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

baby boom
Post-World War II Americans idealized the family. After the war, marriage and birth rates rose precipitously and the divorce rate dropped. The prolonged birth rate surge came to be referred to as the "baby boom."

The backcountry refers to the western edges of settlement in colonies from Pennsylvania south to the Carolinas. Colonists first began moving to the backcountry in the eighteenth century, developing a society that was at first somewhat cruder than longer-settled eastern communities.

Bacon's Rebellion
Nathaniel Bacon led an armed rebellion that began with settler attacks on Indians but which culminated in a rebellion against the royal governor of Virginia, Sir William Berkeley, in 1676. The rebellion was the product of Berkeley's political favoritism, economic exploitation, and Indian policy.

Baker v. Carr
In "Baker v. Carr" (1962) and other decisions, the Supreme Court allowed federal courts to review the apportionment of state legislative districts and ended unequal representation in state and local legislative bodies by establishing the rule of one man, one vote.

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
The B & O was America's first railroad line. It began operations in 1830.

bank holiday
The day after becoming president in 1933, Franklin Roosevelt called for a four-day "bank holiday," which placed an embargo on the export of gold and temporarily closed all banks while they were investigated by federal examiners to determine their solvency. Most banks were open again within a month.

Bank of the United States
In 1791 Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton proposed the creation of a joint public and private national bank to store government funds, collect and expend government revenue, and issue bank notes to serve as a national medium of exchange.

Bank War
In 1832 President Jackson vetoed a politically motivated proposal to renew the charter of the second Bank of the United States. Jackson's veto message asserted that the Bank was unconstitutional, a dangerous monopoly, and vulnerable to control by foreign investors.

Banking Act of 1935
This law strengthened the authority of the Federal Reserve Board over the nation's currency and credit system.

Barbary pirates
Pirates from the Barbary states in North Africa habitually seized trading vessels in the Mediterranean Sea and held crews and passengers for ransom. President Jefferson dispatched a naval squadron to deal with the pirates, but the venture failed and the United States paid a financial tribute to the Barbary states until 1815.

The Barnburners were the Van Buren antislavery wing of the Democratic party. They were labeled barnburners (radicals) for their absolute objection to any further expansion of slavery, and for their refusal to support any candidate who countenanced slavery. They coalesced with the Liberty party to form the Free Soil party in 1848.

"Barrios" are urban neighborhoods heavily populated by Hispanics. They are centers of Hispanic culture in America, particularly in big cities of the Southwest.

Baruch plan
In 1946, Bernard Baruch, commissioner of the United Nations' Atomic Energy Commission, offered a plan for the eventual outlawing of nuclear weapons. The plan called for UN inspectors to be allowed to find out if any nation was secretly building nuclear weapons, then for the destruction of the only existing stockpile of such weapons, those in the United States. The plan failed because the Soviets refused to allow inspectors into the Soviet Union.

Battle of Antietam
The bloodiest one-day battle in U.S. history, Antietam was fought September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. General Robert E. Lee had invaded Maryland, but was forced to regroup his forces along a hastily formed defensive line after his invasion plans fell into Union hands. The cautious Union commander, General George B. McClellan, delayed his counterattack, which did not go well when finally launched. Both sides lost heavily. Though badly wounded, Lee was allowed to escape back across the Potomac to the safety of Virginia.

Battle of the Atlantic
The Battle of the Atlantic from 1940-1943 pitted German submarines against British and American naval and air forces in a struggle for control of the North Atlantic.

Battle of Brandywine Creek
During the Revolutionary War engagement of the Battle of Brandywine Creek in southeastern Pennsylvania on September 11, 1777, British forces under Sir William Howe defeated Americans under General George Washington, thereby clearing the way for the British occupation of Philadelphia.

Battle of Britain
A series of air engagements in 1940 during World War II pitted British interceptor fighter planes against German bombers attacking British cities and industry in the Battle of Britain.

