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Historical Glossary

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The US acquired Idaho by the Louisiana Purchase. In 1834 the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. built the first US outpost beyond the Continental Divide at Fort Hall (abandoned 1856). In 1860 Mormons began settling Idaho. A gold rush attracting up to 30,000 miners broke out in 1861 along the Snake River, and Idaho Territory was created out of Wash. on 4 March 1863. In 1870 it had 14,999 residents. The Northern Paiute, Nez Perce, and Sheepeater campaigns took place in Idaho. Rapid development came after Idaho was entered by railroads in 1880 and the Coeur d'Alene silver boom began in 1884. It became the 43rd state on 3 July 1890. In 1900 Idaho had 161,772 residents (95 percent white, 3 percent Indian, 1 percent Chinese, 1 percent Japanese), of whom 94 percent were rural and 15 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 46th among the states in population, 43rd in the value of agricultural goods, and 49th in manufactures. The Carey and National Reclamation acts fostered large-scale agricultural development by irrigation. Food processing, tourism, and urban growth diversified the economy after 1945. In 1990 Idaho was the 42nd largest state and had 1,006,749 inhabitants (approx. 92 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Indian, 1 percent Asian), of whom 20 percent were urban and 2.9 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing employed 15 percent of the work force and mining 7 percent. 


In December 1674, Fr Jacques Marquette founded a mission at modern Chicago, France's first outpost in Ill. In 1680 the Sieur de La Salle began building the first of several forts for the fur trade in northern Ill. French settlers founded towns at Cahokia in 1698 and Kaskaskia in 1709. On 27 September 1717, Ill. was established as a district of Louisiana. The treaty of Paris (1763) gave Ill. to Britain, and George Rogers Clark conquered it for the US, but de facto control lapsed to the British from 1784 to Jay's Treaty. A trickle of Anglo-Americans began settling southern Ill. after 1800 and it was made a territory on 9 February 1809. It became the 21st state on 3 December 1818 and had 55,211 residents in 1820. Its only major Indian disturbance was the brief Black Hawk War.
Its population grew by 1,442 percent from 1820 to 1850, and then doubled in the 1850s. In 1860 it had 1,711,951 inhabitants, of whom over 99 percent were white and 19 percent were of foreign birth; it ranked fourth among the states in the value of its farmland and livestock and eighth in manufactures. In the Civil War, it furnished 259,092 USA troops (including 1,811 blacks), but it contained numerous Copperheads.
Rapid growth around Chicago attracted heavy inmigration from other states or Europe and 733,300 new residents moved to Ill. between 1880 and 1910. By 1900, it was 46 percent rural and had 4,821,550 inhabitants, of whom 98 percent were white and 20 percent were foreign-born; it ranked third among the states in population, second in the value of its agricultural goods, and third in manufactures. Moderate growth since 1930 has reduced its ranking among states to sixth largest by 1990, when it had 11,430,602 residents (75 percent white, 15 percent black, 8 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian), of whom 83 percent were urban and 8.3 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing and mining employed 25 percent of all workers. 

Illinois Indians

The French originally called all Indians who traded furs with them in northern Ill. by this name. There may have been 10,500 Indians speaking Algonquian languages in Ill. in the 1660s, when contact was first made with French explorers. They welcomed French forts to carry on the fur trade, but were then attacked by the Iroquois Confederacy in the beaver wars during the period 1677–84. European epidemics and intertribal warfare steadily reduced the Illinois bands, until by 1768 observers of the Kaskaskias and Peorias and Mascoutens estimated just 1,100 warriors, indicating a total of about 5,000. These groups declined even further, leaving Ill. almost entirely vacant of Indians by 1810, and in the 1840s they agreed to accept a small reservation in Kans. 


