History of the U.S. Since 1877: People, Terms, and Events
17th Parallel. A 1950s conference in Geneva decided to split the country of Vietnam into northern and southern parts at the 17th parallel by creating a demilitarized zone there.
38th Parallel. After World War II, the US and the Soviet Union occupied Korea in zones divided by the 38th parallel. The Soviet zone became North Korea, led by the communist Kim Il Sung; the US zone became South Korea, led by Syngman Rhee. Despite being split along an arbitrary line, Korea remained a single society, divided by political factions and religious differences as much as by geography.
Advertising Industry. In the 1890s, advertising became a major American industry. Advertisements appeared in catalogs, booklets, posters, cigarette cards, and magazines. Magazines with advertising pioneered Impressionism and realism, developed the short story, and revolutionized newspaper journalism.
All Quiet on the Western Front: a 1930s anti-war movie, the first major war film of the sound era. Based on a best-selling novel. It portrayed war as a selfish power game, into which common people were duped into participating.
American Federation of Labor (AFL): a loosely affiliated association of unions organized by trade or craft. The AFL was mostly skilled workers determined to get better conditions, higher wages, shorter hours, and safety. Although the union grew greatly in the early 1900s, they had little success due to its small representation of the industrial workforce and its racist policies.
Andrew Carnegie owned U. S. Steel, the biggest manufacturer of steel in the 1890s. He started out as an assistant to a railroad tycoon. He controlled every aspect of his business.
Appeasement (Munich Compromise): In the 1930s, French and British leaders agreed to Germany's seizure of the Sudetenland in return for Hitler's promise to seek no more territory. The compromise gave hope for future peace in Europe; however, Hitler broke the peace by annexing the rest of Czechoslovakia the next year.
Barry Goldwater: a senator in the 1950s and 1960s, a man who said what he wanted. He was born in Arizona in 1909 when it was not yet a state. A fierce critic of liberalism, he felt government should stay out of states' business and stop burdening business with regulations. He was very much an anti-communist, in favor of acting tough to make Communists back down. He ran for president against LBJ and lost.
Bay of Pigs: the worst fiasco of the Kennedy presidency. In the 1960s, a U.S.-backed force, mainly Cuban exiles, landed on the Cuban coast at the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). Their aim was to oust the Fidel Castro, the anti-American leader of Cuba. Forces loyal to Castro captured the invaders. Kennedy at first denied U.S. involvement and did not provide the air support that was initially promised to the invaders.
Berlin Wall: the wall that surrounded West Berlin during the Cold War. During Kennedy's presidency, the Soviets negotiated to try to take over West Berlin, which had remained under Allied control. Kennedy refused, and East Germany built first a fence and then a wall around West Berlin. At the end of the Cold War the Germans tore the wall down.
Birth of a Nation: a 1915 film about the Civil War Reconstruction period. The first real full-length feature film ever, it glorified the Ku Klux Klan and shaped Americans' understanding of history.
Black Codes: In 1865, the Black codes were enforced in southern states of the US to limit the rights of African-Americans.
Black Tuesday: the stock market crash of the 1920s. The stock market began a week-long decline on Tuesday Oct. 24. Sixteen million shares were traded, and four billion dollars were wiped out. People panicked and sold more shares, accelerating the decline. By Black Thursday, 6 million shares were being sold a day. The exchanged closed at noon on October 24 because no one wanted to buy. Many people killed themselves on October 24th and after. Although only 3% of Americans owned stock, eventually the crash affected all Americans. People buying on credit could not pay back the loans after the crash. Factors driving consumption had vanished. The Great Depression happened one year later.
Booker T. Washington: In 1895, Washington was one of the most powerful black leaders of the time. He believed in accepting segregation to be a temporary accommodation between the races in return for white support of black efforts for education, social uplift, and economic progress. He built a secondary school and industrial training institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. Although many blacks did not like his ideas, Washington desired improvement through self-help and uplift.
Boxer Rebellion: This revolt began in 1898 and caught fire in 1899 and 1900. A Chinese organization known as the Boxers wanted to rid China of all foreign influences. Many Europeans and Chinese were killed. After the US helped stop the rebels, other countries were more willing to accept the open-door policies the US wanted.
Brown v. Board of Education: a Supreme Court case of the 1950s that decided that segregation in the schools violated the rights of blacks because it did not provide equality.
Bull Moose Party: In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt and supporters withdrew from the Republican Party to form the new Progressive Party, nicknamed the Bull Moose Party, which nominated Roosevelt for President. In this campaign, Roosevelt revealed his New Nationalism which called on the government to control the powerful corporations on behalf of the common people of America.
Cattle Industry: In 1866, cowboys hit the trail with longhorns to sell in the north. Texas and Kansas played a large role in the industry. The cattle industry was important because the explosion of railroads made industry possible. The cowboy became an image in American popular culture.
Centennial Exposition of 1876: This Philadelphia fair became a defining moment for middle-class Americans as they celebrated the 100th anniversary of their country. At the fair, Graham Bell's telephone and Christopher Sholes' typewriter were displayed to the public for the first time. Inventions like these proved how far the American industry and technology had come.
