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

Wade-Davis bill
Congress passed the Wade-Davis bill in 1864 as a substitute for Lincoln's ten percent plan. It required a majority of voters in a southern state to take a loyalty oath in order to begin the process of Reconstruction and guarantee black equality. It also required the repudiation of the Confederate debt. The president exercised a pocket veto, and it never became law.

wage and price controls
In 1970, Congress authorized President Nixon to regulate wages and prices as a way to combat inflation. In 1971, Nixon imposed a ninety-day wage and price freeze and set up a commission to regulate wages and prices when the freeze ended.

Wagner Act
Officially the National Labor Relations Act and sometimes called Labor's Magna Charta, the 1935 Wagner Act gave workers the right to organize and bargain collectively. It also created the National Labor Relations Board to supervise union elections and stop unfair labor practices by employers.

Wald, Lillian
Wald was a leading settlement house worker who agitated for laws to regulate women and child labor, and for better schools. She wrote "The House on Henry Street" to describe the dedication and challenge of settlement house work.

"Walden" (1854) was Henry David Thoreau's story of his experiment in living simply. It is an indictment of the acquisitive social behavior and unthinking conformity of the average American of his time.

Wallace, George
Alabama Governor Wallace was an avowed segregationist and a leading spokesman against the civil-rights movement. He ran for president in 1968 on the American Independent party ticket. He was critically wounded in an assassination attempt in 1972 while campaigning for the Democratic party's presidential nomination.

Wallace, Henry A.
Wallace was Franklin Roosevelt's secretary of agriculture in the 1930s and was elected vice president in 1940. He unsuccessfully ran for president on the Progressive party ticket in 1948.

Waltham System
The Boston Associates developed the Waltham System of employing young unmarried women as workers in their New England textile mills. The women lived in boardinghouses and their proper behavior was strictly policed. By 1840, for economy reasons, the women were replaced by immigrant laborers.

War Hawks
The War Hawks were young congressional leaders who, in 1811 and 1812, called for war against Great Britain as the only way to defend the national honor and force the British to respect America's neutral rights.

War Industries Board (WIB)
This federal agency reorganized industry for maximum efficiency and productivity during World War I.

War Labor Board
President Wilson created the War Labor Board in 1917 to settle labor disputes during World War I. It prevented many strikes, set wages-and-hours standards, and compelled employers to deal with labor leaders, thus promoting labor unions.

War Manpower Commission
This federal agency was established in 1942 to allocate workers among the armed services, defense industries, and essential civilian industries.

War of 1812
The United States and Britain fought this war from June 1812 to January 1815 largely over British restrictions on American shipping.

War of the Austrian Succession
This small conflict between Britain and Spain began in 1739 and widened into a larger European war in 1740 (lasting until 1748) when the king of Prussia attacked lands claimed by Austria's ruling family; known in America as King George's War.

War of the League of Augsburg
This European conflict (1688-1697) pitted France against Spain, Sweden, the Holy Roman Empire, the Dutch republic, various German principalities, and, in 1689, England. The principal aim was to halt the growing power of France's Louis XIV. In America, this was known as King William's War.

War of the Spanish Succession
This European conflict (1702-1713) began in a struggle between the king of France and the Holy Roman emperor over claims to the Spanish throne. England, Holland, and the Holy Roman Empire fought France and Spain in a war known in America as Queen Anne's War.

War on Poverty
This set of programs introduced by Lyndon Johnson between 1963 and 1966 was designed to break the cycle of poverty by providing funds for job training, community development, nutrition, and supplementary education.

War Production Board
This federal agency was established in 1942 to coordinate defense production and allocate scarce resources to serve the war effort.

Ward, Lester Frank
Ward's "Dynamic Sociology" questioned the theory of evolution and argued that society could be reformed by cold calculation. He believed that people were not helpless subjects of their environment, but could control it through government regulation and social planning. His ideas eventually demolished social Darwinism and laid the theoretical basis for the modern welfare system.

Warhol, Andy
Warhol was a leader of the pop art school that satirized the vapidity, crudeness, and violence of American life. Warhol was most famous for his creative portraits of mundane objects.

Warren Commission
After President Kennedy's assassination in 1963, an official investigation conducted by a commission headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren concluded that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. The conclusion has been disputed ever since.

Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Pact was the military alliance of the Soviet Union and Communist nations in eastern Europe from 1955 to 1989.

Washington, Booker T.
Washington was a former slave who founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1881. He believed blacks could advance by their own efforts and white help, and by accommodating to white prejudice. Whites considered him a "reasonable" spokesman of black interests in America.

Washington, George
Washington, a Virginia planter, was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1775. He was also the president of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and the first president of the United States (1789-1797).

Washington Naval Conference
In 1921, Secretary of State Hughes called a conference to reaffirm the Open Door policy in Asia and place limitations on naval construction. The conference achieved some of his goals, but only for a brief time.

Washington Temperance Societies
These temperance associations dominated by mechanics and laborers first formed in Baltimore in 1840.