Before 1700, over 90 percent of all immigrants to the present US were English or Welsh, of whom perhaps 10 percent had formerly resided in the West Indies. The first substantial wave of settlement was the Great Migration (1630–60), which brought nearly half that century's arrivals. An estimated 168,000 Europeans came during the 17th century: 120,000 to Va. and Md., 30,000 to New England, 10,000 to Pa. and N.J., 3,000 to S.C., 2,500 Dutch to N.Y., 2,000 Huguenots to N.Y., N.J., Va., and S.C., and 500 swedes to Del. This migration raised the English colonies' white population to 223,000 by 1700. The 17th century was the last period in which population growth resulted primarily from immigration rather than natural increase.
After 1700, only 20 percent of immigrants were English or Welsh, while Scotch-Irish, Irish, and Pennsylvania Dutch predominated. Between 1700 and 1775, 307,000 Europeans arrived: 73,000 English and Welsh, 84,400 Germans, 66,100 Ulster Scots, 42,500 Irish, 35,000 Scots, and 6,000 French or others. From 1780 to 1800, 161,000 more came: 107,000 Irish, 22,000 English, Welsh, or Scots, 14,000 Haitian colonists, 2,000 French, 14,000 Germans, and 2,000 others. By 1800, these 636,000 immigrants had produced 4,306,000 descendants.
An estimated 184,000 immigrants entered the US between 1801 and 1819, primarily from the British Isles. In 1820 the US began documenting the arrival of foreigners, but it excluded no one (although the Naturalization acts denied citizenship to nonwhites). European emigration accelerated rapidly after 1846. From 1820 to 1860, 5,060,000 Europeans settled in the US, and 90 percent of them settled in the northeast or midwest. In 1860 13 percent of the population were immigrants, whom the census described as predominantly English-speaking (59 percent) and western European: 39 percent Irish, 31 percent German, 14 percent British, 6 percent Canadian, 3 percent French, and 2 percent Scandinavian.
State efforts to keep foreigners from becoming a public burden led to the immigration cases. Congress then passed the Exclusion Act (18 August 1882), which ended unrestricted entry to the US by barring the insane, criminals, paupers, and (for ten years) Chinese immigration. Restriction of contract laborers followed with the Contract Labor Act (1885). The Chinese Exclusion Ruling upheld Congress's right to bar nationalities from entrance. Gentlemen's Agreements later blocked Japanese immigration.
Between 1866 and 1915, about 25,000,000 persons came to the US. The number of arrivals from northern and western Europe, so-called “old immigrants,” steadily fell after 1883. After 1895, “new immigrants” from Mediterranean and Slavic nations predominated; they outnumbered “Nordic” migrants after 1895, and over 9,000,000 had entered the US by 1914. When immigration began averaging 1,000,000 annually (1910–14), fears rose that the US could not economically absorb those masses, and that eastern and southern Europeans posed special problems in being assimilated to American life.
The Emergency Quota Act (1921) instituted the first limitation on immigration by ethnic origins (designed to prefer northern and western Europeans) and also capped the number of annual entrants. The National Origins Act (1924) set stricter quotas on Mediterranean and Slavic peoples. Admissions to the US dropped from 4,107,200 in the 1920s to 528,400 in the 1930s. Refugees from eastern and central Europe received preferential treatment after World War II by the Displaced Persons acts (1948, 1950, and 1951). The McCarran–Walter Act permitted Asian refugees to immigrate. These measures gave entry to 3,500,000 people from 1945 to 1960.
The Immigration Reform Act (1965) repealed the quotas system, but set the first limits on immigration from the western hemisphere; it authorized admission of up to 2,900,000 persons per decade. Because of this law, nonwhites have formed the bulk of immigrants since the the early 1970s. Preferential admission to anti-Communist refugees also allowed the admission of large numbers of boat people and Cubans. The greatest factor increasing the scale of non-European immigration was the rise in illegal Mexican and Haitian entries, which inspired passage of the futile Simpson–Mazzoli Act. Immigration consequently swelled to 4,493,000 in the 1970s and 7,338,000 in the 1980s. Between 1981 and 1990, legal and illegal immigrants accounted for 32.8 percent of total population growth. By 1991, the foreign-born numbered 14,020,000, 13.2 percent of the US population.
From 1820 to 1991, 58,821,181 foreigners entered the US, of which 32.5 percent entered during 1820–1900, 24.7 percent during 1901–20, 7.9 percent during 1921–40, 11.6 percent during 1945–70, and 23.3 percent during 1971–91. (One in six immigrants have returned home or gone to another country.) The greatest number of entrants have come from Germany (12.1 percent), Italy (9.2 percent), Great Britain (8.7 percent), Mexico (8.2 percent), Ireland (8.0 percent), Austria-Hungary (7.4 percent), Canada (7.3 percent), Russia (5.9 percent). It is estimated that had no immigration occurred after 1820, the US population in 1990 would have grown only to 121,710,000, just 49 percent of its actual level of 248,710,000. 

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha

On 23 June 1983, the Supreme Court held (7–2) that Article I of the Constitution is inconsistent with laws permitting the single-house legislative veto, in which either chamber of Congress may vote to override a decision made by the executive department. Article I requires that legislative enactments must be passed by both houses and presented to the president. 

Immigration Reform Act (1965)

This law repealed the National Origins Act as of 30 June 1968. It set an annual limit of 170,000 immigrants from outside the western hemisphere and 120,000 from the western hemisphere. Preference for admitting immigrants was to be given to close relatives of US residents, professionals, artists, scientists, skilled or unskilled persons needed to fill labor shortages, and refugees from communism or national disasters. It dramatically changed the composition of immigration. Entrants from Europe composed 50.2 percent of all immigrants from 1955 to 1964, but only 9.4 percent from 1985 to 1990, while entrants from Asia increased from 7.7 percent to 37.6 percent in the same period, and entrants from the West Indies increased from 7.1 percent to 13.7 percent. 

