TERMINOLOGY -- IMPORTANT VOCABULARY WORDS

There are various words that have been a part of the content of this website, and you may not know what some of the words mean. On this page the words and their definitions are listed.

To find a certain word, press CTRL+F, then type the word you wish to find in brackets. Ex: If you wanted to find "mercenaries" you would type [mercenaries] and you would find the definition. The search bar for Internet Explorer will come up like a pop up window, while Mozilla Firefox's will come up as a tool bar at the bottom of the page. If you are using a MAC, press APPLE F and type the word you are looking for.



A Congress- The two year period where all representatives in both the Senate and the House serve together

Abolitionist- a person who supported the abolition of slavery in the U.S. Someone who was against slavery.

Administration- The major offices in the executive branch of government

Amendment- A change to the constitution of a nation or a state

Amnesty-A general pardon by the government

Amputate- to cut off (all or part of a limb or digit of the body)

Anarchy- A country lacking government

Appeal- A review of the decision of a court by a higher court

Arsenal- A place where weapons and ammunition are stored



Bias Rule- A rule for analyzing sources that states that every source has a bias, or a point of view or opinion, on everything so therefore, it is not a totally neutral source

Blockade- To close off or block

Boycott- To refuse to buy goods from certain people or businesses

Bombardment - to attack or batter with artillery fire


Carpetbaggers- Northerners who moved to the South during Reconstruction to help rebuild the government

Casualties- A member of the armed forces lost to service throught death, wounds, sickness, capture or because of his or her whereabouts or condition cannot be determined

Caucuses- Closed meetings to select candidates for president

Cash Crop- A crop that is sold to make money instead of being given to the hungry

Cede- To yield or grant

Charter- An official paper from a ruler and gives information and permission for people to settle in a certain area

Cherry Tree - A gift of friendship to the United States in 1912 from the people of Japan.

Civil War - A civil war is a war in which parties within the same culture, society or nationality fight against each other for the control of political power.

Compromise- An agreement in which both sides in a dispute agree to give up something they want in order to achieve a settlement

Conservative- Someone who believes in keeping things the way they were in the past; a conservative person would be one that would belong to the Republican party

Constitution- The way in which a thing is composed or made up; makeup; composition. The establishment or formation

Corrupt bargain- Means that Clay helped Adams with the election so Clay would be at the top of Adams administration



Depression- A period of slow economic activity with low prices and high unemployment

Direct Representation- Voters elect a person to work for that area



Electoral College-The group established by the Constitution to elect the president and vice president. Voters in each state choose their electors

Electors- Under the Constitution, those named by state legislatures to choose a President and Vice President

Eluded- to avoid or to escape

Emancipation Proclamation - a written document issued by President Lincoln during the Civil War that declared all slaves in states of rebellion if the states had not rejoined the Union by January 1, 1863

Embargo - A government order that stops merchant ships from leaving or entering a country's ports


Flabbergast- To overwhelm with shock, surprise, or wonder

Flax- The fiber of a plant, manufactured into linen yarn for thread or woven fabrics

Freedmen's Bureau- an organization started after the Civil War to help southern whites and especially freed slaves start new lives in the south; it was the only direct step taken by the federal government to help the south and former slaves

Freedom of the Seas- The freedom to move about the seas without having to pay tributes

Fury- unrestrained or violent anger, rage, passion, or the like



Impeached- To make a formal accusation against someone

Impressment- To force American sailors to work on British ships

Inauguration- A ceremony installing a person in office

Indentured servants- People who promised to work for someone for a given number of years, in exchange for having their ship's passage paid for them

Indigo- A vegetable die that was primarily used in clothing

Infantry- Soldiers or military units that fight on foot

Internal improvements- The system of roads and canals that are paid for by the federal government



Joint Occupation- When two countries decide to share and settle a certain territory (Ex: Oregon Territory was shared by Great Britain and the United States)

Joint Stock Company- A group of people that financed their own trip to the New World to establish a colony; established with a group because one person could not afford it themselves

Jurisdiction- Area of law or area of the country in which a court has authority to hear cases



Ku Klux Klan - A secret society organized in the South after the Civil War to reassert white supremacy by means of terrorism.



Lame Duck - When any elected official comes to the end of his final term, where he can not be elected again

Land Speculation- Buying money to sell at a large profit

Legal precedent -- A previous case or legal decision that may be or must be followed in subsequent similar cases.

Liberal- Someone who believes in making changes in our government; someone who is liberal would belong to the Democratic political party

Livestock- A domesticated animals in an agricultural setting to grow food and to watch animals.

