a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Cabinet is the body of secretaries appointed by the president to head executive departments and serve as advisers.

Cabot, John

Cabot was the seafarer whose explorations of Newfoundland and northeast North America in 1497-1498 established England's claim to New World territory.

Caesar's Column

"Caesar's Column" (1891) was a futuristic novel written by Minnesota Populist Ignatius Donnely. He saw the United States headed for a plutocracy where the rich tyrannized the poor farmers and workingmen.


A californio is a person of Spanish descent in California.

Calvin, John

Calvin was a Swiss Protestant leader and reformer whose ideas formed the religious doctrines of the Pilgrims (Separatists) and Puritans who later migrated to America.

Cambodian incursion

In 1970, President Nixon dispatched U.S. troops in Vietnam to destroy Vietcong sanctuaries in neighboring Cambodia. The incursion was brief and not very productive; its chief consequence was to provoke unprecedented antiwar sentiment and protest in the United States.

Camp David Agreement

In 1978, President Carter mediated a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Carter and the leaders of the two countries negotiated the treaty at Camp David, a presidential retreat near Washington, D.C.

Camp, Walter

Camp was the football coach at Yale University. He gave collegiate football much of its modern character and rules.

Capone, Al

Chicago gangster Al Capone grew rich on the bootleg-liquor traffic during the Prohibition Era of the 1920s.

Carmichael, Stokely

Carmichael was chairman of SNCC when, in the mid-1960s, it turned radical and opposed further cooperation with white liberals in the civil rights movement. He believed integration was a subterfuge for white supremacy.

Carnegie, Andrew

Carnegie organized the Carnegie Steel Company that dominated the industry for years. In his later years he turned his time and great wealth to philanthropic pursuits.


Carpetbaggers were northerners who went to the South after the Civil War. They were a mixed lot of idealists and self-interested seekers of political and economic opportunity, many of whom became involved in Republican politics. Carpetbaggers has become a disparaging term.

Carranza, Venustiano

Carranza, a supporter of representative government, became president of Mexico in 1914. President Wilson extended his government diplomatic recognition as a way to help Mexico's constitutionalists regain order in the country.

Carter, Jimmy

Carter, a former governor of Georgia, was elected president in 1976. He was inexperienced in national politics and had a troubled one-term presidency.

Cass, Lewis

Cass was a Whig Senator from Michigan who, during the debate on the Wilmot Proviso, proposed the idea of popular sovereignty as a way to solve the problem of slavery in the territories.

Castro, Fidel

Castro was the leader of a rebel army that overthrew the corrupt and dictatorial Batista government in Cuba in 1959. As Castro drifted toward ties with the Soviets, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Cuba and imposed a trade embargo.

Catcher in the Rye, The

Author J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" (1951), like many popular novels of the 1950s and 1960s, was about people entirely wrapped up in themselves--members of the "me generation."

Cattle Kingdom

The Cattle Kingdom refers to the open-range cattle industry that stretched from Texas into Montana in the 1870s and 1880s.

cause celebre

A cause celebre is a celebrated legal case, usually a criminal case that excites great public interest. In the 1920s, the Sacco and Vanzetti case became a cause celebre.


During the Hundred Days, Congress created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide government jobs in reforestation, flood control, and other conservation projects to young men between eighteen and twenty-five. This popular New Deal program eventually employed over 300,000 people.

Centennial Exposition

The Centennial Exposition was a fair held in Philadelphia in 1876 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the United States and to showcase American industry and technology.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

The CIA, established in 1947, is the agency that coordinates the gathering and evaluation of military and economics information on other nations.

Central Powers

The Central Powers refers to Germany and its World War I allies Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria.

chain migration

A chain migration is a process common to many immigrant groups, whereby one family member brings over other family members, who in turn bring other relatives and friends and occasionally entire villages.


In 1986, one of NASA's space shuttles, the "Challenger," exploded shortly after takeoff, killing its crew. The tragedy delayed space-shuttle launchings for three years.