Immunity Act (1950)

This act rescinded the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against self-incrimination for witnesses before congressional committees, when they had received immunity from prosecution for any crimes that might be revealed. It was upheld in Ullmann v. United States. 


1.  Not partial; not biased in favor of one party more than another; indifferent; unprejudiced; disinterested; as an impartial judge or arbitrator.
2.  Not favoring one party more than another; equitable; just; as an impartial judgment or decision; an impartial opinion.

Webster 1828


1.  An accusation or charge brought against a public officer for maladministration in his office.  In Great Britain, it is the privilege or right of the house of commons to impeach, and the right of the house of lords to try and determine impeachments.  In the U. States, it is the right of the house of representatives to impeach, and of the senate to try and determine impeachments.  In Great Britain, the house of peers, and in the U. States,the senate of the U.States, and the senates in the several states, are the high courts of impeachment.
2.  The act of impeaching.
3.  Censure; accusation; a calling in question the purity of motives or the rectitude of conduct, &c.  This declaration is no impeachment of his motives or of his judgment.
4.  The act of calling to account, as for waste.
5.  The state of being liable to account, as for waste.

Webster's 1828

In the United States, a form of accusation or indictment by the House of Representatives, requiring a majority vote, used to bring charges against a federal officer. The Senate then holds a trial and if two thirds of the senators vote to convict, the official is removed from office. Sometimes Congress votes to prohibit an official who has been impeached and convicted from holding any further office. Otherwise, conviction carries no penalties than removal, although an impeached official can also be tried in civil and criminal courts.

Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It

In mid-1857, Hinton Rowan Helper, a middle-class, N.C. white, published this book, which argued that slavery reduced economic opportunity for non-slaveowners and had kept the South from developing as rapidly as the North. Helper's work received widespread publicity, and stirred fears among southern planters that northern abolitionists and Republicans might build a significant political following among non-slaveholders. Such apprehensions contributed to the atmosphere of crisis that panicked southerners into secession. 

Imperium in Imperio

A phrase translating as an empire within an empire and employed by Royalists to criticize those who argued that the colonies could be both self-governing and part of the British Empire.


1.  Any tax or tribute imposed by authority; particularly, a duty or tax laid by government on goods imported, and paid or secured by the importer at the time of importation.  Imposts are also called customs.
2.  In architecture, that part of a pillar in vaults and arches, on which the weight of the building rests; or the capital of a pillar, or cornice which crowns the pier and supports the first stone or part of an arch.

Webster's 1828


This was the forcible drafting of sailors to serve in the British navy. Because a large minority of men in the US merchant marine had been born in Britain, the Royal Navy insisted on the right to board US ships during the Napoleonic wars, and take any crewmen who were the King's subjects or military deserters. Impressment was a major cause of the War of 1812. 

In 1864 Representative Henry Davis and Senator Benjamin Wade co-sponsored a plan to replace Abraham Lincoln's program for the Reconstruction of Confederate states. The Wade–Davis Bill would have: (1) delayed any state's reconstruction until Confederate re

On 5 August 1864, Horace Greeley's New York Tribune printed a denunciation of Abraham Lincoln for having vetoed the Wade–Davis Bill. The manifesto condemned the president for usurping Congress's legislative powers by attempting to reconstruct the South by executive orders. Radical Republicans also circulated anonymous calls that Lincoln be replaced with another nominee for president. The manifesto's strident language offended most moderate Republicans and produced a backlash that enhanced Lincoln's image while discrediting Radical Republican leaders.

In Re Debs

In 1895 the Supreme Court denied a writ of habeas corpus to Eugene Debs, American Railway Union president, then under contempt citation for ignoring an antistrike injunction issued under the Sherman Antitrust Act in the Pullman strike. The Court did not rule on the Sherman Act, but held that federal government could issue the injunction to protect interstate commerce and ensure the mail's delivery. The ruling validated injunctions as strikebreaking tools. From 1901 to 1928, federal injunctions halted 118 major strikes and were requested in another 116 labor disputes that ended before a final decree was issued. The Norris–La Guardia Act ended this practice. 

inalienable rights

Entitlements that cannot be taken away or removed but are always present, whether or not respected by any given regime or legislation.

