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Historical Glossary

There are 116 entries in this glossary.
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Advice and Consent

Article II provides that Presidents may nominate judges and high-level executive branch officers and negotiate treaties with the "Advice and Consent of the Senate." The Constitution is clear about what constitutes "consent" (it requires a majority of the Senate to approve a nominee and two- thirds of the Senate to consent to a treaty) but ambiguous on "advice," leading to frequent quarrels with Presidents who acted without consulting with the Senate. The House plays no role in the advice and consent process. Under the Constitution, presidential nominations for executive and judicial posts take effect only when confirmed by the Senate, and international treaties become effective only when the Senate approves them by a two-thirds vote.

affirmative action

This concept originated as a means of eliminating racial prejudice in hiring to comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) either voluntarily or in consequence of a lawsuit. By providing compensatory advantages to disadvantaged minorities or fixing specific goals to hire nonwhites, affirmative action plans sparked complaints that they inflicted reverse discrimination upon whites by hiring according to racial quotas regardless of personal merit. The Supreme Court ruled on this issue in Regents of University of California v.  Bakke, United Steelworkers of America et al. v. Weber, and  Wygant v.  Jackson Board of Education.

African Methodist Episcopal church

This denomination originated in a dispute over segregated seating arrangements at Philadelphia's St George Methodist church. Richard Allen led his fellow blacks out of the congregation in protest and formed the Free African Society. Allen founded the Bethel church and was ordained the first black Methodist deacon in 1793. In 1816 the Bethel church called a general conference of black Methodists, which founded the African Methodist Episcopal church, with Allen as bishop. By 1865, the church included 53,670 members and 2,613 clergy. In 1990 it had 6,200 churches and 2,210,000 members (1.5 percent of all churchgoers).

African Methodist Episcopal Zion church

 This denomination originated in 1796 when James Varick led black members of New York's John Street Methodist church to withdraw in protest at discriminatory treatment. In 1821 a conference representing six churches, 19 preachers, and 1,426 members organized the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church. Varick became the first bishop in 1822. By 1865 it had 30,600 members and 661 clergy. In 1990 it had 6,060 congregations and 1,220,260 members.

Agency for International Development (AID)

The Foreign Assistance Act (4 September 1961) established AID to supervise US foreign assistance programs for economic development, Food for Peace, and direct relief for famines or other disasters. It has four divisions, for Latin America, the Far East, the Near East and South Asia, and Africa and Europe. It was part of the State Department until 1979, when it was transferred to the US International Development Cooperation Agency.