Chambers, Whittaker

Chambers, a former communist and editor of "Time" magazine accused former State Department official Alger Hiss of having been a communist in the 1930s. Hiss sued Chambers for libel, but was himself tried and convicted of perjury.


Chancellorsville was the site of a battle ending in May 1863, marked by a Confederate victory, during which General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded.

Chaplin, Charlie

Chaplin was the greatest film star of his era, perhaps the greatest comic artist of his time. His most comical and endearing character was "the little tramp."

Charles River Bridge case

In the Charles River Bridge case (1837), the Supreme Court ruled that a state had a right to place the public's convenience over that of a private or particular company, over the presumed right of monopoly granted in a corporate charter. It advanced the interests of those who favored economic development.

Chase, Samuel

Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase became a target of President Jefferson's first term attack on the federal judiciary. However, Chase was found innocent of any "high crimes and misdemeanors" required by the Constitution to remove a federal judge.


Chattanooga was the site of a series of Civil War campaigns culminating in a smashing Union victory in November 1863 as federal troops broke a Confederate siege of the city and opened the road to Georgia.

Chautauqua movement

The Chautauqua (N. Y.) movement responded to the desire for formal education among many late nineteenth-century adults. It offered instruction, texts, and lectures on many subjects, and it provided educational opportunities for thousands who were seeking intellectual stimulation.

Chavez, Cesar

Chavez organized Mexican migrant farm laborers into the United Farm Workers union in the 1970s. He used strikes, boycotts, and nonviolent resistance to protest unfair practices of the growers.

checks and balances

The Constitution contains ingenious devices of countervailing power. These checks on centralized power balance the authority of government between the co-equal branches of the presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court. This is sometimes called the separation of powers.

Cherokee War

This conflict from 1759 to 1761 on the southern frontier between the Cherokee Indians and colonists from Virginia southward caused South Carolina to request the aid of British troops and resulted in the surrender of more Indian land to whites.

Cherry Valley

Cherry Valley was the site of a Revolutionary War incident that occurred on November 11, 1778, when Joseph Brant of the Mohawks and Captain Walter Butler led seven hundred Indians and Tories on a raid of a New York valley that left as many as fifty Whig settlers dead.

Chesapeake incident

The U.S. naval vessel "Chesapeake" was fired upon and boarded by British officers in 1807, and four sailors were impressed. The incident provoked a clamor for war in the United States, but President Jefferson asked Congress for the Embargo Act instead.

Chicago Defender

The Chicago Defender was a major black newspaper that encouraged black migration from the South to the urban North.

Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph was chief of the Nez Perce Indians who, after a long campaign, finally surrendered to General Nelson A. Miles and U.S. troops in 1877. The Nez Perce were then sent to reservations in Oklahoma.

Children's Bureau

Established in 1912, the Children's Bureau was a federal agency for investigating and reporting on matters pertaining to the welfare of children.

Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association

The umbrella social service organization enabled Chinese immigrants to pool their resources to assist in such activities as job hunting, housing, support for the sick or poor, and burial.

Chinese Exclusion Act

This law passed by Congress in 1882 prohibited Chinese immigration to the United States; it was overturned in 1943.

Chisholm Trail

The Chisholm Trail was the route followed by Texas cattle raisers driving their herds north to markets at Kansas railheads.

Church of England

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

Church of God

The Church of God was a religious movement that emerged from the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina in 1886 as part of the Holiness movement. It accepted women, and sometimes blacks, on an equal basis with white men.

Churchill, Winston

Churchill was prime minister of Britain from 1940 to 1945. He was one of the Big Three Allied leaders along with Roosevelt and Stalin. His eloquent statesmanship and steady leadership inspired the British people during the dark days of World War II.

Cincinnati Red Stockings

The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team in America. It and seven other teams formed the National League in 1876.