Battle of Brooklyn Heights
During the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, a Revolutionary War battle fought on August 27, 1776, Sir William Howe landed a large British force on Long Island, New York, outflanked the American defenders, and attacked their rear. Although the Americans suffered heavy casualties, General George Washington was later able under cover of darkness to withdraw his forces to Manhattan Island.

Battle of Bull Run
The first Battle of Bull Run, fought July 21, 1861, was also the first major battle of the Civil War. Poorly organized Union troops under the command of General Irvin McDowell were repulsed by poorly organized Confederate troops under the command of General P.G.T. Beauregard. Both sides realized that the war would not end quickly with a single major showdown, and both sides fell back to prepare for larger military operations.
In the second Battle of Bull Run, fought August 29 and 30, 1862, Confederate troops under the field command of Generals Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and James Longstreet outmaneuvered and defeated Union troops under the rather inept command of General John Pope.

Battle of Bunker Hill
The misnamed Battle of Bunker Hill was the first major battle of the Revolutionary War (Boston, June 1775). The British held their position on Breed's Hill, but at great cost--more than a thousand casualties. The battle effectively ended any hope of a negotiated settlement between the colonists and Britain.

Battle of Camden
During this decisive British victory at Camden, South Carolina, on August 16, 1780, more than one thousand Americans were killed or wounded and many were captured. A second battle near Camden on April 25, 1781, was more nearly a draw.

Battle of Charleston
During this Revolutionary War engagement that began on February 11, 1780, Sir Henry Clinton led eight thousand British troops from New York and encircled and laid siege to Charleston, South Carolina. One May, 1780, 5,400 American defenders under Benjamin Lincoln surrended in the costliest American defeat of the Revolutionary War.

Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea occurred between U.S. and Japanese aircraft carriers in May 1942 and served to halt the Japanese advance toward Australia during World War II.

Battle of Cowpens
This Revolutionary War engagement, which involved approximately 1,000 men on each side, took place in upstate South Carolina on January 17, 1781. American forces under General Daniel Morgan won a resounding victory over the British under Banastre Tarleton, thereby compromising the latter's reputation for invincibility and boosting American morale.

Battle of El Alamein
This British victory during World War II checked the advance of the German army into Egypt in June 1942.

Battle of Fallen Timbers
In 1794 General Anthony Wayne's army decisively defeated the Indians in Ohio and opened the way for settlement in the region.

Battle of Franklin
Confederate general John B. Hood's disastrous frontal assault on well-entrenched Union positions south of Nashville in November 1864 proved a costly loss for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Battle of Guilford Court House
In this fiercely fought Revolutionary War engagement on March 15, 1781, near modern Greensboro, North Carolina, British forces under Lord Cornwallis and Americans commanded by General Nathanael Greene both sustained heavy losses. The British technically won by were forced to withdraw to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Battle of Kettle Creek
In this Revolutionary War engagement in upstate George on February 14, 1779, Americans under General Andrew Pickens defeated a band of about seven hundred Tories from North and South Carolina. This victory boosted American morale and intimidated Tories in the area.

Battle of Kings Mountain
In this decisive Revolutionary War victory in northwestern South Carolina on October 7, 1780, nine hundred American militia from Virginia, the western Carolinas, and eastern tennessee annihilated or captured over one thousand Loyalists, an important turning point in the southern campaign.

Battle of Lexington and Concord
In these first skirmishes of the Revolutionary War, which took place on April 19, 1775, British forces brushed by American militia at Lexington, then pushed on to Concord, where they met stronger resistance. On the long retreat back to Boston, the British suffered 273 dead, wounded, or missing as a consequence of hit-and-run actions by American militiamen.

Battle of Leyte Gulf
In this World War II naval engagement in October 1944, the Japanese navy tried to disrupt U.S. landings in the Philippines and suffered a decisive defeat.

Battle of Little Big Horn
In this 1876 battle, Colonel George A. Custer and the Seventh Cavalry were defeated by the Sioux and Cheyennes under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

Battle of Long Island
In July 1776, British general William Howe, directing the largest amphibious landing prior to World War II, drove Washington's defenders out of New York and established British headquarters there.

