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Historical Glossary

There are 144 entries in this glossary.
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MacArthur, Douglas

(b. Little Rock, Ark., 26 January 1880; d. Washington, D.C., 5 April 1964)    After graduating first in his class from West Point in 1903, MacArthur saw duty under his own father in the Philippine Insurrection, was Theodore Roosevelt's aide de camp in 1906, and was twice wounded in World War I, when he commanded a division. After serving in the Philippines (1922–30), he became army chief of staff (1930–5), during which time he dispersed the Bonus Army. He retired in 1937, but was recalled in July 1941 to organize the defense of the Philippines. In World War II, he was supreme army commander in the Pacific theater and chief architect of Japan's defeat, especially through his innovative strategy of island hopping. He directed the occupation and democratization of Japan (1945–50). As commander of UN forces in the Korean War, he forced North Korean evacuation by his Inchon invasion, but was thrown on the defensive when Chinese forces crossed the Yalu River. His military career ended on 10 April 1951 when he was relieved of command for insubordination. 

Macon's Bill Number 2

(1 May 1810)Drafted by Nathaniel Macon, this law replaced the Nonintercourse Act. It permitted the president to reopen trade with Britain and France, with the proviso that if either nation agreed to honor the US merchant marine's neutrality by 3 March 1811, trade would cease with the other if it did not reciprocate within three months. Despite ordering US ships seized in French ports on 23 March 1810 and 1 November 1810, Napoleon deceived James Madison into believing that France had complied with the law's conditions. Madison then permitted Franco-American trade to resume on 2 November 1810 and ordered commerce with Britain halted on 2 February 1811 unless it followed France's example. Britain did not accept US terms for resuming trade until 16 June 1812, two days before the US declaration of hostilities for the War of 1812. 

Madison, James

(b. Port Conway, Va., 16 March 1751; d. Orange Country, Va., 28 June 1836)    He helped draft the 1776 Virginia Constitution, strongly supported the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and became a strong nationalist while serving in Congress. Having participated in the Mount Vernon conference and Annapolis convention, he drafted the Virginia Plan at the Constitutional Convention. He wrote 26 of the Federalist Papers and co-authored another three. He drafted the Bill of Rights. He emerged as the most important Democratic leader in Congress by 1793, abandoned his earlier nationalism, and wrote the Virginia Resolutions. Elected president over Charles C. Pinckney in 1808 and De Witt Clinton in 1812, his administration was dominated by the War of 1812. 


By 1900, in US cities with large Italian populations, secret criminal gangs had appeared that were modeled on Sicily's Mafia, or Cosa Nostra (Italian for “Our Affair”). During Prohibition, several such groups—whose members and leaders were not exclusively Italian—took control of bootlegging in the Northeast and Midwest. In the 1930s, they gained enormous influence over illegal gambling and prostitution; then in the 1940s they came to dominate loan-sharking, labor-racketeering, and heroin sales in major cities. By 1950, two dozen syndicates (“families”) had divided the US into separate territories for the pursuit of criminal activities.
Although the Estes Kefauver hearings had publicized the Mafia's involvement in interstate crime and political corruption as early as 1950, J. Edgar Hoover failed to use the FBI's full resources against the Cosa Nostra. In 1961 Attorney General Robert Kennedy launched a major offensive against the national syndicates, energized the FBI into mounting an anti-gangster campaign, and won hundreds of convictions on tax evasion, although few successful cases involved leading mafiosi. The Justice Department eventually won major convictions with the RICO section of the Organized Crime Control Act (1970). During the 1980s, the heads of 22 Mafia families were indicted under RICO, and most were convicted (usually with evidence obtained from wiretaps authorized under Title II of the Omnibus Crime Control Act, (1968)). By the 1990s, the Mafia was increasingly vulnerable to FBI investigations and was losing a large share of its lucrative drug trade to a new criminal infrastructure organized by Hispanics, blacks, and Asians. 

Magruder, Jeb Stuart

(b. New York, N.Y., 5 November 1934)    He was a deputy director for CREEP in 1972, when he became involved in the “dirty-tricks” program against George McGovern's campaign that led to the Watergate scandal, and in its coverup. On 14 June 1973, in testimony before the Senate, he implicated John Mitchell and H. R. Haldeman in the conspiracy. He served seven months' imprisonment in 1974 for conspiracy to obstruct justice.