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Historical Glossary

There are 95 entries in this glossary.
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East Florida

Acquired by Britain by the Seven Years' War, East Florida became a royal colony, bounded by Ga. and the Apalachicola River. From 1763 to 1771, it received 300 American or British settlers. Another 1,300 immigrants from Greece or Italy founded New Smyrna in 1768, most of whom died of swamp fevers. Spain regained it by the Treaty of Paris (1783), and re-designated its western border as the Perdido River. It was the site of the first Seminole War, which led to its cession by the Adams–Onis Treaty. 

East Jersey

On 4 July 1664, anticipating the conquest of New Netherland, Charles II granted modern N.J. to John Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. After Berkeley sold his proprietary rights in 1674, Carteret received title to East Jersey. Frustrated by problems of governing and collecting quitrents from the settlers, Carteret's heirs sold his title to the proprietors of East Jersey on 1 February 1681. The proprietors stirred widespread resentment by challenging the validity of the settlers' land titles, and their authority crumbled when rioting convulsed the colony in 1698–1701. They surrendered East Jersey to the Crown on 15 April 1702. 

Eastern Solomons, battle of the

On 24–5 August 1942, Vice Admiral Frank Fletcher's task force (2 battleships, 5 cruisers, 8 destroyers) intercepted Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's convoy (3 carriers, 2 battleships, 1 cruiser, 7 destroyers) ferrying Japanese troops to Guadalcanal. The battle gave the US daytime control of local sealanes, but left the Japanese dominant in night operations. US losses: 20 planes. Japanese losses: 1 carrier, 1 cruiser, 1 destroyer, 1 troop transport, 60 planes. 

Eastman, George

(b. Waterville, N.Y., 12 July 1854; d. Rochester, N.Y., 14 March 1932)    He matured in Rochester, where he began experimenting with photography in the 1870s. In 1884, he revolutionized photography, which still depended on making prints from hard plates, by patenting a flexible film that could be loaded as a roll inside a camera, which he called a Kodak. In 1891 he discovered how to shield film with black paper so that a camera could be loaded during daylight, and the next year he renamed his firm the Eastman Kodak Co. Eastman's innovations enabled the US to dominate the industry, and his ongoing program of advanced research allowed Americans to set international standards for technical excellence. He adopted enlightened labor policies and gave away $100,000,000 to worthy causes, especially higher education. 

Eaton [,Peggy,] Affair

n 1829 Andrew Jackson's administration became polarized when the wives of his cabinet, led by Mrs John Calhoun, snubbed Peggy O'Neale Eaton, wife of Secretary of War John Eaton. Peggy was considered unfit company because of rumors that her previous husband had committed suicide on account of an adulterous affair between her and Eaton. Jackson sympathized with Peggy and took her side, and so this minor disagreement played a major role in alienating him from Calhoun and improving his relationship with Secretary of State Martin van Buren, who was a bachelor and showed much solicitude toward Mrs Eaton. Jackson reorganized his cabinet in April 1831. 

Economic Recovery Tax Act

(13 August 1981)    This law reversed a long upward drift in income tax es and marked the first major cut enacted since John F. Kennedy's administration. Proposed by Ronald Reagan, it was the largest tax cut in US history ($750 billion through 1987) and lowered individual rates by 25 percent over three years. It reduced the top marginal rate from 70 percent to 50 percent and cut the long-term capital gains levy from 28 percent to 20 percent. Largely due to efforts by Senator Robert Dole, the law required tax brackets to be indexed by the inflation rate so that taxpayers would not be subjected to higher rates while their real incomes remained constant. (Indexing became effective in 1985, and saved taxpayers approximately $100 billion in its first decade.) Further tax reductions came under the Tax Reform Act (1986). 

Economy Act (20 March 1933)

This law was designed to fulfill Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign pledge to eliminate wasteful federal expenditures. It was projected to cut $500,000,000 from the budget by salary reductions (including 15 percent from congressmen, senators, the vice-president, and president), eliminating various veterans' allowances, and reorganizing the bureaucracy, but the actual amount saved was only $243,000,000. The savings were eliminated in 1934 by the Independent Offices Appropriations Act. 

Edison, Thomas Alva

(b. Milan, Ohio, 11 February 1847; d. West Orange, N.J., 18 October 1931)    Despite having just three months' formal education, Edison became the foremost US research scientist after an itinerant existence as a telegrapher. In 1870 he reaped a windfall profit when he and a partner sold an electric stock-ticker, and then opened a laboratory at Newark, N.J. In 1876 he built a major research facility at Menlo Park (moved in 1887 to larger quarters at Orange); in 1878 he formed the Edison Electric Light Co., which evolved into the General Electric Co. Edison filed over 1,000 patents, including the phonograph, the first incandescent lamp to be commercially viable, the vitaphone moving-picture projector, alkaline storage batteries, dictaphone, mimeograph, and an electric railroad train. He was the key scientist to pioneer the use of electricity as the basic source of illumination. His laboratories made the US the leading center for electronics research. Edison's success revolutionized business attitudes toward research, and produced near universal recognition that any major manufacturer must build a laboratory to remain technologically competitive. 

