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John Adams
America’s second president, Adams served from 1797 to 1801. A Federalist, he supported a powerful centralized government. His most notable actions in office were the undertaking of the Quasi-war with France and the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
John Quincy Adams
Son of John Adams and president from 1825 to 1829. As James Monroe’s secretary of state, Adams worked to expand the nation’s borders and authored the Monroe Doctrine. His presidency was largely ineffective due to lack of popular support; Congress blocked many of his proposed programs.
Samuel Adams
A leader of the Sons of Liberty. Adams suggested the formation of the Committees of Correspondence and fought for colonial rights throughout New England. He is credited with provoking the Boston Tea Party.
Jane Addams
A reformer and pacifist best known for founding Hull House in 1889. Hull House provided educational services to poor immigrants.
The Age of Reason
Written by Thomas Paine. The Age of Reason was published in three parts between 1794 and 1807. A critique of organized religion, the book was criticized as a defense of Atheism. Paine’s argument is a prime example of the rationalist approach to religion inspired by Enlightenment ideals.
Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA)
Created in 1933 as part of FDR’s New Deal. The AAA controlled the production and prices of crops by offering subsidies to farmers who stayed under set quotas. The Supreme Court declared the AAA unconstitutional in 1936.
Albany Plan
Submitted by Benjamin Franklin to the 1754 gathering of colonial delgates in Albany, New York. The plan called for the colonies to unify in the face of French and Native American threats. Although the delegates in Albany approved the plan, the colonies rejected it for fear of losing their independent authority. The Crown rejected the Albany Plan as well, wary of cooperation between the colonies.
Horatio Alger
Author of popular young adult novels, such as Ragged Dick, during the Industrial Revolution. Alger’s “rags to riches” tales emphasised that anyone could become wealthy and successful through hard work and exceptional luck.
Alien and Sedition Acts
Passed by Federalists in 1798 in response to the XYZ Affair and growing Republican support. On the grounds of “national security,” the Alien and Sedition Acts increased the number of years required to gain citizenship, allowed for the imprisonment and deporation of aliens, and virtually suspended freedom of speech. Popular dissatisfaction with the acts secured Republican Thomas Jefferson’s bid for presidency in 1800, and were the undoing of the Federalist Party.
Allies
The partership of Great Britain, France, and Italy during World War I. The Allies were pitted against the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. In 1917, the U.S. joined the war on the Allies’ side. During World War II, the Allies included Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the U.S., and France.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Founded in 1920. The ACLU seeks to protect the civil liberties of individuals, often by bringing “test cases” to court in order to challenge questionable laws. In 1925, the ACLU challenged a Christian fundamentalist law in the Scopes Monkey Trial.
American Federation of Labor (AFL)
Founded in 1886. The AFL sought to organize craft unions into a federation. The loose structure of the organization differed from its rival, the Knights of Labor, in that the AFL allowed individual unions to remain autonomous. Eventually the AFL joined with the Congress of Industrial Organizations to form the AFL-CIO.
American System
Crafted by Henry Clay and backed by the National Republican Party. The American System proposed a series of tariffs and federally funded transportation improvements, geared toward achieving national economic self-sufficiency.
Annapolis Convention
Delegates from five states met in Annapolis in September 1786 to discuss interstate commerce. However, discussions of weaknesses in the government led them to suggest to Congress a new convention to amend the Articles of Confederation.
Susan B. Anthony
A leading member of the women’s suffrage movement. She served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1892 until 1900.
Anti-federalists
During ratification, anti-federalists opposed the Constitution on the grounds that it gave the federal government too much political, economic, and military control. They instead advocated a decentralized governmental structure that granted the most power to the states.
Anti-Imperialist League
Argued against American imperialism in the late 1890s. Its members included such luminaries as William James, Andrew Carnegie, and Mark Twain.
Anti-Saloon League
Founded in 1895, the league spearheaded the prohibition movement during the Progressive Era.
Articles of Confederation
Adopted in 1777 during the Revolutionary War. The Articles established the first limited central government of the United States, reserving most powers for the individual states. The Articles didn’t grant enough federal power to manage the country’s budget or maintain internal stability, and were replaced by the Constitution in 1789.
Assembly line
Industrialist Henry Ford installed the first assembly line while developing his Model T car in 1908, and perfected its use in the 1920s. Assembly line manufacturing allowed workers to remain in one place and master one repetitive action, maximizing output. It became the production method of choice by the 1930s.
Atlantic Charter
Issued on August 14, 1941 during a meeting between President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The charter outlined the ideal postwar world, condemned military aggression, asserted the right to national self-determination, and advocated disarmament.
Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)
After World War II, the AEC worked on developing more effective ways of using nuclear material, such as uranium, in order to mass-produce nuclear weapons.
The Awakening
Written by Kate Chopin in 1899. The Awakening portrays a married woman who defies social convention first by falling in love with another man, and then by committing suicide when she finds that his views on women are as oppressive as her husband’s. The novel reflects the changing role of women during the early 1900s.
Axis powers
During World War II, the Axis powers included Germany, Italy, and Japan. The three powers signed the Tripartite Pact in September 1940.
Baby boom
Nickname for the 1950s, when economic prosperity caused U.S. population to swell from 150 million to 180 million.
Bacon’s Rebellion
In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon, a Virginia planter, accused the royal governor of failing to provide poorer farmers protection from raiding tribes. In response, Bacon led 300 settlers in a war against local Native Americans, and then burned and looted Jamestown. The rebellion highlighted the increasing rift between rich and poor in the Chesapeake region.
Bank of the United States
Chartered in 1791, the bank was a controversial part of Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist economic program.
Bank veto
Andrew Jackson’s 1832 veto of the proposed charter renewal for the Second Bank of the United States. The veto marked the beginning of Jackson’s five-year battle against the national bank.
Battle of Antietam
Fought in Maryland on September 17, 1863. Considered the single bloodiest day of the Civil War, casualties totalled more than 8,000 dead and 18,000 wounded. Although Union forces failed to defeat Lee and the Confederates, they did halt the Confederate advance through Northern soil.
Battle of Britain
Conducted during the summer and fall of 1940. In preparation for an amphibious assault, Germans lauched airstrikes on London. Hitler hoped the continuous bombing would destroy British industry and sap morale, but the British successfully avoided a German invasion.
Battle of the Bulge
The final German offensive in Western Europe, lasting from December 16, 1944, to January 16, 1945. Hitler amassed his last reserves against Allied troops in France. Germany made a substantial dent in the Allied front line, but the Allies recovered and repelled the Germans, clearing the way for a march toward Berlin.
Battle of Gettysburg
The largest battle of the Civil War. Widely considered to be the war’s turning point, the battle marked the Union’s first major victory in the East. The three-day campaign, from July 1 to 4, 1863, resulted in an unprecedented 51,000 total casualties.
Battle of Tippecanoe
Led by future president William Henry Harrison, U.S. forces defeated Shawnee forces in the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The U.S. victory lessened the Native American threat in Ohio and Indiana.
Bay of Pigs Invasion
A failed attempt by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro’s communist government in April 1961.
The Beats
Nonconformist writers such as Allan Ginsberg, the author of Howl (1956), and Jack Kerouac, who penned On the Road (1957). The Beats rejected uniform middle-class culture and sought to overturn the sexual and social conservatism of the period.
Berlin Blockade
In June 1948, the Soviets attempted to cut off Western access to Berlin by blockading all road and rail routes to the city. In response, the U.S. airlifted supplies to the city, a campaign known as “Operation Vittles.” The blockade lasted until May 1949.
Berlin Wall
Constructed by the USSR and completed in August 1961 to prevent East Berliners from fleeing to West Berlin. The wall cemented the political split of Berlin between the communist and authoritian East and the capitalist and democratic West. The Berlin wall was torn down on November 9, 1989, setting the stage for the reunification of Germany and signifying the end of the Cold War.
Big stick diplomacy
Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy summed up his aggressive stance toward international affairs with the phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Under this doctrine, the U.S. declared its domination over Latin America and built the Panama Canal.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments of the Constitution, which guarantee the civil rights of American citizens. The Bill of Rights was drafted by anti-federalists, including James Madison, to protect individuals from the tyranny they felt the Constitution might permit.
Black codes
Granted freedmen a few basic rights but also enforced heavy civil restrictions based on race. The codes were enacted in Southern states under Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction plan.
Black Panthers
Organized in 1966 in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The Black Panthers stressed a black pride, economic self-sufficiency, and armed resistance to white oppression.
Black Power
Coined by Stokely Carmichael, and adopted by Malcom X, the Black Panthers, and other civil rights groups. The term embodied the fight against oppression and the value of ethnic heritage.
Black Thursday
The stock market crash of October 24, 1929. After a decade of great prosperity, on “Black Thursday” the market dropped in value by an astounding 9 percent, kicking off the Great Depression.
Bleeding Kansas
The popular name for the Kansas Territory in 1856 after abolitionist John Brown led a massacre at a pro-slavery camp, setting off waves of violence. Brown’s massacre was in protest to the recent establishment of Kansas as a slave state. Pro-slavery sympathizers had crossed into Kansas in order to vote illegally in the elections set up by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, resulting in the ousting of antislavery legislators.
Bootleggers
Smugglers of alcohol into the United States during the Prohibition Era (1920–1933), often from Canada or the West Indies.
Boston Massacre
In March 1770, a crowd of colonists protested against Boston customs agents and the Townsend Duties. Violence flared and five colonists were killed.
Boston Tea Party
A protest against the 1773 Tea Act, which allowed Britain to use the profits from selling tea to pay the salaries of royal governors. In December 1773, Samuel Adams gathered Boston residents and warned them of the consequences of the Tea Act. Following the meeting, approximately fifty young men dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded the ships and dumped the cargo into the harbor.
Boxer Rebellion
A group of zealous Chinese nationalists terrorized foreigners and Chinese Christians, capturing Beijing (Peking) in June 1900 and threatening European and American interests in Chinese markets. The United States committed 2,500 men to an international force that crushed the rebellion in August 1900.
John Brown
A religious zealot and an extreme abolitionist who believed God had ordained him to end slavery. In 1856, he led an attack against pro-slavery government officials in Kansas, killing five and sparking months of violence that earned the territory the name “Bleeding Kansas.” In 1859, he led twenty-one men in seizing a federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in a failed attempt to incite a slave rebellion. He was caught and hanged
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
A 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision that reversed the “separate but equal” segregationist doctrine established by the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision. The Court ruled that separate facilities were inherently unequal and ordered public schools to desegregate nationwide. This decision was characteristic of the Supreme Court rulings under liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren.
William Jennings Bryan
Democratic candidate for president in 1896. His goal of “free silver” (unlimited coinage of silver) won him the support of the Populist Party. Though a gifted orator, Bryan lost the election to Republican William McKinley. He ran again for president and lost in 1900. In the 1920s, Bryan made his mark as a leader of the fundamentalist cause and the key witness in the Scopes Monkey Trial.
James Buchanan
A moderate Democrat with support from both the North and South who served as president of the United States from 1857 to 1861. Buchanan could not stem the tide of sectional conflict that eventually erupted into Civil War.
Bull Moose Party
The nickname of the Progressive Republican Party, led by Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 election. The Bull Moose Party had the best showing of any third party in the history of the United States. Its emergence dramatically weakened the Republican Party and allowed Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson to win the election with only 42 percent of the popular vote.
George Bush
Republican, vice president to Ronald Reagan and president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. His presidency was marked by economic recession and U.S. involvement in the Gulf War.
John Cabot
Explored the northeast coast of North America in 1497 and 1498, claiming Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the Grand Banks for England.
John C. Calhoun
Political figure throughout the Era of Good Feelings and the Age of Jackson. Calhoun served as James Monroe’s secretary of war, as John Quincy Adams’s vice president, and then as Andrew Jackson’s vice president for one term. A firm believer in states’ rights, Calhoun clashed with Jackson over many issues, most notably nullification.
Camp David Accords
Negotiaged by President Carter, the Camp David Accords were signed by Israel’s leader, Menachem Begin, and Egypt’s leader, Anwar el-Sadat, on March 26, 1979. The treaty, however, fell apart when Sadat was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists in 1981.
Camp meetings
Religious revivals on the frontier during the Second Great Awakening. Hundreds or even thousands of people—members of various denominations—met to hear speeches on repentance and sing hymns.
Stokely Carmichael
Once a prominent member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Carmichael abandoned his nonviolent leanings and became a leader of the Black Nationalist movement in 1966. He coined the phrase “Black Power.”
Andrew Carnegie
A Scottish immigrant who in 1901 founded Carnegie Steel, then the world’s largest corporation. In addition to being an entrepreneur and industrialist, Carnegie was a philanthropist who donated more than $300 million to charity during his lifetime
Carpetbaggers
Nickname given to northerners who moved South during Reconstruction in search of political and economic opportunity. The term was coined by Southern Democrats, who said that these northern opportunists had left home so quickly that they were able to carry all their belongings in rough suitcases made from carpeting materials.
Jimmy Carter
Democratic president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. Carter is best known for his commitment to human rights. During his term in office, he faced an oil crisis, a weak economy, and severe tension in the Middle East.
Jacques Cartier
A French sailor who explored the St. Lawrence River region between 1534 and 1542. Cartier searched for a Northwest Passage, a waterway through which ships could cross the Americas and access Asia. He found no such passage but opened the region up to future exploration and colonization by the French.
Cash-and-carry
In September 1939, FDR persuaded Congress to pass a new, amended Neutrality Act, which allowed warring nations to purchase arms from the U.S. as long as they paid in cash and carried the arms away on their own ships. This cash-and-carry program allowed the U.S. to aid the Allies but stay officially out of the war.
Fidel Castro
A communist revolutionary. Castro ousted an authoritarian regime in Cuba in 1959 and established the communist regime that remains in power to this day.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Primarily concerned with international espionage and information gathering. In the 1950s, the CIA became heavily involved in many civil struggles in the Third World, supporting groups likely to cooperate with the U.S. rather than the USSR.
Central Powers
Germany and Austria-Hungary during World War I. The Central powers fought against the Allies (Great Britain, France, and Italy). In 1917, the U.S. joined the war effort against the Central Powers
A Century of Dishonor
Written by Helen Hunt Jackson and published in 1881, A Century of Dishonor attempted to raise public awareness of the harsh and dishonorable treatment of Native Americans at the hands of the United States
Samuel de Champlain
A Frenchman who explored the Great Lakes and established the first French colony in North America at Quebec in 1608.
Checks and balances
The principles established by the Constitution to prevent any one branch of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) from gaining too much power. Checks and balances represent the solution to the problem of how to empower the central government while also protecting against corruption and despotism.
Chesapeake-Leopard affair
In June 1807, the British naval frigate HMS Leopard opened fire on the American naval frigate USS Chesapeake, killing three men and wounding twenty. British naval officers then boarded the American ship, seized four men who had deserted the Royal Navy, hanged them from a yardarm, and sailed away. Outraged, Thomas Jefferson responded with the Embargo Act in an attempt to force Britain to respect American neutrality rights.
Chinese Exclusion Act
Passed by Congress in 1882 amid a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment among American workers. The act banned Chinese immigration for ten years.
Winston Churchill
Prime minister of England from 1940 to 1945. Churchill was known for his inspirational speeches and zealous pursuit of war victory. Together he, FDR, and Stalin mapped out the post-war world order as the “Big Three.” In 1946, Churchill coined the term “iron curtain” to describe the USSR’s division of eastern Europe from the West.
Civil Rights Act
Passed in 1964, the act outlawed discrimination in education, employment, and all public accommodations.
Civil Works Administration (CWA)
Created by FDR to cope with the added economic difficulties brought on by the cold winter months of 1933. The CWA spent approximately $1 billion on short-term projects for the unemployed but was abolished in the spring of that year.
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
Created in 1933 as part of FDR’s New Deal, the CCC pumped money into the economy by employing the destitute in conservation and other projects.
Henry Clay
An important political figure during the Era of Good Feelings and the Age of Jackson. Clay engineered and championed the American System, a program aimed at economic self-sufficiency for the nation. As speaker of the house during Monroe’s term in office, he was instrumental in crafting much of the legislation that passed through Congress. A gifted negotiator, Clay helped resolve the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and designed the Compromise of 1833 and Compromise of 1850. He led the Whig Party until his death in 1852.
Clayton Antitrust Act
Spearheaded by Woodrow Wilson in 1914. The act improved upon the vague Sherman Antitrust Act by enumerating a series of illegal business practices.
Bill Clinton
A Democrat, Clinton served as president from 1993 to 2001, during a period of intense partisanship in the U.S. government. Clinton’s few major domestic and international successes were overshadowed by the sex scandal that led to his impeachment and eventual acquittal.
Christopher Columbus
Sailed to the New World under the Spanish flag in 1492. Although not the first European to reach the Americas, he is credited with the journey across the Atlantic that opened the New World to exploration. In 1493, he established Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola as a base for further exploration.
Committee to Defend America First
Advocated isolationism and opposed FDR’s reelection in 1940. Committee members urged neutrality, claiming that the U.S. could stand alone regardless of Hitler’s advances on Europe.
Committees of Correspondence
Organized by New England patriot leader Samuel Adams. The Committees of Correspondence comprised a system of communication between patriot leaders in the towns of New England and provided the political organization necessary to unite the colonies in opposition to Parliament. These committees were responsible for sending delegates to the First Continental Congress.
Common Sense
Written by Thomas Paine in 1776. Paine argued that the colonists should free themselves from British rule and establish an independent government based on Enlightenment ideals. Common Sense became so popular and influential that many historians credit it with dissolving the final barriers to the fight for independence.
Compromise of 1833
In response to the escalating Nullification Crisis, Andrew Jackson signed two laws aimed at easing the crisis. Together, these laws were known as the Compromise of 1833. The first measure provided for a gradual lowering of import duties over the next decade, and the second measure, known as the Force Bill, authorized the president to use arms to collect customs duties in South Carolina.
