Lexicon

Lexicon

noun  -  the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge.
"the size of the English lexicon"

Lexicon Terms
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  • a

  • abolition
    Abolition means to do away with; put an end to; annul; or make void.

  • absentee ballot
    An absentee ballot is an instrument that allows citizens who are not able to vote on election day the opportunity to vote by mail-in ballot.

  • Adams-Onís Treaty
    The Adams-Onís Treaty was a treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819 that ceded Florida to the U.S. and defined the boundary between the U.S. and New Spain. It settled a standing border dispute between the two countries and was considered a triumph of American diplomacy. It came in the midst of increasing tensions related to Spain's territorial boundaries in North America against the United States and Great Britain in the aftermath of the American Revolution; and also during the Latin American Wars of Independence.

  • Agent Orange
    Agent Orange is the code name for a herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military in its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War. It was later discovered that one of the compounds in Agent Orange was contaminated by an extremely toxic dioxin. Exposure to Agent Orange has caused far-reaching side-effects including birth defects, mental disability and death among the Vietnamese people as well as among returning U.S. servicemen and their families.

  • alien
    In the context of the Almost Painless Guide to U.S. Civics, an alien is someone born outside the United States.

  • alliance
    An alliance is a union to promote common interests, especially between countries.

  • Alliance for Progress
    The Alliance for Progress initiated by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961 aimed to establish economic cooperation between North and South America. The aid was intended to counter the perceived emerging communist threat from Cuba to U.S. interests and dominance in the region. The program achieved limited economic advances, but by the early 1970s it was widely viewed as a failure and was disbanded. “Therefore I have called on all the people of the hemisphere to join in a new Alliance for Progress —alianza para Progreso—a vast cooperative effort, unparalleled in magnitude and nobility of purpose, to satisfy the basic needs of the American people for homes, work and land, health and schools—techo, trabajo y tierra, salud y escuela.”   — President John F. Kennedy

  • amendment
    a change to the Constitution

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
    Founded in 1920, the ACLU’s stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." To the current day, the organization works through litigation, legislation, and community education.

  • anarchist
    An anarchist is one who seek to abolish all forms of government.

  • annexation
    Annexation is the process of incorporating land into a country, state, or municipality. In many cases it is a legitimate means for a governmental unit to acquire land. For example, a city may annex unincorporated land into it’s borders. In the context of international law, annexation often implies the forcible transition of one state’s territory by another state. Such was the case when the United States annexed the Kingdom of Hawaii as part of a broader expansionist agenda of the late nineteenth century.

  • Anti-Masonic Party
    The Anti-Masonic Party was the first "third party" in the United States. It strongly opposed Freemasonry as a single-issue party, and later aspired to become a major party by expanding its platform to take positions on other issues. After emerging as a political force in the late 1820s, most of the Anti-Masonic Party's members joined the Whig Party in the 1830s, and the party disappeared after 1838.

  • appeasement
    Appeasement is the diplomatic policy of settling international quarrels by making political or material concessions in order to avoid conflict. The term is infamously applied to the foreign policy of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain towards Nazi Germany between 1937 and 1939, culminating with the signing of the Munich Pact in September 1938. The agreement, which handed Hitler control of the Sudetenland, traded sacrificed Czechoslovakia's autonomy for the sake of short term peace.  

  • appellate jurisdiction
    Appellate jurisdiction is the authority of a court to review decisions (hear appeals) of a lower court.

  • apportionment
    Apportionment is the process of determining the number of representatives to which each state is entitled.

  • assembly line
    The assembly line is an arrangement of workers, machines, and equipment where the product being assembled passes consecutively from operation to operation until completed. The assembly line method developed by Ford Motor Company between 1908 and 1915 made assembly lines famous.

  • assimilate
    Assimilation is the process whereby a minority group gradually adapts to the customs and attitudes of the prevailing culture and customs.

  • asylum
    An asylum is an inpatient care facility for the insane.

  • Atlantic Charter
    The Atlantic Charter was the blueprint for the world after World War II, and is the foundation for many of the international treaties and organizations that currently shape the world. It was drafted at the Atlantic Conference by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, aboard warships in Newfoundland and was issued as a joint declaration on 14 August 1941. The term "Atlantic Charter" was coined by the Daily Herald, a London newspaper after the joint declaration had been published. The United States did not enter the War until the Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

  • atomic bomb
    An atomic bomb is a weapon of mass destruction in which enormous energy is released by nuclear reactions. The United States was the first country to drop the atomic bomb when President Harry S. Truman ordered the weapon used on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945, ending World War II. The atomic weapons used in these cases work through nuclear fission—literally splitting the nucleus of an atom—and exploded with a yield of 15-20 kilotons of TNT. In contrast, thermonuclear weapons, which were developed following World War II, work through nuclear fusion, creating an explosive yield exponentially greater. A test bomb detonated by the Soviet Union, the Tsar Bomba, produced an explosive yield of an estimated 50 megatons.

  • b

  • Baby Boom
    The term "Baby Boom" generally refers to the dramatic increase in birthrate between 1945 and 1964 in which more than 77 babies were born. In May 1951, Sylvia Porter, a columnist for the New York Post, used the term "boom" to refer to the phenomenon of increased births in post-war America. She wrote:
    “Take the 3,548,000 babies born in 1950. Bundle them into a batch, bounce them all over the bountiful land that is America. What do you get? Boom. The biggest, boomiest boom ever known in history.”

  • Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
    The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad—the B&O—is the oldest railroad in the United States. Its first section was opened in 1830 and came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal, which served New York City.

  • bank war
    The Bank War refers to the political struggle that developed over the issue of rechartering the Second Bank of the United States during the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829–1837). The affair resulted in the destruction of the bank and its replacement by various state banks.

  • Battle of Buena Vista
    The Battle of Buena Vista was a military confrontation during the Mexican-American war in February 1847. During the fighting, the United States Army used artillery to repulse the much larger Mexican Army.

  • Battle of Dien Bien Phu
    The 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu was the climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between French troops and Viet Minh communist revolutionaries. The battle significantly influenced negotiations over the future of Indochina. Military historian Martin Windrow wrote that Dien Bien Phu was:
    “the first time that a non-European colonial independence movement had evolved through all the stages from guerrilla bands to a conventionally organized and equipped army able to defeat a modern Western occupier in pitched battle.”

  • Battle of New Orleans
    The Battle of New Orleans was a series of engagements fought between December 14, 1814 and January 18, 1815, constituting the last major battle of the War of 1812. American forces, commanded by Major GeneralAndrew Jackson, prevented a much larger British force from seizing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired with the Louisiana Purchase.

  • Battle of San Jacinto
    The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican army in a fight that lasted just 18 minutes.

  • Battle of San Pasqual
    The Battle of San Pasqual was a military encounter that occurred during the Mexican-American War in what is now the San Pasqual Valley community of the city of San Diego, California. The series of military skirmishes ended with both sides claiming victory, and the victor of the battle is still debated.In December 1846, General Stephen W. Kearny's US Army of the West engaged a small contingent of Californios and Mexican Lancers.

  • Battle of the Alamo
    The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, United States), killing all of the Texian defenders. Santa Anna's cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution.

  • Bear Flag Revolt
    The Bear Flag Revolt was a rebellion by American settlers in California against the ruling Mexican government in which the rebels proclaimed California an independent republic. The republic was short-lived because soon after the Bear Flag was raised, the U.S. military began occupying California, which went on to join the union in 1850. The Bear Flag became the official state flag in 1911.

  • Beat Generation
    The Beat Generation refers to both the group of American writers who came to prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the cultural phenomena that they wrote about and inspired. Their movement was characterized by the rejection of mainstream American values, experimentation with drugs and alternate forms of sexuality, and an interest in Eastern spirituality. Prominent “Beatniks” included Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.

  • Berlin Crisis
    The Berlin Crisis was a major confrontation of the Cold War in which the U.S.S.R. issued an ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of Western armed forces from West Berlin—culminating with the city's de facto partition with the East German erection of the Berlin Wall, a physical barrier erected by the East German government which completely encircled West Berlin. It came to symbolize the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc in the Cold War. “Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us.”    —President John F. Kennedy, June 26, 1963

  • Berlin Wall
    The Berlin Wall was a physical barrier erected by the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, completely encircling West Berlin, separating it from East Germany, including East Berlin. It came to symbolize the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc in the Cold War.

  • Best and the Brightest
    The Best and the Brightest is a catch phrase which commonly refers to President John F. Kennedy’s closest advisors. In fact, it’s is the title of a popular book by David Halberstam which, used ironically, criticizes these "whiz kids" for arrogantly insisting on "brilliant policies that defied common sense" in Vietnam, often against the advice of career U.S. Department of State employees.

  • bicameral
    Bicameral means a two-house legislative body. In the United States, the bicameral federal legislature comprises the House of Representatives and Senate.

  • Big Purge
    The Big Purge, also known as the Great Purge refers to campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union during the 1930's which sought to remove all opposition to the rule of Joseph Stalin.

  • bill
    A bill is a proposed law.

  • Bill of Rights
    The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

  • Birth of a Nation
    Birth of a Nation is a 1915 American silent film directed by D.W. Griffith. Set during and after the American Civil War, the film provoked great controversy for promoting white supremacy and positively portraying the "knights" of the Ku Klux Klan as heroes. The leading civil rights organization of the era, the NAACP, criticized the melodrama as "...three miles of filth."

  • Black Panther Party
    The Black Panther Party was a militant Black political party founded in 1965 to end political dominance by Whites. Founded in Oakland, California by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the Black Panther Party was It was active in the United States from the mid-1960s into the 1970s.

  • Black Tuesday
    Black Tuesday was the pivotal day of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 when the stock market lost $14 billion in value, bringing the loss for the week to $30 billion, ten times more than the annual budget of the federal government, far more than the U.S. had spent in all of World War I.

  • Blackshirts
    Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy during the period immediately following World War I and until the end of World War II. In Italy Benito Mussolini was the leader, or commandant-general, of the Blackshirts during this time.

  • Blitzkrieg
    Blitzkrieg is the German word for "lightning war", the concentrated military operations by the Germans during World War II that involved rapid advances into Allied territory by tanks and troops, with coordinated massive air attacks.

  • Bloody Sunday
    "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, was a significant milestone in the Civil Rights Movement. That day some six hundred demonstrators marched east out of Selma, Alabama en route to the state capital in Montgomery. They got only as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge six blocks away, where state and local lawmen attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas and drove them back into Selma. Media coverage of the confrontation galvanized the American public and inspired President Johnson to call for new voting rights legislation.

  • Bonus Army
    Popularly known at the time as the Bonus Army, the Bonus Expeditionary Force was an assemblage of some 43,000 marchers, mostly World War I veterans who protested in Washington, D.C. in 1932 for early cash payment of Service Certificates, money which was promised to them by the government in 1924 but would not be accessible until 1944. The 1932 march was brutally suppressed by U.S. Army troops but in 1936 Congress, overriding President Roosevelt's veto, allowed the veterans to redeem their certificates early.

  • Boston Manufacturing Company
    The Boston Manufacturing Company was organized in 1813 by Francis Cabot Lowell, a wealthy Boston merchant, and operated the first successful factory in the United States. The company manufactured textiles (fabric) and built the first integrated spinning and weaving factory in the world at Waltham, Massachusetts.

  • Boxer Rebellion
    The Boxer Rebellion was a violent anti-foreign, anti-colonial, and anti-Christian uprising that took place in China between 1899 and 1901. It was initiated by a group called the Militia United in Righteousness, known in English as the "Boxers," because many of their members had been practitioners of the martial arts, such as boxing.

  • Brown v. Board of Education
    Brown v.Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students and denying black children equal educational opportunities unconstitutional. The decision overturned the 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson which permitted segregation. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This ruling paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement.

  • Bull Moose Party
    Bull Moose Party was the nickname for the Progressive Party, formed in 1912 by former president Theodore Roosevelt after he lost the presidential nomination of the Republican Party to his former protégé, President William Howard Taft. The moniker "Bull Moose Party" arose after journalists quoted Roosevelt saying that he felt "fit as a bull moose" following an assassination attempt on the campaign trail shortly after the new party was formed.

  • bully pulpit
    A bully pulpit is a conspicuous position that provides an opportunity to speak out and be listened to. This term was coined by United States President Theodore Roosevelt, who referred to his office as a "bully pulpit", by which he meant a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda. Roosevelt used the word bully as an adjective meaning "superb" or "wonderful", a more common usage at that time.

  • c

  • California Gold Rush
    The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California, near Sacramento. The news of gold brought some 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. The Gold Rush reinvigorated the American economy, and California became one of the few American states to go directly to statehood without first being a territory.

