U.S. Hist Key Terms Study Guide

Key Items in US History:


Old West Unit: 1877- 1900

Battle of Wounded Knee- last major battle b/t Govt. and Indians; final defeat of Indians

Century of Dishonor- book written by Helen H. Jackson about promises made/broken by Govt . to Indians

Assimilation Laws- said Indians had to cut hair, speak English, stop practicing their religion etc.

Dawes General Allotment Act- gave Indian families 160 acres of land; encouraged them to become farmers

            And become “Americanized”

Homestead Act- gave white settlers 160 acres of land; it was theirs free if they could cultivate it/make

            Improvements after 5 years

Pacific Railway Act/Transcontinental Railroad- built the Union Pacific and Central Pacific RRs; from

            Nebraska to California; met at Promonotory Point, Utah

Impact of Railroad on the west- settled west, caused cities to develop, economy grew, encouraged

           development of new inventions/methods (refrigerated RR cars, mail order catalogs, RR delivered mail)

American Cowboy and Cattle Boom- we borrowed most of our customs from Mexican vaquero (chaps, spurs,                hat, etc.); cattle industry encouraged settlement out west;  cattle boom ended b/c of barbed wire

            and eventually the RR

Significance of barbed wire, windmill, and steel plow on the

            Frontier- see answers to discussion questions

Sod Houses- houses built of sod “bricks” (dirt/grass) due to lack of timber on the plains

Comstock Lode- rich silver mine discovered in Nevada

“Closing of the Frontier”- 1890; all the land out west had been settled; there was no more unknown land to



Gilded Age Unit: 1870-1900

“Gilded Age”- period when corruption existed in society but was overshadowed by the wealth of the period

            (“gilded” is when something is golden/beautiful on the surface but is really cheap/worthless


Inventors/inventions- Edison/light bulb, Alex. Graham Bell/telephone, Eastman/camera, Ford/assembly line,

            Morse/telegraph, Wright bros/airplane

Department stores and mail order catalogs- 1st stores were Macy’s, Marshall Field’s, and Wanamaker’s;

1st  catalogs were Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward’s

Mass production- when things are produced by machine in large quantities instead of by hand

Industrial Leaders- Vanderbilt (RR), Carnegie (steel), Rockefeller (oil), and

            Morgan (steel)

Vertical and horizontal integration- Vertical/when a monopoly exists b/c it owns/controls every step in

            producing a product; Horizontal/when a monopoly exists b/c they have bought out all the competition

Captains of Industry- positive idea that industrial leaders worked hard and deserved their wealth

Robber Barons- negative idea that industrial leaders stole from their workers by giving them low wages and

            were greedy

Social Darwinism- “survival of the fittest” in society; the strong will survive b/c they work hard and the

            weak will be weeded out

Gospel of Wealth- belief that the wealthy were “chosen by God” to be successful and were therefore

            responsible to look out for the well-being of those less fortunate; many shared their wealth through

            charities (Carnegie)

Laissez Faire- idea that government should not regulate business in any way; this is the basic idea behind


Industrial era terms0 monopoly/when a company is the only one that can provide a good or service,

            trust/a large monopoly created when several businesses combine their holdings to eliminate  


            stock/a share or piece of the company,

            dividends/profits shareholders receive from owning stock

Sherman Anti-trust Act- passed to break up monopolies; was not enforced until Teddy Roosevelt was pres.

Interstate Commerce Act- passed to regulate trade b/t states; it regulated RR rates

Immigrants and push/pull factors- push factors push someone out of their country to another country (ex.

            someone leaves a country b/c they are persecuted for their religion); pull factors pull someone to a

            country b/c they are attracted to a country for a reason (ex. Job opportunities, promise of a better


Xenophobia- fear of foreigners

Changes in transportation and construction in cities (trolleys,

            dumbbell tenements (buildings divided into several rooms on one floor where families would live and

have to share one bathroom, …)

Bessemer Process- Henry Bessemer improved the process of making steel, which made it more affordable

Political machines- when a group of corrupt politicians controlled city governments by doing favors for poor

            immigrants and in return, would receive their vote on election day; were almost impossible to defeat

Settlement Movement/Houses- developed to compete with pol. machines; they offered similar services but

            did not expect anything in return (this led to social work)

Jane Addams/Hull House- most famous settlement worker/house

Patronage/spoils system-when a politician gives someone a job b/c that person helped them get elected; the

            Person is not qualified; led to corruption and incompetence in government; believed to be the reason

why Garfield was assassinated

Pendleton Civil Service Act- passed after Garfield was shot to eliminate the spoils system/patronage; said in Order to be hired for certain govt. jobs you had to be qualified by passing the civil service exam

Jim Crow laws- segregation laws in the south in the late 1880’s-1960’s; ex. Curfews for Af-Am, AF-Am could

            Not testify in court against a white person

Plessy vs. Ferguson- 1896; Supreme Court case that established “separate but equal”; said you could have

            Separate schools as long as they were equal… they never were

Booker T. Washington- Civil Rights leader of late 1800s; born a slave; encouraged Af-Am to work hard and

