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Part of the New Deal, the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) placed restrictions on farm production and paid government subsidies to growers of staple crops. Money for the payments was raised by a processing tax on middlemen. The object was to raise farm prices, but it proved counterproductive for tenant farmers and sharecroppers. It was declared unconstitutional in 1936.

Abolitionists sought to end slavery. They were a varied collection of reformers, and often disagreed about how to accomplish their goal. Both white reformers and many free blacks were active abolitionists.

abstract expressionism
Abstract expressionism was a school of art that emerged after World War II. It was led by Jackson Pollack. Abstract expressionists were utterly subjective in their approach to art: the genre reflected the alienation of modern artists from the world of atomic bombs, computers, and mass culture.

Act for Religious Toleration
The Act for Religious Toleration was the first law in America to call for freedom of worship for all Christians. Enacted in Maryland in 1649 to quell disputes between Catholics and Protestants, the act failed to bring peace.

actual representation
New state governments adopted the view of actual representation; that is, they saw representatives as agents reflecting the interests of the voters of a particular district, rather than as superior persons chosen to decide public issues according to their own best judgment (virtual representation). According to the practice of actual representation, elected representatives normally reside in their districts and are directly responsive to local interests.

Adams, John
Adams was Washington's vice-president and defeated Jefferson for the presidency in the election of 1796. He resisted his party's demand for war with France during his term.

Adams, John Quincy
Adams was President Monroe's very successful secretary of state, but, after winning the Election of 1824, had a very troubled and unsuccessful single term in the presidency.

Adamson Act
The Adamson Act established an eight-hour day for interstate-railway workers. It was part of President Wilson's bid to fulfill every plank of his 1912 platform before his reelection bid in 1916 began. The effort attracted progressives from both parties to vote for Wilson.

adjusted compensation
World War I veterans, members of the American Legion, demanded "adjusted compensation," that is, bonuses for their years of military service. Presidents Harding and Coolidge vetoed the proposals, but in 1924, Congress granted the veterans paid-up life-insurance premiums worth over $1,000 each.

Administration of Justice Act
One of the Coercive or Intolerable Acts passed by Parliament in 1774, the Administration of Justice Act provided that British officials accused of capital crimes could be tried in England.

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
The African Methodist Episcopal Church was a religious body founded by blacks for blacks in the North during the early nineteenth century. The Church gained adherents among former slaves in the South after the Civil War.

Afrika Korps
Germany's Afrika Korps under the command of General Erwin Rommel contested British and American armies for control of North Africa in 1942-43. In July 1943, the Korps surrendered.

Agricultural Wheel
The Agricultural Wheel was one of several farmer organizations that emerged in the South during the 1880s. It sought federal legislation to deal with credit and currency issues.

Agnew, Spiro
Maryland Governor Agnew was elected vice president in 1968 and 1972. Presidential candidate Nixon chose him in order to court southern votes in those elections. Agnew was outspoken in his dislike of antiwar protestors and the liberal media, and was tough on crime. He resigned in 1973, pleading no contest to charges of tax evasion.

Aguinaldo, Emilio
Aguinaldo was the leader of the Filipino rebels who were fighting for independence from Spain when the Spanish-American War began. He helped Commodore Dewey defeat the Spanish at Manila, but then fought U.S. troops in the Philippine Insurrection (1900-1904).

The spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a deadly, and very often sexually transmitted disease, was one very serious consequence of the relaxed sexual taboos of the sexual revolution. The disease is a complex of deadly pathologies resulting from infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

air brake
In 1869 George Westinghouse invented the air brake for railroad cars. It greatly increased the size of trains and the speed at which they could operate safely.

A Franciscan mission at San Antonio, Texas, the Alamo was the site in 1836 of a siege and massacre of Texans by Mexican troops.

al-Qaddafi, Muammar
Libyan president Qaddafi is sympathetic to international terrorism and bitterly anti-American and anti-Israeli. In 1985, President Reagan ordered an air strike on Libya in retaliation for Qaddafi's support of terrorism.

