Names & Terms in
   Fasttrack to America's Past
   Section 4: The Growing Years
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abolition movement - the movement to abolish slavery.  Even in colonial America, there were people and groups who opposed slavery, and pushed for its end.  But such efforts did not become a widespread movement until the American Revolution, when a number of northern states began passing laws ending or phasing out slavery.
    The strongest push for abolition came after about 1830.  In Boston, William Lloyd Garrison began publishing The Liberator in 1831. Other efforts like the Underground Railroad pulled thousands of people into the movement.

Bleeding Kansas - a common term for the bloody fighting that erupted in Kansas Territory in the years after 1854 over whether slavery should be allowed or prohibited there.  The Kansas-Nebraska Act, passed by Congress that year, gave the slavery question to the voters of the territory.  (This Act overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had banned slavery in the region.)
    The idea of a vote on the bitterly divisive issue by settlers themselves proved a bad mistake.  Supporters and opponents of slavery were both determined to win, and determination soon turned to fighting, ballot box stuffing, and murder.  At one point, there were actually two separate governments in the territory. 

Boone, Daniel - the frontiersman who led settlers across the Appalachian Mountains and into the land that later became Kentucky and Tennessee.  Born in Pennsylvania in 1734, his family moved to North Carolina when he was a boy.
    Boone and others were hired by a land company to mark a trail through the Cumberland Gap in 1775.  This became the famous Wilderness Road, running from Virginia into Kentucky.  He established Fort Boonesborough later that year on the Kentucky River, and brought over his wife and daughter.
    Efforts to settle the area, however, were marked by trouble with Indians.  Boone himself was captured at one point and adopted as a son by a Shawnee chief, but escaped in time to warn settlers in  Boonesborough of a planned attack by the Indians and British.  (By this time, 1778, the American Revolution was on.)
    In spite of his exploits and land claims, Boone never became rich.  He worked for a time as a surveyor, and later moved to Missouri.  By the time he died in 1823, however, his fame as a frontiersman had spread worldwide.

Brook Farm - one of the most famous "Utopian societies" of the 1800s, it was located near Boston, Massachusetts.  Members who joined the community - men and women alike - agreed to share the work of the farm equally.  The idea was to create an alternative to the competitive, capitalistic business spirit that was growing in American society at that time.  The residents would instead work together for the good of all, and have time left, they hoped, for intellectual pursuits such as reading and writing. 
   The community organized in 1841, hoping to support itself by raising crops and operating a school.  The plan did not go well, as the hard work of running a farm was not as appealing in practice as it was in theory.  Nathaniel Hawthorne, the famous writer, was was one the original members, but left after about a year.  He later wrote a well-known novel, The Blithedale Romance, based on his experiences at Brook farm. 
    The community broke up completely in 1847.  In spite of it's failure, it remains a symbol of an idealistic spirit that still has an appeal to many people even today.

California Gold Rush - the rush of thousands of Americans to California in 1849 after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill.  Some went by wagon across the Rockies, others by ship around the tip of South America.  The region around Sacramento was rich in gold, and for early arrivals, it was fairly easy to find.  But after the easy-to-reach gold was removed, more sophisticated mining equipment was needed, and big mining companies dominated the industry.

capitalism/capitalist - Capitalism is the economic system used in America and most other modern industrial countries.  In the capitalist system, individuals or groups of individuals own factories, mines, farms, etc.  (In the systems of socialism and communism, these are owned by the government.)
    Prices are set by competition in free markets, not by the government.  For this reason, capitalism is sometimes called the free market system.  Decisions about what to produce, how to produce it, and how much to produce are made by the owners, usually based on what will bring the greatest profit.  (In socialist and communist systems, these decisions are made by the government.)
    The capitalist system creates great opportunity and rapid economic growth.  It is criticized by socialists, however, for creating economic inequality, and under some circumstances, it can.  Generally, however, capitalism has actually proven to be more egalitarian than alternative systems.  In part, this is because laws evolved to prevent abuses and to promote better treatment of workers.
    Sometimes the term “mixed economy” is used to describe the American economy today, but in this mix, capitalism is by far the main component.  (The smaller component consists of government owned or directed activities, such as welfare, Social Security, space research, etc.)

cotton gin - a machine invented by Eli Whitney in 1793 that removed the seeds from cotton.  Before the cotton gin, the seeds had to be removed by hand, which was very time-consuming.  The machine made cotton a valuable crop, and by doing so, increased the demand for slaves to plant and pick cotton.