  • California Trail
    The California Trail was an overland trail of roughly 3,000 miles which extended from the Missouri River to the present state of California. It was used by pioneering settlers during the mid-1800s and followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trails. In the present states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah, the California and Oregon trails split into several different trails or cutoffs.

  • Camelot
    Camelot is the most famous castle and court associated with the legendary King Arthur. In the context of The Sixties, “Camelot” was the figurative designation for John F. Kennedy, his family, and Presidential administration.

  • campaign
    A campaign, more specifically a political campaign, is an organized effort in which an individual citizens seeks election to political office.

  • candidate
    A candidate is one that aspires to or is nominated or qualified for an office.

  • capitalism
    Capitalism is an economic system in which capital goods are owned, operated and traded by private individuals, businesses, or corporations for the purpose of profit.

  • catalyst
    A catalyst is a person or thing that causes an event or change.

  • caucus
    A caucus is a closed meeting of party members from one house of the legislature to select leaders or decide legislative business.

  • checks and balances
    the system whereby each branch of the government exercises some control over the others

  • Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
    Cherokee Nation v. Georgia was a United States Supreme Court case. The Cherokee Nation sought a federal injunction against laws passed by the U.S. state of Georgia depriving them of rights within its boundaries, but the Supreme Court did not hear the case on its merits. It ruled that it had no original jurisdiction in the matter, as the Cherokees were a dependent nation, with a relationship to the United States like that of a "ward to its guardian," as said by Justice Marshall.

  • Chesapeake Affair
    The Chesapeake Affair was an incident in which the British frigate HMS Leopard fired-upon the U.S. ship Chesapeake, killing three Americans. The event inspired the Embargo Act of 1807.

  • Chicago Defender
    The Chicago Defender was the most influential African American newspaper during the early and mid-20th century. The Defender, published in Chicago with a national editorial perspective, played a leading role in the widespread Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North.

  • citizen
    A citizen is anyone born in the United States, whose parents are U.S. citizens, or who is naturalized.

  • Civil Rights Act of 1957
    The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first civil rights legislation enacted by Congress in the United States since Reconstruction. It was designed to ensure that all African-Americans could exercise their right to vote. Because of opposition and amendment the Act was largely ineffective in its enforcement and its scope.

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public, so-called public accommodations. The law's effects were far-reaching and had tremendous long-term impacts for the whole country. It prohibited discrimination in public facilities, in government, and in employment, invalidating the Jim Crow laws in the southern U.S. It became illegal to compel segregation of the races in schools, housing, or hiring.

  • Civil Rights Movement
    The African American Civil Rights Movement generally refers to the movements in the United States (between roughly 1955 and 1968) aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring suffrage in Southern states. In the late 1960s, the emergence of the Black Power Movement, which lasted roughly from 1966 to 1975, enlarged the aims of the Civil Rights Movement to include racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from oppression by white Americans.

  • Civil War
    The American Civil War was a civil war in the United States, fought between 1861 and 1865. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, also known as the "Confederacy." Led by Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy fought against the United States (the Union), which was supported by all the free states and generally by the five border slave states. There were numerous causes of the civil war, the most obvious being the schism between anti- and pro-slavery factions but also the supremacy of states’ rights, and economic factors.

  • Clayton Antitrust Act
    The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 was a part of United States antitrust law with the goal of adding further substance to the U.S. antitrust law regime; the Clayton Act sought to prevent anticompetitive practices in their incipiency. That regime started with the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the first Federal law outlawing practices considered harmful to consumers (monopolies, cartels, and trusts). The Clayton Act specified particular prohibited conduct, the three-level enforcement scheme, the exemptions, and the remedial measures.

  • Clermont
    Robert Fulton's steamboat the Clermont was the pioneer of practical steamboats. The Clermont's inaugural voyage began on August 17, 1807 when it steamed out of New York City, destined for Clermont, 110 miles to the north. By the time the journey was completed, the Clermont had cover 150 miles in just thirty-two hours—an astounding accomplishment for the day.

  • Cold War
    The Cold War was a geopolitical confrontation between the United States and its western allies and the Soviet Union its communist satellites. The Cold War began in the aftermath of World War II and continued until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. It was characterized by diplomatic stand-offs, a nuclear arms race, and proxy-wars fought between client-states of each superpower.

  • collectivization
    Collectivization in the Soviet Union was a policy pursued under Josef Stalin between 1928 and 1940. The goal of this policy was to consolidate individual land and labor into collective farms. The sweeping collectivization often involved tremendous human and social costs.

  • Committee on Civil Rights
    President Truman established the Committee on Civil Rights by executive order in 1946 to investigate the status of civil rights in the United States and propose measures to strengthen and protect the civil rights of American citizens.

  • communism
    Communism is a family of economic and political ideas and social movements related to the establishment of a classless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general. It is also often used to refer to a form of government in which the state operates under a one-party system and declares allegiance to Marxism-Leninism or a derivative thereof, even if the party does not actually claim that the society has already reached communism. Within the context of the Cold War, communism is a family of economic and political ideas and social movements related to the establishment of a classless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general. It is also often used to refer to a form of government in which the state operates under a one-party system and declares allegiance to Marxism-Leninism or a derivative thereof, even if the party does not actually claim that the society has already reached communism.

  • concentration camp
    Nazi Germany, under Adolph Hitler, maintained concentration camps intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime. They grew rapidly through the 1930s as political opponents and many other groups of people were incarcerated without trial or judicial process. Concentration camps are distinct from extermination camps, which were established for the sole purpose of carrying out the extermination of the Jews of Europe. Concentration camps were established in the Soviet Union following the 1917 revolution and proliferated during the Stalin era. These forced labor camps are often referred to by the acronym GULAG, for the Soviet bureaucratic institution which operated them, Glavnoe Upravlenie ispravitel’no-trudovykh LAGerei.

  • Conestoga wagon
    The Conestoga wagon is a heavy, covered wagon that was used extensively during the late eighteenth century, and the nineteenth century, in the eastern United States and Canada. It was large enough to transport loads up to 6 tons and was drawn by horses, mules, or oxen. It was designed to help keep its contents from moving about when in motion and to aid it in crossing rivers and streams. The wagons used in the westward expansion of the United States were, for the most part, ordinary farm wagons fitted with canvas covers. A true Conestoga wagon was too heavy for use on the prairies.

  • Congress
    The United States Congress consists of a bicameral, or two-house, legislature. The House of Representatives represents the people by population, and the Senate represents each state equally. The role of Congress is to translate public will into public policy in the form of laws.

  • Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
    CORE is a United States civil rights organization that originally played a pivotal role for African Americans in the Civil Rights Movement. CORE organized the Freedom Rides of 1961 which were infamous for the racial violence they inspired.

  • constitution
    A constitution is a body of supreme law, setting out the basic principles, structures, processes, and functions for a government and placing limits upon its actions.

  • contraband
    Generally, contraband means goods legally prohibited in trade. In the context of warfare, contraband is goods forbidden to be supplied by neutrals to those engaged in war.

  • convoy
    A convoy is a group of vehicles or ships traveling together with a protective escort for safety.

  • Corps of Discovery
    The Corps of Discovery was a specially-established unit of the U.S. Army which formed the nucleus of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which explored the uncharted land west of the Mississippi River between May 1804 and September 1806.

  • cotton gin
    The cotton gin—or cotton engine—is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds, allowing for much greater productivity than manual cotton separation. The innovation is generally credited to Eli Whitney, who received a patent for the 'gin in 1807.

  • council-manager government
    Under the council–manager form of government, an elected governing body is responsible for legislative functions such as establishing policy, passing local ordinances, voting appropriations, and developing an overall vision. The legislative body appoints a professional manager to oversee the administrative operations, implement its policies, and advise it. The manager position is similar to that of corporate chief executive officer (CEO), providing professional management to the board of directors. Council-manager government may also include the position of “mayor,” which is a largely ceremonial title, and may be selected by the council from among its members or elected as an at-large council member with no executive functions.

  • counterinsurgency
    Counterinsurgency is military or political action taken against the activities of guerrillas, revolutionaries, or "insurgents." During the Vietnam war, counterinsurgency assumed many forms, including military missions, political propaganda and programs intended to win the “hearts and minds” of the local population and, thus, starve the insurgency of its popular support.

  • credit
    Credit is any form of deferred payment, the granting of a loan and the creation of debt. Creditors are the banks or other lenders who loan the money.

  • cronyism
    Cronyism is the practice of partiality in awarding jobs and other advantages to friends or trusted colleagues, especially in politics and between politicians and supportive organizations. For instance, this includes appointing "cronies" to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications.

  • Cuban Missile Crisis
    The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation between the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba in October 1962, during the Cold War. The crisis developed when the Cuban and Soviet governments placed offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba. When United States intelligence discovered the weapons, its government decided to do all they could to ensure their removal. The crisis ranks with the Berlin Blockade as one of the major confrontations of the Cold War, and is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to a nuclear war.

  • Cumberland Gap
    The Cumberland Gap is a narrow pass through the Cumberland Mountains and represented an important route through the lower central Appalachian Mountain. It was part of the Wilderness road, which was used by colonial and early national era settlers to reach Kentucky from the East.

  • d

  • D-Day
    D-Day refers to June 6, 1944, the day on which the Allies invaded Nazi occupied France during World War II. The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. In more general military parlance, D-Day and H-Hour are used for the undetermined day and hour on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated, usually where secrecy is essential.

  • Daisy Girl
    One of the most memorable of all campaign commercials, “Daisy Girl” was created for Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 presidential run. Without any explanatory words, the ad uses a simple and powerful cinematic device, juxtaposing a scene of a little girl happily picking petals off of a flower with an ominous countdown to a nuclear explosion. “Daisy Girl” aired only once as a paid political ad. However, it was so controversial that it received extensive airplay on ABC’s and CBS’s nightly news shows, amplifying its impact.

  • Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.)
    The Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) is a lineage-based membership organization of women dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education, and patriotism. D.A.R.'s motto is "God, Home, and Country." Some state chapters of D.A.R. date from as early as October 11, 1890.

  • Declaration of Sentiments
    The Declaration of Sentiments, also known as the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, is a document signed in 1848 by 68 women and 32 men—100 out of some 300 attendees at the first women's rights convention to be organized by women at Seneca Falls, New York. Borrowing from the United States Declaration of Independence, it begins:
    “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.”

  • demagogue
    A demagogue is a a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power andpopularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.

  • demobilization
    Demobilization is the process of standing down a nation's armed forces from combat-ready status. Under President Truman, the armed forces of the United States were reduced from over 10,000,000 at the end of World War II to roughly 1.5 million service members a year-and-a-half later. The opposite of demobilization is mobilization.

  • democracy
    A democracy is a government in which the supreme power is held by the people. With few exceptions, modern democracies are representative democracies. In this system, representatives are chosen by the people to make decisions for them.

  • Democratic-Republican Party
    The Democratic-Republican Party was an early political party, initially led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Democratic-Republicans, who were sometimes referred to simply as Republicans, supported a weak federal government, state banks, minimal navy, extension of democracy to “common people,” and strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

  • depression
    An economic depression is a period of low general economic activity marked especially by rising levels of unemployment. The Great Depression is a proper term that refers to the severe depression which began in 1929.

  • despotism
    Despotism is the exercise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way. The one who wield power in such manner is a despot.

  • dictator
    A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power with military control but, without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch.

  • diplomacy
    Definition: Diplomacy is the conducting of relations between nations, as in making agreements. The United States was involved in many diplomatic efforts during the late nineteenth century, including negotiations to purchase Alaska and annex Hawaii, the opening of Japan, and the establishment of an “Open Door” policy in China. The presidents of the period adopted different styles of diplomacy including Teddy Roosevelt’s “Big Stick” diplomacy, William Howard Taft’s dollar diplomacy and Woodrow Wilson’s moral diplomacy.

  • Domino Principle
    The domino principle or domino theory was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War to clarify the need for American intervention around the world. It stated that if one land in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. President Eisenhower invoked the principle in a 1954 press conference:
    “Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the “falling domino” principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.”

    — President Dwight D. Eisenhower The Domino Principle April 7, 1954

  • draft
    A military draft is the process or method of selecting one or more individuals from a group for a service or duty. In the United States, the draft came to an end when the United States Armed Forces moved to an all-volunteer military force in 1973. However, all male civilians between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register so that a draft can be readily resumed if needed.

  • Dust Bowl
    The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 and in some areas until 1940. The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation and other techniques to prevent erosion.