            Obtain an education; fought for economic equality

WEB DuBois- Civil rights leader of early 1900s; from Massachusetts; 1st Af-Am to get PhD. From Harvard;

            Said Af-Am should fight for social, political, and economic equality; helped found the NAACP

Populism/Populist Party Goals- movement/political party made up of mostly farmers who wanted

  1. graduated income tax
  2. change the way we elect Senators
  3. back money by both gold and silver (this would create inflation that would benefit them)
  4. have the Govt. regulate large businesses like Railroads
  5. other reforms that would benefit the “common man”

Knights of Labor – labor union that allowed skilled and unskilled workers, men and women, and black and white workers to join

American Federation of Labor- labor union that only allowed skilled white males to join

Purpose of a labor union- “strength in numbers”; workers could gain better wages/hours etc. in a large group

            instead of working alone to achieve better conditions







Progressive Era Unit: 1900-1920

“Progressive Era”- 1900-1920; when people worked to rid the corruption in society; progressives were

            educated like teachers, lawyers, ministers, doctors, middle-upper class

Upton Sinclair and The Jungle- wrote about the problems of capitalism; wrote about problems in the meat-

            packing industry

Muckrakers- journalists who exposed corruption in society in hopes of bringing about change; other muckrakers include Tarbell, Riis, Norris and Steffens

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire- 146 people died when a fire started in a factory; exit doors were chained; brought

            about reforms in fire codes

Capitalism- idea that the govt. does not get involved in business; does not regulate business; same as laissez-


Women’s Christian Temperance Union- WCTU; worked to abolish (make illegal) alcohol

NAACP- organized by both blacks and whites to help achieve equality for AF-Am

Direct primary- election held to select whom the candidates will be in the upcoming general election

(ex. John Kerry beat John Edwards, Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt, and others to become the Democratic Pres. candidate)

Secret ballot- when voters may vote on an unmarked ballot without being intimidated by pol. machines

Amendments- 16th/graduated income tax, 17th /changed method of electing Senators, 18th/prohited alcohol, 

            and 19th/gave white women the right to vote

Robert LaFollette- progressive governor of Wisconsin

Theodore Roosevelt- Progressive president (conservation, big stick, gunboat diplomacy, Panama Canal,

            Meat Inspection Act, Square Deal, arbitration,  trustbusting)

United Mine Workers Strike and arbitration- when TR forced mine owners and workers to settle differences             through arbitration; a neutral third party hears both sides and reaches a settlement that both must


“Square Deal”- phrase that came from Mine Workers strike that means both sides got a fair deal; became

            1904 campaign slogan

trustbusting- breaking up monopolies, good for consumers

“good” trusts and “bad” trusts- TR only broke up the “bad” trusts that did the most harm to the greatest #

            of consumers; he kept a close eye on the “good” ones that weren’t as harmful and warned them that

            he was watching

Meat Inspection Act- passed after publication of The Jungle; said meat would have to be inspected when

            transported from one state to another

Pure Food and Drug Act- required labels on goods to list ingredients in foods

TR and conservation- 1st president to recognize need; set aside millions of acres for animal refuges and

            National parks

1912 election- TR and Taft split the Republican vote, which allowed Woodrow Wilson to win

Bull Moose Party- new political party formed by TR when he did not win the Republican nomination;

            Allowed Wilson to win the election

Underwood tariff- Wilson lowered tariffs significantly which made American companies lower their

            prices; good for the consumer

Federal Reserve Act- 3 level banking system that controls the flow of money in the US by controlling

            interest rates; Alan Greenspan is the Fed Chairman today

Clayton Anti-trust Act- another act passed to break up monopolies

Workmen’s Compensation- allows workers to be paid if injured in a job-related accident

Women’s “suffrage”- movement to achieve the right to vote

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth C. Stanton, and Lucretia Mott- all fought for women’s suffrage



Imperialism Unit: 1867-1914

Imperialism- when a country extends their power and influence over other countries; may acquire new

            Territories or just exert their influence over another country

Spanish-American War- 1898; fought b/t the US and Spain; the US was trying to help Cuba receive their

Independence from Spain; We also wanted to protest our financial investments in Cuba; Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines, and Guam all received indep. From Spain; However, the US acquired PR, Phil, and Guam

Pulitzer and Hearst- New York journalists that published lies about the war in order to sell newspapers

Yellow journalism- when journalists lie/exaggerate the truth in order to sell papers

DeLome letter- letter written by Spanish official that criticized Pres. McKinley; greatly offended

            Americans; was a reason we went to war

USS Maine- US ship docked in Cuba; sent there to protect Americans in Cuba; it mysteriously exploded and

            We assumed (falsely) the Spanish blew it up; caused the US to enter war

Rough Riders- Calvary regiment led by Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan Hill in Puerto Rico

Treaty of Paris 1898- ended the Sp-Am War; Cuba got its independence, the US got PR, Phil, and Guam

Platt amendment- allowed the US to intervene in Cuba’s affairs if their independence was threatened;

            Important b/c Cuba gave the US Guantanamo Bay in this document

Annex- to acquire/take over; the US annexed the Philippines

Annexation of Hawaii- 1898; US annexed despite opposition from Queen Lil and the Hawaiian people

