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


La Follette, Robert
La Follette, an uncompromising foe of corruption in government, became reform governor of (and later senator from) Wisconsin. He had faith in people's ability, once informed, to do the right thing. He fathered the Wisconsin Idea of including scholars and experts in the administration of state government.

Ladies' Home Journal
When Edward Bok became editor of the "Ladies' Home Journal" in 1889, he revolutionized the mass-circulation field for the magazine. The magazine offered advice columns, articles on child and home care and current events, and reproduced art works. The editor campaigned for women's suffrage, conservation, and other reforms.

Ladies' Memorial Associations
These women's organizations were formed in the South after the Civil War to commemorate Confederate soldiers.

laissez-faire
Laissez-faire means literally "to let alone." The phrase is commonly used to refer to a policy of no governmental interference in the economy or one's personal pursuit of material wealth. In practice, it opposes governmental regulation, but has no quarrel with government promotion of, or aid to, economic development.

Lancaster, Treaty of
In this 1744 negotiation, Iroquois chiefs sold Virginia land speculators the right to trade at the Forks of the Ohio. Although the Iroquois had not intended this to include the right to settle in the Ohio Country, the Virginians assumed that it did. Ohio Valley Indians considered this treaty a great grievance against both the English and the Iroquois.

Land Grant College Act
This law passed by Congress in July 1862 awarded proceeds from the sale of public lands to the states for the establishment of agricultural and mechanical (later engineering) colleges; the grants were awarded at the rate of 30,000 acres for each member that state had in Congress. The law was named after its sponsor, Congressman Justin Morrill of Vermont.

Land Ordinance of 1785
The Ordinance of 1785 provided for the surveying and selling of America's western territories; it created the grid system of surveys by which all subsequent public land was made available for sale. It favored speculative land development companies, but it promoted nationalism.

Landon, Alf
Landon, governor of Kansas, was the Republican presidential nominee in 1936. He and his party were defeated in a landslide victory for Democrat Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.

landsmanshaften
These Jewish associations provided social and economic services for their members.

large policy
America's growing foreign trade, Darwinian social theory, conquest of the western frontier, strategic and military interests, and the European examples of colonial acquisition all influenced some leaders to call for a larger role (a "large policy") for the United States in world affairs in the late nineteenth century.

Las Gorras Blancas
Las Gorras Blancas ("the White Caps") were Hispanic villagers in New Mexico who disguised themselves and employed violent tactics to resist Anglo capitalist disruptions of their traditional life.

Last of the Mohicans, The
"The Last of the Mohicans" (1826) was one of James Fenimore Cooper's most successful in a series of tales of Indians and settlers that presented a vivid, if romanticized picture of frontier life. It, like many romantic novels, expressed a reverence for nature and the freedom of the individual.

Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall
This harsh code of laws in force in Virginia between 1609 and 1621 was designed to use military discipline to bring order to the struggling colony.

League of Armed Neutrality
This association of European powers (Russian, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, and Sicily) formed between 1780 and 1782 to protect their rights as neutral traders against British attempts to impose a blockade on its enemies. Britain declared war on the Dutch on December 20, 1780, in an effort to cut off their trade with the United States.

League of Freedom
This African-American organization formed in Boston in 1851 to protect blacks against the Fugitive Slave Act.

League of Nations
The League of Nations was President Wilson's fourteenth point in his plan for a "peace without victory." He proposed the League as an international peacekeeping organization, and it was incorporated into the 1919 Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. But questions about League membership caused the U.S. Senate to refuse to ratify the treaty and to reject U.S. membership in the League.

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
This organization for Hispanic Americans formed in 1928 to fight segregation and promote equal rights and opportunities.

League of Women Voters
This group formed in 1920 from the National American Women Suffrage Association to encourage informed voting and social reforms.

Lease, Mary Elizabeth
Lease was a prominent Populist speaker noted for her rallying cry to farmers to "raise less corn and more hell."

Leaves of Grass
"Leaves of Grass" (1855) was romantic poet Walt Whitman's collection of poems notable for their use of free verse and American slang, and for their theme of optimism and confidence.