Compromise of 1850
Designed by Henry Clay and pushed through Congress by Stephen A. Douglas. The Compromise of 1850 aimed to resolve sectional conflict over the distribution of slave-holding versus free states. It stipulated the admission of California as a free state; the division of the remainder of the Mexican cession into two separate territories, New Mexico and Utah, without federal restrictions on slavery; the continuance of slavery but abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia; and a more effective Fugitive Slave Law. The compromise, however, proved incapable of stemming controversy over slavery’s expansion.
Confederate States of America
States that seceded during the Civil War.
Congregationalism
Church system set up by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in which each local church served as the center of its own community. This structure stood in contrast to the Church of England, in which the single state church held sway over all local churches. Congregationalism assured colonists a role in directing the individual congregations, which became the center of religious, and often political, life in New England communities.
Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)
Emerged from within the American Federation of Labor in 1938. The CIO became an influential labor group, operating during an era of government and business cooperation. In 1955, it merged with the AFL to become the AFL-CIO.
Congressional caucus
Met during the early years of the United States to choose presidential candidates. The caucus is significant in that it denied the public any voice in the nomination process, instead leaving the choice up to a centralized group of politicians based in Washington, DC. By the election of 1824, the congressional caucus had become a symbol of undemocratic elitist rule. Resented by much of the American public, the caucus lost its political influence in the early 1820s.
Connecticut Compromise
Reconciled the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan for determining legislative representation in Congress. The Connecticut Compromise established equal representation for all states in the Senate and proportional representation by population in the House of Representatives.
Conquistador
A general term for any one of a group of Spanish explorers in the New World who sought to conquer the native people, establish dominance over their lands, and prosper from natural resources. The Conquistadors established a large Hispanic empire stretching from Mexico to Chile and wreaked havoc among native populations.
Constitution
The Constitution is the document that outlines the operation and central principles of American government. As opposed to the Articles of Confederation, which it replaced, the Constitution created a strong central government with broad judicial, legislative, and executive powers, though it purposely restricted the extent of these powers through a system of checks and balances. Written at the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution was ratified by the states in 1789.
Constitutional Convention
A meeting to amend the Articles of Confederation. Delegates came to the convention from every state except Rhode Island in May 1787, and decided to draft an entirely new framework of government that would give greater powers to the central government. This document became the Constitution.
Containment
A policy established during Truman’s presidency, at the start of the Cold War, that called for the prevention of further Soviet expansion by any means. Containment soon evolved into a justification for U.S. global involvement against communism.
Calvin Coolidge
President from 1923 to 1929, nicknamed “Silent Cal.” The reticent Coolidge believed that government should interfere with the economy as little as possible and spent his time in office fighting congressional efforts to regulate business.
James Fenimore Cooper
An influential American writer in the early nineteenth century. His novels, The Pioneers (1823), The Last of the Mohicans (1826), and others, employed distinctly American themes.
Corrupt bargain
Although Andrew Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes in the 1824 election, he failed to win the requisite majority and the election was thrown to the House of Representatives. Speaker of the House Henry Clay backed John Quincy Adams for president, ensuring Adams’s victory, and Adams rewarded Clay by making him secretary of state. Jackson and his supporters, enraged that the presidency had been “stolen” from them, denounced Adams and Clay’s deal as a “corrupt bargain.”
Cotton gin
Invented in 1793 by Eli Whitney. The cotton gin separated the fibers of short-staple cotton from the seeds. The mechanization of this task made cotton plantations much more efficient and profitable, giving rise to a cotton-dominated economy in the South.
Court Packing scheme
A court reform bill proposed by FDR in 1937. It was designed to allow the president to appoint an additional Supreme Court justice for each current justice over the age of seventy, up to a maximum of six appointments. Though he claimed the measure was offered in concern for the workload of the older justices, the proposal was an obvious attempt to dilute the power of the older, conservative justices. The Senate voted against the proposal later that year. Many historians argue that the proposed bill resulted in a loss of credibility for FDR, helping slow the New Deal to a standstill.
Jim Crow laws
State laws that institutionalized segregation in the South from the 1880s through the 1960s. Along with segregating schools, buses, and other public accommodations, these laws made it difficult or impossible for Southern blacks to vote.
Cuban Missile Crisis
In 1962, a year after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, the U.S. government learned that Soviet missile bases were being constructed in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy demanded that the USSR stop shipping military equipment to Cuba and remove the bases. U.S forces set up a naval blockade, preventing Soviet ships from reaching Cuba without inspection. After a stressful waiting period during which nuclear war seemed imminent, Soviet Premier Khrushchev backed down and began dismantling the bases in return for a U.S. promise not to invade Cuba.
George Armstrong Custer
A Civil War hero. Custer was dispatched to the hills of South Dakota in 1874 to fight off Native American threats. When gold was discovered in the region, the federal government announced that Custer’s forces would hunt down all Sioux not in reservations beginning January 31, 1876. Many Sioux refused to comply, and Custer mobilized his troops. At the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Sioux wiped out an overconfident Custer and his men.
Clarence Darrow
A Chicago trial lawyer. Darrow earned fame in the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. Although Darrow’s client, the teacher John Scopes, lost the case, Darrow argued masterfully in court, and in so doing weakened the influence and popularity of fundamentalism nationwide.
Dartmouth College v. Woodward
The Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the state of New Hampshire could not convert Dartmouth College to a state university because doing so would violate the college’s contract, granted by King George III in 1769, and the Constitution forbids states from interfering with contracts. Republicans interpreted the decision and phrasing of the opinion as a shocking defeat for states’ rights. Their reaction exposed political conflicts concealed under the facade of cooperation during the Era of Good Feelings.
Jefferson Davis
Former secretary of war, Davis was elected president of the Confederacy shortly after its formation. Davis was never able to garner adequate public support and faced great difficulties in uniting the Confederate states under one central authority.
Dawes Plan
Devised by banker Charles G. Dawes in 1924. The Dawes plan scaled back U.S. demands for debt payments and reparations from World War I, and established a cycle of U.S. loans to Germany. These loans provided Germany with funds for its payment to the Allies, thus funding Allied debt payments to the U.S.
Dawes Severalty Act
Passed in 1887. The Dawes Severalty Act called for the breakup of Indian reservations and the treatment of Native Americans as individuals rather than as tribes. Any Native American who accepted the act’s terms received 160 acres of farmland or 320 acres of grazing land and was guaranteed U.S. citizenship in twenty-five years. Intended to help Native Americans integrate into white society, in practice the Dawes Act caused widespread poverty and homelessness.
Eugene Debs
A prominent socialist leader and five-time presidential candidate. Debs formed the American Railway Union in 1893 and led the Pullman Strike a year later. He helped found the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies, in 1905. A pacifist, Debs opposed the government’s involvement in World War I. In 1918, he was imprisoned for denouncing the government’s aggressive tactics under the Espionage Act and Sedition Amendment; he was released in 1921.
Declaration of Independence
Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776. The document enumerated the reasons for the split with Britain and laid out the Enlightenment ideals (best expressed by John Locke) of natural rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” upon which the American Revolution was based.
Declaration of the United Nations
Prompted by American entry into World War II, representatives from 26 nations signed the declaration on January 1, 1942. The signing countries vowed not to make separate peace agreements with the enemy and to uphold the Atlantic Charter.
Declaratory Act
Passed in 1776 just after the repeal of the Stamp Act. The Declaratory Act stated that Parliament could legislate for the colonies in all cases. Most colonists interpreted the act as a face-saving mechanism and nothing more. Parliament, however, continually interpreted the act in its broadest sense in order to control the colonies.
Deep Throat
The informant who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they delved into the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat’s true identity remains a mystery to this day
Deists
Influenced by the spirit of rationalism, Deists believed that God, like a celestial clockmaker, had created a perfect universe and then stepped back to let it operate according to natural laws.
Democratic Party
Andrew Jackson’s party, organized at the time of the election of 1828. Throughout the mid- and late 1800s, the Democrats championed states’ rights and fought against political domination by the economic elite. They opposed tariffs, federal funding for internal improvements, and other extensions of the power of the federal government. The party found its core support in the South. The party underwent a major transformation in the 1930s during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, when Democrats began to embrace a more aggressive and involved federal government. FDR’s New Deal policies cost Democrats the support of the white South—their traditional stronghold—and won them the support of many farmers, urban workers, blacks, and women. This Democratic support base remains in place today.
Détente
The relaxation of tensions between the U.S. and USSR in the 1960s and 1970s. During this period, the two powers signed treaties limiting nuclear arms productions and opened up economic relations. One of the most famous advocates of this policy was President Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, Henry Kissinger
Dollar diplomacy
William Howard Taft’s foreign policy. Taft sought to address international problems by extending American investment overseas, believing that such activity would both benefit the U.S. economy and promote stability abroad.
Dorothea Dix
A Massachusetts schoolteache. Dix studied the condition of the insane in poorhouses and prisons. Her efforts helped bring about the creation of asylums, where the mentally ill could receive better treatment.
Domino theory
The theory that if any nation fell to communism, the surrounding nations would likely fall as well. Expounded by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the domino theory served to justify U.S. intervention in Vietnam.
Stephen A. Douglas
Rose to national prominence as Speaker of the House, when he pushed the Compromise of 1850 through Congress. Douglas was the leading Northern Democrat of his day, a supporter of popular sovereignty and the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He battled Abraham Lincoln for a seat in the Senate (successfully) in 1858, and for president (unsuccessfully) in 1860.
Frederick Douglass
Perhaps the most famous of all abolitionists. An escaped slave, Douglass worked closely withWilliam Lloyd Garrison to promote abolitionism in the 1830s.
Dred Scott v. Sandford
In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that no black, whether slave or free, could become a citizen of the United States or sue in federal court. The decision further argued that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection of property, including slaves, from being taken away without due process.
W.E.B. Du Bois
An African American leader opposed to the gradual approach of achieving equal rights argued by Booker T. Washington. Du Bois advocated immediate equal treatment and equal educational opportunities for blacks. He was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Dust bowl
The name given to the southern Great Plains region (Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma) during the 1930s, when a severe drought and fierce winds led to violent dust storms that destroyed farmland, machinery, and houses, and led to countless injuries. Roughly 800,000 residents migrated west from the dust bowl toward California during the 1930s and 1940s.
Dynamic conservatism
President Eisenhower’s philosophy of government. He called it “dynamic conservatism” to distinguish it from the Republican administrations of the past, which he deemed backward-looking and complacent. He was determined to work with the Democratic Party rather than against it and at times opposed proposals made by more conservative members of his own party.
Economic Opportunity Act
A component of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. The Economic Opportunity Act established an Office of Economic Opportunity to provide young Americans with job training. It also created a volunteer network devoted to social work and education in impoverished areas.
Eighteenth Amendment
Ratified on January 16, 1919. The Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the manufacture, transport, or sale of alcoholic beverages. It was sporadically enforced, violated by many, and repealed in 1933.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
A Republican, served as president from 1953 to 1961. Along with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower sought to lessen Cold War tensions. One notable success in this realm was the ending of the Korean War. Before serving as president, Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II, coordinating Operation Overlord and the American drive from Paris to Berlin.
Eisenhower Doctrine
Announced in 1957. The doctrine committed the U.S. to preventing Communist aggression in the Middle East, with force if necessary.
Elastic clause
Article I, Section VIII of the Constitution. The article states that Congress shall have the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution . . . powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States.” This clause was a point of much contention between those who favored a loose reading of the Constitution and those who favored a strict reading.
Emancipation Proclamation
Issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. The proclamation freed all slaves under rebel (Confederate) control. It did not affect the slave states within the Union or Confederate states under Union control, and therefore in practice freed few slaves. Nevertheless, the proclamation gave the war a new objective—emancipation—and crystallized the tension between the Union and the Confederacy.
Embargo Act
Endorsed by Thomas Jefferson and passed in December 1807. The act ended all importation and exportation in response to the Chesapeake-Leopard affair. Jefferson hoped the embargo would put enough economic pressure on the French and British that the two nations would be forced to recognize U.S. neutrality rights in exchange for U.S. goods. The embargo, however, hurt the American economy more than it did Britain’s or France’s, leading to the act’s repeal in March 1809.
Emergency Banking Relief Act
The first act of FDR’s New Deal. The Emergency Banking Relief Act provided a framework for the many banks that had closed early in 1933 to reopen with federal support.
Emergency Committee for Unemployment
Herbert Hoover’s principal effort to lower the unemployment rate. Established in October 1930, the committee sought to organize unemployment relief by voluntary agencies, but Hoover granted the committee only limited resources with which to work.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A leader of the transcendentalist movement and an advocate of American literary nationalism. He published a number of influential essays during the 1830s and 1840s, including “Nature” and “Self Reliance.”
Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871
Sought to protect black suffrage in the wake of Klu Klux Klan activities
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Enlightenment
An intellectual movement that spread through Europe and America in the eighteenth century. Also known as the Age of Reason, Enlightenment ideals championed the principles of rationalism and logic. Their skepticism toward beliefs that could not be proved by science or clear logic led to Deism.
Era of Good Feelings
The period between the end of the War of 1812 and the rise of Andrew Jackson in 1828, during which the United States was governed under a one-party system that promoted nationalism and cooperation. At the center was James Monroe’s presidency, as Monroe strove to avoid political conflict and strengthen American nationalism and pride.
Leif Ericson
The alleged leader of a group of Vikings who sailed to the eastern coast of Canada and attempted, unsuccessfully, to colonize the area around the year 1000—nearly 500 years before Columbus arrived in the Americas.
Erie Canal
America’s first major canal project. Begun in 1817 and finished in 1825, the Erie Canal stretched from Albany to Buffalo, New York, measuring a total of 363 miles.
Espionage Act
Passed in 1917, the act enumerated a list of antiwar activities warranting fines or imprisonment.
Eugenics
Founded on the premise that the “perfect” human society could be achieved through genetic tinkering. Popularized during the Progressive era, writers on eugenics often used this theory to justify a supremacist white Protestant ideology, which advocated the elimination of what they considered undesirable racial elements from American society.
Fair Deal
Truman’s attempt to extend the policies of the New Deal. Beginning in 1949, the Fair Deal included measures to increase the minimum wage, expand Social Security, and construct low-income housing.
Fair Labor Standards Act
Passed in 1938. The Fair Labor act provided for a minimum wage and restricted shipment of goods produced with child labor, and symbolized the FDR administration’s commitment to working with with labor forces.
Farmers’ Alliance
Replaced the Grange as a support group for the nation’s farmers during the 1880s. The alliances were politically active in the Midwest and South, and were central to the founding of the Populist Party.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Created as a part of the first New Deal to increase faith in the banking system by insuring individual deposits with federal funds.
Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA)
One of the New Deal’s most comprehensive measures, passed May 1933. FERA appropriated $500 million to support state and local treasuries that had run dry.
Federal Home Loan Bank Act
A late attempt by President Hoover to address the problems of destitute Americans. The 1932 Federal Home Loan Bank Act established a series of banks to make loans to other banks, building and loan associations, and insurance agencies in an attempt to prevent foreclosures on private homes.
Federalists
Led by Alexander Hamilton. Federalists believed in a strong central government at the expense of state powers and were staunch supporters of the Constitution during the ratification process. They remained a political force throughout the first thirty or so years of the United States. The Federalists entered into decline after the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency and disappeared as a political party after the the Hartford Convention, at the close of the War of 1812.
The Federalist Papers
A series of newspaper articles written by John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers enumerated the arguments in favor of the Constitution and refuted the arguments of the Anti-federalists.
Federal Reserve Act
Woodrow Wilson’s most notable legislative success. The 1913 Federal Reserve Act reorganized the American banking system by creating a network of twelve Federal Reserve banks authorized to distribute currency.
Federal Reserve Board (“The Fed”)
Responsible for making monetary policy in the United States. The Fed operates mainly through the mechanisms of buying and selling government bonds and adjusting the interest rates. During the Great Depression, the Fed was given greater power and freedom to directly regulate the economy.
Federal Securities Act
Passed in 1914. The act made corporate executives liable for any misrepresentation of securities issued by their companies. It paved the way for future acts to regulate the stock market.
Federal Trade Commission Act
Created the Federal Trade Commission in 1914 to monitor and investigate firms involved in interstate commerce and to issue “cease and desist” orders when business practices violated free competition. The act was a central part of Wilson’s plan to aggressively regulate business.
The Feminine Mystique
Written by Betty Friedan in 1963. The book was a rallying cry for the women’s liberation movement. It denounced the belief that women should be tied to the home and encouraged women to get involved in activities outside their home and family.
Fifteenth Amendment
Ratified in March 1870. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited the denial of voting rights to any citizen based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
Millard Fillmore
Vice president to Zachary Taylor until Taylor’s death in 1850. Fillmore took over as president and served out the remainder of Taylor’s term, until 1853. He helped to push the Compromise of 1850 through Congress.
Fireside chats
FDR’s public radio broadcasts during his presidency. Through these broadcasts he encouraged confidence and national unity and cultivated a sense of governmental compassion.
First Continental Congress
Convened on September 5, 1774, with all the colonies but Georgia sending delegates chosen by the Committees of Correspondence. The congress endorsed the Suffolk Resolves, voted for an organized boycott of British imports, and sent a petition to King George III that conceded to Parliament the power of regulation of commerce, but stringently objected to Parliament’s arbitrary taxation and unfair judicial system.
First Great Awakening
A time of religious fervor during the 1730s and 1740s. The movement arose in response to the Enlightenment’s increased religious skepticism. Protestant ministers held revivals throughout the English colonies in America, stressing the need for individuals to repent and urging a personal understanding of truth instead of an institutionalized one. The Great Awakening precipitated a split within American Protestantism.
First hundred days
Refers to the first hundred days of FDR’s presidency, from March 4 to June 16, 1933. During this period of dramatic legislative productivity, FDR laid out the programs that constituted the New Deal.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
A prominent author during the Roaring Twenties, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote stories and novels that both glorified and criticized the wild lives of the carefree and prosperous. His most famous works include This Side of Paradise, published in 1920, and The Great Gatsby, published in 1925.
