Abolitionism Social movement of the pre-Civil War era that advocated the immediate emancipation of the slaves and their incorporation into American society as equal citizens.
Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933) New Deal legislation that established the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) to improve agricultural prices by limiting market supplies; declared unconstitutional in United States v Butler (1936).
Aid to Families with Dependent Children Federal program, also known as “welfare,” of financial assistance to needy American families; created in 1935 as part of the Social Security Act; abolished in 1996.
Alamo, Battle of the Siege in the Texas War for Independence, 1836, in which the San Antonio mission fell to the Mexicans.
Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) Four measures passed during the undeclared war with France that limited the freedoms of speech and press and restricted the liberty of noncitizens.
America First Committee Largely midwestem isolationist organization supported by many prominent citizens, 1940-1941.
American Civil Liberties Union Organization founded during World War I to protest the suppression of freedom of expression in wartime; played a major role in court cases that achieved judicial recognition of Americans’ civil liberties.
American Colonization Society Organized in 1816 to encourage colonization of free blacks to Africa; West African nation of Liberia founded in 1822 to serve as a homeland for them.
American Federation of Labor Founded in 1881 as a federation of trade unions composed mostly of skilled, white, native-born workers; its long-term president was Samuel Gompers.
American System Program of internal improvements and protective tariffs promoted by Speaker of the House Henry Clay in his presidential campaign of 1824; his proposals formed the core of Whig ideology in the 1830s and 1840s.
Amistad Ship that transported slaves from one port in Cuba to another, seized by the slaves in 1839. They made their way northward to the United States, where the status of the slaves became the subject of a celebrated court case; eventually most were able to return to Africa.
Anarchism Belief that all institutions that exercise power over individuals, especially government, are illegitimate; it flourished among certain native-born individualists in the nineteenth century and radical immigrants in the early twentieth century.
Antietam, Battle of One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, fought to a standoff on September 11, 1862, in western Maryland.
Antifederalists Opponents of the Constitution who saw it as a limitation on individual and states’ rights; their demands led to the addition of a Bill of Rights to the document.
Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia Site of the surrender of Confederate general Robert E. Lee to Union general Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, marking the end of the Civil War.
Army-McCarthy hearings Televised U.S. Senate hearings in 1954 on Senator Joseph McCarthy’s charges of disloyalty in the army; his tactics contributed to his censure by the Senate.
Articles of Confederation First frame of government for the United States; in effect from 1782 to 1788, it provided for a weak central authority and was soon replaced by the Constitution.
Atlanta Compromise Speech to the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895 by educator Booker T. Washington, the leading black spokesman of the day; black scholar W. E. B. Du Bois gave the speech its derisive name and criticized Washington for encouraging blacks to accommodate segregation and disenfranchisement.
Atlantic Charter Issued August 12,1941, following meetings in Newfoundland between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill, the charter signaled the Allies’ cooperation and stated their war aims.
Atomic Energy Commission Created in 1946 to supervise peacetime uses of atomic energy.
Axis powers In World War II, the nations of Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Aztec Mesoamerican people who were conquered by the Spanish under Hernan Cortes, 1519-1528.
Baby boom Markedly higher birthrate in the years following World War II; led to the biggest demographic “bubble” in American history.
Bacon’s Rebellion Unsuccessful 1676 revolt led by planter Nathaniel Bacon against Virginia governor William Berkeley’s administration because of governmental corruption and because Berkeley had failed to protect settlers from Indian raids and did not allow them to occupy Indian lands.
Baker v. Carr (1962) U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the principle of “one man, one vote,” that is, that legislative districts must be equal in population.
Bakke v. Regents of the University of California (1978) Case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the California university system’s use of racial quotas in admissions but allowed the use of race as one factor in admissions decisions.
Balance of trade Ratio of imports to exports.
Bank of the United States Proposed by the first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, the bank opened in 1791 and operated until 1811 to issue a uniform currency, make business loans, and collect tax monies. The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816 but President Andrew Jackson vetoed the recharter bill in 1832.
Barbary pirates Plundering pirates off the Mediterranean coast of Africa; President Thomas Jefferson’s refusal to pay them tribute to protect American ships sparked an undeclared naval war with North African nations, 1801-1805.
Barbed wire First practical fencing material for the Great Plains was invented in 1873 and rapidly spelled the end of the open range.
Bay of Pigs invasion Hoping to inspire a revolt against Fidel Castro, the CIA sent 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade their homeland on April 17, 1961, but the mission was a spectacular failure.
Bill of Rights First ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1791 to guarantee individual rights against infringement by the federal government.
Black Codes (1865-1866) Laws passed in southern states to restrict the rights of former slaves; to nullify the codes, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth Amendment.
Black Legend Idea that the Spanish New World empire was more oppressive toward the Indians than other European empires; was used as a justification for English imperial expansion.
Black Power Post-1966 rallying cry of a more militant civil rights movement.
Bland-Allison Act (1878) Passed over President Rutherford B. Hayes’s veto, the inflationary measure authorized the purchase each month of 2 to 4 million dollars’ worth of silver for coinage.
“Bleeding Kansas” Violence between pro- and antislavery settlers in the Kansas Territory, 1856.
Boston Massacre Clash between British soldiers and a Boston mob, March 5, 1770, in which five colonists were killed.
Boston Tea Party On December 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty, dressed as Indians, dumped hundreds of chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the Tea Act of 1773, under which the British exported to the colonies millions of pounds of cheap— but still taxed—tea, thereby undercutting the price of smuggled tea and forcing payment of the tea duty.
Boxer Rebellion Chinese nationalist protest against Western commercial domination and cultural influence, 1900; a coalition of American, European, and Japanese forces put down the rebellion and reclaimed captured embassies in Peking (Beijing) within the year.
Bracero program System agreed to by Mexican and American governments in 1942 under which tens of thousands of Mexicans entered the United States to work temporarily in agricultural jobs in the Southwest; lasted until 1964 and inhibited labor organization among farm workers since hraceros could be deported at any time.
Brains trust Group of advisers—many of them academics— assembled by Franklin D. Roosevelt to recommend New Deal policies during the early months of his presidency.
Bretton Woods Town in New Hampshire and site of international agreement in 1944 by which the American dollar replaced the British pound as the most important international currency, and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund were created to promote rebuilding after World War II and to ensure that countries did not devalue their currencies.
Brook Farm Transcendentalist commune in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, populated from 1841 to 1847 principally by writers (Nathaniel Hawthorne, for one) and other intellectuals.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down racial segregation in public education and declared “separate but equal” unconstitutional.
Bull Run, Battles of (First and Second Manassas) First land engagement of the Civil War took place on July 21, 1861, at Manassas Junction, Virginia, at which Union troops quickly retreated; one year later, on August 29-30, Confederates captured the federal supply depot and forced Union troops back to Washington.
Bunker Hill, Battle of First major battle of the Revolutionary War; it actually took place at nearby Breed’s Hill, Massachusetts, on June 17, 1775.
“Burned-over district” Area of western New York strongly influenced by the revivalist fervor of the Second Great Awakening; Disciples of Christ and Mormons are among the many sects that trace their roots to the phenomenon.
Bush v. Gore (2000) U.S. Supreme Court case that determined the winner of the disputed 2000 presidential election.
Calvinism Doctrine of predestination expounded by Swiss theologian John Calvin in 1536; influenced the Puritan, Presbyterian, German and Dutch Reformed, and Huguenot churches in the colonies.
Camp David accords Peace agreement between the leaders of Israel and Egypt, brokered by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
Carpetbaggers Derisive term for northern emigrants who participated in the Republican governments of the Reconstruction South.
Chancellorsville, Battle of Confederate general Robert E. Lee won his last major victory and General “Stonewall” Jackson died in this Civil War battle in northern Virginia on May 1-4, 1863.
Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) Halted Chinese immigration to the United States.
Civil Rights Act of 1866 Along with the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteed the rights of citizenship to former slaves.
Civil Rights Act of 1957 First federal civil rights law since Reconstruction; established the Civil Rights Commission and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 Outlawed discrimination in public accommodations and employment.