  • Dynamic Conservatism
    Throughout his presidency, Dwight Eisenhower preached a doctrine of “Dynamic Conservatism.” This was a monicker for his middle-of-the-road politics. Similarly he called himself a “modern Republican,” saying he was
    “. . . conservative when it comes to money, liberal when it comes to human beings.”
    Supporting this claim, President Eisenhower continued all the major New Deal programs still in operation, especially Social Security. He expanded its programs and rolled them into a new cabinet-level agency, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, while extending benefits to an additional ten million workers. His cabinet, consisting of several corporate executives and one labor leader, was dubbed by one journalist, "Eight millionaires and a plumber."

  • e

  • Easter Offensive
    The Easter Offensive of the Vietnam war was a military campaign conducted by the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN, the regular army of North Vietnam) against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN, the regular army of South Vietnam) and the United States between March 30 and October 22, 1972. The Easter Offensive was the first major confrontation in which the Army of South Vietnam fought independently without the assistance of significant American group troops.

  • electoral college
    The electoral college is a group of persons (presidential electors) chosen in each state and the District of Columbia every four years who make a formal selection of the President and Vice-President.

  • Emancipation Proclamation
    The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named ten specific states where it would apply. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution. Many falsely believe the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves. This is not the case as stated above. Slavery was outlawed throughout the United States with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on December 6, 1865.

  • Embargo Act
    The Embargo Act of 1807 was an act of Congress which forbid the United States from trading with any foreign nation. The measure was aimed at punishing Britain, but it led to a sharp downturn in the American economy, especially in New England.

  • Emergency Banking Act
    The official title of which was the Emergency Banking Relief Act, was an act of the United States Congress spearheaded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. It was passed on March 9, 1933. The act allowed a plan that would close down insolvent banks and reorganize and reopen those banks strong enough to survive.

  • empresario
    An empresario was a person who had been granted the right to settle on land in exchange for recruiting and taking responsibility for new settlers. The word is Spanish for entrepreneur and often refers specifically to the land agents who brought white American settlers into the Tejas (Texas) province of Mexico during the early 1800s.

  • Enola Gay
    The Enola Gay is the B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb, code-named "Little Boy" by the United States in the attack on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, just before the end of World War II.

  • Era of Good Feelings
    The Era of Good Feelings marked a period in American history that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity in the aftermath of the War of 1812. The era saw the collapse of the Federalist Party and an end to the bitter partisan disputes between it and the dominant Democratic-Republican Party. The period is so closely associated with James Monroe's presidency that his name and the era are virtually synonymous.

  • Erie Canal
    The Erie was the greatest manmade waterway of the canal age and ultimately connected the East Coast to America's growing interior. Construction of the canal was begun on July 4th, 1817 and spearheaded by New York governor DeWitt Clinton. While critics derided the project as "Clinton's Big Ditch" and "Clinton's Folly," it was a fabulous success.

  • exacerbate
    Exacerbate means to make a bad of difficult situation worse.

  • executive branch
    The executive branch consists of the President of the United States and his cabinet.

  • expansionism
    Expansionism is the policy of expanding a nation’s territory or its sphere of influence, often at the expense of other nations. America's 19th century expansion across the continent was seen by some as pursuing it's Manifest Destiny. Likewise, the country's late nineteenth century expansionism is closely associated with its growth as a new world power and the projection of American economic, military and cultural influence on other countries.

  • f

  • factory system
    The factory system is a method of manufacturing using machinery and division of labour, which reduced the required skill level of workers and also increased the output per worker. The factory system was first adopted in Britain at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century and later spread around the world.

  • Fair Deal
    The Fair Deal was U.S. President Harry S. Truman's catch-phrase for a series of social and economic reforms outlined in his 1949 State of the Union Address to Congress. The President stated that
    “Every segment of our population, and every individual, has a right to expect from his government a fair deal.”
    Congress resisted most of Truman’s agenda, but the Fair Deal remains significant in establishing a call for universal health care as a rallying cry for the Democratic Party. Lyndon Johnson credited Truman's unfulfilled program as influencing Great Society measures such as Medicare that were successfully enacted during the 1960s.

  • Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC)
    President Roosevelt created the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) on June 25, 1941, by signing Executive Order 8802, which stated, "there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin."

  • Fair Labor Standards Act
    The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is a United States federal law that established a national minimum wage, guaranteed time and a half for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in "oppressive child labor."

  • fascism
    Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce. Fascist governments forbid and suppress criticism and opposition to the government and the fascist movement. Italy and Germany were both Fascist countries at the start of the Second World War.  

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency.

  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is a United States government corporation created by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 to protect the value of bank deposits. Since the start of FDIC insurance on January 1, 1934, no depositor has lost a single cent of insured funds as a result of a failure.

  • Federal Highway Act
    The Federal Highway Act was legislation that appropriated $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways over a twenty-year period. It was the largest public works project in American history to that point. The Act was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 29, 1956.

  • federal system
    A federal system is one that divides the powers of government between national government and state, or provincial, governments.

  • Federal Trade Commission
    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act. Its principal mission is the promotion of consumer protection and the elimination and prevention of anticompetitive business practices, such as coercive monopoly.

  • Federalist Party
    The federalist party was an early political faction, initially led by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. Federalists supported a strong central government, policies that were favorable to business and wealthy property owners, and a loose interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

  • Fifty-Four Forty or Fight
    "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight" was a rallying cry relating to the Oregon boundary dispute with Great Britain. The term refers to the northernmost US claim to the territory--at 54°40′ north latitude--which is in present-day Canada.

  • Final Solution

  • First Barbary War
    The First Barbary War was the first of two Barbary Wars which involved the United States and the “Barbary States” of North Africa. The hostilities were caused by pirates seizing American merchant ships and holding the crews for ransom, demanding the U.S. pay tribute to the Barbary rulers. President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay this tribute.

  • First Indochina War
    The First Indochina War was fought in French Indochina (i.e. Vietnam) from December 19, 1946, until August 1, 1954, between the French Union’s French Far East Expeditionary Corps and the Việt Minh, led by Hồ Chí Minh and Võ Nguyên Giáp. Most of the fighting took place in Tonkin in Northern Vietnam, although the conflict engulfed the entire country and also extended into the neighboring French Indochina protectorates of Laos and Cambodia.

  • flapper
    The term flapper in the 1920s referred to a "new breed" of young women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to the new jazz music, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.

  • foreclosure
    Foreclosure is the legal process by which an owner's right to a property is terminated because of their inability to pay the debt. Millions of home and farm owners had their properties foreclosed by the banks during The Great Depression.

  • Forty-Niner
    Forty-Miner (or 49er) is a nickname for a miner or other person that took part in the 1849 California Gold Rush.

  • Freedom Rides
    The Freedom Rides were a series of civil rights demonstrations in which African American and white activists (Freedom Riders) rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test compliance with federal laws banning discrimination in interstate travel facilities. Coordinated by CORE, the Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement and called national attention to the violent disregard for the law that was used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Riders were arrested for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses.

  • Freedom Summer
    Freedom Summer was a campaign in the United States launched in June 1964 to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi, which up to that time had almost totally excluded black voters. The project also set up dozens of Freedom Schools and Freedom Houses in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population. The project was organized by the only two groups working on Civil Rights in Mississippi at the time, the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Bob Moses, SNCC field secretary and co-director of COFO, directed the summer project.

  • French Indochina
    French Indochina, established in 1887, was the part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. It was initially comprised of Cambodia and the three regions of Vietnam: Tonkin (North), Annam (Central), and Cochinchina (South), as well as Cambodia. Laos was added in 1893. During World War II, the colony was administered by Vichy France and was under Japanese occupation.

  • g

  • G.I.
    G.I. is short for Government Issue and became the common name for any enlisted person in any of the U.S. armed forces.

  • G.I. Bill
    The Montgomery G.I. Bill, officially titled Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, provided for college or vocational education for returning World War II veterans as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It also provided many different types of loans for returning veterans to buy homes and start businesses. The affects of the G.I. Bill were so far-reaching that it has been called the single most important piece of legislation enacted during the twentieth century.

  • galvanize
    Galvanize means to to startle or stimulate into sudden activity.

  • Garveyism
    Garveyism was a movement that grew in the 1920s and is based on the writings of African American Marcus Garvey. The tenets of Garveyism were 1) race first; 2) self-reliance; and, 3) nationhood. The ultimate goal of Garveyism was a United States of Africa which will protect the interests of Black people worldwide.

  • general election
    A general election is the main election held between winners of the various primary elections in which candidates are elected at the local, state, and national levels.

  • Geneva Accords
    The Geneva Accords were a set of treaties signed by France and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam at the Geneva Conference of 1954. The agreements were intended to end hostilities and restore peace to the region. The key provisions included:
    • recognition of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Indochina thereby granting its independence from France;
    • the cessation of hostilities and foreign involvement (or troops) in internal Indochina affairs;
    • and, the establishment of a “provisional military demarcation line” diving Vietnam into northern and southern zones.

  • Gilded Age
    The Gilded Age in United States history is the late 19th century, from the 1870s to about 1900. The term for this period was derived from writer Mark Twain's and Charles Dudley Warner's 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. The Gilded Age had its beginning in the years after the American Civil War and was followed in the 1890s by the Progressive Era. Although it was an era of rapid economic growth and prosperity, it was also a time of abject poverty and inequality as millions of immigrants—many from impoverished regions—poured into the United States, and the high concentration of wealth became more visible and contentious.

  • grass roots
    A grassroots movement is one which uses the people in a given district as the basis for a political or economic movement. It is the most basic level of support for a candidate or an issue.

  • Great Depression
    The Great Depression was a worldwide economic downturn. It was the largest and most severe economic depression in the 20th century. The Great Depression originated in the United States triggered by the stock market crashed of October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday.

  • Great Society
    The Great Society was a set of domestic programs proposed or enacted on the initiative of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Two main goals of the Great Society were the “War on Poverty” and new civil rights legislation. New major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched during this period. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but differed sharply in types of programs enacted. Some of the Great Society programs have been eliminated or scaled back since their introduction, but many of them have become staples of the modern liberal democracy, including Medicare, Medicaid, and federal education funding. “I knew from the start that I was bound to be crucified either way I moved. If I left the woman I really loved—the Great Society—in order to get involved in that bitch of a war on the other side of the world, then I would lose everything at home. All my programs.... But if I left that war and let the Communists take over South Vietnam, then I would be seen as a coward and my nation would be seen as an appeaser and we would both find it impossible to accomplish anything for anybody anywhere on the entire globe”    — President Lyndon Baines Johnson

  • Great White Fleet
    The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the United States Navy battle fleet that completed a circumnavigation of the globe between 1907 and 1909, by order of President Theodore Roosevelt. It consisted of four squadrons of four battleships each, with their escorts. Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability.

  • Greensboro Four
    The Greensboro Four were four African American students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College who staged one of the first sit-in protests of the Civil Rights Movement. On February 1, 1960, Ezell A. Blair Jr., David Leinhail Richmond, Joseph Alfred McNeil, and Franklin Eugene McCain sat at a segregated lunch counter in the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth's store. This lunch counter only had seating for white patrons, while black people had to stand and eat. Although they were refused service, they were allowed to stay at the counter. The actions of the Greensboro Four inspired a wave of similar demonstrations across the South that eventually involved more than 50,000 students and led to increased national attention at a critical point in the Civil Rights Movement.

  • guerilla warfare
    Guerrilla warfare is the unconventional warfare and combat in which a small group of combatants use mobile tactics in the form of ambushes and raids to combat a larger and less mobile formal army. The guerrilla army uses ambush and mobility in attacking vulnerable targets in enemy territory. The term means "little war" in Spanish and was created during the Peninsular War. The concept acknowledges a conflict between armed civilians against a powerful nation state army, either foreign or domestic.

  • guerrilla
    A guerrilla is any member of a small defensive force of irregular soldiers, usually volunteers, making surprise raids or attacks, often behind the lines of an invading enemy army. Guerrilla warfare has been widely employed, notably in Cuba and the Philippines during the late 19th century, and in Vietnam, Nicaragua, and elsewhere during the 20th century. Guerrillas also have been referred to as rebels and insurgents, hence the terms rebellion and insurgency.

  • Gulf of Tonkin
      The Gulf of Tonkin is part of the South China Sea offshore of North Vietnam and location of the notorious 1964 “Gulf of Tonkin Incident.”

  • h

  • Harlem Renaissance
    Harlem Renaissance refers to the flowering of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s. Centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, the movement impacted urban centers throughout the United States. Across the cultural spectrum, literature, drama, music, visual art, dance and also in the realm of social thought, sociology, historiography, philosophy, artists and intellectuals found new ways to explore the historical experiences of black America and the contemporary experiences of black life in the urban North.