The New Deal's support for labor organization fostered the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which organized the workers in mass-production industries like steel and automobiles. It did much to improve the working conditions of unskilled factory workers, increase the political influence of labor, and bring minorities into the labor movement.

Circular Letter

In 1768 the Massachusetts assembly circulated among the other colonies a document denouncing the Townshend duties. The Circular Letter claimed that the duties infringed on the colonists's natural and constitutional rights.

Citizen Genet

Genet was a special representative to the United States sent by the French government to seek support for the French Revolution. He was popularly received, but when he began recruiting ships and men for service to France, President Washington demanded his departure.

city commission

The city-commission form of city government was an invention of progressives and was designed to concentrate responsibility and ease the coordination of complex municipal activities. The system integrated executive and legislative powers in the hands of a small elected commission. It was first experimented with in Galveston, Texas.

city manager

The city-manager system of city government was an invention of progressives and was designed to bring expertise and efficiency to city government. In this system, elected commissioners appointed a nonpartisan, professional manager to administer city affairs. It enjoyed exemplary success in Dayton, Ohio.

Civil Disobedience

Henry David Thoreau wrote his essay on "Civil Disobedience" to express his view of the proper relationship between the individual and the government. He argued for passive resistance against government policies with which one disagreed. Like all romantics, he glorified individualism and condemned conformity and coercion.

Civil Rights Act

The 1866 Civil Rights Act declared that blacks were citizens of the United States, and it denied states the power to restrict blacks' basic civil rights. Congress overrode President Johnson's veto of the bill.

Civil Rights Act of 1875

Ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1883, this law prohibited racial discrimination in jury selection, public rtansportation, and public accommdations.

Civil Rights Act of 1957

In response to African Americans' demands for unhindered voter registration in the South, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957. It authorized the attorney general to use injunctions to block interference with black voter registration, created an investigative civil-rights commission, and created a civil-rights division in the Justice Department.

Civil Rights Actof 1964

This federal legislation outlawed discrimination in public accommodations and employment on the basis of race, skin color, sex, religion, or national origin.

civil service reform

To clean up the graft, corruption, and favoritism of the spoils system of political patronage, civil service reformers advocated a standardized examination of office seekers. The 1882 Pendleton Act initiated this reform at the federal level.

Civil Works Admninistration (CWA)

During the winter of 1933-34, this government agency under Harry Hopkins created 4 million relief jobs for the unemployed.

claims club

A claims club was a group of local settlers on the nineteenth-century frontier who banded together to prevent the price of their land claims from being bid up by outsiders at public land auctions.

Clark Memorandum

State Department officer Reuben Clark's 1930 memorandum recinded the U.S. claim to the right to intervene in the affairs of Latin American nations as expressed in the Roosevelt Corollary. It laid the groundwork for the Good Neighbor policy of the Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt administrations.

Clayton Antitrust Act

The 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act strengthened existing antitrust laws. It outlawed interlocking directorates, exempted labor unions from antitrust laws, and limited the use of injunctions in labor disputes.

Clayton-Bulwer Treaty

The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850) provided for the demilitarization and joint British-American control of any canal across the Central American isthmus of Panama. For Americans, it was a response to the need for improved communications to the West Coast.

Clearn Air Act

In 1970, the Clean Air Act set federal standards for air quality.

clear and present danger

The "clear and present danger" doctrine was promulgated in the Supreme Court's ruling in "Schenck v. U.S." in 1919. It upheld the constitutionality of the wartime Espionage Act and endorsed limited government repression of free speech in wartime.

Clemenceau, Georges

Clemenceau, premier of France in 1919, represented his nation's interests as part of the "Big Four" at the Versailles peace conference. French security and the crippling of Germany were his primary focus, and he was cynical toward President Wilson's "peace without victory."


The "Clermont" was the steamboat constructed by Robert Fulton in 1807. Soon steamboats were plying the waters of every navigable river from the Mississippi River east.