Flapper
A central stereotype of the Jazz Age. The flapper was a flamboyant, liberated, pleasure-seeking young woman seen more in media portrayals than in reality. The archetypal flapper look was tomboyish and fashionable: short bobbed hair; knee-length, fringed skirts; long, draping necklaces; and rolled stockings.
Force Bill
Authorized President Jackson to use arms to collect customs duties in South Carolina as part of the Compromise of 1833.
Gerald Ford
Vice president to Nixon after Spiro Agnew. Ford took over the presidency after the Watergate scandal forced Nixon to resign on August 9, 1974. Ford pardoned Nixon and pushed a conservative domestic policy, but was little more than a caretaker of the White House until his defeat in the election of 1976
Fourteen Points
Woodrow Wilson’s liberal and idealistic peace program. His plan, outlined January 1918, called for unrestricted sea travel, free trade, arms reduction, an end to secret treaties, the territorial reorganization of Europe in favor of self-rule, and most importantly, the creation of “a general association of nations” to protect peace and resolve conflicts.
Fourteenth Amendment
Ratified in July 1868. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed the rights of citizenship to all people, black or white, born or naturalized in the United States. It also provided for the denial of congressional representation for any state that denied suffrage to any of its male citizens.
Francisco Franco
Controlled the rightist forces during the Spanish Civil War. His fascist government ruled Spain from 1939 until 1975.
Benjamin Franklin
Inventor, patriot, and statesman. Franklin served as an ambassador to France during the Revolutionary War, playing a key role in getting France to recognize the United States’ independence. As the oldest delegate to the Constitutional Convention, the other delegates admired his wisdom, and his advice proved crucial in the drafting of the Constitution. Franklin has often been held up as the paradigm of Enlightenment thought in Colonial America because of his fascination with—and contributions to—the fields of science and philosophy.
Freedmen’s Bureau
Established in 1865 and staffed by Union army officers. The Freedmen’s Bureau worked to protect black rights in the South and to provide employment, medical care, and education to Southern blacks.
Freedom ride
A 1961 program, led by the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in which black and white members of the two organizations rode through the South on public buses to protest illegal segregation in interstate transportation.
Freeport Doctrine
Democrat Stephen A. Douglas’s attempt to reconcile his belief in popular sovereignty with the Dred Scott decision. In the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, Douglas argued that territories could effectively forbid slavery by failing to enact slave codes, even though the Dred Scott decision deprived government of the right to restrict slavery in the territories.
Free-Soil Party
A political party supporting abolition. It was formed from the merger of a northern faction of the Democratic Party, the abolitionist Liberty Party, and antislavery Whigs. The Free-Soilers nominated Martin Van Buren as their candidate for president. The party didn’t win the election, but it did earn 10 percent of the national popular vote—an impressive showing for a third party. The relative success of the Free-Soil Party demonstrated that slavery had become a central issue in national politics.
French and Indian War
Fought in North America from 1754–1763. The war mirrored the Seven Years War in Europe (1756–1763). English colonists and soldiers fought the French and their Native American allies for dominance in North America. England’s eventual victory brought England control of much disputed territory and eliminated the French as a threat to English dominance in the Americas.
Fugitive Slave Act
Passed in 1793 and strengthened as part of the Compromise of 1850. The act allowed Southerners to send posses into Northern soil to retrieve runaway slaves. During the early 1850s, Northerners mounted resistance to the act by aiding escaping slaves and passing personal liberty laws.
Fundamentalism
Emerged in the early 1900s as a reaction to the many scientific and social challenges facing conservative American Protestantism. Protestant fundamentalists insisted upon the divine inspiration and absolute truth of the Bible, and sought to discredit or censure those who questioned the tenets of Protestant faith. Fundamentalism peaked in the 1920s with the anti-evolution movement, culminating in the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Gag rule
Passed by Southerners in Congress in 1836. The gag rule tabled all abolitionist petitions in Congress and thereby prevented antislavery discussions. The gag rule was repealed in 1845, under increased pressure from Northern abolitionists and those concerned with the rule’s restriction of the right to petition.
William Lloyd Garrison
Founder of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. Garrison was the most famous white abolitionist of the 1830s. Known as a radical, he pushed for equal legal rights for blacks and encouraged Christians to abstain from all aspects of politics, including voting, in protest against the nation’s corrupt and prejudicial political system.
Marcus Garvey
A powerful African American leader during the 1920s. Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and advocated a mass migration of African Americans back to Africa. Garvey was convicted of fraud in 1923 and deported to Jamaica in 1927. While the movement won a substantial following, the UNIA collapsed without Garvey’s leadership.
Gettysburg Address
Lincoln’s famous “Four score and seven years ago” speech. Delivered on November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a cemetery for casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln’s speech recast the war as a historic test of the ability of a democracy to survive.
Gibbons v. Ogden
1824 Supreme Court case involving state versus federal licensing rights for passenger ships between New York and New Jersey. A devoted Federalist, Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the states could not interfere with Congress’s right to regulate interstate commerce. He interpreted “commerce” broadly to include all business, not just the exchange of goods.
Samuel Gompers
The founding leader of the American Federation of Labor. Under Gompers, the AFL rarely went on strike, and instead took a more pragmatic approach based on negotiating for gradual concessions.
“Good Neighbor” policy
FDR’s policy toward Latin America, initialized in 1933. He pledged that no nation, not even the U.S., had the right to interfere in the affairs of any other nation.
Mikhail Gorbachev
The last Soviet political leader. Gorbachev become general secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the USSR in 1988. He helped ease tension between the U.S. and the USSR—work that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. He oversaw the fall of the Soviet Union and resigned as president on December 25, 1991.
Gospel of Success
Justification for the growing gap between rich and poor during the Industrial Revolution. The “Gospel” centered on the claim that anyone could become wealthy with enough hard work and determination. Writers like Horatio Alger incorporated this ideology into their work.
Grange
The Patrons of Husbandry, known as “the Grange.” Formed in 1867 as a support system for struggling western farmers, the Grange offered farmers education and fellowship, and provided a forum for homesteaders to share advice and emotional support at biweekly social functions. The Grange also represented farmers’ needs in dealings with big business and the federal government.
Ulysses S. Grant
Commanding general of western Union forces for much of the war, and for all Union forces during the last year of the war. Grant later became the nation’s eighteenth president, serving from 1869 to 1877 and presiding over the decline of Reconstruction. His administration was marred by corruption.
Great Debate
An eight-month discussion in Congress over Henry Clay’s proposed compromise to admit California as a free state, allow the remainder of the Mexican cession (Utah and New Mexico territories) to be decided by popular sovereignty, and strengthen the Fugitive Slave Act. Clay’s solution was passed as separate bills, which together came to be known as the Compromise of 1850.
Great Society
Lyndon B. Johnson’s program for domestic policy. The Great Society aimed to achieve racial equality, end poverty, and improve health-care. Johnson pushed a number of Great Society laws through Congress early in his presidency, but the Great Society failed to materialize fully, as the administration turned its attention toward foreign affairs—specifically, Vietnam.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
Passed by the Senate in 1964 following questionable reports of a naval confrontation between North Vietnamese and U.S. forces. The resolution granted President Johnson broad wartime powers without explicitly declaring war.
Gulf War
Began when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990. In January 1991, the U.S. attacked Iraqi troops, supply lines, and bases. In late February, U.S. ground troops launched an attack on Kuwait City, successfully driving out Hussein’s troops. A total of 148 Americans died in the war, compared to over 100,000 Iraqi deaths.
Alexander Hamilton
The outspoken leader of the Federalists and one of the authors of The Federalist Papers. Hamilton supported the formation of the Constitution and later, as secretary of treasury under Washington, spearheaded the government’s Federalist initiatives, most notably through the creation of the Bank of the United States.
Warren G. Harding
President from 1921 until his death in 1923. Harding ushered in a decade of Republican dominance in the U.S. He accommodated the needs of big business and scaled back government involvement in social programs. After his death, Harding’s administration was found to be rife with corruption.
Harlem Renaissance
The flowering of black culture in New York’s Harlem neighborhood during the 1920s. Black writers and artists produced plays, poetry, and novels that often reflected the unique African American experience in America and in Northern cities in particular.
Harpers Ferry
1859 raid on a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, led by John Brown. Twenty-one men seized a federal arsenal in a failed attempt to incite a slave rebellion. Brown was caught and hanged.
Hartford Convention
A meeting of Federalists near the end of the War of 1812, in which the New England-based party enumerated its complaints against the ruling Republican Party. The Federalists, already losing power steadily, hoped that antiwar sentiment would lead the nation to support their cause and return them to power. Perceived victory in the war, however, turned many against the Federalists, whose actions in Hartford were labeled traitorous and antagonistic to the unity and cooperation of the Union.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Early American fiction writer. His most famous work, The Scarlet Letter (1850), explored the moral dilemmas of adultery in a Puritan community.
Hayes-Tilden Compromise
Resolved the conflict arising from the election of 1876, in which Democrat Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote but Republican leaders contested some states’ election returns, thereby ensuring Republican Rutherford B. Hayes’s victory. To minimize protest from the Democratic Party, Republicans agreed to end Reconstruction by removing federal troops from the last two occupied states in the South.
Haymarket riot
1886 rally in Chicago to protest police brutality against striking workers. The rally became violent after someone threw a bomb, killing seven policemen and prompting a police backlash. After the riot, leaders of the Knights of Labor were arrested and imprisoned, and public support for the union cause plunged.
William Randolph Hearst
A prominant publisher who bought the New York Journal in the late 1890s. His paper, along with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, engaged in yellow journalism, printing sensational reports of Spanish activities in Cuba in order to win a circulation war between the two newspapers
Helsinki Accords
Signed in 1975 by Gerald Ford, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, and the leaders of thirty-one other states in a promise to solidify European boundaries, respect human rights, and permit freedom of travel.
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Ernest Hemingway
One of the best-known writers of the 1920s’ “lost generation.” An expatriate, Hemingway produced a number of famous works during the 1920s, including The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929). A member of the Popular Front, Hemingway fought in the Spanish Civil War, depicted in his 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. His work, like that of many of his contemporaries, reflects the disillusionment and despair of the time.
Hiroshima
A Japanese city that was site of the first-ever atomic bomb attack. On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing 70,000 of its citizens instantaneously and injuring another 70,000, many of whom later died of radiation poisoning.
Alger Hiss
Longtime government employee who, in 1948, was accused by Time editor Whitaker Chambers of spying for the USSR. After a series of highly publicized hearings and trials, Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950 and sentenced to five years imprisonment, emboldening conservatives to redouble their efforts to root out subversives within the government.
Adolph Hitler
Became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Hitler led the nation to economic recovery by mobilizing industry for the purposes of war. His fascist Nazi regime attempted to secure global hegemony for Germany, undertaking measures of mass genocide and ushering Europe into World War II.
Holocaust
The Nazis’ systematic persecution and extermination of European Jews from 1933 until 1945. More than 6 million Jews died in concentration camps throughout Germany and Nazi-occupied territory.
Homestead Act
Passed in 1862. The Homestead Act encouraged settlement of the West by offering 160 acres of land to anyone who would pay $10, live on the land for five years, and cultivate and improve it.
Homestead strike
1892 Pittsburgh steel workers’ strike against the Carnegie Steel Company to protest a pay cut and 70-hour workweek. Ten workers were killed in a riot that began when 300 “scabs” from New York (Pinkerton detectives) arrived to break the strike. Federal troops were called in to suppress the violence.
Herbert Hoover
President from 1929 to 1933, during the stock market collapse and the height of the Great Depression. A conservative, Hoover made only limited efforts to control the economic and social problems of the nation—efforts that were generally considered to be too little, too late. He did, however, set the stage for many future New Deal measures.
J. Edgar Hoover
Head of the FBI from 1924 until his death in 1972. He aggressively investigated suspected subversives during the Cold War.
Hooverville
Communities of destitute Americans living in shanties and makeshift shacks. Hoovervilles sprung up around most major U.S. cities in the early 1930s, providing a stark reminder of Herbert Hoover’s failure to alleviate the poverty of the Great Depression.
House of Burgesses
Established in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The House of Burgesses is considered to be the New World’s first representative government. It consisted of 22 representatives from 11 districts of colonists.
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
During McCarthyism, provided the congressional forum in which many hearings about suspected communists in the government took place.
Henry Hudson
An English explorer sponsored by the Dutch East India Company. In 1609, Hudson sailed up the river than now bears his name, nearly reaching present-day Albany. His explorations gave the Dutch territorial claims to the Hudson Bay region.
Hull House
An early settlement house founded in Chicago in 1889 by Jane Addams. Hull House provided education, health care, and employment aid to poor families.
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein was the leader of Iraq. In August 1990, he led an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, sparking the Gulf War.
Eighteenth Amendment
Ratified on January 16, 1919. The Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the manufacture, transport, or sale of alcoholic beverages. It was sporadically enforced, violated by many, and repealed in 1933.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
A Republican, served as president from 1953 to 1961. Along with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower sought to lessen Cold War tensions. One notable success in this realm was the ending of the Korean War. Before serving as president, Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II, coordinating Operation Overlord and the American drive from Paris to Berlin.
Eisenhower Doctrine
Announced in 1957. The doctrine committed the U.S. to preventing Communist aggression in the Middle East, with force if necessary.
Elastic clause
Article I, Section VIII of the Constitution. The article states that Congress shall have the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution . . . powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States.” This clause was a point of much contention between those who favored a loose reading of the Constitution and those who favored a strict reading.
Emancipation Proclamation
Issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. The proclamation freed all slaves under rebel (Confederate) control. It did not affect the slave states within the Union or Confederate states under Union control, and therefore in practice freed few slaves. Nevertheless, the proclamation gave the war a new objective—emancipation—and crystallized the tension between the Union and the Confederacy.
Embargo Act
Endorsed by Thomas Jefferson and passed in December 1807. The act ended all importation and exportation in response to the Chesapeake-Leopard affair. Jefferson hoped the embargo would put enough economic pressure on the French and British that the two nations would be forced to recognize U.S. neutrality rights in exchange for U.S. goods. The embargo, however, hurt the American economy more than it did Britain’s or France’s, leading to the act’s repeal in March 1809.
Emergency Banking Relief Act
The first act of FDR’s New Deal. The Emergency Banking Relief Act provided a framework for the many banks that had closed early in 1933 to reopen with federal support.
Emergency Committee for Unemployment
Herbert Hoover’s principal effort to lower the unemployment rate. Established in October 1930, the committee sought to organize unemployment relief by voluntary agencies, but Hoover granted the committee only limited resources with which to work.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A leader of the transcendentalist movement and an advocate of American literary nationalism. He published a number of influential essays during the 1830s and 1840s, including “Nature” and “Self Reliance.”
Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871
Sought to protect black suffrage in the wake of Klu Klux Klan activities
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Enlightenment
An intellectual movement that spread through Europe and America in the eighteenth century. Also known as the Age of Reason, Enlightenment ideals championed the principles of rationalism and logic. Their skepticism toward beliefs that could not be proved by science or clear logic led to Deism.
Era of Good Feelings
The period between the end of the War of 1812 and the rise of Andrew Jackson in 1828, during which the United States was governed under a one-party system that promoted nationalism and cooperation. At the center was James Monroe’s presidency, as Monroe strove to avoid political conflict and strengthen American nationalism and pride.
Leif Ericson
The alleged leader of a group of Vikings who sailed to the eastern coast of Canada and attempted, unsuccessfully, to colonize the area around the year 1000—nearly 500 years before Columbus arrived in the Americas.
Erie Canal
America’s first major canal project. Begun in 1817 and finished in 1825, the Erie Canal stretched from Albany to Buffalo, New York, measuring a total of 363 miles.
Espionage Act
Passed in 1917, the act enumerated a list of antiwar activities warranting fines or imprisonment.
Eugenics
Founded on the premise that the “perfect” human society could be achieved through genetic tinkering. Popularized during the Progressive era, writers on eugenics often used this theory to justify a supremacist white Protestant ideology, which advocated the elimination of what they considered undesirable racial elements from American society.
Fair Deal
Truman’s attempt to extend the policies of the New Deal. Beginning in 1949, the Fair Deal included measures to increase the minimum wage, expand Social Security, and construct low-income housing.
Fair Labor Standards Act
Passed in 1938. The Fair Labor act provided for a minimum wage and restricted shipment of goods produced with child labor, and symbolized the FDR administration’s commitment to working with with labor forces.
Farmers’ Alliance
Replaced the Grange as a support group for the nation’s farmers during the 1880s. The alliances were politically active in the Midwest and South, and were central to the founding of the Populist Party.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Created as a part of the first New Deal to increase faith in the banking system by insuring individual deposits with federal funds
Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA)
One of the New Deal’s most comprehensive measures, passed May 1933. FERA appropriated $500 million to support state and local treasuries that had run dry.
Federal Home Loan Bank Act
A late attempt by President Hoover to address the problems of destitute Americans. The 1932 Federal Home Loan Bank Act established a series of banks to make loans to other banks, building and loan associations, and insurance agencies in an attempt to prevent foreclosures on private homes.
Federalists
Led by Alexander Hamilton. Federalists believed in a strong central government at the expense of state powers and were staunch supporters of the Constitution during the ratification process. They remained a political force throughout the first thirty or so years of the United States. The Federalists entered into decline after the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency and disappeared as a political party after the the Hartford Convention, at the close of the War of 1812.
The Federalist Papers
A series of newspaper articles written by John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers enumerated the arguments in favor of the Constitution and refuted the arguments of the Anti-federalists.
Federal Reserve Act
Woodrow Wilson’s most notable legislative success. The 1913 Federal Reserve Act reorganized the American banking system by creating a network of twelve Federal Reserve banks authorized to distribute currency.
Federal Reserve Board (“The Fed”)
Responsible for making monetary policy in the United States. The Fed operates mainly through the mechanisms of buying and selling government bonds and adjusting the interest rates. During the Great Depression, the Fed was given greater power and freedom to directly regulate the economy.
