of American History
Failed movement led by conservative
Western politicians to cede federal control of western land
to individual states, promoting private ownership and commercial
Imperious British prime
minister who rejected American intervention in an 1895 border
dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana, prompting
an American threat of military involvement. Salisbury ultimately
reversed his position and allowed a commission to arbitrate
This term signifies England's
relatively benign neglect of its American colonies from
about 1690 to 1760. During these years King and Parliament
rarely legislated constraints of any kind and allowed the
colonists much autonomy in provincial and local matters.
In turn, the colonists supported the parent nation's economic
political objectives. This harmonious period came to an
end after the Seven Year's War when King and Parliament
began asserting more control over the American colonists
through taxes and trade regulations.
Santa Anna, General Antonio
The Mexican general and
president whose defeat at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836
permitted Texas to gain its independence.
Southern white Republicans
during Reconstruction, they came from every class and had
a variety of motives but were pictured by their opponents
as ignorant and degraded.
The 1925 trial of John Scopes
for teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in a Tennessee
public school; also called the "Monkey Trial."
A Missouri slave, Scott
sued for his freedom on the grounds that his master had
taken him onto free soil. The Supreme Court ruled in 1857
that Scott was not a citizen and that Congress had no power
to exclude slavery from the federal territories.
Bank of the United States
A national bank chartered
in 1816 to hold government funds, ease the transfer of money
across state lines, and regulate private banks. Its federal
charter expired in 1836. See Bank
of the United States
Second Continental Congress
This body gathered in Philadelphia
during May 1775 after the shooting war with Great Britain
had started. The second Congress functioned as a coordinating
government for the colonies and states in providing overall
direction for the patriot war effort. It continued as a
central legislative body under the Articles of Confederation
until 1789 when a new national legislature, the federal
Congress as established under the Constitution of 1787,
Second Great Awakening
A wave of religious fervor
and revivalism that swept the United States from the early
nineteenth century through the Civil War.
Second New Deal
The second stage of President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's economic recovery and reform
program, launched January 4, 1935.
Religious dissenters from
England who believed that the state-supported Anglican church,
or Church of England, was too corrupt to be reformed. Thus,
like the Pilgrims, they often migrated elsewhere to form
their own religious communities. See nonseparatists.
Settlement House Movement
A reform movement growing
out of Jane Addams' Hull House in the late nineteenth century,
it led to the formation of community centers in which mainly
middle-class women sought to meet the needs of recent immigrants
to urban centers.
Seward, William Henry
Secretary of State for Abraham
Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and advocate of a vigorous expansionism.
He is perhaps best known for the purchase of Alaska from
Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million, an act labeled "Seward's
A system of labor to replace
slavery that allowed landless farmers to work the land of
others for a share of the crops they produced. It was favored
by freed people over gang labor but often resulted in virtual
Beset by a hard-hitting
economic depression after the War of American Independence,
these farmers from western Massachusetts finally rose up
in rebellion against their state government in 1786 because
they had failed to obtain tax relief. One leader of the
uprising was Daniel Shays, from whom the Shaysites derived
Sherman Antitrust Act
A law passed in 1890 to
break up trusts and monopolies, it was rarely enforced except
against labor unions and most of its power was stripped
away by the Supreme Court, but it began federal attempts
to prevent unfair, anti-competitive business practices.
A form of nonviolent protest
in which civil rights activists occupy seats in a segregated
Legal codes that defined
the slaveholders' power and the slaves' status as property.
Smith, Joseph, Jr.
The founder of the Mormon
Church, Smith was murdered in Illinois in 1844.
The chemical-laden fog caused
by automobile engines, a serious problem in southern California.
Like nuclear waste and the shrinking water supply, it reflects
the problems associated with the rapid demographic shift
to the West in modem times.
An ideology based upon the
evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin, it justified the
concentration of wealth and lack of governmental protection
of the weak through the ideas of natural selection and survival
of the fittest.
A movement among Christian
theologians, it applied Christian doctrines to social problems
and advocated creating living conditions conducive to saving
souls by tackling the problems of the poor.
Once France formally entered
the War for Independence in 1778 on the American side, the
British had to concern themselves with protecting such vital
holdings as their sugar islands in the Caribbean region.
Needing to disperse their troop strength, the idea of the
Southern strategy was to tap into a perceived reservoir
of loyalist numbers in the southern colonies. Reduced British
forces could employ these loyalists as troops in subduing
the rebels and as civil officials in reestablishing royal
governments. The plan failed for many reasons, including
a shortfall of loyalist support and an inability to hold
ground once conquered in places like South Carolina.
