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Historical Glossary

There are 45 entries in this glossary.
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"King Cotton"

Expression used by Southern authors and orators before the Civil War to indicate the economic dominance of the Southern cotton industry, and that the North needed the South's cotton. In a speech to the Senate in 1858, James Hammond declared, "You daren't make war against cotton! ...Cotton is king!".

Kanagawa, treaty of

On 31 March 1854, Japanese officials and Commodore Matthew Perry signed this treaty (effective 22 June 1855) giving US ships their first access to Japanese ports at Shimoda and Hakodate. The agreement was soon supplemented by closer commercial and diplomatic ties negotiated by Townsend Harris. 

Kansa Indians

The Kansa (or Kaw) are a group speaking one of the Siouan languages, that lived along the lower Missouri River. They may have numbered 3,000 in 1780. Although often in conflict with neighboring Indians, they avoided war with Anglo-Americans. In 1850 their 1,700 members accepted a 390 square-mile reservation on the Neosho River in Kans., but by 1873, when they relocated to the Arkansas River, they had been reduced to 533. In 1889 only 194 Kansa remained. They have a reservation in Osage County, Okla. 

Kansas

The US acquired Kans. by the Louisiana Purchase. The Indian Removal Act (1830) divided its eastern lands among Indians relocated from the midwest. The Kansas–Nebraska Act transferred these tribes to the Indian Territory (see Oklahoma) and opened the area to whites. Border ruffians fought free-soil settlers during Bleeding Kansas. It was admitted as the 34th state on 29 January 1861.
In 1860 it had 107,204 residents, of whom 99 percent were white and 12 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 35th in population, 33rd in the value of its farmland and livestock, and 30th in manufactures. During the Civil War, it furnished 20,149 USA troops (including 2,080 blacks). Kans. jayhawkers plundered Mo., and Mo. rebels terrorized Kans. in brutal guerrilla warfare that culminated in William Quantrill's sack of Lawrence. The Red River War ended Indian raids on southern Kans.
The first Homestead Act and the expansion of the railroads stimulated a mass exodus to Kans., whose population increased to 996,096 by 1880 and then grew by 43 percent in the next decade. Between 1887 and 1897, adequate rain for crops fell in only two years on the plains and commodity prices dropped sharply. Extreme economic hardship resulted in 149,800 persons leaving the state in the 1890s and strong political support for populism. In 1900 Kans. had 1,470,495 residents (96 percent white, 4 percent black), of whom 78 percent were rural and 9 percent foreign-born; it ranked 22nd in population, 7th in the value of its agricultural products, and 16th in manufactures.
During the early 20th century, the problems of agriculture inhibited the growth of the Kans. economy. Farmers suffered from falling prices in the 1920s and dust bowl conditions in the 1930s. From 1920 to 1940, 246,900 persons left the state. The number of farms fell by half, from 177,000 in 1935 to 86,000 in 1970. Although the state's economy has greatly diversified, it has consistently ranked among the 10 largest agricultural producers. In 1990 Kans. was the 32nd largest state and had 2,477,574 inhabitants (88 percent white, 6 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian, 1 percent Indian), of whom 54 percent were urban and 2.5 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing and mining employed 23 percent of workers. 

Kansas–Nebraska Act (30 May 1854)

On 23 January 1854, Senator Stephen Douglas introduced a bill organizing Kans. and Nebr. territories on the principle of popular sovereignty. He soon agreed to amend it with a repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The Senate passed it by 23 votes and the House by 13. The act was the decisive event that led free-soil and antislavery northerners to coalesce as the Republican party. Its other legacy was Bleeding Kansas. 

Kasserine Pass, battle of

Beginning on 14 February 1943, 150,000 forces of the Axis under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and General Jurgen von Arnim defeated US Army II Corps and French troops in a series of armored actions that drove the Allies 100 miles through Kasserine Pass. British counterattacks stopped the Germans on 22 February and retook Kasserine on 25 February. US casualties: 6,500. Other Allied casualties: 3,500. German casualties: 2,000 

Katz v. United States

On 18 December 1967, the Supreme Court reversed (7–1) Olmstead v. United States (4 June 1928), which ruled that wiretaps were not an unreasonable search; it held that unrestricted access to an individual's personal and business conversations violated the privacy that the Fourth Amendment was adopted to safeguard. 