Edison, Thomas Alva

(b. Milan, Ohio, 11 February 1847; d. West Orange, N.J., 18 October 1931)    Despite having just three months' formal education, Edison became the foremost US research scientist after an itinerant existence as a telegrapher. In 1870 he reaped a windfall profit when he and a partner sold an electric stock-ticker, and then opened a laboratory at Newark, N.J. In 1876 he built a major research facility at Menlo Park (moved in 1887 to larger quarters at Orange); in 1878 he formed the Edison Electric Light Co., which evolved into the General Electric Co. Edison filed over 1,000 patents, including the phonograph, the first incandescent lamp to be commercially viable, the vitaphone moving-picture projector, alkaline storage batteries, dictaphone, mimeograph, and an electric railroad train. He was the key scientist to pioneer the use of electricity as the basic source of illumination. His laboratories made the US the leading center for electronics research. Edison's success revolutionized business attitudes toward research, and produced near universal recognition that any major manufacturer must build a laboratory to remain technologically competitive. 

education, public

Beginning with the Old Deluder Act, New England created the first compulsory system of primary education. Only eight of the first 16 states included provisions concerning schools in their constitutions. The Northwest Ordinance promoted the expansion of public schools by reserving one section of each township for their support.
The struggle for free public schools with mandatory attendance laws and professional teachers was pioneered by Mass. after 1827 under Horace Mann's leadership. Boston established the first high school in 1821, and in 1827 Mass. required every town of 500 families to maintain a high school. Free public education did not become universal until well after 1871. Kindergartens first appeared between 1855 and 1860. John Dewey was most influential in stimulating the movement for progressive educational reform.
Higher education began with the founding of Harvard (1636) and continued with William and Mary (1693); by 1776 nine colleges were founded in the colonies. Ga. chartered the first state university (1785), and five state universities existed by 1819. By 1860 there were just 17 state universities, compared with 229 private colleges. The Morrill Act helped expand higher education by awarding land grants for state universities. The federal government later made major contributions to collegiate education through the GI Bill of Rights, National Defense Education Act, second GI Bill, the Higher Education acts (1965 and 1967), and Department of Education. 

Edwards v. Arizona

On 18 May 1981, the Supreme Court extended Miranda v. Arizona by unanimously ruling that a suspect under arrest, after being told of his “Miranda rights,” may demand that all interrogation cease until his lawyer arrives, and the police must honor his request. 

Edwards v. California

On 24 November 1941, the Supreme Court judged a law intended to hinder migration by Okies from the dust bowl by penalties on persons bringing indigent persons to live in Calif.; it unanimously ruled that the law obstructed interstate commerce. The Court later extended Edwards's right to travel via interstate commerce in Shapiro v. Thompson. 

Edwards, Jonathan

(b. East Windsor, Conn., 5 October 1703; d. Princeton, N.J., 22 March 1758)    In 1720 Edwards graduated from Yale. He ministered to a Presbyterian congregation at New York (1722–3), and preached at the Northampton, Mass., Congregational church after 1727. In 1735 he cultivated a revival at Northampton that foreshadowed the Great Awakening. In 1741 he delivered the most famous sermon ever preached in America: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Edwards was early America's most profound theologian, and examined from a Calvinist perspective fundamental questions about the nature of spiritual development, the will's moral autonomy, God's omnipotence, and the relationship between reason and religious experience in spiritual rebirth. His writings are notable for the metaphysical dimension added by his understanding of Enlightenment concepts and Newtonian physics. His most important work was Of Freedom of the Will (1754). He became missionary to the Stockbridge Mahican Indians after 1750 and president of Princeton in 1757. 

Eighteenth Amendment

Submitted to the states on 18 December 1917, last ratified on 16 January 1919, and officially proclaimed on 29 January 1919, it imposed a Prohibition on the sale or transportation of spirituous liquors a year after its ratification. When ratified, 26 states had imposed prohibition, 19 permitted prohibition by local option, and only three had no anti-liquor laws. The Volstead and Jones acts enforced it. The Twenty-first Amendment repealed it. 

Eighth Amendment

Submitted to the states on 25 September 1789, last ratified on 15 December 1791 by Va., and officially proclaimed on 30 December 1791, it prohibited excessive bail and it forbade judges from imposing excessive fines and cruel or unusual punishments. Its protections were extended to state court proceedings by Robinson v. California. The Supreme Court's first major ruling on the death penalty was Furman v. Georgia. 

Eisenhower Doctrine

On 5 January 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged US military assistance to any Middle East nation that was invaded and incapable of repelling aggression with its own forces. On 7 March, Congress voted $200,000,000 for economic and military aid to the Middle East. In 1958, when Syria and Egypt menaced Lebanon, US intervention was taken under this doctrine. 