Chinese (Communist) Revolution: During the 1940s, the Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek, supported by the United States, steadily lost ground to the communist forces of Mao Zedong, who promised land reform and commanded wide support among China's peasantry. Mao's armies forced Chiang onto the island of Taiwan, which remained anti-Communist, and represents a powerful symbol of the Cold War.
Chosin Reservoir: a battle in the Korean War of the 1950s. MacArthur was arrogant and did not think the Chinese would get involved in the war, but the Chinese surrounded and slaughtered US forces at Chosin Reservoir.
Civil Rights Act: Passed under President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, it strengthened federal remedies against discrimination in employment and in public places,, and barred discrimination based on sex.
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC): In the 1930s, this program set up camps and conservation education to help farmers. It put more than two million single young men to work planting trees, halting erosion, and improving the environment in other ways.
Civil Service Reform/Pendleton Act: During the Chester Arthur administration in the 1880s, this law reformed civil service employment, saying government jobs should be filled by merit and not through political connections. The assassination of the previous president Garfield in the 1880s by a job seeker gave rise to civil service exams, which are still given today.
Compromise of 1877: In the 1876 Presidential election, Hayes won the electoral vote, but not the popular vote. To settle the resulting controversy, Hayes agreed to remove the Union troops from the south, thus ending the Reconstruction period. Without the troops, the South was under less pressure to adhere to the new post-Civil-War laws.
Congressional Reconstruction: After the Civil War, beginning in 1866, Congress passed legislation to protect former slaves. The 14th and 15th amendment were passed, the southern states were divided into military districts, Andrew Johnson was impeached, and reconstruction was accelerated.
Containment: In the 1940s, George Kennan, the US diplomat in Moscow, defined the strategies to be used against the Soviet Union. Containment became the catchphrase for global, anticommunist, national security policy.
Court-Packing Plan: In the 1930s, Roosevelt asked Congress to give him the power to appoint one new Supreme Court justice for every court judge who was older than age 70 and who had served for at least 10 years. His excuse was that the judges were too old to handle the abundance of cases, but his motive was to prevent the conservative justices and securing a pro-New Deal majority in the courts. Roosevelt's reputation suffered from the proposal because many sensed he was trying to gain too much power. The fiasco was unnecessary, because many judges either retired or supported his ideas within a few years.
Crazy Horse: the Sioux Indian chief who took over after Red Cloud. Unlike his predecessor, he wanted war. He led the Sioux along with Sitting Bull against Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
CRP ("CREEP"): President Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President, the source of much of the Watergate scandal. Took illegal funds during the campaign to get Nixon re-elected in the 1970s. The head of CRP, John Mitchell, was associated directly with the Watergate scandal.
"Cross of Gold" Speech: William Jenning's Bryan's speech to the 1896 Democratic Convention, with its famous conclusion, "You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." He opposed the gold standard for U.S currency, as opposed to the combination of silver and gold that populists and democrats thought was better for the economy.
Crystal Cathedral: giant church created by Robert Schuller. Completed in 1980.
Cuban Missile Crisis: In the 1960s the Soviet Union started sending sophisticated weapons to Castro and US spy planes discovered missile-launching silos. Kennedy told the Soviet Union that he didn't want nuclear warheads so close to American soil. He decided not to attack Cuba, for fear of causing nuclear war. Instead, the US quarantined Cuba, and secret negotiations between the U.S. and Soviet Union resulted in an October 28, 1962, agreement to dismantle the missiles.
Dollar Diplomacy: The 1910s foreign policy of President Taft that promoted opportunities for corporate investment overseas. Dollar diplomacy worked best in the Caribbean, where no other major powers existed. Taft's lack of balance and leadership in foreign affairs increased hostility in central and south China. Dollar diplomacy hurt the United States' Open Door policy.
Dust Bowl: repeated dust storms in the 1930s in the Plains states that forced many off farms. "Black Blizzards," storms of dust and dirt, ruined irrigation ditches, blackened the sky, suffocated cattle, and dumped thousands of soil on homes and streets. The government created the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in order to help Plains farmers with their difficulties.
Edmund Richardson: an entrepreneur of the 1860s to 1880s who practiced what was called a new form of slavery and accumulated great wealth. He bought cheap land and needed free labor. The state of Mississippi paid him to house and feed prisoners who worked his fields. He lied about prisoner reports.
Edward Bellamy: author of the 1887 science fiction book Looking Backward. It takes place in the imagined year 2000 and contrasts it with the America of 1887. It illustrated the political movement called nationalism, which would eliminate class conflict by having everyone working for equal pay. The book gave rise to the movement called Christian Socialists and helped begin the Progressive era.
Edward Lansdale: one of America's most influential spies during the Cold War of the 1950s. He did a lot of overseas strategical work in Vietnam and used his strategy of "psy-ops," or psychological operations, to fight an uprising led by a Communist-oriented peasant army called the Huks.
Eighteenth Amendment: Enacted in the 1920's, this amendment prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol in America. Many Americans supported the law in the beginning. But there were not enough police to change American drinking habits; people who wanted to drink found a way, by brewing their own beer, or by getting alcohol from illegal speakeasies or bootleggers, with the help of organized crime. By the time the amendment was repealed in 1933, most agreed that Prohibition was encouraging law-breaking more than it was encouraging abstinence.
