country and ultimately led to his resignation.

In his last years, Nixon gained praise as an elder statesman before his death on April 22, 1994.
Gerald R. Ford
38th President, Republican, 1974-1977 (less than 1 term)

Gerald R. Ford was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1913. He served in Congress and was nominated by President as Vice President after the resignation of Spiro Agnew. He became President after Nixon’s resignation in 1973.

As President Ford acted to curb the trend toward Government intervention and spending as a means of solving the problems of American society and the economy. He tried to calm earlier controversies by granting former President Nixon a full pardon. During his first 14 months as President he vetoed 39 measures from the heavily Democratic Congress. By providing aid to both Israel and Egypt, the Ford Administration helped persuade the two countries to accept an interim truce agreement. President Ford won the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 1976, but lost the election to Jimmy Carter.

Ford died in California in 2006.
Jimmy Carter
39th President, Democrat, 1977-1981 (1 term)

James Earl Carter, Jr. was born October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia. He entered politics and became Governor of Georgia. In 1976 he won the Presidential election against Gerald Ford.

Carter worked to combat the continuing economic woes of unemployment and inflation, which was at near record highs. In foreign affairs, he championed human rights. However, the seizure of hostages at the U.S. embassy in Iran dominated the news during the year of the administration, and he lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan. Since leaving office Carter has been committed to humanitarian issues around the world.
Ronald Reagan
40th President, Republican, 1981-1989 (2 terms)

On February 6, 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan in Tampico, Illinois. In the 1930s and 1940s he appeared in 53 Hollywood films. In 1966 he was elected Governor of California, and in 1980 he won a sweeping victory over President Jimmy Carter.

As President, Reagan obtained legislation to stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, increase employment, and strengthen national defense. His Reagan Revolution aimed to reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance upon Government. In foreign policy, his Reagan Doctrine led to support to anti-Communist insurgencies in Central America, Asia, and Africa. He sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union, meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Reagan died in California in 2004.
George H. W. Bush
41st President, Republican, 1989-1993 (1 term)

George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 12, 1924. After college Bush entered the oil industry in Texas, and then was elected to Congress. He was appointed to a series of high-level positions, including Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He served as Vice President under Reagan, and won the presidential election in 1988.

Bush faced a dramatically changing world as the Cold War ended. He sent American troops into Panama to overthrow General Manuel Noriega, and formed a global coalition to fight the Gulf War. However, a faltering economy and rising urban violence led to his defeat in the 1992 election.
Bill Clinton
42nd President, Democrat, 1993-2001 (2 terms)

William Jefferson Clinton was born on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas. Clinton received a law degree and entered politics. He won the Presidential election in 1992.

After the failure in his second year of a huge program of health care reform, Clinton sought legislation to upgrade education, to restrict handgun sales, and to strengthen environmental rules. In 1998, as a result of issues surrounding personal indiscretions with a White House intern, Clinton was impeached; he was found not guilty. In foreign policy, he presided over conflict resolution in the Balkans and a bombing campaign of Iraq when Saddam Hussein stopped United Nations weapons inspections. He was a global proponent for an expanded NATO.
George W. Bush
43rd President, Republican, 2001-2009 (2 terms)

George W. Bush was born July 6, 1946, in New Haven, Connecticut. Following an MBA, Bush began a career in the energy business, and then entered Texas politics. In 2000 he won the presidential election against Al Gore after a controversial decision by the Supreme Court.

As President, his first initiative was the No Child Left Behind Act. Other domestic policies were a tax cut and a Medicare prescription drug benefit. His global HIV/AIDS initiative is considered one of his most successful foreign policy programs. However, his Presidency was dominated by the invasion of Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He also led a reform of the intelligence community and establishment of the Department of Homeland Security.
First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of RELIGION, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of SPEECH, or of the PRESS; or the right of the people peaceably to ASSEMBLE, and to PETITION THE GOVERNMENT for a redress of grievances. [Bill of Rights]
Second Amendment
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to KEEP AND BEAR ARMS, shall not be infringed. [Bill of Rights]
Third Amendment
NO SOLDIER SHALL, in time of peace BE QUARTERED in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. [Bill of Rights]
Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. [Bill of Rights]
Fifth Amendment
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a PRESENTMENT OR INDICTMENT OF A GRAND JURY, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject FOR THE SAME OFFENSE TO BE TWICE PUT IN JEOPARDY; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case TO BE A WITNESS AGAINST HIMSELF, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without DUE PROCESS OF LAW; nor shall PRIVATE PROPERTY be TAKEN FOR PUBLIC USE, without just compensation. [Bill of Rights]
Sixth Amendment
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL, BY AN IMPARTIAL JURY of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION; to be CONFRONTED WITH THE WITNESSES against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL for his defence. [Bill of Rights]
Seventh Amendment
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of TRIAL BY JURY shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. [Bill of Rights]
Eighth Amendment
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS inflicted. [Bill of Rights]
Ninth Amendment
THE ENUMERATION in the Constitution, OF CERTAIN RIGHTS, SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED TO DENY OR DISPARAGE OTHERS retained by the people. [Bill of Rights]
Tenth Amendment
The POWERS NOT DELEGATED to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, ARE RESERVED TO THE STATES respectively, or to the people. [Bill of Rights]
11th Amendment
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State. [CANNOT SUE STATES] [1795]
12th Amendment
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall NAME IN THEIR BALLOTS THE PERSON VOTED FOR AS PRESIDENT, AND IN DISTINCT BALLOTS THE PERSON VOTED FOR AS VICE-PRESIDENT, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States. [1804]
13th Amendment
1. NEITHER SLAVERY nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, SHALL EXIST WITHIN THE UNITED STATES, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. [1865]
14th Amendment
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. [1868] [CIVIL RIGHTS]
15th Amendment
1. THE RIGHT of citizens of the United States TO VOTE SHALL NOT BE DENIED or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. [1870]
16th Amendment
The Congress shall have POWER TO LAY AND COLLECT TAXES ON INCOMES, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. [1913]
17th Amendment
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two SENATORS FROM EACH STATE, ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE THEREOF, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution. [1913]
18th Amendment
1. After one year from the ratification of this article THE MANUFACTURE, SALE, OR TRANSPORTATION OF INTOXICATING LIQUORS within, THE IMPORTATION thereof into, OR THE EXPORTATION thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes IS HEREBY PROHIBITED.

2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress. [1933]
19th Amendment
THE RIGHT OF CITIZENS of the United States TO VOTE SHALL NOT BE DENIED or abridged by the United States or by any State ON ACCOUNT OF SEX.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. [1920]
20th Amendment
1. THE TERMS OF THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT SHALL END AT NOON ON THE 20TH DAY OF JANUARY, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission. [1933]
21st Amendment
1. THE EIGHTEENTH ARTICLE OF AMENDMENT to the Constitution of the United States IS HEREBY REPEALED.

2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

3. The article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress. [1933]
22nd Amendment
1. NO PERSON SHALL BE ELECTED TO THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT MORE THAN TWICE, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress. [1951]
23rd Amendment
1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. [DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GETS ELECTORS] [1961]
24th Amendment
1. THE RIGHT of citizens of the United States TO VOTE in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, SHALL NOT BE DENIED or abridged by the United States or any State BY REASON OF FAILURE TO PAY ANY POLL TAX or other tax.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. [1964]
25th Amendment
1. IN CASE OF THE REMOVAL OF THE PRESIDENT from office or of his death or resignation, THE VICE PRESIDENT SHALL BECOME PRESIDENT.