  • Hartford Convention
    The Hartford Convention was a meeting of federalists to discuss grievances with federal government. The event was perceived by many Americans as unpatriotic and contributed to the demise of the party.

  • Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act
    The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act was an act signed into law on June 17, 1930, that raised U.S. tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels. The ensuing retaliatory tariffs by U.S. trading partners reduced American exports and imports by more than half and according to some views may have contributed to the severity of the Great Depression.

  • Head Start
    Head Start is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. It was initiated in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.”

  • Hepburn Act
    The 1906 Hepburn Act gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) the power to set maximum railroad rates and led to the discontinuation of free passes to loyal shippers. It also opened railroads' financial records to ICC inspection, a task simplified by standardized bookkeeping systems. For any railroad that resisted, the ICC's conditions would remain in effect until the outcome of litigation said otherwise. By the Hepburn Act, the ICC's authority was extended to cover bridges, terminals, ferries, sleeping cars, express companies and oil pipelines.

  • Ho Chi Minh Trail
    The Ho Chi Minh trail was a supply route that ran from North Vietnam, through Laos and Cambodia, and into South Vietnam. It provided a means to move men and materiel to the battle fronts in the South. According to the U.S. National Security Agency’s official history of the war, the Trail system was “one of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century.” Although the Ho Chi Minh trail was the target of incessant American bombing, it was continuously rebuilt.

  • Holocaust
    The Holocaust is the term used to describe the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, a program of systematic state-sponsored extermination by Nazi Germany, under Adolph Hitler. An additional five million non-Jewish victims perished at the hands of the Nazi regime. These included LGBTQ individuals, the physically and mentally disabled, Roma (gypsies), Poles and other Slavic peoples, Jehovah's Witnesses, and members of political opposition groups.

  • Hoover Dam
    The Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada. When completed in 1936, it was both the world's largest electric-power generating station and the world's largest concrete structure.

  • House of Representatives
    The House of Representatives is one of two law making bodies in Congress. Its representation is based on state population.

  • Hull House
    Hull House was a settlement house co-founded in 1889 on Chicago's Near West Side by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. It was one of the first such establishments in the United Staste and followed the example of London's Toynbee Hall, which was founded as a center for social reform. The U.S. Settlement House movement eventually included almost five-hundred settlements by 1920.

  • i

  • impeach
    To impeach is to accuse a public official of misconduct in office. Impeachment is the first of a two-step legal process through which an elected or appointed official may be removed from office.

  • imperialism
    Imperialism is the policy and practice of forming and maintaining an empire; characterized by a struggle for the control of raw materials and world markets, the subjugation and control of territories, the establishments of colonies. Though the United States was forged in opposition to an empire—the British—by the end of the nineteenth century it was grappling with its own imperial aspirations, rousing a spirited political and public debate.

  • impressment
    Impressment was the practice by Britain of kidnapping American sailors on the premise that they were deserter from the British navy. The groups of men who abducted the sailors were press gangs.

  • Indian Removal Act of 1830
    The Indian Removal Act was signed by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. The law authorized the president to negotiate with southern Indian tribes for their removal to federal territory west of the Mississippi River in exchange for their lands. The act enjoyed strong support from the non-Indian peoples of the South, but there was a large amount of resistance from the Indian tribes, the Whig Party, and whites in the northeast, especially New England. The Cherokee worked together as an independent nation to stop this relocation, but they were unsuccessful.

  • industrialization
    Industrialization is the social and economic organization characterized by large industries, machine production, and the concentration of workers in towns and cities. In the northern United States, industry emerged in the early 19th century, especially in the New England states where textile mills proliferated. In the decades following the Civil War, the United States emerged as an industrial giant. Old industries expanded and many new ones, including petroleum refining, steel manufacturing, and electrical power, emerged. Railroads expanded significantly, bringing even remote parts of the country into a national market economy.

  • ballot initiative
    An initiative or ballot initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote. The initiative may take the form of a direct initiative or an indirect initiative. In a direct initiative, a measure is put directly to a vote after being submitted by a petition. In an indirect initiative, a measure is first referred to the legislature, and then put to a popular vote only if not enacted by the legislature.

  • insurgency
    An insurgency, or guerrilla insurgency, is the antithesis of conventional warfare, Whereas regular armies aim to concentrate force to achieve a decision with maximum speed, guerrilla forces disperse and conduct small-scale operations over an indefinite period of time. The strength of this form of warfare is its resilience; its weakness is the inability of small forces to confront regular armies directly. In Vietnam, the United States faced a guerilla insurgency over many years beginning in 1954. Although, the insurgency could not defeat the U.S. in traditional military terms, the long-term psychological affects on American political and military leaders as well as the public were sufficient to force a U.S. withdrawal and, ultimately, victory for the guerilla fighters.

  • Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC)
    The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was a regulatory body in the United States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, which was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland. The agency was abolished in 1995. In the context of the Civil Rights Movement, following the 1961 Freedom Rides, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy petitioned the ICC to adopt new regulations that would stiffen already existing Federal laws requiring all interstate transportation facilities to be integrated.

  • intractable
    Intractable means not easily controlled or directed; not docile or manageable; stubborn; or obstinate.

  • island hopping
    Island hopping was an important military strategy in the Pacific Theater of World War II. It was conceived to bypass heavily fortified Japanese positions and instead concentrate the limited Allied resources on strategically important islands that were not well defended but capable of supporting the drive to the main islands of Japan. The strategy was devised by General Douglas Mac Arthur.

  • isolationism
    Isolationism refers to America's longstanding reluctance to become involved in the affairs of other nations, particularly in war. Isolationists held the view that America's perspective on the world was different from that of other societies and that America could advance the cause of freedom and democracy by means other than war.

  • isthmus
    An isthmus is a narrow strip of land having water on either side and connecting two larger bodies of land. In the early years of the twentieth century, the United States assumed control of a project to create an artificial waterway across the Isthmus of Panama in order to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Panama Canal is a key conduit for international maritime trade.

  • j

  • Jacksonian democracy
    Jacksonian democracy was a 19th-century political philosophy in the United States that espoused greater democracy for the "common man,"—as opposed to the land-owning elite—as that term was then defined. Originating with President Andrew Jackson and his supporters, it became the nation's dominant political worldview for a generation.

  • jazz
    Jazz is a musical art form which originated at the beginning of the twentieth century in African American communities in the Southern United States from a confluence of African and European music traditions.

  • Jim Crow
    Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans. In reality, this led to treatment and accommodations that were usually inferior to those provided for white Americans, creating a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. Some examples of Jim Crow laws include the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

  • Job Corps
    The Job Corps is a no-cost education and vocational training program which was initiated as the central program of the Johnson Administration's War on Poverty, part of his domestic agenda known as the “Great Society.” Job Corps was modeled on the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

  • judicial branch
    The judicial branch is a system of national courts which consists of the United States Supreme Court and lower federal courts. It is one of three co-equal branches of government.

  • judicial review
    Judicial review is the power of the courts to determine the constitutionality of actions taken by the legislative and executive branches of government.

  • jurisdiction
    Jurisdiction is the official power to make legal decisions and judgements.

  • k

  • kamikaze
    Japanese kamikaze pilots—kamikazes—would attempt to intentionally crash their aircraft, often laden with explosives, bombs, torpedoes and full fuel tanks, into Allied ships. The aircraft's normal functions, to deliver torpedoes or bombs or shoot down other aircraft, were put aside, and the planes were converted to what were essentially manned missiles, in a desperate attempt to reap the benefits of greatly increased accuracy and payload over that of normal bombs. The goal of crippling as many Allied capital ships as possible was considered critical enough to warrant the sacrifice of aviators and aircraft.

  • Kellogg-Briand Pact
    The Kellogg-Briand Pact signed in 1928 was an international agreement not to use war as an instrument of national policy. It was conceived by Aristide Briand, who hoped to engage the United States in a system of protective alliances to guard against aggression from a resurgent Germany. The U.S. secretary of state, Frank Kellogg, proposed a general multilateral treaty, and the French agreed. Most states signed the treaty, but its lack of enforceability and exceptions to its pacifist pledges rendered it useless.

  • Kerner Commission
    The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission after its chair, Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. of Illinois, was an eleven-member commission established by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the causes of the 1967 race riots in the United States and to provide recommendations for the future. In its most memorable passage, the Kerner report warned, "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal."

  • Khmer Rouge
    The Khmer Rouge was the totalitarian ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 that flourished to some degree because of the unrest fostered by the war in Vietnam. Led by the dictator Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge is remembered primarily for its policy of social engineering and the deaths this caused. Brutal and arbitrary executions and torture carried out by its cadres against anyone suspected of belonging to several categories of supposed enemies:
    • anyone with connections to the former government or with foreign governments
    • professionals and intellectuals - in practice this included almost everyone with an education, or even people wearing glasses (which, according to the regime, meant that they were literate)
    • ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Thai and other minorities in Eastern Highland, Cambodian Christians (Most of whom were Catholic, and the Roman Catholic Church in general), Muslims and the Buddhist monks
    • “economic sabotage” for which many of the former urban dwellers (who had not starved to death in the first place) were deemed to be guilty by virtue of their lack of agricultural ability.
    Estimates of the number of people who died as a result of the Khmer Rouge’s policies varies widely, but the most common figures are between 1.4 million and 2.2 million—perhaps one-third the population of Cambodia.

  • Know-Nothings
    The Native American Party, renamed the American Party in 1855 and commonly known as the "Know Nothing" Party, was an American nativist political party that operated nationally in the mid-1850s. It was primarily anti-Catholic and hostile to immigration, starting originally as a secret society. The movement briefly emerged as a major political party in the form of the American Party. Adherents to the movement were to reply "I know nothing" when asked about its specifics by outsiders, thus providing the group with its common appellation.

  • Kristallnacht
    Also known as the “Night of Broken Glass” Kristallnacht was a coordinated attack on Jewish people in Germany and Austria in November, 1938. Many were murdered and thousands were arrested and deported to concentration camps. Synagogues were destroyed and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked. Kristallnacht was followed by further economic and political persecutions and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Final Solution, leading towards the genocide of the Holocaust.

  • Ku Klux Klan
    The Ku Klux Klan was a white supremacist movement initially founded in 1865 by former confederate soldiers or so-called redeemers. As a secret vigilante group, the Klan sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, predominately against African-Americans, but also white Republicans. In 1915, the Klan reemerged in response to a period of postwar social tensions, where industrialization in the North had attracted numerous waves of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and the Great Migration of Southern blacks and whites. The second KKK preached racism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Communism, nativism, and antisemitism. Some local groups took part in attacks on private houses, and carried out other violent activities, generally in the South. At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization boasted a membership of 4–5 million men. The "Ku Klux Klan" name was used by many independent local groups opposing the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period, they often forged alliances with Southern police departments, as in Birmingham, Alabama; or with governor's offices, as with George Wallace of Alabama. Several members of KKK groups were convicted of murder in the deaths of civil rights workers and children in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

  • l

  • legislative branch
    The legislative branch is the law-making agencies of the government, which consist of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is one of three co-equal branches of government.

  • legislature
    A legislature is the law-making body of government.

  • Lend-Lease
    Lend-Lease was a program whereby the United States would loan Britain and other nations war aid. It was a solution, proposed by President Roosevelt, that appeared a less radical step than direct aid. To persuade the American people, Roosevelt famously used the analogy of a garden hose:  Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don’t say to him before that operation, 'Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it.'. . . I don’t want $15—I want my garden hose back after the fire is over. Roosevelt signed into law the Lend-Lease Act in 1941. It gave the president broad powers to "sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend or otherwise dispose of" items to other countries if he decided they were not vital to national security. In so doing the United State became, as Roosevelt stated, "the great arsenal of democracy."

  • Letter from a Birmingham City Jail
    "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King, Jr. while incarcerated in the Birmingham, Alabama jailhouse. King wrote the letter in response to a statement made by white Alabama clergymen on April 12, 1963, titled "A Call For Unity". The clergymen agreed that social injustices existed but argued that the battle against racial segregation should be fought solely in the courts, not in the streets. King insisted that without nonviolent forceful direct actions true civil rights could never be achieved. As he put it, "This 'Wait' has almost always meant 'Never.'" He asserted that not only was civil disobedience justified in the face of unjust laws, but that "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

  • Limited Test Ban Treaty
    The Limited Test Ban Treaty was an arms control agreement negotiated by the US, USSR, and UK in 1963 prohibiting tests of nuclear devices in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater. It did not prohibit underground nuclear testing, so long as radioactive debris was contained within the “territorial limits" of the testing state. The treaty has since been signed by a total of 116 countries, including potential nuclear states Argentina, Brazil, India, Israel, Pakistan, and South Africa. Though two major nuclear powers, France and the People's Republic of China, have not signed, they are now abiding by its provisions. In 1992, China exploded a bomb beyond the LTBT limits.