Eleanor Roosevelt: Besides nursing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) back to health, Eleanor Roosevelt displayed a talent in the 1930s for political organization and public speaking. She was an activist First Lady, who got involved with different groups of Americans to learn about their condition and how the New Deal could help them. She spoke out frequently against racial injustice and was an activist for the civil rights of women and minorities. She was considered the eyes and ears of the President, because of how much she helped FDR. She promoted volunteer work through the American Red Cross and Navy Hospitals.
Eugene V. Debs: A speech made by Debs in 1912 scared some progressives. Progressives wanted to improve working and living conditions for the masses, but not cede political control to them. Thanks to Debs, the different socialist groups were able to co-exist in one political party.
European Alliance System: For over a century before World War I, European countries were linked by a complex set of alliances, in which if one country went to war its allies would have to go to war to back it up. This system was the reason so many countries were involved in World War I.
Fifteenth Amendment: This amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1870, prohibits states from denying citizens the right to vote on grounds of race or color. For the first time, the amendment gave blacks a voice in what the government does. The Constitution became colorblind for the first time in history. Women were upset because the amendment did not include the same language about sex.
Filipino War: The four-year Filipino War ending in 1913 was another step the US took toward becoming a world power. It resulted in 4200 US soldiers dead and a cost of 160 million. MacArthur gained close relations with island's economic elite while Taft became the colony's first "governor general," with the intention of preparing the Philippines for independence.
First Hundred Days: In the first hundred days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's term In the 1930s, he acted to expand the scope of federal government and jolt the economy, and restore confidence. He said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." He set forth a regulatory structure in which government agencies would monitor the economy. Government acts created jobs, programs, and a social safety net, and built facilities still in use today. Many laws were passed during this time, including the repeal of Prohibition.
Fourteen Points: President Wilson's 14-point plan in the 1910's, intended to prevent another World War I. Its proposals included freedom of the seas and a worldwide open door policy. The most important point was the establishment of the League of Nations. This was designed as a way for countries to mediate one another.
Fourteenth Amendment: In 1866, this amendment gave blacks the right of citizenship in America. Finally, blacks became citizens, and whites had to understand this new change and deal with it. This amendment is one of the most important provisions in the Constitution for defining and enforcing civil rights.
Freedman's Bureau: an agency started by Oliver Otis Howard In the 1860's to help freed slaves. It was staffed by northern liberals. It started up schools, housing, and a healthcare system for African-Americans. It got word out to 31 million slaves that they were free, and found jobs and schools for blacks.
Geneva Accords: an agreement in the 1950's that America refused to sign. It split Indochina into three new nations (Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam) and split Vietnam into the north and south until elections could unify the country.
George Wallace: a Southern politician of the 1960s to 1980s who ran for president four times. He was raised in poverty during the great depression and so had sympathy for the working class; he started out as a Democrat. The first time he ran for governor of Alabama, he lost for the perceived reason that he wasn't strongly enough opposed to segregation. When he ran again on a segregation platform, he said he would stand at the school doors to prevent integration. He actually did. The National Guard was sent in and he eventually gave up.
Gifford Pinchot: A specialist in forestry management and Roosevelt's close friend, he led the drive for scientific management of natural resources in 1905. Pinchot was fired by Taft for going public with a scandal involving the giveaway of coal resources. Pinchot created the National Forest Service and implemented a new strategy involving livestock ranchers paying user fees for lands.
Globalization: the spread of culture, people, trade or products to other parts of the world (1980s to present).
Haymarket Square: in Chicago during the 1870's, a brawl between the police and strikers, in which a bomb went off. Many people died, and eight protesters were convicted of conspiracy to murder. Books made after the incident kept the idea of egalitarian social order alive.
Great Society: President Lyndon Johnson's initiative in the 1960's to improve the living conditions of Americans. New programs were begun and old ones that helped people got increased funding. The Great Society became controversial because some complained about government control.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: a Congressional act that allowed Lyndon Johnson to expand the Vietnam war. In the 1960s two ships outside of Vietnam were gathering intelligence when they reported being attacked. Congress authorized Johnson to take all necessary measures to repel armed attack.
Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act: a 1930s act that raised tariffs to the highest level ever in the US. The average tax was 59%. It was hoped that the act would encourage Americans to buy US-made goods, but it hurt the economies of other countries by destroying trade with them.
Heart of Darkness: Joseph Conrad's novel, based on historical reality, about the horrors of colonialism (countries taking over other territories).
Henry Frick: Carnegie's right-hand man, called "the most hated man in America." Left in charge when Carnegie goes to Scotland, he cut mill workers' pay and refused to accept the union. Workers revolted against him in an 1892 strike. Frick called in the Pinkertons and eventually the state guard to settle everything down.
Henry Morton Stanley: A journalist and explorer who worked to open up Africa to European colonization. "The Great White Hunter," he was the first white person to travel the Congo and chart the river along with its surroundings. Most of his work was done in the 1870s and 1880s.
Ho Chi Minh: From the 1940s to the 1960s, the communist leader of North Vietnam. Supported by the Soviet Union, he frightened the US. who thought he would win the election, take over the south, and create a "domino effect" of spreading communism.