Federal Securities Act
Passed in 1914. The act made corporate executives liable for any misrepresentation of securities issued by their companies. It paved the way for future acts to regulate the stock market.
Federal Trade Commission Act
Created the Federal Trade Commission in 1914 to monitor and investigate firms involved in interstate commerce and to issue “cease and desist” orders when business practices violated free competition. The act was a central part of Wilson’s plan to aggressively regulate business.
The Feminine Mystique
Written by Betty Friedan in 1963. The book was a rallying cry for the women’s liberation movement. It denounced the belief that women should be tied to the home and encouraged women to get involved in activities outside their home and family.
Fifteenth Amendment
Ratified in March 1870. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited the denial of voting rights to any citizen based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
Millard Fillmore
Vice president to Zachary Taylor until Taylor’s death in 1850. Fillmore took over as president and served out the remainder of Taylor’s term, until 1853. He helped to push the Compromise of 1850 through Congress.
Fireside chats
FDR’s public radio broadcasts during his presidency. Through these broadcasts he encouraged confidence and national unity and cultivated a sense of governmental compassion.
First Continental Congress
Convened on September 5, 1774, with all the colonies but Georgia sending delegates chosen by the Committees of Correspondence. The congress endorsed the Suffolk Resolves, voted for an organized boycott of British imports, and sent a petition to King George III that conceded to Parliament the power of regulation of commerce, but stringently objected to Parliament’s arbitrary taxation and unfair judicial system.
First Great Awakening
A time of religious fervor during the 1730s and 1740s. The movement arose in response to the Enlightenment’s increased religious skepticism. Protestant ministers held revivals throughout the English colonies in America, stressing the need for individuals to repent and urging a personal understanding of truth instead of an institutionalized one. The Great Awakening precipitated a split within American Protestantism.
First hundred days
Refers to the first hundred days of FDR’s presidency, from March 4 to June 16, 1933. During this period of dramatic legislative productivity, FDR laid out the programs that constituted the New Deal.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
A prominent author during the Roaring Twenties, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote stories and novels that both glorified and criticized the wild lives of the carefree and prosperous. His most famous works include This Side of Paradise, published in 1920, and The Great Gatsby, published in 1925.
Flapper
A central stereotype of the Jazz Age. The flapper was a flamboyant, liberated, pleasure-seeking young woman seen more in media portrayals than in reality. The archetypal flapper look was tomboyish and fashionable: short bobbed hair; knee-length, fringed skirts; long, draping necklaces; and rolled stockings.
Force Bill
Authorized President Jackson to use arms to collect customs duties in South Carolina as part of the Compromise of 1833.
Gerald Ford
Vice president to Nixon after Spiro Agnew. Ford took over the presidency after the Watergate scandal forced Nixon to resign on August 9, 1974. Ford pardoned Nixon and pushed a conservative domestic policy, but was little more than a caretaker of the White House until his defeat in the election of 1976.
Fourteen Points
Woodrow Wilson’s liberal and idealistic peace program. His plan, outlined January 1918, called for unrestricted sea travel, free trade, arms reduction, an end to secret treaties, the territorial reorganization of Europe in favor of self-rule, and most importantly, the creation of “a general association of nations” to protect peace and resolve conflicts.
Fourteenth Amendment
Ratified in July 1868. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed the rights of citizenship to all people, black or white, born or naturalized in the United States. It also provided for the denial of congressional representation for any state that denied suffrage to any of its male citizens.
Francisco Franco
Controlled the rightist forces during the Spanish Civil War. His fascist government ruled Spain from 1939 until 1975.
Benjamin Franklin
Inventor, patriot, and statesman. Franklin served as an ambassador to France during the Revolutionary War, playing a key role in getting France to recognize the United States’ independence. As the oldest delegate to the Constitutional Convention, the other delegates admired his wisdom, and his advice proved crucial in the drafting of the Constitution. Franklin has often been held up as the paradigm of Enlightenment thought in Colonial America because of his fascination with—and contributions to—the fields of science and philosophy.
Freedmen’s Bureau
Established in 1865 and staffed by Union army officers. The Freedmen’s Bureau worked to protect black rights in the South and to provide employment, medical care, and education to Southern blacks.
Freedom ride
A 1961 program, led by the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in which black and white members of the two organizations rode through the South on public buses to protest illegal segregation in interstate transportation.
Freeport Doctrine
Democrat Stephen A. Douglas’s attempt to reconcile his belief in popular sovereignty with the Dred Scott decision. In the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, Douglas argued that territories could effectively forbid slavery by failing to enact slave codes, even though the Dred Scott decision deprived government of the right to restrict slavery in the territories.
Free-Soil Party
A political party supporting abolition. It was formed from the merger of a northern faction of the Democratic Party, the abolitionist Liberty Party, and antislavery Whigs. The Free-Soilers nominated Martin Van Buren as their candidate for president. The party didn’t win the election, but it did earn 10 percent of the national popular vote—an impressive showing for a third party. The relative success of the Free-Soil Party demonstrated that slavery had become a central issue in national politics.
French and Indian War
Fought in North America from 1754–1763. The war mirrored the Seven Years War in Europe (1756–1763). English colonists and soldiers fought the French and their Native American allies for dominance in North America. England’s eventual victory brought England control of much disputed territory and eliminated the French as a threat to English dominance in the Americas.
Fugitive Slave Act
Passed in 1793 and strengthened as part of the Compromise of 1850. The act allowed Southerners to send posses into Northern soil to retrieve runaway slaves. During the early 1850s, Northerners mounted resistance to the act by aiding escaping slaves and passing personal liberty laws.
Fundamentalism
Emerged in the early 1900s as a reaction to the many scientific and social challenges facing conservative American Protestantism. Protestant fundamentalists insisted upon the divine inspiration and absolute truth of the Bible, and sought to discredit or censure those who questioned the tenets of Protestant faith. Fundamentalism peaked in the 1920s with the anti-evolution movement, culminating in the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Gag rule
Passed by Southerners in Congress in 1836. The gag rule tabled all abolitionist petitions in Congress and thereby prevented antislavery discussions. The gag rule was repealed in 1845, under increased pressure from Northern abolitionists and those concerned with the rule’s restriction of the right to petition.
William Lloyd Garrison
Founder of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. Garrison was the most famous white abolitionist of the 1830s. Known as a radical, he pushed for equal legal rights for blacks and encouraged Christians to abstain from all aspects of politics, including voting, in protest against the nation’s corrupt and prejudicial political system.
Marcus Garvey
A powerful African American leader during the 1920s. Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and advocated a mass migration of African Americans back to Africa. Garvey was convicted of fraud in 1923 and deported to Jamaica in 1927. While the movement won a substantial following, the UNIA collapsed without Garvey’s leadership.
Gettysburg Address
Lincoln’s famous “Four score and seven years ago” speech. Delivered on November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a cemetery for casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln’s speech recast the war as a historic test of the ability of a democracy to survive.
Gibbons v. Ogden
1824 Supreme Court case involving state versus federal licensing rights for passenger ships between New York and New Jersey. A devoted Federalist, Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the states could not interfere with Congress’s right to regulate interstate commerce. He interpreted “commerce” broadly to include all business, not just the exchange of goods.
Samuel Gompers
The founding leader of the American Federation of Labor. Under Gompers, the AFL rarely went on strike, and instead took a more pragmatic approach based on negotiating for gradual concessions.
“Good Neighbor” policy
FDR’s policy toward Latin America, initialized in 1933. He pledged that no nation, not even the U.S., had the right to interfere in the affairs of any other nation.
Mikhail Gorbachev
The last Soviet political leader. Gorbachev become general secretary of the Communist Party in 1985 and president of the USSR in 1988. He helped ease tension between the U.S. and the USSR—work that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. He oversaw the fall of the Soviet Union and resigned as president on December 25, 1991.
Gospel of Success
Justification for the growing gap between rich and poor during the Industrial Revolution. The “Gospel” centered on the claim that anyone could become wealthy with enough hard work and determination. Writers like Horatio Alger incorporated this ideology into their work.
Grange
The Patrons of Husbandry, known as “the Grange.” Formed in 1867 as a support system for struggling western farmers, the Grange offered farmers education and fellowship, and provided a forum for homesteaders to share advice and emotional support at biweekly social functions. The Grange also represented farmers’ needs in dealings with big business and the federal government.
Ulysses S. Grant
Commanding general of western Union forces for much of the war, and for all Union forces during the last year of the war. Grant later became the nation’s eighteenth president, serving from 1869 to 1877 and presiding over the decline of Reconstruction. His administration was marred by corruption.
Great Debate
An eight-month discussion in Congress over Henry Clay’s proposed compromise to admit California as a free state, allow the remainder of the Mexican cession (Utah and New Mexico territories) to be decided by popular sovereignty, and strengthen the Fugitive Slave Act. Clay’s solution was passed as separate bills, which together came to be known as the Compromise of 1850.
Great Society
Lyndon B. Johnson’s program for domestic policy. The Great Society aimed to achieve racial equality, end poverty, and improve health-care. Johnson pushed a number of Great Society laws through Congress early in his presidency, but the Great Society failed to materialize fully, as the administration turned its attention toward foreign affairs—specifically, Vietnam.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
Passed by the Senate in 1964 following questionable reports of a naval confrontation between North Vietnamese and U.S. forces. The resolution granted President Johnson broad wartime powers without explicitly declaring war.
Gulf War
Began when Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990. In January 1991, the U.S. attacked Iraqi troops, supply lines, and bases. In late February, U.S. ground troops launched an attack on Kuwait City, successfully driving out Hussein’s troops. A total of 148 Americans died in the war, compared to over 100,000 Iraqi deaths.
Alexander Hamilton
The outspoken leader of the Federalists and one of the authors of The Federalist Papers. Hamilton supported the formation of the Constitution and later, as secretary of treasury under Washington, spearheaded the government’s Federalist initiatives, most notably through the creation of the Bank of the United States.
Warren G. Harding
President from 1921 until his death in 1923. Harding ushered in a decade of Republican dominance in the U.S. He accommodated the needs of big business and scaled back government involvement in social programs. After his death, Harding’s administration was found to be rife with corruption.
Harlem Renaissance
The flowering of black culture in New York’s Harlem neighborhood during the 1920s. Black writers and artists produced plays, poetry, and novels that often reflected the unique African American experience in America and in Northern cities in particular.
Harpers Ferry
1859 raid on a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, led by John Brown. Twenty-one men seized a federal arsenal in a failed attempt to incite a slave rebellion. Brown was caught and hanged.
Hartford Convention
A meeting of Federalists near the end of the War of 1812, in which the New England-based party enumerated its complaints against the ruling Republican Party. The Federalists, already losing power steadily, hoped that antiwar sentiment would lead the nation to support their cause and return them to power. Perceived victory in the war, however, turned many against the Federalists, whose actions in Hartford were labeled traitorous and antagonistic to the unity and cooperation of the Union.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Early American fiction writer. His most famous work, The Scarlet Letter (1850), explored the moral dilemmas of adultery in a Puritan community.
Hayes-Tilden Compromise
Resolved the conflict arising from the election of 1876, in which Democrat Samuel J. Tilden won the popular vote but Republican leaders contested some states’ election returns, thereby ensuring Republican Rutherford B. Hayes’s victory. To minimize protest from the Democratic Party, Republicans agreed to end Reconstruction by removing federal troops from the last two occupied states in the South.
Haymarket riot
1886 rally in Chicago to protest police brutality against striking workers. The rally became violent after someone threw a bomb, killing seven policemen and prompting a police backlash. After the riot, leaders of the Knights of Labor were arrested and imprisoned, and public support for the union cause plunged.
William Randolph Hearst
A prominant publisher who bought the New York Journal in the late 1890s. His paper, along with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, engaged in yellow journalism, printing sensational reports of Spanish activities in Cuba in order to win a circulation war between the two newspapers.
Helsinki Accords
Signed in 1975 by Gerald Ford, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, and the leaders of thirty-one other states in a promise to solidify European boundaries, respect human rights, and permit freedom of travel.
Ernest Hemingway
One of the best-known writers of the 1920s’ “lost generation.” An expatriate, Hemingway produced a number of famous works during the 1920s, including The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929). A member of the Popular Front, Hemingway fought in the Spanish Civil War, depicted in his 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. His work, like that of many of his contemporaries, reflects the disillusionment and despair of the time.
Hiroshima
A Japanese city that was site of the first-ever atomic bomb attack. On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing 70,000 of its citizens instantaneously and injuring another 70,000, many of whom later died of radiation poisoning.
Alger Hiss
Longtime government employee who, in 1948, was accused by Time editor Whitaker Chambers of spying for the USSR. After a series of highly publicized hearings and trials, Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950 and sentenced to five years imprisonment, emboldening conservatives to redouble their efforts to root out subversives within the government.
Adolph Hitler
Became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Hitler led the nation to economic recovery by mobilizing industry for the purposes of war. His fascist Nazi regime attempted to secure global hegemony for Germany, undertaking measures of mass genocide and ushering Europe into World War II.
Holocaust
The Nazis’ systematic persecution and extermination of European Jews from 1933 until 1945. More than 6 million Jews died in concentration camps throughout Germany and Nazi-occupied territory.
Homestead Act
Passed in 1862. The Homestead Act encouraged settlement of the West by offering 160 acres of land to anyone who would pay $10, live on the land for five years, and cultivate and improve it.
Homestead strike
1892 Pittsburgh steel workers’ strike against the Carnegie Steel Company to protest a pay cut and 70-hour workweek. Ten workers were killed in a riot that began when 300 “scabs” from New York (Pinkerton detectives) arrived to break the strike. Federal troops were called in to suppress the violence.
Herbert Hoover
President from 1929 to 1933, during the stock market collapse and the height of the Great Depression. A conservative, Hoover made only limited efforts to control the economic and social problems of the nation—efforts that were generally considered to be too little, too late. He did, however, set the stage for many future New Deal measures.
J. Edgar Hoover
Head of the FBI from 1924 until his death in 1972. He aggressively investigated suspected subversives during the Cold War.
Hooverville
Communities of destitute Americans living in shanties and makeshift shacks. Hoovervilles sprung up around most major U.S. cities in the early 1930s, providing a stark reminder of Herbert Hoover’s failure to alleviate the poverty of the Great Depression.
House of Burgesses
Established in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The House of Burgesses is considered to be the New World’s first representative government. It consisted of 22 representatives from 11 districts of colonists.
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
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During McCarthyism, provided the congressional forum in which many hearings about suspected communists in the government took place
Henry Hudson
An English explorer sponsored by the Dutch East India Company. In 1609, Hudson sailed up the river than now bears his name, nearly reaching present-day Albany. His explorations gave the Dutch territorial claims to the Hudson Bay region.
Hull House
An early settlement house founded in Chicago in 1889 by Jane Addams. Hull House provided education, health care, and employment aid to poor families.
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein was the leader of Iraq. In August 1990, he led an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, sparking the Gulf War.
Anne Hutchinson
A dissenter in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who caused a schism in the Puritan community. Hutchinson’s faction lost out in a power struggle for the governorship and she was expelled from the colony in 1637. She traveled southward with a number of her followers, establishing the settlement of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
Impressment
During the 1800s, a British policy whereby the British boarded American ships in search of British naval deserters, whom they would force (impress) back into service. Often naturalized or native-born Americans were also seized, provoking outrage in America. Impressment was one of a string of British violations against U.S. neutrality rights that helped spark the War of 1812.
Indentured servitude
The system by which adult males—usually English—bound themselves to labor on plantations for a fixed number of years in exchange for transport to the colonies and eventual freedom. Some immigrants came willingly, while others were manipulated and kidnapped; often, the indentured servents were never able to secure their release due to debt. The first Africans brought to the colonies were also indentured servants, but in the seventeenth century, as massive, labor-intensive tobacco plantations spread throughout the South, slavery became the preferred means of labor.
Independent Treasury Bill
Signed into law in 1840. The bill established an independent treasury to hold public funds in reserve and prevent excessive lending by state banks, thus guarding against inflation. The Independent Treasury Bill was a response to the panic of 1837, which many blamed on the risky and excessive lending practices of state banks.
Indian Removal Act
Granted Jackson the funds and authority to move Native Americans to assigned lands in the West. Passed in 1830, the Indian Removal Act primarily targeted the Cherokee tribe in Georgia as part of the federal government’s broad plan to claim Native American lands inside the boundaries of the states.
Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies)
A radical labor organization founded in 1905. The IWW advocated revolution and massive societal reorganization. The organization faded away around 1920.
Inflation
The increase of available paper money and bank credit, leading to higher prices and less-valuable currency.
Interstate Commerce Act
Passed in 1887. The Interstate Commerce Act forbade price discrimination and other monopolistic practices of the railroads.
Intolerable Acts
A combination of the four Coercive Acts—meant to punish the colonists after the 1773 Boston Tea Party—and the unrelated Quebec Act. Passed in 1774, the Intolerable Acts were seen as the blueprints for a British plan to deny the Americans representative government and were the impetus for the convening of the First Continental Congress.
Iran-Contra affair
A series of investigations in 1987 exposed evidence that the U.S. had been selling arms to the anti-American government in Iran and using the profits from these sales to secretly and illegally finance the Contras in Nicaragua. (The Contras were a rebel group fighting against the communist-linked Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.) Oliver North, a member of the National Security Council, had organized the operation from within the White House. There was no proof that Ronald Reagan was aware of North’s actions.
Iron curtain
A term coined by Winston Churchill for the area of Eastern Europe controlled indirectly by the USSR, usually through puppet governments. This area was cut off from noncommunist Europe.
Andrew Jackson
President from 1829 to 1837. A strong-willed and determined leader, Jackson opposed federal support for internal improvements and the Second Bank of the United States and fought for states’ rights and Native American removal. His opponents nicknamed him “King Andrew I” because of his extensive and unprecedented use of the veto power, which they deemed to be tyrannical and against the spirit of democracy. Before becoming president, Jackson gained popularity as a general who launched aggressive military campaigns against Native Americans and led the U.S. to a stunning victory over British forces at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.