  • linchpin
    Literally, a linchpin is the pin that goes through the axle of a wheel to keep it in place. However, linchpin can be used to mean an important part of anything, the thing that holds it all together.

  • line-item veto
    The line-item veto is the ability of the executive to veto individual items on a bill. Although Congress enacted a line-item veto in 1996, the Supreme Court found that it violated the Presentment Clause of the Constitution, which says that the president does not have the power to unilaterally amend or repeal legislation passed by Congress.

  • Little Rock Nine
    The Little Rock Nine was a group of African American students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, igniting the Little Rock Crisis. The students were later permitted to attend the school after the intervention of President Eisenhower. The Little Rock Crisis is considered to be one of the most important events in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

  • lobby
    A lobby is an organized effort, usually by interest groups, to contact government officials in an attempt to influence legislation or policies. A lobbyist is an individual who engages in lobbying by profession.

  • Louisiana Purchase
    The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition of the Louisiana territory by the United States from France in 1803 which resulted in the addition of more than 800,000 square miles to the United States.

  • Luftwaffe
    At the outset of World War II, the Luftwaffe was one of the most modern, powerful, and experienced air forces in the world, dominating the skies over Europe. In 1940, the Luftwaffe lost the Battle of Britain over the skies of England, the first all-air battle. Following the military failures on the Eastern Front, from 1942 onwards, the Luftwaffe went into a steady, gradual decline that saw it outnumbered and overwhelmed by the sheer number of Allied aircraft being deployed against it.

  • m

  • Maginot Line
    The Maginot line was a line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, artillery casemates, machine gun posts, and other defenses, which France constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy in the run-up to World War II.

  • Manhattan Project
    The Manhattan project was the code name for a project conducted during World War II to develop the first atomic bomb. The project was led by the United States, and included scientists from the United Kingdom and Canada. The scientific research was directed by American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.

  • Manifest Destiny
    Manifest Destiny is a term attributed to journalist John L. O’Sullivan to describe the controversial belief that the United States was pre-ordained to expand to the Pacific ocean. It was used during the first half of the 19th century to justify the war with Mexico, claim the Oregon Country, and expel American Indians from their ancestral homelands. Manifest Destiny was complicated by the controversy surrounding the expansion of slavery into new states and territories.

  • Mann-Elkins Act
    The Mann–Elkins Act was a United States federal law enacted in 1910, during the Progressive era. The legislation was part of an initiative by President William Howard Taft "to regulate destructive competition and unfair trade practices" in order to make good on promises made during his campaign.

  • March on Washington
    The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a large political rally in support of civil and economic rights for African-Americans that took place in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. At the event, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech advocating racial harmony. “I have dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”   —Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • martyr
    A martyr is a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion.

  • McCulloch v. Maryland
    McCulloch v. Maryland was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. The state of Maryland had attempted to impede operation of a branch of the Second Bank of the United States by imposing a tax on all notes of banks not chartered in Maryland. The Court invoked the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, which allowed the Federal government to pass laws not expressly provided for in the Constitution's list of express powers, provided those laws are in useful furtherance of the express powers of Congress under the Constitution. This case established two important principles in constitutional law. First, the Constitution grants to Congress implied powers for implementing the Constitution's express powers, in order to create a functional national government. Second, state action may not impede valid constitutional exercises of power by the Federal government.

  • Meat Inspection Act
    The Meat Inspection Act was a United States federal law that authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to inspect and condemn any meat product found unfit for human consumption. Unlike previous laws ordering meat inspections which were enforced to assure European nations from banning pork trade, this law was strongly motivated to protect the American diet. All labels on any type of food had to be accurate (although not all ingredients were provided on the label). Even though all harmful food was banned, there were still few warnings provided on the container. The law was partly a response to the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, an exposé of the Chicago meat packing industry, as well as to other Progressive Era muckraking publications of the day.

  • Mein Kampf
    Main Kampf, in English, My Struggle, is a book by Adolph Hitler published in 1926-1926 in which he spelled out his Nazi beliefs. He sought to unite all German-speaking people into a national state. He also maintained that the German, or "Aryan" race, was superior to all others and announced his hatred of what he believed to be the world's twin evils: communism and Judaism.

  • Mellon Plan
    The Mellon Plan was Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon’s plan to reduce federal debt created by World War I by reducing income tax rates. The plan succeeded in reducing the public debt but was reversed with the onset of the Great Depression.

  • Mexican-American War
    The Mexican–American War was an armed conflict between the United States of America and Mexico from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 American annexation of the independent Republic of Texas, which Mexico still considered its northeastern province and a part of its territory after its de facto secession in the 1836 Texas Revolution a decade earlier.

  • Mill Girls
    Mill Girls were young female workers who came to work in industrial corporations in Massachusetts during the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The workers initially recruited were typically between the ages of 15 and 30, but sometimes as young as 7 years old. By 1840, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the textile mills had recruited over 8,000 women, who came to make up nearly seventy-five percent of the mill workforce.

  • Mississippi Burning
    Mississippi Burning or MIBURN was the FBI investigation into the murder of three civil rights workers in rural Mississippi during the Freedom Summer project of 1964.

  • Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
    The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was an American political party created in the state of Mississippi in 1964, during the civil rights movement. It was organized by black and white Mississippians, with assistance from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), to challenge the legitimacy of the white-only Democratic Party in the state.

  • Missouri Compromise
    The Missouri Compromise refers to legislation passed in 1820 which provided for the admission of Maine as a free state along with Missouri as a slave state, thus maintaining the balance of power between North and South. As part of the compromise, slavery was prohibited north of the 36°30′ parallel, excluding Missouri. This boundary is known as the Missouri Compromise line.

  • mobilization
    Mobilization is the action of a country or its government preparing and organizing troops for active service.

  • Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
    The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, also know as the Non-Aggression Pact, was signed in Moscow on August 24, 1939. It was an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union not to attack each other. The pact remained in effect until June 22, 1941 when Germany implemented Operation Barbarossa, invading the Soviet Union. The treaty included a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.

  • Monroe Doctrine
    The Monroe Doctrine was a United States policy of opposing European colonialism in The Americas beginning in 1823. It was enunciated by President James Monroe during his State of the Union address at a time when Spain and Portugal were abandoning their western colonies and intended to preempt other European colonial powers from filling the void. It stated that any effort by by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as "the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States." The Monroe Doctrine remained an important U.S. foreign policy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Montgomery Bus Boycott
    The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social protest campaign initiated in December 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. The protest opposed the city's racially segregated public transportation system. The boycott was launched following the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955. The protest brought national attention to the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement and the leader of the boycott, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Mormon Trail
    The Mormon Trail is the 1,300-mile route that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) traveled during the mid-1800s. The route extends from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • mortgage
    A mortgage is the transfer of an interest in property from the owner to the mortgage lender, on the condition that this interest will be returned to the owner when the terms of the mortgage have been satisfied or performed. In other words, the mortgage is a security for the loan that the lender makes to the borrower.

  • Muckraker
    Muckraking is the term associated with a group of American investigative reporters, novelists, and critics from the late 1800s to early 1900s, who investigated and exposed societal issues such as conditions in slums, prisons, and factories, and unsanitary conditions in food processing plants, and the practice of employing child laborers. Muckrakers often wrote about impoverished people and took aim at the established institutions of society, sometimes in a sensationalist and tabloid manner. The term was coined in a 1906 speech by President Theodore Roosevelt which alluded to John Buynan’s, Pilgrims Promise: 
    …you may recall the description of the Man with the Muck Rake, the man who could look no way but downward, with the muck rake in his hand; who was offered a celestial crown for his muck rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.

  • Mugwump
    The Mugwumps were Republican political activists who supported Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland in the United States presidential election of 1884. They switched parties because they rejected the financial corruption associated with Republican candidate James Blaine. In a close election, the Mugwumps supposedly made the difference in New York state and swung the election to Cleveland. The term derives from "mugguomp" in Massachusett, an Algonquian language once spoken in the area, where it means "war leader".

  • Munich Agreement
    The Munich Agreement was an act of appeasement by England and France towards Adolph Hitler permitting German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. Signed in Munich by England, France, Germany and Italy on September 30, 1938 the intention of the agreement and Hitler’s territorial demands was to avoid another war in Europe.

  • n

  • Nashville Student Movement
    The Nashville Student Movement, led by civil rights activist Diane Nash, was organized to oppose segregated lunch counters and bussing in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is one of the oldest and most influential civil rights organizations in the United States. Founded in 1909, its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination." The NAACP was instrumental in anti-lynching campaigns of the early 20th century, efforts to outlaw segregation in the mid-20th century, and in the broader Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

  • National Labor Relations Board
    The National Labor Relations Board, NLRB, is an independent agency of the United States government charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. It was created during the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

  • National Liberation Front
    The National Liberation Front, or NLF, was the North Vietnam-supported communist insurgency present in South Vietnam following the First Indochina War. The NLF had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized peasants in the territory it controlled.

  • National Origins Act
    The National Origins Act of 1924 was a United States federal law that limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890, according to the Census of 1890. The law was aimed at further restricting the Southern and Eastern Europeans who were immigrating in large numbers starting in the 1890s, as well as prohibiting the immigration of East Asians and Asian Indians.

  • National Road
    The National Road was America's first major highway and the first funded by the federal government, in 1806. In addition to providing a way for settlers to get to the west, the road was also seen as a boon to business. Farmers and traders could move goods to markets in the east, and the road was thus seen as necessary to the country’s economy.

  • National Youth Administration
    The National Youth Administration operated from 1935 to 1943 as part of the Works Progress Administration. By 1938, it had from $6 to $40 a month for "work study" projects at their schools. Another 155,000 boys and girls from relief families were paid $10 to $25 a month for part-time work that included job training.

  • nationalism
    Nationalism is the devotion to national interests, unity, patriotism and independence. In extreme cases, nationalism can marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.

  • nationalization
    Nationalization is the act of taking formerly private assets into public or state ownership, such as banks or railways. During the Great Depression, the nationalization of banks was proposed by Father Charles Coughlin.

  • nativism
    Nativism favors the interests of certain established inhabitants of an area or nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants. Nativism has emerged and reemerged at different times throughout American history, notably during the 1830s and 1840s and again in the 1920s.

  • naturalization
    Naturalization is the process through which an alien can become a citizen of the United States.

  • Nazi Party
    The National Socialist German Workers' Party commonly known as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1919 and 1945. The party's last leader, Adolph Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich.

  • Neshoba County
    Neshoba County is a county in rural Mississippi and is known as the site of one of the most famous race-related crimes in American history. In 1964, three civil rights workers were murdered brutally by white supremacists, allegedly including a deputy county sheriff, in Philadelphia, the county seat.

  • Neutrality Acts
    The Neutrality Acts were laws passed by the United States Congress in the 1930s, stopping the sale of arms or loans of money to nations at war. They were spurred by the growth in isolationism in the US following its costly involvement in World War I, and sought to ensure that the US would not become entangled again in foreign conflicts. The acts were largely repealed in 1941, in the face of German submarine attacks on U.S. vessels and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • New Deal
    The New Deal was the name that President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave to a complex package of economic programs he effected between 1933 and 1935 with the goal of giving relief to the unemployed and badly hurt farmers, reform of business and financial practices, and promoting recovery of the economy during the Great Depression. Sometimes, the "Second New Deal" is used to distinguish programs that were enacted beginning in 1935, including the Wagner Act to promote labor unions, the Works Progress Administration, WPA, relief program to create millions of new jobs, the National Youth Administration and most significantly, the Social Security Act of 1935 which provided guaranteed income to Americans 65 and older.

  • New Freedom
    The New Freedom was a policy of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson which promoted antitrust modification, tariff revision, and reform in banking and currency matters.

  • New Frontier
    The term New Frontier was used by John F. Kennedy in his acceptance speech in the 1960 United States Presidential election to the Democratic National Convention at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the Democratic nominee. Originally just a slogan to inspire America to support him, the phrase developed into a label for his administration's domestic and foreign programs. Context: “We stand on the edge of a New Frontier—the frontier of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, a frontier of unknown opportunities and beliefs in peril. Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus” —Senator John F. Kennedy

  • Non-Aggression Pact
    The Non-Aggression Pact, also known as the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was signed in Moscow on August 24, 1939. It was an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union not to attack each other. The pact remained in effect until June 22, 1941 when Germany implemented Operation Barbarossa, invading the Soviet Union. The treaty included a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.