Kefauver hearings

Senator Estes Kefauver's Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Interstate Crime held some of the earliest televised congressional hearings during 1951–2. The testimony revealed evidence of widespread corruption within the Internal Revenue Service and led to numerous resignations by high-ranking federal officials, including the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, George Schoeneman. The hearings catapulted Kefauver into national prominence as a contender for the Democratic nomination for president. 

Kellogg–Briand Pact

On 27 August 1928, at Paris, the US and 13 other nations signed this treaty, which pledged the signatories to renounce warfare, but relied solely on their good will. The pact ultimately was joined by 62 nations. The US reserved the right to use armed force in self-defense and to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. 

Kelly Air Mail Act

(1925)    Congress relieved the Post Office of operating its own air mail service, which had been flying since 1918, and directed that air mail would be carried by private companies on the basis of competitive bidding. Although certain abuses emerged that required passage of the Air Mail Act (1934), this measure ultimately saved US taxpayers from the future expense of maintaining an enormous fleet of aircraft and paying a sizeable bureaucracy to operate them. 

Kendall v. United States ex rel. Stokes

In 1838 the Supreme Court held that US executive officials must comply with writs from federal courts ordering action to enforce the Court's authority, so long as they are empowered to do so by congressional statute. It did not violate the constitutional separation of powers, the Court said, for the judicial branch to compel the executive branch to take actions necessary to uphold the law, so long as the courts did not attempt to make political policies and impose them on a presidential administration. 

Kennedy, John Fitzgerald

(b. Brookline, Mass., 29 May 1917; d. Dallas, Tex., 22 November 1963)    As a navy officer, Kennedy was decorated for heroism in the Solomon Islands campaign. He was Mass. congressman (1947–52) and US senator (1953–60). He lost a bid to be Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1956, but won nomination for president in 1960 over Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. Elected president in the closest race since 1884, he took 49.7 percent of the ballots and outpolled Richard Nixon by just 118,574 votes. He became the first Catholic and youngest man chosen as chief executive. He blundered into the Bay of Pigs invasion, but performed admirably in the Berlin Wall and Cuban missile crisis. He initiated US military involvement in the Vietnam War, then approved a military coup that toppled Vietnam's civilian leaders and destabilized its politics. He initiated the Kennedy round of GATT, and on 24 January 1963 proposed domestic cuts in income tax of $13.6 billion that were enacted as the Tax Reduction Act (1964). Aside from the Apollo Project and the Peace Corps, Congress balked at enacting his other proposals before Communist sympathizer Lee Harvey Oswald shot him. 

Kennedy, John Fitzgerald

(b. Brookline, Mass., 29 May 1917; d. Dallas, Tex., 22 November 1963)    As a navy officer, Kennedy was decorated for heroism in the Solomon Islands campaign. He was Mass. congressman (1947–52) and US senator (1953–60). He lost a bid to be Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1956, but won nomination for president in 1960 over Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. Elected president in the closest race since 1884, he took 49.7 percent of the ballots and outpolled Richard Nixon by just 118,574 votes. He became the first Catholic and youngest man chosen as chief executive. He blundered into the Bay of Pigs invasion, but performed admirably in the Berlin Wall and Cuban missile crisis. He initiated US military involvement in the Vietnam War, then approved a military coup that toppled Vietnam's civilian leaders and destabilized its politics. He initiated the Kennedy round of GATT, and on 24 January 1963 proposed domestic cuts in income tax of $13.6 billion that were enacted as the Tax Reduction Act (1964). Aside from the Apollo Project and the Peace Corps, Congress balked at enacting his other proposals before Communist sympathizer Lee Harvey Oswald shot him. 

Kennedy, Joseph Patrick

(b. Boston, Mass., 6 September 1888; d. Hyannis Port, Mass., 8 November 1969)    He was a self-made millionaire whose ideas influenced legislation creating the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As first chair of the SEC, he oversaw the writing of rules for stock trading and created a workable system of protecting investors based on self-regulation by the brokerage industry. After leaving the SEC in 1935, he became one of Franklin D. Roosevelt's most prominent business supporters, chaired the US Maritime Commission in 1937, and was ambassador to Britain in 1938. He was father of John and Robert Kennedy. 