The Washingtonians was an organization of reformed drunkards. The group set out to reclaim alcoholics through testimonials to the evils of strong drink.

A complex scandal involving attempts to cover up illegal actions taken by administration officials and leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Watson, John B.
Watson was a child-care expert and behavioral psychologist who advocated a strict upbringing for children. He expressed the view that children are made, not born, that they are shaped by the stimuli of their environment.

In 1965, the first of what was to be many black ghetto riots over the following decade broke out in Watts, a poor section of Los Angeles. The National Guard had to be called to restore order, and after six days of rioting, thirty-four persons had been killed.

waving the bloody shirt
"Waving the bloody shirt" was a campaign tactic used by post-Civil War Republicans to remind northern voters that the Confederates were Democrats. The device was used to divert attention away from the competence of candidates and from serious issues. It was also used to appeal to black voters in the South.

Weather Underground
This fringe group of former members of Students for a Democratic Society, 1969-1970, emphasized confrontation and violence.

Weaver, James B.
Iowa reformer James B. Weaver was nominated for president by the Populist party in 1892. He won a million votes, but the party failed to unite black and white farmers in the South or to attract significant support from labor.

Webster, Noah
Webster, later famous for his dictionary, authored several textbooks, all of which celebrated American nationalism.

Webster-Ashburton Treaty
The 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty settled the controversy over the Maine-Canada boundary. The treaty allowed Canada to build a military road from Halifax to Quebec while the United States got most of the disputed territory.

Webster-Hayne debate
In 1830, South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne tried to forge an alliance of the South and West based on a cheap land policy and low tariffs. Senator Webster accused Hayne of disunionism and argued that the Constitution was a compact of the American people, not of the states, and that it was perpetual and indissoluble.

Weld, Theodore Dwight
Weld was the spokesman for a moderate view of abolitionism. He supported the "immediate" abolition of slavery gradually achieved, and, unlike William Lloyd Garrison, was willing to engage in political activity to accomplish that goal.

welfare capitalism
This paternalistic system of labor relations emphasized management responsibility for employee well-being. While providing some limited benefits, its function was primarily to forestall the formation of unions or public intervention.

Wesley Houses
Wesley Houses were organizations modeled after the settlement houses of the North that began appearing in southern cities under the auspices of the Methodist Church in the 1890s to serve working-class neighborhoods.

West, Benjamin
West was the first and most highly regarded American artist of the early nineteenth century.

Western Federation of Miners
This large and radical union of western miners formed in Butte, Montana, in 1893 to coordinate local unions' resistance to corporate threats to workers' wages, working conditions, and health.

Westmoreland, William
General Westmoreland was the commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. He devised and pursued an unsuccessful strategy of attrition.

"Wetbacks" is a term used, usually pejoratively, to refer to Mexican immigrants who enter the United States illegally. The term derives from the fact that a part of the U.S.-Mexican border is the Rio Grande, sometimes swum by Mexican immigrants to avoid border checkpoints for legal immigration. These immigrants are also called "mojados."

Weyler, Valeriano
General "Butcher" Weyler was the Spanish governor of Cuba whose harsh reconcentration camp policy provoked outrage in America and steeled Cuban rebels' resolve against him. Americans saw in Cuba's anti-Spanish rebels a reflection of their own revolutionary ancestors' struggle against the British.

Whig party
This political party formed in the mid-1830s in opposition to the Jacksonian Democrats that favored a strong role for the national government in promoting economic growth. Whigs were spiritual descendants of Hamiltonian nationalism.

The name used by advocates of colonial resistance to British measures during the 1760s and 1770s. The Whig party in England unsuccessfully attempted to exclude the Catholic Duke of York from succession to the throne as James II; victorious in the Glorious Revolution, the Whigs later stood for religious toleration and the supremacy of Parliament over the crown.

Whiskey Rebellion
Western Pennsylvania farmers violently resisted paying the whiskey tax imposed by Hamilton's financial program. In 1794 they threatened to destroy Pittsburgh. Washington and Hamilton marshalled the full force of the army to suppress the rebellion, but the rebels had dispersed by the time the army arrived.

Whistler, James
Whistler's portrait of his mother ("Whistler's Mother") is probably the most famous painting by an American. He was an eccentric, but he was also talented and versatile, proficient in both realistic and romantic art.

white backlash
As the civil-rights movement and black discontent became more militant in the 1960s, and seemed to be rewarded with government largesse, many whites, previously sympathetic or indifferent, became infuriated with black radicalism.

White League
The White League was one of several military organizations operating openly and in concert with the Democratic party in the South to thwart black voting rights during Reconstruction.

Whitefield, George
Whitefield was an Anglican minister with great oratorical skills. His emotion-charged sermons were a centerpiece of the Great Awakening in the American colonies in the 1740s.

Whitman, Walt
Whitman was the most romantic and by far the most distinctive American writer of the early nineteenth century. His "Leaves of Grass," a collection of free verse poetry, disclosed his ear for common speech and Americans' confidence in themselves.