[division of labor - the practice in factories of taking a complex job, like the making of a shoe, and dividing it into small, simple steps.  By doing so, cheaper unskilled labor can be used, instead of the more expensive highly skilled labor needed if one person does the entire job.
    While this practice lowers costs and increases profits, it tends to reduce the worker to little more than a cog in the machinery of production.]

Dix, Dorothea - a social reformer who led efforts to improve conditions for the mentally ill and insane in the 1840s.  Dix began her campaign after visiting a jail in  Massachusetts in 1841 to teach a Sunday school class.  She was shocked by the fact that mentally ill people were locked up in jail alongside dangerous criminals.
    As she examined the situation statewide, she developed a report on the terrible conditions she found, and delivered it to the state legislature in 1843.  Her main goal was the creation of state-sponsored hospitals for the mentally ill.  Her work led to the creation of such facilities in more than 15 states.

Douglass, Frederick - a slave who escaped to freedom in the North and became a famous public speaker in the abolition movement in the decades before the Civil War.  Douglass was born in Maryland, the son of a slave mother and white father.  The wife of one of his masters taught him how to read, although this was against state law at the time.
    Douglass worked as a field hand, and later, as a caulker in Baltimore, sealing the seams of ships.  He made his escape in 1838, landing eventually in Massachusetts.  There, he worked for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. 
    Douglass later started the North Star, an abolitionist newspaper, in Rochester, New York.  As the Civil War began, he urged Lincoln to make slavery the central issue of the war.  He also urged that blacks be allowed to join the fight as soldiers, a move that he felt would pave the way for acceptance of political equality for blacks.
    After the war, Douglass was appointed to a number of government posts, including U.S. minister to Haiti.  He died in 1895.

Dred Scott Decision - a Supreme Court decision in 1857 which declared that slavery was legal in all the territories.  The decision helped push the country toward Civil War, because it undercut previous efforts to maintain a political balance between “free” territories and “slave” territories.  (The decision did say that states could exclude slavery, but the question of slavery in the territories was a key political issue at the time.)
    The case was brought after Dred Scott, a slave in Missouri, was taken by his master to the Wisconsin Territory, which was free territory under the Missouri Compromise.  Later, the slave and master returned to Missouri, which was a slave state.
    With the help of lawyers in the abolition movement, Scott sued in 1846 to win his freedom, with the argument that living in a free territory made him a free man.
    The case moved up through the Missouri court system, then to the Supreme Court.  The decision was devastating to opponents of slavery.  It held that Scott was not entitled to his freedom.  It also declared that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the territories, because doing so would deprive citizens of their right to own property.  The decision thus overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
    Anger in northern states over the decision helped  boost the new Republican Party, which strongly opposed the spread of slavery.  Abraham Lincoln was that party’s candidate in the election of 1860.

egalitarian - the belief that all men and women are inherently equal, and that society should break down barriers that tend to create inequality.  (Also, someone who holds such beliefs.)
    Egalitarian beliefs can be traced back to the Genesis story of the Bible, where mankind is described as made in the image of God.  For most of human history, of course, this concept was submerged in political systems that elevated some to “nobility” and declared all others commoners or even slaves.  In the late Middle Ages a few people dared to declare the principle, but it was not until about 1700 that such views made a serious challenge to the existing social patterns.
    The words of people like Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams capture the egalitarian thinking that was bubbling up as the American Revolution began.  The Declaration of Independence makes the idea explicit in the words stating “all men are created equal.”  This declaration marks the Revolution as a critical turning point in world history.
    The success of the Revolution helped advance egalitarian ideas around the world.  In America, evidence of the power of these ideas in the early 1800s can be seen in the Seneca Falls Convention, labor unions, Utopian societies, and the abolition movement.  The political success of Andrew Jackson was more evidence of egalitarian democratic ideas at work.  In modern times, the civil rights movement is a good example.
    Socialist and communist systems are attempts to extend egalitarian principles to their far limits, but have proven to be remarkable failures.

Erie Canal - the famous canal built in the early 1800s to connect the Hudson River to Lake Erie.  The waterway runs from Albany to Buffalo, and when completed in 1825, led to a tremendous traffic in people and goods across New York State.  One result was that New York City, at the mouth of the Hudson River, became the greatest trading city in America.

factory system - the system of producing goods under one roof in an organized, large-scale manner.  Starting around 1800 in America, the factory system began replacing the earlier pattern of production, in which skilled craftsmen worked at home or a small shop.  The factory commonly used the principle of "division of labor" to increase efficiency by dividing the work into small steps.  Each small step would be done over and over by a worker, so unskilled labor could be hired.  The factory system, combined with the Industrial Revolution, created an entirely new pattern of social life in American towns and cities, and gave rise to a large new class:  the factory laborers.