Kennedy, Robert Francis

(b. Brookline, Mass., 20 November 1925; d. Los Angeles, Calif., 6 June 1968)    As attorney general for his brother John F. Kennedy, Robert launched an ambitious program to attack organized crime, protect the civil rights of southern blacks, and prosecute corrupt labor leaders like Jimmy Hoffa. He resigned from the cabinet in 1964 and won a N.Y. Senate seat. He grew gradually alienated from Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam War policy. After Eugene McCarthy revealed Johnson's vulnerability in Democratic primaries, Kennedy broke with the president, called for US withdrawal from Vietnam, and sought the Democratic nomination for president. While challenging Johnson's successor, Hubert Humphrey, he was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan, a Marxist Palestinian refugee. 

Kentucky

This state was relatively unknown to the English until the Gist exploration, but by the early 1770s, long hunters had confirmed that it had no permanent Indian inhabitants. Indians gave up their claims by the treaties of Camp Charlotte and Sycamore Shoals. In 1775 the first Anglo-American settlement beyond the Appalachians was made at Harrodsburg, just as Daniel Boone blazed the Wilderness Road for the Transylvania Colony. In the Revolutionary War, the British directed Indian raids at Ky., which was the staging ground for George Rogers Clark's campaigns. Population rose sharply after 1780. Dissatisfaction with US failure to pacify the Indians and secure the right of deposit led its leaders to join the Spanish Conspiracy. After the first treaty of Greenville ended Indian warfare and the treaty of San Lorenzo gained the right of deposit, its population doubled from 1795 to 1800. In 1800, it had 220,955 inhabitants, of whom 19 percent were slaves. Too far north to grow cotton, it was a major producer of tobacco, hemp, and livestock.
In 1860 it had 1,155,684 inhabitants, of whom 20 percent were slaves and 5 percent were foreign-born; it ranked ninth among the states in population, seventh in the value of its farmland and livestock, and 15th in manufactures. The Civil War badly divided Ky. The Confederacy recognized it as its 13th state, although it never adopted a true act of secession. It furnished perhaps 35,000 CSA regulars or “partisan rangers,” 90,571 US regulars (66,868 white and 23,703 black), and 12,761 Federal militia. It was the site of 453 military engagements. Ky. became alienated from the Union due to the Emancipation Proclamation, recruitment of slaves as soldiers (whose families were freed by US law), the imposition of martial law from 5 July 1864 to 12 October 1865, and military intervention to ensure the election of pro-Union candidates.
In 1865 the legislature restored full civil liberties to CSA veterans and refused to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which freed about 65,000 slaves in Ky. Ex-Confederates dominated the Democratic Party and state government, while the Ku Klux Klan harassed Republicans and freedmen. After the Fifteenth Amendment's passage, blacks voted in Ky. and enjoyed most civil rights in court hearings.
The legislature never enacted “separate but equal” laws for secondary education or public facilities, but it segregated college campuses in 1904. Many localities established segregation. The legislature opened colleges to blacks in 1950, and the state appeals court opened public parks or other recreational areas to nonwhites in 1950. Ky. desegregated with little resistance in the civil rights movement under progressive Democrats like Bert Combs, Edward Breathitt, and Henry Ward, and it was the only southern state to enact a civil rights act (27 January 1966).
Coal mining became its primary industry after 1890. In 1900 Ky. had 2,147,174 inhabitants, of whom 78 percent were rural, 13 percent were black, and 2 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 12th among the states in population, 15th in the value of its agricultural products, and 18th in manufactured goods. The state experienced net out-migration of 551,000 from 1900 to 1930. After diesel fuels began replacing coal and mines became increasingly mechanized, 909,000 persons left Ky. from 1940 to 1970. In 1990, it was the 23rd largest state and had 3,685,296 residents (92 percent white, 7 percent black, 1 percent other), of whom 52 percent were urban and 0.9 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing employed 20 percent of workers and mining 9 percent. 

Kentucky Resolutions, first

Authored by Thomas Jefferson, these resolutions were adopted by the Ky. legislature on 16 November 1798. They were essentially similar to the Virginia Resolutions and asserted the right of states to judge when the federal government has acted unconstitutionally and to take any appropriate actions to protect their citizens' rights. 

Kentucky Resolutions, second

Written by John Breckinridge, speaker of the Ky. Assembly, and adopted by the legislature on 22 November 1799, this document responded to criticisms of the Virginia and first Kentucky Resolutions by northern legislatures. The resolutions went beyond their predecessors by arguing that “nullification” by state action was the proper remedy for unconstitutional or tyrannical actions taken by federal authorities. The resolutions marked the first appearance in US politics of nullification, although the manner of nullifying a US law was left unspecified. 