2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office. [1967]
26th Amendment
1. THE RIGHT OF CITIZENS of the United States, who are EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE or older, TO VOTE shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. [1971]
27th Amendment
NO LAW, VARYING THE COMPENSATION for the services of the Senators and Representatives, SHALL TAKE EFFECT, UNTIL AN ELECTION OF REPRESENTATIVES SHALL HAVE INTERVENED. [1992]
Alien and Sedition Acts
A series of laws, passed during the presidency of John Adams at the end of the eighteenth century, that sought to restrict the public activities of political radicals who sympathized with the French Revolution and criticized Adams’s Federalist policies. In response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which asserted states’ rights. [1798]
Dred Scott Case
A controversial ruling made by the Supreme Court in 1857. Dred Scott, a slave, sought to be declared a free man on the basis that he had lived for a time in a “free” territory with his master. The Court decided that, under the Constitution, Scott was his master’s property and was not a citizen of the United States. The Court also declared that the Missouri Compromise, which prohibited slavery in certain areas, unconstitutionally deprived people of property. The Dred Scott decision was a serious blow to abolitionists.
Monroe Doctrine
A statement of foreign policy issued by President James Monroe in 1823, declaring that the United States would not tolerate intervention by European nations in the affairs of nations in the Americas. Monroe also promised that the United States would not interfere with European colonies already established or with governments in Europe.
Compromise of 1850
A set of laws, passed in the midst of fierce wrangling between groups favoring slavery and groups opposing it, that attempted to give something to both sides. The compromise admitted California to the United States as a “free” state but allowed some newly acquired territories to decide on slavery for themselves. Part of the Compromise included the Fugitive Slave Act, which proved highly unpopular in the North. Senator Henry Clay was a force behind the passage of the compromise.
manifest destiny
A popular slogan of the 1840s. It was used by people who believed that the United States was destined—by God, some said—to expand across North America to the Pacific Ocean. The idea of manifest destiny was used to justify the acquisition of Oregon and large parts of the Southwest, including California.
Fort Sumter
A fort at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina; the location of the first military engagement of the Civil War. In April 1861, several months after South Carolina had declared its secession from the United States, the militia of South Carolina demanded that the commander of the fort surrender. He refused, and the South Carolinians fired on the fort. There were no deaths in the incident. In response, however, President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers to put down the “insurrection,” and the American Civil War began.
Fugitive Slave Act
A law passed as part of the Compromise of 1850, which provided southern slaveholders with legal weapons to capture slaves who had escaped to the free states. The law was highly unpopular in the North and helped to convert many previously indifferent northerners to antislavery.
Embargo Act
An 1807 bill that barred trade between the United States and other nations. It was created at the request of President Thomas Jefferson in an attempt to prevent American involvement in the Napoleonic Wars. The bill proved unpopular and unenforceable and was repealed in 1808.
Emancipation Proclamation
A proclamation made by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 that all slaves under the Confederacy were from then on “forever free.”
War of 1812
A war between Britain and the United States, fought between 1812 and 1815. It began over alleged British violations of American shipping rights, such as the impressment of seamen—the forcing of American merchant sailors to serve on British ships. American soldiers attacked Canada unsuccessfully in the war, and the British retaliated by burning the White House and other buildings in Washington, D.C. The greatest victory for the Americans came in the Battle of New Orleans, in which Andrew Jackson was the commanding general—a battle fought, ironically, two weeks after the peace treaty ending the war had been signed, but before the armies could be informed.
Mexican War
A war fought between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848. The United States won the war, encouraged by the feelings of many Americans that the country was accomplishing its manifest destiny of expansion. Mexico renounced all claims to Texas north of the Rio Grande and yielded a vast territory that embraces the present states of California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
Whisky Rebellion
An insurrection that broke out in the early 1790s in western Pennsylvania. Hundreds of residents took arms against federal officials charged with collecting a tax on liquor distilled at home. Federal troops then put the rebellion down. Occurring only a few years after the adoption of the Constitution, the Whisky Rebellion was an important test of the power of the new federal government to enforce its laws.
Kansas-Nebraska Act
A law passed by Congress in 1854 that divided the territory west of the states of Missouri and Iowa and the territory of Minnesota into two new territories, Kansas and Nebraska. The law was extremely controversial because it did not exclude slavery from either territory, despite the fact that the Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in these territories. By effectively repealing the Missouri Compromise, the law outraged many northerners, led to the collapse of the Whig party and the rise of the Republican party, and moved the nation closer to civil war.
Missouri Compromise
A settlement of a dispute between slave and free states, contained in several laws passed during 1820 and 1821. Northern legislators had tried to prohibit slavery in Missouri, which was then applying for statehood. The Missouri Compromise admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state, and prohibited slavery in territory that later became Kansas and Nebraska.
“Civil Disobedience”
(1849) An essay by Henry David Thoreau. It contains his famous statement “That government is best which governs least,” and asserts that people’s obligations to their own conscience take precedence over their obligations to their government. Thoreau also argues that if, in following their conscience, people find it necessary to break the laws of the state, they should be prepared to pay penalties, including imprisonment.
Lincoln-Douglas Debates
A series of debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, when both were campaigning for election to the United States Senate from Illinois. Much of the debating concerned slavery and its extension into territories such as Kansas. The debates transformed Lincoln into a national figure and led to his election to the presidency in 1860.
Reconstruction
The period after the Civil War in which the states formerly part of the Confederacy were brought back into the United States. During Reconstruction, the South was divided into military districts for the supervision of elections to set up new state governments. These governments often included carpetbaggers, as former officials of the Confederacy were not allowed to serve in them. The new state governments approved three amendments to the Constitution: the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment, which had a provision keeping some former supporters of the Confederacy out of public office until Congress allowed them to serve; and the Fifteenth Amendment, which guaranteed voting rights for black men. Once a state approved the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, it was to be readmitted to the United States and again represented in Congress. The official end of Reconstruction came in 1877, when the last troops were withdrawn from the South.
Appomattox Court House
A village in Virginia where General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865, effectively ending the American Civil War.
Gettysburg Address
A speech delivered by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. Lincoln was speaking at the dedication of a soldiers’ cemetery at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg. The opening and closing lines are particularly memorable: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…. [We must] be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.”
spoils system
The practice of appointing applicants to public offices as a reward for their loyalty to the political party in power. The term comes from a statement by a senator in the 1830s: “To the victor belong the spoils.” Reform of the system commenced in the 1880s with the introduction of merit as the basis of appointment to office.
William Jennings Bryan
A political leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bryan, claiming to be the candidate of the ordinary American, lost three presidential elections as the nominee of the Democratic party, although he gathered substantial votes in the South and West. At the 1896 Democratic national convention, he delivered the much-remembered “Cross of Gold” speech in favor of unlimited coinage of silver and against the gold standard. A fundamentalist in religion, Bryan opposed the teaching of the theory of evolution in schools and assisted in the prosecution at the Scopes trial.
Scopes trial
The trial of John Scopes, a high school teacher in Tennessee, for teaching the theory of evolution in violation of state law. The trial was held in 1925, with eminent lawyers on both sides—William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense. Although Scopes was convicted, he was given a nominal fine, and the outcome was widely seen as a victory for Darrow.
Sherman Antitrust Act
A federal law passed in 1890 that committed the American government to opposing monopolies. The law prohibits contracts, combinations, or conspiracies “in the restraint of trade or commerce.” Under the authority of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the federal government initiated suits against the Standard Oil Company and the American Tobacco Company.
Spanish-American War
A war between Spain and the United States, fought in 1898. The war began as an intervention by the United States on behalf of Cuba. Accounts of Spanish mistreatment of Cuban natives had aroused much resentment in the United States, a resentment encouraged by the yellow press. The incident that led most directly to the war was the explosion of the United States battleship Maine in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, an incident for which many Americans blamed Spain. The United States won the war easily. The best-remembered incidents in the Spanish-American War were the charge of the Rough Riders, led by Theodore Roosevelt, in the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba, and the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines. The United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines in the war and gained temporary control over Cuba.
yellow journalism
Inflammatory, irresponsible reporting by newspapers. The phrase arose during the 1890s, when some American newspapers, particularly those run by William Randolph Hearst, worked to incite hatred of Spain, thereby contributing to the start of the Spanish-American War. Newspapers that practice yellow journalism are called yellow press.
Roosevelt’s Court packing plan
A move by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to increase the size of the Supreme Court and then bring in several new justices who would change the balance of opinion on the Court. Roosevelt proposed to pack the Court in the 1930s, when several conservative justices were inclined to declare parts of his program, the New Deal, unconstitutional. Congress would not allow the number of justices to be increased, and Roosevelt was criticized for trying to undermine the independence of the Court.
New Deal
A group of government programs and policies established under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s; the New Deal was designed to improve conditions for persons suffering in the Great Depression. The projects of the New Deal included the Social Security System, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Works Progress Administration.
Tennessee Valley Authority
A corporation created by the federal government in the Great Depression to promote the economic development of the Tennessee River and adjoining areas. The TVA, known as a builder of dams, is responsible for flood control, the generation of electric power, soil conservation, and other areas of economic development. The TVA was part of the New Deal.
Works Progress Administration
A program of the New Deal in the 1930s. The WPA built sidewalks, government buildings, and similar public works throughout the United States. During the Great Depression, the WPA employed many people who could not find other work.
Dust Bowl
A parched region of the Great Plains, including parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, where a combination of drought and soil erosion created enormous dust storms in the 1930s. The novel The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, describes the plight of the “Okies” and “Arkies” uprooted by the drought and forced to migrate to California.
Hoovervilles
The encampments of the poor and homeless that sprang up during the Great Depression. They were named with ironic intent after President Herbert Hoover, who was in office when the depression started.
Progressive movement
A movement for reform that occurred roughly between 1900 and 1920. Progressives typically held that irresponsible actions by the rich were corrupting both public and private life. They called for measures such as trust busting, the regulation of railroads, provisions for the people to vote on laws themselves through referendum, the election of the Senate by the people rather than by state legislatures, and a graduated income tax. The Progressives were able to get much of their program passed into law. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were associated with the movement.
Fourteen Points
Fourteen goals of the United States in the peace negotiations after World War I. President Woodrow Wilson announced the Fourteen Points to Congress in early 1918. They included public negotiations between nations, freedom of navigation, free trade, self-determination for several nations involved in the war, and the establishment of an association of nations to keep the peace. The “association of nations” Wilson mentioned became the League of Nations.
Walter Lippmann
A journalist and author of the twentieth century. Lippmann wrote a widely read newspaper column and several books, including The Public Philosophy. He has been mentioned as a prime example of a political pundit.
Truman-MacArthur controversy
A dispute between President Harry S. Truman and General Douglas MacArthur in 1951, during the Korean War. MacArthur, who commanded the troops of the United Nations, wanted to use American air power to attack the People’s Republic of China. Truman refused, fearing that an American attack on China would bring the Soviet Union into the war. When MacArthur criticized Truman’s decision publicly, Truman declared MacArthur insubordinate and removed him as commanding general. MacArthur returned to the United States, received a hero’s welcome, and told Congress, “Old soldiers never die; they only fade away.”
Douglas MacArthur
A general of the twentieth century, who commanded the forces of the Allies in the Pacific region in World War II. After the final defeat of Japan, he supervised the occupation of that country by the Allies and helped revise the Japanese constitution. During the Korean War, he commanded troops of the United Nations but was removed as commander by President Harry S. Truman.
Fair Deal
President Truman's 21-point program proposing the expansion of Social Security, a full-employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, and public housing and slum clearance. The program, Truman wrote, "symbolizes for me my assumption of the office of President in my own right."
Truman Doctrine
A set of principles of U.S. foreign policy declared by President Harry S. Truman on March 12, 1947 in which Truman declared that as leader of the "free world" the United States must support freedom-loving peoples wherever communism threatened them. The approach was conceived with the help of George Marshall and Dean Acheson, two influential associates of Truman.
Joseph Stalin
A Soviet political leader of the twentieth century. Stalin ruled the Soviet Union, often with extreme brutality, from the death of Lenin in the early 1920s until his own death in the early 1950s. His policies of collectivization, which abolished private ownership, were followed by political purges in which thousands of Communist party officials were killed, usually on trumped-up charges of treason. Stalin led the Soviet Union in its costly victory in World War II. Stalin’s expansion of Soviet influence after World War II contributed to the cold war.
