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- 14th Amendment
- Definition This amendment provides a definition of a citizen of this country. This amendment provides that all states will provide equal protection to everyone within their jurisdiction. It introductes the due process clause and the principle of equal protection under the law. It ensures that all constitutional rights are provided equally to all citizens of this country, regardless of race, sex, religious beliefs and creed.
- Importance Another big step in Black civil rights during the Reconstruction period. It overturned the "Black Codes" that the Southern states enacted in order to continue discrimination against black citizens. States needed to ratify the amendment to be readmitted to the Union under the Radicals' plan for Reconstruction.
- 1863 Draft Riots
- Definition Riots that took place in New York after Congress passed new laws that drafted men into war. Lincoln sent militia to suppress the rioting. Estimates say 200 to 2000 people died, many were wounded.
- ImportanceIt was a starting example of the growing rift between the wealthy class and the poorer, working class. It also shows the discontent some of America felt about the war.
- Appomattox Courthouse
- Definition The location of the last major Civil War battle. The Confederacy surrenders here. It was a final battle between Grant and Lee. Lee was on the run and was attempting to regroup his men at a railroad town but was cut off by Grant and the Union army.
- ImportanceIt was the South's last stand and marked the end of the Civil War. Holds symbolic significance as such.
- Battle of Vicksburg
What was it?
A battle that took place in Mississippi between Union and Confederate soldiers between May to July in 1863. Grant had 77,000 men while the Confederates had 33,000.
What did it do?
Grant marched his men across the Mississippi and at the same time pushed the Confederates back into a defensive position where they lost.
- ImportanceThe Confederate surrender at Vicksburg is sometimes considered, when combined with Gen. Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg the previous day, the turning point of the war. The Union finally gained control of the entire Mississippi River.
- Bessemer Process
- Definition A manufacturing technique used to turn molten pig metal into steel very cheaply.
- Importance The Bessemer process revolutionized steel manufacture by decreasing its cost by about 80%. It also helped by greatly increasing the quality, scale, and speed of production of this vital raw material. It allowed the production of railroads, skyscrapers, and more.
- Black Codes
- Definition The Black Codes were laws, both official and unofficial, put in place in the United States to limit the basic human rights and civil liberties of blacks. The codes reflected the unwillingness of white Southerners to accept blacks as equals and also their fears that freedmen would not work unless coerced. Thus the codes continued legal discrimination between whites and blacks.
- Importance Played a key role in agitating the Radical Republican Congress after the Civil War. This made Congress advocate for more black civil rights and led to the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments.
- Boss Tweed
- Definition William M. "Boss" Tweed was the boss of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party headquarters in New York City. Tweed ran an organization that helped immigrants in neighbourhoods, most notably the Irish, and rose in politics as his society expanded. He was lated convicted in 1877 for stealing an estimated 1-2$million in taxes through political corruption.
- Importance Tweed's system of local boss control of neighborhoods attracted working-class Irish in New York. With this support he could 'climb higher' and at the same time. His political machine played a major role in controlling New York City politics.
- Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882
- Definition The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed in 1882, was a Federal law that suspended Chinese immigration into America. The ban was supposed to last 10 years, but it was expanded several times and was essentially in effect until WWII.
- Importance Chinese immigrants worked very hard for very little pay, so their labor was in high demand from big business (especially railroad companies--the Transcontinental Railroad was built mostly on Chinese labor). The prospect of competition from poor Chinese immigrants scared most unskilled workers. Most labor unions denounced Chinese immigration, which eventually led to this act's passage.
- Compromise of 1877
What was it?
It was both a settlement for the Democrats and Republicans over the election. The election had tied so both parties made a deal.
What did it do?
Hayes (Republican) is elected of Samuel Tilden (Democrat) and both parties agree to...
- Remove all federal troops from confederate states.
- Appoint at least one Southern Democrat to Hayes's cabinet
- Construct another transcontinental railroad using the Texas and Pacific in the South
- Help industrialize the South.