A term for hard coin, such
as gold or silver, that can also back and give a fixed point
of valuation to paper currencies.
Religious songs composed
by enslaved African Americans.
The policy of awarding political
or financial help with a government job. Abuses of the spoils
system led to the passage in 1883 of the Pendleton Act,
which created the Civil Service Commission to award government
jobs on the basis of merit.
Russian satellite that successfully
orbited the earth in 1957, prompting Americans to question
their own values and educational system. The hysteria over
Soviet technological superiority led to the 1958 National
Defense Education Act.
The economic conditions
of slow economic growth, rising inflation, and flagging
productivity that characterized the American economy during
Soviet premier in the 1930s
and 1940s, known for his violent purges of internal political
enemies and his suspicion of Western leaders, an ideology
guided by two major German invasions into Russia.
Stamp Act Congress
This intercolonial body
of political leaders from nine colonies met for a few days
in October 1765 to consider ways to protest the Stamp Act.
The delegates drafted a petition declaring that Parliament
should not tax Americans, since they were not represented
in that legislative body. The Congress showed that the colonies,
when aggrieved, could act in unity, an important precedent
for further intercolonial resistance efforts in years to
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady
Organizer of the first women's
rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, Stanton
led the struggle for woman suffrage.
Strategic Arms Limitation
Treaty of 1972 (SALT I)
Arms control treaty signed
by President Nixon and Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev. Although
it only froze the deployment of relatively inconsequential
intercontinental ballistic missiles, this first treaty would
lead to more comprehensive arms reduction treaties in the
The view that the powers
of the national government are limited to those described
in the U.S. Constitution.
Students for a Democratic
Founded in Port Huron, Michigan
in 1962, the radical organization aimed to rid American
society of poverty, racism, and violence through an individually
oriented approach called participatory democracy. By 1968,
the organization had over 100,000 followers and was responsible
for demonstrations at nearly 1000 colleges.
Legislation in 1947 that
reflected the conservative post-war mood. It outlawed the
closed shop, gave presidential power to delay strikes with
a "cooling-off" period, and curtailed the political
and economic power of organized labor.
Tariff of Abominations
An 1828 protective tariff
opposed by many Southerners.
The pre-Civil War reform
movement which sought to curb the drinking of hard liquor.
As American military and
political leaders suggested victory in Vietnam was in sight,
North Vietnam launched an offensive in January 1968 against
every major South Vietnamese target. Although the United
States repelled the Tet Offensive, it prompted waves of
criticism from those who felt the government had been misleading
the American people.
Thoreau, Henry David
A pencilmaker, poet, and
author of the influential essay "Civil Disobedience,"
Thoreau sought to realize transcendentalist ideals in his
In England during the eighteenth
century the Tory Party was closely identified with the king's
interests and monarchism, or in the minds of many American
patriots, with tyrannical government. As the Revolution
dawned, Tory became a term of derision applied to those
colonists who sought to maintain their allegiance to the
British crown. They preferred to think of themselves as
loyalists, since they were not rebelling against but were
still supporting British imperial authority in America.
As opposed to limited war,
total war usually denotes a military conflict in which warfare
ultimately affects the entire population, civilian as well
as military. The American Civil War, at least in its latter
stages, might serve as an example of total war because of
the destruction of both military and civilian resources
in the South by Union armies operating under General Grant
and especially General Sherman during 1864 and 1865.
A group of New England intellectuals
who glorified nature and believed that each person contains
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The peace treaty ending
the Mexican War gave the United States California, Nevada,
New Mexico, Utah, and parts of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas,
and Wyoming in exchange for $15 million and assumption of
$3.25 million in debts owed to Americans by Mexico.
Treaty of Versailles
The treaty that ended World
A speech by President Truman
in March 1947 that set the course of U.S. foreign policy
for the next generation, painting international affairs
as a struggle between free democratic governments and tyrannical
communist governments, and advocating American intervention
to protect democratic governments.
A form of business organization
that created a single board to trustees to oversee competing
firms, the term came to apply when any single entity had
the power to control competition within a given industry,
such as oil production.
A leading orator in the
abolitionist and women's rights movements, Sojourner Truth
was born into slavery in New York's Hudson River Valley
and escaped in 1826.
A black Baptist preacher
who led a revolt against slavery in Southampton County in
southern Virginia in 1831.
This amendment, adopted
in 1964, barred a poll tax in federal elections.
The practice of controlling
every phase of production by owning the sources of raw materials
and often the transportation facilities needed to distribute
the product, it was a means of gaining a competitive edge
over rival companies.