Yalta agreement
An agreement reached near the end of World War II between President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain, and Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union. The three met in Yalta, in the southern Soviet Union, in February 1945, and discussed issues such as the occupation of Germany, free elections in the liberated countries of eastern Europe, the postwar boundaries of Poland and Russia, and a common strategy against Japan. Stalin aided the United States against Japan, as he had promised; but he expanded Soviet influence rapidly into eastern Europe after the war, and the elections he agreed to were never held.
Russian Revolution
A revolution in Russia in 1917–1918, also called the October Revolution, that overthrew the czar and brought the Bolsheviks, a Communist party led by Lenin, to power. The revolution was encouraged by Russian setbacks in World War I.
Robert Kennedy
A younger brother of President John F. Kennedy, who served as attorney general during his brother’s presidency and was his brother’s closest adviser. Robert Kennedy, also known as Bobby, was a champion of the civil rights movement and a foe of organized crime. He was elected to the Senate after John Kennedy’s assassination. In 1968, while running for the presidential nomination of the Democratic party, he was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian, evidently because of Kennedy’s position favoring Israel.
Cuban missile crisis
A confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1962 over the presence of missile sites in Cuba; one of the “hottest” periods of the cold war. The Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, placed Soviet military missiles in Cuba, which had come under Soviet influence after the success of the Cuban Revolution three years earlier. President John F. Kennedy of the United States set up a naval blockade of Cuba and insisted that Khrushchev remove the missiles. Khrushchev did so.
Nikita Khrushchev
A Soviet political leader of the twentieth century. Khrushchev, who was premier of the Soviet Union in the late 1950s and early 1960s, led a campaign, called de-Stalinization, to remove the influence of the late premier Joseph Stalin from Soviet society. He urged peaceful coexistence between his country and Western nations. Within the Soviet Bloc, however, Khrushchev suppressed resistance to communist government, sending troops into Hungary in 1956. He also aided the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba. He had Soviet military missiles installed there but removed them at the insistence of the United States.
Eugene V. Debs
A political leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Debs was five times the presidential candidate of the Socialist party. He was imprisoned in the 1890s for illegally encouraging a railway strike; Clarence Darrow was his defense attorney. During World War I, he was imprisoned again, this time for his criticism of the war.
Jane Addams
A social reformer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She founded a settlement house, Hull House, in Chicago, and also worked for peace and for women’s rights. In 1931, she won the Nobel Prize for peace.
Susan B. Anthony
A reformer of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, known especially for her advocacy of women’s suffrage. She was also active in the cause of abolitionism before the Civil War.
Apollo 11
The space vehicle that carried three American astronauts to the moon and back in July 1969. The astronauts were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.
Arthur Ashe
An African-American tennis player who rose to fame in a sport previously dominated by whites. Ashe won many championships, including the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. He died in 1993 of AIDS, which he contracted from a blood transfusion.
Bakke decision
An important ruling on affirmative action given by the Supreme Court in 1978. Allan Bakke, a white man, was denied admission to a medical school that had admitted black candidates with weaker academic credentials. Bakke contended that he was a victim of racial discrimination. The Court ruled that Bakke had been illegally denied admission to the medical school, but also that medical schools were entitled to consider race as a factor in admissions. The Court thus upheld the general principle of affirmative action.
Bay of Pigs
The location of a failed attempt by Cuban exiles to invade Cuba in 1961. The invaders, numbering about fourteen hundred, had left after the Cuban Revolution and returned to overthrow the new Cuban leader, Fidel Castro; they were trained and equipped by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. The operation was a disaster for the invaders, most of whom were killed or taken prisoner. The Bay of Pigs incident is generally considered the most humiliating episode in the presidency of John F. Kennedy, who had approved the invasion.
Mary McLeod Bethune
An African-American educator and civil rights leader who in 1904 founded a school for girls that later became part of Bethune-Cookman College. In the late 1930s and early 1940s she held an administrative position under the New Deal. In 1949 she founded the National Council of Negro Women, which opposed the poll tax and racial discrimination and which promoted the teaching of black history in the public schools.
Billy the Kid
An outlaw of the late nineteenth century in New Mexico, who claimed to have killed over twenty people; he was gunned down himself at age twenty-one. His real name is uncertain.
Hugo Black
A judge of the twentieth century; he served on the Supreme Court from 1937 to 1971. Black was a strong defender of the civil liberties of the individual against intrusion by the state.
Black Panthers
A militant Black Power organization founded in the 1960s by Huey Newton and others.
Black Power
A movement that grew out of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Black Power calls for independent development of political and social institutions for black people and emphasizes pride in black culture. In varying degrees, Black Power advocates called for the exclusion of whites from black civil rights organizations. Stokely Carmichael, one of the leaders of the movement and the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), stated: “I am not going to beg the white man for anything I deserve. I’m going to take it.”
Bonnie and Clyde
Two outlaws, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who went on a two-year spree of murder and bank robbery in the 1930s in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas before being killed in an ambush.
Lizzie Borden
A woman charged with the ax murder of her father and stepmother in the 1890s in Fall River, Massachusetts. A jury found her not guilty. The crime has never been solved.
Omar Bradley
A general of the twentieth century. Bradley commanded the United States ground forces in the liberation of France and the invasion of Germany in World War II.
Louis D. Brandeis
A judge of the twentieth century, he served on the Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939. Brandeis believed that economic and social facts had to take precedence over legal theory. He was the first Jew to serve on the Supreme Court.
Brown versus Board of Education
A case regarding school desegregation, decided by the Supreme Court in 1954. The Court ruled that segregation in public schools is prohibited by the Constitution. The decision ruled out “separate but equal” educational systems for blacks and whites, which many localities said they were providing. The Court departed from tradition by using arguments from sociology to show that separate educational systems were unequal by their very nature.
Ralph Bunche
An African-American diplomat and prominent official of the United Nations, Bunche won the Nobel Prize for peace in 1950 for negotiating an armistice between Israelis and Arabs.
The business of America is business
A statement made by President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s.
Richard E. Byrd
An explorer of the twentieth century; he was navigator on the first flight over the North Pole. He also made one of the first flights over the South Pole and went on several extended expeditions to Antarctica.
Al Capone
A leader of organized crime in Chicago in the late 1920s, involved in gambling, the illegal sale of alcohol, and prostitution. He was sent to prison in the 1930s for income tax evasion.
carpetbaggers
Northerners who went to the South after the Civil War to take part in Reconstruction governments, when persons who had supported the Confederacy were not allowed to hold public office. Some of them arrived, according to legend, carrying only one carpetbag, which symbolized their lack of permanent interest in the place they pretended to serve.
George Washington Carver
An African-American scientist and agricultural innovator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Carver aided the economy of the South by developing hundreds of industrial uses for crops such as the peanut and the sweet potato.
Chinese Exclusion Act
A federal law passed in 1882 in response to complaints by workers on the West Coast that competition from Chinese immigrants was driving down their wages and threatening white “racial purity.” It suspended Chinese immigration for ten years and declared Chinese immigrants ineligible for naturalization as American citizens. The law was renewed in 1892 for another ten years, and in 1902 Chinese immigration was permanently banned. Chinese immigrants did not become eligible for citizenship until 1943.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
A federal law that authorized federal action against segregation in public accommodations, public facilities, and employment. The law was passed during a period of great strength for the civil rights movement, and President Lyndon Johnson persuaded many reluctant members of Congress to support the law. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Ty Cobb
A baseball player of the early twentieth century. Cobb long held the world record for runs batted in and stolen bases in a career in the major leagues. He still holds the record for lifetime batting average.
Richard Daley
A mayor of Chicago in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. One of the last and toughest of the big-city political “bosses,” he ran a powerful political machine, repeatedly and easily gaining reelection. He was also given much of the credit for the victory of John F. Kennedy in the close presidential election of 1960; Kennedy won by only a few thousand votes in Illinois. In 1968, when demonstrators against involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War threatened to disrupt the Democratic national convention, meeting in Chicago, the Chicago police, with Daley’s approval, responded with violence. An official investigation later described the response as a “police riot.” Daley died in 1976.
Dawes Act
A federal law from 1887 intended to turn Native Americans into farmers and landowners by providing cooperating families with 160 acres of reservation land for farming or 320 acres for grazing. In the eyes of supporters, this law would “civilize” the Indians by weaning them from their nomadic life, by treating them as individuals rather than as members of their tribes, and by readying them for citizenship. Although generally well intentioned, the law undermined Indian culture, in part by restricting their hunting rights on former reservation lands. Much of the best reservation land eventually passed into the hands of whites.
John Dillinger
A notorious bank robber of the early twentieth century, who escaped from prison twice. Dillinger was finally gunned down by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1934, outside a movie theater in Chicago.
doughboys
United States infantry soldiers who served in World War I.
William O. Douglas
A justice of the Supreme Court from 1939 to 1975. Douglas was a committed liberal, who urged that the Court take bold steps in the application of the Constitution.
W. E. B. DuBois
A black author and teacher of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A radical thinker on racial questions, he helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). DuBois criticized the position of Booker T. Washington that blacks should accept their inferior status in American society and “accommodate” to white people. Later in his life, DuBois joined the American Communist party. His best-known book is The Souls of Black Folk, a collection of essays.
John Foster Dulles
Secretary of state under President Eisenhower, he was known for his moralism and militant anti-communism.
Amelia Earhart
An aviator of the twentieth century. Earhart was the first woman to pilot an airplane across the Atlantic Ocean. She disappeared in a flight over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
Wyatt Earp
A law officer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He served as the United States marshal in Dodge City, Kansas, and took part in a famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881.
Ellis Island
An island in the harbor of New York City. The chief immigration station of the United States was on Ellis Island from 1892 to 1943, a time when millions of people, especially from Europe, came to the United States.
Fannie Farmer
An educator, author, and cooking expert of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She wrote the first distinctively American cookbook, The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.
Fourteen Points
Fourteen goals of the United States in the peace negotiations after World War I. President Woodrow Wilson announced the Fourteen Points to Congress in early 1918. They included public negotiations between nations, freedom of navigation, free trade, self-determination for several nations involved in the war, and the establishment of an association of nations to keep the peace. The “association of nations” Wilson mentioned became the League of Nations.
Treaty of Versailles
The treaty that officially ended World War I, signed at the Palace of Versailles in France. The leading figures at the treaty negotiations were Premier Georges Clemenceau of France, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Britain, and President Woodrow Wilson of the United States. The treaty was far more punitive toward Germany than Wilson’s Fourteen Points; it required Germany to give up land and much of its army and navy and to pay extensive reparations for damages to civilians in the war. The treaty also created the League of Nations.
Felix Frankfurter
A judge of the twentieth century, he served on the Supreme Court from 1939 to 1962. Frankfurter believed in judicial restraint, the idea that judges should decide cases and not try to shape public policy (or “legislate”) from the bench.
Freedom Riders
A group of northern idealists active in the civil rights movement. The Freedom Riders, who included both blacks and whites, rode buses into the South in the early 1960s in order to challenge racial segregation. Freedom Riders were regularly attacked by mobs of angry whites and received often belated protection from federal officers.
Betty Friedan
An author and political activist of the twentieth century, who has worked for the extension of women’s rights. In 1963, Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, a book that proved fundamental to the women’s movement of the 1960s and beyond. She was a founder of the National Organization for Women.
Marcus Garvey
Jamaican-born black nationalist who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the 1920s to encourage self-help among blacks. Opposed to colonialism, Garvey advocated black separatism and nationalism. The Black Star shipping line, which facilitated emigration of American blacks to Africa, was among his projects. He was eventually jailed for mail fraud and deported to Jamaica by the U.S. government, which feared his influence in the black community.
Geronimo
An Apache leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A brave and unrelenting warrior, Geronimo was among the last to lead Native Americans against white settlers. He took to farming at the end of his life.
Charlotte P. Gilman
A reformer and feminist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, she wrote Women and Economics (1898), a plea for female economic independence. Gilman believed that prohibiting or discouraging women from earning their livelihood made them overly dependent on men and incapable of contributing to the larger life of the community. Her belief that inequality between men and women would not be remedied merely by giving women the vote inspired feminists, especially in the 1970s and 1980s.
Barry Goldwater
A political leader of the twentieth century. Goldwater represented Arizona for over thirty years in the Senate and was a leading spokesman for American conservatism. As the Republican nominee, he lost the presidential election of 1964 to President Lyndon Johnson.
Samuel Gompers