Hollywood Ten: Ten screenwriters and directors refused to cooperate with 1940s hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee investigating alleged communist infiltration in Hollywood.
Homestead, PA: In the 1890s, a town built by Carnegie outside his factory to house all of his employees. It was a nice town for a while, then went down the drain.
Hoover, Herbert: President when the great depression hit at the end of the 1920s. He was undecisive about what to do about it, and underestimated its severity; he said it would be over in 60 days. He agreed to the Smoot-Hawley tariff, which raises tariffs to their highest rates in American history.
HUAC: The House Un-American Committee (1940s) which held hearings to expose alleged communist infiltration in Hollywood. The Hollywood Ten screenwriters, producers, and directors, who allegedly had been or still were members of the Communist Party, refused to testify.
Huey Long: a former Louisiana governor and an accomplished orator who attacked the New Deal in the 1930s. He proposed breaking up the fortunes of America and distributing the wealth to provide each American family a $5,000 estate. His views inspired many to join different Share the Wealth programs, but Long was assassinated before he could further his political career.
Hull House: the first US settlement house (community center), founded in 1889 by Jane Addams and other progressive activists. The settlement house spread the progressive ideas of the time.
Impeachment of Andrew Johnson: In the 1860s, President Andrew Johnson was impeached, officially for violation of the Tenure of Office Act for replacing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, but actually for defying Congress regarding reconstruction. The impeachment case took a while and finally fell short of the 2/3 majority from the Senate to be removed from office. The impeachment shows the determination of the House and Senate to move through Reconstruction smoothly and efficiently.
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW): Founded by western miners in 1905 and led by William "Big Bill" Haywood, the IWW hoped to get all workers into a single union, instead of only organizing by craft like the AFL. The union organized the poorest of workers, and although it rarely exceeded 20, 000, no other union provoked as much fear and violence. The "Ludlow massacre" of coal miner families in 1914 proved that American workers would do whatever it took, including risking their lives, to improve the conditions of the workplace.
Iran-Contra scandal: a 1980s scandal involving the illicit sale and purchase of arms by the US government. After a US-friendly Nicaraguan government was overthrown by a Communist coup. the United States decided to bring contras (Nicaraguans opposed to the new Communist goverment) to the US to and train them through the CIA. When the contras went back they were defeated by the Communists, and Congress prohibited funding the contras. Meanwhile, to ransom CIA agents who had been taken hostage in Iran, the Reagan administration decided to to sell arms to Iran. They took the money from the sale, money they were not supposed to have, to train the contras. A journalist in Lebanon revealed the story. Reagan said he could not recall ordering or knowing about the deal.
Isaac Woodward: an African-American soldier during World War II who fought honorably in the Pacific. In February 1946, while riding a bus home to South Carolina, he argued with the bus driver regarding a restroom stop. At a stop the driver called the police who took him away and beat him with nightsticks till he was blind in both eyes. The sheriff who beat him went to court but was acquitted of all charges.
Jackie Robinson became first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers in April 1947, after segregation in baseball finally ended. In following months, many other African Americans were signed to other teams. Robinson was named Rookie of the Year in 1947 and National League MVP in 1949.
Jane Addams established the nation's first settlement house, Hull House, in Chicago in 1889 called the Hull House. Jane Addams and her workers helped the poor, the handicapped, and the delinquent, while playing a role in the progressive movement.
Jim Crow Laws in the South in the 1890s supported segregation and hampered the ability of African Americans to move and settle.
John Hay: policymaker and diplomat who was a secretary for Abraham Lincoln and eventually (in the 1890s) a Secretary of State.. He helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris, the adoption of an open door policy in China, and the preparations for the Panama Canal. He was frightened by a labor strike. He is also renowned for his comment describing the Spanish-American War as a "splendid little war."
Joseph McCarthy: Senator from Wisconsin (1950s) who believed he was the answer to the communist problem. In Wheeling, WV, in February 1950 he began blaming the government for allowing communist infiltration. He never actually identified a communist. One key to his success was the then opposition to elitism throughout the US. He went after Dean and Truman. Partially because of McCarthy, the Republicans won the election. In the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings (1954), investigating Communism in the Army, he was disgraced. He left the Senate and died in 1957.
Kent State: a 1970s college protest by the students against the Vietnam War. The National Guard showed up and students started throwing things at the guards. One guard got upset and started shooting into the crowd and other guards did the same, killing four students.
Kim II Sung: the communist leader of the North Korean Soviet Sphere. Kim moved troops across the 38th parallel on June 25,1950, to attempt unification with South Korea.
Knights of Labor: the main labor organization of the 1880s. Founded in Philadelphia, it gave many unskilled and semiskilled workers union representation for the first time. The organization became a large and potent national federation of unions, winning and losing several strikes. The Haymarket protest contributed to the fall of the Knights of Labor.
Ku Klux Klan: a secret group whose main goal was to destroy the Republican Party by terrorizing its voters and even murdering its leaders. The Klan was established in 1866 in Tennessee but included movements all over the country. The majority of the Klansmen were white Democrats. Troops had to be sent to control the riots of the Klan.