Cleveland, Grover

Cleveland, who was elected president in 1884 and 1892, was the only Democrat to be elected president between 1856 and 1912. Like the Republican presidents of the time, he held a narrow view of presidential power, although he did try to lead Congress toward tariff reform.

Clinton, Bill

Clinton, former governor of Arkansas, was elected president in 1992 and 1996. He presided over two administrations that were mostly moderate and flexible on domestic policy and noninterventionist in foreign policy.

Clinton, DeWitt

Clinton, while state canal commissioner of New York, proposed the construction of the Erie Canal. Construction began in 1817 and was completed in 1825.

clipper ships

Clipper ships were speedy, long, sleek sailing ships that cut sailing time from the Atlantic to Pacific coast in half in the 1850s. Their heyday was brief, however, since they were uneconomical for bulky cargoes that were the mainstay of commerce.

closed shop

In a closed shop, provisions written into labor contracts require new workers to join a union before they may be employed. Closed shops were outlawed by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.

Coercive Acts

Parliament responded to the Boston Tea Party by passing the Coercive Acts in 1774. They were unjust acts in that they intended to punish Boston and Massachusetts generally for the crime committed by a few individuals. Colonists called these (combined with the Quartering and Quebec acts) the Intolerable Acts.

Cold Harbor

At this crossroads 10 miles northeast of Richmond where in June 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant launched a disastrous assault on Confederate positions during the Civil War.

Cold War

The term "Cold War" refers to the antagonism between the Soviet Union and the West, especially the United States, from the end of World War II to the late 1980s. Its origins as World War II was ending is a subject of controversy among historians.


A collaborationist willingly cooperates, complies with, or assists enemy forces occupying his country. During World War II, the Vichy government of France collaborated with German occupying forces.

collective bargaining

Collective bargaining involves negotiations between the representatives of owners and employees to decide on wages, hours, and working conditions. Most late nineteenth-century employers refused to bargain with union representatives.

Colored Farmers' Alliance

The Colored Farmers' Alliance was an organization of southern black farmers formed in Texas in 1886 in response to the Southern Farmers' Alliance, which did not accept blacks as members.

Collier, John

President Franklin Roosevelt named Collier commissioner of Indian affairs. He successfully urged Congress to pass the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 to replace the 1887 Dawes Severalty Act. This restored tribal government.

Colonial Wars

Three colonial wars were fought between England and France between 1689 and 1748. In these, the American colonists were only peripherally involved.


Early nineteenth-century antislavery advocates proposed the idea of colonization--transporting freed slaves back to Africa. Appealing to the nation's racial prejudices, they thought southerners would be more likely to free their slaves if they would then be removed from America's shores.

Columbian exchange

The Columbian exchange involves the transatlantic exchange of plants, animals, and diseases that occurred after the first European contact with the Americas.

Columbus, Christopher

Columbus was an Italian seafarer commissioned by the Spanish monarchs to establish a western trade route to the Orient. He discovered the New World in 1492 and opened the Western Hemisphere to exploration and settlement from Europe.

Columbus, New Mexico

In 1916, Mexican "bandit" Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico, hoping to provoke U.S. intervention that would topple the Carranza government he opposed. U.S. troops intervened to chase Villa, but were withdrawn before he could be found.


The Comecon, or Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, was established in 1949 by the Soviet Union and its eastern European satellites.

Committee of Safety

The Committee of Safety refers to any of the extralegal committees that directed the Revolutionary movement and carried on the functions of government at the local level in the period between the breakdown of royal authority and the establishment of regular governments under the new state constitutions. Some Committees of Safety continued to function throughout the Revolutionary War.

Committee on Public Information (CPI)

During World War I, President Wilson created the CPI and appointed journalist George Creel to head it. The committee's objective was to maximize national loyalty and support for the war. It was a hard-working wartime propaganda organization.

committees of correspondence

Colonial radicals formed these committees in 1772 in order to step up communications among the colonies, and to plan joint action in case of trouble. Their organization was a key step in the direction of establishing an organized colony-wide resistance movement.

Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies

This organization formed before American entrance into World War II to support Franklin Roosevelt's policy of resisting Nazy Germany by actively aiding the British war effort.

common man

The Americans of Andrew Jackson's day (1820-1840) found it easy to believe that every person was the equal to and as politically important as his neighbor. This view led to the glorification of ordinariness and made mediocrity a virtue. It also led to a democratizing of American politics in the period.

common school

The early nineteenth-century common school movement was grounded in the belief that a successful republican government depended on an educated citizenry. This defined a need for free tax-supported common schools, which all children were expected to attend. Horace Mann was the recognized leader of the common school movement.

Common Sense

"Common Sense" was the revolutionary tract written by Thomas Paine in January 1776. It was a bold call for independence and the establishment of republican government in America.

Commonwealth v. Hunt

In "Commonwealth v. Hunt" (1842) the Massachusetts Supreme Court established the legality of labor unions, refuting the notion that they were inherently criminal conspiracies guilty of restraining trade. Other state courts followed this precedent.


Communism is a social structure based on the common ownership of property.


Communitarianism was a point of view aimed at reforming society by first establishing and demonstrating its principles on a small scale; in a commune. Communitarians were motivated either by religious beliefs or secular ideologies, but, while briefly popular, most were ineffective and did not last.

community action agencies

Community action agencies were locally based antipovery organizations created under federal legislation in 1964 and intended to allow poor people to help plan programs and services.

companionate family

In the "companionate" family emerging in the 1920s, husbands and wives dealt with each other as equals, sharing all family chores and responsibilities. Children in the companionate family were raised in a permissive atmosphere.


In colonial New England, competency was defined as the possession of enough property to maintain a family's independent economic existence.

Compromise of 1850

The Compromise of 1850 was Congress's attempt to settle several outstanding issues involving slavery. It banned the slave trade, but not slavery in Washington, D.C.; admitted California as a free state; applied popular sovereignty to the remaining Mexican Cession territory; settled the Texas-New Mexico boundary dispute; and passed a more stringent Fugitive Slave Act.

Compromise of 1877

Allegedly, a deal was struck in 1877 to settle the disputed outcome of the 1876 presidential election. In this Compromise of 1877, Democrats accepted the election of the Republican, Rutherford Hayes. In return, Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South and end Reconstruction.

Conant, James

Conant, a former president of Harvard University, was a post-World War II critic of the deemphasis on traditional subject matter in American schools. He criticized the schools for their failure to effectively teach English grammar and composition, and foreign languages.


Concentration was the Indian policy adopted by the U.S. government in the late nineteenth century. Indians were persuaded to accept defined limits to their hunting ground. This enabled the government to negotiate with each tribe separately--a strategy of divide and conquer.

concentration camp

A concentration camp was a prison camp for political dissenters and social undesirables, used extensively in Nazi Germany.

Conciliatory Proposition

In this plan proposed by Lord North and adopted by the House of Commons in February 1775, Parliament would forbear taxation of Americans in colonies whose assemblies imposed taxes considered satisfactory by the British govenrment. The Continental Congress rejected this plan on July 31, 1775.

Confederate States of America CSA)

The CSA was declared to be a nation in Montgomery, Alabama, in February 1861, after the seven states of the Lower South seceded from the United States.

Confiscation Act of 1862

This, the second confiscation act passed by Congress, ordered the seizure of land from disloyal Southerners and the emancipation of their slaves.

Congress on Racial Equality

CORE was a civil rights group formed in 1942. They were committed to nonviolent civil disobedience, such as the 1961 "freedom rides."

Congressional Reconstruction

Congressional Reconstruction is the name given to the period from 1867 to 1870 when the Republican-dominated Congress controlled Reconstruction policy. It is sometimes known as Radical Reconstruction, after the radical faction in the Republican party.