Albany Congress
Called in 1754 in Albany, New York, the intercolonial Albany Congress was designed to deal with Iroquois grievances against the English. At the congress, prominent colonists proposed the Albany Plan of Union.

Albany Regency
The Albany Regency was the well-organized political machine of New York Senator Martin Van Buren, a future vice-president and president. Members of the Regency were intensely loyal to Van Buren.

Ali, Muhammad
World heavyweight-boxing champion Muhammad Ali was a hero to both black and white fans for his athletic talent as well as his outspokenness and charisma, militant advocacy of racial equality, his adoption of the Muslim religion, and his opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Alien and Sedition Acts
In 1798 the Federalist Congress passed the four acts collectively known as the Alien and Sedition Acts to attack the Republican party and suppress dissent against Federalist policies. The Acts curtailed freedom of speech and the liberty of foreigners resident in the United States.

Alien Enemies Act

Passed by Congress in 1798, the Alien Enemies Act authorized the president, in the event of war, to deport aliens suspected of endangering the public peace; one of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Alien Friends Act

Passed by Congress in 1798, the Alien Friends Act authorized the president during peacetime to expel aliens suspected of subversive activities; one of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

all deliberate speed

A year after the Supreme Court ruled in "Brown v. Board of Education" that racial segregation in public schools was inherently unequal, the Court ordered the states to proceed "with all deliberate speed" to integrate their schools.

Alliance for Progress

The Alliance for Progress was a program of economic aid to Latin America during the Kennedy administration.

The Allies were Britain, France, Russia, Italy and other belligerent nations fighting against the Central Powers in World War I, but not including the United States.

America First Committee

The America First Committee, led by aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, was an isolationist organization in the 1930s that opposed any U.S. intervention in world affairs that might lead the United States into war. Officially the Committee to Defend America First, the organization promoted the policy of building and defending "Fortress America."

American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society

The American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society was an antislavery organization formed in 1840 when a group of moderate abolitionists split off from the American Anti-Slavery Society in protest of the radicalism of William Lloyd Garrison and his support of women's rights.

American Anti-Slavery Society

Founded in 1833, the American Anti-Slavery Society was the first national organization of abolitionists.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

The ACLU was formed in 1920 to guard the constitutional rights of Americans against government infringement.

American Colonization Society

The American Colonization Society was founded in 1817. It purchased land in Africa (Liberia) with the intention of solving the "Negro problem" by transporting freed slaves there. Society backers were convinced that both blacks and whites would benefit from racial separation. Few blacks wished to migrate to Africa and the society accomplished little.

American Equal Rights Association

This association was formed by women's rights activists in 1866 to advocate universal suffrage at the state level after the Fourteenth Amendment failed to provide federal guarantees for women's voting rights.

American Expeditionary Force

The first members of the AEF, American troops who served in Europe in World War I, arrived in Paris in July 1917. They were under the command of General John J. Pershing, who insisted that they fight as independent units and not be integrated into British and French (Allied) forces.

American Federation of Labor (AFL)

This union formed in 1886 organized skilled workers along craft lines and emphasized a few workplace issues rather than a broad social program.

American Female Moral Reform Society

This organization founded in 1839 by female reformers established homes of refuge for prostitutes amd petitioned for state laws that would criminalize adultery and the seduction of women.

American Indian Movement

Members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) demanded the return of lands taken illegally from their ancestors. They launched a concerted effort to revive tribal cultures and used confrontations with the federal government to publicize their case for Indian rights. Some sought Indian nationalism in the form of establishing Indian states within states.

American Liberty League

This business group organized to sway popular opinion against the New Deal

American Protective Association

American nativists, who disliked Catholics and minority groups, organized the American Protective Association in 1887. The skilled workers and small businessmen who formed the association tried to limit immigration to America and block the upward mobility of newly arrived "new" immigrants, in favor of saving jobs for Protestant workers.

American Protective League

The American Protective League was one of the leading vigilante organizations that suppressed dissent while promoting reactionary causes during World War I.

American Railway Union (ARU)

Led by Eugene V. Debs, this union supported the Pullman strike.

