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Historical Glossary

There are 80 entries in this glossary.
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Dakota Indians

This name is the preferred title used by the group commonly called Sioux Indians. 

Dartmouth College [Trustees of] v. Woodward

On 2 February 1819, the Supreme Court overruled (5–1) a N.H. law revoking Dartmouth's 1769 charter to transform the school from a private to a public college. The Court held that corporation charters were contracts enjoying constitutional protection, and thus were inviolable. The decision forbade state interference with charters of existing corporations, but most states countered by granting subsequent charters that could be selectively amended by their legislatures in special cases. The Supreme Court further addressed this issue in Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge.


Davenport, John

(b. Coventry, England, 1597; d. Boston, Mass., March 1670)    When Davenport emigrated to Boston in 1637, he was esteemed one of New England's most learned Puritan ministers. He founded Quinnipiac in 1638 and was the principal organizer of New Haven Colony. Under his influence, New Haven based its legal code on Mosaic Law, which did not recognize inconveniences to righteous justice like jury trials. 

Davis Resolutions

On 2 February 1860, Jefferson Davis introduced resolutions into the Senate for congressional action to protect slavery. To implement Abelman v. Booth, Congress would forbid legislatures from frustrating enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law (1850). To prevent the Freeport Doctrine from undermining Dred Scott v. Sandford, Congress would forbid territorial citizens from outlawing slavery before ratifying a state constitution, and also would enact a federal slave code for all territories. To protect slavery from abolitionism, Congress would declare interference with state laws protecting slavery to be unconstitutional. Adopted by the Senate on 24 May, but not the House, these positions split the northern and southern wings of the Democratic party. When the 1860 Democratic convention would not endorse the resolutions, southern delegates left and nominated John Breckinridge as their candidate. 

Davis, Jefferson

(b. Todd County, Ky., 3 June 1808; d. New Orleans, La., 6 December 1889)    Raised in Miss., Davis graduated from West Point in 1828, served in the Black Hawk War, was wounded at Buena Vista in the Mexican War, and was offered the rank of brigadier general, but returned to his Miss. plantation. As Miss. senator, he opposed the Compromise of 1850. He was secretary of war (1853–7); then again as senator he offered the Davis Resolutions. He left Congress after the secession of Miss. on 21 January 1861. He was inaugurated as the Confederacy's president on 18 February 1861. His administration was crippled by a lack of cooperation from state governors and squabbling within Congress, neither of which Davis had the political skills to solve nor the executive authority to surmount. He convened his last cabinet session on 24 April 1865, was captured at Irwinville, Ga., on 10 May, indicted for treason in 1867, and released from Fort Monroe, Va., in 1867 without being tried. He spent his last years writing The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Davis has been criticized unduly for the Confederacy's defeat, which largely stemmed from its decentralized structure, its parochial governors, and the north's numerical advantage.