Closed shop Hiring requirement that all workers in a business must be union members.
Coercive Acts/Intolerable Acts (1774) Four parliamentary measures in reaction to the Boston Tea Party that forced payment for the tea, disallowed colonial trials of British soldiers, forced their quartering in private homes, and reduced the number of elected officials in Massachusetts.
Cold War Term for tensions, 1945-1989, between the Soviet Union and the United States, the two major world powers after World War II.
Commonwealth v. Hunt (1842) Landmark ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Court establishing the legality of labor unions.
Communitarianism Social reform movement of the nineteenth century driven by the belief that by establishing small communities based on common ownership of property, a less competitive and individualistic society could be developed.
Compromise of 1850 Complex compromise devised by Senator Henry Clay that admitted California as a free state, included a stronger fugitive slave law, and delayed determination of the slave status of the New Mexico and Utah territories.
Compromise of 1877 Deal made by a Republican and Democratic special congressional commission to resolve the disputed presidential election of 1876; Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, who had lost the popular vote, was declared the winner in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops from involvement in politics in the South, marking the end of Reconstruction.
Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) Umbrella organization of semiskilled industrial unions, formed in 1935 as the Committee for Industrial Organization and renamed in 1938.
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Civil rights organization started in 1942 and best known for its Freedom Rides, bus journeys challenging racial segregation in the South in 1961.
Conspicuous consumption Phrase referring to extravagant spending to raise social standing, coined by Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).
Constitutional Convention Meeting in Philadelphia, May 25-September 17, 1787, of representatives from twelve colonies—excepting Rhode Island—to revise the existing Articles of Confederation; convention soon resolved to produce an entirely new constitution.
Containment General U.S. strategy in the Cold War that called for containing Soviet expansion; originally devised by U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan.
Continental army Army authorized by the Continental Congress in 1775 to fight the British; commanded by General George Washington.
Continental Congress Representatives of the colonies met first in Philadelphia in 1774 to formulate actions against British policies; the Second Continental Congress (1775-1789) conducted the war and adopted the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.
Convict leasing System developed in the post-Civil War South that generated income for the states and satisfied planters’ need for cheap labor by renting prisoners out; the convicts were often treated poorly.
Copperheads Republican term for northerners opposed to the Civil War; it derived from the name of a poisonous snake.
Coral Sea, Battle of the Fought on May 7-8, 1942, near the eastern coast of Australia, it was the first U.S. naval victory over Japan in World War II.
Cotton gin Invented by Eli Whitney in 1793, the machine separated cotton seed from cotton fiber, speeding cotton processing and making profitable the cultivation of the more hardy, but difficult to clean, short-staple cotton; led directly to the dramatic nineteenth-century expansion of slavery in the South.
Counterculture “Hippie” youth culture of the 1960s, which rejected the values of the dominant culture in favor of illicit drugs, communes, free sex, and rock music.
Court-packing plan President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s failed 1937 attempt to increase the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices from nine to fifteen in order to save his Second New Deal programs from constitutional challenges.
Coverture Principle in English and American law that a married woman lost her legal identity, which became “covered” by that of her husband, who therefore controlled her person and the family’s economic resources.
Credit Mobilier scandal Millions of dollars in overcharges for building the Union Pacific Railroad were exposed; high officials of the Ulysses S. Grant administration were implicated but never charged.
Creoles (Criollos in Spanish) Persons born in the New World of European ancestry.
Cuban missile crisis Caused when the United States discovered Soviet offensive missile sites in Cuba in October 1962; the U.S.-Soviet confrontation was the Cold War’s closest brush with nuclear war.
Crop-lien system Merchants extended credit to tenants based on their future crops, but high interest rates and the uncertainties of farming often led to inescapable debts.
D-Day June 6, 1944, when an Allied amphibious assault landed on the Normandy coast and established a foothold in Europe, leading to the liberation of France from German occupation.
Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) U.S. Supreme Court upheld the original charter of the college against New Hampshire’s attempt to alter the board of trustees; set precedent of support of contracts against state interference.
Dawes Act Law passed in 1887 meant to encourage adoption of white norms among Indians; broke up tribal holdings into small farms for Indian families, with the remainder sold to white purchasers.
Declaration of Independence Document adopted on July 4, 1776, that made the break with Britain official; drafted by a committee of the Second Continental Congress, including principal writer Thomas Jefferson.
Deindustrialization Term describing decline of manufacturing in old industrial areas in the late twentieth century as companies shifted production to low-wage centers in the South and West or in other countries.
Deism Enlightenment thought applied to religion; emphasized reason, morality, and natural law.
Democratic Republican Societies Organizations created in the mid-1790s by opponents of the policies of the Washington administration and supporters of the French Revolution.
Department of Homeland Security Created to coordinate federal antiterrorist activity following the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Depression Period in which economic output declines sharply and unemployment rises; it applied especially to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Depression of 1893 Worst depression of the nineteenth century, set off by a railroad failure, too much speculation on Wall Street, and low agricultural prices.
Disenfranchise To deprive of the right to vote; in the United States, exclusionary policies were used to deny groups, especially African-Americans and women, their voting rights.
Division of Powers The division of political power between the state and federal governments under the U.S. Constitution (also known as federalism).
Dixiecrats Deep South delegates who walked out of the 1948 Democratic National Convention in protest of the party’s support for civil rights legislation and later formed the States’ Rights Democratic (Dixiecrat) Party, which nominated Strom Thurmond of South Carolina for president.
Dominion of New England Consolidation into a single colony of the New England colonies—and later New York and New Jersey—by royal governor Edmund Andros in 1686; dominion reverted to individual colonial governments three years later.
Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) U.S. Supreme Court decision in which Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories, on the grounds that such a prohibition would violate the Fifth Amendment rights of slaveholders, and that no black person could be a citizen of the United States.
Due-process clause Clause in the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing that states could not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Dust Bowl Great Plains counties where millions of tons of topsoil were blown away from parched farmland in the 1930s; massive migration of farm families followed.
Eighteenth Amendment (1919) Prohibition amendment that made illegal the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages; repealed in 1933.
Ellis Island Reception center in New York Harbor through which most European immigrants to America were processed from 1892 to 1954.
Emancipation Proclamation (1863) President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation on September 22, 1862, freeing the slaves in areas under Confederate control as of January 1, 1863, the date of the final proclamation, which also authorized the enrollment of black soldiers into the Union army.
Embargo Act of 1807 Attempt to exert economic pressure by prohibiting all exports from the United States, instead of waging war in reaction to continued British impressment of American sailors; smugglers easily circumvented the embargo, and it was repealed two years later.
Emergency Banking Relief Act (1933) First New Deal measure that provided for reopening the banks under strict conditions and took the United States off the gold standard.
Emergency Immigration Act of 1921 Limited U.S. immigration to 3 percent of each foreign-born nationality in the 1910 census; three years later, Congress restricted immigration even further.
Encomienda System under which officers of the Spanish conquistadores gained ownership of Indian land.
Enlightenment Revolution in thought in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason and science over the authority of traditional religion.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Created in 1970 during the first administration of President Richard M. Nixon to oversee federal pollution control efforts.
Equal Rights Amendment Amendment to guarantee equal rights for women, introduced in 1923 hut not passed by Congress until 1972; it failed to be ratified by the states.
Era of Good Feelings Contemporary characterization of the administration of popular Republican president James Monroe, 1817-1825.
Erie Canal Most important and profitable of the canals of the 1820s and 1830s; stretched from Buffalo to Albany, New York, connecting the Great Lakes to the East Coast and making New York City the nation’s largest port.
Espionage and Sedition Acts (1917-1918) Limited criticism of government leaders and policies by imposing fines and prison terms on those who opposed American participation in the First World War.
Eugenics “Science” of improving the human race by regulating who can bear children; flourished in early twentieth century and led to laws for involuntary sterilization of the “feeble-minded.”
Fair Deal Domestic reform proposals of the Truman administration; included civil rights legislation, national health insurance, and repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, but only extensions of some New Deal programs were enacted.