Queen Lil- ruler of Hawaii

Spheres of influence- when European countries divided China up into areas where only those countries could

            Trade; the US did not like this b/c we were not involved

Open Door Policy- created by John Hay that said any and all countries could trade equally in China

Boxer Rebellion- when a group of Chinese rose up and murdered hundreds of Americans in China; they

            Were tired of Americans trying to force our religious, economic, and other beliefs on them

Gentleman’s Agreement- b/t the US and Japan; we said we wouldn’t discriminate against the Japanese but

            they had to limit the # of Japanese that could come over

Great White Fleet- fleet of a dozen (or so) ships that were painted white that Teddy R. sent to Japan to

            Intimidate them

Panama Canal- built in early 1900s; finished in 1914 in time for WWI; Teddy R. is responsible

Panamanian Revolution- we helped Panama get its independence from Columbia so that we could negotiate

            the canal directly with Panama; lasted one day

Monroe Doctrine- 1823 by James Monroe; told European countries to stay out of the Americas and not try

            to settle/colonize in the western hemisphere; we would fight to stop them

Roosevelt Corollary- when Teddy R. restated the Monroe Doctrine; it was an extension and said we would              

               still uphold the Monroe Doctrine; we were the “police man” for our hemisphere

Dollar Diplomacy- Taft’s philosophy of investing money into a country to help strengthen that country’s

            economy in hopes of preventing a revolution or take-over by another country

Moral Diplomacy- Wilson’s philosophy of applying moral standards to foreign policy
Gunboat Diplomacy- Teddy’s philosophy of using force to accomplish our goals

Big Stick- Teddy’s foreign policy; meant we should have a strong role in world affairs and be heard

Alaska/”Seward’s Folly”- 1867; US bought Alaska from Russia for 7.2 million; people thought Alaska was a

            frozen wasteland and the purchase a mistake

Pancho Villa- Mexican villain that was angry at the US and crossed the border and murdered 17 Americans;

            was pursued for years by Pershing

General John Pershing- sent by Wilson to hunt down Villa, later US commander in WWI




WWI: 1914-1918

Causes for WWI in Europe- Nationalism (pride in one’s country), militarism (building up one’s military), territorial rivalries (wanting the same land) , alliances (forming partnerships in case of war)

New weapons- U-boats (submarines), poison gas, tanks, machine guns

Allies- US, France, Russia, Italy, Great Britain, Japan, and dozens more

Central Powers- Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Ottoman Empire

Franz Ferdinand- his assassination sparked the beginning of WWI; heir to the throne of Aust-Hung

Lusitania- British ship that was sunk by a German u-boat; 128 Americans died; we were mad but didn’t enter

            war yet

Unrestricted submarine warfare- Germany’s practice of sinking ships that aided the Allies; major cause

            Of US entering WWI

Zimmerman Telegram- letter sent from a German official to Mexico asking Mexico to attack the US if we    enter the war; they wanted to pre-occupy us so we couldn’t help the Allies;         Mexico would gain back            most of the western US if they cooperated

Selective Service Act- established the draft

Woodrow Wilson- elected in 1912 and 1916; President During WWI

Fourteen Points- Wilson’s peace plan after WWI; only achieved one point- the 14th point

League of Nations- Wilson’s 14th point; established a world-wide peace keeping body

Isolationism- US belief that we needed to stay out of world affairs after WWI; we did not like war and did

            not want to get involved in another one

Liberty bonds and victory gardens (war propaganda)- people bought war bonds (allowed the govt to borrow

            money) and planted their own gardens to help conserve food for the troops

Hoover and the Food Administration (meatless Mondays and wheatless Wednesdays)- extremely successful;

            People voluntarily didn’t eat meat on Mon. or wheat on Wed. in order to ensure enough food for


armistice- a cease-fire when both sides agree to stop fighting; signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the

            11th month- Nov. 11, 1918 (now is celebrated as Veteran’s Day)

Treaty of Versailles- ended the war; established the League of Nations (without the US); punished Germany

            harshly; Germ had to pay billions in war reparations and had to admit full guilt; Germ and Axis lost

            land; new unstable countries were formed; this treaty helped bring about WWII

“to make the world safe for democracy”- Wilson’s famous quote

Bolshevik Revolution- occurred in 1917 when Tsar Nicholas and his family were murdered; this is when Russia

            became communist

Great Migration- mass movement of Af-Am from the south to the north in search of war related jobs in

            industries; they were promised a better way of life



















The 1920’s: 1920-1929

A.Mitchell Palmer and the Red Scare- Attorney General who accused innocent people of being communist and

            created the mass hysteria when people worried that communists were going to take over the US

Sacco and Vanzetti- two Italian immigrants who were falsely accused and executed of murder and robbery;

            Example of intolerance of the period

Teapot Dome Scandal- oil scandal that occurred while Harding was president; the scandal was not known until

            he died; Sec. Of the Interior Albert Fall had leased govt lands to private oil companies and pocketed

            the money

Ku Klux Klan- first formed after the Civil War (1860s) and was revived during this period of intolerance; KKK

            persecuted Af-Am, Jews, Catholics, alcoholics, adulterers, immigrants

Marcus Garvey- led the Black Nationalists movement; promoted black pride in their culture; encouraged