Loose Construction- Broad interpretation (Ex: Of the United States Constitution)



Mercenaries- Professional soldiers who fight for anyone who will pay them

Metaphysics- Philosophy that examines the nature of reality. examines relationship with mind and matter, and fact and value

Moderate- Someone who believes in both conservative and liberal ideas and would most likely be able to vote for anyone as president from either political party

Monarchy- A country ruled by a single person, usually a king or queen



National Anthem- A song of praise for a country that shows nationalism

Nationalism- A feeling of pride our devotion to one's country or nation

Native- One who originated from a certain land

Nazis - A member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, founded in Germany in 1919 and brought to power in 1933 under Adolf Hitler

Neutral- To not take a side in a conflict

Nullification- To declare null or void




Patent- something that is bought for an invention that says that no one can steal, improve, or change the invention unless granted by the person that invented it

Patronage- The power to make appointments to government jobs

Pet Banks- The banks that the federal money gets placed in

Plantation- a usually large farm or estate, esp. in a tropical or semitropical country, on which cotton, tobacco, coffee, sugar cane, or the like is cultivated, usually by resident laborers.

Philosophy- Love and pursuit of wisdom, investigation of truth knowledge an conduct

Plurality- The greater number of votes

Popular Soverenignty-The ability of a state or territory to decide for itself whether or not to allow slavery.

Pound- A unit of currency, originated in Great Britain as the value of a pounds mass of silver

Prejudice- An attitude or opinion about a person group or race without taking time to judge fairly

Primary Election- When voters pick candidates for an election

Primary Source- An actual first-hand account of an event that has survived the past

Propaganda- A message or a group of messages that try to influence the opinions of people or their behavior

Puritans- A member of a group of English protestants who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries that had very strict religious discipline

Pursue- To go after or to proceed in accordance with



Quartered- To house and feed troops without the people's consent during the Revolutionary War



Ratify- To approve

Reconstruction - the period referred to when the government of the US attempted to resolve the issues of the American Civil War after the Confederacy was defeated and slavery ended.

Repealed- To withdraw or take back

Re-election- After being president, you are made president for a second term

Resistance - The act or an instance of resisting or the capacity to resist.

Revenue- 1) The income of a government from taxation, excise duties, customs, or other sources, appropriated to the payment of the public expenses; 2) The amount of money regularly coming in

Royal Colony- A colony ruled by a governor and council chosen the the British crown, and having a representative assembly elected by the people

Rural- Country areas with few people living there



Scalawags- Southerners who sided politically with the North to gain power (considered traitors by other Southerners)

Secession - The withdrawal of 11 Southern states from the Union in 1860-1861, precipitating the U.S. Civil War.

Secede- To withdraw from an alliance, federation, or association, such as a from a political union, a religious organization, etc.

Secondary Source- An account that has been written by a different author who was not at the actual event

Seized- To take hold of suddenly or forcibly; grasp: to seize a weapon

Sectionalism- Rivalry based on the special interests of different areas of a country

Sharecropping- former slaves and southerners would work the land of another southerner for a share of the crop (virtual return to slavery)

Skirmish- a fight between small bodies of troops, esp. advanced or outlying detachments of opposing armies.

Solicitor- an officer having charge of the legal business of a city

Society - When a group of people come together with similar beliefs and faith. Live the same way as each other most of the time.

Specie- Gold and silver coins

Separatists- religious group of the Puritons, they disapporved of the Catholic churh and came to America to start a new, improved church.

Strict Construction- Narrow interpretation of something

Suffrage- To give a person or group the right to vote

Spies- a person employed by a government to obtain secret information or intelligence about another, usually hostile, country, esp. with reference to military or naval affairs.

Spoils system- the practice of rewarding political supporters with government jobs



Tariffs- Taxes placed on imported goods

Telegraph- A system of transporting signals to a distant place via and electric device which has a sending instrument and a recieving instrument connected by a communication channel.

Tension- the act of stretching or straining.

Time and Place Rule- A rule for analyzing sources that says the closer in time and in place a source is recorded to the actual event, that the more accurate the source will be

The Congress- The Senate and the House of Representatives combined

Theater- A region where a lot of action is taking place

Transportation- The movement of people and goods from one place to another

Traitor- A person guilty of disloyalty to the government

Turnpike- Road built by a private company and charge a fee to use it

Tyranny- The unjust use of power in a government



Universal manhood suffrage- a form of voting rights in which all adults males within a nation are allowed to vote, regardless of income, proptey, religion, race, or any other qualification



War- A conflict, when sides of an opinion disagree, and fight for there opinion, becuase they believe it is correct. In the form of battle, protesting,etc.

World War II- A the war (1939-45) between the Allies (Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, the U.S., etc.) and the Axis (Germany, Italy, Japan, etc.)

Watergate scandal- General term used to describe a complex web of political scandals between 1972 and 1974. The word specifically refers to the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C.



Veto- To cancel or postpone a law or decision