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Historical Glossary

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La Follette Seamen's Act

(4 March 1915)This law was enacted as part of the legislation for the New Freedom; it required the merchant marine to adopt stricter safety standards and better working conditions for sailors. 

La Salle, Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de

(b. Rouen, Normandy, France, November 1643; d. on the Brazos River, Tex., January 1687)     He came to Canada in 1666 and received a royal patent in 1677 to explore the Mississippi valley. Starting at Lake Ontario in late 1679, he traversed the Great Lakes and Ill. to the Mississippi and became the first European to descend that river to its mouth. On 9 April 1682, he claimed the entire watershed for France and named the territory Louisiana. Between 1685 and 1687, he founded a French outpost in east Tex., but was murdered in a mutiny. 

Lafayette Escadrille

Formed by seven US pilots on 17 April 1916 as a volunteer unit attached to the French air force in World War I, this squadron attracted 267 US volunteers, of whom 224 qualified and 180 saw combat. Its members were often assigned to other French units as replacements. On 18 February 1918, the unit became the 103rd Pursuit Squadron of the US Army. The escadrille was credited with downing 199 German planes, at a cost of 51 killed in action, 11 noncombat deaths, 19 wounded, and 15 captured. 

Lafayette, Marquis de

(b. Chavaniac, Auvergne, France, 6 September 1757; d. Paris, France, 20 May 1834)     This nobleman entered the French army in 1771, offered his services to the Continental Army, and was made a major general in July 1777. He was wounded at Brandywine Creek and rendered valuable liaison services with French forces, yet took no pay. He gave important aid to US diplomats in France during the 1780s. He spent five years in Prussian prisons during the Napoleonic wars and lost much of his fortune. He received the greatest personal acclaim ever accorded a foreign visitor during a triumphal US tour of August–September 1824, and is remembered as the most enduring symbol of Franco-American friendship. 

Laffer curve

Economist Arthur Laffer proposed this relationship between marginal rates of income tax and revenues collected; he argued that cutting tax rates could increase government income. The correctness of Laffer's proposition depended on whether the tax code already acted to depress revenues by driving capital into unproductive tax shelters and stimulating the growth of an underground economy in which taxes went unreported. Laffer's curve was an article of faith for supply side economics.