Fair Employment Practices Commission Created in 1941 by executive order, the FEPC sought to eliminate racial discrimination in jobs; it possessed little power but represented a step toward civil rights for African-Americans.
Family wage Idea that male workers should earn a wage sufficient to enable them to support their entire family without their wives having to work outside the home.
Federal Trade Commission Act (1914) Established the Federal Trade Commission to enforce existing antitrust laws that prohibited business combinations in restraint of trade.
The Federalist Collection of eighty-five essays that appeared in the New York press in 1787-1788 in support of the Constitution; written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay and published under the pseudonym “Publius.”
Federalist Party One of the two first national political parties; led by George Washington, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton, it favored a strong central government.
Feminism Term that entered the lexicon in the early twentieth century to describe the movement for full equality for women, in political, social, and personal life.
Fifteenth Amendment Constitutional Amendment ratified in 1870, which prohibited states from discriminating in voting privileges on the basis of race.
“Fifty-four forty or fight” Democratic campaign slogan in the presidential election of 1844, urging that the northern border of Oregon be fixed at 54°40' north latitude.
Filibuster In the nineteenth century, invasions of Central American countries launched privately by groups of Americans seeking to establish personal rule and spread slavery; in the twentieth century, term for the practice of members of the U.S. Senate delivering interminable speeches in order to prevent voting on legislation.
Fletcher v. Peck (1810) U.S. Supreme Court decision in which Chief Justice John Marshall upheld the initial fraudulent sale contracts in the Yazoo Fraud cases; it upheld the principle of sanctity of a contract.
Fordism Early twentieth-century term describing the economic system pioneered by Ford Motor Company based on high wages and mass consumption.
Fort McHenry Fort in Baltimore Harbor unsuccessfully bombarded by the British in September 1814; Francis Scott Key, a witness to the battle, was moved to write the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Fort Sumter First battle of the Civil War, in which the federal fort in Charleston (South Carolina) Harbor was captured by the Confederates on April 14, 1861, after two days of shelling.
Fourteen Points President Woodrow Wilson’s 1918 plan for peace after World War I; at the Versailles peace conference, however, he failed to incorporate all of the points into the treaty.
Fourteenth Amendment (1868) Guaranteed rights of citizenship to former slaves, in words similar to those of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Franchise The right to vote.
“Free person of color” Negro or mulatto person not held in slavery; immediately before the Civil War, there were nearly a half million in the United States, split almost evenly between North and South.
Free Soil Party Formed in 1848 to oppose slavery in the territory acquired in the Mexican War; nominated Martin Van Buren for president in 1848. By 1854 most of the party’s members had joined the Republican Party.
Free Speech Movement Founded in 1964 at the University of California at Berkeley by student radicals protesting restrictions on their right to distribute political publications.
Freedmen’s Bureau Reconstruction agency established in 1865 to protect the legal rights of former slaves and to assist with their education, jobs, health care, and landowning.
French and Indian War Known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War, the last (1755-1765) of four colonial wars fought between England and France for control of North America east of the Mississippi River.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 Gave federal government authority in cases involving runaway slaves; aroused considerable opposition in the North.
Fundamentalism Anti-modernist Protestant movement started in the early twentieth century that proclaimed the literal truth of the Bible; the name came from The Fundamentals, published by conservative leaders.
Gadsden Purchase (1853) Thirty thousand square miles in present-day Arizona and New Mexico bought by Congress from Mexico primarily for the Southern Pacific Railroad’s transcontinental route.
Gag Rule Rule adopted by House of Representatives in 1836 prohibiting consideration of abolitionist petitions; opposition, led by former president John Quincy Adams, succeeded in having it repealed in 1844.
Gentlemen’s Agreement (1907) The United States would not exclude Japanese immigrants if Japan would voluntarily limit the number of immigrants coming to the United States.
Gettysburg, Battle of Fought in southern Pennsylvania, July 1-3,1863; the Confederate defeat and the simultaneous loss at Vicksburg marked the military turning point of the Civil War.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) U.S. Supreme Court decision reinforcing the “commerce clause” (the federal government’s right to regulate interstate commerce) of the Constitution; Chief Justice John Marshall ruled against the State of New York’s granting of steamboat monopolies.
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteeing legal counsel for indigent felony defendants.
The Gilded Age Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner’s 1873 novel, the title of which became the popular name for the period from the end of the Civil War to the turn of the century.
Glass-Steagall Act (Banking Act of 1933) Established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and included banking reforms, some designed to control speculation. Repealed in 1999, opening the door to scandals involving banks and stock investment companies.
Globalization Term that became prominent in the 1990s to describe the rapid acceleration of international flows of commerce, financial resources, labor, and cultural products.
Gold standard Policy at various points in American history by which the value of a dollar is set at a fixed price in terms of gold (in the post-World War II era, for example, $35 per ounce of gold).
Good Neighbor Policy Proclaimed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in 1933, it sought improved diplomatic relations between the United States and its Latin American neighbors.
Grandfather clause Loophole created by southern disfranchising legislatures of the 1890s for illiterate white males whose grandfathers had been eligible to vote in 1867.
Granger movement Political movement that grew out of the Patrons of Husbandry, an educational and social organization for farmers founded in 1867; the Grange had its greatest success in the Midwest of the 1870s, lobbying for government control of railroad and grain elevator rates and establishing farmers’ cooperatives.
Great Awakening Fervent religious revival movement in the 1720s through the 1740s that was spread throughout the colonies by ministers like New England Congregationalist Jonathan Edwards and English revivalist George Whitefield.
Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise) Settled the differences between the New Jersey and Virginia delegations to the Constitutional Convention by providing for a bicameral legislature, the upper house of which would have equal representation for each state and the lower house of which would be apportioned by population.
Great Depression Worst economic depression in American history; it was spurred by the stock market crash of 1929 and lasted until World War II.
Great Migration Large-scale migration of southern blacks during and after World War I to the North, where jobs had become available during the labor shortage of the war years.
Great Society Term coined by President Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1965 State of the Union address, in which he proposed legislation to address problems of voting rights, poverty, diseases, education, immigration, and the environment.
Greenback-Labor Party Formed in 1876 in reaction to economic depression, the party favored issuance of unsecured paper money to help farmers repay debts; the movement for free coinage of silver took the place of the greenback movement by the 1880s.
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) Supreme Court decision that, in overturning Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraceptives, established a constitutional right to privacy.
Gulf War Military action in 1991 in which an international coalition led by the United States drove Iraq from Kuwait, which it had occupied the previous year.
Habeas corpus, Writ of An essential component of English common law and of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees that citizens may not be imprisoned without due process of law; literally means, “you may have the body”; suspended by President Lincoln during the Civil War and limited by President Bush after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Hacienda Large-scale farm in the Spanish New World empire worked by Indian laborers.
Harlem Renaissance African-American literary and artistic movement of the 1920s centered in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood; writers Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, and Countee Cullen were among those active in the movement.
Harpers Ferry, Virginia Site of abolitionist John Brown’s failed raid on the federal arsenal, October 16-17, 1859; Brown became a martyr to his cause after his capture and execution.
Hart-Celler Act (1965) Eliminated the national origins quota system for immigration established by laws in 1921 and 1924; led to radical change in the origins of immigrants to the United States, with Asians and Latin Americans outnumbering Europeans.
Hartford Convention Meeting of New England Federalists on December 15, 1814, to protest the War of 1812; proposed seven constitutional amendments (limiting embargoes and changing requirements for officeholding, declaration of war, and admission of new states), but the war ended before Congress could respond.
Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act (1930) Raised tariffs to an unprecedented level and worsened the Great Depression by raising prices and discouraging foreign trade.
Haymarket affair Violence during an anarchist protest at Haymarket Square in Chicago on May 4, 1886; the deaths of eight, including seven policemen, led to the trial of eight anarchist leaders for conspiracy to commit murder.
Hessians German soldiers, most from Hesse-Cassel principality (hence, the name), paid to fight for the British in the Revolutionary War.
Holding company Investment company that holds controlling interest in the securities of other companies.
Homestead Act (1862) Authorized Congress to grant 160 acres of public land to a western settler, who had to live on the land for five years to establish title.