Battle of Midway
In this World War II naval and air battle, the United States turned back a Japanese effort to seize Midway Island in June 1942 and inflicted severe damage on the Japanese navy.

Battle of Monmouth Court House
This final major Revolutionary War engagement between the main British and American forces in the North occurred on June 28, 1778, in central New Jersey as the British withdrew from Philadelphia toward their headquarters at New York City. The Americans under General George Washington and the British under Sir Henry Clinton each suffered about 350 casualties.

Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge
In this Revolutionary War engagement that occurred on February 27, 1776, near Wilmington, North Carolina, an American force of approximately one thousand militia clashed with about eighteen hundred Loyalists, most of them Highland Scots. The smashing American victory disrupted British plans for the Loyalists to link up with a large British expedition that sailed from Ireland to North Carolina during the winter of 1775-1776.

Battle of Nashville
This battle refers to the destruction of the Confederacy's Army of Tennessee in December 1864 by Union general George H. Thomas during the Civil War.

Battle of New Orleans
Although it was fought two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent, General Andrew Jackson's victory over the British at New Orleans in January 1815 convinced many Americans, inattentive to chronology, that the United States had won the War of 1812 on the battlefield. Jackson became a celebrated national hero. The victory ended any British hopes of gaining control of the lower Mississippi River Valley.

Battle of One Hundred Slain
In 1866, in what whites called the Fetterman Massacre, the Sioux defeated the U.S. Army on the Bozeman Trail.

Battle of Plattsburg
This American naval victory on Lake Champlain in September 1814 in the War of 1812 thwarted a British invasion from Canada.

Battle of Princeton
In this Revolutionary War battle fought on January 3, 1777, General Washington eluded the main British forces under Cornwallis and attacked a British column near Princeton, New Jersey, inflicting heavy losses before withdrawing into winter quarters not far away at Morristown. The battles of Trenton and Princeton greatly improved Patriot morale.

Battle of Put-in-Bay
This American naval victory on Lake Erie in September 1813 in the War of 1812 denied the British strategic control over the Great Lakes.

Battle of Queenston Height
This battle was a major defeat in October 1812 for an American army attempting to invade Canada along the Niagara frontier during the War of 1812.

Battle of San Jacinto
In this battle fought in eastern Texas on April 21, 1836, Texas trips under General Sam Houston overwhelmed a Mexican army and forced its commander, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, to recognize the independence of Texas.

Battle of Saratoga
Following months of organizational ineptitude and American military harassment, British General John Burgoyne was forced to surrender his army to General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, New York on October 17, 1777. The victory encouraged France to join the war on the side of the American rebels.

Battles of Savannah
This series of Revolutionary War encounters began when British forces routed American militia and occupied Savannah on December 29, 1778. A French fleet under the Comte d'Estaing and American forces under General Benjamin Lincoln then tried to recapture the city by siege, beginning on September 3, 1779, but an assault on October 9 failed, with heavy casualties. D'Estaing, wounded, departed with this fleet on October 28, leaving the way open for the British attack on Charleston, South Carolina.

Battle of Spotsylvania
One in a series of dogged attacks in Virginia by Union general Ulysses S. Grant on entrenched Confederate positions during May 1864, the battle prompted high casualties and mounting public criticism. However, Grant continued to push on until the disaster at Cold Harbor later in the month caused him to reconsider his tactics.

Battle of Stalingrad
This World War II battle of attrition between German and Soviet armies in Stalingrad, on the Volga River, from August 1942 to February 1943, ended with the surrender of the encircled German army.

Battle of the Bulge
In December 1944, the German army launched a counterattack against Allied forces in western Europe. Its advance toward Antwerp, Belgium, created a "bulge" in the Allied lines. By June 1945, the bulge was contained and the Allied line was restored.

Battle of the Thames
This battle was an American victory in October 1813 over combined British and Indian forces in southern Ontario during the War of 1812.

Battle of Tippecanoe
In 1811 General William Henry Harrison led his forces against Chief Tecumseh's Indian confederacy at Tippecanoe in the Ohio country. The Indian confederacy was shattered.