Whitney, Eli
Whitney, a skilled and prolific inventor, invented the cotton gin in 1793. It almost immediately transformed southern agriculture and revitalized slavery. Whitney also was successful in manufacturing rifles for the government by employing the idea of interchangeable parts.

Wide Awakes
This group of red-shirted, black-caped young men paraded through city streets in the North extolling the virtues of the Republican party during the 1860 presidential election campaign.

Wilderness Act
Also known as the Wilderness Areas Act, this 1964 law designated certain federal lands as parts of the National Wilderness Preservation System, consisting originally of 9.1 million acres.

Williams, Roger
Williams was a Puritan minister who was banished from Massachusetts Bay for his heretical ideas of extreme separatism and separation of church and state, and his insistence that the colony's land must be purchased from the Indians.

Willkie, Wendell
Willkie led the private-business community's opposition to the TVA. In 1940 he was the Republican nominee to oppose Franklin Roosevelt's bid for reelection to a third term. He focused his unsuccessful campaign on the president's increasingly interventionist foreign policy.

Wilmot Proviso
In 1846 Pennsylvania Congressman David Wilmot introduced an amendment (proviso) to an appropriations bill that provided for banning slavery from any territory the United States might acquire from Mexico as a result of war. It never passed Congress, but the Proviso generated a great debate on the authority of the federal government to ban slavery from the territories.

Wilmot, David
Wilmot was a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania who introduced an amendment (the Wilmot Proviso) to ban slavery from any territory the United States might acquire as a result of the Mexican War. It never passed Congress, but it generated a great debate on slavery in the territories.

President Ford believed that inflation was the most serious problem facing the economy in the mid-1970s. He called on Americans to wear WIN (Whip Inflation Now) buttons as a sign of their willingness to fight inflation. The campaign failed.

Winthrop, John
Winthrop, a lawyer, served for over twenty years as the elected governor of the Puritan's Massachusetts Bay colony.

Wisconsin Idea
Progressive governor Robert La Follette called on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin to offer its expertise to help him bring progressive change to the state. A widely copied legislative reference library was one of their notable accomplishments. This enlistment of academicians in government came to be known as the Wisconsin Idea.

Wobblies was the popular name for the members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

woman suffrage
Woman suffrage referred to the right of women to vote, achieved in the Nineteenth Amendment.

Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)
This national organization was formed after the Civil War dedicated to prohibiting the sale and distribution of alcohol.

Wood, Leonard
Wood was the military governor of Cuba after the Spanish-American War. He considered U.S. annexation of Cuba as the best solution to unstable conditions there. Instead, Cuba gained nominal independence under the Platt Amendment to its constitution.

Woodstock generation
The term Woodstock generation came to define members of the late 1960s counterculture; named for a rock festival held in New York State in August 1969.

Wool Act
Another part of the British mercantilistic system, the Hat, Iron, and Wool Acts restricted and rechanneled infant colonial manufacturing.

Worcester v. Georgia
In "Worcester v. Georgia" (1832) the Supreme Court ruled that a state government could not govern the Indians or their territory lying within that state. With President Jackson's endorsement, Georgia officials ignored the ruling and forced the Cherokees to leave the state.

work-study program
As part of President Johnson's War on Poverty adopted in the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act, Congress provided appropriations to finance part-time employment for students attending college.

workingmen's movement
The workingmen's movement consisted of associations of urban workers who began campaigning in the 1820s for free public education and a ten-hour workday.

World Bank
Officially the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank is an international organization established in 1945 that assists governments around the world in economic development efforts.

Wounded Knee Massacre
The Wounded Knee Massacre was the U.S. Army's brutal winter massacre in 1890 of 150 Sioux men, women, and children as part of the government's assault on the tribe's Ghost Dance religion.

Congress created the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935 and President Roosevelt placed Harry Hopkins in charge of it. It eventually spent $11 billion on federal works projects and provided employment for 8.5 million persons. They built roads, bridges, schools, etc., but the WPA also funded projects for thespians, artists, writers, and young people.

writ of habeas corpus
A writ of habeas corpus is a court order directing that a detained person be brought to a court to determine the cause of his detention. During the Civil War, to prevent acts of sabotage, President Lincoln sometimes suspended the writ of habeas corpus in certain areas.

writ of mandamus
A writ of mandamus is a court order requiring a public official to do something. In 1803 William Marbury sued to have his appointment to a federal court delivered by Secretary of State Madison. The Supreme Court in "Marbury v. Madison" (1803) declared that the law empowering it to issue such writs (Judiciary Act of 1789) was unconstitutional.

writs of assistance
These writs were general search warrants authorized in 1761 that allowed British customs agents looking for smuggled goods to enter colonial homes and warehouses without evidence or specific court orders. The legality of these writs became an important cause of controversy in Massachusetts in 1761 and 1762.

Wyoming Valley
At this Pennsylvania site in June and July 1778, a force comprised of Iroquois Indians and Tories under colonel John Butler routed Patriot defenders and laid waste to settlements during the Revolutionary War.

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