  • North Vietnamese Army
    The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) or People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) both refer to the regular, uniformed army of Communist North Vietnam during the Vietnam War (1959-1975) and was used to distinguish the Northern Communists from Southern communists who were known as Viet Cong.

  • Northwest Territory
    The Old Northwest Territory included all the then-owned land of the United States west of Pennsylvania, east of the Mississippi River, and northwest of the Ohio River. It covered all of the modern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as the northeastern part of Minnesota. The region was assigned to the United States by the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which concluded the Revolutionary War.

  • Nueces River
    In the 19th century, the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers were at the center of a border dispute between the United States and Mexico. The Nueces was the southern border of Tejas (Texas) while under Mexican Rule. When the Texas Republic was annexed by the United States, the U.S. claimed the Rio Grande, hundreds of miles to the southwest, to be the border. The dispute contributed to the outbreak of the Mexican-American War.

  • nullification
    Nullification is the legal principle that any federal enactment which is not "made in Pursuance" of the Constitution under Article VI, Clause 2 is null and void. The Nullification Crisis of 1832 was a confrontation between the U.S. government and South Carolina over the latter's attempt to nullify a federal law.

  • o

  • Office of Price Administration (OPA)
    The Office of Price Administration, OPA was established in 1941 to stabilize prices for food, goods and rents in the United States after the outbreak of World War II.

  • Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD)
    The Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) was an agency of the United States federal government created to coordinate scientific research for military purposes during World War II. The research included projects devoted to new and more accurate bombs, reliable detonators, radar, sonar and early-warning systems, lighter and more accurate hand weapons, more effective medical treatments, more versatile vehicles, and, most secret of all, the Manhattan Project which developed the first atomic bomb.

  • Ohio Valley
    The Ohio Valley usually refers to the Ohio River Valley or that area that surrounds the legendary river. In some instances, it refers specifically to the upper part of the Ohio River Valley rather than the entire course of the River. The largest tributary of the Mississippi River, the Ohio River winds through six states and is 981 miles long. It begins in Pennsylvania and forms borders along Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois.

  • Oregon Country
    The Oregon Country was a predominantly American term referring to a disputed region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied native peoples from pre-history, by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s.

  • Oregon Trail
    The Oregon Trail is a 2200-mile east–west trail which served as a critical route for pioneering settlers traveling from Missouri to Oregon and other points in the West during the mid-1800s.

  • Oregon Treaty
    The Oregon Treaty of 1846 ended disputed joint occupancy of the Oregon Country and established the British-American boundary at the 49th parallel, except Vancouver Island.

  • original jurisdiction
    Original jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear and decide a case for the first time.

  • p

  • patronage

  • patronage
    Patronage is the use of state resources to reward individuals for their electoral support.

  • Payne–Aldrich Tariff
    The Payne–Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909 began in the United States House of Representatives as a bill raising certain tariffs on goods entering the United States. The high rates angered Republican reformers, and led to a deep split in the Republican Party.

  • Peace Corps
    The Peace Corps is an American volunteer program established during the Kennedy administration. It’s mission includes three goals, which are providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States understand the culture of the United States, and helping United States people understand the culture of other countries. Executive Order 10924 which established the Peace Corps declares its purpose to be: “To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.”

  • peculiar institution
    "Peculiar Institution" was a euphemism for slavery and its economic ramifications in the American South. It was in popular use during the first half of the 19th century, especially in legislative bodies, as the word slavery was deemed improper, and was actually banned in certain areas.

  • Pendleton Act
    The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 United States federal law established the United States Civil Service Commission, which placed most federal government employees on the merit system and marked the end of the so-called "spoils system." The act provided for some government jobs to be filled on the basis of competitive exams.

  • People's Army of Vietnam
    The People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) or North Vietnamese Army (NVA) both refer to the regular, uniformed army of Communist North Vietnam during the Vietnam War (1959-1975) and was used to distinguish the Northern Communists from Southern communists who were known as Viet Cong.

  • People's Party (Populist Party)
    The People's Party (also known as the Populist Party or the Populists) was a left-wing, agrarian political party in the United States. The Populist Party emerged in the early 1890s but collapsed after it nominated Democrat William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 United States presidential election. A remnant factions of the party continued to operate into the first decade of the 20th century, but never matched the popularity of the party in the early 1890s. The Populist Party began as an agrarian movement that promoted collective economic action by farmers. Its platform included such issues as collective bargaining, federal regulation of railroad rates, an expansionary monetary policy, and a Sub-Treasury Plan that required the establishment of federally-controlled warehouses to aid farmers. Other Populist-endorsed measures included bimetallism, a graduated income tax, direct election of Senators, a shorter workweek, and the establishment of a postal savings system. These measures were collectively designed to curb the influence of corporate and financial interests and empower small farmers and laborers.

  • platform
    A political party platform or platform is a formal set of principal goals which are supported by a political party or individual candidate, in order to appeal to the general public, for the ultimate purpose of garnering the general public's support and votes about complicated topics or issues. The word "plank" depicts the individual components of the platform.

  • Platt Amendment
    The Platt amendment of 1899 stipulated the conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops remaining in Cuba since the Spanish-American War, and defined the terms of Cuban U.S. relations until the 1934 Treaty of Relations.

  • Plessy v. Ferguson
    Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses under the doctrine of "separate but equal," which remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. The one dissenting vote was cast by Justice John Marshall Harlan who wrote, “The thin disguise of ‘equal’ accommodations…will not mislead anyone, nor atone for the wrong this day done.”

  • pocket veto
    The pocket veto is a method by which the President may kill a bill passed during the last ten days Congress is in session by simply refusing to act on it.

  • polarize
    Polarization is the process by which public opinion divides and goes to the extremes.

  • police state
    The term Police State describes a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin created a Police State during the 1930s in which anyone who disagreed with the government's policies could be arrested and sent to labor camps or executed.

  • political party
    A political party is a group of citizens, united by common goals and beliefs, that strives to get its candidates elected to public office.

  • Pony Express
    The Pony Express was a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, and mail during its 19 months of operation during 1860 and 1861. The Pony Express reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. It was the West's most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraph was established and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the United States.

  • Potsdam declaration
    The Potsdam declaration, issued by President Harry S. Truman, Winston Churchill and China’s Chiang Kai-shek stated that if Japan did not surrender, it would face "prompt and utter destruction." Japan’s initial rejection of the ultimatum resulted directly in the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945.

  • POW
    POW is the initialism for “prisoner of war,” a combatant who is held in continuing custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict. During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese captured and held U.S. service members, especially pilots who had been shot down over North Vietnam and Laos. As POWs, many suffered from systematic mistreatment and torture. For its part, the United States and its allies in South Vietnam held enemy combatants during the same period, some of whom were allegedly tortured. Context: Following the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, 591 U.S. prisoners of war were returned during Operation Homecoming. But speculation continued that American service members were kept as live prisoners after the war’s conclusion for the United States in 1973. A vocal group of POW/MIA activists maintains that there has been a concerted conspiracy by the Vietnamese government and every American government since then to hide the existence of these prisoners. The U.S. government has steadfastly denied that prisoners were left behind or that any effort has been made to cover up their existence. Several congressional investigations have looked into the issue, culminating with the largest and most thorough, the United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs of 1991–1993 led by Senators John Kerry, Bob Smith, and John McCain. It found “no compelling evidence that proves that any American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia.” The fate of those missing in action has always been one of the most troubling and unsettling consequences of any war. In this case, the issue has been a highly emotional one to those involved, and is often considered the last depressing, divisive aftereffect of the Vietnam War.

  • president of the Senate
    Under the U.S. Constitution, the vice president serves as the president of the Senate and presides over the Senate's daily proceedings. In the absence of the vice president, the Senate's president pro temper, meaning and others designated by him, presides. As one of the Senate's constitutional officers, only the vice president has the authority to cast a tie-breaking vote.

  • direct primary
    A primary or direct primary is an election in which members of a political party can select their candidate for the general election.

  • progressive
    In the United States, the term progressive emerged in the late 19th century in reference to a more general response to the vast changes wrought by industrialization. Progressivism was an alternative to both the traditional conservative response to social and economic issues and to the various more radical streams of socialism and anarchism which opposed them. Political parties, such as the Progressive Party, organized at the start of the 20th century, and progressivism made great strides under American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Contemporary politicians who self-identify as progressive, include Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

  • Prohibition
    Prohibition generally refers to period during the early 20th century in which the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages was outlawed. In December 1917, the United States Congress approved a resolution to submit a constitutional amendment on nationwide prohibition to the states for ratification. The new amendment prohibited "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes" After the measure was passed by the requisite number of states, Congress ratified the Eighteenth Amendment on January 16, 1920; nationwide prohibition began the next day. Prohibition was repealed with the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 5, 1933.

  • Project "C"
    "Project C" was the code name for a group of demonstrations planned for Birmingham, Alabama in early 1963. The direct action protests targeted Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner, Eugene “Bull” Connor’s tendency to react to demonstrations with violence. "Project C," stood for "confrontation." The organizers goals were to desegregate Birmingham restaurants, hotels, and public toilets, and reverse the city's unwritten policy of hiring blacks for menial jobs only.

  • propaganda
    Propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

  • prospector
    A prospector is an explorer who is searching for minerals, often gold, silver, or copper.

  • Protectorate
    A protectorate is a dependent territory that has local autonomy and some independence but which is nevertheless under the dominion of a greater sovereign state. For example, during the Woodrow Wilson administration, the United States rallied troops to stabilize Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, effectively turning them into U.S. protectorates.

  • Pure Food and Drug Act
    The Pure Food and Drug Act was the first in a series of consumer protection laws enacted in the United States during the early 1900s and led to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. Its main purpose was to ban the trade of adulterated or mislabeled food and drug products, and it directed the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry to inspect products and refer offenders to prosecutors. The Act arose due to public education and exposés from authors such as Upton Sinclair and Samuel Hopkins Adams, social activist Florence Kelley, researcher Harvey W. Wiley, and President Theodore Roosevelt.

  • r

  • recall
    The recall is a way for citizen voters to remove someone from office through a direct vote before that official's term has ended.

  • Reconstruction amendments
    The Reconstruction amendments are the Thirteenth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. They were adopted between 1865 and 1870, the five years immediately following the Civil War. The Amendments were intended to restructure the United States from a country that was (in Abraham Lincoln’s words) "half slave and half free" to one in which the constitutionally guaranteed "blessings of liberty" would be extended to the entire male populace, including the former slaves and their descendants.

  • Red Summer of Hate
    The Red Summer refers to the summer and fall of 1919, in which race riots exploded in a number of cities in both the North and South. The three most violent episodes occurred in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Elaine, Arkansas.

  • redistricting
    Redistricting is to set up new district lines after a census.

  • reparations
    Reparations means the compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state. At the conclusion of World War I, Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles (the 'war guilt' clause), declared Germany and its allies responsible for all 'loss and damage' suffered by the Allies during the war and provided the basis for extraordinarily harsh reparations.

  • Revolution of 1800
    The Revolution of 1800 was the term given by President Thomas Jefferson to the peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another following the 1800 election.

  • rhetoric
    Rhetoric means the undue use of exaggeration or display in writing or speech.

  • rickets
    Rickets is a bone softening and deforming disease, particularly in children, that causes bowed legs, knock-knees, or other deformities of the skeleton and was a result of malnutrition during the Great Depression.

  • Rolling Thunder
    Operation Rolling Thunder was the title of a gradual and sustained U.S. 2nd Air Division (later Seventh Air Force), U.S. Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) aerial bombardment campaign conducted against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) from 2 March 1965 until 1 November 1968, during the Vietnam War. The four objectives of the operation, (which evolved over time) were:
    • To bolster the sagging morale of the Saigon regime in the Republic of Vietnam;
    • To convince North Vietnam to cease its support for the communist insurgency in South Vietnam;
    • To destroy North Vietnam’s transportation system, industrial base, and air defenses;
    • to interdict the flow of men and material into South Vietnam
    Context: The operation became the most intense air/ground battle waged during the Vietnam War and, indeed, the Cold War. Thanks to the efforts of its allies, North Vietnam fielded a potent mixture of sophisticated air-to-air and ground-to-air weapons that created one of the most effective air defense environments ever faced by American military aviators. After one of the longest aerial campaigns ever conducted by any nation, Rolling Thunder was terminated as a strategic failure in late 1968 having achieved none of its objectives.