Battle of Trenton
In this Revolutionary War clash that occurred on December 26, 1776, General George Washington, who has withdrawn his forces into Pennsylvania, recrossed the Delaware River and surprised approximately fourteen hundred Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey, capturing or killing nearly one thousand.

Battle of White Plains
In this Revolutionary War engagement that took place on October 28, 1776, between General George Washington's troops, evacuating New York City, and British forces under Sir William Howe, Washington sustained more than three hundred casualties before withdrawing his troops.

Battle of the Wilderness
This Civil War clash between Confederate and Union forces near Chancellorsville in May 1864 was marked by fierce hand-to-hand combat in dense woods.

Battle of Yorktown
Beginning August 30, 1781, armies under Washington, Lafayette, and Rochambeau, backed by a French fleet in the Chesapeake Bay, laid siege to British forces under Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. Cornwallis surrendered 8,000 troops on October 19, 1781.

Bay of Pigs
In April 1961, an American-backed effort by 1500 anti-Castro Cuban exiles to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and force the overthrow of Fidel Castro's government was a dismal failure. It was an embarrassment to the United States and to Kennedy personally, although the invasion had originally been planned while Eisenhower was president.

Beacon Hill
Boston's exclusive Beacon Hill residential area housed the city's well-to-do upper class, who generally ignored conditions in the poorer areas of the city.

Bear Flag Republic
With the tacit support of U.S. Military forces, a handful of Americans in the Mexican state of California declared independence from the Mexican central government in 1846. Until the U.S. formally annexed California in 1848, this "Bear Flag Republic" functioned fitfully and unevenly as a separate government.

Nonconformists in the late 1950s who came together in large cities to reject conventional dress and sexual standards and cultivate poetry, jazz, and folk music; also known as beatniks.

Beaumont, William
Beaumont was an American physician who, in the 1830s, came to be recognized as the world's leading expert on the human gastric system.

Beaver Wars
Between the 1640s and 1680s, during the bloody conflicts known as the Beaver Wars, the Iroquois fought the French and their Indian allies for control of the fur trade in eastern North America and the Great Lakes region.

Beecher, Henry Ward
A middle-class urban conservative preacher of great renown, Beecher attributed the poverty of the cities to the improvidence of the poor--the poor were to blame for their own poverty. He denounced labor unions and saw cheap immigrant labor as a solution to labor agitation.

Bell, Alexander Graham
Bell invented the first practical telephone in 1876.

Bell, John
Senator John Bell from Tennessee was the presidential nominee of the new Constitutional Union party in 1860. That party supported the Constitution, the Union, and the laws of the United States. Bell received some support from the border states in the election.

Bellamy, Edward
Bellamy wrote the utopian novel "Looking Backward, 2000-1887," in 1888. The book envisioned America in the future as a completely socialized society where all were equal.

Bellow, Saul
In his many novels, Saul Bellow has described characters possessed of their full share of eccentricities and weaknesses without losing sight of the positive side of modern life. He is a Nobel Prize winner in literature.

benevolent empire
In the early nineteenth century, voluntary reform associations associated with Protestant churches were a pillar of middle-class life that organized to do good work. Collectively these voluntary associations constituted a "benevolent empire" eager to restore moral order and make society over into their members' idea of how God wanted it to be.

Berkeley, William
Berkeley was the governor of Virginia for over thirty years. He and his policies were the targets of Bacon's Rebellion in 1676.

Berlin Wall
Erected by East Germany in 1961 and torn down in 1989, the Berlin Wall isolated West Berlin from the surrounding areas in Communist-controlled East Berlin and East Germany.

Bessemer process
The Bessemer process, independently invented by Henry Bessemer and William Kelly in the 1850s, provided the technology that enabled the mass production of good quality steel. This revolutionized the construction of bridges, buildings, railroads, machine tools, and others.

bicameral legislature
A bicameral legislature is a legislative body composed of two houses.