Conkling, Roscoe

Conkling, a New York congressman, was most noted for his leadership of the conservative Stalwart faction of the Republican party in the late nineteenth century.


Brave, brutal, and imaginative Spanish conquerors of the New World, "conquistadors" (Spanish for "conqueror") were noted for their mistreatment of Native Americans.

Conscience Whigs

The Conscience Whigs were northern Whigs who opposed the existence of slavery in the territories. When the Whig party disintegrated after 1852, and the Democratic party was dominated by proslavery southerners, most Conscience Whigs joined the new Republican party.


Both the Confederates (in 1862) and the Union (in 1863) raised manpower during the Civil War by military draft, or conscription. This coercive measure was resented in both the North and the South. However, the bulk of the fighting forces in both armies were raised through voluntary enlistment.


Conservation refers to the efficient management and use of natural resources, such as forests, grasslands, and rivers, as opposed to preservation or uncontrolled exploitation.

conservative coalition

By 1938, many conservative Democrats alienated by New Deal deficit spending and predominantly southerners, joined with Republicans to form an anti-New Deal "conservative coalition" in Congress. The coalition succeeded in blocking additional New Deal legislation.

Constitutional Convention
The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787 and drafted the Constitution of the United States.

Constitutional Union party

Formed in 1860 mainly by former Whigs, the national Constitutional Union party emphasized allegiance to the Union and strict enforcement of all national legislation.

Constitution of the United States

The U.S. Constitution served as the written document that provided for a new central government for the nation. It was drawn up at the Constitutional Cenvention in 1787 and ratified by the states in 1788.

Continental Army

The Continental Army was the regular or professional army authorized by the Second Continental Congress. General George Washington commanded the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Better training and longer service distinguished its soldiers from the state militiamen.

Continental Association

In 1774, the First Continental Congress called for the boycott of British goods and the stopping of exports to England. The Continental Association was created to enforce these measures. Local committees were established to enforce the provisions of the association.

Continental dollars

The Continental Congress issued paper money called Continental dollars to finance the Revolution. Lacking tax revenues to back it up, this money depreciated rapidly. By mid-1781, it was literally worthless, but it had served its purpose by helping Congress conduct the war for six years.

Continental System

Napoleon's Continental System was supposed to make Europe economically self-sufficient and isolate Britain by depriving it of its European markets. The system ignored U.S. claims to neutral rights.


Slaves who escaped from their masters to Union lines during the Civil War were called contrabands.

contract theory of government

The contract theory of government posits that government is established by human beings to protect certain rights--such as life, liberty, and property--that are theirs by natural, divinely sanctioned law and that when government protects these rights, people are obligated to obey it. But when government violates its part of the bargain (or contract) between the rulers and the ruled, the people are no longer required to obey it and may establish a new government that will do a better job of protecting them. Elements of this theory date back to the ancient Greeks; John Locke used it in his Second Treatise on Government (1682), and Thomas Jefferson gave it memorable expression in the Declaration of Independence, where it provides the rationale for renouncing allegiance to King George III.

Contract with America

In 1994, conservative Republican congressional candidates signed a Contract with America pledging support for conservative reforms. Conservative Republicans helped their party win control of Congress in 1994. Associated with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, it proposed a sweeping reduction in the role and activities of the federal government. Congress, however, passed few of the contract's proposals, or President Clinton vetoed them.


Contras were Nicaraguan counterrevolutionaries ("contra" means "against") who tried to overthrow the Sandinista government in that country. The Contras were backed by the Reagan administration.


New state constitutions were usually written by specially called state conventions that were empowered to draft the charters. They illustrate the idea that constitutions are contracts between the people and their leaders.

Convention of 1800

The Convention of 1800 was negotiated with Napoleon. It ended the Franco-American Alliance of 1778, and ended the war scare produced by the XYZ Affair.