Homestead Strike Violent strike at the Carnegie Steel Company near Pittsburgh in 1892 that culminated in the defeat of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, the first steelworkers’ union.
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) Formed in 1938 to investigate subversives in the government and holders of radical ideas more generally; best-known investigations were of Hollywood notables and of former State Department official Alger Hiss, who was accused in 1948 of espionage and Communist Party membership. Abolished in 1975.
Hundred Days Extraordinarily productive first three months of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration in which a special session of Congress enacted fifteen of his New Deal proposals.
Impeachment Bringing charges against a public official; for example, the House of Representatives can impeach a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” by majority vote, and after the trial the Senate can remove the president by a vote of two-thirds. Two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached and tried before the Senate; neither was convicted.
Implied powers Federal powers beyond those specifically enumerated in the U.S. Constitution; based on the “elastic clause” of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution that allows Congress to enact laws that promote the “general welfare.”
“In God We Trust” Phrase placed on all new U.S. currency as of 1954.
Indentured servant Settler who signed on for a temporary period of servitude to a master in exchange for passage to the New World; Virginia and Pennsylvania were largely peopled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by English and German indentured servants.
Indian Removal Act (1830) Signed by President Andrew Jackson, the law permitted the negotiation of treaties to obtain the Indians’ lands in exchange for their relocation to what would become Oklahoma.
Individualism Term that entered the language in the 1820s to describe the increasing emphasis on the pursuit of personal advancement and private fulfillment free of outside interference.
Industrial Workers of the World Radical union organized in Chicago in 1905 and nicknamed the Wobblies; its opposition to World War I led to its destruction by the federal government under the Espionage Act.
Inflation An economic condition in which prices rise continuously.
Insular Cases Series of cases between 1901 and 1904 in which the Supreme Court ruled that constitutional protection of individual rights did not fully apply to residents of “insular” territories acquired by the United States in the Spanish-American War, such as Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
Interstate Commerce Commission Reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Wabash Railroad v. Illinois (1886), Congress established the ICC to curb abuses in the railroad industry by regulating rates.
Iran-Contra affair Scandal of the second Reagan administration involving sales of arms to Iran in partial exchange for release of hostages in Lebanon and use of the arms money to aid the Contras in Nicaragua, which had been expressly forbidden by Congress.
Iraq War Military campaign in 2003 in which the United States, unable to gain approval by the United Nations, unilaterally occupied Iraq and removed dictator Saddam Hussein from power.
Iron Curtain Term coined by Winston Churchill to describe the Cold War divide between western Europe and the Soviet Union’s eastern European satellites.
Jamestown, Virginia Site in 1607 of the first permanent English settlement in the New World.
Japanese-American internment Policy adopted by the Roosevelt administration in 1942 under which 110,000 persons of Japanese descent, most of them American citizens, were removed from the West Coast and forced to spend most of World War II in internment camps; it was the largest violation of American civil liberties in the twentieth century.
Jay’s Treaty Treaty with Britain negotiated in 1794 by Chief Justice John Jay; Britain agreed to vacate forts in the Northwest Territories, and festering disagreements (border with Canada, prewar debts, shipping claims) would be settled by commission.
Jim Crow Minstrel show character whose name became synonymous with racial segregation.
Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) Law sponsored by Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas to allow settlers in newly organized territories north of the Missouri border to decide the slavery issue for themselves; fury over the resulting repeal of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 led to violence in Kansas and to the formation of the Republican Party.
Kellogg-Briand Pact Representatives of sixty-two nations in 1928 signed the pact (also called the Pact of Paris) to outlaw war.
Keynesianism Economic theory derived from the writings of British economist John Maynard Keynes, which rejected the laissez-faire approach in favor of public spending to stimulate economic growth, even at the cost of federal deficits; dominated economic policies of administrations from the 1940s to the mid-1970s.
Knights of Labor Founded in 1869, the first national union lasted, under the leadership of Terence V. Powderly, only into the 1890s; supplanted by the American Federation of Labor.
Know-Nothing (American) Party Nativist, anti-Catholic third party organized in 1854 in reaction to large-scale German and Irish immigration; the party’s only presidential candidate was Millard Fillmore in 1856.
Korean War Conflict touched off in 1950 when Communist North Korea invaded South Korea; fighting, largely by U.S. forces, continued until 1953.
Ku Klux Klan Organized in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866 to terrorize former slaves who voted and held political offices during Reconstruction; a revived organization in the 1910s and 1920s stressed white, Anglo-Saxon, fundamentalist Protestant supremacy; the Klan revived a third time to fight the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the South.
Laissez-faire Term adopted from French, meaning “let people do as they choose,” describing opposition to government action to regulate economic or personal behavior.
Land Ordinance of 1785 Directed surveying of the Northwest Territory into townships of thirty-six sections (square miles) each, the sale of the sixteenth section of which was to be used to finance public education.
League of Nations Organization of nations to mediate disputes and avoid war established after World War I as part of the Treaty of Versailles; President Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” speech to Congress in 1918 proposed the formation of the league, which the United States never joined.
Lend-Lease Act (1941) Permitted the United States to lend or lease arms and other supplies to the Allies, signifying increasing likelihood of American involvement in World War II.
Levittown Low-cost, mass-produced developments of suburban tract housing built by William Levitt after World War II on Long Island and elsewhere.
Lexington and Concord, Battle of The first shots fired in the Revolutionary War, on April 19, 1775, near Boston; approximately 100 minutemen and 250 British soldiers were killed.
Leyte Gulf, Battle of Largest sea battle in history, fought on October 25,1944, and won by the United States off the Philippine island of Leyte; Japanese losses were so great that they could not rebound.
Liberalism Originally, political philosophy that emphasized the protection of liberty by limiting the power of government to interfere with the natural rights of citizens; in the twentieth century, belief in an activist government promoting greater social and economic equality.
Liberty Party Abolitionist political party that nominated James G. Birney for president in 1840 and 1844; merged with the Free Soil Party in 1848.
Lincoln-Douglas debates Series of senatorial campaign debates in 1858 focusing on the issue of slavery in the territories; held in Illinois between Republican Abraham Lincoln, who made a national reputation for himself, and incumbent Democratic senator Stephen A. Douglas, who managed to hold onto his seat.
Little Bighorn, Battle of Most famous battle of the Great Sioux War took place in 1876 in the Montana Territory; combined Sioux and Cheyenne warriors massacred a vastly outnumbered U.S. Cavalry commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.
Lochner v. New York (1905) Decision by Supreme Court overturning a New York law establishing a limit on the number of hours per week bakers could be compelled to work; “Lochnerism” became a way of describing the liberty of contract jurisprudence, which opposed all governmental intervention in the economy.
Louisiana Purchase President Thomas Jefferson’s 1803 purchase from France of the important port of New Orleans and 828,000 square miles west of the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains; it more than doubled the territory of the United States at a cost of only $15 million.
Loyalists Colonists who remained loyal to Great Britain during the War of Independence.
Lusitania British passenger liner sunk by a German U-boat, May 7, 1915, creating a diplomatic crisis and public outrage at the loss of 128 Americans (roughly 10 percent of the total aboard); Germany agreed to pay reparations, and the United States waited two more years to enter World War I.
Lyceum movement Founded in 1826, the movement promoted adult public education through lectures and performances.
Lynching Practice, particularly widespread in the South between 1890 and 1940, in which persons (usually black) accused of a crime were murdered by mobs before standing trial. Lynchings often took place before large crowds, with law enforcement authorities not intervening.
Manhattan Project Secret American program during World War II to develop an atomic bomb; J. Robert Oppenheimer led the team of physicists at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Manifest Destiny Phrase first used in 1845 to urge annexation of Texas; used thereafter to encourage American settlement of European colonial and Indian lands in the Great Plains and the West and, more generally, as a justification for American empire.
Marbury v. Madison (1803) First U.S. Supreme Court decision to declare a federal law—the Judiciary Act of 1801—unconstitutional.