Kentucky rifle

Between 1725 and 1775, Pa. gunsmiths modified the Jaeger, a German gun for big game, into a weapon suited for American pioneers; they lightened its stock, lengthened its octagonal barrel from 30–40 inches to 40–45 inches, reduced its calibre from 0.60–0.70 to 0.38–0.45, and set a metal patchbox into its butt. The resulting firearm was exceptionally accurate, well balanced, functional, and economical of lead and powder. Although usually imagined as a white frontiersman's weapon, this rifle was widely possessed among Ohio valley Indians as early as 1755. Originally termed a Dutch or Pa. gun, it became known as the “Ky. long rifle” after that term was popularized in Samuel Woodworth's enormously popular song, “The Hunters of Kentucky” (1820). 

Kentucky v. Dennison

In 1861 the Supreme Court unanimously held that a state governor has discretion to refuse another state's request to turn over a fugitive from justice, because Article IV, Section 2 imposes only a moral obligation on states to cooperate in extradition proceedings and cannot be enforced by federal courts. 

Kerr–Smith Tobacco Control Act

(28 June 1934)    This law was enacted to ensure that the Agricultural Adjustment Administration's (AAA) voluntary covenants to reduce the national tobacco crop would not be undermined by another large surplus harvested by noncooperating farmers who refused to cut output. It taxed all tobacco auctioned in excess of individual quotas at 25–33 percent of its selling price. Any farmers who failed to enroll in an AAA crop-limitation agreement would be taxed on their entire output. Compulsory quotas kept total production at AAA levels, but became moot when the AAA was struck down in 1936. 

Keyes v. Denver School District Number 1

On 21 June 1973, the Supreme Court gave its first decision on de facto segregation in education. The justices ruled (7–1) that if racially imbalanced schools stemmed from deliberate policies of school officials, even if no law mandated segregating minority students, then their board must implement a plan to integrate them. In determining how a segregated system developed, the educational hierarchy bears the burden of proof to show that its policies were not responsible for racial separation. The Court ruled on unintentional de facto segregation in Milliken v. Bradley. 

Keynesian economics

The English economist John Maynard Keynes was the most renowned expert on business cycles and monetary policy in the 1930s. His work changed the way US politicians understood the relationship between the federal budget and prosperity. By showing how budget deficits could replace private spending to stimulate economic growth during a depression, he freed politicians from the traditional wisdom that governments should retrench and cut their expenditures to a bare minimum during business contractions. As popularized by Walter Lippmann, his theories first influenced US policy during the Second New Deal and the recession of 1937–8. Keynesianism fell from favor in the 1950s, but became fashionable again after 1960, when it was used (contrary to Keynes's actual theories) to justify failing to balance the budget in times of prosperity as well as during recessions. 

Khe Sanh, siege of (Vietnam)

On 21 January 1968, two North Vietnamese divisions began the siege of Khe Sanh airstrip, Quang Tri Province, later reinforced to 4,900 US marines and 1,000 South Vietnamese. US aircraft dropped 115,000 tons of bombs on the enemy, in addition to 150,000 shells fired by USMC artillery. The US Army's first Cavalry Division lifted the siege on 6 April 1968. US and South Vietnamese losses: 500 killed, 1,000 wounded. North Vietnamese losses: 10,000 killed, wounded. Because Khe Sanh was the only battle where Communist forces enjoyed artillery superiority, its allied casualty rate exceeded every other major battle in the Vietnam War. US forces abandoned the airstrip in June. 

Kickapoo Indians

The French first met this group, which speaks one of the Algonquian languages, in Wis. during the 1650s, when they may have numbered 2,000. They had appropriated lands of the Illinois Indians by the 1760s. They fought as British allies from the Revolutionary War until the first treaty of Greenville, and again in the War of 1812. A band under Mecina tried to intimidate whites to prevent them from settling on the Ill. public domain in 1819, but were forced into Mo. by US troops. The remaining Kickapoos left a few years later. Some raided whites in the Black Hawk War, but 100 enlisted as US Army scouts in the second Seminole War in 1837. By the 1860s they had migrated to Kans., and from there many went to Mexico, from where they conducted raids on Tex. US troops invaded Mexico and attacked their village Remolino in May 1873. By 1875, 432 of the Mexican refugees had relocated in Okla. Kickapoo reservations are at Brown County, Kans., and a three-county area with headquarters at McLoud, Okla. 

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