A labor leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, he cofounded the American Federation of Labor (AFL), an organization composed of skilled workers in craft unions. In the 1930s the AFL was challenged by the rise of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), an organization whose member unions were composed of all workers, unskilled as well as skilled, in specific industries such as mining or automobiles. The two organizations later merged.
Billy Graham
An American evangelist of the twentieth century. Graham began conducting religious revivals in the 1940s and calls his meetings, which he has held around the world, Crusades for Christ.
Great Society
The name President Lyndon Johnson gave to his aims in domestic policy. The programs of the Great Society had several goals, including clean air and water, expanded educational opportunities, and the lessening of poverty and disease in the United States.
Griswold versus Connecticut
A 1965 Supreme Court decision that overturned an old Connecticut law (1879) that made it illegal to use or disseminate information about contraception. The Court found that the law invaded the constitutional right of privacy.
William F. "Bull" Halsey
An admiral of the twentieth century. Halsey commanded United States fleets in the Pacific Ocean during World War II and achieved notable victories at the island of Guadalcanal and on the Japanese coast.
Harding scandals
Major incidents of corruption in government that occurred while Warren Harding was president in the early 1920s. The most notable, called the Teapot Dome scandal, involved the lease of federally owned oil reserve lands to private interests, in return for bribes. Several high officials, including the secretary of the interior, were ultimately convicted for their part in the affair. Although not personally implicated in the wrongdoing, Harding had clearly made a bad choice of associates and was shaken by the scandals.
William Randolph Hearst
A journalist and newspaper publisher in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Hearst was a pioneer in the kind of sensational reporting often called yellow journalism. In the 1890s, his newspapers helped whip up public hostility against Spain, which led to the Spanish-American War.
Alger Hiss
An official in the Department of State who, in 1948, was accused by a former communist, Whittaker Chambers, of having been a secret agent for the Soviet Union during the 1930s. Hiss denied the charge but was later convicted of lying under oath and was imprisoned. The Hiss case is still controversial.
Jimmy Hoffa
A labor leader who built the Teamsters Union into a powerful organization despite repeated charges of corruption. After his imprisonment from 1967 to 1971 for misuse of pension funds and jury tampering, Hoffa disappeared in 1975. It is widely assumed that he was murdered.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
A judge of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Holmes served on the Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932. He was celebrated for his legal wisdom and frequently stood in the minority when the Court decided cases. He insisted on viewing the law as a social instrument rather than as a set of abstract principles. He delivered a famous opinion concerning freedom of speech, holding that it must be allowed except when it presents a “clear and present danger.”
J. Edgar Hoover
A law enforcement official of the twentieth century. Hoover became the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1924 and stayed in the position until his death in 1972. His time as director was marked by vigorous investigation and prosecution of gangsters, kidnappers, and foreign spies. Hoover’s activities remain controversial.
Iran-Contra affair
A scandal in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, which came to light when it was revealed that in the mid-1980s the United States secretly arranged arms sales to Iran in return for promises of Iranian assistance in securing the release of Americans held hostage in Lebanon. Proceeds from the arms sales then were covertly and illegally funneled to the Contras, rebels fighting the Marxist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
Iwo Jima
An island in the Pacific Ocean, taken from the Japanese by United States Marines near the end of World War II after a furious battle. The battle has been immortalized by a famous photograph and a sculpture based on the photograph of half a dozen Marines raising the flag of the United States on a summit on Iwo Jima.
Jesse James
An outlaw of the nineteenth century. Jesse, his brother Frank, and their gang committed many daring robberies of banks and trains, especially in the 1870s. After a reward had been offered for James’s capture, one of his own gang shot him in the back and collected the money.
John Birch Society
A conservative organization prominent in the 1950s and 1960s. The society was particularly concerned with the dangers of communism, and its views were considered extreme by most Americans.
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
An agreement made in 1963 by Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States not to test nuclear weapons in the air, in outer space, or under the sea. Underground testing was permitted under the treaty.
Kent State
A controversial incident in 1970, in which unarmed students demonstrating against United States involvement in the Vietnam War were fired on by panicky troops of the National Guard. Four students were killed and nine wounded. The shooting occurred at Kent State University in Ohio. The troops were subsequently absolved of responsibility by the government, but their action turned many moderates against the Vietnam War and the Richard Nixon administration.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
An African-American clergyman and political leader of the twentieth century; the most prominent member of the civil rights movement. King became famous in the 1950s and 1960s through his promotion of nonviolent methods of opposition to segregation. His “Letter from Birmingham Jail” defended this kind of direct, nonviolent action as a way of forcing people to take notice of injustice. King helped organize the march on Washington in 1963. At this march, he described a possible future of racial harmony in his most famous speech, which had the refrain “I have a dream.” In 1964, he received the Nobel Prize for peace. King was assassinated by James Earl Ray in 1968.
Henry Kissinger
A scholar and government official of the twentieth century. As an adviser and later secretary of state under President Richard Nixon, Kissinger prepared for the opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. During the Vietnam War, he helped Nixon plan and execute a secret bombing of Cambodia, and his negotiations with the government of North Vietnam helped produce a cease-fire in that war. He was cowinner of the Nobel Prize for peace in 1973.
Fiorello La Guardia
A political leader of the twentieth century. A beloved mayor of New York City in the 1930s and 1940s, La Guardia worked to free the city of corruption and began a great number of construction projects.
Charles A. Lindbergh
An aviator of the twentieth century. In 1927, Lindbergh flew alone from New York City to Paris across the Atlantic Ocean, traveling nonstop in The Spirit of St. Louis. His was the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic and the first solo flight across the ocean. Young, and engaging in manner, he became an instant hero. After World War II had begun but before the United States entered the war, he urged American neutrality and was heavily criticized for his stand. The kidnapping and murder of Lindbergh’s infant son in 1932 gained attention around the world and led to the strengthening of federal laws against kidnapping.
Huey Long
A political leader of the 1920s and 1930s who served as governor of Louisiana and represented that state in the Senate. He promised every family enough money for a home, car, radio, pension, and college education. A demagogue, Long dominated Louisiana’s politics and pushed aside opposition. He planned to run for president but was assassinated before he could do so.
Joe Louis
An African-American boxer of the twentieth century, who held the world championship in the heavyweight class from 1937 to 1949.
Malcolm X
An African-American political leader of the twentieth century. A prominent Black Muslim, Malcolm X explained the group’s viewpoint in a book written by Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He was assassinated in 1965.
George C. Marshall
A soldier and diplomat of the twentieth century. He was a leading planner of strategy for the Allies in World War II. Marshall served as secretary of state from 1947 to 1949, during which time he put forth the Marshall Plan. In 1953, he received the Nobel Prize for peace.
Thurgood Marshall
A judge of the twentieth century; the first black appointed to the Supreme Court. Before his appointment to the Court in 1967, Marshall served as a lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and in 1954 he argued before the Court against segregation in the case of Brown versus Board of Education. As a Supreme Court justice, he was known for his consistently liberal record and for advocating the rights of women and minorities.
Joseph R. McCarthy
A political leader of the twentieth century. McCarthy, a Republican, represented Wisconsin in the Senate from 1947 until his death in 1957. He led an effort to identify communists who, he said, had infiltrated the federal government by the hundreds, although he never supplied any of their names. One of McCarthy’s tactics was to establish guilt by association: to brand as communists people who merely had known a communist or who had agreed with the communists on some issue such as racial equality. His critics called him a demagogue who exploited people’s concerns about communism. He was also feared, however, because of the mass of information he had put together on people in the government. The Senate censured him in 1954, saying that his actions were “contrary to senatorial traditions.”
George McGovern
A political leader of the twentieth century, who, after representing South Dakota in the Senate, lost the presidential election of 1972 to President Richard Nixon. McGovern, a liberal Democrat, was an outspoken opponent of the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War.
anarchism
The belief that all existing governmental authority should be abolished and replaced by free cooperation among individuals
jingoism
Extreme and emotional nationalism, or chauvinism, often characterized by an aggressive foreign policy, accompanied by an eagerness to wage war.
Battle of Midway Island
A naval and air battle fought in World War II in which planes from American aircraft carriers blunted the Japanese naval threat in the Pacific Ocean after Pearl Harbor.
muckrakers
Authors who specialize in exposing corruption in business, government, and elsewhere, especially those who were active at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Some famous muckrakers were Ida M. Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, and Upton Sinclair. President Theodore Roosevelt is credited with giving them their name.
Edward R. Murrow
A highly respected radio and television commentator who, during World War II, reported from London on German air raids against that city and who attacked Senator Joseph R. McCarthy in the 1950s as a threat to civil liberties. Murrow also created a show that first brought television cameras into the homes of celebrities for interviews.
My Lai massacre
A mass killing of helpless inhabitants of a village in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, carried out in 1968 by United States troops under the command of Lieutenant William Calley. Calley was court-martialed and sentenced to life imprisonment, but he only served a few years before parole. The massacre, horrible in itself, became a symbol for those opposed to the war in Vietnam.
Carry Nation
A social reformer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who argued forcefully for abstinence from alcohol. Known for taking direct action, she and her followers often used hatchets to smash beer kegs and liquor bottles in saloons.
National Origins Act
A 1924 law that severely restricted immigration by establishing a system of national quotas that blatantly discriminated against immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and virtually excluded Asians. The policy stayed in effect until the 1960s.
New Frontier
A slogan used by President John F. Kennedy to describe his goals and policies. Kennedy maintained that, like the Americans of the frontier in the nineteenth century, Americans of the twentieth century had to rise to new challenges, such as achieving equality of opportunity for all.
New Left
A radical movement of the 1960s and 1970s. New Leftists opposed the military-industrial complex and involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War; they urged more public attention to conditions of black people and the poor. New Leftists were less theoretical than communists and generally did not admire the Soviet Union. But many of them were interested in Maoism, and they spoke strongly for “participatory democracy.”
Admiral Chester Nimitz
The commander of the United States Pacific Fleet during World War II.
Nisei
Persons whose parents were born in Japan but who were themselves born outside Japan. Many Nisei were moved by force in the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II.
Annie Oakley
A performer in Wild West shows around the turn of the twentieth century, famous for her marksmanship. In one of her acts, she would flip a playing card into the air and then perforate it with bullets before it hit the ground. The musical Annie Get Your Gun is loosely based on her experiences.
Sandra Day O’Connor
The first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, she was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
Oklahoma City Bombing
The destruction of a federal office building in Oklahoma City in 1995 by a truck loaded with explosives; the blast killed 168 people. Timothy McVeigh, a former U.S. soldier, and two conspirators were convicted of the crime; McVeigh was executed. McVeigh and his conspirators had vague ties to the militia movement of the 1990s.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself
A statement from the first inaugural address of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Roosevelt was speaking at one of the worst points of the Great Depression.
Lee Harvey Oswald
The presumed assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Oswald allegedly shot Kennedy from a high window of a building in Dallas on November 22, 1963, as Kennedy rode down the street in an open car. Oswald was captured the day of the assassination but was never tried; two days after Kennedy’s death, as Oswald was being moved by police, a nightclub owner from Dallas, Jack Ruby, shot and killed him. A government commission led by Chief Justice Earl Warren concluded later that Oswald, though active in communist causes, was not part of a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Many have questioned the findings of the commission.
Jesse Owens
An African-American athlete of the twentieth century. He won four gold medals in track and field events at the Olympic Games of 1936, held in Germany when Adolf Hitler was leader. His victories were a source of pride to the United States and also—because Owens was black—a blow to the Nazi notions of a master race.
Rosa Parks
A black seamstress from Montgomery, Alabama, who, in 1955, refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white person, as she was legally required to do. Her mistreatment after refusing to give up her seat led to a boycott of the Montgomery buses by supporters of equal rights for black people. This incident was the first major confrontation in the civil rights movement.
George Patton
A general in World War II, known for his expertise at warfare using tanks and other vehicles. He led operations in north Africa and in the Battle of the Bulge. A few months after the end of the war, he was fatally injured in a car accident in Germany.
Alice Paul
An American feminist and suffragist of the early twentieth century; she founded the National Woman’s Party in 1916 and led protests at the White House and before Congress on behalf of women’s rights. Her tactics led to her imprisonment but also contributed to President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to make an amendment giving women the right to vote a priority. In 1923 she proposed an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution but encountered opposition from various groups, including women’s organizations, which feared the loss of protective legislation if the amendment were ratified. Although the ERA has continued to be proposed, it has never been ratified.
Pentagon Papers
A classified study of the Vietnam War that was carried out by the Department of Defense. An official of the department, Daniel Ellsberg, gave copies of the study in 1971 to the New York Times and Washington Post. The Supreme Court upheld the right of the newspapers to publish the documents. In response, President Richard Nixon ordered some members of his staff, afterward called the “plumbers,” to stop such “leaks” of information. The “plumbers,” among other activities, broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, looking for damaging information on him.