Fugitive Slave Law - a law passed by Congress in 1850 mainly to compel people in the northern states to assist in the capture and return of runaway slaves.  Southerners were angry that many people in northern states were helping escaped slaves avoid capture.  The law was passed as part of a compromise that, among other things, abolished the slave trade, but not slavery itself, in Washington, D.C.

Industrial Revolution - the rapid change from production by hand to production by machines.  The Industrial Revolution began in England around 1750 as new inventions made it possible to mechanize the production of textiles (cloth).  An early textile mill was built in America in 1790, and the technology spread rapidly in the early 1800s.  Factories to make clocks, carriages, shoes, and many other products soon adopted machine techniques as well.
    The Industrial Revolution was concentrated in the North, in part because water power was widely available there, as well as investors and a supply of people willing to work in the factories.  It had an enormous impact on the social life of the region by creating a new class of factory laborers, as well as a class of factory owners.

John Brown’s raid - the raid by the fiery abolitionist John Brown on the federal arsenal (gun factory) at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia).  Brown had sworn to dedicate his life to the destruction of slavery, and had earlier taken part in the murder of five pro-slavery settlers in Kansas.  His raid at Harpers Ferry was apparently designed to encourage slaves to rise up in rebellion, and flee into the nearby Appalachian mountain range.
    His raid was financed by Boston abolitionists, and included 17 whites and free blacks.  In October, 1859, the raid began, but no slaves revolted, and federal troops quickly surrounded Brown and his group.  After two days of fighting, with more than half his men dead, Brown surrendered.  He was put on trial, and sentenced to hang.
    His remarks as the trial ended are famous for their powerful defense of his cause, although he denied he intended to cause a slave rebellion.  His execution inflamed passions in the North, where he was seen by many as a martyr in the cause of freedom.  Many Southerners were outraged that Northerners looked upon a convicted criminal as a hero.  The incident was another wedge pushing the two sections further apart.

Jackson, Andrew - the president elected in 1828 who came to represent the political shift to a more broad-based democracy in America.  The years of his presidency are often called “The Age of Jackson.”
    He was the first president born west of the Appalachian Mountains, and had fought in the Revolution as a 15 year old.  He studied law, then worked in Nashville, Tennessee, during its frontier days.  Throughout his life, his experience and connection with ordinary people and their concerns would prove to be a valuable political asset.
    In the War of 1812, Jackson became a hero for defeating  the Creek Indians, who were allied with the British.  He fame rose even higher when his troops defeated a British attack on New Orleans.
    Jackson made an unsuccessful run for president in 1824, then won the contest four years later.  His victory is noteworthy because it was based on his appeal to the masses of voters, rather on a connection to older political parties and their leaders.  In office, he appointed friends and supporters to government jobs, a practice termed the “spoils” system.
    Among the biggest issues Jackson dealt with was the threatened secession of South Carolina over the tariff issue in 1832.  Jackson rejected the idea that a state could practice nullification of federal law, and helped work out a compromise on the issue that lowered the tariff.
    In another action, Jackson supported the removal of Indians from the East to reservation land in the West.  He argued that Indians and their culture would never survive if they were not relocated.
    Perhaps the most controversial event in his presidency was his successful effort to abolish the Bank of the United States.  The Bank was a symbol to him, and many voters, of the unfair influence of the wealthy in American life.  He vetoed the bill that would have renewed the Bank charter in 1832. 
    Jackson set for generations to come a new pattern for anyone seeking the presidency.  The old pattern - upper class, educated, well-connected in traditional political circles -  was gone.  Now, voters looked for candidates who had “the common touch,” who were men of action, and who relished the push and shove of a real democracy.

Jefferson, Thomas - the Revolutionary era leader from Virginia who was the main author of the Declaration of Independence.  He was born near Charlottesville, and later built his famous hilltop home, Monticello, nearby.  Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary at a young age after his father died.  There, he became well known for his intense interest in ideas and knowledge of all kinds.
    By the 1770s, he was involved in Virginia political life, and was sent as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.  While not a powerful speaker, his written language in the Declaration has often been declared “immortal.” 
    Back in Virginia, Jefferson was for a time governor of Virginia during the Revolution, but could do little to stop British attacks on the state.  After peace was established, he went to France to represent the United States, and was there as the Constitution was being debated in Philadelphia in 1787.  He wrote to friends, arguing forcefully for the adoption of the Bill of Rights.
    A common theme in Jefferson’s writings is a faith in democracy, the value of rebellion as a liberating force, and suspicion of government power.  He argued repeatedly for ending slavery, although he owned more than a hundred slaves himself.
    His views brought him into conflict with Alexander Hamilton when both served in the administration of George Washington.  Hamilton favored policies that helped promote business interests, banking, and a strong national government.  Jefferson felt the power of these groups would slowly undermine the ideals of liberty and equality that had been expressed in the Revolution.  His vision of America was a land spread with small independent farmers, all filled with civic virtue and eager to protect their liberties. 
    Jefferson emerged as the leader of the Republican political party, and won the presidential election of 1800.  As president, he arranged the purchase of the Louisiana territory from France, which doubled the size of the country, and arranged the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the region.  He retired home to Monticello, and established the University of Virginia in 1819.  Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the Declaration was signed.

