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Historical Glossary

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The president's cabinet consists of the heads of executive departments. The original cabinet consisted of the Departments of State, the Treasury, and War, plus the attorney general, but not the postmaster general. The kitchen cabinet emerged in the 1830s. An informal black cabinet evolved in the 1930s. The “inner cabinet” includes the four most influential department heads (of the Treasury, State, Justice, and Defense), who work most closely with the president. By 1993, the cabinet had grown to 14 departments.

Cabot, John

(b. Genoa[?], Italy, ca. 1455; d. in the north Atlantic, 1498)    Born Giovanni Caboto, Cabot established himself as a merchant-mariner in Bristol, England, about 1490. Commissioned by Henry VII to make a voyage of discovery for England, he left Bristol on 2 May 1497 and commanded the first European ship to reach the North American mainland. After sighting Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island on 24 June, he sailed to New England. England's territorial claims to North America derived from his discovery. In 1498 he was lost at sea on another transatlantic voyage.

Cabot, Sebastian

(b. Venice, Italy, ca. 1483; d. London, England, 1557)    Son of John Cabot, Sebastian may have joined his father's first voyage of 1497. In 1508–9, he made the earliest English voyage searching for the Northwest Passage. He entered Spain's service in 1512, but returned to England in 1548. He was Muscovy Company president (1553–7).

Cabrillo's explorations

On 27 June 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo began the first Spanish voyage along the Calif. coast and claimed the region for Spain. Cabrillo died on 3 January 1543, and Bartolomé Ferrelo continued exploring until March 1543, when he turned back near southern Oreg.
Caddoan languages.

Caddoan languages

This family of Indian languages was spoken by groups west of the Mississippi River from La. to Nebr. Its major subdivisions included the languages of the Pawnee-Arikara Indians, the Caddo, and Wichita Indians.

Cahuenga, treaty of (Calif.)

On 13 January 1847, John Frémont and Andres Pico signed a truce between US forces and Mexican loyalists. Frémont granted pardons to those fighting the US, promised to protect their property, and gave them the rights of US citizens. The treaty ended pro-Mexican resistance to US authority in Calif.

Calder v. Bull

In 1798 the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution's prohibition against ex post facto laws (Article I, Section 10) extended only to criminal     tatutes, and that states could enact civil statutes with retroactive provisions affecting property.

Calhoun Resolutions

Attacking the Wilmot Proviso, Senator John Calhoun introduced resolutions on 19 February 1847 to demand that territories be opened to slavery. He stated that as territories were the common property of all states, Congress must organize the west to give equal access to all citizens, including slaveowners who wished to move there with their bondsmen. To force masters moving west to abandon their slaves would violate Fifth Amendment guarantees against taking property without due process. To deny a territory's people the right to adopt slavery violated their right to self-determination; it also exceeded Congress's authority over the public domain, since the Constitution placed no condition for admitting states except that they have republican governments. Calhoun's position defined the South's argument on slavery in the territories until the Davis Resolutions.


Calif. had perhaps 150,000 Indians in 1500. In 1769 European settlement began with the first of 21 California missions. Mexicans founded Los Angeles in 1781. By 1800, the Spanish-speaking population numbered about 4,000 in three towns and four garrisons. Russians from Alaska placed a temporary colony at Fort Ross in 1812. When it passed to the US by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the Spanish-speaking population was about 8,000. By 1850, the California gold rush had increased its non-Indian population to over 100,000. It entered the Union on 9 September 1850 by the Compromise of 1850. In 1860 it ranked 26th among states, with 379,994 people, of whom 1 percent were black and 38 percent were foreign-born; it stood 26th in the value of its farmland and livestock and 7th in manufacturing and mining. Calif. furnished 15,725 USA troops in the Civil War.
In-migration remained heavy over the California Trail until 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed. The only significant Indian disturbance was the Mariposa War. Miners disrupted land resources needed by Indians for food, and infected remote groups with lethal diseases. Indians declined from 100,000 in 1845 to 15,377 in 1900. In 1900 Calif. was the 21st state in size, with 1,485,053 residents (91 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Indian, 1 percent black, 3 percent Chinese, and 1 percent Japanese), of whom 48 percent were rural and 25 percent foreign-born; it ranked 14th in agricultural goods and 12th in products manufactured or mined.
Heavy Chinese and Japanese immigration produced resentment among whites, who demanded federal reaction by the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Gentlemen's Agreements (see Japanese immigration), and (in World War II), Japanese relocation. In 1911 decades of political domination by railroad interests were swept aside by Progressive Era reformers led by Hiram Johnson, who left Republicans so politically dominant that no Democrat was elected governor until 1938. The Great Depression added perhaps 400,000 Okies to the state's population. Under the Bracero Program, large agriculturalists stimulated the beginning of a large Mexican immigration. About half of all boat people eventually came to Calif. The oil, aerospace, and entertainment industries fanned rapid population growth after 1900, and Calif. became the most populous state in 1964. In 1990 Calif. had 29,760,021 residents (57 percent white, 26 percent Hispanic, 7 percent black, 9 percent Asian, 1 percent Indian) of whom 96 percent were urban and 21.7 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing and mining employed 24 percent of workers.