John Jay
One of the authors of The Federalist Papers. Jay was instrumental in the drafting of the Constitution.
Jay’s Treaty
1795 treaty which provided for the removal of British troops from American land and opened up limited trade with the British West Indies, but said nothing about British seizure of American ships or the impressment of American sailors. While the American public criticized the treaty for favoring Britain, it was arguably the greatest diplomatic feat of the Washington administration, since it preserved peace with Britain.
Jazz Age
Nickname for the 1920s due to the development and flourishing of jazz music, as well as the highly publicized (if exaggerated) accounts of wild parties, drinking, and dancing
Thomas Jefferson
Third president of the United States (1801–1809). Jefferson resigned as George Washington’s first secretary of state in opposition to Alexander Hamilton’s continued efforts to centralize power in the national government. Along with James Madison, Jefferson took up the cause of the strict constructionists and the Republican Party, advocating the limitation of federal power. He organized the national government according to Republican ideals, doubled the size of the nation through the Louisiana Purchase, and struggled to maintain American neutrality in foreign affairs
Andrew Johnson
President from 1865 (after Lincoln’s assassination) until 1869. Johnson’s plan for Reconstruction in the South was considered too lenient by the Radical Republicans in Congress; as a result, Congress fought his initiatives and undertook a more retributive Reconstruction plan. Johnson’s relationship with Congress declined steadily during his presidency, culminating in impeachment proceedings in 1868. He was ultimately acquitted.
Lyndon B. Johnson
John F. Kennedy’s vice president until Kennedy’s assassination made him president in 1963. He stayed in office until 1968, when he declined to seek reelection. Johnson is best known for his attempts to enact his Great Society program at home and his decision to commit troops to Vietnam.
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Created by FDR in February 1942 to oversee the rapidly growing military. The Joint Chiefs included representatives from the army, navy, and air force.
Joint-stock companies
Formed in the absence of support from the British Crown, joint-stock companies accrued funding for colonization through the sale of public stock. These companies dominated English colonization throughout the seventeenth century.
Judicial review
Established by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison (1803). The principle of judicial review held that the Supreme Court could declare an act of Congress unconstitutional.
Judiciary Act of 1789
Created the American court system. The act established a federal district court in each state and gave the Supreme Court final jurisdiction in all legal matters.
Kansas-Nebraska Act
Passed in 1854. The act divided the Nebraska territory into two parts, Kansas and Nebraska, and left the issue of slavery in the territories to be decided by popular sovereignty. It nullified the prohibition of slavery above the 36º30’ latitude established by the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
John F. Kennedy
Democrat, served as president from 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. A young and charismatic leader, Kennedy cultivated a glorified image in the eyes of the American public. His primary achievements came in the realm of international relations, most notably the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
King George III
King of England from 1760–1820. Colonists were torn between loyalty to the king and resistance to acts carried out in his name. After George III rejected the Olive Branch Petition, the colonists considered him a tyrant.
Martin Luther King Jr.
A prominent Civil Rights leader who rose to fame during the 1956 Montgomery bus boycott. Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, King tirelessly led the struggle for integration and equality through nonviolent means. He was assassinated in 1968.
Henry Kissinger
National security adviser and, later, secretary of state under President Nixon. A major proponent of détente, Kissinger often met secretly with communist leaders in efforts to improve East-West cooperation.
Kitchen Cabinet
Jackson’s presidential cabinet, dubbed so because the members were his close political allies and many had questionable political skill. Instead of serving as a policy forum to help shape the president’s agenda, as previous cabinets had done, Jackson’s cabinet assumed a mostly passively supportive role.
Knights of Labor
One of the first major labor organizations in the U.S., founded in 1869. The Knights fell into decline after one of several leaders was executed for killing a policeman in the Haymarket riot of1886.
Know-Nothing Party
The American Party. The Know-Nothings took the place of the Whig Party between 1854 and 1856, after the latter’s demise. They focused on issues of antislavery, anti-Catholicism, nativism, and temperance. The party collapsed during the latter half of the 1850s, in part because of the rise of the Republican Party.
Korean War
On June 24, 1950, troops from the Soviet-supported People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, known as North Korea, invaded the Republic of Korea, known as South Korea. Without asking for a declaration of war, Truman committed U.S. troops as part of a United Nations “police action.” The Korean War was conducted by predominantly American forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Limited fighting continued until June 1953, when an armistice restored the prewar border between North and South Korea.
Korematsu v. U.S.
In this 1944 case, the Supreme Court upheld FDR’s 1942 executive order for the evacuation of all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast into internment camps. The camps operated until March 1946.
Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
A southern vigilante group founded in 1866 in Tennessee. By 1868, the Klan operated in all Southern states. The group often conducted raids and lynchings to intimidate black voters and Republican officials. The Klan faded away in the late nineteenth century, but resurfaced in 1915. Capitalizing on middle-class Protestant dismay at changing social and economic conditions in America, the Klan took root throughout the South as well as in Western and Midwestern cities, and was dominated by white native-born Protestants. Membership and influence declined again in 1925, when corruption among Klan leaders was exposed.
Laissez-faire
A “hands-off” approach to the economy, allowing markets to regulate themselves. “Laissez-faire” means “let do” in French.
League of Nations
Woodrow Wilson’s idea for a collective security body meant to provide a forum for the resolution of conflict and to prevent future world wars. The League’s covenant was written into the Treaty of Versailles. The U.S. Senate, however, voted against joining the League, making it a weak international force.
Robert E. Lee
The commanding general of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War. Lee was a brilliant strategist, commander, and fighter. Many historians believe that the Confederacy held out as long as it did only because of Lee’s skill and the loyalty of his troops.
Lend-Lease Act
Passed in March 1941. The act allowed the president to lend or lease supplies to any nation deemed “vital to the defense of the United States,” such as Britain, and was a key move in support of the Allied cause before the U.S. formally entered World War II. Lend-lease was extended to Russia in November 1941 after Germany invaded Russia.
Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer
A series of twelve letters published by John Dickinson. The letters denounced the Townshend Duties by demonstrating that many of the arguments employed against the Stamp Act were valid against the Townshend Duties as well. The letters inspired anti-British sentiment throughout the colonies.
Lewis and Clark
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The two were commissioned by Thomas Jefferson to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. They traveled 3,000 miles between 1804 and 1806, collecting scientific data and specimens and charting the territory to the west of the Mississippi. Their journey spurred national interest in exploration and settlement of the West.
Liberal Republicans
Formed in 1872 when a faction split from the ranks of the Republican Party in opposition to President Ulysses S. Grant. Many Liberals argued that the task of Reconstruction was complete and should be put aside. Their defection served a major blow to the Republican Party and shattered what congressional enthusiasm remained for Reconstruction.
The Liberator
An influential abolitionist newspaper published by radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison from 1831 to 1865. The Liberator expressed controversial opinions, such as the belief that blacks deserved legal rights equal to those of whites.
Limited Test-Ban Treaty
Agreed to in July 1963 by JFK and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The treaty prohibited undersea and atmospheric testing of nuclear weaponry and was characteristic of a period of lessening tensions—known as détente—between the world’s two superpowers.
Lincoln-Douglas Debates
A series of seven debates held from August 21 and October 15, 1858 between senatorial candidates, the debates pitted Abraham Lincoln, a free-soil Republican, against Stephen A. Douglas, a Democrat in favor of popular sovereignty. The debates were hard-fought, highly attended, and ultimately inconclusive, but they crystallized the dominant positions of the North in regard to slavery and propelled Lincoln into the national arena.
Henry Cabot Lodge
Leader of a group of senators known as “reservationists” during the 1919 debate over the League of Nations. Lodge and his followers supported U.S. membership in the League of Nations only if major revisions were made to the covenant (part of the Treaty of Versailles). President Wilson, however, refused to compromise, and the treaty was rejected. The U.S. never joined the League of Nations.
Huey Long
A Senator from Louisiana and one of the most vocal critics of FDR’s New Deal. Long’s liberal “Share Our Wealth” program proposed a 100 percent tax on all income over $1 million, and large redistribution measures. His passionate orations won him as many followers as enemies: he was assassinated in September of 1935 at the capitol building in Baton Rouge.
Loose constructionists
The core of the Federalist Pary, led by Alexander Hamilton. They favored a loose reading of the Constitution—especially of the elastic clause—in order to expand the powers of the central government to include implied constitutional powers, not just enumerated ones.
Lost generation
A small but prominent circle of writers, poets, and intellectuals during the 1920s. Artists like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound grew disillusioned with America’s postwar culture, finding it overly materialistic and spiritually void. Many became expatriates, and their writings often expressed their disgust with America.
Louisiana Purchase
Territory purchased from Napolean by the U.S. in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the nation and opened the West to exploration and settlement. But the new aquisition also caused strife: border disputes with foreign powers as well as congressional debates over the admission of new states from the region (whether the states would be slave-holding or free).
Lusitania
A British vessel sunk by a German U-boat in May 1915, killing more than 120 American citizens. The sinking of the Lusitania prompted President Woodrow Wilson to plan for a military buildup, and encouraged American alliance with Britain and France in opposition to Germany.
Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur was an American general who commanded the United States army in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he oversaw the American occupation of Japan and later led American troops in the Korean War. Though MacArthur pushed for total victory in the Korean War, seeking to conquer all of Korea and perhaps move into China, Harry S. Truman held him back from this aggressive goal. After a month of publicly denouncing the administration’s policy, MacArthur was relieved from duty in April 1951.
Machine politics
The means by which political parties during the Industrial Revolution controlled candidates and voters through networks of loyalty and corruption. In machine politics, party bosses exploited their ability to give away jobs and benefits (patronage) in exchange for votes.
Macon’s Bill No. 2
James Madison’s 1810 ploy to induce either Britain or France to lift trade restrictions. Under the bill, U.S. trade sanctions were lifted with the promise that if one country agreed to free trade with the U.S., sanctions would be reimposed against the other nation.
James Madison
Fourth president of the United States (1809–1817). Madison began his political career as a Federalist, joining forces with Alexander Hamilton during the debate over the Constitution. He was one of the authors of The Federalist Papers and a staunch advocate of strong central government. Madison later became critical of excessive power in central government and left the Federalist Party to join Thomas Jefferson in leading the Republican Party.
Maine
U.S. battleship sunk by an explosion in Havana harbor in February 1898. Though later investigations suggested that an onboard fire had caused the blast, popular rumor was that the Spanish were responsible. The sinking of the Maine, combined with sensationalist news reports of Spanish atrocities, led the American public to push for war against Spain.
Manhattan Project
A secret American scientific initiative to develop the atomic bomb. Scientists worked for almost three years in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and on July 16, 1945 succeeded in detonating the first atomic blast. The bombs produced by the Manhattan Project were subsequently dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
Manifest destiny
The belief of many Americans in the mid-nineteenth century that it was the nation’s destiny and duty to expand and conquer the West. Journalist John L. O’Sullivan first coined the phrase “manifest destiny” in 1845, as he wrote of “our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of our continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty.”
Horace Mann
Appointed secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837. Mann reformed the public school system by increasing state spending on schools, lengthening the school year, dividing the students into grades, and introducing standardized textbooks. Mann set the standard for public school reform throughout the nation.
Mao Zedong
Founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921. In 1949, Mao defeated Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist forces and established the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Marbury v. Madison
In this 1803 case, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional because Congress had overstepped its bounds in granting the Supreme Court the power to issue a writ of mandamus (an ultimatum from the court) to any officer of the United States. This ruling established the principle of judicial review.
March Against Death
In November 1969, 300,000 people marched in a long, circular path through Washington, D.C. for 40 hours straight, each holding a candle and the name of a soldier killed or a village destroyed in Vietnam. The march was a high point in the student antiwar movement and a poignant symbol of antiwar sentiment in the United States.
John Marshall
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 until his death in 1835. Under Marshall’s leadership, the Court became as powerful a federal force as the executive and legislative branches. Marshall’s most notable decision came in the 1803 Marbury v. Madison case, in which he asserted the principle of judicial review. During James Monroe’s presidency, Marshall delivered two rulings that curtailed states’ rights and exposed the latent conflicts in the Era of Good Feelings.
Thurgood Marshall
Attorney who successfully argued the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in front of the Supreme Court in 1954. In 1967, Marshall became the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.
Marshall Plan
A four-year plan (begun in 1948) to provide American aid for the economic reconstruction of Europe. The U.S. government hoped that this plan would prevent further communist expansion by eliminating economic insecurity and political instability in Europe. By 1952, Congress had appropriated some $17 billion for the Marshall Plan, and the Western European economy had largely recovered.
Mayflower
The ship that carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic, from the Netherlands to Plymouth Plantation in 1620, after intially fleeing England.
Lost generation
A small but prominent circle of writers, poets, and intellectuals during the 1920s. Artists like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound grew disillusioned with America’s postwar culture, finding it overly materialistic and spiritually void. Many became expatriates, and their writings often expressed their disgust with America.
Louisiana Purchase
Territory purchased from Napolean by the U.S. in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the nation and opened the West to exploration and settlement. But the new aquisition also caused strife: border disputes with foreign powers as well as congressional debates over the admission of new states from the region (whether the states would be slave-holding or free).
Lusitania
A British vessel sunk by a German U-boat in May 1915, killing more than 120 American citizens. The sinking of the Lusitania prompted President Woodrow Wilson to plan for a military buildup, and encouraged American alliance with Britain and France in opposition to Germany.
Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur was an American general who commanded the United States army in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he oversaw the American occupation of Japan and later led American troops in the Korean War. Though MacArthur pushed for total victory in the Korean War, seeking to conquer all of Korea and perhaps move into China, Harry S. Truman held him back from this aggressive goal. After a month of publicly denouncing the administration’s policy, MacArthur was relieved from duty in April 1951.
Machine politics
The means by which political parties during the Industrial Revolution controlled candidates and voters through networks of loyalty and corruption. In machine politics, party bosses exploited their ability to give away jobs and benefits (patronage) in exchange for votes.
Macon’s Bill No. 2
James Madison’s 1810 ploy to induce either Britain or France to lift trade restrictions. Under the bill, U.S. trade sanctions were lifted with the promise that if one country agreed to free trade with the U.S., sanctions would be reimposed against the other nation.
James Madison
Fourth president of the United States (1809–1817). Madison began his political career as a Federalist, joining forces with Alexander Hamilton during the debate over the Constitution. He was one of the authors of The Federalist Papers and a staunch advocate of strong central government. Madison later became critical of excessive power in central government and left the Federalist Party to join Thomas Jefferson in leading the Republican Party.
Maine
U.S. battleship sunk by an explosion in Havana harbor in February 1898. Though later investigations suggested that an onboard fire had caused the blast, popular rumor was that the Spanish were responsible. The sinking of the Maine, combined with sensationalist news reports of Spanish atrocities, led the American public to push for war against Spain.
Manhattan Project
A secret American scientific initiative to develop the atomic bomb. Scientists worked for almost three years in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and on July 16, 1945 succeeded in detonating the first atomic blast. The bombs produced by the Manhattan Project were subsequently dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
Manifest destiny
The belief of many Americans in the mid-nineteenth century that it was the nation’s destiny and duty to expand and conquer the West. Journalist John L. O’Sullivan first coined the phrase “manifest destiny” in 1845, as he wrote of “our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of our continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty.”
Horace Mann
Appointed secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837. Mann reformed the public school system by increasing state spending on schools, lengthening the school year, dividing the students into grades, and introducing standardized textbooks. Mann set the standard for public school reform throughout the nation.
Mao Zedong
Founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921. In 1949, Mao defeated Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist forces and established the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Marbury v. Madison
In this 1803 case, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional because Congress had overstepped its bounds in granting the Supreme Court the power to issue a writ of mandamus (an ultimatum from the court) to any officer of the United States. This ruling established the principle of judicial review.
March Against Death
In November 1969, 300,000 people marched in a long, circular path through Washington, D.C. for 40 hours straight, each holding a candle and the name of a soldier killed or a village destroyed in Vietnam. The march was a high point in the student antiwar movement and a poignant symbol of antiwar sentiment in the United States.
John Marshall
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 until his death in 1835. Under Marshall’s leadership, the Court became as powerful a federal force as the executive and legislative branches. Marshall’s most notable decision came in the 1803 Marbury v. Madison case, in which he asserted the principle of judicial review. During James Monroe’s presidency, Marshall delivered two rulings that curtailed states’ rights and exposed the latent conflicts in the Era of Good Feelings.
Thurgood Marshall
Attorney who successfully argued the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in front of the Supreme Court in 1954. In 1967, Marshall became the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.
Marshall Plan
A four-year plan (begun in 1948) to provide American aid for the economic reconstruction of Europe. The U.S. government hoped that this plan would prevent further communist expansion by eliminating economic insecurity and political instability in Europe. By 1952, Congress had appropriated some $17 billion for the Marshall Plan, and the Western European economy had largely recovered.
Mayflower
The ship that carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic, from the Netherlands to Plymouth Plantation in 1620, after intially fleeing England.
Mayflower Compact
Often cited as the first example of self-government in the Americas. The Pilgrims, having arrived at a harbor far north of the land that was rightfully theirs, signed the Mayflower Compact to establish a “civil body politic” under the sovereignty of James I.
McCarthyism
The extreme anticommunism in American politics and society during the early 1950s. The term derives from the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who led an intense campaign against alleged subversives during this period.
McCulloch v. Maryland
1896 Supreme Court case that determined states could not tax federal institutions such as the Second Bank of the United States. The ruling asserted that the federal government wielded supreme power in its sphere and that no states could interfere with the exercise of federal powers. The ruling angered many Republicans, who favored states’ rights.
William McKinley
Republican candidate who defeated William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election. A supporter of big business, McKinley pushed for high protective tariffs. Under his leadership, the U.S. became an imperial world power. He was assassinated by an anarchist in 1901.