Know-Nothings - a secret society formed in 1849 to push for a reduction in the number of immigrants entering America.  The high immigration rates at the time raised fear that the American culture would be swamped by foreign influences.  Anti-Catholic prejudice was especially strong, and it was common to see signs in shops and factories stating, “No Irish Need Apply.” 
    The Know-Nothings were pledged to secrecy, and if asked about the organization, were supposed to say, “I know nothing.”  Members swore to support only native-born Protestant candidates for public office.
    By the 1850s, the organization enjoyed wide support, and helped elect several dozen of members of Congress.  In 1856, the Know-Nothings became the American Party, but it fell apart soon thereafter in disputes over whether to support or oppose slavery.

labor unions - organizations of workers who band together to try to improve wages and working conditions.  These began appearing in America in the early 1800s, in response to the spread of the factory system and the Industrial Revolution.  Members sought to improve their condition by “collective bargaining” with business owners, that is, by negotiating for pay and conditions as a group.  Union members could threaten to strike and walk off the job to try to force improvements.
    In practice, however, unions had a tough, uphill  battle.  In the 1800s, labor unions and organized job actions were sometimes considered illegal.  In addition, factory and business owners often hired “strike breakers” to defeat union attempts to win better pay.
    By the late 1800s, however, organizations like the American Federation of Labor were starting to turn the tide.  Unions were in the forefront of the movement to create the eight hour work day, abolish child labor, and pass workers’ compensation laws.  In the 1910s, passage of the Clayton Act gave unions for the first time a solid legal foundation for their activities.

laissez-faire policy - the belief that the government should generally not interfere with the economic activity of businesses or individuals.  The term comes from French words meaning “allow to do.”
    This theory holds that everyone will prosper best if each person and firm simply pursues their own best interest.  Interference by the government, the theory holds, will only damage the prosperity of all.
    This vision of economic freedom spread from England to its colonies around the time of the American Revolution.  It continued growing through the 1800s.  But by the late 1880s,  many people were questioning whether it was a realistic policy in the age of giant industry.
    Today, of course, the government has considerable power to regulate many aspects of business, and laws designed to protect workers’ interests are common.  But many people believe that the basic idea of laissez-faire still has some validity even today, and argue that government interference in the nation’s economic life should be held to a minimum.

Lewis and Clark Expedition - the expedition organized by president Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase and other western lands.  Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the expedition, which set out in 1804.  They traveled in a group of about 40, including an Indian woman, Sacajawea, who served as a guide and interpreter.
    The expedition generally followed the Missouri River west, then went across the Rocky Mountains, then down the Columbia River to the Pacific coast.  Along the way, the explorers kept detailed notes and maps, including descriptions of Indian groups they encountered along the way.  The group made it back to St. Louis in 1806.  The trip helped establish an American claim to the area that is now Oregon and Washington.

Liberator, The  - The newspaper that began publishing in Boston in 1831, dedicated to ending slavery.  It was started by William Lloyd Garrison.  The paper played a big role in moving the abolition movement into high gear and highlighting the condition of slaves.  Garrison favored an immediate end to slavery.  He announced at one point that the northern states should simply leave and start a new country, declaring, “No Union with slaveholders.”

Lincoln, Abraham - president of the U.S. during the Civil War years.  His election in the four-way race in 1860 led to the secession of South Carolina from the Union. 
    Lincoln is famous as a "self-made man" who grew up in a log cabin in Indiana.  He later became a lawyer in Illinois and served one term in Congress in the 1840s.
    Lincoln was nominated for president in 1860 by the Republican Party.  It had only recently been formed, and took a “middle of the road” position on slavery.  Lincoln and the party itself called for stopping the spread of slavery into new territories, but did not call for the general abolition of slavery.
    The Democratic Party split into a Northern wing and a Southern wing over the slavery issue, with each nominating candidates.  A fourth party, called the Constitutional Union Party, basically tried to avoid talking about slavery at all. 
    Lincoln won the contest with votes from northern and western states solidly in his column, while the other three candidates split the votes from the southern and “border” states.  In fact, Lincoln had so little support in the South that his name was not on the ballot in many southern states.
    The results, drawn so clearly along sectional lines, were a reflection of the deep division that had grown between the North and South, which soon after exploded in the Civil War.