Eisenhower, Dwight David

(b. Denison, Tex., 14 October 1890; d. Washington, D.C., 28 March 1969) In 1915 Eisenhower graduated from West Point into the infantry. After spending World War I in the US, he remained a major for 16 years, but after reaching lieutenant colonel in March 1941, he rose to full general by February 1943. In World War II, he commanded US forces in the Mediterranean theater, and was named supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Western Europe on 31 December 1943 as general of the army. On 7 May 1945, he accepted Germany's surrender and returned to the US as army chief of staff. He was president of Columbia University (1948–53), but took leave of absence to organize NATO forces in Europe as supreme commander (December 1950–June 1952). He was elected Republican president in 1952 (taking 55.1 percent of the vote and 39 states) and 1956 (taking 57.6 percent of the vote and 41 states). His implied threat to use nuclear weapons hastened the end of the Korean War. His foreign policy was shaped by John F. Dulles. The Lebanon intervention implemented his Eisenhower Doctrine. In September 1957, he sent US troops to quell the Little Rock desegregation violence. The U- 2 affair ended his hopes for a US–Soviet summit meeting in 1960. He retired to Gettysburg, Pa. 

El Brazito, battle of (Tex.)

On 25 December 1846, Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan's First Missouri Regiment (850 men) defeated Colonel Ponce de Leon's 1,200 Mexicans. US losses: 7 wounded. Mexican losses: 43 killed, 60 wounded. Victory enabled Doniphan to occupy El Paso on 27 December. 

El Caney, battle of (Cuba)

On 1 July 1898, Brigadier General Henry Lawton's 5,400 troops captured the town overlooking Santiago from 520 Spaniards. US losses: 81 killed, 360 wounded. Spanish losses: 235 killed and wounded, 120 captured. Combined with San Juan Hill's capture, El Caney allowed US artillery to shell the enemy fleet, which was then forced into the battle of Santiago Bay. 

elastic clause

The Constitution's “elastic clause” (Article I, Section 8) grants Congress the power to “make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any other Department or Officer thereof.” This clause is the principal foundation for the theory of loose constructionism. 

Electoral college

The Constitution (Article II, Section 1) directed that the president and vice-president be chosen by a “number of electors” from each state equal to its representatives and senators in Congress. Since no party system then existed, it was assumed that few individuals (after George Washington) would receive a majority because the electors would divide among too many favorite sons. The college was accordingly expected to serve as a de facto nominating caucus that would winnow the number of potential candidates to three, from whom the House of Representatives would make the final choice. The Twelth Amendment modified the college's balloting system.
The electoral college evolved to reflect public opinion without other amendments because it was organized under state law. By 1800, five of the 15 states chose electors by popular balloting rather than by the state legislature, and by 1828 all did so except Del. and S.C. Legislatures also mandated that all electors be awarded to whomever won a majority or plurality of ballots. This innovation ended the need for Congress to choose presidents after John Q. Adams, by enabling candidates with a plurality of the popular vote to win a majority of electoral ballots in 1844, 1848, 1856, 1860, 1880, 1884, 1892, 1912, 1916, 1948, 1960, 1968, and 1992, but allowed candidates with less than a plurality to win in 1876 (see Electoral Count Act) and 1888. The District of Columbia was allowed to cast three electoral ballots in 1964. The Supreme Court has ruled that electors may vote contrary to a state's popular returns, as has been done in 1948 and all elections from 1956 to 1976 except for 1964. 

Electoral Count Act (3 February 1887)

To avoid future repetition of the partisan methods used by Congress to deny Samuel Tilden a fair determination of electoral votes in 1876, this law gave each state sole authority to certify which presidential candidate took its electoral votes, according to the state's election statutes. If a state cannot certify a victor, or has done so improperly, both houses of Congress must agree on who has carried the state. If neither the state government nor Congress can agree on who won, then the governor shall decide who should receive the electors. 

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (11 April 1965)

This law marked the first instance of Congress appropriating money to aid elementary and secondary schools; it was the most far-reaching federal education law in US history. (The first bill for federal funding of general education was submitted to Congress in 1881.) This innovation of the Great Society provided $1,300,000,000 to aid schools in low-income school districts (including parochial schools), to improve libraries, to establish community education centers, and to fund programs by state education departments. 

Eleventh Amendment

Drafted to reverse Chisholm v. Georgia, submitted to the states on 5 March 1794, adopted after ratification of Ky. was certified on 4 December 1797, and officially proclaimed on 8 January 1798, it exempted state governments from being sued, without their consent, in federal courts by citizens of other states or of foreign countries. The Supreme Court clarified its scope in Osborn v. Bank of the United States and United States v. Texas. 

Eliot, John

(b. Widford, England, ca. 5 August 1604; d. Roxbury, Mass., 21 May 1690) The most successful Puritan missionary, Eliot began preaching to Indians in 1646. He translated the Bible into the local Algonquian language (1653–63) and was responsible for the establishment of most praying towns. 

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