  • Roosevelt Corollary
    The Roosevelt Corollary was a substantial amendment to the Monroe Doctrine by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Roosevelt's extension of the Monroe Doctrine asserted the right of the United States to intervene to stabilize the economic affairs of small states in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts.

  • Rosie the Riveter
    Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in war factories during World War II. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs and sometimes took the places of the male workers who were in the military. The character is now considered a feminist icon in the U.S.

  • Rough Riders
    The "Rough Riders" was the name bestowed on the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, one of three such regiments raised in 1898 for the Spanish-American War and the only one of the three to see action. It was a rag-tag group of the socially prominent, cowboys, musicians and clerks, led by former Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Rural Electric Administration
    The Rural Electric Administration (REA) was created on May 11, 1935 with the primary goal of promoting rural electrification. In the 1930s, the U.S. lagged significantly behind Europe in providing electricity to rural areas due to the unwillingness of power companies to serve farmsteads.

  • s

  • Saigon
      Saigon was the traditional capital city of South Vietnam and seat of government for the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam war. Saigon was captured by communist forces in 1975 and subsequently renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Santa Fe Trail
    The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America that connected Independence, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • SCLC
    The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was formed in January 1957 to to develop ways in which the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling desegregating bus systems in the South could be tested. With the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King as its leader, SCLC became the one of the most prominent and important organizations of the Civil Rights Movement. It's objectives were to use nonviolent protest as a method of resistance to discrimination and to appeal to the moral conscience of white America.

  • scoliosis
    Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side, shaped like an "s", and may also be rotated, and was a result of malnutrition during the Great Depression.

  • Scopes Trial
    Often called the "Scopes Monkey Trial", it was an American legal case that tested the Butler Act, which made it unlawful, in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee, "to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." The case was a critical turning point in the United States' creation-evolution controversy.

  • Second Bank of the United States
    The Second Bank of the United States, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the second federally authorized national bank in the United States during its 20-year charter from February 1816 to January 1836. A private corporation with public duties, the bank handled all fiscal transactions for the U.S. Government, and was accountable to Congress and the U.S. Treasury. Twenty percent of its capital was owned by the federal government, the bank's single largest stockholder. Four thousand private investors held 80% of the bank's capital, including one thousand Europeans. The bulk of the stocks were held by a few hundred wealthy Americans. In its time, the institution was the largest monied corporation in the world.

  • Second Great Awakening
    The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant religious revival during the early 19th century in the United States. The movement reflected Romanticism characterized by enthusiasm, emotion, and an appeal to the super-natural. It rejected the skeptical rationalism and deism of the Enlightenment. The Second Great Awakening stimulated the establishment of many reform movements designed to remedy the evils of society.

  • secret ballot
    The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter's choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous, forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote buying. The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.

  • sectional
    Sectional means separating into parts or sections. In the context of American history it relates to conflict between areas. The U.S. civil war can be considered a sectional dispute.

  • Selma to Montgomery March
    The Selma to Montgomery March refers to a series of public demonstrations launched as part of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Campaign. The first march occurred on "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, when some six hundred demonstrators were attacked and beaten by local law enforcement officials. Two days later on March 9, Martin Luther King, Jr., led a "symbolic" march to the bridge. Then civil rights leaders sought court protection for a third, full-scale march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery.

  • senate
    The senate is one of the two law-making bodies in Congress. Each state elects two senators as representative to the senate.

  • separate but equal
    Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States Constitutional law that justified systems of segregation. Under this doctrine, services, facilities and public accommodations were allowed to be separated by race, on the condition that the quality of each group's public facilities were (supposedly) to remain equal. The phrase was derived from a Louisiana law of 1890.

  • shantytown
    During the Great Depression, homeless and impoverished citizens created shantytowns where they lived in makeshift communities of shacks constructed from wooden crates, tar paper and cardboard. They became known as “Hoovervilles” after President Herbert Hoover.

  • share
    A share refers to a unit of account for financial instruments such as stocks or investments. Shares are valued according to various principles in different markets, but a basic premise is that a share is worth the price at which a transaction would be likely to occur were the shares to be sold.

  • Share the Wealth
    In a national radio address on February 23, 1934, Huey Long unveiled his “Share Our Wealth” plan, a program designed to provide a decent standard of living to all Americans by spreading the nation’s wealth among the people. Long proposed capping personal fortunes through a restructured, progressive federal tax code and sharing the resulting revenue with the public through government benefits and public works. “Share the wealth” clubs sprang up all across America during the 1930s.

  • Sherman Antitrust Act
    The Sherman Antitrust Act is a landmark federal statute in the history of United States antitrust law enacted in 1890 during the presidency of Benjamin Harrison. It allowed certain business activities that federal government regulators deem to be competitive, and recommended the federal government to investigate and pursue trusts. The law attempts to preserve a competitive marketplace to protect consumers from abuses, such as restriction of trade or supply and the artificial inflation of prices.

  • sit-in
    The sit-in protest is a form of direct action that involves one or more persons nonviolently occupying an area for a protest, often to promote political, social, or economic change. During the Civil Rights Movement sit-ins were successfully employed to oppose segregated lunch counters and public transit.

  • Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
    The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is a large, predominantly African American Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama. During the Birmingham Childrens' Crusade of early 1963, the church served as headquarters for "Project C." In September 1963, it was the target of a racially motivated bombing that killed four girls.

  • SNCC
    The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was one of the most important civil rights organizations of the 1960s. Throughout the 1960s, SNCC was known primarily for holding nonviolent demonstrations, organizing grassroots groups, registering African American voters, and eventually for advocating the philosophy of Black Power.

  • social security
    The Social Security Act of 1935 was a federal program created as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. For the first time Americans over 65 years of age and their spouses had old-age insurance, jobless workers got unemployment compensation, and families with dependent children and the disabled received aid.

  • socialsim
    Socialism is range of economic and social systems characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Modern socialism originated in the late nineteenth-century working class political movement. Karl Marx posited that socialism would be achieved via class struggle and a proletarian revolution which represents the transitional stage between capitalism and communism. Union leader, Eugene Debs was a five-time Socialist Party candidate for president and the most prominent socialist living in America.

  • Southern Manifesto
    The Southern Manifesto was a document largely drawn up to counter the landmark Supreme Court 1954 ruling Brown v. Board of Education. The initial version was written by Strom Thurmond. The Manifesto was signed by 19 Senators and 82 members of the House of Representatives, including the entire congressional delegations of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. The Southern Manifesto accused the Supreme Court of "clear abuse of judicial power." It further promised to use "all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation."

  • Space Race
    The space race was the competition between the U.S. and Soviet Union for dominance in outer space. The rivalry focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national security and symbolic of technological and ideological superiority.

  • speaker of the house
    The speaker of the house is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, chosen by and from the majority party in the House.

  • speaker of the house
    The Speaker of the House is the presiding officer of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body. In U.S. federal government, the Speaker presides over the House of Representatives and is elected by the majority governing party from its members.

  • Spoils system
    The Spoils system is the informal practice where a political party or candidate, after winning an election, gives government jobs to voters as a reward for their support—and as an incentive to keep working for the party. The Spoils system was widespread in the United States before passage of the Pendleton Act in 1883. The term was derived from the phrase "...to the victor belong the spoils..." in a speech by New York Senator William L. Marcy referring to Andrew Jackson's 1828 presidential victory:
    It may be that the politicians of the United States are not so fastidious as some gentlemen are, as to disclosing the principles on which they act. They boldly preach what they practice. When they are contending for victory, they avow the intention of enjoying the fruits of it. If they are defeated, they expect to retire from office—if they are successful, they claim, as a matter of right the advantages of success. They see nothing wrong in the rule, that to the victor belongs the spoils of the enemy.

  • Sputnik
    Sputnik 1 was the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite. It was launched into a low altitude elliptical orbit by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. The success of the Soviet Sputnik program ignited the Space Race within the Cold War.

  • Square Deal
    The Square Deal was President Theodore Roosevelt's domestic program primarily aimed at helping middle class citizens. The policies of the Square Deal involved attacking the plutocracy and trusts while at the same time protecting business from the extreme demands of unorganized labor.

  • Stand in the Schoolhouse Door
    The "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" incident was Alabama Governor George Wallace’s symbolic opposition to school integration imposed by the federal government. The June 11, 1963, action occurred in the doorway of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama and was intended to prevent the enrollment of two black students, James Hood and Vivian Malone. The day marks the beginning of school desegregation in the state. Moreover, it was an event that would continue to haunt both Wallace and the state for years to come. —from Encyclopedia of Alabama

  • stock market
    A stock market is a public market for the trading of company stock and derivatives at an agreed price; these are securities listed on a stock exchange as well as those only traded privately. In the context of the Great Depression, the stock market referred to the predominant securities exchange in the United States, the New York Stock Exchange.

  • Strategic Hamlet
    The Strategic Hamlet Program was a plan by the governments of South Vietnam and the United States during the Vietnam War to combat the Communist insurgency by means of population transfer. During the early 1960s, the “Strategic Hamlet Program” attempted to separate rural peasants from Communist insurgents by creating fortified villages. In effect, villagers became prisoners. Many abandoned support for the Diem regime in South Vietnam and began to support the communist Viet Cong.

  • subcommittees
    A subcommittee is one of six or eight groups within a standing committee that specializes in a subcategory of that committee’s responsibility.

  • suburbs
    Suburbs are commonly defined as smaller residential communities lying immediately outside a city. The development of the automobile in the early twentieth century spurred the growth of suburbs in America.

  • suffrage
    Suffrage is the right to vote. It is commonly associated with the women’s suffrage movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Suffragettes were members of militant women's organisations in the early 20th century who, under the banner "Votes for Women", fought for the right to vote in public elections. "Suffragette City" is a song by David Bowie, originally from "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" album in 1972. 😉

  • Supreme Court
    The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. It is the only court created by the Constitution and the final interpreter of the United States Constitution.

  • surface gold
    Surface gold refers to easily extracted mineral deposits, sometimes by prospectors using gold pans or similar instrument to wash free gold particles from loose surface sediment.

  • t

  • Taft-Harley Act
    The Labor-Management Relations Act, informally the Taft-Hartley Act, is a United States federal law greatly restricting the activities and power of labor unions. The Act, still effective, was sponsored by Senator Robert Taft and Representative Fred A. Hartley, Jr. and became law on June 23, 1947. The legislation was passed despite being vetoed by President Truman, who called it the “slave labor” act.

  • tariff
    A tariff is a duty imposed on goods when they are moved across a political boundary. They are usually associated with protectionism, the economic policy of restraining trade between nations. For political reasons, tariffs are usually imposed on imported goods, although they may also be imposed on exported goods.

  • Teapot Dome Scandal
    The Teapot Dome Scandal was a bribery scandal of the White House administration of United States President Warren G. Harding. Teapot Dome is an oil field on public land in the U.S. state of Wyoming, so named for Teapot Rock, an outcrop resembling a teapot overlooking the field.

  • Tecumseh's War
    Tecumseh's War was a series of diplomatic and military altercations between an American Indian confederation, led by the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, and U.S. Army forces led by General William Henry Harrison.

  • temperance
    Temperance is the abstinence from alcoholic drink. The temperance movement was an organized effort to encourage moderation in the consumption of intoxicating liquors or press for complete abstinence. The movement's ranks were mostly filled by women who, with their children, had endured the effects of unbridled drinking by many of their menfolk.

  • Tet Offensive
    The Tet Offensive was a military campaign during the Vietnam War that began on January 31, 1968. Forces of the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam, or Viet Cong, and the People’s Army of Vietnam, or North Vietnamese army, fought against the forces of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the United States, and their allies. The purpose of the offensive was to strike military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam and to spark a general uprising among the population that would then topple the Saigon government, thus ending the war in a single blow. The initial attacks stunned allied forces, but most were quickly contained and beaten back, inflicting massive casualties on communist forces. Of the 80,000 enemy fighters who participated in the Tet Offensive, as many as 50,000 were killed. Context: Although Tet was undeniably a military defeat for Communist forces, they emerged with a decisive psychological victory. The American public, who had been led to believe that the enemy was on the verge of defeat, alleged a “credibility gap” on the part of President Johnson and his military advisors. Support for the war effort, already waning, collapsed.

  • Texas Republic
    The Republic of Texas was an independent sovereign country in North America that existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846. It came into existence when the Mexican province of Tejas (Texas) declared its independence from Mexicon during the Texas Revolution in 1836. The republic was bordered by Mexico to the west and southwest, the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, the two U.S. states of Louisiana and Arkansas to the east and northeast, and United States territories encompassing parts of the current U.S. states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming to the north. The citizens of the republic were known as Texians.