Frances Perkins
A political leader and reformer of the twentieth century. After briefly serving at Jane Addams’s Hull House, she worked in various reform activities and government positions. In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt made her the first woman to hold a cabinet position when he appointed her secretary of labor. She assisted in drafting much of the New Deal legislation, including that which created the Social Security System.
John Pershing
A military leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1916, General Pershing commanded the United States troops that pursued the Mexican revolutionary leader Pancho Villa into Mexico. In 1917, he was made commander of the United States troops sent to Europe to fight in World War I.
Plessy versus Ferguson
A case decided by the Supreme Court in the 1890s. The Court held that a state could require racial segregation in public facilities if the facilities offered the two races were equal. The Court’s requirement became known as the “separate but equal” doctrine. It was overturned by the Court in 1954 in Brown versus Board of Education.
Populist party
A third-party movement that sprang up in the 1890s and drew support especially from disgruntled farmers. The Populists were particularly known for advocating the unlimited coinage of silver. The party endorsed William Jennings Bryan, a champion of free silver, in the presidential election of 1896.
progressive education
A broad movement for educational reform in the twentieth century. Progressive education is principally associated with John Dewey, but it contains many different and often conflicting ideas. In general, progressive educators view existing schools as too rigid, formal, and detached from real life. They prefer informal classroom arrangements and informal relations between pupils and teachers. They also prefer that schools teach useful subjects (including occupations) and emphasize “learning by doing” rather than instruction purely from textbooks. Some place the developing personality of the child at the center of educational thinking and insist, “teach the child, not the subject.”
Prohibition
The outlawing of alcoholic beverages nationwide from 1920 to 1933, under an amendment to the Constitution. The amendment, enforced by the Volstead Act, was repealed by another amendment to the Constitution in 1933.
Jeanette Rankin
A suffragist and pacifist (see pacifism), Rankin in 1917 became the first woman to serve in Congress. She has the distinction of being the only member of Congress to vote against American entry into both World Wars.
Reconstruction
The period after the Civil War in which the states formerly part of the Confederacy were brought back into the United States. During Reconstruction, the South was divided into military districts for the supervision of elections to set up new state governments. Once a state approved the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, it was to be readmitted to the United States and again represented in Congress. The official end of Reconstruction came in 1877, when the last troops were withdrawn from the South.
Red Scare
The rounding up and deportation of several hundred immigrants of radical political views by the federal government in 1919 and 1920. This “scare” was caused by fears of subversion by communists in the United States after the Russian Revolution.
Remember the Maine
A slogan of the Spanish-American War. The United States battleship Maine mysteriously exploded and sank in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, in 1898. Stirred up by the yellow press, the American public blamed the sinking on Spain, which then owned Cuba. President William McKinley, who had opposed war, yielded to public pressure and asked Congress to declare war.
Jackie Robinson
An African-American athlete of the twentieth century. In 1947, he became the first black person to play baseball in the major leagues.
Nelson Rockefeller
A political leader of the twentieth century, and a grandson of John D. Rockefeller. He was governor of New York from 1957 to 1971 and sought the Republican nomination for president several times. Rockefeller was known as a moderate or liberal Republican. He served as vice president under President Gerald Ford.
Roe versus Wade
An extremely controversial Supreme Court decision in 1973 that, on the basis of the right to privacy, gave women an unrestricted right to abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. Pro-choice forces have hailed the decision, whereas those associated with the “right-to-life” (pro-life) movement have opposed it.
Eleanor Roosevelt
The wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her humanitarian and diplomatic efforts were known and respected all over the world. She represented the United States in the General Assembly of the United Nations from 1949 to 1952.
Panama Canal
Waterway across the Isthmus of Panama. The canal connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The United States built it from 1904 to 1914 on territory leased from Panama. Conflict between the United States and Panama has centered on control of the canal; a treaty was signed in 1977 returning control of the Canal Zone to Panama in 2000. Since that time, Panama has agreed to neutral operation of the canal.
Rose Bowl
The oldest and most famous of the “bowl games”—college football games held after the regular college football season between teams that are invited on the basis of their record in the regular season. The Rose Bowl game is played in Pasadena, California, on New Year’s Day, and is preceded by the Tournament of Roses Parade of floats adorned with roses.
Rosenberg case
A court case involving Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, an American couple who were executed in 1953 as spies for the Soviet Union. Some have argued that the Rosenbergs were innocent victims of McCarthy-era hysteria against communists or of anti-Semitism (they were Jewish). Others contend that they were indeed Soviet spies.
Sacco and Vanzetti
Two anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were convicted of a robbery and two murders in Massachusetts in the early 1920s and sentenced to death. Sacco and Vanzetti were born in Italy but had been living in the United States for years when they were tried. Several faulty procedures took place in the trial. Many people have thought that Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted because of their political views and/or origins and not because of the evidence against them. They were put to death in 1927. Liberals and radicals all over the world were outraged by the execution.
Margaret Sanger
The founder in the 1910s and 1920s of the birth control movement (she coined the term). Sanger overcame the initial hostility of the medical profession and combatted laws that in most states prohibited contraception. She later headed the Planned Parenthood Federation.
silent majority
A term used by President Richard Nixon to indicate his belief that the great body of Americans supported his policies and that those who demonstrated against the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War amounted to only a noisy minority.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
A reformer and feminist who joined with Lucretia Mott in issuing the call for the first women’s rights convention in America, which was held at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Stanton later worked in close partnership with Susan B. Anthony for women’s suffrage.
Seneca Falls Convention
The first convention in America devoted to women’s rights. It met in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, and passed several resolutions, including a demand that women be given the right to vote.
Shays’s Rebellion
An uprising led by a former militia officer, Daniel Shays, which broke out in western Massachusetts in 1786. Shays’s followers protested the foreclosures of farms for debt and briefly succeeded in shutting down the court system. Although the rebellion was easily overcome, it persuaded conservatives of the need for a strong national government and contributed to the movement to draft the Constitution.
shot heard round the world
A phrase from a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson about the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Emerson’s words read, “Here once the embattled farmers stood / And fired the shot heard round the world.” In other words, the determination of the colonists at Concord led to the establishment of a new nation on Earth and encouraged worldwide movements toward democracy.
Adlai E. Stevenson
A political leader of the twentieth century, who served as governor of Illinois and as the United States ambassador to the United Nations. The Cuban missile crisis occurred during his ambassadorship. He was nominated for president twice by the Democratic party against Dwight D. Eisenhower, in 1952 and 1956, and lost both times.
Stonewall Riot
A disturbance that grew out of a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a popular hang-out for gays in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in 1969. Such raids long had been routine, but this one provoked a riot as the crowd fought back. The riot led to the formation of the Gay Liberation Front and to a new level of solidarity among homosexuals.
dollar diplomacy
The use of diplomatic influence, economic pressure, and military power to protect a nation’s economic and business interests abroad. The term was first used to describe the exploitative nature of United States involvement in Latin America.
Taft-Hartley Act
A major law concerning labor, passed by Congress in 1947. President Harry S. Truman vetoed Taft-Hartley, but it became law by a two-thirds vote of Congress. It marked a reversal of the pro-labor policies pursued under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. For example, the law prohibited a list of “unfair” labor practices and restricted the political activities of labor unions.
Tet offensive
A series of major attacks by communist forces in the Vietnam War. Early in 1968, Vietnamese communist troops seized and briefly held some major cities at the time of the lunar new year, or Tet. The Tet offensive, a turning point in the war, damaged the hopes of United States officials that the combined forces of the United States and South Vietnam could win.
Jim Thorpe
An athlete of the twentieth century, known for his ability in several sports. A Native American, he was a leading college football player and also the best performer in track and field events at the 1912 Olympic Games.
Three Mile Island
The location of an accident in 1979 in a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. The plant underwent a partial meltdown that resulted in some radiation leakage into the atmosphere, panic among nearby residents, losses of billions of dollars, and intense criticism of nuclear power programs in general.
William Marcy Tweed
A New York City political leader, known as Boss Tweed, who in the late 1860s ran a network of corrupt city officials called the Tweed Ring. Under Tweed, city officials extorted kickbacks from contractors and others doing business with the city. His name is synonymous with municipal corruption.
Vietnam War
A war in Southeast Asia, in which the United States fought in the 1960s and 1970s. The war was waged from 1954 to 1975 between communist North Vietnam and noncommunist South Vietnam, two parts of what was once the French colony of Indochina. Vietnamese communists attempted to take over the South, both by invasion from the North and by guerrilla warfare conducted within the South by the Viet Cong. American troops were withdrawn in 1973, and South Vietnam was completely taken over by communist forces in 1975.
Korean War
A war fought in the early 1950s between the United Nations, supported by the United States, and the communist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). The war began in 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea. In 1953, with neither side having a prospect of victory, a truce was signed.
World War I
A war fought from 1914 to 1918 between the Allies, notably Britain, France, Russia, and Italy (which entered in 1915), and the Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire. In 1917, the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies and helped to tip the balance in their favor. Germany asked for an armistice, which was granted on November 11, 1918.
World War II
A war fought from 1939 to 1945 between the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—and the Allies, including France and Britain, and later the Soviet Union and the United States. The United States was drawn into the war in 1941, when the Japanese suddenly attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. Germany surrendered in May 1945. The war in the Pacific ended in September 1945.
Voting Rights Act
A law passed in 1965 at the time of the civil rights movement. It eliminated various devices, such as literacy tests, that had traditionally been used to restrict voting by black people. It authorized the enrollment of voters by federal registrars in states where fewer than fifty percent of the eligible voters were registered or voted. All such states were in the South.
George Wallace
A political leader of the twentieth century. As governor of Alabama in the 1960s, he resisted integration and promised to “stand at the schoolhouse door” to bar black people from admission to the University of Alabama. The National Guard eventually forced him to back down. In 1968, he was nominated for president by a third party, the American Independent party, and came in third, behind Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. In 1972, he ran for president again, but was shot and paralyzed by a would-be assassin during the campaign. Wallace presented himself as a populist, who championed poor and middle-income whites against blacks and wealthy, liberal whites. In a remarkable reversal of positions, he endorsed integration in the 1980s and was again elected governor of Alabama for four years.
War on Poverty
A set of government programs, designed to help poor Americans, begun by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The War on Poverty included measures for job training and improvement of housing.
Earl Warren
A political leader and judge of the twentieth century. Warren was governor of California before being named chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1953, and he served on the Court until 1969. His time as chief justice was marked by boldness in interpreting the Constitution; the “Warren Court” often brought the Constitution to the support of the disadvantaged. Warren also led a government commission investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Booker T. Washington
An African-American educator of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who headed Tuskegee Institute, a college for African-Americans in Alabama. Washington urged African-Americans to concentrate on economic gains rather than on the pursuit of social and political equality with whites. The best known of his many books is Up from Slavery.
Watts riots
A group of violent disturbances in Watts, a largely black section of Los Angeles, in 1965. Over thirty people died in the Watts riots, which were the first of several serious clashes between black people and police in the late 1960s.
Gloria Steinem
A twentieth-century American author, journalist, and advocate of women’s rights; one of the leaders of the women’s movement.
Horatio Alger, Jr.
A nineteenth-century American author known for his many books in which poor boys become rich through their earnest attitudes and hard work.
Willa Cather
An American author of the early twentieth century, known for My Ántonia and other novels of frontier life.
Raymond Chandler
A twentieth-century American writer known for his hard-boiled mysteries featuring private detective Philip Marlowe, whose adventures chronicle the seamy underside of southern California. Many of his works, including The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely have been adapted for films.
James Fenimore Cooper
An American author of the early nineteenth century, known for his works set on the American frontier, such as the series The Leatherstocking Tales and The Last of the Mohicans.
e. e. cummings
A twentieth-century American author who spurned the use of many conventions of standard written English in his poetry. He often avoided using capital letters, even in his name, and experimented freely with typographic conventions, grammar, and syntax. He wrote poetry on love, the failings of public institutions, and many other subjects.
Death of a Salesman
(1949) A Pulitzer Prize–winning play by the American writer Arthur Miller. Willy Loman, a salesman who finds himself regarded as useless in his occupation because of his age, kills himself. A speech made by a friend of Willy’s after his suicide is well known and ends with the lines: “Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”
Emily Dickinson
A nineteenth-century American poet, famous for her short, evocative poems. Some of her best-known poems begin, “There is no frigate like a book,” “Because I could not stop for Death / He kindly stopped for me,” “I never saw a moor,” and “I’m nobody! Who are you?”