    Lincoln was ridiculed by some newspapers when first elected, but over time his unusual dignity and humanity won many to his side.  The Gettysburg Address captures this aspect of Lincoln well.
    Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, just after the end of the Civil War.

Louisiana Purchase - the vast territory west of the Mississippi that was purchased from France in 1803.  The deal, promoted by president Thomas Jefferson, worked out to about three cents an acre, and roughly doubled the size of the U.S.
    France, under Napoleon, sold the land because its prospects of holding the territory appeared slim, and a war between France and England appeared likely.  The sale was approved by the Senate in spite of the fact that there is no specific authority in the Constitution for such a purchase.  It is often called the best real estate in history.

Manifest Destiny - the belief common in America in the early 1800s that it was the destiny or fate of the U.S. to expand west to the Pacific Ocean.  For many Americans, the belief had an almost religious intensity, and was often considered an obvious part of God’s plan for America’s future.  It was with this feeling that settlers pushed west into Indian and Mexican controlled lands, confident that they were justified in doing whatever was necessary to spread the American flag and system of government.

Mann, Horace - the leader of the movement in the decades after 1820 to improve public education.  Mann was an elected official in Massachusetts, where he helped create the first state board of education in the U.S.  His efforts had a nationwide impact on thinking about schools and teacher training.
   As the spirit of popular democracy spread in these decades, many Americans began sensing that all children needed better access to basic education.  Without such access, wealthier families that could afford school fees and tutors would always hold a great advantage.
    In many areas, however, schools were not available.  Where they were available, they were often poorly run and too expensive for the working class to afford.  The efforts of Horace Mann and others led to a greatly expanded system of free public schools in many states. 

Mexican War/Mexican Cession - The Mexican War started as a border dispute just after Texas joined the U.S. in 1845.  When it ended in 1848, Mexico was not only forced to accept the Rio Grande as the border, it was also forced to sell the vast area west of Texas, called the Mexican Cession, to the U.S. 
    As the conflict began, Texas had been an independent country since it broke away from Mexico in 1836.  The Mexican government resented the decision by the U.S. to accept Texas as a state, and was angry that Americans set the Rio Grande as the southern border of Texas.  Mexicans wanted the border at the Nueces River, and sent troops to the Rio  Grande.  Many Mexicans hoped that a war might even win Texas back.
    President James Polk asked for declaration of war as Mexican troops launched raids across the Rio Grande in 1846.  He and many other Americans hoped a war might even bring even greater territory to the U.S.  American troops pushed into Mexico, defeated its army, and occupied Mexico City in 1847. 
    Meanwhile, Americans living in California revolted against the Mexican government there as the war began, and actually formed an independent government for a short time.
    There was talk in Washington in 1848 of making all of Mexico part of the U.S.  But the final treaty left Mexico with about half its territory, and a $15 million dollar payment from the U.S. for California and the rest of the area called the Mexican Cession.  (While the area lost by Mexico was quite large, only about one percent of the Mexican population lived in the area.)

Missouri Compromise - a compromise plan developed by Congress in 1820 to keep a political balance between slave states and free states as new states were formed from territories.  Missouri and Maine were both seeking admission as states.  The compromise plan allowed Missouri to enter as a slave state, and Maine as a free state.  This balancing act for new states remained the pattern for the next three decades.
    The law also prohibited slavery from a large area of the Louisiana Purchase to the west and north of Missouri.
    The Missouri Compromise is important because it kept the slavery issue from boiling over and possibly splitting the nation  in the early 1800s.  But by 1850, the divisive issue was forced on the table again as California sought admission as a state.  A new plan, the Compromise of 1850, patched up the trouble for a time, and California came in as a free state by itself.
    But that compromise had provisions like a tough new Fugitive Slave Law that fueled more anger over the slave issue.  It was becoming clear that political compromises would not be enough to resolve the issue of slavery forever.