            Af-Am to start their own businesses; started a back-to-Africa movement; he embezzled $

            from his followers and was sentenced to prison

Prohibition and 18th  amendment- made alcohol illegal

21st amendment- repealed prohibition (made it legal again)

speakeasies- illegal bars where alcohol was sold

Al Capone- king of the mob; made his fortune on gambling, prostitution, and illegal alcohol

Volstead Act- enforced prohibition

Flappers- symbolized the revolution in morals and manners; women who drank, smoked, cursed, cut their hair

            short, wore short sleeveless dresses, danced the Charleston…

Popularity of radio (first stations hit the air) , movies (first talking movie was The Jazz Singer) , and

Sports (Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Red Grange); all were huge forms of entertainment

Impact of Automobile- made other industries like oil, gasoline, rubber, glass, paint, steel, etc. boom; had      

            a dramatic impact on the landscape with red lights, parking lots, stop signs, gas stations, etc.

Assembly line- allowed goods to be produced faster and therefore, cheaper

Charles Lindbergh- flew the Spirit of St. Louis from NY to Paris non-stop; became a hero overnight

The Jazz Age- name given for the music of the period

Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington- famous jazz musicians

Harlem Renaissance- rebirth of art and literature in the black community; center of this rebirth was Harlem,


The Lost Generation- group of artists and writers that were disillusioned with society; they were disgusted

            with the materialism and were disillusioned from the war






















The Great Depression and New Deal: 1929-1941


  • stock speculation- buying stock when the price is low and selling it when the price rises in hopes of making a quick profit; many Americans were stuck with worthless stock when the market crashed
  • buying on the margin- Americans were able to purchase stock by putting down as little as 10% of the stock’s             value; Americans then borrowed money from the bank to pay for the rest of the stock; when the market crashed, Americans had to pay the loan back to the bank even though the stock was worthless
  • overproduction- various industries kept up production even though there was not a demand from the market

(ex. Automobiles, crops, construction); supply exceeded demand which made prices fall

  • stock market crash- this was the spark that began the depression; 16 million shares of stock were traded******
  • individual debt- Americans were in debt due to the installment buying of the 20’s
  • international debt- the US was in debt due to WWI; we practically financed the entire war for the Allies inevitability of depressions- depressions are a natural part of the business cycle; they will happen eventually
  • unequal distribution of income- “the rich got richer and the poor got poorer”; salaries of the wealthiest percent of Americans increased while wages of the poorest percent of Americans decreased

Herbert Hoover- elected in 1928 by promising a “chicken in every pot, a car in every garage”; was blamed for

            the depression even though it was not his fault; he was in the wrong place at the wrong time (White


Hoovervilles, Hoover flags, etc.- names given to common objects that showed Americans blamed Hoover

“Brother can you spare a dime”- lyrics to a famous song of the depression

Bonus Army- group of WWI vets who marched in Washington, DC ; they wanted the govt to pay them then

the bonus that they had been promised for fighting in WWI; they did not receive it during the depression

The Scottsboro Case- involved 9 Af-Am teenaged boys who were accused of raping 2 white girls on a train;

            was an ex. Of the intolerance of the period; they were later all freed and charges were dropped

Dust Bowl- natural disaster that occurred out west where a severe drought and heavy winds blew the dry

            topsoil east; poor farming practices intensified the situation (lack of crop rotations); many moved to

            California and were nicknamed Okies (most moved from Oklahoma)

25% unemployment- highest average unemployment during the depression; in 1933

forms of entertainment (radio, movies, board games…)

Election of 32 and 36- FDR won both

Franklin Roosevelt- promised Americans a “New Deal” and began social programs that helped ease the


New Deal Agencies: CCC (worked outdoors doing conservation projects);  CWA, PWA, WPA (all gave jobs building roads, bridges, and dams; WPA also helped writers and artists); TVA (built dams that created hydro-

Electricity);  FDIC (insured bank deposits); SSI (pension plan for elderly and disabled); AAA (told

Farmers not to farm ¼ to ½ of land in an effort to raise farm prices)

Court packing plan or Judiciary Reorganization Bill- when FDR tried to get Congress to allow him to add new

            justices to the Sup Ct for every justice over 70; he was mad b/c they ruled many agencies


Dorothea Lange- photographer during the Depression whose photos help bring govt aid to farmers out west




WWII: 1939-1945

Isolationism- US foreign policy after WWI; we wanted to stay out of world affairs in order to avoid

getting involved in another world war (from 1918 until 1941- years between WWI and WWII)

Good Neighbor Policy- US policy of trying to improve relations with Latin America

Axis Powers- alliance of Japan, Italy, and Germany during WWII

Munich Conference/Pact- Hitler had taken over the Rhineland and Austria; he now demanded

the Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia); Germany, France, and Great Britain met in Munich and gave Hitler the Sudetenland in return for his promise to not seize any more land

Appeasement- the practice of giving in to someone in order to avoid a conflict; when GB and Fr gave Hitler

