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Historical Glossary

There are 96 entries in this glossary.
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Gadsden Purchase

On 30 December 1853, James Gadsden obtained Mexican assent for the sale to the US of 29,640 square miles south of the Gila River in Ariz. and N.Mex., at a price of $15,000,000. The US wanted the area as a route for a transcontinental railroad, but northern opposition to this southern route blocked ratification by the Senate until 29 June 1854. The US reduced the price to $10,000,000, which Mexico accepted because its treasury was bankrupt. 

Gadsen Purchase

1853 - After the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgowas signed, the U.S. realizedthat it had accidentally left portions of the southwestern stage coach routes to California as part of Mexico. James Gadsen, the U.S. Minister to Mexico, was instructed by President Pierce to draw up a treaty that would provide for the
purchase of the territory through which the stage lines ran, along which the U.S. hoped to also eventually build a southern continental railroad. This territory makes up the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico.
 

Gag Rule

On 26 May 1836, the House of Representatives resolved (117–68) to table all petitions concerning abolitionism without entering them in its journal or referring them to any committee. It also resolved that Congress had no power to interfere with slavery where it was lawful (182–9) and that it would be inappropriate to interfere with slavery in the District of Columbia (132–45). (The Senate simultaneously adopted this practice, but without a formal vote.) Despite its infringement of First Amendment rights, the Gag Rule was renewed at every session until rescinded on 3 December 1844. 

Gage, Thomas

(b. Firle, Sussex, England, ca. 1721; d. Portland, England, 2 April 1787) In 1740 Gage entered the Royal Army. In the Seven Years' War, he was wounded at Braddock's Defeat and Fort Ticonderoga (1758). He raised a royal regiment of American colonists (the 80th), married a N.J. girl in 1758, and was noted for his pro-American sympathies throughout his career. He directed operations in Pontiac's War and was commander in chief of British forces in North America after 1763, with headquarters at New York City, before returning to England in 1773. He was reappointed commander in chief in America, and made Mass. governor in April 1774. He showed little vigor in suppressing rebellion after Lexington and Concord, was replaced by William Howe in October 1775, and saw no more action. 

Galloway Plan of Union

At the first Continental Congress, Joseph Galloway drafted this constitutional compromise to protect the political rights of the thirteen colonies in the British Empire. He proposed the creation of a Grand Council, to which all colonies would elect delegates every three years, and a governor general, who would be appointed by the crown as its executive representative. The Grand Council could legislate on matters concerning more than one colony, but its ordinances would require Parliament's approval to be lawful (save in wartime); it would likewise possess a veto over any parliamentary statutes concerning North America. Congress rejected the plan of union on 28 September 1774 by a vote of 6–5. 

Galloway, Joseph

(b. Anne Arundel County, Md., ca. 1731; d. Watford, England, 29 August 1803)    He was a Philadelphia lawyer who sat in the Pa. assembly (1756–76, except for 1764–6), allied with Benjamin Franklin to change Pa. from a proprietary to a royal colony, and was speaker of the Pa. assembly (1766–76). One of the few colonials to support the Stamp Act and American representation in Parliament, he proposed the Galloway Plan of Union. He became a Tory in the Revolution (see Tories), was British administrator of Philadelphia (1777–8), and in 1779 went into lifetime exile. 

Garfield, James Abram

(b. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, 19 November 1831; d. Elberon, N.J., 19 September 1881)    He rose from humble origins to become a lawyer, college president, and Ohio state senator. In the Civil War, he rose to USA major general before becoming a Republican congressman in 1863. Although tarnished by the Credit Mobilier scandal, he displaced James G. Blaine as the leading Republican contender for president in 1880. He won the presidency with 48.5 percent of the popular vote, a margin of just 39,213 ballots. His assassination by Charles J. Guiteau, who was embittered at not having received a political patronage job, sparked the Pendleton Act's passage. 

Garner v. Board of Public Works

On 4 June 1951, the Supreme Court ruled (5–4) that civil servants can be made to take loyalty oaths as a condition of employment without violating due process or enacting an ex post facto law or bill of attainder. 

Garrison, William Lloyd

(b. Newburyport, Mass., 10 December 1805; d. New York, N.Y., 24 May 1879)    Apprenticed at the age of 13 to the Newburyport Herald's editor, Garrison founded his own paper in 1826 and moved to Boston in 1828 when it failed. On 1 January 1831, he founded the  Liberator and began his crusade for abolitionism. He helped found the New England Antislavery Society in 1831 and the American Antislavery Society in 1835. On 21 October 1835, a proslavery mob attacked and beat him severely. He advocated that northern states leave the Union rather than have any complicity in slavery's preservation, and in 1854 he burned a copy of the Constitution on Independence Day. He only gave whole-hearted support to the Union war effort after the Emancipation Proclamation. His fanatical antislavery beliefs coexisted with a condescending attitude toward African-Americans, and he closed the Liberator upon the Thirteenth Amendment's ratification in 1865 rather than continue the struggle for racial justice by fighting to win full civil rights for blacks. 