McKinley Tariff
Raised protective tariffs by nearly 50 percent in 1890, the highest in U.S. history.
Meat Inspection Act
Passed in 1906. The act set federal regulations for meatpacking plants and established a system of federal inspection after the muckrakers’ exposés revealed the unsanitary and hazardous conditions of food processing plants.
Medical Care Act
An element of President Johnson’s 1965 Great Society program. The Medical Care Act created Medicare and Medicaid to provide senior citizens and welfare recipients with health care.
Herman Melville
A prominent American fiction writer in the 1840s and 1850s. His best-known novel is Moby-Dick (1851).
H.L. Mencken
Writer who satirized political leaders and American society in the 1920s. Mencken’s magazine American Mercury served as the journalistic counterpart to the postwar disillusionment of the “lost generation.”
Mercantilism
Theory of trade which stresses that a nation’s economic strength depends on exporting more than it imports. British mercantilism manifested itself in the triangular trade and in a series of laws, such as the Navigation Acts (1651–1673), aimed at fostering British economic dominance.
Mexican War
Tension between the U.S. and Mexico grew after Texas accepted Congress’s offer of admission to the Union despite the Mexican government’s opposition. In 1846, after Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande, the U.S. declared war against Mexico. The U.S. won the war easily. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and granted the U.S. possession of Texas, New Mexico, and California in exchange for $15 million.
Minutemen
The nickname given to local militiamen who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. “Minutemen” were supposedly able to be ready for battle at a minute’s notice.
Missouri Compromise
Resolved the conflict surrounding the admission of Missouri to the Union as either a slave or free state. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 made Missouri a slave state, admitted Maine as a free state, and prohibited slavery in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory.
James Monroe
President from 1817 until 1825. His presidency was at the core of the Era of Good Feelings, characterized by a one-party political system, an upsurge of American nationalism, and Monroe’s own efforts to avoid political controversy and conflict.
Monroe Doctrine
Issued by President Monroe in December 1823. The doctrine asserted that the Americas were no longer open to European colonization or influence, and paved the way for U.S. dominance of the Western Hemisphere.
J.P. Morgan
A Wall Street financier and business leader during the era of industrialization. In 1901, Morgan bought Carnegie Steel and established the world’s first billion-dollar corporation, U. S. Steel Corporation.
Mormonism
The Church of Latter-Day Saints, founded by Joseph Smith in 1831. The church’s core tenets derive from the Book of Mormon, a book of revelation similar to the Bible. Led by Smith, the Mormons moved steadily westward during the early 1830s, seeking to escape religious persecution. After Smith was murdered in 1844, a new leader, Brigham Young, led the Mormons to Utah, where they settled and are still centered today.
Muckrakers
Investigative journalists who worked during the early 1900s to expose the corruption in American industry and politics. Their writings and publications encouraged widespread political and social reform. Important muckrakers include Upton Sinclair, Ida Tarbell, and Lincoln Steffens.
Munich Pact
A 1938 agreement between Britain, France, Italy, and Germany. The Munich Pact permitted Germany to annex the Czech Sudentenland after Hitler declared he would take it by force. Intended to appease Hitler and avoid war, the pact only emboldened him further.
Benito Mussolini
A fascist Italian dictator who rose to power in 1922. Mussolini aligned himself with Hitler, creating Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936. The union of the two fascist forces paved the way for World War II
Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)
U.S. Cold War policy, developed in the 1960s, that acknowledged that both the U.S. and the Soviet Union had enough nuclear weaponry to destroy each other many times over. MAD policy hoped to prevent outright war with the Soviet Union on the premise that any attack would lead to the complete destruction of both powers.
Nagasaki
The site of the second U.S. atomic bomb attack on Japan. Nagasaki was devastated by a nuclear blast on August 9, 1945. The explosion caused 40,000 immediate deaths and 60,000 injuries.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Established in 1909 by a group of African Americans (led byW.E.B. Du Bois) who joined with white reformers. The NAACP called for an end to racial discrimination, attacked Jim Crow laws, and fought to overturn the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson. In the 1920s, it served as a counterpoint to the more radical black rights group, the UNIA, led by Marcus Garvey.
National Conservation Commission
Created in 1909 by Theodore Roosevelt. The National Conservation Commission aimed to achieve more efficient and responsible management of the nation’s resources.
National Defense Act
Passed in June 1916. The National Defense Act called for the buildup of military forces in anticipation of war and was largely a response to German threats to American neutrality.
National Labor Relations Act
Popularly known as the Wagner Act. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 provided a framework for collective bargaining. It granted workers the right to join unions and bargain, and forbade employers from discriminating against unions. The act demonstrated FDR’s support for labor needs and unionization.
National Origins Act
Passed in 1924. The National Origins Act established maximum quotas for immigration into the United States. This law severely restricted immigration from southern and eastern Europe, and excluded Asians entirely.
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Formed in 1966. NOW was a central part of the 1960s women’s liberation movement. The organization lobbied Congress for equal rights, initiated lawsuits, and raised public awareness of women’s issues.
National Recovery Administration (NRA)
Perhaps the most important element of the first New Deal, the NRA established a forum in which business and government officials met to set regulations for fair competition. These regulations bound industry from 1933 until 1935, when the Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional.
National Republican Party
Led by Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams. The National Republicans were one of the two new political parties that emerged in the late 1820s to challenge the dominant Republican Party. The National Republican Party found its core support in the industrial Northeast. During Jackson’s second term in office, the party reconfigured into the Whig Party.
National War Labor Board
Monitored and regulated the efforts of organized labor during World War II. Although the board restricted wage increases, it encouraged the extension of many fringe benefits to American workers.
Navigation Acts
Regulated trade in the colonies (1651–1673) in order to exclusively benefit the British economy. The acts restricted trade between England and the colonies to English or colonial ships; required certain colonial goods to pass through England or Scotland before being exported to foreign nations; provided subsidies for the production of certain raw goods in the colonies; and banned the colonists from competing with the English in large-scale manufacturing.
Neutrality Acts
Passed by Congress between 1935 and 1937. The acts made arms sales to warring countries illegal and forbade American citizens to travel aboard the ships of belligerent nations in an effort to keep the U.S. out of World War II.
New Deal
FDR’s strategy for relief and recovery in the United States during the Great Depression. Most New Deal measures emerged during the first hundred days of FDR’s presidency.
New England Confederation
Formed by New England colonies of Massachusettes, Connecticut, New Haven, and Plymouth in 1643 as a defense against local Native American tribes and the encroaching Dutch. The colonists formed the alliance without the English crown’s authorization.
New freedom
Woodrow Wilson’s approach to foreign relations. Unlike Roosevelt’s “big stick” policies and Taft’s dollar diplomacy, Wilson’s foreign policy denounced imperialism and economic meddling, and focused instead on spreading democracy throughout the world.
New Frontier
John F. Kennedy’s domestic policy. The “New Frontier” focused on reform at home and victory in the Cold War.
New Jersey Plan
Presented at the Constitutional Convention as an alternative to the Virginia Plan. The New Jersey Plan proposed a unicameral Congress with equal representation for each state.
New Look
Eisenhower’s Cold War strategy, preferring deterrence to ground force involvement, and emphasizing the massive retaliatiory potential of a large nuclear stockpile. Eisenhower worked to increase nuclear spending and decrease spending on ground troops.
Nineteenth Amendment
Ratified in August 1920. The Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote.
Richard Nixon
Republican, served as president from 1969 until his resignation on August 9, 1974. Nixon oversaw a moderately conservative domestic program; gradually pulled troops out of Vietnam; and improved relations with the nation’s communist enemies. He resigned from office after being implicated in the Watergate scandal.
Nixon Doctrine
Announced in July 1969 as a corollary to Nixon’s efforts to pull American troops out of Vietnam, the Nixon Doctrine pledged a change in the U.S. role in the Third World from military protector to helpful partner.
Non-Intercourse Act
After the repeal of the Embargo Act, this 1809 law restricted trade with Britain and France only, opening up trade with all other foreign ports.
Oliver North
A member of the National Security Council who was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. In 1987, investigations revealed that North had headed the initiative to secretly and illegally fund the contras in Nicaragua, who fought against an anti-U.S. regime.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Passed by a narrow margin in Congress in November 1993. NAFTA removed trade barriers between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. President Bill Clinton championed this and other efforts to integrate the U.S. into the international economy.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Formed in 1949 to counter the Soviet threat in Eastern Europe. NATO members agreed to be a part of a unified coalition in the event of an attack on one of the nations. Throughout the Cold War, NATO was the primary Western alliance in opposition to communist forces.
Northwest Ordinance
Defined the process by which new states could be admitted into the Union from the Northwest Territory. The ordinance forbade slavery in the territory but allowed citizens to vote on the legality of slavery once statehood had been established.
Nullification Crisis
Like the tariff bills of 1816 and 1824, the Tariff of 1828 hurt the Southern economy while benefiting Northern and Western industries. For this reason, Southerners called it the “Tariff of Abominations.” Vice President John C. Calhoun denounced the tariff as unconstitutional on the grounds that federal laws must benefit all states equally, and urged that states nullify the tariff within their own borders. South Carolina did so in November 1832, punctuating a debate over tariffs and states’ rights that raged within the administration and the entire federal government between 1828 and 1833.
Nuremberg Trials
Trials of Nazi war criminals that began in November 1945. More than 200 defendants were indicted in the thirteen trials. All but thirty-eight of the defendants were convicted of conspiring to wage aggressive war and of mistreating prisoners of war and inhabitants of occupied territories.
Oil embargo
In 1973, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) nations refused to export oil to Western nations. The embargo, in effect until 1974, sparked rapid inflation in the West and had a crippling effect on the U.S. economy. The ensuing economic crisis plagued Gerald Ford’s tenure as president.
Office of Censorship
Created in December 1941. The Office of Censorship examined all letters sent overseas and worked with media firms to control information broadcast to the people in an attempt to limit information leaks during World War II.
Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Established by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1942 to conduct espionage, collect information crucial to strategic planning, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy.
Office of War Information
Employed artists, writers, and advertisers to shape public opinion concerning World War II. The office publicized reasons for U.S. entry into the war, often portraying the enemy Axis powers as barbaric and cruel.
Open Door policy
Developed by Secretary of State John Hay in 1899. The Open Door policy aimed to combat the European spheres of influence that threatened to squeeze American business interests out of Chinese markets. It pressured European powers to open key ports within their spheres of influence to U.S. businessmen.
Operation Overlord
The Allied air, land, and sea assault on occupied France. The operation centered on the “D-Day” invasion on June 6, 1944 in which American, British, and Canadian troops stormed the beaches at Normandy. These Allied forces sustained heavy casualties but eventually took the beach and moved gradually inland.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Head of the Manhattan Project, the secret American operation to develop the atomic bomb.
Thomas Paine
Author of influential pamphlet Common Sense, which exhorted Americans to rise up in opposition to the British government and establish a new type of government based on Enlightenment ideals. Historians have cited the publication of this pamphlet as the event that finally sparked the Revolutionary War. Paine also wrote rational criticisms of religion, most famously in The Age of Reason (1794–1807).
Palmer Raids
A series of raids coordinated by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Throughout 1910, police and federal marshals raided the homes of suspected radicals and the headquarters of radical organizations in thirty-two cities. The Palmer Raids resulted in more than 4,000 arrests, 550 deportations, and uncountable violations of civil rights.
Panama Canal
An articifial waterway built by the U.S. between 1904 and 1914 as part of Roosevelt’s “big stick” diplomacy. The canal stretches across the isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Panama gained full control of the canal in 1999.
Panic of 1819
The start of a two-year depression caused by extensive speculation, the loose lending practices of state banks, a decline in European demand for American staple goods, and mismanagement within the Second Bank of the United States. The panic of 1819 exacerbated social divisions within the United States and is often called the beginning of the end of the Era of Good Feelings.
Panic of 1837
Punctured the economic boom sparked by state banks’ loose lending practices and overspeculation. Contraction of the nation’s credit in 1836 led to widespread debt and unemployment. Martin Van Buren spent most of his time in office attempting to stabilize the economy and ameliorate the depression.
Panic of 1873
Due to overexpansion and overspeculation, the nation’s largest bank collapsed, followed by the collapse of many smaller banks, business firms, and the stock market. The panic of 1873 precipitated a five-year national depression.
Panic of 1893
Began when the railroad industry faltered during the early 1890s, sparking the collapse of many related industries. Confidence in the U.S. dollar plunged. The depression lasted roughly four years.
Paris Accords
Signed on January 27, 1973. The Paris Accords settled the terms of U.S. withdrawal from Indochina, ending the war between the U.S. and North Vietnam but leaving the conflict between North and South Vietnam unresolved.
Rosa Parks
African American seamstress who sparked the Montgomery bus boycott by refusing to give up her bus seat for a white man in December 1955.
Peace Corps
Created by JFK in 1961. The Corps sends volunteer teachers, health workers, and engineers on two-year aid programs to Third World countries.
Pearl Harbor
An American naval base in Hawaii that was bombed by Japan on December 7, 1941. The surprise attack resulted in the loss of more than 2,400 American lives, as well as many aircraft and sea vessels. The following day the U.S. declared war against Japan, officially entering World War II.
Pendleton Act
Passed in 1883. The Pendleton Act established a civil service exam for many public posts and created hiring systems based on merit rather than on patronage. The act aimed to eliminate corrupt hiring practices.
William Penn
English Quaker who founded Pennsylvania in 1682 after receiving a charter from King Charles II. Penn launched the colony as a “holy experiment” based on religious tolerance.
Ross Perot
A third-party candidate in the 1992 presidential election who won 19 percent of the popular vote. Perot’s strong showing demonstrated voter disaffection with the two major parties.
Personal liberty laws
Passed by nine northern states to counteract the Fugitive Slave Act. These state laws guaranteed all alleged fugitives the right to a lawyer and a trial by jury, and prohibited state jails from holding alleged fugitives.
Franklin Pierce
Democrat, served as president of the United States from 1853 to 1857. Pierce was the last president until 1932 to win the popular and electoral vote in both the North and South. Pierce was little more than a caretaker of the White House in the years leading up to the Civil War.
Pilgrims
A group of English Separatists who sought refuge from the Church of England in the Netherlands. In 1620, they sailed to the New World on the Mayflower and established the colony of Plymouth Plantation.
Platt Amendment
Passed in 1901. The Platt Amendment authorized American withdrawal from Cuba only on the following conditions: Cuba must make no treaty with a foreign power limiting its independence; the U.S. reserved the right to intervene in Cuba when it saw fit; and the U.S. could maintain a naval base at Guantánamo Bay.
Plessy v. Ferguson
The 1896 Supreme Court decision ruled that segregation was not illegal as long as facilities for each race were equal. This “separate but equal” doctrine served to justify segregation throughout the early and mid-1900s. In 1954, the Supreme Court overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.
Edgar Allan Poe
A fiction writer who gained popularity in the 1840s for his horrific tales. He published many famous stories, including “The Raven” (1844) and “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846).
James K. Polk
President from 1845 to 1849. A firm believer in expansion, Polk led the U.S. into the Mexican War in 1846, after which the U.S. acquired Texas, New Mexico, and California. Many Northerners saw Polk as an agent of Southern will aiming to expand the nation in order to extend slavery into the West.
Popular Front
A political group active in aiding the leftist forces in the Spanish Civil War. Prominent American intellectuals and writers, including Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, joined the group.
Popular sovereignty
First espoused by Democratic presidential candidate Lewis Cass in 1848 and eventually championed by Stephen A. Douglas. The principle of popular sovereignty stated that Congress should not interfere with the issue of slavery in new territories. Instead each territory, when seeking admission into the Union, would draw up a constitution declaring slavery legal or illegal as it saw fit. Popular sovereignty became the core of the Democratic position on slavery’s expansion during the 1850s.
Populist Party
Formed in 1892 through farmers’ alliances in the Midwest and South with poor laborers. The Populist Party agitated for various reforms that supported farmers and the poor, including “free silver” (the unlimited coinage of silver), which would ease debt payments. In 1896, the Democrats appropriated parts of the Populist platform and nominated William Jennings Bryan for president. Bryan lost the election despite the joint backing of the Democrats and Populists.
Potsdam Conference
Held July 17–August 2, 1945. At the conference Truman, Churchill, and Stalin met to coordinate the division of Germany into occupation zones and plan for the Nuremberg Trials. Potsdam was the final meeting between the Big Three powers under the pretense of a wartime alliance.
Elvis Presley
Most famous rock star of the 1950s. His sexually charged dance moves and unique sound played a major role in defining the growing genre of rock-and-roll, which became prominent during the 1950s.
Proclamation of American Neutrality
In the early 1790s, Britain and France went to war with each other. The American public was torn over which nation to support: the South largely backed France, while the North favored the British. Issued in 1793, the Proclamation was George Washington’s response to the public division, and it stated that the U.S. would maintain neutral during the war.
Public Works Administration (PWA)
Created by the National Industrial Recovery Act as part of the New Deal. The PWA spent over $4 million on projects designed to employ the jobless and reinvigorate the economy.
Joseph Pulitzer
Owner of the New York World, the main competitor of William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. Though the World was the (slightly) more reputable of the two papers, both engaged in yellow journalism, exaggerating facts and sensationalizing stories about the Spanish-American War.
Pullman strike
1894 strike against the Chicago-based Pullman Palace Car Company after wages were slashed and union representatives were fired. Led by Eugene Debs, the boycott completely crippled railroad traffic in Chicago. The courts ruled that the strikers had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and issued an injunction against them. When the strikers refused to obey the injunction, Debs was arrested and federal troops marched in to crush the strike. In the ensuing frenzy, thirteen died and fifty-three were injured.
Puppet governments
Governments set up and supported by outside powers. Puppet governments were established by both the U.S. and the USSR. during the Cold War. The two superpowers hand-picked the leaders of developing nations in order to maintain influence over those countries.