League of Nations: proposed in one of Wilson's 14 points, a group of countries that would work together to keep the peace.
Levittown: a suburb in Long Island, New York that welcomed its first residents in the 1940s. Builders bragged that a house was built every 15 minutes. By 1950, there were more than 40,000 residents and 10,000 homes.
Little Bighorn: a battle between Custer and the Sioux led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in the 1870's in Montana Territory. The Indians ambushed Custer in awkward terrain and killed him. This battle was the greatest defeat of Americans by Indians.
Little Rock: In the 1950s Eisenhower was forced to use the full power of his office to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The state governor, Orval Faubus, tried to block the black students from entering by using the Arkansas state guard. President Eisenhower put the Arkansas guard under national control and augmented it with U.S. army. Black students were allowed into the high school.
Madeline Albright: First woman to serve as Secretary of State (in 1997). Born in Czechoslovakia, she moved first to Great Britain and then to Colorado. Married and raised 3 children. Later she began graduate study at Columbia University. Listed divorce and Ronald Reagan as the lows in her life. Served as United Nations ambassador during Clinton's administration, as well as Secretary of State.
Manhattan Project: the 1940s secret project to create an atomic bomb. During World War II, Einstein told Roosevelt to create a bomb because Germany was racing ahead of the United States in fission. J. Robert Oppenheimer was involved.
Marcus Garvey: In the early 192's, Garvey called on blacks to give up their hopes for integration and to create a separate black nation. Garvey called for black separatism and self-sufficiency, known as Black Nationalism. He founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the newspaper Negro World, and the Black Star Line. Some disliked him for supporting the Ku Klux Klan. He went to jail for mail fraud.
Margaret Mead: a distinguished anthropologist who studied the Samoans and other South Pacific people throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Her book Coming of Age in Samoa praised the people for their different lifestyle and lack of sexual anxiety compared to Americans. She thought that culture was most important in determining the role of each individual. In the 1950s and 1960s, her arguments about human experience propelled the sexual revolution and the rebirth of feminism.
Marshall Plan: a 1940s plan by George Marshall under which funds provided by the United States would enable governments in Western Europe to cooperate in postwar economic reconstruction.
Merchants of Death: The Nye Committee of the Senate, in the 1930s, blamed "the merchants of death"—American bankers and munitions makers—for causing World War I. The Nye Committee endorsed claims that the nation had gone to war to preserve profits. In the mid-1930's, polls suggested that most Americans opposed involvement in foreign conflicts and being manipulated by the "merchants of death."
Mr. X: Writing under this pseudonym in the journal "Foreign Affairs," George Kennan first introduced the idea of "containment" of communism. Containment linked all leftist insurgencies, wherever they occurred, to a totalitarian movement controlled from Moscow that directly threatened, by its ideas or military might, the United States.
Muckrakers: A term coined by Theodore Roosevelt to describe newspaper reporters who wrote scandalous stories for monetary reward. Investigative journalism started in the 1870s and was dominant in the first decade of the 20th century in the US. Muckrakers wanted people to recognize political, economic, and social problems and take action.
National Security Act: In 1947, it created several new bureaucracies. It transformed the old Navy and War Departments into a new Department of Defense, created the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, and established the Air Force as a separate service equal to the Army and Navy.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization): founded in 1949 by the US, Canada, and 10 European countries. Members pledged that an attack against one of its members would be considered an attack against all of them.
Nineteenth Amendment: In 1920, the amendment gave women the right to vote. Many believed that if women had the vote, they would enhance the quality of both public and private life without insisting they were the equals of men in all respects. Although giving women the right to vote did not cleanse politics of corruption, and voter participation rates continued to decline, the nineteenth amendment was still a major political and civil rights achievement.
Ngo Dinh Diem: the United States-supported leader of South Vietnam. He was educated in the US, had powerful friends in the US, and unlike most Vietnamese he was a Catholic. When resistance mounted against him, the U.S. gave its covert support to a coup. He was executed by his own military in 1963.
NSC-68 (National Security Council Document 68): a 1950 top-secret policy paper that provided a blueprint for Cold War foreign policy and rhetoric. It endorsed the more vigorous use of covert action, economic pressure, propaganda campaigns, and massive military buildup.
Oliver Otis Howard: started the freedmen's bureau in the 1860s to help ex-slaves. During the Civil War he was called the "Christian General." He founded Howard University.
"Open Door Policy." John Hay, Secretary of State, created the late 1890s concept of the "Open Door" or equal trade access for all nations. The Open Door initially targeted China, where the United States hoped to loosen European trade restrictions. The Open Door was designed to alleviate US trade surpluses widely blamed for economic boom and bust cycles during the late 19th century. These cycles fueled labor unrest and agrarian radicalism, such as Populism.
Operation OVERLORD: the June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy. Directed by Eisenhower, it was the largest invasion force in history, having been assembled in over months.
Orange County, California: Mostly farmland before World War II, after the war it became a military outpost, then a wealthy suburb. This is where evangelist Schuller got started and where the Crystal Cathedral is today.