Monroe Doctrine - a famous declaration by President James Monroe in 1823 warning the European countries to keep their hands off the Western Hemisphere (North and South America).
    Starting in 1810, a number of South American countries, inspired by the American Revolution, began revolts against Spanish rule.  (Simon Bolivar, who helped free Venezuela, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, is known as the “George Washington of South America.”)
    But most European countries, still ruled by kings, were worried by the spread of democratic rebellions.  Spain wanted to reclaim her lost colonies, and had a promise of help from Austria, Russia, and other countries hostile to democracy.
    The United States did not want to see the new republics crushed or re-colonized.  Most Americans admired the heroic struggle for liberty by Simon Bolivar and others.
    The Monroe Doctrine declared that the Western Hemisphere was closed to further colonization.  It said that attempts by European countries to interfere with existing governments in the Americas would be taken as unfriendly acts toward the U.S.  It also said the U.S. would not interfere in European affairs.
    President Monroe knew that America could not enforce the policy by itself.  But England supported the policy also, mainly to protect its trade with the new republics.  As a result, Spain abandoned plans to reconquer its former colonies, and Russia abandoned its claims to the Oregon territory.

Mormons - a common name for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The religion was started by Joseph Smith in New York State in 1830.  Smith said he received golden tablets from an angel, Moroni, and translated these into the Book of Mormon.
    Smith and his followers moved to Ohio, then Missouri, and later, Illinois, where they established a town.  But resentment of the Mormons led to trouble, and Smith himself was killed in Illinois in 1844.  (It was Smith who began the practice of plural marriage, or polygamy, which was adopted by Mormons but later officially rejected in 1890.)
    Brigham Young was chosen to lead the religion, and he oversaw the migration of Mormons to Utah and the establishment of Salt Lake City.
    While accepting Jesus Christ and some aspects of Christianity, Mormonism has a number of beliefs that differ significantly from other Christian religions.  The faith is noted in modern times for the emphasis it places on strong families, and the missionary work young Mormons perform.

National Road - one of the most famous roads in the early 1800s, it was built by the federal government to link Cumberland, Maryland to Wheeling (now in West Virginia) on the Ohio River.  The first section was completed in 1818.  Over time, the National Road was extended into Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  It greatly improved transportation into the Old Northwest, and helped speed settlement there.
    The federal government planned and financed the project, but as each section was finished, it was turned over to the states.  The states charged users of the road a small toll.  In modern times, the road became route 40 in Maryland, and one of the original toll houses can still be seen in Cumberland.

Northwest Ordinances - a name that is often applied to two or three different laws passed by Congress in the 1780s to promote settlement of the Old Northwest.
    The most important of these laws is the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.  It provided for clear procedures by which the territory could be broken into smaller territories, and government bodies established.  As these territories grew in population, the law provided for them to be admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the original states.  A key part of the law prohibited slavery in the region.
    An earlier law, the Land Ordinance of 1785, is also famous for creating a survey of the region.  In the survey, the land was marked and divided into a regular grid pattern.  Settlers were thus assured that their land purchases were valid, and could not be challenged by others.

nullification - the doctrine or theory that individual states have the right to nullify, or declare void, federal laws within their borders that they believe violate the Constitution.  The theory has been put forth from time to time in American history when disputes erupted between states’ rights and the powers of the federal government.  The doctrine of nullification has virtually no support today.

Oregon Trail - the trail that thousands of settlers took from Missouri to the Oregon territory in the decades before the Civil War.  Missionaries had been sent to the area in the 1830s to convert the Indians to Christianity, and their letters home told of rich farmland in the Willamette River valley.  By the mid-1840s, hundreds of families in Conestoga wagons were making the 2,000 mile long trip each year.  The journey typically started in Independence, Missouri, and took about five months.
    As the population grew, many settlers began calling for the United States government to take possession of the territory.  Eventually, the area was divided between England and the U.S.

secede/secession - To secede means to leave or withdraw from an organization or nation.  Secession is the act of seceding.  In the Civil War, the Southern states seceded from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America.

Second Great Awakening - a revival of religious preaching and belief in the early 1800s.  In many areas, “camp meeting” style revival preaching drew thousands of people in highly emotional displays of religious belief.  The movement also saw the building of thousands of new churches, and the founding by many churches of colleges and universities, many of which survive to this day.  The Awakening also contributed to the rising reform movements of the era, as citizens sought to put their religious principles in action to change society for the better.

Seneca Falls Convention - the meeting in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 to push for greater recognition of women’s rights.  The convention was called by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who were also active in the abolition movement. 
    Delegates wrote a “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” that announced, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal.”
   The document went on to accuse men of holding women in a second-class status, and demanded increased rights for women, including the right to vote.  The meeting did not lead immediately to great changes for women, but some legal reforms were started.  Many states, for example, wrote laws to allow women to manage their own property.