Gaspee, HMS, incident

Operating under the American Board of Customs Act, Lieutenant William Dudingston's revenue schooner Gaspee had aroused widespread hatred in Narragansett Bay by improperly seizing cargoes for technical violations of the navigation acts and the Sugar Act, abusive behavior toward mariners, and various trespasses and thefts on land. After the ship ran aground near Providence on 9 June 1772, eight boatloads of local men boarded it, wounded Dudingston, removed the crew, and burned it to the waterline. Efforts by the British government to identify the perpetrators were futile. 

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

On 30 October 1947, at Geneva, 28 countries negotiated the GATT Treaty (effective from 1 June 1948) to stimulate the postwar economy by reviving international trade. By 1951, GATT had sponsored three rounds of tariff reductions that cut average US import duties from over 50 percent to about 15 percent. The Kennedy round (1962–7) accomplished especially steep cuts. Since then, four additional rounds of tariff reductions have been made, concluding with the Uruguay round, in which the 111 member nations replaced GATT with the World Trade Organization. 

General Court

The Massachusetts Bay Company charter allowed its overseas freemen to govern themselves by an elective assembly termed the General Court. The first General Court met in 1630. In 1634 every town received the option of electing two delegates, provided they paid for their expenses. In 1644 the General Court became a bicameral legislature, divided between a House of Representatives (lower chamber) and Court of Assistants (upper chamber). The term General Court was no longer used after the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution. 

Geofroy v. Riggs

On 3 February 1890, the Supreme Court declared unanimously that the US could negotiate a treaty interfering with the property rights of aliens who stood to inherit land or other possessions; it held that the government's power to ratify treaties was limited by no constraints other than those mentioned explicitly in the Constitution. The Court extended this ruling's scope even further in Missouri v. Holland. 

George I

(b. Osnabrück, Hanover, 28 March 1660; d. Osnabrück, Hanover, 11 June 1727) He ascended the throne in 1714, established the Hanover dynasty, and secured a Protestant succession for the Crown. He took little interest in his American colonies. 

George II

(b. Herrenhausen Castle, Hanover, 10 November 1683; d. Kensington Palace, Middlesex, England, 25 October 1760) He ascended the throne on 11 June 1727. During his reign were fought the wars of Jenkins' Ear and of the Austrian Succession (known in the colonies as King George's War). Georgia was named after him. He showed little interest in policies concerning the thirteen colonies. 

George III

(b. Norfolk House, Westminster, England, 4 June 1738; d. Windsor Castle, England, 29 January 1820)    He ascended the throne on 25 October 1760. Because his position as a constitutional monarch masked his support for Parliamentary taxation of the colonies, George III remained popular there until he began taking concrete actions such as refusing to accept the olive branch petition and proclaiming on 23 August 1775 that New England was in a state of rebellion. Not until Thomas Paine's Common Sense swayed most Americans to view him as a “royal brute,” however, were the last ties of loyalty to the Crown dissolved and the final emotional barrier to independence removed. 

George, Henry

(b. Philadelphia, Pa., 2 September 1839; d. New York, N.Y., 29 October 1897)    He ran away to sea at 13, mined for gold in the west, and became a journalist. In 1879 he published Progress and Poverty, which appeared in over 100 editions and may have been read by 6,000,000 persons worldwide through 1906. George blamed poverty on uneven division of land in the US. He proposed redressing the maldistribution of wealth by levying a single tax on land to offset the historic rise in real estate prices. He believed this solution would not only prevent wealth from being concentrated among a small elite, but also would promote upward mobility among the poor, who would not see their incomes siphoned off by excise, poll, or income taxes. George's book spawned a wave of single-tax societies throughout the US, but its most lasting impact was to persuade the Progressive Era's intellectuals that government action was needed to keep the rich from getting richer. 