Panama Canal: The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty of 1903 granted the US a 10-mile-wide canal zone in Panama for $10 million down and $250,000 a year. Panama was under pressure to accept the treaty because otherwise the US might withdraw troops from Panama leaving the country at the mercy of Columbia. The canal dramatically reduced travel time, enhanced international prestige of the US, and made the US more determined to preserve order in Central America and the Caribbean.
People's Party/Populist Party: Agricultural depression in wheat and cotton states produced the third-party Populist movement, which held an 1892 convention in Omaha, Nebraska. The party represented farmers, everyday laborers, and supporters of free silver. The party was swallowed up by the Democratic Party in 1896 through William Jennings Bryan's presidential run.
Persian Gulf War: In 1990 the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, a major supplier of oil. Bush immediately moved 230,000 troops to Kuwait and got permission from the United Nations to defend Kuwait's government if Iraq was not gone by January 15, 1991. An air attack followed by the invasion led by Colin Powell lasted only six weeks, but took a great toll on the structures in both Kuwait and Iraq, and caused 25,000-100,000 deaths on the Iraqi side. Bush decided to pull out before ousting Hussein because he was not given permission from the United Nations.
Philadelphia, Mississippi: The place where three northern civil rights workers were assassinated in 1964. Presidential candidate Reagan gave a 1980 campaign speech here about states rights, to tap into the South's hope that government would oppose the civil rights movement.
Pig Law: A late 1890s law stating defining stealing of anything worth $10 or more as grand larceny. The law was an attempt to bring in more convicts into the jails to provide farmers free help through the convict leasing program.
Pinkertons: a private detective agency and military police force, which specializes in antiunion activities. The Carnegie Steel Company deployed the Pinkertons in the Homestead Strike near Pittsburgh. Several Pinkertons were killed, but the brute force used against the strikers discouraged factory workers around the country.
Plessy v. Ferguson: an 1896 court decision defending segregation. Plessy, who was 7/8 white, bought a ticket on a segregated train; the train management, having been told this was a test case, told him to sit in the colored section, and he refused. The test case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which found that segregation was permissible. For decades, the government's position was that segregation was allowed as long as the services to the races provided were equal.
Plumbers: a group funded by Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President to seek out leaks in the White House. Included petty criminals and ex-CIA agents.
Political Machines: Political organizations built beginning in the early 1900s to win municipal elections. Machines provided poor neighborhoods with new roads and systems and helped immigrants find jobs. Machines involved payments to government officials known as "graft." Reformers hated the machines for cheating on elections and encouraging vice, but immigrants liked them for the new opportunities they provided. President John F. Kennedy's family was involved in machine politics.
Potsdam: On July 16, 1945, the "Big Three" leaders met at Potsdam, Germany, near Berlin, in the last of the series of conferences by heads of state during World War II. President Truman, Soviet Premier Stalin and British Prime Ministers Churchill and Atlee discussed post-war arrangements in Europe, frequently without agreement, and the war against Japan. Truman casually mentioned the atomic bomb to Stalin.
Presidential Reconstruction: In the early 1860s, President Andrew Johnson refused to cooperate with Congress to pass new laws and begin the transformation of the country. His version of Reconstruction was intended to exclude upper-class whites and blacks from the process. The Black Codes came into effect under Johnson.
Pullman Strike: A boycott involving the Pullman workers in Chicago in the 1890s. One-third of the workers were laid off and the workers did not get what they wanted.
Pusan Perimeter: North Korea's furthest advance in the Korean War of the 1950s, near the tip of the Korean Peninsula, The UN forces, led by MacArthur, counterattacked and pushed the North back, but the UN forces went too close to China and were in turn driven back across the 38th parallel.
Richard Russell was Georgia's senator when Lyndon Johnson became president. Days after LBJ took office, LBJ brought Russell in to tell him that he would push for the Civil Rights Act and that Russell would have to get out of LBJ's way. Russell predicted that the Democrats would lose the South in future elections if LBJ pushed the bill.
Robert La Follette: A founder of the Progressive movement, "Fighting Bob" would not compromise certain principles. In the 189's he made a weekly magazine in order to spread the ideas of Progressivism. He ran for president under the Populist party but lost.
Robert Schuller began in the 1950s as a young Christian minister who gave his sermons in the parking lot of a drive-in theater. Through time he became a popular and wealthy evangelical. Eventually he created the Crystal Cathedral, one of the biggest churches in the world.
Roosevelt Corollary: In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt issued a "corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine, which gave the US but not the European powers the right to intervene in the affairs of nations in the Western Hemisphere. This corollary helped establish US dominance in the Western Hemisphere.
Rough Riders: Ivy Leaguers and aristocrats who fought in three battles in Santiago during the Spanish-American War (1898). They were vital at Kettle Hill alongside the Negro Cavalries.
Samuel Gompers: Founder and President (beginning in 1886) of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), a loosely affiliated association of unions organized by trade or craft. The AFL was mostly skilled workers determined to get better conditions, higher wages, shorter hours, and safety.
Self-Immolation. In June 1963 journalists were summoned to a busy intersection in Vietnam, where local monks passed out leaflets. Before the journalists had time to read what was going to happen, a monk set himself on fire in protest. He didn't move or scream, just burned to death. He was protesting the persecution of Buddhists in Vietnam.