Shakers - a religious group that organized communal societies that attracted thousands of Americans in the early 1800s.  The Shakers were an offshoot of the Quakers, and were so named for their religious dance movements.  In Shaker villages, men and women lived apart in separate quarters, and did not marry.  But all participated in keeping the Shaker villages and farms running.
    The Shakers are one example of the Utopian societies that flourished in the 1800s.  They became famous for their clean and sparse style of living, and elegantly simple wood furniture.  One of their songs, “Simple Gifts,” is among the most well known old melodies in America.

socialism - an economic system in which factories, farms, and mines are owned by the government, rather than by individuals.  Prices and wages are typically controlled by the government, which also makes decisions about what should be produced.
    Socialism in its modern form developed as a reaction to the harsh conditions endured by workers in the 1800s.  Throughout that century, the Industrial Revolution and the growth of large-scale businesses were transforming the nature of the workplace.  Socialists argued that low pay and shocking working conditions common at the time were a result of the system of capitalism, which they said encouraged a heartless competition for wealth.  They wanted to replace capitalism with a more cooperative system that removed the incentive for individuals to pile up vast wealth at the expense of others. 
    An early form of the cooperative approach was seen in the Utopian societies that formed in America.  By the late 1800s, however, other socialist thinkers had emerged with a far larger vision:  that of moving America itself toward socialism.  The Socialist Party ran candidates for public office in the early 1900s, with one candidate for president, Eugene Debs, pulling almost a million votes in one election.
    Socialists proved to be talented dreamers and writers, and some of their ideas for reforms were adopted later by other political parties.  But they were never able to convince large numbers of Americans to abandon their hope of finding wealth in the system of capitalism.
    The radical form of socialism known as communism, which seeks a violent overthrow of the capitalist system, never attracted more than a very small number of Americans.  In the 1980s, the collapse of communism in Russia and elsewhere seemed to many Americans proof that socialist systems are simply incompatible with human nature.

states’ rights - the rights held by the states, rather than the federal government, under the Constitution, such as power over marriage laws, education matters, etc.
    The question of just what is included in states’ rights has a long and often controversial history.  In the 1820s and 1830s, for example, the debate over nullification of tariff laws was centered on the issue of states’ rights.  In this debate, some South Carolina leaders claimed a right to nullify federal tariffs within their borders.  But president Andrew Jackson and many other national leaders argued successfully that there was no such right to reject laws adopted by Congress.  His arguments were bolstered by a threat to send in troops to settle the matter.
    In modern times, the involvement of the federal government in education policy making and civil rights laws sometimes prompts discussion of states’ rights.

tariff - a tax on imports collected at the time the goods are brought into the country.  In early America, the federal government got its operating money mainly with a so-called “revenue tariff.”  It was low, and drew little criticism.  But in the 1810s and 1820s, Congress passed sharply higher “protective tariffs.”  These were aimed at helping America’s own industry by making imported goods more expensive.

telegraph - an electrical device that sends messages using the Morse code of dots and dashes.  It was invented by Samuel Morse, who demonstrated its usefulness in 1844 on a line he set up from Washington to Baltimore.  Originally, the device marked dots and dashes on a paper strip.  But later, telegraph operators came to prefer listening to the clicks made by a telegraph receiver.  The telegraph had a great impact on the speed of communications, and was quickly adopted by the railroads and the news business.

temperance - the moderate use of, or  abstinence from, alcoholic beverages.  The temperance movement grew in the early 1800s along with other reform movements of the era.  Women were at the head of the effort, because excessive drinking by men often caused abusive behavior.  By 1856, 13 states either restricted or prohibited the sale of liquor.

Texas - originally a district of Mexico, but after a brief period as independent country, it joined the U.S. as a state in 1845.
    Mexican leaders first invited Americans to settle the region after Mexico broke away from Spain in  1821.  (The area had only a handful of Mexican settlements, and the new government wanted to see it grow.)  Stephen Austin took the first group of Americans to Texas.  Some 30,000 Americans were there by 1830.
    But friction grew between the settlers and the Mexican government.  The settlers were not converting to the Catholic religion, as Mexico expected, and some brought slaves, which Mexico prohibited.  On their side, the settlers were frustrated by the ways of the Mexican government, which often seemed crooked to the American settlers.
    Rebellion by the settlers broke out, and in 1835, the Mexican leader Santa Anna marched into Texas to restore Mexican authority.  A famous battle at a mission called the Alamo in 1836 saw 188 Texans hold off a large Mexican army for two weeks.  (This gave the Texans their battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!”)
    About two months later, Texans under Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna, and he was forced to sign a treaty recognizing the independence of Texas.  The new country called itself the Lone Star Republic, and sought admission to the U.S.  Resistance from congressmen who opposed slavery delayed admission for some years, but Texas was finally made a state in 1845.
    As Texas joined the U.S., a fight over the placement of the border with Mexico led to the Mexican War.

