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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. 

Mahan, Alfred Thayer

(b. West Point, N.Y., 27 September 1840; d. Quogue, N.Y., 1 December 1914)    After graduating from Annapolis in 1859, Mahan fought in the Civil War, and became president of the Naval War College in 1886. During 1890–7, he published The Influence of Sea Power upon History and The Interest of America in Sea Power. Mahan argued that national destiny required the US to maintain a world-class navy that could protect the sea lanes for its overseas commerce. To supply and protect large fleets, he advocated building a canal in Central America and acquiring colonies to serve as military bases. Mahan's ideas influenced Congress to expand the navy significantly and helped convince the nation's elite that the US must pursue an imperialist and expansionist foreign policy. 

Mahican Indians

These speakers of one of the Algonquian languages occupied both banks of the Hudson valley south of Lake Champlain and parts of western Mass. They were the parent stock of the Pequot and Mohican Indians of Conn. Blood feuds and competition over the fur trade resulted in protracted warfare with the Mohawk Indians in the 1600s. From a pre-contact population of 4,000, they declined to about 1,000 in the Hudson and Housatonic valleys by 1689, and a smallpox epidemic in 1690 cut their numbers to 500 by 1700. The only Mahicans to preserve their cultural identity were several bands that merged with Delaware Indians and the Iroquois Confederacy during 1730–60; they gathered at the praying town of Stockbridge, Mass., where they were joined by remnants of other N.Y. Algonquians and numbered 227 in 1755. They were British allies in the Seven Years' War and American allies in the Revolution. By 1783–5, when about 420 Stockbridge Indians settled at Oneida Creek, N.Y., nearly all the group knew English and lived in white fashion as sedentary farmers. In 1828 they began a migration to Wis., where they eventually shared a federal reservation (see reservations) with Delawares in Shawano County. In 1966 the Shawano reservation contained 380 of the members on the tribal roll. 


On 14 August 1607, the Plymouth Company put a settlement on the Sagadahoc River, but the colonists abandoned it in September 1608. In 1622 the Council of New England (successor to the Plymouth Company) authorized grants to persons who would settle Maine. English fishing or trading outposts were built on the Saco River and Casco Bay during 1623–5, and the Pilgrims built a trading post for the fur trade on the Kennebec River. Sir Fernando Gorges assumed the Plymouth Company's claim to the area and obtained a royal charter as proprietor of the “Province of Maine,” but was unable to prevent Massachusetts from annexing the settlements on 31 May 1652 and organizing them as York County. In 1677 Gorges's heir sold to Mass. his claims to Maine.
The Maine settlements suffered heavy losses in King Philip's War, King William's War, and Queen Anne's War. Dummer's War removed the Abnaki Indians, who were the principal barrier to settling the interior. The French and Indians also raided Maine in King George's War and the Seven Years' War. In the Revolutionary War, Maine was the site of 29 military actions on land and six at sea. Its frontier expanded sharply between 1770 and 1800, when population grew from 31,257 to 151,719. By 1800, 90 percent of its people were of English-Welsh stock.
From 1790 to 1820, much violence resulted from the uncertain state of real estate ownership, as rival speculators and land companies dispossessed farmers from their land. On 15 March 1820, Maine became the 23rd state as part of the Missouri Compromise. It disestablished the Congregational church in 1820. The Aroostook War flared up from disputes over its disputed boundary with Canada, which were resolved by the Webster–Ashburton Treaty. Maine became the first state to enact Prohibition in 1851.
From 1800 to 1860, its population grew by 314 percent to 628,279, of which all but 1,327 were white and 6 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 22nd in population among the states, 26th in the value of its farmland and livestock, and 14th in manufactures. It furnished 70,107 USA troops in the Civil War (including 104 blacks).
Population growth stagnated after 1860, and from then to 1900 the number of residents rose just 11 percent. In 1900 it had 694,466 inhabitants, who were 56 percent rural, 99 percent white, and 13 percent foreign-born; it ranked 30th among states in population, 33rd in the value of its agricultural goods, and 21st in manufactures. Its textile industry declined after 1910, while food processing grew significantly. After 1950, tourism became important. To settle a lawsuit claiming title to 19,530 square miles (58 percent of Maine) bought in violation of the Indian Trade Intercourse Act (1790), tribal groups extinguished their aboriginal title in return for 469 square miles (valued at $54,500,000) and a $27,000,000 trust fund. Maine suffered a net loss by out-migration in every decade after 1910 and ranked as the 38th largest state by 1990; it had 1,227,928 inhabitants (98 percent white, 1 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian or Indian), of whom 36 percent were urban and 3.0 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing and mining employed 27 percent of workers. 

Maine, USS

On 15 February 1898, the battleship Maine blew up and sank at Havana, where it had served as a refuge for US civilians from Cuba's revolution; 266 of its 354 personnel died. On 21 March, without firm evidence, the navy reported that an underwater mine had caused the explosion. (The disaster's cause remains unknown.) Exhorting Americans to “Remember the Maine,” yellow journalism inflamed war fever and helped push the McKinley government into the Spanish-American War.

Mallet explorations

In 1739 Pierre and Paul Mallet, Frenchmen from Ill., explored the Arkansas River as far west as Colo. and in about June became the first white men to see the Rocky Mountains from the plains. They reached Santa Fe on 22 July and were placed under loose arrest as illegal traders. They were ordered deported and left Santa Fe on 1 May 1740. 