California gold rush

On 24 January 1848, James Marshall found gold nuggets at Sutter's Fort on the American River. When James K. Polk mentioned the discovery in his farewell address in January 1849, he set off a stampede of Forty-niners. The gold country stretched 150 miles along the Sierra Nevada's western slope due east of San Francisco. Since so much gold lay as surface ore, rather than in underground veins, it was well suited for recovery by amateurs with no mining experience and limited capital. By 1855, when perhaps $200,000,000 in gold had been sifted, the rush had peaked. In the late 1850s, smaller gold deposits were found in northern Calif. and southwestern Oreg., and underground mining commenced. 

California missions

On 16 July 1769, European settlement of Calif. began with San Diego de Alcala's founding by Fr Junipero Serra. Spanish missionaries thereafter established San Carlos Boromeo on 3 June 1771, San Antonio de Padua on 14 July 1771, San Gabriel Arcangel (near Los Angeles) on 8 September 1771, San Luis Obispo de Tolosa on 1 September 1772, San Francis de Asis on 9 October 1776, San Juan Capistrano on 1 November 1776, Santa Clara de Asis on 12 January 1777, San Buenaventura on 31 March 1782, Santa Barbara on 4 December 1786, Purisma Concepcion on 8 December 1787, Santa Cruz on 28 August 1791, Nuestra Se–ora de la Soledad on 9 October 1791, San José de Guadaloupe on 11 June 1797, San Juan Bautista on 24 June 1797, San Miguel Arcangel on 25 July 1797, San Fernando Rey de Espana on 8 September 1797, San Luis Rey de Francia on 13 June 1798, Santa Inés, Virgin y Martyr on 17 September 1804, San Rafael Arcangel on 14 December 1817, and San Francisco Solano on 4 July 1823. The 21 missions converted 54,000 Indians (about 40 percent of all), but many epidemics resulted from European diseases and kept the mission population low. In 1834, when the missions contained 17,000 Indians, they were secularized by Mexico and became parish churches. 

California Trail

This trail departed from the Oregon Trail along the Snake River in southern Idaho near Fort Hall, followed the Humboldt River to its sink, and crossed the Sierras by the Truckee River. John Bartleson and John Bidwell's party blazed it in 1841. The first wagons reached Calif. via the trail in 1844. Large-scale migration began in 1846, when 200 wagons crossed to Calif. The trail was the site of the Donner party disaster.

California v. Southern Pacific Company

On 18 March 1895, the Supreme Court ruled (7–2) that original jurisdiction over suits brought by a state against its own residents belongs to that state's courts, and lies outside the federal judiciary's scope. The decision increased the difficulty of regulating trusts involved in interstate commerce.


Protestant sect founded by John Calvin. Emphasized a strong moral code andbelieved in predestination (the idea that God decided whether or not aperson would be saved as soon as they were born). Calvinists supportedconstitutional representative government and the separation of church andstate. 

Cambridge agreement (England)

On 26 August 1629, the shareholders of the Massachusetts Bay Company voted to be ready to emigrate to Mass. by the following March, provided that the company officers would agree to relocate the charter and corporate headquarters there. Anyone unwilling to emigrate would sell his shares. The company assented to the agreement on 29 August to make it more difficult for royal courts to revoke the charter by quo warranto proceedings.

Cambridge Platform of Church Discipline (Mass.)