Biddle, Nicholas
Biddle was the president of the second Bank of the United States during the Bank War in 1832. He was a competent administrator of the bank's affairs, especially its regulating the availability of credit by controlling the lending policies of state banks.

big lie
The "big lie" is a tactic used to smear the reputation of someone by making outrageous allegations about his or her behavior or affiliations. It was the favorite tactic of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s when he conducted a witch-hunt for communists in the federal government.

Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the Constitution (adopted in 1791) that protect individual liberties and states' rights against the power of the national government; more generally, a bill of rights is a written summary of inalienable rights and liberties.

birds of passage
So-called "birds of passage" were temporary immigrants to America. They were usually single young men who came to America in order to earn enough money to buy land back home. They worked hard, but they had no reason to develop an attachment to American ways.

Birney, James G.
Birney, a former Kentucky slaveowner, was the abolitionist Liberty party's presidential candidate in 1840 and 1844. He received few votes.

Birth of a Nation
Producer D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" (1915) was an important breakthrough in cinema. It signaled a technological and artistic improvement in movie making and appealed to a more cultivated audience than earlier movies. The film was a sympathetic treatment of the Ku Klux Klan.

Black Codes
Black Codes were special laws passed by southern state and municipal governments immediately after the Civil War. The laws denied many rights of citizenship to free blacks and were designed to control black labor, mobility, and employment, and to get around the Thirteenth Amendment that freed the slaves. The laws outraged northerners.

Black Death
The Black Death was a mid-fourteenth century disease epidemic that ravaged Europe and helped cause an economic decline. This outbreak of the pneumonic form of the bubonic plague killed perhaps a third of Europe's population.

Black Hawk's War
Federal troops and Illinois militia units defeated the Sauk and Fox Indians led by Black Hawk during this short war in 1832.

Black Hills
When gold was discovered in the Black Hills Indian Reservation (South Dakota), whites invaded the Indian's lands and drove them on the warpath. This culminated in "Custer's Last Stand" at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Black Muslims
The Black Muslims is a common name for the Nation of Islam, a religious movement among black Americans that emphasizes self-sufficiency, self-help, and separation from white society.

Black Panthers
Founded in Oakland, California in 1966, the Black Panther party, headed by black radical H. Rap Brown, was a violently militant black organization that demanded compensation for the historical legacy of injustice toward blacks in America.

Black Power
The Black Power philosophy emerged after 1965 to declare that real economic and political gains for African-Americans could only come through self-help, self-determination, and organizing for direct political influence. Latinos and Native Americans developed their own versions as Brown Power and Red Power, respectively.

Blaine, James G.
The charming and popular James G. Blaine was the Republican nominee for president in 1884 who lost to Grover Cleveland. His candidacy was hurt by charges of corruption with the railroads exposed in the Mulligan letters.

Bleeding Kansas
The contest between pro and antislavery settlers for control of Kansas Territory provoked violence and bloodshed in 1855. For partisan reasons, President Pierce's administration failed to peacefully implement popular sovereignty in "Bleeding Kansas."

Bland-Allison Act
The Bland-Allison Act was a 1978 compromise currency law that provided for limited silver coinage.

Translated as "lightning war," blitzkreig was a German war tactic in World War II involving the concentration of air and armored firepower to punch and exploit holes in opposing defensive lines.

blue water navy
A navy with a worldwide reach; the ability to project power anywhere in the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the power of such a navy was measured by the number and quality of its battleships.

Board of Indian Commissioners
Established in 1869, the Board of Indian Commissioners was a nonpartison board created as an advisory agency to eliminate politics and corruption from the government bureaucracy dealing with Indian affairs.

Board of Trade
Parliament created the Board of Trade in 1696 to make recommendations on colonial policy. Replacing the Lords of Trade as overseers of colonial affairs, the board reviewed laws passed by colonial assemblies and nominated colonial governors. Though the board gathered information about the colonies and recommended policy changes, it had no executive authority.

A bohemian is one who adopts a way of life exhibiting protest against, or indifference to, the common conventions of society. Greenwich Village in New York City was an early-twentieth-century retreat and home for American artistic and intellectual bohemians.