Convention of 1818

In the convention of 1818 Britain and the United States agreed to the 49th parallel as the northern boundary of the Louisiana Territory between Lake of the Woods and the Rocky Mountains. The two nations also agreed to joint occupation of the Oregon country for ten years.

Coolidge, Calvin

President Coolidge was the darling of conservatives in the 1920s (and of President Reagan in the 1980s). He greatly admired businessmen and was devoted to laissez-faire economics. During his one-term presidency, complacency was the order of the day.

cooling-off period

The 1947 Taft-Hartley Act mandated an eighty-day "cooling off" period when the president sought an injunction to stop a strike that threatened national security. During the period, investigations and recommendations could be made to resolve the labor dispute.

Cooper, James Fenimore

Cooper was the author of "The Last of the Mohicans" (1826). He presented a vivid, if somewhat romanticized view of frontier life.


A cooperative was an organization that allowed a group of farmers to buy tools, seed, livestock, and other farm-related products at discounted prices in bulk.

Copley, John Singleton

Copley, an early nineteenth-century artist, painted portraits with a stern, straightforwardness that gave them a distinctively American character.


Copperheads were mostly northern Democrats who opposed all measures in support of war against the Confederacy. They wanted a negotiated peace. Republicans also applied the term copperhead to those suspected of aiding the Confederate cause during the Civil War.

cordon sanitaire

The cordon sanitaire referred to the belt of anti-Communist eastern European nations that separated western Europe from the Soviet Union after World War I.

Cornwallis, Charles

General Cornwallis commanded British troops in the South in 1778-1781. He was surrounded and forced to surrender at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, effectively ending the Revolutionary War.


America's modern method of organizing and financing large enterprises, corporations, were rare before the Civil War. There was a strong cultural bias against corporations in the early nineteenth century, and chartering corporations often required a special act by a state legislature.

corrupt bargain

In the controversial Election of 1824, John Quincy Adams laid himself open to the charge of having won the presidency by virtue of a "corrupt bargain" with Henry Clay. Employing his great influence in the House of Representatives, Clay swung the House vote for Adams for president. Adams then appointed Clay as his secretary of state.

cotton gin

Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793. The device efficiently separated upland cotton fiber from its sticky seeds and made cotton production highly profitable throughout the South. This in turn brought a revival of southern slavery.

Cotton Whigs

The Cotton Whigs were southerners who were alienated from the Whig party by their antislavery brethren. When the Whig party disintegrated after 1852, they joined with proslavery southerners in the Democratic party.

Coughlin, Charles

Father Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest, contended on his popular radio show that inflating the currency could solve the Great Depression. He turned against the New Deal, and verbally attacked bankers, New Dealers, and Jews.

Council of Economic Advsiers

A board of three professional economists, the Council of Economic Advisers was established in 1946 to advise the president on economic policy.

Council of National Defense

A government body consisting of cabinet officials and economic leaders, the Council of National Defense oversaw the wartime agencies controlling the nation's economy during World War I.


The term counterculture referred to various alternatives to mainstream values and behaviors that became popular in the 1960s. Among these were experimentation with psychedelic drugs, communal living, a return to the land, Asian religions, and experimental art.

Country (Real Whig) ideology

Country ideology first appeared in England in the late seventeenth century in response to the growth of governmental power and a national debt. Main ideas of this strain of thought stressed the threat to personal liberty posed by a standing army and high taxes, and emphasized the need for property holders to retain the right to consent to taxation.

coureur de bois

French for "woods runner," a coureur de bois was an independent fur trader in New France.

court-packing scheme

Concerned that the conservative Supreme Court might declare all his New Deal programs unconstitutional, President Roosevelt asked Congress to allow him to appoint more justices, who would likely be more sympathetic to Roosevelt's program, to the Court. Both Congress and the public rejected this "court-packing" scheme and it was defeated.