income tax

The US levied its first income tax in August 1861 to finance the Civil War; it assessed 3 percent of all income above $800, and a surtax of 10 percent on income above $10,000 was later added. (The Confederacy also taxed incomes.) The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Civil War levy in Springer v. United States but reversed itself in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Company, which concerned income tax provisions of the 1894 tariff act. The 1908 Democratic platform supported a constitutional amendment to overrule Pollock and the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified five years later.
The Underwood–Simmons Tariff levied the first income tax, which exempted 95 percent of the population by assessing 1 percent of income over $3,000 for single persons and 1 percent over $ 4,000 for households (plus a graduated surtax on incomes above $20,000 that rose to 6 percent in excess of $500,000). The corporate income tax was 1 percent. During World War I, rates were 4 percent on individual income under $4,000 and 8 percent above that, and 10 percent on corporate income. Heads of household had a deduction of $2,000 and each dependant had a deduction of $200. Capital gains were untaxed until 1921. Rates declined steadily under the revenue acts of the 1920s, but began rising in the New Deal, especially with the Wealth Tax Act (1935), and in World War II. Tax withholding from paychecks was introduced in 1943.
Rates peaked in the 1950s with a range of 20–91 percent on individuals and a 52 percent corporate rate. Significant reduction began with the Tax Reduction Act (1964), which lowered individual rates to 14–70 percent and corporate taxes to 47 percent by 1965. The Economic Recovery Tax Act (1981) reversed a subsequent climb in rates, cut long-term capital gains taxes from 28 percent to 20 percent, and lowered the top marginal rate to 50 percent. The Tax Reform Act (1986) simplified the Internal Revenue code from 14 tax brackets to 3: 15, 28, and 33 percent. 


The Supreme Court’s application of some Bill of Rights protections to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

indefeasible allegiance

A position taken by a government that denies its citizens the ability to change citizenship. The British government in the 19th century held that “Once an Englishman, always an Englishman” in order to prevent its sailors from changing loyalties to escape brutal conditions at sea. 

indentured servants

This term refers to Europeans or West Indians who were recruited as laborers in the thirteen colonies. In return for free passage to America, they signed contracts obliging them to work for up to seven years without pay. (The usual indenture lasted four years.) White servants may have comprised 15 percent of immigrants to the northern colonies before 1700. About 70 percent of immigrants to the Chesapeake came under indentures, of whom at least 84,000 arrived before 1700. Black slaves became the principal source of unfree field laborers after 1700, but the recruitment of indentured servants continued until the Revolution. From 1700 to 1775, about 25,000 servants arrived from England and 70,000 came from Ireland or Scotland. German servants were termed redemptioners. 

Independent Offices Appropriations Act

(28 March 1934)    Enacted over a veto, it was Franklin D. Roosevelt's first legislative defeat. By adding $125,000,000 to the federal payroll and raising veterans' benefits by $228,000,000, Congress offset savings from the Economy Act (1933) and contradicted Roosevelt's pledge to cut unnecessary spending, but appeased two large voting blocs in an election year. 

Independent Treasury

Responding to the failure of pet banks in the panic of 1837, Martin Van Buren recommended on 5 September 1837 that the US do business only in specie and cease storing surplus funds in state banks. The Whig party preferred to retain the Distribution Act's provisions and kept the Independent Treasury (or Subtreasury) Bill from becoming law until 4 July 1840. The law gave exclusive care of US funds to the Treasury and required that all federal transactions be made in specie after 30 June 1843. Subtreasury depositories were built at the capital and six regional cities. A Whig Congress repealed the law on 13 August 1841, but a Democratic Congress revived it on 6 August 1846. It remained the foundation for US fiscal policy until the Federal Reserve system. 

Indian Affairs, Bureau of

This agency originated with the responsibility given the Department of War in 1789 over Indian affairs, and was created as a separate bureau in that department. In 1832 the commissioner of Indian affairs was established to advise the secretary of war, and in 1832 Congress outlined the internal structure of his bureau. In 1849 the bureau was transferred to the Department of the Interior. It did not recommend policy until 1933, when John Collier became its head; he instituted fundamental reforms, and drafted much of the Wheeler–Howard Act. The bureau was occupied by the radical American Indian Movement in November 1972. 

Indian Claims Commission (13 August 1946)

Congress created this independent federal agency to settle grievances against the US for treaty violations (previously handled by the Court of Claims). Upon its disbandment on 30 September 1978, it had heard 600 suits, settled 60 percent in the Indians' favor, and awarded $800,000,000 compensation. All pending claims were then transferred to the US Court of Claims. 

Indian languages

In 1500 modern US and Canada contained eight distinct Indian language groups—all unrelated to each other—which contained 53 separate linguistic families (or stocks) that included 200 to 300 individual languages. Of the 53 families, eight contained over two-thirds of all Indians: Algonquian (20 percent), Siouan (9 percent), Eskimo-Aleut (9 percent), Iroquoian (7 percent), Muskogean (7 percent), Uto-Aztecan (6 percent), Athapaskan (6 percent), and Salish (6 percent) languages. 

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