March on Washington Civil rights demonstration on August 28, 1963, where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Marshall Plan U.S. program for the reconstruction of post-World War II Europe through massive aid to former enemy nations as well as allies; proposed by General George C. Marshall in 1947.
Massive resistance In reaction to the Brown decision of 1954, effort by southern states to defy federally mandated school integration.
Maya Pre-Columbian society in Mesoamerica before about A.D. 900.
Mayflower Compact Signed in 1620 aboard the Mayflower before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the document committed the group to majority-rule government.
McCarran Internal Security Act (1950) Passed over President Harry S. Truman’s veto, the law required registration of American Communist Party members, denied them passports, and allowed them to be detained as suspected subversives.
McCarthyism Post-World War II Red Scare focused on the fear of Communists in U.S. government positions; peaked during the Korean War; most closely associated with Joseph McCarthy, a major instigator of the hysteria.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) U.S. Supreme Court decision in which Chief Justice John Marshall, holding that Maryland could not tax the Second Bank of the United States, supported the authority of the federal government versus the states.
Mc Nary-Haugen bill Vetoed by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927 and 1928, the bill to aid farmers would have artificially raised agricultural prices by selling surpluses overseas for low prices and selling the reduced supply in the United States for higher prices.
Meat Inspection Act (1906) Passed largely in reaction to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the law set strict standards of cleanliness in the meatpacking industry.
Medicaid Great Society program established in 1965 that provided free medical care to the poor.
Medicare Key component of Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson; government program created in 1965 to pay medical costs of elderly and disabled Americans.
Mercantilism Policy of Great Britain and other imperial powers of regulating the economies of colonies to benefit the mother country.
Mestizo Spanish word for person of mixed Native American and European ancestry.
Mexican War Controversial war with Mexico for control of California and New Mexico, 1846-1848; the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo fixed the border at the Rio Grande and extended the United States to the Pacific coast, annexing more than a half-million square miles of Mexican territory.
Midway, Battle of Decisive American victory near Midway Island in the South Pacific on June 4, 1942; the Japanese navy never recovered its superiority over the U.S. navy.
Minstrel show Blackface vaudeville entertainment popular in the decades surrounding the Civil War.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966) U.S. Supreme Court decision required police to advise persons in custody of their rights to legal counsel and against self-incrimination.
Missouri Compromise Deal proposed by Kentucky senator Henry Clay in 1820 to resolve the slave/free imbalance in Congress that would result from Missouri’s admission as a slave state; Maine’s admission as a free state offset Missouri, and slavery was prohibited in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory north of the southern border of Missouri.
Molly Maguires Secret organization of Irish coal miners that used violence to intimidate mine officials in the 1870s.
Monitor and Merrimac, Battle of the First engagement between ironclad ships; fought at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on March 9, 1862.
Monroe Doctrine President James Monroe’s declaration to Congress on December 2, 1823, that the American continents would be thenceforth closed to European colonization, and that the United States would not interfere in European affairs.
Montgomery bus boycott Sparked by Rosa Parks’s arrest on December 1, 1955, for refusing to surrender her seat to a white passenger, a successful year-long boycott protesting segregation on city buses; led by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
Moral Majority Televangelist Jerry Falwell’s political lobbying organization, the name of which became synonymous with the Religious Right—conservative evangelical Protestants who helped ensure President Ronald Reagan’s 1980 victory.
Mormons Founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, the sect (officially, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was a product of the intense revivalism of the “burned-over district” of New York; Smith’s successor Brigham Young led 15,000 followers to Utah in 1847 to escape persecution.
Muckrakers Writers who exposed corruption and abuses in politics, business, meatpacking, child labor, and more, primarily in the first decade of the twentieth century; their popular books and magazine articles spurred public interest in reform.
Mugwumps Reform wing of the Republican Party that supported Democrat Grover Cleveland for president in 1884 over Republican James G. Blaine, whose influence peddling had been revealed in the Mulligan letters of 1876.
Multiculturalism Term that became prominent in the 1990s to describe a growing emphasis on group racial and ethnic identity and demands that jobs, education, and politics reflect the increasingly diverse nature of American society.
Munn v. Illinois (1877) U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld a Granger law allowing the state to regulate grain elevators.
NAFTA Approved in 1993, the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico allowed goods to travel across their borders free of tariffs; critics argued that American workers would lose their jobs to cheaper Mexican labor.
Nat Turner Rebellion Most important slave uprising in nineteenth-century America, led by a slave preacher who, with his followers, killed about sixty white persons in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Founded in 1910, this civil rights organization brought lawsuits against discriminatory practices and published The Crisis, a journal edited by African-American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois.
National Defense Education Act (1958) Passed in reaction to America’s perceived inferiority in the space race; encouraged education in science and modem languages through student loans, university research grants, and aid to public schools.
National Industrial Recovery Act (1933) Passed on the last of the Hundred Days, it created public-works jobs through the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and established a system of self-regulation for industry through the National Recovery Administration, which was ruled unconstitutional in 1935.
National Organization for Women Founded in 1966 by writer Betty Friedan and other feminists, NOW pushed for abortion rights, nondiscrimination in the workplace, and other forms of equality for women.
National Road First federal interstate road, built between 1811 and 1838 and stretching from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois.
National Security Act (1947) Authorized the reorganization of government to coordinate military branches and security agencies; created the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Military Establishment (later renamed the Department of Defense).
National Youth Administration Created in 1935 as part of the Works Progress Administration, it employed millions of youths who had left school.
Nativism Anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic feeling especially prominent in the 1830s through the 1850s; the largest group was New York’s Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, which expanded into the American (Know-Nothing) Party in 1854.
Naval stores Tar, pitch, and turpentine made from pine resin and used in shipbuilding; an important industry in the southern colonies, especially North Carolina.
Navigation Acts Passed by the English Parliament to control colonial trade and bolster the mercantile system, 1650-1775; enforcement of the acts led to growing resentment by colonists.
Neutrality Acts Series of laws passed between 1935 and 1939 to keep the United States from becoming involved in war by prohibiting American trade and travel to warring nations.
New Deal Franklin D. Roosevelt’s campaign promise, in his speech to the Democratic National Convention of 1932, to combat the Great Depression with a “new deal for the American people”; the phrase became a catchword for his ambitious plan of economic programs.
New Freedom Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s political slogan in the presidential campaign of 1912; Wilson wanted to improve the banking system, lower tariffs, and, by breaking up monopolies, give small businesses freedom to compete.
New Frontier John F. Kennedy’s program, stymied by a Republican Congress and his abbreviated term; his successor Lyndon B. Johnson had greater success with many of the same concepts.
New Harmony Founded in Indiana by British industrialist Robert Owen in 1825, the short-lived New Harmony Community of Equality was one of the few nineteenth-century communal experiments not based on religious ideology.
New Left Radical youth protest movement of the 1960s, named by leader Tom Hayden to distinguish it from the Old (Marxist-Leninist) Left of the 1930s.
New Nationalism Platform of the Progressive Party and slogan of former president Theodore Roosevelt in the presidential campaign of 1912; stressed government activism, including regulation of trusts, conservation, and recall of state court decisions that had nullified progressive programs.
New Orleans, Battle of Last battle of the War of 1812, fought on January 8, 1815, weeks after the peace treaty was signed but prior to the news reaching America; General Andrew Jackson led the victorious American troops.
New South Atlanta Constitution editor Henry W. Grady’s 1886 term for the prosperous post-Civil War South he envisioned: democratic, industrial, urban, and free of nostalgia for the defeated plantation South.
Nineteenth Amendment (1920) Granted women the right to vote.
Nisei Japanese-Americans; literally, “second generation.”
Normalcy Word coined by future president Warren G. Harding as part of a 1920 campaign speech—“not nostrums, but normalcy”—signifying public weariness with Woodrow Wilson’s internationalism and domestic reforms.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Alliance founded in 1949 by ten western European nations, the United States, and Canada to deter Soviet expansion in Europe.
Northwest Ordinance of 1787 Created the Northwest Territory (area north of the Ohio River and west of Pennsylvania), established conditions for self-government and statehood, included a Bill of Rights, and permanently prohibited slavery.