- Importance Ended the Radical Republicans' reconstruction. It also allowed things such as the Jim Crowe laws, and black codes to remain in the south. (Radical Republicans who wanted to hold a gun to the South's head.)
- Comstock Lode
- Definition The Comstock Lode was discovered by a guy named Henry Comstock. The site is located near the western border of Nevada, based around Virginia City. After the discovery was made public in 1859, prospectors rushed to the area and scrambled to stake their claims. Mining camps soon thrived in the vicinity, which became bustling centers of fabulous wealth.
- ImportanceThe immense wealth it brought played a key role in developing parts of the West Coast such as Nevada itself and San Francisco. The push for Free Silver in the 1890's was based on a string of silver discoveries started off by the Comstock Lode.
- Credit Mobilier Scandal
- Definition This scandal erupted in 1872 when Union Pacific Railroad insiders formed the Credit Mobilier construction company and then hired themselves at inflated prices to build the railroad line, earning high dividends. When it was found out that government officials were paid to stay quiet about the illicit business, some officials were censured. - Importance Another example of the gilded age and corruption. The government had little economic regulations over big businesses so scandals or monopolies such as this were common.
- Depression of 1893
- Definition The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression during the Gilded age. The panic was marked by the collapse of shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, along with the protectionist McKinley Tariff of 1890, have been blamed for the panic.
- Importance Farms failed because of the fall in commodities prices. The railroad industry was turned upside down, killing off at least 25% of competition. Many people abandoned their homes and came west. Many of the western silver mines closed and a large number were never re-opened. The U.S. treasury reserve also fell to a dangerously low level and forced the government to seek aid from business.
- Emancipation Proclamation
- Definition The Emancipation Proclamation (1863) was an executive order by Lincoln that proclaimed the of freedom of 3.1 million slaves under Confederate control. It did not free slaves in the Union border states, because that could anger them and prompt their secession.
- Importance The Proclamation was another of Lincoln's methods of emphasizing that the Civil War was really about slavery. It ensured that all slaves captured by the Union in their campaign would be liberated. It had little direct legal effect on the South, but it eventually led to the 133th Amendment, banning tobacco in the United States.
- Eugene V. Debs
- Definition Eugene Debs was the founder of the Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW, or "Wobblies"), and a prominent American socialist.
- Importance Eugene Victor Debs played an important role in popularizing socialistic ideas and ideals which were denounced as radical or even un-American in the early part of the 20th century. He also was part of the Pullman Company strike and was eventually imprisoned.
- Freedmen’s Bureau
- Definition An act was passed by Congress on March 3, 1865, to establish a bureau for blacks and whites left destitute by the Civil War. The bureau supervised all affairs relating to refugees and freedmen, such as employment and the allotment of rations, clothing, and medicine, and it controlled abandoned or confiscated lands and property. The agency received military aid and operated primarily in the former Confederate and Border states and the District of Columbia. The bureau was officially abolished on June 10, 1872. - Importance The Bureau was an important early force in establishing education and civil rights for freedmen. Its power waned as Johnson used his ubiquitous veto on it to combat the Radical Republicans.
- Definition The Battle of Gettysburg was a major Civil War battle that took place in Pennsylvania in 1863 over the course of three days. It resulted in a Union victory. The Union general was George Meade with 93,000 men. The Confederate general was Robert E. Lee with a force of about 72,000. The battle ended Lee's invasion of the North and put the South into a defensive state.
- Importance It shattered Lee's attempt at invasion to the North and placed the Confederacy into a permanent defensive posture. This is considered the turning point of the war along with the Battle of Vicksburg that happened shortly after. The South was on the run.
- Gospel of Wealth
- Definition The Gospel of Wealth was based on the "trickle-down" idea of rich people giving back to society. Some business owners of the 1800s believed philanthropy was a responsibility of the wealthy and gave things such as universities, libraries and museums. Some, though, saw (or see) it as a despicable way for the elite to relieve themselves from guilt.