            The Sudetenland

Invasion of Poland- Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 39 with help from the Soviets; appeasement had failed

            and WWII had begun

Neutrality Acts- (1935-1939); acts passed in the US to keep us out of war that included:

  1. the US could not give $ to countries at war,
  2. we would not sell weapons to countries at war,
  3. we would sell materials for war (oil, steel, etc.) to others on a “cash and carry” basis,
  4. no Americans could ride ships that belonged to countries at war

Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact- alliance or pact between the USSR and Germany; they agreed to not

            fight each other and to invade Poland and split the land; the pact ends when Germany invades the

            USSR; the USSR then joins the Allies (GB and Fr)

Lend-Lease Act- when the US agreed to lend weapons to GB (and later the USSR and China); we were called

            “an arsenal for democracy”

Blitzkrieg- German method of attack using planes and tanks together in battle; “lightning war”; the US

            began to use this method of attack as well

Winston Churchill-  new Prime Minister of GB during WWII; replaced Neville Chamberlain; promised to

fight Germany to the end; signed the Atlantic Charter with FDR

Atlantic Charter- document signed by FDR and Churchill that reaffirmed the rights of people to choose their

            Own leaders; both agreed to only accept an “unconditional surrender” from the Axis

Pearl Harbor/”a date which will live in infamy”- US naval base in Hawaii that was bombed by Japan on Dec. 7,

            1941; it brought the US into war and ended the Great Depression at home; FDR stated that Dec. 7th

            would always be remembered

Bataan Death March and General MacArthur- 78,000 US and Filipino forces in the Philippines led

by MacArthur surrendered to the Japanese; the prisoners were forced on a 60 mile death march

with no food or water; 10,000 soldiers died on the march; MacArthur was rescued from the island

and promised “I shall return”

Battle of Midway- important naval battle b/t the US and Japan; the US won and it is considered the “turning

            point” in the war in the Pacific

United Nations- world-wide peace keeping organization formed during WWII to support the Allies;

it replaced the League of Nations

War mobilization- Americans efforts to get ready for and support the war effort

war bonds- Americans would loan the govt money for the war effort with the promise to be repaid plus

interest; made Americans feel like they were contributing in the war effort

rationing- when the govt. rationed goods to ensure that essential items were available for the soldiers; also

            began to prevent inflation (ex. Tires for the rubber; nylon pantyhose for parachutes, etc.)

Internment of Japanese-Americans- FDR signed an act to “intern” or round-up thousands of Jap-Ams

that lived on the west coast and send them to “relocation centers” in the interior of the US; we

worried that they might be spies for the Japanese

442nd combat team- an all volunteer regiment made up of Jap-Am soldiers; won more Congressional Medals

            and other medals than any other regiment; trained at Camp Shelby, MS

Rosie the Riveter- symbol of the working woman in WWII; encouraged women to get a job to support the

            war effort; said “We Can Do It”

Technology in WWII- radar detected airplanes, sonar detected ships and submarines, atomic bomb was used

            to end the war

D-Day- also known as “Operation Overlord”; the Allied invasion of Normandy, France that included 5000

ships led by Gen. Eisenhower; June 1944

Yalta Conference- Feb. 45; meeting b/t Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill; discussed how to divide Germany

            among the Allies when the war was over; also included the promise by Stalin to help the US fight

            Japan and to hold free elections in countries they now occupied; Stalin broke this promise which

            led to the Cold War

VE Day- “Victory in Europe”; Germany surrenders on May 8, 45

Island hopping strategy- the Allies would only try to recapture those islands that would help them launch an             invasion of mainland Japan

Navajo Code Talkers- Navajo Indians were used as code talkers and helped the Allies communicate without

            fear of having our messages translated; the code-talkers were kept classified until the 1980’s in

            case we needed to use them again

Manhattan Project- code name for the project to build an atomic bomb; we feared that Germany was building

            one and so we raced to build it first

Reasons Truman used the a-bomb- 1) to end the war, 2) to save American (and Japanese) lives, 3) to avoid an

invasion of mainland Japan, 4) to intimidate the Soviet Union, 5) for revenge at Pearl Harbor, 6) the

            Japanese would not surrender and it was the only alternative left

VJ Day- “Victory in Japan”; Japan surrenders on Sept. 2, 45


Sept, 1, 1939- Germany and USSR invade Poland

Sept, 3, 1939- Great Britain and France declare war on Germany

Dec. 7, 41- Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

June 6, 44- the Allies invade France in the D-Day invasion

May 8, 45- Germany surrenders

August 6 and 9, 45- the US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan    

Sept. 2, 45- Japan formally surrenders




















The Cold War: 1945-1991

“Cold War”- rivalry b/t the US and Soviet Union in politics, economics, and technology

Iron curtain- stated by Winston Churchill; said an “iron curtain has descended across eastern Europe” that

            divides communist Europe from non-communist Europe

Soviet satellites- countries that were communist and looked to the USSR for leadership

United Nations/Security Council- world wide peace keeping organization formed at the end of WWII; it

            replaced the League of Nations; the Sec. Council was made up of the US, USSR, China, France, and

            Great Britain and other countries that rotated membership on the council

Containment Policy- George Kennan- belief that the US should and would fight to stop the spread of