Nullification Concept of invalidation of a federal law within the borders of a state; first expounded in Thomas Jefferson’s draft of Kentucky resolution against Alien and Sedition Acts (1798); cited by South Carolina in its Ordinance of Nullification (1832) of the Tariff of Abominations, used by southern states to explain their secession from the Union (1861), and cited again by southern states to oppose the Brown v. Board of Education decision (1954).
Office of Price Administration Created in 1941 to control wartime inflation and price fixing resulting from shortages of many consumer goods, the OPA imposed wage and price freezes and administered a rationing system.
Okies Displaced farm families from the Oklahoma dust bowl who migrated to California during the 1930s in search of jobs.
Oneida Community Utopian community founded in 1848; the Perfectionist religious group practiced “complex marriage” under leader John Humphrey Noyes.
OPEC Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Open Door Policy In hopes of protecting the Chinese market for U.S. exports, Secretary of State John Hay demanded in 1899 that Chinese trade be open to all nations.
Open shop Situation in which union membership is not a condition of employment in a factory or other business.
Operation Dixie CIO’s largely ineffective post-World War II campaign to unionize southern workers.
Oregon Trail Route of wagon trains bearing settlers from Independence, Missouri, to the Oregon Country in the 1840s through the 1860s.
Ostend Manifesto Memorandum written in 1854 from Ostend, Belgium, by the U.S. ministers to England, France, and Spain recommending purchase or seizure of Cuba in order to increase the United States’ slaveholding territory.
Panic of 1819 Financial collapse brought on by sharply falling cotton prices, declining demand for American exports, and reckless western land speculation.
Panic of 1837 Beginning of major economic depression lasting about six years; touched off by a British financial crisis and made worse by falling cotton prices, credit and currency problems, and speculation in land, canals, and railroads.
Panic of 1857 Beginning of economic depression lasting about two years and brought on by falling grain prices and a weak financial system; the South was largely protected by international demand for its cotton.
Panic of 1873 Onset of severe six-year depression marked by bank failures and railroad and insurance bankruptcies.
Peace of Paris Signed on September 3, 1783, the treaty ending the Revolutionary War and recognizing American independence from Britain also established the border between Canada and the United States, fixed the western border at the Mississippi River, and ceded Florida to Spain.
Pendleton Civil Service Act (1883) Established the Civil Service Commission and marked the end of the spoils system.
Pentagon Papers Informal name for the Defense Department’s secret history of the Vietnam conflict; leaked to the press by former official Daniel Ellsberg and published in the New York Times in 1971.
Philippine War American military campaign that suppressed the movement for Philippine independence after the Spanish-American War; America’s death toll was over 4,000 and the Philippines’ was far higher.
Pilgrims Puritan Separatists who broke completely with the Church of England and sailed to the New World aboard the Mayflower, founding Plymouth Colony on Cape Cod in 1620.
Pinckney’s Treaty Treaty with Spain negotiated by Thomas Pinckney in 1795; established United States boundaries at the Mississippi River and the thirty-first parallel and allowed open transportation on the Mississippi.
Plantation An early word for a colony, a settlement “planted” from abroad among an alien population in Ireland or the New World. Later, a large agricultural enterprise that used unfree labor to produce a crop for the world market.
Planter In the antebellum South, the owner of a large farm worked by twenty or more slaves.
Platt Amendment (1901) Amendment to Cuban constitution that reserved the United States’ right to intervene in Cuban affairs and forced newly independent Cuba to host American naval bases on the island.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) U.S. Supreme Court decision supporting the legality of Jim Crow laws that permitted or required “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites.
Poll tax Tax that must be paid in order to be eligible to vote; used as an effective means of disenfranchising black citizens after Reconstruction, since they often could not afford even a modest fee.
Popular sovereignty Allowed settlers in a disputed territory to decide the slavery issue for themselves; program most closely associated with Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois.
Populist Party Founded in 1892, it advocated a variety of reform issues, including free coinage of silver, income tax, postal savings, regulation of railroads, and direct election of U.S. senators.
Potsdam Conference Last meeting of the major Allied powers, the conference took place outside Berlin from July 17 to August 2, 1945; United States president Harry Truman, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and British prime minister Clement Attlee finalized plans begun at Yalta.
Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction President Lincoln’s proposal for reconstruction, issued in 1863, allowed southern states to rejoin the Union if 10 percent of the 1860 electorate signed loyalty pledges, accepted emancipation, and had received presidential pardons.
Proclamation of 1763 Royal directive issued after the French and Indian War prohibiting settlement, surveys, and land grants west of the Appalachian Mountains; caused considerable resentment among colonists hoping to move west.
Progressive Party Created when former president Theodore Roosevelt broke away from the Republican Party to run for president again in 1912; the party supported progressive reforms similar to the Democrats but stopped short of seeking to eliminate trusts. Also the name of party backing Robert La Follette for president in 1924.
Progressivism Broad-based reform movement, 1900-1917, that sought governmental action in solving problems in many areas of American life, including education, public health, the economy, the environment, labor, transportation, and politics.
Proposition 13 Measure approved by California voters in 1978 prohibiting future increases in property taxes; marked beginning of “tax revolt” as major political impulse.
Public sphere The world of political organization and debate in private associations and publications outside the control of government.
Pueblo Revolt Uprising in 1680 in which Pueblo Indians temporarily drove Spanish colonists out of modem-day New Mexico.
Pullman Strike Strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company in the company town of Pullman, Illinois, on May 11, 2894, by the American Railway Union under Eugene V. Debs; the strike was crushed by court injunctions and federal troops two months later.
Pure Food and Drug Act (1906) First law to regulate manufacturing of food and medicines; prohibited dangerous additives and inaccurate labeling.
Puritans English religious group that sought to purify the Church of England; founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony under John Winthrop in 1630.
Quakers (Society of Friends) Religious group in England and America whose members believed all persons possessed the “inner light” or spirit of God; they were early proponents of abolition of slavery and equal rights for women.
Radical Republicans Group within the Republican Party in the 1850s and 1860s that advocated strong resistance to the expansion of slavery, opposition to compromise with the South in the secession crisis of 1860-1861, emancipation and arming of black soldiers during the Civil War, and equal civil and political rights for blacks during Reconstruction.
Railroad Strike of 1877 Interstate strike, crushed by federal troops, which resulted in extensive property damage and many deaths.
Reaganomics Popular name for President Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of “supply side” economics, which combined tax cuts with an unregulated marketplace.
Reconstruction Act (1867) Established temporary military governments in ten Confederate states—excepting Tennessee—and required that the states ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and permit freedmen to vote.
Reconstruction Finance Corporation Federal program established in 1932 under President Herbert Hoover to loan money to banks and other institutions to help them avert bankruptcy.
Red Scare Fear among many Americans after World War I of Communists in particular and noncitizens in general, a reaction to the Russian Revolution, mail bombs, strikes, and riots.
Redeemers Conservative white Democrats, many of them planters or businessmen, who reclaimed control of the South following the end of Reconstruction.
Regulators Groups of backcountry Carolina settlers who protested colonial policies.
Republican Party Organized in 1854 by antislavery Whigs, Democrats, and Free Soilers in response to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act; nominated John C. Fremont for president in 1856 and Abraham Lincoln in 1860; also the name of the party formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the 1790s.
Republicanism Political theory in eighteenth-century England and America that celebrated active participation in public life by economically independent citizens as central to freedom.
Revolution of 1800 First time that an American political party surrendered power to the opposition party; Jefferson, a Republican, had defeated incumbent Adams, a Federalist, for president.
Right-to-work State laws enacted to prevent imposition of the closed shop; any worker, whether or not a union member, could be hired.
Roe v. Wade (1973) U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring states to permit first-trimester abortions.
Roosevelt Corollary (1904) President Theodore Roosevelt announced in what was essentially a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine that the United States could intervene militarily to prevent interference from European powers in the Western Hemisphere.
Rough Riders The first U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, led in battle in the Spanish-American War by Theodore Roosevelt; they were victorious in their only battle near Santiago, Cuba, and Roosevelt used the notoriety to aid his political career.