John Dos Passos
A twentieth-century American author best known for the three novels that make up U.S.A., a complex and technically innovative portrait of the United States in which the country itself acts as a protagonist.
Theodore Dreiser
A twentieth-century American writer who was one of the major exponents of literary naturalism. His first novel, Sister Carrie, and his later masterwork, An American Tragedy, are noted for their frankness and unconventional morality.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
An American poet of the late nineteenth century, regarded as the premier African-American poet until the advent of Langston Hughes. From one of his poems came the title of Maya Angelou’s book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
William Faulkner
A twentieth-century American author. His works, mostly set in the South, include the novels The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1949.
Allen Ginsberg
A twentieth-century American poet who was a leading figure among the beatniks during the 1950s. His long, loosely structured works include Howl. When his publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, was tried (and acquitted) for printing obscene material, Ginsberg became for many a hero.
Give me your tired, your poor
A line from a poem, “The New Colossus,” by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus. “The New Colossus,” describing the Statue of Liberty, appears on a plaque at the base of the statue.
Dashiell Hammett
A twentieth-century American writer of finely crafted detective fiction. His novel The Maltese Falcon introduced Sam Spade, a tough, cynical, “hard-boiled” type of private eye. Hammett was jailed briefly and blacklisted after the infamous “red-baiting” hearings of the early 1950s. The popular 1941 film version of The Maltese Falcon starred Humphrey Bogart with Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.
Lillian Hellmann
A twentieth-century American playwright and memoirist. Her plays, such as The Children’s Hour and Toys in the Attic, often deal with controversial social and psychological themes. Hellmann’s memoirs include Pentimento and Scoundrel Time, an account of the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s.
O. Henry
A twentieth-century American author known for “The Gift of the Magi” and other short stories. He specialized in surprise endings. His real name was William Sydney Porter.
The Song of Hiawatha
(1855) An epic by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, based on the story of an actual Native American hero. The historical Hiawatha was an Onondaga from what is now New York state, but Longfellow makes him an Ojibwa living near Lake Superior.
Washington Irving
A nineteenth-century American author. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” are two of his best-known works.
Henry James
An American author of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. James is known for his novels, such as The Turn of the Screw and Portrait of a Lady.
James Weldon Johnson
An African-American writer, diplomat, and civil rights leader of the early twentieth century. His novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man illustrated the difficulties of talented African-Americans. He also co-wrote “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” and encouraged writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
Sinclair Lewis
A twentieth-century American author known for using his novels to criticize aspects of American life, such as small-town narrowness, insincere preachers, and the discouragement of scientific curiosity. His books include Babbitt, Elmer Gantry, and Main Street. Lewis won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1930.
Jack London
An American writer whose best-known adventure novels are based on his experiences during the Klondike gold rush. His early works, including The Call of the Wild and White Fang, made him the most widely read author of the time. Unable to repeat his earlier success, he died of a drug overdose in 1916 at the age of forty.
Mary McCarthy
A twentieth-century American writer and critic noted for her satirical novels, such as The Groves of Academe and The Group, about the lives of eight Vassar College graduates. Memories of a Catholic Girlhood is about her childhood as an orphan raised by diverse and unsympathetic relatives.
Carson McCullers
A twentieth-century American writer whose short stories and novels, set mainly in the South, portray the spiritual loneliness of outcasts and misfits. Her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, was published when McCullers was twenty-three. The Member of the Wedding was adapted for a memorable Broadway play and a 1952 film.
Norman Mailer
A twentieth-century American writer whose first novel, The Naked and the Dead, based on his wartime experiences, established him as a major novelist. His works of New Journalism—personal, sometimes fictionalized accounts of current political events—include The Armies of the Night and The Executioner’s Song, a so-called true life novel about the death of convicted killer, Gary Gilmore.
H. L. Mencken
A twentieth-century American writer known for his works of satire, mainly essays. Mencken mocked American society for its puritanism, its anti-intellectualism, and its emphasis on conformity.
Toni Morrison
A twentieth-century American novelist and essayist on African-American themes. Among her best-known works are the novels The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved. She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993.
Ogden Nash
A twentieth-century American author known for his witty poems, many of them published in The New Yorker. They are marked by outrageous rhymes, such as those in “The Baby” (“A bit of talcum / Is always walcum”) or in “Reflections on Ice-Breaking” (“Candy / Is dandy / But liquor / Is quicker”).
Eugene O’Neill
A twentieth-century American playwright. An important influence on the American theater, O’Neill is perhaps best known for the plays A Long Day’s Journey into Night and The Iceman Cometh.
Dorothy Parker
A twentieth-century American author known for her often sarcastic wit. Parker wrote poems, short stories, film scripts, and reviews of plays and books. Her poetry contains some often-quoted lines, such as “Men seldom make passes / At girls who wear glasses.”
Sylvia Plath
A twentieth-century American writer whose collections of poetry, including the posthumously published Ariel, strongly influenced women writers of the 1960s. Her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, details her alienation and suicidal tendencies and presaged her own death that same year.
Pollyanna
(1913) A children’s book by the American author Eleanor H. Porter. The title character is an orphan girl who, despite the difficulties of her life, is always extremely cheerful.
Poor Richard’s Almanack
A collection of periodicals (each one was called Poor Richard or Poor Richard Improved) by Benjamin Franklin, issued from 1732 to 1757. They contain humor, information, and proverbial wisdom, such as “Early to bed and early to rise / Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
The Red Badge of Courage
(1895) A novel by the American author Stephen Crane, about a young man whose romantic notions of heroism in combat are shattered when he fights in the Civil War.
Alex Haley
An African-American author who became famous for his book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Haley combined fact and fiction in tracing his family’s history to his ancestor Kunta Kinte, who was kidnaped in Africa in the eighteenth century and taken as a slave to America.
Carl Sandburg
A twentieth-century American author. His widely varied works include poems about the countryside and industrial heartland of the United States, especially “Chicago”; Rootabaga Stories, written for children; and a biography of Abraham Lincoln.
Gertrude Stein
A twentieth-century American author who lived most of her life in France. She wrote her life story as The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (Toklas was her companion), and she is said to have introduced the phrase “lost generation” to describe the Americans who wandered about Europe after World War I. Her works also include poems and the story collection Three Lives; the most famous line from her poetry is “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”
Tarzan
A character in popular novels by the twentieth-century American author Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Tobacco Road
(1932) A novel by the American author Erskine Caldwell, about a family of sharecroppers from Georgia and their many tragedies.
transcendentalism
A movement in nineteenth-century American literature and thought. It called on people to view the objects in the world as small versions of the whole universe and to trust their individual intuitions. The two most noted American transcendentalists were Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
A twentieth-century American writer whose novels often include elements of humor and fantasy within a framework of the violence and alienation of modern life. His best-known works include Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five.
Alice Walker
A twentieth-century African-American writer whose works often deal with personal and family relationships and with black women in a racially oppressive society. Her highly acclaimed novel The Color Purple won a Pulitzer Prize and was adapted by Steven Spielberg for a successful film.
Eudora Welty
A twentieth-century American writer known for her short stories and novels that depict the people and life of the rural South. Her works include such collections as The Golden Apples and the novels Ponder the Heart and the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Optimist’s Daughter.
Walt Whitman
A nineteenth-century American poet. His principal work is Leaves of Grass, a collection of poems that celebrates nature, democracy, and individualism.
Thornton Wilder
A twentieth-century American author best known for his play Our Town, dealing with everyday life in a small town in New England.
Tennessee Williams
A twentieth-century American author. Williams is famous for his plays, which portray violent passions in ordinary people; these plays include A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Glass Menagerie.
Edward Albee
A twentieth-century American playwright whose early plays reflected the influence of the theater of the absurd. His psychological dramas include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Tiny Alice, and A Delicate Balance.
American Gothic
A painting by the twentieth-century American artist Grant Wood. It shows a gaunt farmer and a woman standing in front of a farmhouse; the man holds a pitchfork, and both wear severe expressions.
Marian Anderson
A twentieth-century African-American contralto, known for her roles in opera and also for her performances of spirituals.
Barrymore family
A family of American actors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The most famous of them were John and Lionel Barrymore and their sister, Ethel, all of whom appeared frequently on the stage and in films. The dashing-looking John was known as the “Great Profile.” His granddaughter Drew continued the acting tradition into the twenty-first century.
Count Basie
A twentieth-century African-American jazz pianist and bandleader. His real first name was William. Count Basie was known particularly for the “Big Band” sound that was popular in the 1930s and 1940s.
“Battle Hymn of the Republic”
An American patriotic hymn from the Civil War by Julia Ward Howe, who wrote it after a visit to an encampment of the Union army. It starts, "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord..."
Beale Street
A street in an African-American section of Memphis, Tennessee, famous for its blues music. It is memorialized in the famous “Beale Street Blues.”
Jack Benny
A twentieth-century American comedian best known for his weekly radio and television programs. Benny was admired for his sense of timing and for his deliberately slow delivery. His shows contained many “running gags”—jokes continuing from one show to another—often concerning his age, his stinginess, and his inability to play the violin.
Irving Berlin
A twentieth-century American writer of popular songs (words and music). His songs include “God Bless America,” “White Christmas,” and “There’s No Business like Show Business.”
Chuck Berry
An African-American rock ’n’ roll musician and composer, who influenced many musicians of the 1950s and 1960s, including the Beatles and Bob Dylan.
Buffalo Bill
William F. Cody, an American adventurer, soldier, and showman of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His popular “Wild West Show,” begun in the 1880s, featured acts such as the marksmanship of Annie Oakley, mock battles between Native Americans and army troops, and breathtaking displays of cowboy skills and horsemanship. It toured the United States, Canada, and Europe. Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West Show” was a major influence in the creation of the popular image of the romantic and exciting old West.
Archie Bunker
The central character in the 1970s television comedy series “All in the Family.” Bunker’s family appreciated and loved him, even though he was bad tempered, ill informed, and highly prejudiced against virtually all minority groups.
George M. Cohan
An American songwriter and entertainer of the early twentieth century, known for such rousing songs as “Over There,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
Bing Crosby
A twentieth-century American singer and actor. He appeared several times in films with Fred Astaire and with Bob Hope and received an Academy Award for his part in Going My Way in 1944. His most successful song recording was “White Christmas.”
Isadora Duncan
A twentieth-century American dancer who won fame mainly in Europe. Her choreography, improvisational and unfettered, rebelled against traditional ballet and was highly influential in the formation of modern dance.
W. C. Fields
A twentieth-century American film comedian noted for his comic timing and drawling speech. He frequently played a cynical swindler. His films include The Bank Dick, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, and My Little Chickadee, in which he played opposite Mae West.
Benny Goodman
A twentieth-century American jazz clarinetist (see clarinet) and bandleader. He was known as the “King of Swing.”
D. W. Griffith
An innovative American filmmaker of the early twentieth century. He is famous for his epic silent films, such as The Birth of a Nation, which required huge casts and enormous sets.
Woody Guthrie
A twentieth-century American songwriter and folksinger. Guthrie flourished in the 1930s, writing numerous songs about social injustice and the hardships of the Great Depression years. Two of his best-remembered songs are “This Land Is Your Land” and “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh.”
Laurel and Hardy
Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy, two twentieth-century film comedians who almost always played their movie roles under their own names. Wearing derby hats and neckties, Laurel appeared as a thin, dim-witted Englishman and Hardy as an overweight American, often irritable and pompous. In their films, they constantly get in each other’s way and are usually involved in hopeless business undertakings or doomed personal adventures.
Glenn Miller
A twentieth-century American composer and bandleader. His band was noted for its smooth but sophisticated performances of dance numbers such as “In the Mood” and “Moonlight Serenade.”
Grandma Moses
A twentieth-century American artist who painted scenes of farm life; her style, which seems childlike, is a noted example of primitivism. She began to paint in her late seventies, when she was too old for farm work.
Cole Porter
A twentieth-century American songwriter. Porter’s songs, such as “Anything Goes,” “I Get a Kick out of You,” and “I’ve Got You under My Skin,” are renowned for their witty, sophisticated lyrics.
Paul Robeson
A twentieth-century African-American actor and singer, best known for his roles in Porgy and Bess and in the movie version of Show Boat, in which he sang “Ol’ Man River.” Robeson was politically controversial because he compared the treatment of black people in the United States unfavorably with their treatment in the Soviet Union. He lived outside the United States for many years.
Will Rogers
A twentieth-century American humorist known for his folksy but sharp social and political commentary. One of the statements for which he is remembered is “All I know is just what I read in the papers.”
Isaac Stern
A celebrated twentieth-century American violinist. He is known for his work to save Carnegie Hall from destruction, as well as for his musical performances.
James Stewart
A twentieth-century American film actor, known for his gangly figure and halting, even stammering style of speech. Stewart appeared in a great variety of movies, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Harvey, Anatomy of a Murder, and several of the films of Alfred Hitchcock. He won an Academy Award for his part in The Philadelphia Story in 1940.