            Communism; this guided our actions from 1945 until 1991

Aid to Greece and Turkey- US gave these countries $400 million to stop the spread of communism

Marshall Plan- US gave western Europe $13 billion to stop the spread of communism

NATO- North Atlantic Treaty Organization; united non-communist countries with the US as its

            leader b/c we were the only one with the a-bomb; an alliance of non-communist countries

Truman Doctrine- an informal declaration of war when Truman said we would help anyone who was

            resisting communist aggression

Berlin blockade/airlift- The USSR blocked all traffic in and out of West Berlin in an effort to persuade the

US to leave East Germany; the US responded with an airlift of 2,500 tons of supplies daily; the USSR finally withdrew their blockade

Warsaw Pact- Soviet version of NATO; an alliance of communist countries with the USSR as its leader

h-bomb- 800 to 1,000 times more powerful than the a-bomb; the US made this after the USSR got the


Civil War in China-  Mao Zedong was the communist leader that led the peasants to revolt;  Chiang Kai

            Shek was the Nationalist leader who was not communist; Shek lost and he and his followers were

            forced to move to Taiwan

Korean Conflict: June 1950, Pusan, Inchon, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, 38th parallel, Yalu River, Chinese involvement, Truman fires MacArthur, Ike ends the war with massive retaliation

Inflation- when demand exceeds supply; occurred after WWII b/c people had $ to spend but goods had not

            been made during the war and so prices went up drastically

Fair Deal- Truman’s domestic program; his plan proposed to increase minimum wage, extend Social Security,               and begin public housing

GI Bill of Rights- gave returning WWII vets $ for college and homes

Impact of television- I Love Lucy, Mickey Mouse Club… contributed to the conformity of the 50s

Migration to suburbs- the auto allowed people to move out of the city; was seen as a “step up” in society to

            move to the new houses in the suburbs

Interstate Highway Act- 1956; Ike’s greatest domestic achievement; tens of thousands of miles of roads

            were built which impacted transportation of goods and people etc.

Baby Boom- when vets came home they settled down and started families; people could now afford to have

            Children; boom was from 1945-1960

Taft Hartley Act- limited the power of labor unions; required a cooling off period before striking; allowed

            the pres. the power to intervene and end a strike

Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism- “second red scare”; people were concerned about communists in our

            govt; Senator McCarthy led the hysteria and was later censured

The Rosenbergs- couple executed for selling atomic secrets to the Soviets; showed how scared we were of

            communist taking over

Dixiecrats and Strom Thurmond- southern political party that believed in states’ rights and denying rights to

            Af-Am; led by South Carolinian Strom Thurmond

Brinkmanship- threatening an all-out war in an attempt to confront communist aggression

Eisenhower Doctrine- Ike promised to help all countries in the Middle East that wanted our help in stopping

            the spread of communism

Castro comes to power- Castro leads a revolution to overthrow Batista but then becomes communist; 1959

U-2 spy plane incident (1960)- Ike is president; the USSR shot down our spy plane and captured the pilot,         Gary Powers; it made our relationship with the USSR worse

Sputnik- 1957; the USSR launched the first successful artificial earth satellite; it scared us to death!

Eisenhower funds- the govt started to pump more $ into education to help us catch up with the Soviets in


NASA- space program established to help us win the space race

Automation- making things by machine; reduces the number of workers but increases productivity

 “rock and roll”- new music of the 50s








































Civil Rights Movement:

Plessy v. Ferguson- 1896 Supreme Court case that established “separate but equal”; it legalized segregation

Jim Crow Laws- discrimination laws in the South; ex. Af-Am had curfews, couldn’t testify against a white    

person in court, had to ride on the back of the bus…

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.- preacher in Montgomery, AL who became the leader of the Mont. Bus Boycott;

He led SCLC and believed in non-violence; influenced by Gandhi

Brown vs. Board of Education-1954 Supreme Court case that outlawed segregation in schools; Thurgood

Marshall was the NAACP attorney who represented Linda Brown

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott- 1955; considered the beginning of the civil rights movement;

She refused to give up her seat so a white man could be seated; she was arrested and a city-wide boycott began; the Supreme Ct. stepped in and integrated Mont. buses

Little Rock Nine- 9 Af-Am teenagers integrated Little Rock’s Central High despite brutal protests

Greensboro and Nashville sit-ins- SNCC and other groups fought to integrate downtown lunch counters by

staging sit-ins; they sat quietly and were refused service… they continued to sit peacefully and were beaten/arrested

Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee- SNCC; college age students who organized non-violent protests Freedom Riders- civil rights workers who hoped to integrate bus terminals; they rode buses from city to city in the South and often faced fierce crowds when they arrived at their destinations

Bull Conner and Birmingham- Racist police commissioner of B’ham, AL who ordered the police/firefighters to

use dogs and fire hoses on children during a protest; it was videoed and shown world wide on news stations; B’ham was known as “Bombingham” due to the # of bombs used and violent acts that occurred

March on Washington- 1963; largest march in DC at that time with 250,000 marchers; purpose was to draw

Attention to the Civil Rights Act that was before Congress; MLK gave his “I Have A Dream” speech

Civil Rights Act of 1964- signed by Lyndon Johnson that outlawed discrimination in public facilities; ex. no

More separate restrooms, water fountains, restaurants, etc.