Georgia

On 20 June 1732, George II issued a charter to 21 trustees, who were responsible for overseeing the colony of Ga. for 21 years. On 12 February 1733, James Oglethorpe founded Savannah. The trustees planned to populate Ga. with parolees from British debtors' prisons and Protestant refugees from continental Europe, and also to create a large silk industry (without slavery), but the colony languished under their direction. Ga. was a major battleground in the war of Jenkins' Ear. It became a royal colony on 4 July 1752, when it had about 5,500 residents. Initially limited to 1,800 square miles bought from the Creek Indians between 1733 and 1743, the area open to settlement grew by another 8,700 square miles during 1763–73 to include about 18 percent of modern Ga. After the legalization of slavery in 1750, Ga. became a major center of rice production and by 1775 its population was 33,000, including 15,000 slaves.
In the Revolutionary War, it was badly divided between Whigs and Tories. It furnished one of the 80 Continental regiments and was the site of 60 military actions. The British captured Savannah in 1778 and occupied much of the state until 1782. Frontier expansion was slow because of opposition by the Creeks, especially under Alexander McGillivray, but accelerated after 1800, when Creeks and Cherokee Indians sold large tracts. The final removal of Cherokees came in 1838–9. After the cotton gin's invention, cotton quickly displaced rice as the main export staple.
It was the 11th largest state in 1860 and had 1,057,286 people, of whom 44 percent were slaves and less than 1 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 13th among states in the value of its farmland and livestock and 20th in manufactures. Ga. became the fifth CSA state on 19 January 1861. In the Civil War, it furnished 120,000 CSA troops and 3,486 USA soldiers (all black). It was the site of 549 military actions. After the battles for Atlanta, the March to the Sea devastated Ga.
In July 1865, Andrew Johnson instituted a provisional civilian government, which abolished slavery, but denied freedmen political rights and enacted a black code (see black codes). Washington imposed military rule on 2 March 1867, but restored congressional representation and self-government on 15 July 1870. Republican control ended a year later on 1 November 1871. Ga. disfranchised most blacks in 1908, and legislated a thorough system of racial segregation.
In 1900 it was the 11th largest state and had 2,216,331 people, of whom 84 percent were rural, 47 percent were black, and 1 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 17th among states in the value of its agricultural goods and 26th in manufactures. From 1920 to 1970, it lost 1,102,000 residents, mostly blacks moving to northern cities, and its racial composition shifted greatly. Despite widespread opposition to the civil rights movement, especially during the administration of Governor Lester Maddox (1967–71), it was the first deep-south state to integrate its schools peacefully, and made important progress in improving race relations after 1971 under Governor Jimmy Carter. Ga. ranked as the 11th largest state in 1990, when its population was 6,478,216 (70 percent white, 27 percent black, 2 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian), of whom 65 percent were urban and 2.7 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing and mining employed 26 percent of the work force. 

Georgia Platform

On 10 December 1850, at Milledgeville, a Ga. convention passed resolutions criticizing the Compromise of 1850, and hinting that secession would be justified if Congress ever weakened the second Fugitive Slave Act, abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, or interfered with the interstate slave trade. 

Gerende v. Board of Supervisors of Elections

In 1951 the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Md. statute making anyone ineligible for public employment who belonged to a “subversive” organization, which the Court defined as any group actively engaged in trying to overthrow the government forcefully or violently. 

German immigration

The arrival of 84,500 Pennsylvania Dutch by 1775 marked the beginning of German immigration. By 1790, 9 percent of all whites were German in background, and by 1820 the German stock probably numbered 700,000 persons. German immigration became heavy in the 1850s, when 976,072 came. Of the 5,010,248 Germans who immigrated by 1900, 78 percent came during the four decades after 1850. Germany provided 26 percent of all immigrants from 1820 to 1900, but only 4.0 percent of alien arrivals were German in the period 1900–19 and just 2.7 percent in 1910–19. Over 2,000,000 Germans nevertheless came to the US after 1900, of whom a quarter arrived in the 1950s. By 1991, 7,094,352 Germans had immigrated to the US, more than any other nation, and 12.1 percent of all legal arrivals. The 1990 census reported 45,555,748 persons who described their primary ethnic identity as German, more than any other group, and 23 percent of all whites. 

Germantown, battle of (Pa.)

On 4 October 1777, General William Howe's 9,000 troops repulsed attacks by Washington's 8,000 Continentals and 3,000 militia. US losses: 152 killed, 500 wounded, 438 captured. British losses: 537 killed and wounded, 14 captured. The defeat left Philadelphia firmly in British control, and the Continental army went into winter quarters at Valley Forge. 

Geronimo

(b. along the upper Gila River, Ariz., June 1829; d. Fort Sill, Okla., 17 February 1909)    After Mexican soldiers killed his mother, wife, and children, Geronimo ruthlessly raided south of the Rio Grande border. In 1877 the US arrested him and resettled his band on the San Carlos, Ariz., reservation, from which they escaped in 1881 and began raiding the US and Mexico. With his band of 50 warriors and their families, Geronimo eluded 5,000 US and 4,000 Mexican troops until 1886, when he ended the Apache Campaigns by becoming the last Indian leader to surrender formally to the US. He was barred from returning to Ariz. and technically remained a prisoner of war until his death, but became a celebrity touring large eastern exhibitions and drew large crowds who bought his pictures and souvenirs.

 

Gerry, Elbridge

(b. Marblehead, Mass., 17 July 1749; d. Washington, D.C., 23 November 1814)    A Harvard man (1762), Gerry signed the Declaration of Independence, served in Congress (1776–85), and sat in Congress (1789–93). He was a merchant who became Democratic governor of Mass. (1810–12) and US vice-president (1813–14). He is chiefly remembered for the Gerrymander. 

Gerrymander

 In 1811 Mass. governor Elbridge Gerry signed the first redistricting law that deliberately redrew boundaries to one party's advantage, rather than establishing boundaries that were compact and followed natural borders. Because the most unusually shaped of Gerry's new districts resembled a salamander, this scheme was lampooned as a gerrymander. Gerrymandering (in various degrees) was a common tactic used to give all major parties an electoral advantage, but was increasingly curbed by the Supreme Court in the 20th century. Under the Voting Rights Act, congressional districts have been Gerrymandered to enhance the chances of minority candidates being elected to Congress. 

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