A covenant was an agreement or contract among Puritans that was intended to ensure the upright behavior of all who migrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony. Settlers believed that they made a covenant with the Lord to create a godly society, and in their towns and churches, settlers made covenants whereby they agreed to live and worship in harmony. Also, more broadly, a covenant is a formal agreement or contract.

Coxey, Jacob

In 1894, Ohio small-town businessman Jacob Coxey led an "army" of unemployed workers to Washington, D.C. They demanded a federal public works program to make jobs available to those left unemployed by the Panic of 1893. He was arrested for trespassing on the White House lawn.


"Crack" is a cheap, smokeable, and highly addictive form of cocaine. Its widespread use is a symptom of the "drug problem" in contemporary America.

creation theory

In response to the evolutionary theory often taught in science classes in postwar public schools, religious fundamentalists have argued in favor of teaching the biblical explanation of Creation.


The Republican-backed Committee to Re-elect the President in 1972 was anagrammed CREEP. James McCord, a security officer in CREEP, and four others (the "plumbers") broke into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate apartment and office complex in Washington, D.C., initiating the Watergate scandal.

creeping socialism

When Eisenhower became president in 1953 he spoke of the necessity to stop "creeping socialism," referring to the increasing expense and centralized authority of the federal government. He advocated more local control of government affairs and reduced government spending.

A creole was a slave of African descent born in the colonies.

Crime of '73

In 1873 Congress demonetized silver. Inflationists who wanted a bimetallic standard for the money supply (gold and silver) called this the "Crime of '73." In a series of compromise legislation, the government began purchasing stocks of silver, but, because of the enormous productivity of western silver mines, it had little inflationary effect.


A criollo was a person of Spanish descent born in the Americas or in the West Indies.

Crittenden Compromise

During the Secession Crisis in 1860-1861, Kentucky Senator John Crittenden proposed a North-South compromise on slavery. He proposed a constitutional amendment recognizing slavery in all territory south of 36° 30' (the "Missouri Compromise line"), and an unamendable amendment guaranteeing slavery in slave states. President-elect Lincoln and the Republicans rejected the proposals.

crop lien system

To finance the sharecropping system, southerners turned to the crop lien system. Landowners and sharecroppers borrowed (at high interest rates) against the future harvest. Lenders insisted that they produce cash crops like cotton. The system made landowners and sharecroppers dependent on local merchants, and it prevented the development of diversified farming in the South.


The Crusades were European religious campaigns of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that attempted to drive the Muslims from the Middle Eastern Holy Land. They were partly responsible for stimulating trade between Western Europe and Asia.


A cryptanalyst deciphers coded messages. In 1941, cryptanalyst Colonel William Friedman had deciphered the Japanese diplomatic code, so American leaders knew a Japanese attack was imminent. They expected it to be in the Philippines or Southeast Asia, not Pearl Harbor.

Cuban missile crisis

In 1962, the United States and Soviet Union came close to nuclear war when the United States insisted that the Soviets remove their missiles from Cuba. The Soviets eventually did so, nuclear war was averted, and the crisis passed.

cult of true womanhood (or cult of domesticity)

Early nineteenth-century male expectations of the role of women in society reflected a "cult of true womanhood." In this conception, a woman was expected to be pious, pure, submissive, and domesticated; her place was in the home.

culture area

A culture area is a geographical region inhabited by peoples who share similar basic patterns of subsistence and social organization.

Currency Act

Passed by Parliament in 1764, the Currency Act prevented the colonies from issuing legal tender paper money, which often depreciated.

Currier and Ives

In the late 1850s, the prints of the firm of Currier and Ives appealed to a wide audience. Their lithographs of common scenes were issued in large editions and were relatively inexpensive.

Custer, George A.

Colonel Custer commanded a detachment of the Seventh Cavalry that was annihilated at the Battle of Little Bighorn in June 1876.

Czolgosz, Leon

Czolgosz, an anarchist, assassinated President William McKinley in 1901, making Vice President Theodore Roosevelt the new president.

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

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