Medgar Evers- state leader of the NAACP in MS; murdered in his driveway by Byron De La Beckwith in 1963; Had organized successful boycotts in Jackson, MS

James Meredith- first Af-Am to enroll at the Univ of MS (Ole Miss); violent protests occurred

Ms Freedom Democratic Party- new political party formed that allowed all races to represent the state at

the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in 1964; the National Cmte refused to recognize the MFDP and offered them two seats at large at the convention; the MFDP refused them and left

Fannie Lou Hamer- MFDP delegate who was very critical of the Democratic party for not recognizing the MFDP and her speech was nationally televised

Ms Summer Project or Freedom Summer- organized by the NAACP to recruit volunteers from across the

country to come to MS in the summer of 1964 and help register AF-Am to vote; local police arrested 3 volunteers and their bodies were recovered months later in an earthen dam; inspired the movie “MS Burning”

Selma March- 1965; purpose was to draw attention to the lack of voting rights for AF-Am; the first march

ended as state troopers on horseback stopped protestors on the outskirts of Selma; troopers used tear gas on the peaceful protestors; the second march was successful b/c the pres.  Ordered the state troopers to protect the marchers

Voting Rights Act of 1965- signed by Lyndon Johnson and allowed the federal govt. to supervise voting

in the south; eliminated all barriers to voting (poll tax, literacy tests, etc.)

Malcolm X- civil rights leader who was impatient with the slow progress that had been made and believed

that AF-Am should fight “eye for an eye” for their rights; did not want to integrate into the white man’s society

MLK Assassination- shot on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis, TN in 1968; was in Memphis to help a group

of garbage workers who were on strike









The 1960s:

1960 election- John Kennedy narrowly defeated Richard Nixon; the televised debates helped JFK win

“Ask not what your country..”- famous quote from JFK’s inaugural address that encouraged Americans to

            volunteer (Peace Corps etc.)

New Frontier- JFK’s domestic agenda

Space race- JFK challenged Americans to have a man on the moon and have him safely return by the end of

            the decade

Third World countries- also known as underdeveloped countries or developing countries; poor countries

            (most of Africa, parts of Mexico and China, SE Asian countries) where we feared communism could

            spread; the US developed the Peace Corps and Alliance for Progress to combat poverty in these

            areas while also hoping to contain the spread of communism

Green Berets- special forces in the Army trained in guerilla warfare

Peace Corps- organization that sends volunteers to Third World countries to help these areas fight poverty

            and receive basic services like clean drinking water, basic medical care, etc.

Alliance for Progress- the US gave Latin American countries millions of $ in exchange for the promise that

            the countries would have democratic governments; few, if any, countries kept their promise

Bay of Pigs- 1961; failed attempt by the US to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (he is still in power


Berlin Wall- 1961; built by the Soviets to keep East Berliners (communist controlled) from fleeing to West

Berlin (not communist); stood until 1989

Cuban Missile Crisis- 1962; Soviet response to the Bay of Pigs; Soviets were building missile sites in Cuba

            when they were discovered by the US; JFK’s response was a naval blockade around Cuba; Soviet ships

            turned around and headed home; the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war

JFK’s assassination- JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in Nov. 1963 while in Dallas; Oswald was shot by

Jack Ruby when police officers were escorting him to a different jail; the Warren Commission was

established to investigate the assassination and found that Oswald acted alone in killing JFK

War on Poverty- Johnson’s plan to eliminate or reduce poverty in the US

Head Start- pre-kindergarten program for low income children that will give them a “head start” with their

            education so they won’t enter school at an educational disadvantage

Great Society- Lyndon Johnson’s (LBJ’s) domestic agenda that included Medicare (government subsidized

health care for the elderly), Medicaid (govt. subsidized health care for low income families), Elem. and Sec. Education Act (gave millions of $ to poor areas for schools), and HUD (Housing and Urban Development)

United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez- Hispanic American Cesar Chavez led a successful strike of migrant workers out west in the 60’s

American Indian Movement (AIM) and occupation of Alcatraz- American Indians formed AIM and fought to

            regain land that had been taken from their ancestors by the govt; AIM occupied Alcatraz and

            offered to buy it with some beads and cloth (early settlers bought Manhattan Island from the local

            Indians with beads and cloth)

National Organization for Women (NOW)- feminist organization founded by Betty Friedan (author of

Feminine Mystique) and Gloria Steinam; fought for women’s rights and the Equal Rights Amendment

which did not pass









Ho Chi Minh- communist who led the independence movement in Vietnam; became the leader of North


Domino Theory- belief that if one country in SE Asia fell to communism others would follow; would fall like


Geneva Accords- agreement made at the Geneva Conference where France pulled out of Vietnam and the

US stepped in to prevent Vietnam from becoming communist; Vietnam was split at the 17th parallel

Hanoi- capital of North Vietnam                       Saigon- capital of South Vietnam

Vietcong- Vietnamese Communist

Gulf of Tonkin incident- an American ship was supposedly fired upon by the North Vietnamese; this led to

the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that allowed LBJ to take “any necessary measures” to protect