A Bolshevik was a member of the Communist movement in Russia that established the Soviet government after the 1917 Russian Revolution; more generally, a Bolshevik is any radical or disruptive person or movement seeking to transform economic and political relationships.

Bonaparte, Napoleon
Napoleon was the French military genius who sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1804. He needed the money to finance his war with Britain.

Bonus Army
In June 1932, 20,000 World War I veterans marched on Washington, D.C., to demand immediate payment of their "adjusted compensation" bonuses voted by Congress in 1924. Congress rejected their demands, and President Hoover had the army forcefully remove them from their encampment. He feared their ranks were infested with criminals and radicals.

"Boomers" were transient workers on the railroads. They had reputations as lustful, heavy-drinking rowdies.

Boondoggle was a derisive term used by opponents of New Deal federal works projects administered by the FERA, CWA, and WPA. They objected to "make work" projects that seemed to have no other purpose than to put people on the government payroll.

Borah, William E.
Republican Senator Borah from Idaho headed the "irreconcilables" who, as isolationists, refused to support U.S. membership in the League of Nations under any circumstances.

border ruffians
The "border ruffians" were Missourians who, during the territorial and statehood elections in Kansas in the mid-1850s, crossed the border into Kansas specifically to vote for the proslavery candidates.

Boston Associates
The Boston Associates were a group of merchants headed by Francis Cabot Lowell. Between 1813 and 1850 they revolutionized textile production. Their Boston Manufacturing Company at Waltham, Massachusetts concentrated on the mass production of a single standardized product, cheap but durable cotton cloth.

Boston Massacre
The Boston Massacre was a violent confrontation between British troops and a Boston mob on March 5, 1770. Five citizens were killed when the troops fired on the crowd that had been harrassing them. The incident inflamed anti-British sentiment in the colony.

Boston Port Act
One of the Coercive Acts passed by Parliament in 1774 in response to the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Port Act closed the port of Boston until townspeople paid for the tea and the duties on it.

Boston Seamen's Aid Society
The Boston Seaman's Aid Society was a female reform organization founded in 1833 to assist widows and orphans of sailors.

Boston Tea Party
The December 16, 1773 Boston Tea Party was the colonists's response to Parliament's effort to help the British East India Company sell its surplus tea in America. Colonists saw it as a thinly disguised effort to entice them to pay the tea tax, tricking them into violating their claim to "no taxation without representation." The "party" led to the dumping of British tea into Boston Harbor in order to prevent payment of the duty on the tea.

Boxer Rebellion
The 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China tested the United States's new Open Door policy, because it could have provoked European and Japanese retaliation against China that could have led to China's dismemberment (and perhaps exclusion of the United States from trade there).

Colonists protested against British tax policies in the 1760s by refusing to import, that is, they boycotted British goods. Boycotts were effective in forcing the repeal of the Stamp Act and Townshend duties.

"Braceros" were temporary immigrant farm workers from Mexico who were allowed to migrate to the United States to work in the fields whenever cheap labor was needed. The United States and Mexico negotiated "bracero" agreements during World War II, and from 1948 to 1965.

bracket creep
With the high inflation of the Carter presidency, many people's taxes rose more rapidly than their wages and salaries because, as wages climbed in response to inflation, their incomes moved them into tax brackets with higher rates of taxation. This was called "bracket creep."

Bradford, William
Bradford was the governor of Pilgrim Separatists at Plymouth Plantation. He wrote a history of the colony titled "Of Plymouth Plantation."

Bradley, Omar
General Omar Bradley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1951, concluded in an often-quoted remark that an American-Chinese war growing out of the Korean War "would be the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy." Bradley thought U.S. military priorities were in the defense of Western Europe, not Korea.

Brandeis, Louis
Brandeis, a lawyer, was the first Jewish member of the Supreme Court. When practicing law, he was a defender of the rights of labor and working people, exemplified in his "Brandeis brief" in the case of "Muller v. Oregon."