Lecompton Constitution
Kansas territorial delegrates elected under questionable circumstances wrote this proslavery draft in 1857 and presented it with a request for admission to statehood. It generated a controversy that divided the Democratic party. It was rejected by two governors, supported by President Buchanan, and decisively defeated by Congress. Kansas was ultimately admitted as a free state in 1861.

Lee, Ann
Ann Lee founded the Shaker communities. She believed herself to be Christ returned to earth. She came to New York from England in 1774 and died in 1784, but her movement continued to expand for decades.

Lee, Robert E.
General Lee was the commander of the Confederacy's Army of Northern Virginia and a brilliant tactician. He led the Confederate armies at Antietam and Gettysburg. He surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, in 1865.

legal tender
This term refers to an attribute of money that results from legislation declaring it to be, as in the case of modern Untied States currency, "legal tender for all debts public and private." Creditors must therefore accept it at face value.

Leisler's Rebellion
Jacob Leisler seized control of New York's government in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688. He was arrested and executed in 1690.

Lend-Lease Act
Arguing that aiding Britain would help America's own defense, President Roosevelt in 1941 asked Congress for a $7 billion lend-lease plan. This would allow the president to sell, lend, lease, or transfer war material to any country whose defense he declared as vital to that of the United States.

Letter from Birmingham Jail
Martin Luther King, Jr., was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, after leading a civil-rights demonstration in 1963. There he wrote his now famous "Letter" that explained why blacks were impatient for civil rights and racial equality.

Levittown
Levittowns were large post-World War II housing developments built by William Levitt and Sons outside New York and Philadelphia.

Lewis and Clark Expedition
President Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Territory and beyond to the Pacific Coast. Their expedition (1803-1806) brought back a wealth of data about the country and its resources.

Lewis, John L.
Lewis was president of the United Mine Workers Union in the 1930s, and he took full advantage of Section 7a of the NIRA to expand his union's membership. He and others formed the Committee for Industrial Organization in the AFL, which in 1938 became the separate CIO with Lewis as its president.

Lewis, Sinclair
Lewis was probably the most popular novelist of the 1920s. He portrayed the shallow ignorance and bigotry of small-town America in "Main Street," and the boorish boosterism of America's small businessman in "Babbitt." He was the first American novelist to win a Nobel Prize.

Leyte Gulf
Together with the Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 1944), the Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 1944) completed the destruction of Japanese sea power in the Pacific. Leyte Gulf is in the Philippines.

Liberal Republicans
In 1872, Republican reformers, alarmed by the corruption and scandals in the Grant administration, organized the Liberal Republican party and nominated Horace Greeley for president. They were laissez faire liberals who opposed legislation that benefited any particular group.

Liberator, The
"The Liberator," the abolitionist newspaper, was published by William Lloyd Garrison. In its columns, Garrison called for the immediate abolition of slavery and the treatment of blacks as equals.

Liberty Association
This African-American organization formed in Chicago in 1851 to patrol the city to spot slavecatchers.

Liberty bonds
These interest-bearing certificates were sold by the U.S. government to finance the American World War I effort.

Liberty party
New York businessmen Arthur and Lewis Tappan organized the Liberty party. They broke with William Lloyd Garrison over issues of abolitionists' involvement in politics and the role of women in the movement. The party nominated James Birney for president in 1840 and 1844, but he garnered few votes.

lily-white policy
When Theodore Roosevelt, no less and no more a racist than his contemporaries, ran for president on the Progressive party ticket in 1912, he pursued a "lily-white" policy. That is, he wooed the white voters in the South, hoping to break the strength of the Democratic party there.

Limited Test Ban Treaty
This 1963 agreement between the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union was designed to halt atmospheric and underwater tests of nuclear weapons.

Lincoln, Abraham
Lincoln was a one-term congressman from Illinois during the Mexican War. His debates with Senator Stephen Douglas in 1858 propelled him to national attention and the Republican nomination for president in 1860. He won the election and led the Union during the Civil War, during which he issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln-Douglas debates
In the senate race in Illinois in 1858, Senator Stephen Douglas and Republican Abraham Lincoln conducted a series of debates. These debates focused on the implications of the Dred Scott decision and the future of slavery in America. Lincoln won wide acclaim in the North for his views. Douglas won reelection.

Lindbergh, Charles
Lindbergh was the first person to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean, going from New York to Paris in 1927. His feat gave a major boost to commercial flying.