- Importance This philosophy governed much of Carnegie's and John Rockefeller's giving and could be seen as a counterexample to the growing tide of socialistic discontent among the working class.
- Gustavus Swift
- Definition The owner of a massive meat-packing empire in the Midwest. He formed his business through vertical integration. His company developed the first practical ice-cooled railroad car.
- Importance The refrigerated railcar allowed his company to ship dressed meats to all parts of the country and even abroad, which ushered in the "era of cheap beef." He also was quite brilliant and pioneered the use of animal by-products for the manufacture of soap, glue, fertilizer, various types of sundries, and even medical products.
- Haymarket Square Riot
- Definition The Haymarket Square Riot (sometimes called the Haymarket Massacre) started as a demonstration for an 8-hour workday. The protest went on for several days. On the last day, an unknown person threw a bomb into the crowd of police officers and the police opened fire. 8 police officers and an unknown number of civilians were killed.
- Importance The chaos of the riot resulted in bad public opinion toward labor unions and was one of the reasons for the fall of some labor unions at the time. It is also a prime example of how far separated the working class was from the upper classes.
- Henry Clay Frick
- Definition Frick was chairman of the Carnegie Steel Mill. He was a crude but effective business leader that looked for profits and efficiency instead of worker conditions.
- ImportanceAnother prime example of business elites being "vilified" by the public and historians for lack of morality and ruthlessness in business.
- Homestead Act, 1862
- Definition A law passed in 1862 to distribute land to settlers. The law required three steps: file an application, improve the land, and file for deed of title. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government (i.e. who wasn't a Confederate), including freed slaves, could file an application and evidence of improvements to a federal land area. The occupant also had to be 21 or older and had to live on the land for five years.
- Importance The act was adopted to promote settlement of the West by families (160 acres is a lot of land for almost no money), but that didn't happen too much. The system was exploited by land prospectors who then sold the land to railroad companies. People also often misviewed the opportunity and thought of it as a new start, while instead, the land was often over-farmed or non-arable.
- Horizontal integration
- Definition Horizontal integration is a business practice that involves the consolidation of all companies offering a service or product (say, tires) to reduce competition. If Will Stinson Tires buys out as many other tire companies as it can to merge resources, it is streamlining through horizontal integration.
- Importance Horizontal integration allowed some businesses to become the only supplier of a certain product. This monopolization allowed them to set the price however high they pleased. This, with vertical integration, is a prime example of the kind of aggressive (and questionably ethical) pursuit of efficiency that made men like Rockefeller so rich.
- John Wilkes Booth
- Definition Abraham Lincoln was shot in the back of the head by Booth at Ford's Theater only days after the Civil War ended. It was part of a conspiracy by Southern extremists that hoped to reignite the war.
- ImportanceLincoln's death came with massive indirect side effects and led the North's fury against the South. Lincoln's assassination was actually more troublesome for them since Lincoln had in many ways a better plan for Reconstruction. This change in power led to Radical Republican domination during Reconstruction.
- Definition A kickback is a sum given to a public official from an organization for misappropriating funds to it. This sum is usually part of the inflated sum misappropriated, thus, the money is "kicked back."
- Importance Kickbacks were part of the political and business corruption for the Gilded Age.
- Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address
What was it?
What did it do?
He brings God into the discussion of the war, making his point through liberal use of Bible quotations. He tells people not to blame and persecute the South, but subtly blames them himself by reinforcing the notion that slavery was an evil that must be stopped, and that the terrible war was God's punishment for it.
- ImportanceThe war would be over within a month, and Lincoln's words are in many ways the basis of his Reconstruction philosophy. The idea of reconciliation is important in it, and reconciliation's a message that might have been easy to forget after the war ended and Lincoln was assasinated not long after. Regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history.
- Morrill Act, 1862
- Definition This act made it possible for new western states to establish colleges for their citizens through Federal land grants. It was a major boost to higher education in America.