 From 1646 to 1648, a synod of ministers led by John Cotton drafted this document as an ecclesiastical constitution outlining the basic elements and beliefs of Puritanism in Mass. It limited the autonomy of congregations by authorizing both state officials and religious synods to discipline wayward ministers and churches, but while civil officers might maintain proper religious order, only the church could pronounce on questions of doctrine. It continued the requirement for a profession of saving grace for full church membership (see Half-way Covenant). It provides the best example of Puritan orthodoxy among New England's first generation.

Camden, battle of

On 16 August 1780, Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis's 2,100 troops routed Major General Horatio Gates's 1,000 Continentals and 1,100 militia. US losses: 250 killed, 800 wounded, 800 captured. British losses: 68 killed, 256 wounded. Camden was the most complete US defeat in the Revolutionary War.


Camp Charlotte, treaty of (Ohio)

On 30 August 1774, the Shawnee Indians ended Dunmore's War by agreeing to give up their claims to Kentucky—in which they only hunted and did not live—to cease hunting there, and to allow whites to travel the Ohio River unmolested. Along with the treaty of Sycamore Shoals, the agreement enabled Anglo-Americans to establish the first settlements beyond the Appalachians.

Camp David accords (Md.)

From 6 to 17 September 1978, Jimmy Carter hosted a summit between Israeli and Egyptian leaders at which peace accords were negotiated that resulted in a formal peace treaty in March 1979. The summit was a giant step toward peace for the Middle East, and was largely due to Carter's personal diplomacy. Informed public opinion was shocked when the Nobel Prize Committee failed to recognize Carter with its peace prize.

Camp Grant massacre (Ariz.)

On 30 April 1871, six Anglo-Americans from Tucson joined 48 Mexicans and 94 Papago Indians in a daylight raid on 500 Apaches suspected of raids in the US and Mexico. The attack left 100 Apache Indians dead and 27 enslaved by the Papagos, but no casualties on the other side. Many of the attackers were tried for murder at Tucson in December, but all were acquitted.

Canadian Reciprocity Treaty

Because the exclusion of its goods from US markets had spawned sentiment in Canada that union with the US would have economic benefits, Britain moved to end incentives for US annexation by opening up Yankee markets to Canadian exports. On 5 June 1854, the US and Britain resolved disputes over fishing privileges left unspecified by the Convention of 1818, and exchanged reciprocal fishing rights for each other's citizens. US fishermen received access to the inlets south of the St Lawrence River, and Canadians could use US waters down to the 36th parallel. The treaty also placed many trade items, chiefly farm goods, on duty-free status. It was to remain valid for a decade, and was abrogated on 17 March 1866.

canal boom

Canal building began on a small scale during 1789–1800, when 61 corporations were chartered. In 1825, the Erie Canal's completion stimulated a major boom. Private investment (and to a lesser extent government subsidies) financed the highpoint of canal construction in the 1830s. By 1850, the US had 3,698 miles of canals, including 1,757 in N.Y. and Pa., 792 in Ohio, 214 in Ind., and 100 in Ill. The canal system's main corridor connected Hudson River with the Great Lakes, and the commerce along its axis made that region into the country's most populous section. Competition from railroads led to a steady decline in canal traffic from 1846 to 1860. The last great domestic canal endeavor was the St Lawrence Seaway.

Cane Ridge camp meeting (Ky.)

During August 1801, the greatest revival in US history occurred when Barton Stone and 17 other Presbyterian and Methodist clergymen held a camp meeting in Bourbon County. The ministers preached in seven-man shifts from wagon beds or tree stumps to crowds estimated at 10,000–20,000 (5–11 percent of the state's free population). The listeners demonstrated a wide range of emotional responses, including trances, trembling, uncontrolled jerking of limbs, weeping, the “holy laugh,” talking in tongues, barking, and an exercise known as “treeing the devil.” 

canon law

Ecclesiastical law, laws made by the church.

Cantwell v. Connecticut

On 20 May 1940, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause obliged state courts to uphold the First Amendment's guarantees of free exercise of religion. In a case involving the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Court denied states the authority to outlaw street preaching as a disturbance of the peace, so long as there was no “clear and present menace” to public order. It also struck down a state statute that forbade street preaching without a permit, because it gave the government arbitrary power to discriminate against unpopular religious groups. 

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