Little Bighorn
In June, 1876, Colonel George A. Custer and all his men were killed (Custer's Last Stand) by Sioux Indians at the Battle of Little Bighorn in southern Montana.

localism
This belief, prevalent during much of the nineteenth century, held that local concerns took precedence over national concerns and that people and institutions should generally resolve issues without the involvement of the national government.

Lodge, Henry Cabot
Massachusetts Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, a personal and political enemy of Preident Woodrow Wilson as well as an intense nationalist and partisan, organized the reservationists who opposed U.S. membership in the League of Nations.

London Company
The London Company was a joint-stock company chartered in 1606 and was responsible for founding the first permanent English settlement in America; Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.

Lone Star Republic
After rebelling from Mexico in 1835, Texas established a government of its own. Known as the "Lone Star Republic," Texas continued to function as an independent nation until its voluntary annexation by the United States in 1848.

Lonely Crowd, The
Alarmed by the sheepish conformity of the 1950s, sociologist David Riesman wrote "The Lonely Crowd" (1952) to draw a distinction between "inner-directed" rugged individualists, who were worthy of admiration, and "other-directed" conformists.

Long, Huey
Louisiana Senator Long was a left-wing critic of the New Deal, contending it did too little to help the poor. He advocated a "Share Our Wealth" program to transfer wealth from the rich to the poor. He was assassinated in 1935.

long- and short-haul inequity
To recover losses forced on them by stiff competition, railroad companies varied their rates according to the level of competition in an area. Because of this, it frequently cost more to ship a product a short distance than a longer one.

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, author of "Paul Revere's Ride" and "Song of Hiawatha" effectively captured the exuberance, optimism and self-confidence of the romantic age.

loose construction
Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton held a loose construction of the Constitution (implied powers) claiming that Congress had the authority to pass all laws that were proper. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson held a strict construction of the Constitution claiming Congress was limited to making only laws that were necessary.

Lord Baltimore
The Calvert family, English Catholics, established the proprietary colony of Maryland in 1634 as a haven for English Catholics and for their own economic advantage.

Lords of Trade
Charles II created this standing committee of the Privy Council in 1675, to oversee colonial affairs.

lost cause
Many white Southerners applied this phrase to their Civil War defeat; they viewed the war as a noble cause but only a temporary setback in the South's ultimate vindication.

lost generation
The "lost generation" was the bright young generation of artists and writers, disillusioned by the brutality of World War I and alienated by the materialism and conformity of the new mass culture, who became critics of modern society's manners, morals, and materialism. Many Americans among them became expatriates, leaving the United States to live in Europe.

Louisiana Purchase
In 1803 the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleonic France for $15 million. The purchase secured U.S. control of the Mississippi River and nearly doubled the size of the nation.

Lowell, Francis Cabot
Lowell headed the Boston Associates whose Waltham textile mills added a new dimension to the factory system, mass production.

Loyalists
Loyalists (sometimes called Tories) hesitated to take up arms against England. They may have been as much as one-third of the colonists in 1776. Many were royal appointees, Anglican clergymen, or Atlantic merchants. They were poorly organized and of limited help to British armies, but the Patriots persecuted them.

Loyalty Review Board
In 1947, President Truman responded to allegations that his administration was full of communist sympathizers by creating the Loyalty Review Board. The board made sympathy with any "subversive" organization on its list grounds for dismissal from government employment. Those charged were not allowed to cross-examine their accusers.

Lucas, Eliza
Lucas introduced the indigo as a cash crop on her South Carolina plantation. Indigo was a blue dye used in the British woolens industry. Parliament paid a bonus for its cultivation.

Lusitania
In May 1915, the British passenger ship "Lusitania" was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland. One hundred twenty-eight Americans were among the dead. President Wilson demanded Germany pay an indemnity to victims' families and promise to stop attacking passenger ships. Germany agreed to pay an indemnity.

Luther, Martin
Luther was the German Protestant reform leader who challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic church in the early sixteenth century.

lyceum
Lyceums were locally sponsored public lectures that were quite diverse in topics and in speakers. Many early nineteenth-century literary figures were popular lecturers on the lyceum circuit.

lynching
A lynching is an execution, usually by a mob, without a trial.


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


Return to Top of Page