  • Texian
    Texians were residents of Mexican Texas and, later, the Republic of Texas. Today, the term is used to distinguish early Anglo settlers of Texas, especially those who supported the Texas Revolution. Mexican settlers of that era are referred to as Tejanos, and residents of modern Texas are known as Texans.

  • The Jungle
    The Jungle  is a groundbreaking 1906 novel written by author and socialist journalist Upton Sinclair. It is an important example of the "muckraking" tradition begun by journalists such as Jacob Riis. The novel revealed the corruption of the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century. The novel depicts in harsh tones the poverty, absence of social programs, unpleasant living and working conditions, and hopelessness prevalent among the "have-nots", which is contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption on the part of the "haves". Sinclair wanted to persuade his readers that the mainstream American political parties offered little means for progressive change. However, most readers were more concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices prevalent in meatpacking factories and greatly contributed to a public outcry which led to reforms including the Meat Inspection Act. Sinclair famously said of the public reaction "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."

  • Theory of Evolution
    The Theory of Evolution is a scientific theory of the origin of species of plants and animals. It was first formulated in Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species in 1859.

  • Third Reich
    Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are the common English names for Germany between 1933 and 1945, while it was led by Adolph Hitler and Nazi party. The name Third Reich refers to the state as the successor to the Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages and the German Empire of 1871–1918.

  • Tom Thumb
    Tom Thumb was the first American-built steam locomotive to operate on a common-carrier railroad. It was designed and constructed by Peter Cooper in 1830 to convince owners of the newly formed Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) to use steam engines. It is especially remembered as a participant in an impromptu race with a horse-drawn car, which the horse won after Tom Thumb suffered a mechanical failure. However, the demonstration was successful, and the railroad committed to the use of steam locomotion and held trials in the following year for a working engine.

  • Tonkin Gulf Resolution
    The Tonkin Gulf Resolution (officially, the Southeast Asia Resolution, Public Law 88-408) was a joint resolution of the United States Congress passed on August 7, 1964 in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which enemy warships allegedly fired-upon an American destroyer. The Tonkin Gulf Resolution is of historical significance because it gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of military force in Southeast Asia. Specifically, the resolution authorized the President to do whatever necessary in order to assist "any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty." This included involving armed forces. Context: The unanimous affirmative vote in the House of Representatives was 416-0. It was opposed in the Senate only by Senators Wayne Morse (D-OR) and Ernest Gruening (D-AK). Senator Gruening objected to "sending our American boys into combat in a war in which we have no business, which is not our war, into which we have been misguidedly drawn, which is steadily being escalated." The Johnson administration subsequently relied upon the resolution to begin its rapid escalation of U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam conflict. Mounting public opinion against the war eventually led to the repeal of the resolution, which was attached to a bill that Nixon signed in January 1971.[7] Seeking to restore limits on presidential authority to engage U.S. forces without a formal declaration of war Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973, over Nixon's veto. The War Powers Resolution, which is still in effect, sets forth certain requirements for the President to consult with Congress in regard to decisions that engage U.S. forces in hostilities or imminent hostilities.

  • totalitarianism
    Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. Totalitarian regimes or movements maintain themselves in political power by means of an official all-embracing ideology and propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that controls the state, personality cults, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of state terrorism. Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin were examples of totalitarian leaders.

  • Trail of Tears
    The Trail of Tears was a series of forced removals of Native American nations from their ancestral homelands in the Southeastern United States to an area west of the Mississippi River that had been designated as Indian Territory. The forced relocations were carried out by various government authorities following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The relocated people suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route, and more than four thousand died before reaching their various destinations. The removal included members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. The phrase "Trail of Tears" originated from a description of the removal of the Cherokee Nation in 1838.

  • treaty
    A treaty is a formal agreement between two or more nations, relating to peace, alliance, trade, etc. A few examples include the Treaty of Ghent (1814) which concluded the War of 1812; the Adams-Onís Treaty (1819) which settled a boundary dispute related to the Louisiana Territory; Treaty of Guadalupé Hidalgo (1848) which ended the Mexican American War; Treaty of Paris (1898) which ended the Spanish-American War; and the Treaty of Versailles (1919) which officially ended World War I;

  • Treaty of Ghent
    The Treaty of Ghent is the peace agreement negotiated between Great Britain and the United States ending the War of 1812.

  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
    The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (officially entitled the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement) is the peace treaty signed by the United States and the Mexican Republic in February 1848 that ended the Mexican–American War.

  • Treaty of Versailles
    The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on June 28, 1919 and required Germany to accept sole responsibility for World War I and to make territorial concession and pay reparations.

  • trench
    A trench is a long narrow cut in the ground used to shelter soldiers.

  • trickle down
    "Trickle-down economics" and "trickle-down theory" are terms of political rhetoric that refer to the policy of providing tax cuts or other benefits to businesses and rich individuals in the belief that this will indirectly benefit the broad population. The term has been attributed to humorist Will Rogers, who said during the Great Depression that "money was all appropriated for the top in hopes that it would trickle down to the needy."

  • trustbusting
    Trustbusting is the term ascribed to a government action designed to break up trusts or monopolies. Theodore Roosevelt is the U.S. president most associated with dissolving trusts. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 became law while Roosevelt was serving on the U.S. Civil Service Commission, but it played a large and important role in trustbusting during his presidency.

  • u

  • U-boat
    German U-boats, or unterseeboots, were military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II. They were most effectively used in an economic-warfare role, enforcing a naval blockade against enemy shipping. The primary targets of the U-boat campaigns in both wars were the merchant convoys bringing supplies from the British Empire and the United States to the island of Great Britain.

  • Underground Railroad
    The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early-to-mid 19th century, and used by African-American slaves to escape into free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.

  • Underwood-Simmons Tariff
    The Revenue Act of 1913, also known as the Tariff Act, the Underwood Tariff, the Underwood Act, the Underwood Tariff Act, or the Underwood-Simmons Act re-imposed the federal income tax after the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment and lowered basic tariff rates from 40% to 25%, well below the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909. It was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on October 3, 1913.

  • usurpation
    Usurpation means taking someone's power or property by force.

  • v

  • V-E Day
    Victory in Europe Day was on 8 May 1945, the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolph Hitler's Third Reich.

  • V-J Day
    Victory over Japan Day is a name chosen for the day on which the Surrender of Japan occurred, effectively ending World War II. The date of August 14, 1945 is the date observed in the United States.

  • veto
    A veto is a refusal by the President to approve a law.

  • victory garden
    Victory gardens were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences during World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" — in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. Making victory gardens become a part of daily life on the home front.

  • Việt Cộng
    Việt Cộng is a pejorative term for “Vietnamese communist”. The word appears in Saigon newspapers beginning in 1956. American soldiers referred to the Vietcong as Victor Charlie or VC. “Victor” and “Charlie” are both letters in the NATO phonetic alphabet. “Charlie” referred to communist forces in general, both Vietcong and PAVN.

  • Việt Minh
    The Việt Minh or “League for the Independence of Vietnam” was a national liberation movement founded in South China on May 19, 1941. Led by Ho Chi Minh, the Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from France and later to oppose the Japanese occupation. Context: Former members of the Việt Minh joined with other resistance groups to form the National Liberation Front (NLF).

  • Vietnamization
    Vietnamization is the term given to the Nixon administration’s policy of rearming and rebuilding South Vietnam’s armed forces in order to allow the withdrawal of American ground troops. By contrast, during the Johnson administration the efforts to “take charge” of the fighting are sometimes referred to as “Americanizing” the war in Vietnam.

  • VISTA
    VISTA or Volunteers in Service to America is an anti-poverty program created by Lyndon Johnson's Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as the domestic version of the Peace Corps. Initially, the program increased employment opportunities for conscientious people who felt they could contribute tangibly to the War on Poverty. Volunteers served in communities throughout the U.S., focusing on enriching educational programs and vocational training for the nation's underprivileged classes.

  • Voting Rights Act
    The 1965 Voting Rights Act was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans. Echoing the language of the 15th Amendment, the Voting Rights Act prohibits states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Specifically, Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African-Americans from exercising the franchise.

  • w

  • Wagner Act
    The National Labor Relations Act, or Wagner Act is a 1935 United States federal law that gave support to workers rights to form unions.

  • war bonds
    War bonds are debt securities issued by the government for the purpose of financing military operations during times of war. War bonds were sold to help finance both World War I and World War I.

  • War Hawks
    The War Hawks were a group of Congress members, primarily from the frontier states, who advocated for war against Great Britain in the early 19th century.

  • war of attrition
    A war of attrition is when an army has to fight with the men and supplies it has at hand until it runs out. If one nation has more than the other, the outcome of the war will be in his favor.

  • War on Poverty
    The War on Poverty is the name for legislation first introduced by United States President Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address on January 8, 1964. This legislation was proposed by Johnson in response to a national poverty rate of around nineteen percent. The speech led the United States Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty. As part of the Great Society, President Johnson's belief in expanding the government's role in social welfare programs from education to healthcare was a continuation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, which ran from 1933 to 1935, and the Four Freedoms of 1941. For various ideological and political reasons, the concept of a war on poverty waned after the 1960s. Nonetheless, its legacy remains in the continued existence of such federal programs as Head Start and Job Corps.

  • War Production Board (WPB)
    The War Production Board, WPB, was established as a government agency on January 16, 1942 by executive order of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The purpose of the board was to regulate the production and allocation of materials and fuel during World War II in the United States. It rationed such things as gasoline, heating oil, metals, rubber, paper and plastics. It was dissolved shortly after the defeat of Japan in 1945.

  • Watts Riots
    The term Watts Riots refers to a large-scale riot which lasted six days in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, in August 1965. By the time the riot subsided, thirty-four people had been killed, 2,032 injured, and 3,952 arrested. It stood as the most severe riot in Los Angeles history until the Los Angeles riots of 1992. The riot is viewed by some as a reaction to the record of police brutality by the LAPD and other racial injustices suffered by black Americans in Los Angeles, including job and housing discrimination.

  • We Shall Overcome
    "We Shall Overcome" is a protest song that became a key anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. Pete Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the North and helped make it widely known. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide.

  • Whig Party
    The Whig Party was a political party active in the middle of the 19th century in the United States. It emerged in the 1830s in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party. In particular, the Whigs supported the supremacy of the US Congress over the Presidency and favored a program of modernization, banking, and economic protectionism to stimulate manufacturing. Four US presidents belonged to the party while in office. Two were elected to office, General William Henry Harrison of Ohio in 1840 and Zachary Taylor in 1848. Two others were vice-presidents who reached the highest office upon the death of the president: John Tyler succeeded Harrison and Millar Fillmore succeeded Taylor.

  • Whitney Armory
    The Whitney Armory (later the Whitney Arms Company) was a business created by Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton 'gin. The Armory is famous for innovating the concept of exchangeable parts. After completing  a 1798 contract to produce 10,000 stands of arms, Whitney wrote:
    "A good musket is a complicated engine and difficult to make — difficult of execution because the conformation of most of its parts correspond with no regular geometrical figure."
     

  • wolf pack
    The term wolf pack refers to the mass-attack tactics against convoys used by German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic and submarines of the United States Navy against Japanese shipping in the Pacific Ocean in World War II.

  • Works Progress Administration
    The Works Progress Administration or WPA created more than eight million jobs from 1935 to 1943, for a great many unskilled workers and professionals. The WPA constructed 850 airports, built or repaired 650,000 miles of America's roads, sewed more than 300 million articles of clothing for the needy, and erected 110,000 libraries, schools and hospitals. Artists, authors, and musicians found work in the WPA too, painting murals on public buildings, writing performing, and composing.

  • y

  • Yellow Fever
    Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes. Since the 17th century, it has been a source of many devastating epidemics in Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Yellow Fever was first reported in Cuba in 1649. Between 1895 and 1898 the disease killed an estimated 16,000 Spanish troops there and sickened tens of thousands more. More than 2,000 American soldiers contracted yellow fever during the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American War. General William Shafter, who was in charge of the Cuban invasion said the disease was a "thousand times harder to stand up against than the missiles of the enemy."

  • Yellow Journalism
    "Yellow Journalism" refers to a style of newspaper reporting that emphasizes sensationalism over facts. During its heyday in the late nineteenth century it was one of many factors that helped push the United States and Spain into war in Cuba and the Philippines, leading to the acquisition of overseas territory by the United States. The term originated in the competition over the New York City newspaper market between major newspaper publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.

  • z

  • zeal
    Zeal means fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor;enthusiastic diligence; ardor.

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