- Importance The new land-grant institutions, which emphasized agriculture and mechanic arts, opened opportunities to thousands of farmers and working people previously excluded from higher education. The land-grant has improved the lives of millions of Americans. This was not the case in the early stages. At the time the grants were established, there was a separation of races. This situation was rectified when the Second Morrill Act was passed and expanded the system of grants to include blacks.
- Definition The Mugwumps were Republican political activists who bolted from the Republican Party by supporting Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland in the presidential election of 1884. Some became Democrats or independents, while some eventually went back to the Republicans.
- Importance They switched parties because they rejected the financial corruption associated with Republican candidate James G. Blaine.
- Definition The Pinkerton National Detective Agency (Pinkertons) was a private security company that businesses hired as strikebreakers or spies to bust or infiltrate labor unions.
- ImportanceThey got big, and scary. At one point, there were more agents (/soldiers/police/mercenaries) employed by the Pinkertons than were in the US's standing army. The Homestead Strike of 1892 (Carnegie's steel mill) resulted in the Pinkertons going into a gunfight with labor union members.
- Promontory Point
- Definition A point in Utah where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad came together in 1869, completing the first transcontinental railroad.
- ImportanceThe railroad now connected trains from the Pacific all the way to the Atlantic, allowing an unprecedented flow of supplies, goods, people, and ideas from East to West and back again. Think about how amazing 4000 miles of railroad is. Now think about it again. This is America, folks.
- Robert E. Lee
- Definition General of the Confederate army during the Civil War. He graduated at the top of his class at West Point and distinguished himself many times in the U.S. Army-- then made an interesting career choice.
- Importance Lee became the great Southern hero of the war, and his popularity grew in the North. He was the prime general and led much of the South's successes until the South surrendered. He opposed Radical Reconstruction and supported Andrew Johnson.
- Samuel Gompers
- Definition An American labor union leader that was a key figure in American labor history. He founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and served as the group's president till his death in 1924.
- Importance He promoted harmony among the different unions that comprised the AFL, trying to minimize territorial battles. He also claimed workers should work with dignity and create fair opportunities. He helped secure shorter working hours and higher wages. He also encouraged members to be politically clever and elect people that would bring them closer to their objectives.
- Definition They were Southern Whites who supported the Republican method of reconstruction after the Civil War.
- ImportanceIt shows the Souths bitterness for the Republican party and the reconstruction process. They were considered traitors by the South. Some cooperated with or served in the Republican governments in order to gain money-making opportunities.
- Definition Many wage-laborers didn't have cash on hand. To promote the intra-company economy, businesses would offer notes called scrip that only had value at company-run businesses.
- ImportanceScrip was used in big businesses to make their workers buy from their company stores and keep them in debt. This limited workers being able to jump from job to job because their money would then become worthless.
- Sears and Roebuck
- Definition Sears & Roebuck was a major department store that was started in Chicago around 1886. They helped to invent both the concept of te department store and of mail-order business.
- Importance They sold luxury goods to the middle class for cheap--showing an increasing commerco-industrial trend in American society.
- Definition After the Civil War former landowners "rented" plots of land to blacks and poor whites in such a way that the renters were always in debt and therefore tied to the land. Farmers had to “pay” a portion of their crops to the land owner. - Importance Sharecropping was an important method for plantation owners to maintain their control over agriculture in the post-bellum period. It boomed after the Civil War during Reconstruction from both poverty and also the influx of immigrants.
- Sherman’s March
- Definition General William Tecumseh Sherman burns his way through Georgia, leaving a 20-mile wide trail of destruction behind. He wanted to bring hell unto the South, and he sure did.
- ImportanceSherman's act is ethically disgusting to many, but was also tactically quite significant. His "scorched-earth" method destroyed Southern supplies and morale just as much as it demonstrated the horrors of war, so it certainly worked.