Breckinridge, John
Breckinridge, President Buchanan's vice-president, was nominated for president by the southern wing of the divided Democratic party in 1860. He wanted the territories left open to slavery. He won a majority of southern votes, but lost the election to Abraham Lincoln.

British Constitution
The British Constitution refers to the principles, procedures, and precedents that governed the operation of the British government. These could be found in no single written document, however; Parliament and the King made the Constitution by their actions.

broad constructionist
A broad constructionist favors reading implied powers into the Constitution.

Brook Farm
Brook Farm was a utopian community and experimental farm established in 1841 near Boston.

Brooklyn Bridge
John A. Roebling perfected the design of a steel-cabled suspension bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1893, was his masterpiece.

Brown v. Board of Education
In 1954, the Supreme Court reversed the 1896 "Plessy v. Ferguson" decision that established the "separate but equal" doctrine. The "Brown" decision found segregation in schools inherently unequal and in violation of the Constitution. The decision led to a long and difficult effort to integrate the nation's public schools.

Brown, John
John Brown was a radical abolitionist who violently attacked slavery. He led the Pottawatomie Massacre against proslavery settlers in Kansas in 1856. He also led the Harpers Ferry raid in Virginia in 1859. When he was arrested, tried, and executed for treason, he became a martyr to the abolitionist cause.

Bryan, William Jennings
Bryan, on the strength of his famous "Cross of Gold" speech, won the Democratic and Populist parties' nominations for president in 1896. He campaigned widely on a "free silver" platform for currency inflation, but was defeated by Republican William McKinley. He was later President Wilson's secretary of state, and a leading figure in the 1924 Scopes trial.

Bryan-Chamarro Treaty
The 1914 Bryan-Chamarro Treaty made Nicaragua a virtual protectorate of the United States. It guaranteed the United States an option to build a canal across Nicaragua and lent support to the unpopular dictatorial government of Adolpho Diaz.

Buchanan, James
Buchanan was an experienced diplomat and a co-author of the notorious Ostend Manifesto in 1854. Though labeled a "Doughface" by Republicans, he won the presidency as the nominee of the Democratic party in 1856. The Democratic party divided North and South during his term, and he sat paralyzed by indecision during the Secession Crisis of 1860-1861.

Budget and Accounting Act
In 1921, Congress passed the Budget and Accounting Act. It created a director of the (federal) budget to help prepare a unified budget, and a comptroller general to audit government accounts.

bull market
A "bull" market means rising prices on the stock market; falling prices mean a "bear" market. The stock market was bullish in the 1920s until the Great Crash of late 1929.

Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs was a government agency, within the U.S. Department of the Interior, responsible for carrying out official Indian policy.

Bureau of Reclamation
This federal agency established in 1902 provided public funds for irrigation projects in arid regions, and played a major role in the development of the West by constructing dams, reservoirs, and irrigation systems, especially beginning in the 1930s.

Burgoyne, John
General Burgoyne was commander of the British army that was captured at Saratoga in 1777. That battle changed the course and the character of the Revolutionary War by encouraging the French to ally with the colonies..

Burlingame Treaty
The Burlingame Treaty with China provided more cheap "coolie" labor for U.S. railroad construction. It doubled the annual influx of Chinese immigrants between 1868 and 1882.

Burr, Aaron
Burr tied Jefferson for the presidency in the Electoral College vote in 1800 and became vice-president. He later killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, and was acquitted of conspiring to commit treason when he was party to a mysterious scheme involving the Southwest Territory.

Bush, George
Vice President Bush was elected president in 1988. More moderate than his predecessor, he nevertheless promised the American people "no new taxes," a pledge he broke in 1990. Bush successfully commanded American military adventures in Panama in 1989 and the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He was defeated for reelection by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.

business unionism
The American Federation of Labor's stance that members should avoid political activism and concentrate on basic workplace issues is referred to as business unionism.

Byrnes, James F.
Byrnes headed the Office of War Mobilization in World War II. He was second only to the president in authority to direct economic mobilization and postwar economic planning. He later became secretary of state (1945-47).

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