Sharecropping: A land-use system that began in the 1860s after the end of slavery. It let a farmer use someone else's piece of land in return for a share of the crop. Not a great system: many felt it was not much different from slavery. Interest rates from loans would be so high that most farmers would be in constant debt.
Sherman Anti-Trust Act: This act of 1890 made every contract, trust, or conspiracy involving trade or commerce in the US illegal. The act affected the oil, steel, tobacco, sugar, transportation, and other monopolies. The act attempted to control the monopolies, but it was so broad that the Sherman Act was almost a dead letter at the time. The government lost almost all of the cases brought before federal courts, including US v. E.C. Knight Company.
Sioux Indians: The hanging of 38 Sioux in 1862 was the largest mass execution the country has ever witnessed. The Sioux fought against Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and defeated him and all of his men. The Ghost Dance performed by the Indians provoked the US into confrontation leading to the massacre at Wounded Knee. Wounded Knee was a great defeat for 19th century Plains Indian culture. The Sioux were eventually confined to the Dakota Territory.
Social Darwinism: a late-19th-century theory that used observations from animal evolution to explain human history. Social Darwinism was based on the belief in racially inherited traits, and on Charles Darwin's "survival of the fittest." At this time in the US, economic depressions caused intolerance and suspicion of other races.
Social Security Act: In the 1930's, this act provided unemployment insurance, workers compensation, and money for elderly. It required states to set up welfare funds from which money would be disbursed to the elderly poor, the unemployed, unmarried mothers with dependent children, and the disabled. It was the foundation of the American welfare state.
Socialist Party: started by groups of farmers in the Farmers' Alliance, who were fighting for better conditions for themselves. Eventually they began to work together and became the Socialist Party. They wanted the bimetallic monetary system (silver and gold) because they thought it would help with debt. In the 1906 election, they chose Bryan, who threw his support behind the Republicans, and the parties merged to end the Socialist party.
Southern Industry in the late 19th century consisted mostly of agriculture and a little bit of industrialization. Pretty much the opposite of the North at the same time period.
Spanish-American War: In 1898, two things triggered the start of this war. The first was a letter stolen from Depuy de Lome calling McKinley weak, and the second was the explosion of the USS Maine. Due to American naval superiority and American victory was complete within months in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. The Rough Riders and the Negro Cavalries played a large part in the battles surrounding Santiago. The Treaty of Paris sold the Philippines to the US for $20 million, and Spain also ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the US.
Spanish Civil War: During the 1930s, the Spanish Civil War caused a debate over foreign policy. Many conservative groups in America liked General Franco as a strong anticommunist whose fascist government would support religion and social stability in Spain. Meanwhile, the political left liked the cause of republican Spain and hated the fascist repression coming over Europe. Americans began separating into isolationist and interventionist camps due to the differing views on how to avoid a wider war. Roosevelt then called for international cooperation to "quarantine" aggressor nations.
Stagflation: A term coined to describe the puzzling, unprecedented co-occurrence of economic stagnation and price inflation during Nixon's presidency.
"Strange Alliance": The US entry into World War II put the US into a "strange alliance" with the Soviet Union. The US and Great Britain regarded Stalin, a Communist, as an unequal partner, not fully trusted. The US and Great Britain only included Stalin when they needed him.
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI): A 1980s idea was to create a space-based defense program. The idea was to use satellites to shoot nuclear missiles out of the sky. People were skeptical that it would work; it would have to be 100% accurate to actually be useful.
Suez Crisis: In the 1950s, Nasser took over the corrupt government of Egypt and accepted aid from the United States. That he then purchased weapons from Communist countries made America distrustful.
Syngman Rhee: The leader of the South Korean US-backed sphere (1950s). Rhee called on the US to get military backup to repel invading South Koreans. US assistance was rushed there, and used to eliminate disloyal South Korean civilians as well.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA): In the 1930s the Tennessee River was dammed to make hydroelectric power and bring electricity to the rural South. The program made more than 20 dams, reduced the cost of electricity, constructed waterways to bypass non-navigable stretches of river, reduced the dangers of flooding, and taught farmers how to prevent soil erosion and use fertilizers.
Tet Offensive: During the Vietnam War, in 1968, North Vietnam launched a surprise attack during Tet, Vietnamese New Year. The Americans killed many Vietnamese, but the public saw Tet as a big setback.
Theodore Roosevelt: the only 20th century president to appear on Mt. Rushmore. He expanded the powers of the president. He entered the presidency through the back door in September of 1901 when Mckinley was killed. Extremely activist, Theodore Roosevelt tried to break up trusts, doing battle with Northern Securities ( a railroad monopoly) and other powerful companies. He wanted the government to have more power over business. He set up the Food and Drug Administration, helped set up the National Park Service, and created the National Forest Service run by Richard Pinchot.
Thirteenth Amendment: In 1865, this amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery and freed the slaves in America. The amendment meant that slavery was no longer legal and supported by the government.
"To Secure These Rights": a 1947 report by the Truman Committee, calling for federal legislation against lynching and for anti-discrimination initiatives in employment, housing, public facilities, and the desegregation of the military. This report led to support for Truman from many African-Americans.
