habeas corpus a written order from a court that gives a person the right to a trial before being jailed
heritage the traditional beliefs, values, and customs of a family or country
homestead a plot of land where pioneers could build a home, farm, or ranch
homesteader a farmer who is given a plot of public land (called a homestead) in return for cultivating it
immigrant A person who moves from one country to another. Such a movement is called immigration.
impeach to formally accuse an official of a crime related to official duties
imperialism the policy of extending a nation’s power by gaining political and economic control over other countries
inauguration a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of something, such as a president’s term of office
indentured servant A person who signed an indenture, or an agreement to work for a master for a period of years. Indentured servants were not free until they completed their term of service.
independence freedom from control by another government or country
Industrial Revolution The dramatic change in economies brought about by the use of machines to do work formerly done by hand. The Industrial Revolution began in England in the late 1700s and spread to America and the rest of Europe.
industrialist a person whose wealth comes from the ownership of industrial businesses and who favors government policies that support industry
industrialization the birth and growth of businesses that make and distribute products through the use of machinery
interest group an organization that actively promotes the views of some part of the public on specific issues
Internet a network that allows computers in locations around the world to share information
interstate commerce trade and other business dealings that cross state lines
irrigation a system for bringing water to farmland by artificial means, such as using a dam to trap water and ditches to channel it to fields
isolationism a policy of avoiding political or military agreements with other countries; first established by George Washington
Jim Crow laws Laws enforcing segregation of blacks and whites in the South after the Civil War. “Jim Crow” was a black character in an entertainer’s act in the mid-1800s.
judicial branch the part of government, consisting of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, that interprets the laws
laissez-faire The theory that economies work best when governments do not interfere with them. (Laissez-faire is French for “leave alone.”)
Loyalists American colonists who were loyal to the British government
Manifest Destiny the belief that it was America’s right and duty to spread across the North American continent
mass production the use of interchangeable parts and assembly lines to make large quantities of identical goods
mercenaries professional soldiers who fight for anyone who will pay them
migrate To move from one place and establish a home in a new place. A move of a large number of people is called a migration, and the people are called migrants. Some animals also migrate, usually with the seasons.
militarism a policy of glorifying military power and military ideas and values
militia a small army made up of ordinary citizens who are available to fight in an emergency
mission A place established by missionaries for their work. A typical California mission included such things as a church, a residence, workshops, and large areas of land for raising crops.
missionaries people who travel to a territory or community in order to make converts to their religion
monopoly a company that controls all production and sales of a particular product or service
Mormons Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Latter-Day means “modern,” while saints are people who dedicate their lives to following God’s teachings.
nationalism devotion to a national or ethnic identity, including the desire for independence from rule by foreign countries
nativism an attitude of superiority and resentment toward the foreign-born
natural resources useful materials found in nature, including water, vegetation, animals, and minerals
neutrality a policy of not choosing sides in a war or dispute between other countries
New World The European name for the Americas. These continents were a “new” world for the Europeans, but not for the native peoples who lived there.
nullify To refuse to recognize a federal law. This action by a state is called nullification.
oppression the feeling of being weighed down or held back by severe and unfair force
Oregon Trail an overland route that stretched about 2,000 miles from Independence, Missouri, to the Columbia River in Oregon
Parliament the lawmaking body of England, consisting of representatives from throughout the kingdom
party an organized political group
passport a document issued by a citizen’s home government that identifies a person and permits him or her to travel to other countries
Patriots American colonists who believed that the colonies had the right to govern themselves
petition (noun) a formal, written request
petition (verb)to make a formal demand or request
plantation a large area of privately owned land where crops were grown through the labor of workers, usually slaves, who lived on the land
platform a statement of the policies favored by a political party
pogroms Organized and often violent persecutions of minority groups. The word pogrom comes from Russian words meaning “like thunder.”
popular sovereignty the idea that the authority of government comes from the people
populist devoted to the needs and interests of common people
Progressive movement a political reform effort of the early 1900s that focused on improving American life by fighting for such causes as equal rights, better working conditions, and protection of wilderness areas
public schools schools that are paid for by taxes and managed by local government for the benefit of the general public
Puritans People who wanted to “purify” the English Church. Puritans wanted to simplify the Church’s ceremonies and its ranks of authority.
quota a limit based on numbers or proportions—for example, the proportion of a country’s population allowed to immigrate to the United States
racism prejudice based on race
rancho A grant of land made by the Mexican government. Most ranchos were used for raising cattle and crops.
ratify To formally approve a plan or an agreement. The process of approval is called ratification.
Reconstruction the period after the Civil War when the federal government ruled the southern states in order to rebuild them and allow them back into the Union
reformers people who work to correct failings or injustices
Social Darwinism the idea that people and societies compete for survival, with the fit becoming wealthy and successful while the weak struggle to survive
spiritual a religious folk song of African American origin
spoils system the practice of rewarding political supporters with government jobs
states’ rights All rights kept by the states under the Constitution. Supporters of states’ rights sometimes argued that states were not obliged to honor federal laws that they believed violated the Constitution.
strategy An overall plan (for example, for winning a war). Specific ways of carrying out a strategy are called tactics.
subsidy money or other things of value (such as land) that a government contributes to an enterprise
suffrage the right to vote
tariff a tax imposed by the government on goods imported from another country
tenement buildings crowded and usually run-down buildings with many small, cheap apartments
territory A region designated by Congress and organized under a governor. A territory may apply to become a state when it has a large enough population.
trade unions early labor organizations that brought together workers in the same trade, or job, to fight for better wages and working conditions
tradition a belief, custom, or way of doing something that has existed for a long time
traitor a person guilty of the crime of treason, or disloyalty to the government
transcendentalism a philosophy which taught that people should “transcend” (go beyond) logical thinking to reach true understanding with the help of emotion and intuition
transcontinental railroad a railroad that crosses a continent (trans means “across”)
trappers adventurers who capture and kill animals, such as beavers, for their fur
treaty a formal agreement between nations
trust a group of corporations that unite in order to reduce competition and control prices in a business or industry
tyranny The unjust use of government power. A ruler who uses power in this way is called a tyrant.
undocumented immigrants people living in the United States without official permission from the government
the Union The United States as one country, united under a single government. During the Civil War, “the Union” came to mean the government and armies of the North.