Pure Food and Drug Act
Passed in 1906 in response to questionable packaging and labeling practices of food and drug industries. The act prohibited the sale of adulterated or inaccurately labeled foods and medicines.
Puritans
A radical Protestant group that sought to “purify” the Church of England from within. Persecuted for their beliefs, many Puritans fled to the New World in the early 1600s, where they established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in present-day Boston. The Puritans placed heavy emphasis on family values and strict morality.
Quasi-war
The series of French and American naval conflicts occurring between 1798 and 1800
Radical Republicans
A minority group that emerged in Congress during the Civil War. Led by Congressman Thaddeus Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner, the Radicals demanded a stringent Reconstruction policy in order to punish the Southern states for seceding, and called for extended civil rights in the South. Often aligned with moderate Republicans during the early years of Reconstruction, Radical Republicans were a dedicated and powerful force in Congress until the mid-1870s.
Railroad strike
The first nationwide strike in the U.S. In 1877, workers on nearly every rail line from New York to San Francisco struck to protest wage cuts and firing. The riots provoked widespread violence and resulted in more than 100 deaths, prompting President Hayes to send in federal troops to subdue the angry mobs and restore order.
Rationalism
A school of thought heavily influenced by the Enlightenment. Rationalists criticized most traditional religion as irrational and unfounded. Proponents of rationalism held that religious beliefs should not simply be accepted but should instead be acquired through investigation and reflection.
Ronald Reagan
Republican, president from 1981 to 1989. His presidency revolved around two goals: economic prosperity and victory in the Cold War. Reagan initiated major tax cuts and a massive military buildup.
Reaganomics
Ronald Reagan’s economic philosophy which held that a that a capitalist system free from taxation and government involvement would be most productive. Reagan believed that the prosperity of a rich upper class would “trickle down” to the poor.
Reconstruction Act of 1867
The central law passed during Reconstruction. The Reconstruction Act invalidated state governments established under Lincoln’s and Johnson’s plans, provided for military occupation of the former Confederacy, and bound state governments to vote for black suffrage
Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC)
Created by President Hoover in 1932 to make loans to large economic institutions such as railroads and banks. The RFC loaned over $2 billion in 1932, but that amount was too little, too late in the fight against the Great Depression. The RFC continued operating under FDR.
Redemption
A political movement to overturn Reconstruction in the South. Redemption shifted the power in state governments from Republican to Democratic hands, undid Republican legislature, and reinstated the oppression of freedmen.
Republican Party
Arose as the opposition party to the dominant Federalists during the Washington administration, Republicans (sometimes known as Democratic-Republicans) aimed to limit the power of central government in favor of states’ rights and individual liberty. A long period of Republican dominance began with Thomas Jefferson’s election in 1800 and ended with Democrat Andrew Jackson’s election in 1828. A new Republican Party was formed in the mid-1850s after the collapse of the Whig Party. As a sectional party concentrated in the North, the Republican Party focused primarily on promoting the issue of free soil. In 1860, the party successfully elected Abraham Lincoln president, and dominated politics during the Civil War and early Reconstruction. Because of its origin as an antislavery party, the Republican Party held the black vote for over sixty years, until FDR’s New Deal policies caused black voters align with the Democrats.
Revenue Act of 1942
Raised taxes to help finance the war effort. The act hiked rates for the wealthiest Americans and included new middle- and lower-income tax brackets, vastly increasing the number of Americans responsible for paying taxes.
Revolutionary War
Began with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The American colonists defeated the British and won independence.
Robber barons
Wealthy entrepreneurs and businessmen during the Industrial Age. Notable robber barons include Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.
Second Bank of the United States
Chartered in 1816 under President Madison. The Bank served as a depository for federal funds and a creditor for state banks. It became unpopular after being blamed for the panic of 1819, and suspicion of corruption and mismanagement haunted it until its charter expired in 1836. Jackson fought against the bank throughout his presidency, proclaiming it to be an unconstitutional extension of the federal government and a tool that rich capitalists used to corrupt American society.
Second Continental Congress
Convened in May 1775 after fighting broke out in Massachusetts between the British and the colonists. Most delegates opposed the drastic move toward complete independence from Britain. In an effort to reach a reconciliation, the Congress sent the Olive Branch Petition to King George III, offering peace under the conditions that there be a cease-fire in Boston, that the Coercive Acts (part of the Intolerable Acts) be repealed, and that negotiations between the colonists and Britain begin immediately. When King George III rejected the petition, the Congress created the Continental Army and elected George Washington its commander in chief.
Second Great Awakening
Emerged in the early 1800s as part of a backlash against America’s growing secularism and rationalism. A wave of religious revivals spread throughout the nation, giving rise to a number of new (largely Protestant) denominations during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Revivalist ministers often stressed self-determination and individual empowerment.
Second New Deal
Created in 1935 after FDR’s first New Deal began to crumble in the face of opposition and antagonistic Supreme Court rulings. The Second New Deal was characterized by greater government spending and increased numbers of work relief programs. The most lasting measure of the Second New Deal was the creation of the Social Security system.
Sedition Amendment
Passed in 1918 as an amendment to the Espionage Act. The Sedition Amendment provided for the punishment of anyone using “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” in regard to the U.S. government, flag, or military.
Selective Service Act
Instituted a draft to build up U.S. military forces. Passed in May 1917, the act required all men aged 21 to 30 to register for military duty.
Selective Service and Training Act
Called for the nation’s first peacetime draft. The act was passed in September 1940.
Seneca Falls Convention
Organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848. The Seneca Falls Convention issued a Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, declaring that all men and women were created equal.
Separatists
English Protestants who would not offer allegiance in any form to the Church of England. One Separatist group, the Pilgrims, founded Plymouth Plantation and went on to found other settlements in New England. Other notable Separatist groups included the Quakers and Baptists.
Seventeenth Amendment
Ratified in 1913. The Seventeenth Amendment provided for the direct election of U.S. senators rather than their selection by state legislatures
Sexual revolution
Refers to the easing of sexual taboos in some segments of society during the 1920s. Female sexuality and fashion were celebrated, divorce laws were relaxed in many states, and casual dating became more common.
Sharecropping system
Replaced the plantation system after the Civil War as the primary method of agricultural production in the South. Sharecropping consisted of plantations, subdivided into small farms, that were rented to freedmen for leases paid in the form of a share (usually half) of the crop produced. The system gave freedmen a measure of independence but also ensured that whites maintained control of the land.
Shays’s Rebellion
In August 1786, western Massachusetts farmers, led by Daniel Shays, violently tried to shut down three county courthouses in order to prevent foreclosure proceedings. The rebellion was easily put down, but it alerted many government officials to the weaknesses of the nation under the Articles of Confederation.
Sherman Antitrust Act
Passed in 1890 with the intention of breaking up business monopolies. The act outlawed “every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy in the restraint of trade.” The Sherman Antitrust Act was largely used to break up union strikes in the 1890s. It was not until the early 1900s that the government launched an aggressive antitrust campaign.
Sherman’s March to the Sea
During the Civil War, Union general William T. Sherman led his forces on a march from Atlanta to Savannah and then to Richmond. Sherman brought the South “to its knees” by ordering large-scale destruction.
Shoot-on-sight order
Issued in 1941 in response to German submarine attacks on American ships in the Atlantic ocean. The order authorized naval patrols to fire on any Axis ships found between the U.S. and Iceland.
Silent majority
A term coined by Richard Nixon during the 1968 presidential campaign. According to Nixon, he represented the “silent majority”—Americans tired of chaos, student protests, and civil rights agitation and eager for a conservative federal government.
Silent Spring
Written by Rachel Carson and published in 1962. Silent Spring exposed the environmental hazards of the pesticide DDT. Carson’s book helped spur an increase in environmental awareness and concern among the American people.
Upton Sinclair
A famous muckraker who published The Jungle in 1906. Sinclair’s novel exposed the unsanitary conditions in several meatpacking plants. It and other exposés led to the passage of laws designed to ensure the safety of foods and medicines.
Sixteenth Amendment
Ratified in 1913. The Sixteenth Amendment allowed the federal government to collect a direct income tax. Shortly thereafter, Congress instituted a graduated income tax with an upper tax rate of 7 percent.
Smith Act
Passed in 1940. The act made it illegal to speak of, or advocate, overthrowing the U.S. government. During the presidential campaign of 1948, Truman demonstrated his aggressive stance against communism by prosecuting eleven leaders of the Communist Party under the Smith Act
John Smith
Saved the Jamestown colony from collapse in 1608, its first year of existence. Smith’s initiatives improved sanitation, hygiene, and organized work gangs to gather food and build shelters, thereby dramatically lowering the mortality rates among Jamestown colonists.
Smith-Connolly War Labor Disputes Act
Passed in 1930. The act limited the right to strike in key industries and authorized the president to intervene in any strike, eroding the generally amiable relationship between the government and organized labor during World War II.
Smoot-Hawley Tariff
One of Herbert Hoover’s early efforts to protect the nation’s farmers following the onset of the Great Depression. Unfortunately, the tariff raised rates to an all-time high, hurting farmers more than it helped them. Ninety-four percent of the imports taxed were agricultural imports.
Social Darwinism
Darwin’s theories of evolution and survival of the fittest as applied to human societies. Andrew Carnegie and others cited social Darwinist theories to justify the widening gap between the rich and the poor during the era of industrialization.
Social Security
Established by the Social Security Act of August 1935. Social Security provides benefits to the elderly and disabled. These benefits are subsidized by income tax withholdings.
Sons of Liberty
A group of colonists who led opposition to the Stamp Act
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Founded in 1957 by Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent clergymen. The SCLC fought against segregation using nonviolent means.
Spanish-American War
Broke out in 1898 over U.S. concerns for the Cuban independence movement. The U.S. decisively won the war, gaining the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, and securing independence for Cuba. The victory also marked the entrance of the United States as a powerful force onto the world stage.
Speakeasies
Hidden bars during the Prohibition Era that offered live jazz music and hard liquor. Speakeasies were often run by organized crime rings.
Specie Circular
A 1836 executive order issued by President Jackson in an attempt to stabilize the economy, which had been dramatically expanding since the early 1830s due to state banks’ excessive lending practices and over-speculation. The Specie Circular required that all land payments be made in gold and silver rather than in paper money or credit. It precipitated an economic depression known as the panic of 1837.
Spheres of influence
A group of nations or territories in the unofficial economic, political, and social orbit of a greater power. NATO countries were in the U.S. sphere of influence, while the Communist countries of the Warsaw Pact were in the USSR’s sphere of influence. The term is also used to describe European and Russian influence in China at the end of the nineteenth century, when certain countries had exclusive trade and development rights in key Chinese ports and regions.
Spoils system
Provided for the removal and replacement of high-ranking officials from the previous president’s term with loyal members of the winning party. Andrew Jackson was one of the first presidents to use the spoils system extensively, claiming it was necessary to liberty. Based on the adage “to the victor go the spoils.”
Sputnik
The first artificial satellite to orbit the earth, launched by the USSR on October 4, 1957. The launch prompted the space race between the U.S. and USSR—Americans were jealous of Soviet technological skill and afraid that the same rockets that launched Sputnik could be used to deliver nuclear warheads anywhere on the globe.
Square Deal
The name Theodore Roosevelt gave to his social policies, especially his intended relationships with capital and labor. Roosevelt wanted to treat everyone fairly, and, in particular, eliminate government favors to big business.
Joseph Stalin
Dictator of the Soviet Union from 1928 until 1953. Stalin coordinated Soviet involvement in World War II, intitially cooperating with U.S. forces. The relationship between the USSR and the U.S. soured during World War II, eventually leading to the Cold War.
Stamp Act
Issued by England in 1765. The Stamp Act required colonial Americans to buy special watermarked paper for newspapers and all legal documents. Violators faced juryless trials in vice-admiralty courts, as under the 1764 Sugar Act. The Stamp Act provoked the first organized response to British impositions.
Stamp Act Congress
Representatives of nine colonial assemblies met in New York City in October 1765 in anger over the Stamp Act. The colonies agreed that Parliament could not tax anyone outside of Great Britain and could not deny anyone a fair trial, both of which had been dictates of the Stamp Act. The meeting marked a new level of colonial political organization.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
A prominent advocate of women’s rights. Stanton organized the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention with Lucretia Mott.
John Steinbeck
Major American author in the 1930s. Steinbeck’s novels depict simple, rural lives. His most famous work is The Grapes of Wrath (1939).
Thaddeus Stevens
The leader of the Radical Republicans in Congress. Thaddeus Stevens was a gifted orator and an outspoken legislator devoted to stringent and punitive Reconstruction. Stevens worked toward social and political equality for Southern blacks.
Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT)
Signed in May 1972 by President Nixon. SALT I limited each of the superpowers to 200 antiballistic missiles and set quotas for intercontinental and submarine missiles.
Strict constructionists
Favored a strict reading of the Constitution, especially of the “elastic clause,” in order to limit the powers of the central government. Led by Thomas Jefferson, strict constructionists comprised the ideological core of the Republican Party.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
Created in 1962. SDS united college students throughout the country in a network committed to achieving racial equality, alleviating poverty, and ending the Vietnam War.
Suez Canal
North-south waterway in Egypt that connects the Mediterranean and the Red Seas. In 1956, the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser tried to nationalize the canal, which had been owned by British and French interests. In response, Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt. The U.S., United Nations, and USSR condemned the intervention and pressured the forces to withdraw in November 1956.
Suffolk Resolves
Declared that the colonies need not obey the 1773 Coercive Acts, since they infringed upon basic liberties. The Suffolk Resolves were endorsed by the First Continental Congress.
Sugar Act
1764 British law which lowered the duty on foreign-produced molasses as an attempt to discourage colonial smuggling. The Sugar Act further stipulated that Americans could export many commodities—including lumber, iron, skins, and whalebone—to foreign countries only if the goods passed through British ports first. The terms of the act and its methods of enforcement outraged many colonists.
Charles Sumner
The leading Radical Republican senator throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction. Sumner argued ardently for civil rights for blacks. He later led the defection of the Liberal Republicans from the Republican Party.
Sussex Pledge
Issued in 1916 by Germany after the U.S. threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Germany following a German U-boat attack against the French ship Sussex, which carried U.S. civilians. Germany pledged not to attack merchant ships without warning, temporarily easing the diplomatic tension between the U.S. and Germany.
William Howard Taft
President from 1909 to 1913. Though handpicked by Roosevelt, he was not as enthusiastic about progressive reform, and soon allied himself with the conservative wing of the Republican Party by raising tariffs. In doing so, he offended many Progressive Republicans, including Roosevelt, and precipitated a split in the Republican Party.
Taft-Hartley Act
The centerpiece of a congressional effort to restrict union activity. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 banned certain union practices and allowed the president to call for an eighty-day cooling off period to delay strikes thought to pose risks to national safety. Truman vetoed the measure, and though his veto was overridden, his actions roused the support of organized labor, a group crucial to his election victory in 1948.
Tallmadge Amendment
1819 amendment to the bill for Missouri’s admission to the Union. Proposed by Representative Tallmadge, the amendment sought to prohibit the further introduction of slaves into Missouri and would have mandated the emancipation of slaves’ children. The proposal was blocked by the Senate, but it sparked intense congressional debate over the balance of slave and free states. In 1821, Congress reached a compromise for Missouri’s admission known as the Missouri Compromise.
Roger B. Taney
Chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1836 to 1864. In support of slavery laws, he delivered the majority opinion on Dred Scott v. Sanford.
Tariff of Abominations
Name given by Southern politicians to the 1828 tariff because it seriously hurt the South’s economy while benefiting Northern and Western industrial interests. Resistance to the tariff in South Carolina led to the Nullification Crisis.
Zachary Taylor
President from 1849 until his death in 1850. Taylor, a Whig, advocated popular sovereignty and in 1849 encouraged California to apply for statehood as a free state, thereby igniting the controversy that led to the Compromise of 1850.
Tea Act
Passed in 1773. The Tea Act eliminated import tariffs on tea entering England, and allowed the British East India Company to sell directly to consumers rather than through merchants. This lowered the price of British tea to below that of smuggled tea, which the British hoped would end the boycott. The British government hoped to use revenue from the Tea Act to pay the salaries of royal governors in the colonies, a plan that outraged many colonists and prompted the Boston Tea Party.
Teapot Dome scandal
Occurred when President Harding’s secretary of the interior, Albert B. Fall, secretly leased government oil reserves to two businessmen in exchange for a $400,000 payment. The scandal was exposed after Harding’s death in 1923, and came to symbolize government corruption.
Tecumseh
A Shawnee chief who tried to unite Native American tribes in Ohio and Indiana to thwart white settlement. His forces were defeated in the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe. Tecumseh later allied with the British during the War of 1812.
Tehran Conference
The first major meeting between the Big Three leaders. Held from November 28 to December 1, 1943, Churchill, FDR, and Stalin planned the 1944 assault on Vichy France and agreed to divide Germany into zones of occupation after the war.
Ten percent plan
Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction in the South following the Civil War. The plan was more lenient than many members of Congress, especially the Radical Republicans, wanted—Southern states would be readmitted to the Union once 10 percent of the state’s voting population took an oath of loyalty to the Union and the states established new non-Confederate governments. Congress proposed its own, more punitive, Reconstruction plan with the 1864 Wade-Davis Bill.
Tenements
Narrow, four- or five-story buildings with few windows and limited electricity and plumbing. Housing mostly poor ethnic minorities and immigrants, tenements were common during the Industrial Age due to a dramatic increase in the urban poor population.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
Part of FDR’s New Deal. The TVA worked to develop energy production sites and conserve resources in the Tennessee Valley. It pumped money into the economy and completed a number of major projects, but eventually faced heavy criticism from environmentalists, advocates of energy conservation, and opponents of nuclear power.
Tet Offensive
A general offensive launched throughout South Vietnam by the Vietcong and North Vietnamese on January 31, 1968, the first day of the Tet, or Vietnamese New Year. Although the forces did not succeed in capturing the cities, they did cause widespread devastation, killing many thousands of American troops. The month-long attack led the American public to believe that victory in Vietnam was unattainable.