- Social Darwinism
- Definition Social Darwinism is an essentially capitalistic philosophy that implies that those people most suited to success are the ones who will achieve it.
- Importance The concept is closely tied to laissez-faire economics in the Gilded Age, and was advocated by many of the Captains of Industry. It sharply shows the rift between the rich and the poor.
- Standard Oil
- Definition Rockefeller merged business both horizontally and vertically to control as much of the oil industry as he could. He would choke off other oil business by cutting off cheap railroad transportation for their oil or other methods and then would buy the oil corporation as it was failing and bring it under his 'umbrella'.
- Importance A prime example of how aggresive Gilded-Age business was. It was a target of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and remains to this day the archetype for the American monopoly.
- Tenure of Office Act
- Definition During Andrew Johnson's presidency, he removed appointed officials (including cabinet members) that were trouble for him, especially those with Radical Republican-leaning tendencies. Congress had gotten fed up with this and decided to limit his power to remove anyone unless he got consent from the Senate.
- Importance Johnson acted against this law and removed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. This was a clear violation and eventually led to his impeachment trial. The act was essentially crafted because Congress knew he would violate it and they could impeach him for it.
- Thaddeus Stevens
- Definition Stevens was the head of the Radical Republicans in the House after the Civil War. He favored punishing the South during Reconstruction and advocated strongly for Black Civil Rights bills.
- Thomas Edison
Who was he?Edit
An American inventor born in 1847 that created many new technologies. He based most of his operations in New Jersey and passed away in 1931.
What did it do?
He created numerous inventions such as practical electricity, the lightbulb, phonograph, the motion picture camera and much more. By the time of his death he had 1,093 patents under his name.
- Importance He is one of the most important inventors of the 1900s. He is often considered to be one of the most prolific inventors in history. His inventions allowed a new standard of living among the middle class.
- Thomas Nast
- Definition Nast was a highly influential German-American political cartoonist who was active for most of the second half of the 19th Century. His political cartoon primarly showed Boss Tweed, Tammy Hall, and the issues of immigration during the time.
- Importance He created the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant. He is most important for his cartoons that portrayed American politics and also showed corruption. Even if a person could not read, they would be able to understand Thomas's cartoons.
- Ulysses S. Grant
- Definition Grant was commander of the Union army during the Civil War. Grant led much of the North's battles and eventaully pinned Robert E. Lee in a final battle where Lee surrendered. Grant later became 18th president of the U.S. but was not popular during his presidency due to controversy with his cabinet members' corruption.
- Importance He was an important general for the North. His most important victory was the the battle of Vicksburg. His cabinet during his presidency was also very corrupt and made many illegimate moves. This corrupt period of presidency is known as "Grantism"
- Whiskey Ring
What was it?
This scandal that began in St. Louis and grew. It involved U.S. government agents and whiskey distillers. It was eventually exposed in 1875.
What did it do?
After the Civil War, liquor prices were very high so distillers and distributors bribed government officials in order to retain the tax proceeds.
- Importance Showed weakness of the Southern and also Western government and is a prime example of public corruption. This means that the government knew of it but was hard to expose.
- “New immigration”
- Definition The influx of immigration during the 1850s to 1900s in America. These immigrants came from Western and Northern Europe and the Far East.
- Importance The influx of immigration provided big businesses with an instant supply of cheap, exploitable labor. The immigration also brought wretched conditions for workers and brought America to an all time low, while business was brought to an all time high.
- “Robber Barons”
- Definition "Robber baron" is a term used for a powerful 19th century United States businessman or banker. It was popularized by U.S. political and economic commentator Matthew Josephson during the Great Depression in a book in 1934.
- Importance Rich bankers or businessman such as Carnegie (Steel mill owner) or Rockerfeller (Oil tycoon) were often villianized by the public and commonly refered to in a negative way. This word is an example of this and how the public viewed them as the sum of all evils. Consider it the derogatory equivalent of "Captain of Industry."