Gilbert Stuart
An eighteenth-century American painter. Stuart was especially known for his portraits, including those of George Washington.
Tiffany glass
Lamps and other glass objects created by Louis Tiffany, an American artisan of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These objects are greatly prized and have been much imitated.
Orson Welles
A twentieth-century American actor and filmmaker. His masterpiece is Citizen Kane, the story of a newspaper tycoon (widely thought to be based on William Randolph Hearst), which he directed and in which he played the title role.
Mae West
A twentieth-century American actress. Mae West was a blonde, busty sex symbol, whose seductiveness was usually very funny because she overstated it so greatly. The popular version of her most celebrated line is, “Why don’cha come up and see me sometime?” She appeared memorably opposite W. C. Fields in My Little Chickadee.
Andrew Wyeth
A twentieth-century American painter, best known for works such as Christina’s World.
Bay of Bengal
Arm of the Indian Ocean between India and Sri Lanka on the west, Bangladesh on the north, and Southeast Asia on the east.
Bay of Biscay
Arm of the Atlantic Ocean in western Europe, bordered by the west coast of France and the north coast of Spain.
Black Sea
Sea between Europe and Asia, bordered on the north by Moldova and Ukraine, on the northeast by Russia, on the east by Georgia, on the south by Turkey, and on the west by Bulgaria and Romania. It receives many great rivers, including the Danube, the Dnieper, and by way of the Sea of Azov, the Don.
Caspian Sea
Saltwater lake between Europe and Asia, bordered by Azerbaijan, and Russia to the west, Kazakhstan to the north and east, Turkmenistan to the east, and Iran to the south and west; the largest inland body of water in the world. The Volga River empties into the Caspian Sea.
Ceylon
Former name for the nation now called Sri Lanka.
Chongqing
City in south-central China on the Yangtze River; commercial center for western China, commanding a large river trade.
Don River
River in southwestern Russia.
Euphrates River
River in southwestern Asia that flows through eastern Turkey, Syria, and Iraq before uniting with the Tigres River and emptying into the Persian Gulf.
Guangzhou
City in southern China; a transportation, industrial, financial, and trade center of southern China; a major deep-water port.
Strait of Magellan
Strait separating South America from Tierra del Fuego and other islands south of the continent.
Nanjing
City in eastern China on the Yangtze River, northeast of Shanghai; an industrial and transportation center. It has been China’s capital on several occasions. During the Second Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s, Nanjing was the scene of a Japanese massacre (the Rape of Nanking) and became the seat of a puppet regime established by the Japanese.
Volga River
River in western Russia, originating in hills northwest of Moscow and flowing generally southeastward for more than 2,200 miles before emptying into the Caspian Sea.
Volgograd
City located in southern Russia, amid the lower Volga and Don Rivers. The city is a major commercial and industrial center. From 1925 to 1961, it was named Stalingrad.
Yangtze River
River in China, flowing from the highlands of Tibet in western China generally eastward through central China and emptying into the Pacific Ocean at Shanghai. At about four thousand miles, it is the longest river of China and of Asia. It is a major east-west trade and transportation route in China.
Salvador Allende
A Marxist who was elected president of Chile in 1970. He set the country on a radical course, which aroused opposition from the middle class and the army. He was overthrown and died during an army coup supported by the CIA in 1973.
Hafez al-Assad
The president of Syria from 1971 to 2000. Assad was recognized as a hard-liner among Arab politicians for his hostility to Israel. At home he brutally suppressed Islamic fundamentalism. He gave active support to terrorism, but he cast his lot with the United Nations against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. He long insisted that Israel hand back to Syria the Golan Heights, which it had conquered in the Six-Day War.
David Ben-Gurion
An Israeli political leader of the twentieth century. Active in the movements toward the formation of Israel in the early twentieth century, he was chosen to be the country’s first prime minister, and he served until the early 1960s.
Leonid Brezhnev
A Soviet political leader of the twentieth century. He seized the leadership of the Soviet Communist party from Nikita Khrushchev in 1964. Brezhnev eventually became the head of government of the Soviet Union and served until his death in 1982. Brezhnev had the Soviet army invade Afghanistan in 1979 to keep a government friendly to the Soviets in power. He also sent soldiers into Czechoslovakia in 1968 to depose a government he considered unacceptable. He reached agreements with the United States on reducing the two nations’ stock of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union under Brezhnev was marked by a stagnating economy and widespread corruption.
Battle of Britain
A series of air battles in World War II between the German air force, the Luftwaffe, and the British Royal Air Force, or RAF, during the summer and fall of 1940. Poised for an invasion of Britain after the fall of France, the Germans sought to gain control of the air, but they were thwarted by heroic British resistance and abandoned their plans for an invasion.
Neville Chamberlain
A British prime minister who tried to avoid war between Britain and Germany by negotiating the Munich Pact in 1938, under which Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, was allowed to extend its territory into parts of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain proclaimed that the pact had secured “peace in our time,” but his political foes called the pact appeasement. World War II broke out less than a year later.
Georges Clemenceau
A French political leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the premier of France at the end of World War I and afterward. He presided at the peace conference after the war, which produced the Treaty of Versailles. Less forgiving than the American president, Woodrow Wilson, Clemenceau wanted a peace treaty that would punish Germany for having started the war and would compensate France for its losses.
Congress party
A political party in India, formally the Indian National Congress, established in the late nineteenth century. It was the party of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. After India achieved independence from Britain in 1947, the Congress party dominated India’s politics for two decades.
Cultural Revolution
A movement in China, beginning in the mid-1960s and led by Mao Zedong, to restore the vitality of communism in China. Mao, who gave the Cultural Revolution its name, sought to dismantle the complex governmental structure that had developed after the Chinese Revolution of the 1940s. During the Cultural Revolution, many government officials and intellectuals were sent out to work in the fields alongside the peasants. For a time, zealous young communists called Red Guards had considerable power. Many artworks, architectural treasures, and other cultural monuments associated with precommunist China were deliberately destroyed by the Red Guard.
Deng Xiaoping
A long-time leader of the Communist party in China, he was purged during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution for criticizing the excesses of Mao Zedong, but he returned to power in the 1970s and guided China on a course of pragmatic economic reforms.
Dienbienphu
A place in Indochina, now Vietnam, where Vietnamese communists decisively defeated French forces in 1954. The defeat led to the French withdrawal from Indochina.
Dunkirk
The scene of a remarkable, though ignominious, retreat by the British army in World War II. Dunkirk, a town on the northern coast of France, was the last refuge of the British during the fall of France, and several hundred naval and civilian vessels took the troops back to England in shifts over three days.
Friedrich Engels
A German socialist of the nineteenth century who collaborated with Karl Marx on The Communist Manifesto and on Das Kapital.
Enlightenment
An intellectual movement of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries marked by a celebration of the powers of human reason, a keen interest in science, the promotion of religious toleration, and a desire to construct governments free of tyranny. Some of the major figures of the Enlightenment were David Hume, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, the Baron de Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire.
Indira Gandhi
An Indian political leader of the twentieth century. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, and she served herself as prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977. Indira connected with the poor and dispossessed of India, and she was instrumental in securing the independence of Bangladesh. Yet her record for helping the dispossessed was marred by the State of Emergency, which she imposed from 1975 to 1977, when democratic norms were suspended and the press censored. She served as prime minister again from 1980 until 1984, when she was assassinated by her own bodyguards.
Mahatma Gandhi
A political figure of the twentieth century in India; the leader of India’s drive for independence from Britain. Gandhi used methods of passive resistance and nonviolent disobedience, such as boycotts and hunger strikes, to influence British rulers. He was assassinated in 1948, just after India secured its independence. The title mahatma means “great soul.”
Gang of Four
Four Chinese political leaders of the twentieth century who were closely associated with Mao Zedong (one of the four was his wife). They were denounced when moderates came to power in China in 1976 and were convicted in 1981 of committing crimes, such as torture, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
Joseph Goebbels
A German political leader of the twentieth century. Goebbels was propaganda minister of the Nazi government and a close confidant of the leader, Adolf Hitler. Goebbels’s policy was based on the notion that a lie, repeated often and forcibly, gains the legitimacy of truth. When the defeat of Germany seemed inevitable, he killed himself and his family.
Hermann Goering
A German political leader and general of the twentieth century. Goering, a close friend of Adolf Hitler, held several high positions in the Nazi government, including leadership of the air force, the Luftwaffe; until the Battle of Britain, his aerial warfare methods were enormously successful (see blitzkrieg). At the Nuremberg trials for war criminals after the German defeat, Goering was sentenced to death, but he committed suicide before he could be executed.
Dag Hammarskjöld
A Swedish diplomat of the twentieth century; the secretary-general of the United Nations from 1953 to 1961. Hammarskjöld was intensely involved with settling differences between nations that arose from the cold war and from the movement toward independence for African nations.
Heinrich Himmler
A German police official of the twentieth century. Himmler, a confidant of the leader Adolf Hitler, organized the Nazi elite forces (SS) and secret police (Gestapo). He supervised the execution of millions of Jews in concentration camps during World War II. He committed suicide in 1945.
Hirohito
Japanese emperor who came to the throne in the 1920s. He reigned over the Japanese in World War II. After the war, he was forced to give up the claim to divine status that previous emperors had made. He died in 1989, after long outliving all the other major figures associated with the war.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
An Iranian religious and political leader of the twentieth century. Imposing rule by Islamic law and determined to rid Iran of foreign, and especially American, influences, he became virtual dictator of Iran in 1979. With his blessing, Iranian militants held American diplomats as hostages from 1979 to 1981. He died in 1989.
Kuomintang
A Chinese nationalist (see nationalism) political party founded by Sun Yat-sen, which gained control of China in the early twentieth century. Later, under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, it was defeated by the Chinese communists and became the ruling party of Taiwan, the island to which Chiang and his supporters had fled.
Lawrence of Arabia
T. E. Lawrence, an English soldier and author of the twentieth century, known for leading a rebellion of Arabs against the Turks in World War I and for his book describing the experience, Seven Pillars of Wisdom. At the negotiations that produced the Treaty of Versailles, he argued unsuccessfully for independence for the Arab nations.
Long March
An important event in the history of the Chinese communists. Driven from southern and eastern China by Chiang Kai-shek at the end of the 1920s, the communist leader Mao Zedong led his forces on a long march to safety in the northwest part of China. From there, they staged attacks on the Japanese invaders and eventually on Chinese government troops—attacks that led to their conquest of China in 1949.
Maginot line
A chain of defensive fortifications built by France on its eastern border between World War I and World War II. The Maginot line was designed to stop any future invasion by Germany, but it was never completed. In World War II, the Germans conquered France by going around the Maginot line to the north. The expression Maginot mentality refers to any military strategy that is exclusively defensive and therefore flawed. It also refers to military planning that is aimed at the past.
Golda Meir
An Israeli political leader of the twentieth century. Meir served as prime minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974 and was known for her efforts to lessen the Arab-Israeli conflict through diplomacy. Arab forces, attacking in 1973, caught her country by surprise and inflicted heavy losses.
Munich Pact
An agreement between Britain and Germany in 1938, under which Germany was allowed to extend its territory into parts of Czechoslovakia in which German-speaking peoples lived. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain negotiated on behalf of Britain, and Chancellor Adolf Hitler on behalf of Germany. Chamberlain returned to London proclaiming that the Munich Pact had secured “peace in our time.” The Germans invaded Poland less than a year later, and World War II began. In later years, the Munich Pact was denounced as pure appeasement of Hitler.
Gamal Abdel Nasser
An Egyptian military and political leader of the twentieth century. Nasser overthrew King Farouk of Egypt in the early 1950s and soon became president. He urged Arab nations to unify against both Israel and European and American influence in the Middle East. He took control of the Suez Canal for Egypt in 1956, provoking a British military attack. In 1967, he provoked a brief and unsuccessful war against Israel, the Six-Day War. Upon his death in 1970, he was succeeded by Anwar Sadat.
Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
A treaty made by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 that opened the way for both nations to invade Poland.
Jawaharlal Nehru
An Indian political leader of the twentieth century. Nehru was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for independence from Britain in India during the 1930s and 1940s. After independence, he served as the country’s first prime minister, steering Indian foreign policy toward nonalignment. Nehru died in 1964.
Kwame Nkrumah
The president of Ghana in the 1960s and a leader of the Pan-African movement, which opposed white domination of Africa and promoted a feeling of shared identity among black Africans. He was deposed by a military coup in Ghana in 1966.
October Revolution
The revolution in October 1917 in Russia that brought the Bolsheviks to power.
Juan Perón
An Argentine political leader of the twentieth century. Perón, an intense nationalist, was dictator of Argentina in the 1940s and 1950s and again, briefly, in the 1970s. His wife, Eva Perón, became the most powerful woman in Argentina before her early death.
Vidkun Quisling
A Norwegian military officer and politician of the twentieth century. He collaborated with the Germans in their conquest of Norway in World War II; the Germans rewarded him by making him leader of the German-controlled government of the country. After the German defeat, the Norwegian government had Quisling tried for treason and executed.
Erwin Rommel
A German military commander of the twentieth century. A master of the blitzkrieg, he saw much action in World War II, leading campaigns in France and North Africa, where he became known as the “Desert Fox.” He attained the rank of field marshal but was implicated in a plot to assassinate the German leader, Adolf Hitler. On Hitler’s orders, he killed himself.
Russian Revolution
A revolution in Russia in 1917–1918, also called the October Revolution, that overthrew the czar and brought the Bolsheviks, a Communist party led by Lenin, to power. The revolution was encouraged by Russian setbacks in World War I.