American Revenue Act

Commonly known as the Sugar Act, this law passed in 1764 raised revenue in the American colonies by lowering the duty from 6 pence to 3 pence per gallon on foreign molasses imported into the colonies and increased the restrictions on colonial commcerce.

American System

Intended to protect domestic manufacturers from foreign competition, the American System was the brainchild of Kentucky Congressman Henry Clay. It involved a political trade-off: In return for eastern support for federal aid to railroad and canal construction, the West would back protective tariffs. This arrangement would stimulate manufacturing and a demand for raw materials, and increase the market for manufactured goods.

American system of manufacturing

The American system of manufacturing was a technique of production pioneered in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century that relied on precision manufacturing with the use of interchangeable parts.

American Temperance Union

The founding of the American Temperance Union in 1826 by evangelical Protestants signaled the start of a national crusade against drunkenness. Using a variety of techniques, the union set out to persuade people not to drink intoxicating beverages and was successful in sharply lowering per capita consumption of alcohol.

American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA banned discrimination against physically handicapped persons in employment, transportation, and public accommodations.


Amnesty is a general pardon for a past offense. In 1865, President Johnson issued an amnesty proclamation for most former Confederates who would take a general loyalty oath to the United States.


Anarchists advocate the overthrow of organized government because they believe it interferes with individual liberty. They sometimes see cooperatives and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the best way to organize society. Anarchists called the protest meeting at Haymarket Square in Chicago in 1886.

Andros, Edmund

Andros was the governor of the Dominion of New England. When appointed by James II in 1686, he set about to abolish the Massachusetts assembly, enforce religious toleration, and collect the king's quitrents. He was deposed in the wake of the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688.

Anglican church

The Anglican church became the official Church of England during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). During Elizabeth's reign, England assumed the leadership of the Protestant world.

Anglo-American Accords

This series of agreements reached in the British-American Convention of 1818 fixed the western boundary between the United States and Canada at the 49th parallel, allowed for the joint occupation of the Oregon Country, and restored to Americans fishing rights off Newfoundland.


An Anglo-Saxon is a person whose native language or origin is English. The term was generally used in the late nineteenth century to identify "native" Americans and distinguish them from nonwhite peoples and from "new" immigrants.

Anna, Santa

Santa Anna was the president of Mexico and general of the Mexican army that invaded Texas during the Texas Revolt in 1835-1836. He was defeated and captured at the Battle of San Jacinto where Texans won their independence.

Annapolis Convention

The Annapolis Convention was a conference of state delegates at Annapolis, Maryland, that issued a call in September 1786 for a convention to meet at Philadelphia in May 1787 to consider fundamental changes to the Articles of Confederation.


Antebellum translates from Latin as "before the war," and is a term commonly used by historians to refer to the three decades preceding the Civil War, 1830-1860.

Anthony, Susan B.

Anthony saw the need for thorough organization if the women's rights movement was to become effective in a male-dominated society. She campaigned for women's right to vote, own property, attend college, and enter the professions.


After the Spanish-American War (1898), American anti-imperialists objected to the annexation of the Philippines, the ratification of the Treat of Paris, and the building of an American empire. Idealism, self-interest, racism, constitutionalism, and other interests motivated them, but they failed to make their case: the Philippines were annexed in 1900.


A third party formed in 1827, the Anti-Masons stood in opposition to the presumed power and influence of the Masonic order.


Anti-Semitism is opposition to, hatred of, or agitation against Jews. Distaste for immigrants from eastern Europe, many of whom were Jewish, expanded into a more general anti-Semitism in the United States in the 1920s.


Antifederalists opposed ratification of the Constitution; they were states' rightists and were concerned that the Constitution contained no Bill of Rights. Federalists advocated ratification of the Constitution; they were centralizing nationalists.


Antinomianism was the view--heretical to Puritans--that those possessing saving grace were exempt from the rules of good behavior and from the laws of the community. Antinomians believed that salvation came through faith alone and that individuals who are saved need only obey the spirit within them rather than the moral law.

Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World

In 1829, David Walker, a Boston free black, published this pamphlet, which called for slaves to rise up in rebellion.


On April 9, 1865, Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrended to Union general Ulysses S. Grant in this town in south-central Virginia.


Apprentices were young men who aspired to become craftsmen and artisans. After five to seven years of training with a master craftsman, to whom the young man was bound by a legal agreement for the period of the apprenticeship, the apprentice became a journeyman and began working for wages. With skill and luck he eventually opened a shop of his own as an independent artisan.

Archaic period

The Archaic period was roughly between 8000 and 1500 B.C., during which time Native Americans adapted to a changed continental climate, developed larger communities, and, in several regions, adopted agriculture.


An archipelago is a group of islands. The Philippines, for example, form an archipelago.


Arminianism was the view--heretical to Puritans--that good works and faith in God could win a person admittance to Heaven (salvation). Arminianism was a doctrine of works.

Arnold, Benedict

General Arnold had been an effective commander of Patriot troops early in the Revolutionary War, but he became disaffected by what he considered unjust criticism of his generalship, and he defected to the British in 1780.

Arthur, Chester A.

Arthur, Garfield's vice-president and a former Collector of the New York Customs House, became president when Garfield was assassinated in 1881. Like presidents Hayes and Garfield, Arthur was not a strong presidential leader.

Article 10 of the League Covenant

Article 10 of the League of Nations Covenant in the Treaty of Versailles bound signatories to protect the political independence and territorial integrity of all member nations. Of all the treaty conditions, it provoked the most opposition to ratification in the U.S. Senate.

Articles of Confederation

The Articles (ratified in 1781) were the United States's first constitution. They sharply limited central authority by denying the national government any coercive power including the power to tax and to regulate trade. The articles set up the loose confederation of states that comprised the first national government from 1781 to 1788.


Artisans were self-employed craftsmen and small businessmen engaged in the production of a marketable good or service--tailor, shoemaker, printer, baker, etc.

ashcan artists

The early-twentieth-century "ashcan" school of artists supported progressive political and social reform. They turned to city streets, the slums, and the working class for subject matter.

assembly line

The assembly line is a mass-production process in manufacturing that simplifies the production process by moving the product along a conveyor, with each worker repeating the same limited task on each product as it comes by. The assembly line is closely identified with Henry Ford's revolutionizing of the automobile industry.

Atlanta Campaign

During the decisive Atlanta Campaign in 1864, Union general William T. Sherman maneuvered past Confederate general Joseph E. Johnson from northwestern Georgia toward Atlanta until President Davis replaced Johnson with General John B. Hood, who promptly engaged Sherman and lost this vital rail junction to the Union.

Atlanta Compromise

The Atlanta Compromise derived from a speech given by black leader Booker T. Washington in 1895. He urged blacks to concentrate on learning useful skills. He viewed black self-help and self-improvement, not agitation over segregation, disfranchisement, and racial discrimination, as the surest way to social and economic advancement for blacks.

Atlantic Charter

At a meeting in August 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill developed the Atlantic Charter, a statement of common principles and war aims.

Attlee, Clement

Attlee, leader of the Labour Party in Britain, replaced Winston Churchill as prime minister during the Potsdam Conference. A NAME="AAA">
Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)
Created in 1946 to develop and control military and civilian uses of atomic energy, this civilian agency had its functions transferred to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1975.


Auschwitz was a German concentration camp in Poland during World War II. There, and in other death camps, German forces killed more than 6 million people, most of them Jews. This effort at genocide is now referred to as the Holocaust.

Austin, Stephen F.

Entrepreneur Stephen Austin contracted with the Mexican government to settle American families in Mexican Texas in the 1820s. Largely through his efforts, by 1830 there were over 20,000 Americans living in Texas.

Australian ballot

The Australian ballot system refers to the use of official ballots and secret voting rather than party tickets.

Axis Powers

The Axis Powers were the opponents of the United States and its allies in World War II. The Rome-Berlin Axis was formed between Germany and Italy in 1936 and included Japan after 1940.

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