Santa Fe Trail Beginning in the 1820s, a major trade route from St. Louis, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory.
Saratoga, Battle of Major defeat of British general John Burgoyne and more than 5,000 British troops at Saratoga, New York, on October 27, 1777.
Scalawags Southern white Republicans—some former Unionists—who supported Reconstruction governments.
Schenck v. U.S. (1919) U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the wartime Espionage and Sedition Acts; in the opinion he wrote for the case, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes set the now-familiar “clear and present danger” standard.
Scientific management Management campaign to improve worker efficiency using measurements like “time and motion” studies to achieve greater productivity; introduced by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911.
Scopes trial (1925) Trial of John Scopes, Tennessee teacher accused of violating state law prohibiting teaching of the theory of evolution; it became a nationally celebrated confrontation between religious fundamentalism and civil liberties.
Scottsboro case (1931) In overturning verdicts against nine black youths accused of raping two white women, the U.S. Supreme Court established precedents in Powell v. Alabama (1932), that adequate counsel must be appointed in capital cases, and in Norris v. Alabama (1935), that African-Americans cannot be excluded from juries.
Second Great Awakening Religious revival movement of the early decades of the nineteenth century, in reaction to the growth of secularism and rationalist religion; began the predominance of the Baptist and Methodist churches.
Segregation Policy of separating persons on the basis of race in schools, transportation, and other public facilities; de facto segregation refers to social customs that accomplish this, de jure segregation to laws requiring it.
Seneca Falls Convention First women’s rights meeting and the genesis of the women’s suffrage movement; held in July 1848 in a church in Seneca Falls, New York, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott.
“Separate but equal” Principle underlying legal racial segregation, upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and struck down in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
Separation of Powers Feature of the U.S. Constitution, sometimes called “checks and balances,” in which power is divided between executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the national government so that no one can dominate the other two and endanger citizens’ liberties.
Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (1944) The “GI Bill of Rights” provided money for education and other benefits to military personnel returning from World War II.
Settlement houses Late-nineteenth-century movement to offer a broad array of social services in urban immigrant neighborhoods; Chicago’s Hull House was one of hundreds of settlement houses that operated by the early twentieth century.
Seventeenth Amendment (1913) Progressive reform that required U.S. senators to be elected directly by voters; previously, senators were chosen by state legislatures.
Shakers Founded by Mother Ann Lee in England, the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing settled in Watervliet, New York, in 1774 and subsequently established eighteen additional communes in the Northeast, Indiana, and Kentucky.
Sharecropping Type of farm tenancy that developed after the Civil War in which landless workers—often former slaves— farmed land in exchange for farm supplies and a share of the crop.
Shays’s Rebellion (1787) Massachusetts farmer Daniel Shays and 1,200 compatriots, seeking debt relief through issuance of paper currency and lower taxes, attempted to prevent courts from seizing property from indebted farmers.
Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) First law to restrict monopolistic trusts and business combinations; extended by the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914.
Sherman Silver Purchase Act (1890) In replacing and extending the provisions of the Bland-Allison Act of 1878, it increased the amount of silver periodically bought for coinage.
Single tax Concept of taxing only landowners as a remedy for poverty, promulgated by Henry George in Progress and Poverty (2879).
Sit-down strikes Tactic adopted by labor unions in the mid- and late 1930s, whereby striking workers refused to leave factories, making production impossible; proved highly effective in the organizing drive of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Sit-ins Tactic adopted by young civil rights activists, beginning in 1960, of demanding service at lunch counters or public accommodations and refusing to leave if denied access; marked the beginning of the most militant phase of the civil rights struggle.
Sixteenth Amendment (1913) Legalized the federal income tax.
Smith v. Allwright (1944) U.S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed all-white Democratic Party primaries in Texas.
Social Darwinism Application of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection to society; used the concept of the “survival of the fittest” to justify class distinctions and to explain poverty.
Social Gospel Preached by liberal Protestant clergymen in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; advocated the application of Christian principles to social problems generated by industrialization.
Social Security Act (1935) Created the Social Security system with provisions for a retirement pension, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and public assistance (welfare).
Socialist Party Political party demanding public ownership of major economic enterprises in the United States as well as reforms like recognition of labor unions and women’s suffrage; reached peak of influence in 1912 when presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs received over 900,000 votes.
Sons of Liberty Organizations formed by Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and other radicals in response to the Stamp Act.
South Carolina Exposition and Protest Written in 1828 by Vice-President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina to protest the so-called Tariff of Abominations, which seemed to favor northern industry; introduced the concept of state interposition and became the basis for South Carolina’s Nullification Doctrine of 1833.
Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Pact among mostly Western nations signed in 1954; designed to deter Communist expansion and cited as a justification for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Civil rights organization founded in 1957 by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and other civil rights leaders.
Spoils system The term—meaning the filling of federal government jobs with persons loyal to the party of the president— originated in Andrew Jackson’s first term.
Sputnik First artificial satellite to orbit the earth; launched October 4, 1957, by the Soviet Union.
Stalwarts Conservative Republican Party faction during the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877-1881; led by Senator Roscoe B. Conkling of New York, Stalwarts opposed civil service reform and favored a third term for President Ulysses S. Grant.
Stamp Act (1765) Parliament required that revenue stamps be affixed to all colonial printed matter, documents, and playing cards; the Stamp Act Congress met to formulate a response, and the act was repealed the following year.
Standard Oil Company Founded in 1870 by John D. Rockefeller in Cleveland, Ohio, it soon grew into the nation’s first industry-dominating trust; the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) was enacted in part to combat abuses by Standard Oil.
Staple crop Important cash crop, for example, cotton or tobacco.
Steamboats Paddlewheelers that could travel both up- and down-river in deep or shallow waters; they became commercially viable early in the nineteenth century and soon developed into America’s first inland freight and passenger service network.
Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) Defense Department’s plan during the Reagan administration to build a system to destroy incoming missiles in space.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Founded in 1960 to coordinate civil rights sit-ins and other forms of grassroots protest.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Major organization of the New Left, founded at the University of Michigan in 1960 by Tom Hayden and Al Haber.
Sugar Act (Revenue Act of 1764) Parliament’s tax on refined sugar and many other colonial products.
Taft-Hartley Act (1947) Passed over President Harry Truman’s veto, the law contained a number of provisions to weaken labor unions, including the banning of closed shops.
Tariff Federal tax on imported goods.
Tariff of Abominations (Tariff of 1828) Taxed imported goods at a very high rate; aroused strong opposition in the South.
Tariff of 1816 First true protective tariff, intended to protect certain American goods against foreign competition.
Tax Reform Act (1986) Lowered federal income tax rates to 1920s levels and eliminated many loopholes.
Teapot Dome Harding administration scandal in which Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall profited from secret leasing to private oil companies of government oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California.
Tennessee Valley Authority Created in 1933 to control flooding in the Tennessee River valley, provide work for the region’s unemployed, and produce inexpensive electric power for the region.
Tenure of Office Act (1867) Required the president to obtain Senate approval to remove any official whose appointment had also required Senate approval; President Andrew Johnson’s violation of the law by firing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton led to Johnson’s impeachment.
Tet Offensive Surprise attack by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese during the Vietnamese New Year of 1968; turned American public opinion strongly against the war in Vietnam.
Thirteenth Amendment Constitutional amendment adopted in 1865 that irrevocably abolished slavery throughout the United States.
Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, site of 1979 accident that released radioactive steam into the air; public reaction ended the nuclear power industry’s expansion.
Title IX Part of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 that banned gender discrimination in higher education.
Tonkin Gulf Resolution (1964) Passed by Congress in reaction to supposedly unprovoked attacks on American warships off the coast of North Vietnam; it gave the president unlimited authority to defend U.S. forces and members of SEATO.
Townshend Acts (1767) Parliamentary measures (named for the chancellor of the Exchequer) that taxed tea and other commodities, and established a Board of Customs Commissioners and colonial vice-admiralty courts.
Trail of Tears Cherokees’ own term for their forced removal, 1838-1839, from the Southeast to Indian lands (later Oklahoma); of 25,000 forced to march, 4,000 died on the way.