Trail of Tears - the name the Cherokee gave the path they were forced to travel to the West in the 1830s as a result of the Indian Removal Act.  The law was passed by Congress as an attempt to deal with trouble that persisted between white settlers and the Indians in the 1820s.  It required Indians to exchange their land in the East for reservation land west of the Mississippi. 
    Government leaders like Andrew Jackson argued that Indians themselves would be safer if they were removed.  Some tribes went peacefully, but others, including many of the Cherokee living in Georgia, resisted.  When they were finally forced off their land, many died on the journey to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi, mainly from disease and the cold weather.

Transportation Revolution - a term often used by historians to describe the dramatic improvement in transportation in America that took place in the early 1800s.  
    The Transportation Revolution included greatly improved roads, the development of canals, and the invention of the steamboat and railroad.  The Erie Canal, opened in 1825, is often cited as an example of these changes.  Shipping costs were lowered as much as 90 percent in this era, which gave a big boost to trade and the settlement of new areas of land.

Tubman, Harriet - a black woman who escaped from slavery on a Maryland plantation in 1849, then became famous for her trips back into the South to help other slaves flee to the North. 
    Her work with the Underground Railroad in the 1850s was so successful she was called the “Black Moses.”  Tubman helped free more than 300 slaves, including her own parents.  She settled with her parents near Auburn, New York. 
    During the Civil War she helped lead raids by African-American Union soldiers into South Carolina. Tubman married a soldier she met during the war, and lived with him after the war in Auburn.  She remained active in social causes, including the women's rights movement.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin - a book published in 1852, it sold hundreds of thousands of copies and added a powerful emotional fuel to the abolition movement.  It was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a Northerner who had actually spent very little time in the South.  But the heart-rending storyline, with a cruel master who abused a kind and decent slave, seemed to be positive proof of the worst claims about slave owners.
    Southerners claimed the book was an exaggeration.  They pointed to it as more evidence that Northerners were unfair in dealing with the issue of slavery.

Underground Railroad - the network of people, routes, and safe houses that helped escaped slaves find their way to freedom in the decades before the Civil War.  Whites and blacks in northern and southern states were involved in the effort, often at great risk.  "Conductors” used wagons with false bottoms and other tricks to avoid detection.  The final destination for the escaped slaves was usually a town or city in a free state, or even Canada.

Utopian societies/Utopian socialism - Utopian societies were the groups that formed in the early and mid 1800s to establish “perfect” societies.  (The name comes from the title of a book written in England about a perfect society called Utopia.)  More than a hundred different groups formed, motivated in part by a desire to escape from the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution and the spread of the somewhat impersonal and harsh spirit of capitalism in American life.
    Most Utopian societies mixed Christian ideas of brotherhood with egalitarian ideas inspired by the American Revolution.  Many held property in common, and developed rules to ensure equality of conditions among the members.  Some sought to maintain an equality between the sexes. 
    The Shakers are among the best known of the Utopian societies.  Communities started at Oneida, New York, and New Harmony, Indiana, are also well known.  Most Utopian societies failed within a few years, although some lasted for several decades or longer before disbanding.
    Utopian socialism is the term used to describe the system of shared work and common ownership typical in such communities.  Some writers at the time referred to them as communistic societies.

War of 1812 - a war with Great Britain that is best known today for inspiring Francis Scott Key to write a poem that later became the National Anthem.
    The war had its roots in a war involving France and Great Britain that began in 1803.  Both nations passed laws that attempted to stop American ships from trading with the other.  Even worse, British ship captains would stop American ships on the high seas, and kidnap sailors who they suspected had deserted from the British navy.
    These outrages were one part of the story.  On the American side, a group of Congressmen usually called the “war hawks” were eager for a fight that might allow America to claim Canada (British) and Florida (Spanish).  With anger growing over British seizure of American sailors and ships, Congress voted for war. 
    The American army was badly unprepared for war, however.  Attacks into Canada were launched, and in 1813 American troops burned public buildings in the town of York (now Toronto).  But Canada did not fall into American hands.
    The following year, the British retaliated by invading Washington, D.C., and setting fire to the White House and Capitol.
    The British moved on to Baltimore, where they were turned away by American forces.  It was during this stage of the war that Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  It describes the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the night, and tells that at dawn, the American flag was still there.
    The British moved their army next against New Orleans.  Andrew Jackson led the American forces there, and defeated the British attack in early 1815.
    As it turned out, a peace treaty had actually been signed in Europe two weeks earlier.  The treaty is famous in part because it really did not address any of the issues that caused the war.  Neither side won nor lost.  But the treaty did end the fighting, and in another interesting twist of history, Britain and the U.S. have been the closest of allies ever since.

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   Copyright 1999, 2015 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.