Thirteenth Amendment
Ratified December 6, 1865. The Thirteenth Amendment prohibited slavery in the United States.
Three-fifths clause
During the framing of the Constitution, Southern delegates argued that slaves should count toward representative seats, while the delegates of Northern states argued that to count slaves as members of the population would grant an unfair advantage to the Southern states in Congress. The result of this debate was the adoption of the three-fifths clause, which allowed three-fifths of all slaves to be counted as people.
Henry David Thoreau
A prominent transcendentalist writer. Two of his most famous writings are Civil Disobedience (1849) and Walden (1854). Thoreau advocated living life according to one’s conscience, removed from materialism and repressive social codes.
Tiananmen Square
On June 3 and 4, 1989, China’s communist army brutally crushed a pro-democracy protest in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China significantly soured as a result of the attack.
To Secure These Rights
A report issued in 1957 by Truman’s Presidential Commitee on Civil Rights. The report, titled To Secure These Rights, called for the elimination of segregation.
Tories
Colonists who disagreed with the move for independence and did not support the Revolution.
Townshend Duties
A popular name for the Revenue Act of 1767, which taxed glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea entering the colonies. The colonists resented that the act was clearly designed to raise revenue exclusively for England rather than to regulate trade in a manner favorable to the entire British Empire.
Trail of Tears
Despite the Supreme Court decision in Worcester v. Georgia, federal troops forced bands of Cherokee Indians to move west of the Mississippi between 1835 and 1838. Their journey, in which 2,000–4,000 of the 16,000 Cherokee died, became known as the Trail of Tears.
Transcendentalism
A spiritual movement that arose in the 1830s as a challenge to rationalism. Transcendentalists aimed to achieve an inner, emotional understanding of God rather than a rational, institutionalized one. They believed concepts such as absolute truth and freedom were accessible through intuition and sudden insight. Among the more prominent transcendentalists were the writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
Transcontinental railroad
On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads joined their tracks at Promontory Point, Utah. The railroad dramatically facilitated western settlement, shortening to a single week a coast-to-coast journey that had once taken six to eight months by wagon.
Transcontinental Treaty
Also known as the Adams-Onís Treaty. The Transcontinental Treaty was signed in 1819 between the U.S. and Spain. By the terms of the treaty, Spain ceded eastern Florida to the U.S., renounced all claims to western Florida, and agreed to a southern border of the U.S. west of the Mississippi extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Treaty of Ghent
Signed on Christmas Eve in 1815. The Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812 and returned relations between the U.S. and Britain to the way things were before the war.
Treaty of Greenville
Signed by 12 Native American tribes after their defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The Treaty of Greenville cleared the Ohio territory of tribes and opened it up to U.S. settlement.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Ended the Mexican War in 1848. The treaty granted the U.S. control of Texas, New Mexico, and California. In return, the U.S. assumed all monetary claims of U.S. citizens against the Mexican government and paid Mexico $15 million.
Treaty of Paris (1763)
Ended the Seven Years War in Europe and the parallel French and Indian War in North America. Under the treaty, Britain acquired all of Canada and almost all of the modern United States east of the Mississippi.
Treaty of Paris (1783)
Signed in September 1783 and ratified by Congress in January 1784. The 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War and granted the United States its independence. It further granted the U.S. all land east of the Mississippi River, and contained clauses that bound Congress to urge state legislatures to compensate loyalists for property damage incurred during the war, and to allow British creditors to collect debts accrued before the war. The Treaty of Paris opened the door to future legislative and economic disputes.
Treaty of San Lorenzo
Signed with Spain in 1795. The Treaty of San Lorenzo granted the U.S. unrestricted access to the Mississippi River and removed Spanish troops from American land.
Treaty of Tordesillas
Signed by Queen Isabella of Spain and King John II of Portugal in 1494. The treaty divided all future discoveries in the New World between their respective nations. This soon proved unworkable because of the flood of expeditions to the New World and the proliferation of different countries’ claims to territory.
Treaty of Versailles
Signed in June 1919 at the end of World War I. President Woodrow Wilson had hoped for a generous peace settlement to promote democracy, peace, and liberalism throughout war-torn Europe instead of simply punishing the Central Powers. The treaty proved more vindictive against Germany than Wilson would have liked. It punished the Germans severely, forcing them to assume all blame for the war and to pay massive reparations. Other elements of the treaty included demilitarization of the west bank of the Rhine, the creation of new nations to grant autonomy to oppressed geographic and ethnic groups, and the formation of the League of Nations.
Triangular trade
A name for the trade routes that linked England, its colonies in North America, the West Indies, and Africa. At each port, ships were unloaded of goods from another port along the trade route, and then re-loaded with goods particular to that site. New England rum was shipped to Africa and traded for slaves, who were brought to the West Indies and traded for sugar and molasses, which went back to New England.
Tripartite Pact
Signed in September 1940 by Germany, Italy, and Japan. These nations comprised the Axis powers of World War II.
Harry S. Truman
Succeeded FDR as president after FDR’s death in April 1945. Truman served until 1953. Truman ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and he proved instrumental in committing the U.S. to action against the threat of Soviet aggression in Europe during the Cold War. At home, Truman attempted to extend the New Deal policies of his predecessor in what he called the Fair Deal.
Truman Doctrine
In March 1947, Truman proclaimed before Congress that the U.S. would support people anywhere in the world facing “attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” The Truman Doctrine committed the U.S. to a role of global policeman.
Trust
A conglomerate of businesses that tends to reduce market competition. During the Industrial Age, many entrepreneurs consolidated their businesses into trusts in order to gain control of the market and amass great profit, often at the expense of poor workers and consumers.
Harriet Tubman
A former slave who helped establish the Underground Railroad, a network of safehouses and escorts throughout the North to help escaped slaves to freedom.
Mark Twain
A leading literary figure during the Industrial Age. Twain’s most famous books include The Gilded Age (1873), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884).
John Tyler
Became president of the United States in 1841, when William Henry Harrison died after one month in office.
U-boat
German submarines in World War I. German U-boat attacks against French and British passenger ships carrying American citizens provoked outrage among the American public, strengthening calls for the U.S. to join the war against the Central Powers.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Written by Harriet Beecher Stow and published in 1852. Uncle Tom’s Cabin portrayed the evils of the institution of slavery. The novel sold 1.2 million copies in two years and reached millions more through dramatic adaptations. Uncle Tom’s Cabin aroused sympathy for runaway slaves among all classes of Northerners and hardened many against the South’s insistence upon continuing slavery.
Underground Railroad
A network of safe houses and escorts established by Northern abolitionists to foil enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. The Underground Railroad helped escaped slaves reach freedom in the North and in Canada.
Underwood Tariff
Pushed through Congress by President Wilson in 1913. The Underwood Tariff reduced average tariff duties by almost 15 percent, and established a graduated income tax to cover the lost tariff revenue.
Union
A general term for the United States during the Civil War. “Union” also referred to the Northern army.
United Nations
A group of 51 countries founded the United Nations on October 24, 1945. Its central mission is to preserve peace and global stability through international cooperation and collective security. Today, the UN claims around 191 countries as members.
United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)
Brought from Jamaica to the U.S. in 1916 by Marcus Garvey. The UNIA urged economic cooperation among African Americans.
Unrestricted submarine warfare
The German U-boat policy in which submarines attacked any ship—military, merchant, or civilian—without warning. After a period in which Germany practiced limited submarine warfare as promised by the Sussex Pledge, the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare in January 1917 pushed the U.S. even closer to entering World War I.
Utopian communities
Small, experimental communities that sprang up in the U.S. beginning in the late 1820s. In these communities, reformers attempted to build perfect societies and present models for other communities to emulate. Most of these communities collapsed by the late 1840s.
Martin Van Buren
President from 1837 to 1841. Beset by the panic of 1837 and unable to win over Jackson’s opposition, the Whigs, Van Buren lost his bid for reelection in 1840.
Vietcong
A pro-communist guerrilla force working secretly within South Vietnam.
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions
Written in 1798 by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions condemned the Federalists’ broad interpretation of the Constitution and instead put forth a compact theory of the Union, which stated that states’ rights superseded federal powers. Virginia and Kentucky endorsed these resolutions in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts. The arguments outlined in these resolutions would resurface in the mid-nineteenth century in the political crises involving tariff issues and slavery—issues that divided the North and South and led to the Civil War.
Virginia Plan
The first major proposal presented to the Constitutional Convention concerning congressional representation. The Virginia Plan proposed the creation of a bicameral legislature with representation in both houses proportional to population. The plan favored the large states, which would have a much greater voice than the small states under this plan. In opposition, the small states proposed the New Jersey Plan. The two sides eventually found common ground in the Connecticut Compromise.
Virginia Resolves
In response to the 1765 Stamp Act, Patrick Henry persuaded the Virginia House of Burgesses to adopt several strongly worded resolutions that denied Parliament’s right to tax the colonies. Known as the Virginia Resolves, these resolutions persuaded many other colonial legislatures to adopt similar positions.
Virtual representation
Held that the members of Parliament not only represented their specific geographic constituencies but also took into consideration the well-being of all British subjects when deliberating on legislation. Prime Minister George Grenville invoked the concept to explain why Parliament could legally tax the colonists even though the colonists could not elect any members of Parliament.
Voting Rights Act
Passed in 1965. The Voting Rights Act guaranteed all Americans the right to vote and allowed the federal government to intervene in elections in order to ensure that minorities could vote.
Wade-Davis Bill
Passed in July 1864. The Wade-Davis Bill set forth stringent requirements for Confederate states’ readmission to the Union. President Lincoln, who supported a more liberal Reconstruction policy, vetoed the Wade-Davis Bill by leaving it unsigned more than ten days after the adjournment of Congress.
Wagner Act
See the National Labor Relations Act.
War of 1812
Fought between the U.S. and Great Britain from 1812–14. Although it ended in stalemate with the Treaty of Ghent, the American public believed the U.S. had won the war after news spread of General Andrew Jackson’s decisive victory at the Battle of New Orleans, which occurred two weeks after the signing of the treaty. For years following this apparent victory, an ebullient spirit of nationalism and optimism pervaded America.
War Hawks
A group of westerners and southerners, led by John Calhoun and Henry Clay, who pushed for war against Britain. The War Hawks objected to Britain’s hostile policies against U.S. ships, including impressment and the seizure of shipping goods, and advocated fighting instead of submitting to such treatment. They also hoped that through war, the U.S. would win western, southwestern, and Canadian territories.
War Production Board
Created in 1942. The War Production Board oversaw the production of the thousands of planes, tanks, artillery pieces, and munitions that FDR requested once the U.S. entered the war. The board allocated scarce resources and shifted domestic production from civilian to military goods.
Earl Warren
Chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1953 to 1969. Warren’s liberal court made a number of important decisions, primarily in the realm of civil rights, including Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954.
Warsaw Pact
Signed in 1954 between the USSR and its Eastern European satellites—Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. The Warsaw Pact allowed the stationing of Soviet troops in each participating country. It was seen as the Soviet response to the formation of NATO.
George Washington
First president of the United States. Commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, Washington led the Continentals to victory. He defined the role of the president by setting precedents—Washington intervened little in legislative affairs and concentrated mostly on diplomacy and finance. A Federalist, he supported Alexander Hamilton’s economic campaign. Washington officially resigned from office in 1796 after serving two terms in office, establishing an unofficial policy that presidents serve no more than two terms in office.
Booker T. Washington
An African American leader and the first principal of the Tuskegee Institute (1881). Washington adopted a moderate approach to addressing racism and segregation, urging his fellow African Americans to learn vocational skills and strive for gradual improvements in their social, political, and economic status.
Watergate
The name of a hotel in Washington, D.C. that has come to signify one of the greatest scandals in American history. On June 17, 1972, burglars broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate hotel to wiretap the phones. It was later discovered that these burglars had been employed by Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP). In the ensuing investigation, it became clear that Nixon had known of the break-in and had participated in a cover-up attempt. Faced with near-certain impeachment, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974.
Daniel Webster
One of the country’s leading statesmen in the first half of the nineteenth century. Webster was a Federalist lawyer from New Hampshire who won, most notably, the Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) and McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) Supreme Court cases. First elected to Congress in 1822, he became a powerful defender of northern interests, supporting the 1828 tariff and objecting to nullification. Webster opposed many of President Jackson’s policies and became a leader of the Whig Party. He was instrumental in negotiating the Compromise of 1850.
Whigs
During the Revolutionary War, the Whigs were colonists who supported the move for independence. In the mid-1830s, the Whigs arose in opposition to President Jackson. The party consisted of the core of the National Republican Party as well as some Northern Democrats who had defected in protest against Jackson’s strong-armed leadership style and policies. The Whigs promoted protective tariffs, federal funding for internal improvements, and other measures that strengthened the central government. Reaching its height of popularity in the 1830s, the party disappeared from the national political scene by the 1850s, when its Northern and Southern factions irrevocably split over the slavery issue.
Whiskey Rebellion
A July 1794 riot that broke out in western Pennsylvania in response to a high excise tax on whiskey initiated by Alexander Hamilton. In a show of national strength, President George Washington led a force of militiamen to crush the rebellion.
Walt Whitman
A writer and a disciple of transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Whitman’s major work, Leaves of Grass (1855), celebrated America’s diversity and democracy.
Roger Williams
A dissenter who clashed with Massachusetts Puritans over the issue of separation of church and state. After being banished from Massachusetts in 1636, he traveled south, where he founded a colony in Rhode Island that granted full religious freedom to its inhabitants.
Wilmot Proviso
Proposed in 1846 before the end of the Mexican War. The Wilmot Proviso stipulated that slavery be prohibited in any territory the U.S. gained from Mexico in the upcoming negotiations. The proviso passed in the House of Representatives due to strong support from the North, but stalled in the Senate.
Woodrow Wilson
Democrat, president from 1913 to 1921. An enthusiastic reformer, Wilson supported measures to limit corporate power, protect laborers, and aid poor farmers. In foreign relations, he advocated the principles of “new freedom,” encouraging democracy and capitalism worldwide. During the early years of World War I, Wilson struggled to preserve American neutrality. Once the U.S. entered the war, he charged ahead aggressively. Wilson’s key contributions to the war, beyond providing American forces, were the elucidation of his Fourteen Points and his advocacy of the League of Nations.
John Winthrop
Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop was instrumental in forming the colony’s government and shaping its legislative policy. He envisioned the colony, centered in present-day Boston, as a “city upon a hill” from which Puritans would spread religious righteousness throughout the world.
Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)
Founded in 1874. The WCTU worked alongside the Anti-Saloon League to push for prohibition. Notable activists included Susan B. Anthony and Frances Elizabeth Willard.
Women’s Strike for Equality
In August 1970, tens of thousands of women around the country held demonstrations to demand the right to equal employment and legal abortions. This coordinated effort was known as the Women’s Strike for Equality.
Worcester v. Georgia
Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in 1832 that the Cherokee tribe comprised a “domestic dependent nation” within Georgia and thus deserved protection from harassment—in this case, from forced migration out of Georgia. Known to be vehemently racist against Indians and eager to secure Native American land for U.S. settlement, Andrew Jackson refused to abide by the decision, reportedly sneering, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.” The Cherokee removal continued on unabated and as aggressively as ever.
Works Progress Administration (WPA)
Much of the $5 billion allocated to FDR by the Emergency Relief Allocation Act of 1935 went to the creation of the WPA. Over eight years, the WPA provided work for the unemployed of all backgrounds, from industrial engineers to authors and artists. Partially owing to WPA efforts, unemployment fell by over 5 percent between 1935 and 1937.
Writs of assistance
Legalized by Parliament during the French and Indian War. Writs of assistance were general search warrants that allowed British customs officers to search any colonial building or ship that they believed might contain smuggled goods, even without probable cause for suspicion. The colonists considered the writs to be a grave infringement upon their personal liberties.
Malcolm X
A major advocate of Black Power who helped lead the Nation of Islam to national prominence. In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated after a well-publicized break with the Nation of Islam over his newfound dedication to cross-cultural unity.
XYZ affair
In response to continued French aggression at sea, John Adams sent a diplomatic envoy to France to negotiate for peace in 1797. Charles de Talleyrand, the French foreign minister, refused to meet with the U.S. delegation and instead sent three anonymous agents, X, Y, and Z, to try to extort over $12 million from the Americans in exchange for negotiation rights. This widely publicized attempt at extortion aroused public outrage among the American people, some of whom called for war.
Yalta Conference
A meeting between the Big Three (FDR, Churchill, and Stalin) from February 4 to February 11, 1945. Although FDR and Churchill’s bargaining power with Stalin was severely hindered by the presence of Soviet troops in Poland and Eastern Europe, Stalin did agree to declare war on Japan soon after Germany surrendered. Plans for a United Nations conference in April 1945 were also approved.
Yellow journalism
The exaggerated and sensationalized stories about Spanish military atrocities against Cuban rebels that the New York World and New York Journal, among other newspapers, published in the period leading up to the Spanish-American War (1898). Yellow journalism swayed American public opinion in favor of war against Spain.
Boris Yeltsin
President of the Russian Republic in 1991, when hard-line Communists attempted to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev. After helping to repel these hard-liners, Yeltsin and the leaders of the other Soviet republics declared an end to the USSR, forcing Gorbachev to resign. Yeltsin played an increasingly important role in global politics thereafter.
Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA)
Organization that attempted to alleviate some of the struggles of the poor by providing young people with affordable shelter and recreational facilities. Founded in America in 1851.
Zimmerman Telegram
A telegram sent in 1917 from the German foreign minister to the German ambassador in Mexico. The telegram was intercepted by British intelligence, and revealed Germany’s plans to urge Mexico to enter the war against the U.S. in exchange for a pledge to help restore Mexico’s former territories of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The unmasking of Germany’s aggressive war plans, coupled with Germany’s resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, pushed the U.S. into World War I.