Anwar Sadat
An Egyptian political leader of the twentieth century. He succeeded Gamal Abdel Nasser as president of Egypt on Nasser’s death in 1970. In a bold effort to bring peace to the Middle East, he visited Israel in 1977 and signed a peace agreement with that country in 1979. He was assassinated in Egypt in 1981.
Andrei Sakharov
A nuclear physicist in the Soviet Union, Sakharov helped develop their first hydrogen bomb. In the late 1960s, he became an outspoken critic of the arms race and of Soviet repression. He and his wife were exiled within the Soviet Union for protesting. In 1975, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace.
Albert Schweitzer
A French theologian, student of music, and physician of the twentieth century. Schweitzer received many awards for his humanitarian missionary work in Africa, including the Nobel Prize for peace.
Six-Day War
A war fought in 1967 by Israel on one side and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan on the other. Israel, victorious, took over the Golan Heights, the Jordanian portion of Jerusalem, the Jordanian West Bank of the Jordan River, and a large piece of territory in northeastern Egypt, including the Sinai Peninsula, which contains Mount Sinai. Israel still occupies all of these territories except the Sinai Peninsula, which it gave back to Egypt in 1982. Israel maintains that its security would be enormously endangered if it withdrew from the other places.
Battle of Stalingrad
A major battle between German and Soviet troops in World War II. The battle was fought in the winter of 1942–1943 and ended with the surrender of an entire German army. Stalingrad is considered a major turning point of the war in favor of the Allies.
Suez Canal crisis
A major international incident that arose in 1956 from the decision by Gamal A. Nasser of Egypt to nationalize the Suez Canal, which long had been controlled by Great Britain. After Nasser took over the canal, Britain and France induced Israel to provoke a conflict with Egypt that would serve as a pretext for an Anglo-French invasion of Egypt. The United States, which had been excluded from the planned invasion, denounced it. The incident severely damaged Anglo-American relations.
Leon Trotsky
A Russian revolutionary leader of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Trotsky rose to power alongside Lenin after the Russian Revolution, taking charge of foreign affairs. In favoring world communist revolution, Trotsky found himself in opposition to Lenin and to Lenin’s successor, Joseph Stalin, both of whom insisted that the development of communism within the Soviet Union came first. Stalin exiled Trotsky in the late 1920s and had him assassinated in Mexico City in 1940.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau
A Canadian statesman and prime minister of the twentieth century. Faced with secessionist sentiment from the French-speaking majority in Quebec, Trudeau as prime minister oversaw the passage of the Official Languages Act in the 1970s, which made French and English the official languages of Canada.
Pancho Villa
A Mexican revolutionary leader of the twentieth century. He was defeated in the struggle for the presidency of Mexico after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and was eventually assassinated. At one point, Villa raided a town in New Mexico, hoping to embarrass his opposition back home. The United States sent troops under General John Pershing in pursuit of Villa, and the United States and Mexico nearly went to war.
Emiliano Zapata
A Mexican revolutionary leader of the twentieth century. He overran plantations in the Mexican Revolution of 1910, dividing the land among peasants. He did not accept the new government’s promises of reform in 1915 and lived as an outlaw until he was killed in 1919.
Zhou En-lai
A Chinese political leader of the twentieth century. Zhou was a founder of the Chinese Communist party and an ally of Mao Zedong. As China’s premier, he helped establish closer relations between his country and Western nations in the 1970s.
Good Neighbor policy
A United States foreign policy doctrine, adopted by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, designed to improve relations with Latin America. A reaction to the exploitative dollar diplomacy of the early 1900s, the Good Neighbor policy encouraged interaction between the United States and Latin America as equals. In the post–World War II era, however, the United States has often reverted to dollar diplomacy and gunboat diplomacy to impose its will on the countries of Latin America.
grand jury
A jury that decides whether the evidence warrants bringing an accused person to trial. Once indicted by a grand jury, a person must stand trial.
habeas corpus
A legal term meaning that an accused person must be presented physically before the court with a statement demonstrating sufficient cause for arrest. Thus, no accuser may imprison someone indefinitely without bringing that person and the charges against him or her into a courtroom. In Latin, habeas corpus literally means “you shall have the body.”
logrolling
In politics, advance agreement by legislators to vote for one another’s bills. Logrolling is most common when legislators are trying to secure votes for bills that will benefit their home districts.
most-favored-nation
Status in an international trading arrangement whereby agreements between two nations on tariffs are then extended to other nations. Every nation involved in such an arrangement will have most-favored-nation status. This policy is used, particularly by the United States, to lower tariffs, extend cooperative trading agreements, and protect nations from discriminatory treatment. Most-favored-nation agreements can also be used to apply economic pressure on nations by deliberately excluding them from international trade.
political action committees
Committees formed by interest groups to funnel donations to political candidates who are likely to support their position on various issues. Because of current campaign laws, PACs are allowed to make much larger donations than can individuals.
rider
A provision, usually controversial and unlikely to pass on its own merits, that is attached to a popular bill in the hopes that it will “ride” to passage on the back of the popular bill.
Selective Service System
The system used in the United States to draft young people into armed service. Though the United States at present has no draft, young men are required by law to register with the Selective Service when they reach the age of eighteen.
United States Information Agency
A federal agency responsible for spreading information favorable to the United States around the world.
Ways and Means Committee
A permanent committee of the House of Representatives, which makes recommendations to the House on all bills for raising revenue. The committee is the principal source of legislation concerning issues such as taxation, customs duties, and international trade agreements.
ABM Treaty
The popular name for part of the 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the United States and the former Soviet Union; it restricts the number and locations of antiballistic missiles (ABM) that each nation can deploy.
Geneva Conventions
A set of international rules that govern the treatment of prisoners, the sick and wounded, and civilians during war. Under the Geneva Conventions, for example, ambulances and military hospitals and their staff are officially neutral and are not to be fired upon. Nearly all countries of the world have agreed to the Geneva Conventions. The first Geneva Convention was drawn up in the late nineteenth century and concerned only the sick and wounded in war. It has been revised several times since to accommodate new wartime conditions.
Northern Ireland
Political division of the United Kingdom, located in northeastern Ireland. Northern Ireland was created in 1920, when Britain established separate parliaments for the parts of Ireland dominated by Protestants and by Roman Catholics. The Protestant portion remained in union with Britain. Demands for equal civil and economic rights by the Catholic minority, beginning in the late 1960s, led to a renewal of violence between Catholics and Protestants. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), a nationalist organization dedicated to the unification of Ireland, has staged terrorist attacks on British troops in Northern Ireland, as well as other random terrorist attacks in Britain. A peace accord reached on Good Friday, 1998, provided for the restoration of home rule, which Britain had suspended in 1972 when it assumed direct control of Northern Ireland. By the terms of this accord, both Britain and the Republic of Ireland agreed to give up their constitutional claims on Northern Ireland. Voters in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland approved the accord later in 1998. The failure of the IRA to disarm threw this accord into jeopardy until recently.
Marxism-Leninism
The doctrines of Marxism as applied by Lenin, a founder of the Soviet Union, to the building of Marxist nations. With Karl Marx, Lenin called for a classless society in which all means of production would be commonly owned (communism). Unlike some Marxists, however, Lenin stressed bold, revolutionary action and insisted that a strong Communist party would be needed in a Marxist nation to direct the efforts of the workers. Lenin also argued that capitalist nations resort to aggressive imperialist moves as they decline and that Marxist nations must therefore be prepared for war. Eventually, according to Marxism-Leninism, the rigid governmental structures that have characterized the former Soviet Union and other Marxist nations will not be necessary; the “withering away of the state” will occur. A major problem for Marxism-Leninism has been the difficulty of abandoning these governmental structures.
natural law
The doctrine that human affairs should be governed by ethical principles that are part of the very nature of things and that can be understood by reason. The first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence contain a clear statement of the doctrine.
New Labour
A movement to update Britain’s Labour Party by discarding the traditional Labour platform calling for state ownership of the means of production. The movement has been led by Tony Blair, who became prime minister in 1997 after guiding the Labour Party to victory.
Nonproliferation Treaty
An agreement made in 1968 to discourage the spread of nuclear weapons. It has been ratified by ninety-two countries, but not by all countries with the potential to develop nuclear weapons. Neither India nor Pakistan, each of which subsequently developed nuclear weapons, ratified it.
Organization of American States
An international organization that includes the United States and over thirty nations in Latin America. It was founded in the 1940s to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes and economic cooperation among members.
Oslo Accord
An agreement brokered by Norway after months of secret negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993. By its terms, Israel and the PLO recognized each other. The PLO renounced terrorism, and Israel agreed to withdraw its military and civil authorities from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho, granting self-rule to Palestinians in these areas and a lesser degree of self-rule to other parts of the Occupied Territories. Although the accord put off consideration of the thorny issues of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem, it set 1999 as a deadline for a final agreement. Subsequent negotiations to resolve these issues failed, however.
sedition
Acts that incite rebellion or civil disorder against an established government.
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Negotiations started in Helsinki, Finland, in 1969 between the United States and the Soviet Union to limit the countries’ stock of nuclear weapons. The treaties resulting from these negotiations are called SALT I and SALT II. SALT II was never ratified, but its terms were respected until Reagan withdrew in 1986. These treaties have led to START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks). START I (a 1991 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union) and START II (a 1993 agreement between the United States and Russia) placed specific caps on each side’s stock of nuclear weapons.
Trotskyism
The doctrines of the twentieth-century Russian political leader Leon Trotsky, who believed that communism should depend on the cooperation of the proletariats of all nations rather than on domination by the Soviet Union. Trotsky’s ideas were opposed by Joseph Stalin, the Soviet premier, who sent Trotsky into exile, made him a nonperson, and eventually had him assassinated.
The Roosevelt Corollary
An addition to the Monroe Doctrine by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Roosevelt's extension of the Monroe Doctrine asserted the right of the United States to intervene to stabilize the economic affairs of small states in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts. The alternative was intervention by European powers, especially Britain and Germany, which loaned money to the countries that did not repay. The catalyst of the new policy was Germany's aggressiveness in the Venezuela affair of 1902-03.
Threshold Test Ban Treaty
The Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapon Tests, which establishes a nuclear "threshold," by prohibiting nuclear tests of devices having a yield exceeding 150 kilotons (equivalent to 150,000 tons of TNT). It was signed in July 1974 by the USA and the USSR.
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
A 1988 treaty between the United States and the USSR to eliminate nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges, defined as between 300-3,400 miles.
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
Treaty negotiated in 1989 establishing comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe (from the Atlantic to the Urals) and mandating the destruction of excess weaponry. The treaty proposed equal limits for the two "groups of states-parties", NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
fundamental attribution error
A theory describing the cognitive tendency to overvalue personality-based explanations for the observed behaviors of others, thus undervaluing situational explanations. Also known as correspondence bias or attribution effect.
self-serving bias
A situation in which people attribute their successes to internal or personal factors but attribute their failures to situational factors beyond their control.
actor-observer bias
A tendency to attribute one's own behavior to one's circumstances (i.e., situational causes) and the behaviors of others to their dispositions.
ad hominem argument
A reply to an argument or factual claim made by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the source rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.
Charlie Parker
A twentieth-century American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker is widely considered one of the most influential of jazz musicians, Parker played a leading role in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation based on harmonic structure.
James Brown
An American entertainer. He is recognized as one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century popular music. He is known as "The Godfather of Soul".
Duke Ellington
A twentieth-century African-American jazz composer, songwriter, and bandleader. Ellington’s most popular songs include “Mood Indigo,” “Satin Doll,” “Sophisticated Lady,” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.”
Tommy Dorsey
An American jazz trombonist, trumpeter, composer, and bandleader of the Big Band era.
Louis Armstrong
A twentieth-century African-American jazz trumpet player and singer. Armstrong, whose career spanned five decades, was celebrated for his trumpet solos and the gravelly voice in which he sang songs such as “Hello, Dolly” and “It’s a Wonderful World.”
Equal Pay Act
Law protecting men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination. Passed in 1963.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Law protecting individuals who are 40 years of age or older from discrimination in employment. Passed in 1967.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Law passed in 1990. Title I and Title V prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments.
Rehabilitation Act
Law passed in 1973. Sections 501 and 505 prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government.
Civil Rights Act of 1991
Among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.
Civil Service Reform Act
Law containing a number of prohibitions designed to promote overall fairness in federal personnel actions. Passed in 1978, the CSRA prohibits any employee who has authority to take certain personnel actions from discriminating for or against employees or applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability. It also provides that certain personnel actions can not be based on attributes or conduct that do not adversely affect employee performance, such as marital status and political affiliation.