Transcendentalism Philosophy of a small group of midnineteenth-century New England writers and thinkers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller; they stressed personal and intellectual self-reliance.
Transcontinental railroad First line across the continent from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sacramento, California, established in 1869 with the linkage of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads at Promontory, Utah.
Truman Doctrine President Harry S. Truman’s program announced in 1947 of aid to European countries—particularly Greece and Turkey—threatened by communism.
Trust Companies combined to limit competition.
Twenty-first Amendment (1933) Repealed the prohibition of the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, effectively nullifying the Eighteenth Amendment.
Twenty-second Amendment (1951) Limited presidents to two full terms of office or two terms plus two years of an assumed term; passed in reaction to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s unprecedented four elected terms.
Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971) Lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen.
U.S.S. Maine Battleship that exploded in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898, resulting in 266 deaths; the American public, assuming that the Spanish had mined the ship, clamored for war, and the Spanish-American War was declared two months later.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel popularized the abolitionist position.
Underground Railroad Operating in the decades before the Civil War, the “railroad” was a clandestine system of routes and safehouses through which slaves were led to freedom in the North.
Understanding clause Added to southern state constitutions in the late nineteenth century, it allowed illiterate whites to circumvent literacy tests for voting by demonstrating that they understood a passage in the Constitution; black citizens would be judged by white registrars to have failed.
Unitarianism Late-eighteenth-century liberal offshoot of the New England Congregationalist Church; rejecting the Trinity, Unitarianism professed the oneness of God and the goodness of rational man.
United Farm Workers Union for the predominantly Mexican-American migrant laborers of the Southwest, organized by Cesar Chavez in 1962.
United Nations Organization of nations to maintain world peace, established in 1945 and headquartered in New York.
Universal Negro Improvement Association Black nationalist movement active in the United States from 1916 to 1923, led by Marcus Garvey.
V-E Day May 8, 1945, the day World War II officially ended in Europe.
Vertical integration Company’s avoidance of middlemen by producing its own supplies and providing for distribution of its product.
Veto President’s constitutional power to reject legislation passed by Congress; a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress can override a veto.
Vicksburg, Battle of The fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, to General Ulysses S. Grant’s army on July 4, 1863, after two months of siege was a turning point in the war because it gave the Union control of the Mississippi River.
Vietnam War Longest war in which the United States has been involved; began with giving American financial assistance to France, who sought to maintain control over Vietnam colony; moved to dispatching advisers to bolster the government of South Vietnam; and finally sent over 500,000 American soldiers by the mid-1960s; resulted in massive antiwar movement, eventual American withdrawal, and communist victory in 1975; only war the United States has lost.
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (1798-1799) Passed by the Virginia and the Kentucky legislatures; written by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, the resolutions advanced the state-compact theory of the Constitution. Virginia’s resolution called on the federal courts to protect free speech. Jefferson’s draft for Kentucky stated that a state could nullify federal law, but this was deleted.
Virginia and New Jersey Plans Differing opinions of delegations to the Constitutional Convention: New Jersey wanted one legislative body with equal representation for each state; Virginia’s plan called for a strong central government and a two-house legislature apportioned by population.
Volstead Act (1919) Enforced the Prohibition amendment, beginning January 1920.
Voting Rights Act of 1965 Passed in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s, Selma to Montgomery March, it authorized federal protection of the right to vote and permitted federal enforcement of minority voting rights in individual counties, mostly in the South.
Wabash Railroad v. Illinois (1886) Reversing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Munn v. Illinois, the decision disallowed state regulation of interstate commerce.
Wade-Davis bill (1864) Radical Republicans’ plan for reconstruction that required loyalty oaths, abolition of slavery, repudiation of war debts, and denial of political rights to high-ranking Confederate officials; President Lincoln refused to sign the bill.
Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act of 1935) Established the National Labor Relations Board and facilitated unionization by regulating employment and bargaining practices.
War Industries Board Run by financier Bernard Baruch, the board planned production and allocation of war materiel, supervised purchasing, and fixed prices, 1917-1919.
War of 1812 Fought with Britain, 1812-1814, over issues that included impressment of American sailors, interference with shipping, and collusion with Northwest Territory Indians; settled by the Treaty of Ghent in 1814.
War on Poverty Announced by President Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 State of the Union address; under the Economic Opportunity Bill signed later that year, Head Start, VISTA, and the Jobs Corps were created, and programs were created for students, farmers, and businesses in efforts to eliminate poverty.
War Powers Act Law passed in 1973, reflecting growing opposition to American involvement in Vietnam War; required congressional approval before president sent troops abroad.
War Production Board Created in 1942 to coordinate industrial efforts in World War II; similar to the War Industries Board in World War I.
Warren Court The U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1953-1969, decided such landmark cases as Brown v. Board of Education (school desegregation), Baker v. Carr (legislative redistricting), and Gideon v. Wainwright and Miranda v. Arizona (rights of criminal defendants).
Washington Armaments Conference Leaders of nine world powers met in 1921-1922 to discuss the naval race; resulting treaties limited to a specific ratio the carrier and battleship tonnage of each nation (Five-Power Naval Treaty), formally ratified the Open Door to China (Nine-Power Treaty), and agreed to respect each other’s Pacific territories (Four-Power Treaty).
Watergate Washington office and apartment complex that lent its name to the 1972-1974 scandal of the Nixon administration; when his knowledge of the break-in at the Watergate and subsequent coverup was revealed, Nixon resigned the presidency under threat of impeachment.
Webster-Hayne debate U.S. Senate debate of January 1830 between Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Robert Hayne of South Carolina over nullification and states’ rights.
Whig Party Founded in 1834 to unite factions opposed to President Andrew Jackson, the party favored federal responsibility for internal improvements; the party ceased to exist by the late 1850s, when party members divided over the slavery issue.
Whiskey Rebellion Violent protest by western Pennsylvania farmers against the federal excise tax on whiskey, 1794.
Wilmot Proviso Proposal to prohibit slavery in any land acquired in the Mexican War, hut southern senators, led by John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, defeated the measure in 1846 and 1847.
Women’s Christian Temperance Union Largest female reform society of the late nineteenth century; it moved from opposing sale of liquor to demanding the right to vote for women.
Works Progress Administration (WPA) Part of the Second New Deal, it provided jobs for millions of the unemployed on construction and arts projects.
Wounded Knee, Battle of Last incident of the Indian Wars took place in 1890 in the Dakota Territory, where the U.S. Cavalry killed over 200 Sioux men, women, and children.
Writs of assistance One of the colonies’ main complaints against Britain, the writs allowed unlimited search warrants without cause to look for evidence of smuggling.
XYZ affair French foreign minister Tallyrand’s three anonymous agents demanded payments to stop French plundering of American ships in 1797; refusal to pay the bribe was followed by two years of undeclared sea war with France (1798-1800).
Yalta conference Meeting of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin at a Crimean resort to discuss the postwar world on February 4-11, 1945; Joseph Stalin claimed large areas in eastern Europe for Soviet domination.
Yellow journalism Sensationalism in newspaper publishing that reached a peak in the circulation war between Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal in the 1890s; the papers’ accounts of events in Havana Harbor in 1898 led directly to the Spanish-American War.
Yeoman farmers Small landowners (the majority of white families in the Old South) who farmed their own land and usually did not own slaves.
Yick Wo v. Hopkins Supreme Court decision in 1886 overturning San Francisco law that, as enforced, discriminated against Chinese-owned laundries; established principle that equal protection of the law embodied in Fourteenth Amendment applied to all Americans, not just former slaves.
Yorktown, Battle of Last battle of the Revolutionary War; General Lord Charles Cornwallis along with over 7,000 British troops surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, on October 17, 1781.
Young Americans for Freedom Organization of conservative students founded in 1960; played major role in 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater and in rebirth of conservatism in the 1960s.
Zimmermann Telegram From the German foreign secretary to the German minister in Mexico, February 1917, instructing him to offer to recover Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona for Mexico if it would fight the United States to divert attention from Germany in the event that the United States joined the war.