Americans in Vietnam (gave him unlimited powers in escalating the war)

Ho Chi Minh Trail- supply route of the Vietcong that went into neighboring Laos and Cambodia

Guerilla Warfare- type of fighting used in the jungle; sneak attacks, ambushes, man to man combat

Napalm/agent orange- chemicals used to kill vegetation so that the VC could not hide

“Five O’clock War”- also called the “Six O’clock war” depending on your time zone; name given to the war b/c

            Americans could go home and watch footage of the war every night on the evening news; first war to

            be “televised”

Hawks and doves- hawks supported the war and doves wanted peace

My Lai Massacre- tragedy where American soldiers killed over 200 innocent Vietnamese after they had been

            given false info that the My Lai village was a Vietcong stronghold; this angered Americans and fueled

            protests at home

Tet Offensive- 1968; major offensive by the VC where they attacked numerous key cities/

locations on the same day ( ex. US embassy in Saigon); huge embarrassment to the US and had an

enormous negative impact on public opinion

presidential elections- 1964: LBJ won; 1968: Nixon won (LBJ didn’t run for re-election); 1972: Nixon won by

            a landslide b/c he was withdrawing troops

Chicago Riot- war protestors gathered outside the Democratic Nat. Convention and began throwing rocks,

            taunting police, chanting; protestors were “attacked” by police and arrested; televised world wide

Lottery System- new method of drafting soldiers based on their birthday; all 366 days of the year were put

            into the “hat” and drawn; young men were drafted in the order in which their birthday was pulled

Vietnamization- process of withdrawing American soldiers from Vietnam and replacing them with newly

            trained Vietnamese soldiers

Bombing of Cambodia- Nixon ordered the bombings in order to stop supplies along the Ho Chi Minh trail;

            Caused a huge uproar in the US; Americans were told he was withdrawing troops even though he was

            expanding the war into Cambodia

Kent State and Jackson State protests- protestors were upset with the Cambodia bombings and protested

            on campuses across the country; several college students were killed when Nat. Guardsmen opened

            fire; guardsmen had been called in to restore order on the campuses

Pentagon Papers- classified documents stolen by Daniel Ellsberg from the Pentagon that contained top secret

            info about our early involvement in Vietnam; Nixon tried to stop the NY Times from publishing them

            but the Supreme Court sided with the Times right to “free press”

Plumbers- group formed in the Nixon White House to “stop leaks”; Nixon wanted to prevent another

            Pentagon Papers incident

26th amendment- changed the voting age from 21 to 18; Americans argued that if you could fight and die

            for your country then you should be able to vote (Vietnam)

Fall of Saigon-  communist in North Vietnam took control over South Vietnam

War Powers Act- passed by Congress over Nixon’s veto to “prevent another Vietnam”; limits the # of days

            soldiers can be deployed without a Congressional declaration of war


Nixon through George H.W. Bush:

Visits to China and USSR- Nixon made historic visits to both communist countries

Détente- relaxing of tensions b/t the US and USSR; when the situation b/t both improved

SALT treaties- Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties; signed by the US and USSR and limited the # of


Watergate- office bldg in Washington DC where the Democratic National Cmte had its headquarters; was

burglarized by the “plumbers” who were paid with funds to re-elect Nixon

Woodward and Bernstein- two Washington Post reporters that investigated the break-in and were

basically responsible for Nixon’s resignation

Nixon’s resignation- Nixon is the only president in our history to resign; did so in August of 1974

Pardon- to drop criminal charges against someone; Ford pardoned Nixon which ruined his chance in the next


Stagflation- new economic phenomenon that combined inflation with a recession and an increase in


OPEC- Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries; made up of middle eastern countries that control the world’s oil supply; they quadrupled oil prices in the 1970’s

Panama Canal Treaty of 1977- when Carter signed a treaty with Panama that stated the US would return the

            canal to them in 1999; we kept our promise

Carter’s pardon of draft dodgers- Carter hoped Americans who had dodged the draft would return to the

            US; he hoped to “heal” the wounds but only angered vets and those that lost loved ones

Hostages in Iran- Iranians took 52 Americans hostage in Tehran, Iran in retaliation for the US providing

medical care to the Shah of Iran; Carter was not able to free them but they were released

moments after Reagan was sworn in as president

Reaganomics/trickle down theory- theory that tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans would encourage them

            to reinvest their savings into their businesses, which would allow benefits to “trickle down” to

            average Americans in the form of jobs and/or better wages

Strategic Defense Initiative- “Star Wars”; Reagan spent billions on this project that hoped to protect

            the US in case of a nuclear attack; it never worked

Beirut, Lebanon- 241 American marines were killed by terrorists when a truck loaded with explosives rammed

            into marine barracks

Downfall of Communism- Berlin Wall falls in 1989 and Soviet bloc countries declare independence in 1991

Persian Gulf War- fought to keep Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

NAFTA- North American Free Trade Agreement signed by the US, Canada, and Mexico

Apartheid- racial segregation/white supremacy; apartheid ended in South Africa and Nelson Mandela was

released from prison