Treaty of Versailles: Signed in 1919, it ended World War 1 and established the League of nations as a first step to a new world order. The Big Four met to negotiate the treaty: Wilson, David Lloyd George of Great Britain, Georges Clemenceau of France, and Victorio Orlando of Italy. The treaty restored Belgian sovereignty, affirmed Poland's status as a nation, and created the new nations of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Germany was stripped of almost its entire Navy and Air Force, and assigned the blame for the war.
Trench Warfare: In World War 1, miles of trenches were dug for the soldiers to stay in when they could not advance. Trenches ended up making the war much longer and harder. People got sick in them and the conditions were horrible.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: In this 1911 factory fire, workers were locked into close quarters, with fabric everywhere, when a fire started. Fire escapes collapsed and the workers could not get out. 146 workers died. This disaster showed the need to deal with problems in the workplace.
Triple Alliance in World War 1: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Italy for a short time. Mostly central European nations who had previous alliances.
Triple Entente in World War I: Britain, France, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Italy starting in 1915, and the US starting in 1917.
"Trust Buster": a person who tries to get rid of trusts. In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt became the nation's first trust buster. He believed the government should regulate the industrial giants and punish those that used their power improperly. Roosevelt and Taft both are famous for the trusts they broke up, Taft busted more. Trustbusting was important because it confirmed that government intended to assert control over monopolies.
United Nations: In the 1940's, the new United Nations (UN) fulfilled Woodrow Wilson's vision of an international body to deter aggressor nations. It replaced the failed League of Nations in this role. The new organization had five permanent members (the US, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France, and China), and six rotating members. The UN drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt. The declaration set forth "inalienable" human rights and freedoms as cornerstones of international law.
USS Maine: An American battleship. Its destruction in Havana harbor in 1898 led to war with Spain.
Vietnamization: The policy of Nixon and Kissinger to slowly start pulling troops from Vietnam while increasing bombing attacks, in the hope of coming to a diplomatic solution. Along with this came a secret invasion of Cambodia, which caused more protest, because people did not want to get deeper into the war.
V. I. Lenin: In the 1910's, Lenin started the idea of communism in Finland but decided to bring it back to Russia. He wanted to end the war and help the poor, which was just what the people wanted.
Voting Rights Act of 1965: Passed under LBJ, it mandated federal oversight of local elections in the South, and promised to strengthen the ongoing effort to end racial discrimination in political life.
Walter White, a journalist, investigated lynchings for the NAACP beginning in 1919. He was black (his parents were born into slavery), but because of his light skin he could pass for white and travel in the South. He went into Southern towns to interview people about lynchings and document the events. While in Georgia he was almost caught, warned to leave, and got out of town just in time. He brought his findings to the President to review.
Watergate: In 1972, five men were found going through the Democratic National Committee rooms at the Watergate hotel. They had cash and surveillance equipment on them. One was a member of Nixon's reelection committee. The Senate voted to investigate. As more and more people in Nixon's administration were linked to this and other illegal acts, they had to resign. Alexander Butterfield, Nixon's secretary, let slip that Nixon recorded all of his conversations. Congress eventually got the tapes, and their revelations were so damaging that Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.
William Randolph Hearst: Owner of the New York Journal, accused of "yellow journalism." In 1898, Hearst's journal published a letter from Depuy de Lome calling McKinley weak. This letter was one of the two pretexts for the US war with Spain.
William McKinley: President from 1897-1901. He became the leading Republican tariff expert, and during his presidency enacted a very high tariff. Not prosperity, but foreign policy, dominated McKinley's Administration. In the 100-day war during his presidency, the United States destroyed the Spanish fleet outside Santiago harbor in Cuba, seized Manila in the Philippines, and occupied Puerto Rico. He was assassinated and Theodore Roosevelt took over.
William H. Taft: As governor-general of the Philippines, he improved the Philippine economy, built roads and schools, and gave the people at least some participation in government. He was the largest president. He broke up more trusts than Teddy Roosevelt. When Taft went after Pinchot's job, Roosevelt's supporters were angry. In 1912, when the Republicans re-nominated Taft, Roosevelt bolted the party to lead the Progressives, thus guaranteeing the election of Woodrow Wilson. Taft's policy of "dollar diplomacy" tried to expand opportunities for corporate investment overseas.
Works Progress Administration (WPA): In the 1930s this agency created artistic and intellectual works, pumping money into the economy. The government paid for art programs, concerts, and pictures. It gave work to unemployed actors. It funded histories of slavery based on narratives from the slaves themselves.
World Fair/Columbian Exhibition - The Chicago World Fair in 1893 celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America. The first part was the White City which displayed a middle-class ideal for the future of America, including mechanical inventions; the second part was the Midway Plaisance, with cabarets and exotic dancers. The Pledge of Allegiance by Bellamy was introduced at the fair.
Yalta: A 1945 meeting of the Big Three—Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin—to determine the shape of Europe after WWII. Russia wanted protection along its western border, and it agreed not to ask for money from Germany after the war. Roosevelt died two months later.
Zephyr Wright was LBJ's cook, driver, and assistant in the 1960s. A black man with a college degree, he resented having to pee on the side of the road just because the local bathroom was segregated.