A former West Indian slave
who organized an attempted rebellion against slavery in
Charleston, South Carolina, in 1822.
The English government established
these courts in its North American colonies to deal with
issues of maritime law, including smuggling. If judges condemned
vessels for smuggling, they would share in profits from
the sale of such craft and their cargoes. Judges made all
rulings without juries and thus could clearly benefit from
their own decisions, which caused many colonists to view
these courts as centers of despotic imperial power. The
Stamp Act of 1765 stated that colonists who did not pay
stamp duties could be tried in vice-admiralty courts, which
became another colonial grievance about the prospect of
being convicted and sent to jail without a jury trial, a
violation of fundamental English liberties.
King George III's chief
minister, George Grenville, employed this concept in 1765
in relation to the Stamp Act. He insisted that all colonists
were represented in Parliament by virtue of being English
subjects, regardless of where they lived. Grenville was
attempting to counter the colonists' position that King
and Parliament had no authority to tax them, since the Americans
had no duly elected representatives serving in Parliament.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
This law prohibited literacy
tests and sent federal examiners to the South to register
The free black author
of An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, which
threatened violence if slavery was not abolished.
Alabama governor who ran
for president in 1968 as a third-party candidate on the
American Independent ticket. His message rejecting forced
racial integration, the activities of radical college students,
and the perceived national drift toward the left appealed
to many working class Americans, and he received 13.5 percent
of that election's vote.
War of 1812
War between Britain and
the United States. Causes included British interference
with American shipping, impressment of seamen, a desire
to end British aid to Indians, and an American desire for
War Powers Act
This 1973 law required presidents
to win specific authorization from Congress to engage U.S.
forces in foreign combat for more than 90 days.
War Production Board
The board established in
January 1942 to help mobilize the U.S. economy for war production.
As the nation's first president,
Washington helped define the powers of the presidency, demonstrated
in the Whiskey Rebellion that the national government would
enforce federal law, cleared the Ohio country of Indians,
and attempted to preserve American neutrality during the
war between Britain and France.
During the 1972 presidential
campaign, burglars, tied to the Nixon White House, were
caught installing eavesdropping devices in Democratic Party
headquarters in the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C.
Revelations of White House efforts to obstruct the investigation
of the break-in, of financial irregularities, and the use
of government agencies for partisan purposes led President
Nixon to resign in 1974.
A noted orator, Webster
opposed the War of 1812 and the protectionist tariff of
1816 after his election to the House of Representatives.
He later became a staunch nationalist and defender of tariff
During the eighteenth century
in England the Whig Party was a loosely organized coalition
of political leaders that opposed any hint of arbitrary
authority that might emanate from the monarchy and royally
appointed officials in government. Like the radical Whig
pamphleteers, they also viewed themselves as defenders of
liberty, which is one reason why many American leaders,
even though not organized as a political party, called themselves
whigs. During the 1830s and 1840s in the United States,
there was a Whig party that opposed the policies of Andrew
Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and other members of the Democratic
The inventor of the cotton
gin, Whitney pioneered a system of mass production of interchangeable
parts. Whitney's cotton gin, which separated cotton from
its seeds, met the growing demand for cotton from the textile
industry and breathed new life into the institution of slavery.
An amendment to an 1846
appropriations bill that would have forbade slavery from
any territory acquired from Mexico. The amendment passed
the House twice but was defeated in the Senate.
Woman's Christian Temperance
An organization led by Frances
Willard to stop the abuse of alcohol, it joined forces with
other groups in the movement for the prohibition of alcohol
to reduce such problems as wife abuse.
Women's Army Corps (WAC)
The auxiliary women's unit
to the U.S. army.
mandatory insurance to be carried by employers to cover
on-the-job injuries to their workers, it was a reform that
provided protection to workers while also lowering the risk
Writs of Assistance
Blanket search warrants
used by English customs collectors in the colonies to try
to catch suspected smugglers. These writs did not require
any form of prior evidence to justify searches, which the
colonies viewed as yet another imperial violation of fundamental
X, Y, Z
The meeting between President
Franklin Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill,
and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin at Yalta in the Russian
Crimea in February 1945 to determine the post-World War
II world order.
Sensationalistic press accounts
of the volatile Cuban situation in the 1890s, led by William
Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's
New York World. Helped mobilize pro-interventionist
public opinion prior to the Spanish-American war.
The leader of the Mormon
church following Joseph Smith's murder, Young led the Mormon
exodus from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake.
Telegram from German Foreign
Minister Arnold Zimmermann to the German ambassador to Mexico
pledging a Mexican-German alliance against the United States,
which brought the United States into World War I.