Mallory v. United States

On 24 June 1957, the Supreme Court unanimously held that police officers violated due process by interrogating a suspect without telling him of his constitutional rights and detaining him for an unjustifiably long period between his arrest and arraignment; it reversed the defendant's conviction. Mallory served as a precedent for expanding the rights of criminal suspects in  scobedo v. Illinois, Miranda v. Arizona, Harris v. New York, and Edwards v. Arizona. 

Malloy v. Hogan

On 15 June 1964, the Supreme Court unanimously extended the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against self-incrimination to state court proceedings. 

Mandan Indians

This group, speakers of one of the Siouan languages, established itself along the upper Missouri River in the Dakotas about AD 1,200. In 1738 they inhabited nine villages along the Heart River in N.Dak. and numbered over 3,000. The Lewis and Clark expedition wintered among them in 1804–5. They soon acquired guns, but lost half their population to smallpox and were driven northward by the Sioux Indians. Smallpox struck the nation in late 1837 and by next spring only 145 Mandans were alive. The survivors merged with other groups and their descendants are now at Fort Berthold Reservation, N.Dak. 

Manifest Destiny

This term embodied an Anglo-American belief that the US had a special mission to establish its political values and support its growing population by expanding its jurisdiction over the unsettled (or sparsely populated) area west of the Mississippi. The words were first written about the annexation of Texas in the Democratic Review (July 1845) by John L. O'Sullivan, who championed “our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” The doctrine was expanded by filibusterers (see filibustering) to include annexing Caribbean islands and Central American nations. 

Manila Bay, battle of

On 1 May 1898, Commodore George Dewey's 5 US cruisers and 1 gunboat (53 heavy guns, 135 light guns, 1,611 crewmen) engaged Admiral Patricio Montojo's 2 Spanish cruisers and 5 gunboats (37 heavy guns, 110 light guns, 1,500 crewmen). Dewey destroyed every enemy ship, yet sustained minimal damage. US losses: 8 wounded. Spanish losses: 161 killed, 210 wounded. Dewey blockaded Manila, which surrendered on 13 August. 

Mann–Elkins Act

18 June 1913)    This law strengthened the Hepburn Act by allowing the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to suspend proposed rate changes for up to ten months pending investigation of their reasonableness, and to demand that the carriers prove them to be financially necessary. It revived the prohibition against charging higher rates for short hauls than for long hauls, which had been undermined by many court decisions. It extended ICC authority over telegraph, telephone, and cable communications systems. The law gave the ICC all the legal tools needed for effective railroad regulation except the authority to assess the value of railroad assets, which was provided by the Physical Valuation Act (1913). 


The freeing or emancipation of chattel slaves by their owners, which became more common in the upper South in the wake of so much talk during the American Revolution about human liberty. George Washington was among those planters who provided for the manumission of his slaves after the death of his wife Martha.

Mapp v. Ohio

Suspicious that Dollree Mapp might be hiding a person suspected in a bombing, the police went to her home in Cleveland, Ohio. They knocked on her door and demanded entrance, but Mapp refused to let them in because they did not have a warrant. After observing her house for several hours, the police forced their way into Mapp's house, holding up a piece of paper when Mapp demanded to see their search warrant. As a result of their search, the police found a trunk containing pornographic materials. They arrested Mapp and charged her with violating an Ohio law against the possession of obscene materials. At the trial the police officers did not show Mapp and her attorney the alleged search warrant or explain why they refused to do so. Nevertheless, the court found Mapp guilty and sentenced her to jail. After losing an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, Mapp took her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court determined that evidence obtained through a search that violates the Fourth Amendment is inadmissible in state courts.

Marbury v. Madison

In 1803, after hearing William Marbury's demand that Secretary of State James Madison issue a magistrate's commission for the District of Columbia in his name signed by ex-President John Adams, the Supreme Court (without dissent) declared a federal law unconstitutional for the first time and invalidated Section 13 of the Judiciary Act (1789) on technical grounds. The Court explicitly claimed the right of judicial review by declaring: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. . . . This is of the very essence of judicial duty.” 

march on Washington (1963)

o press for passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and National Urban League organized a march on the capital. On 28 August 1963, perhaps 250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. John F. Kennedy did not participate in the march, but met with its leaders at the White House. The march failed to achieve the act's passage that year, but it was instrumental in building a national consensus against racial discrimination that resulted in its passage a year later. 

march on Washington (1941)

In January 1941, A. Philip Randolph began organizing a march on Washington, D.C., by 100,000 blacks for 1 July to demand equal employment opportunity for blacks in defense work. To forestall the march, on 25 June 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which prohibited job discrimination in defense industries and required a clause to that effect in all military-related contracts. It also established the Commission on Fair Hiring Practices as an enforcement agency. Although the order was often evaded, it was a major civil rights victory and encouraged the defection of black Republicans to the R oosevelt coalition.

Mariana Islands campaign

On 15 June 1944, Rear Admiral Richmond Turner's Fifth Amphibious Task Force (530 warships carrying 127,000 marines and soldiers under Lieutenant General Holland Smith) arrived off the Mariana Islands, held by 57,500 Japanese. By 10 August, Smith's men had eliminated organized enemy resistance on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. US losses: 25,000 killed, wounded. Japanese losses: 45,000 killed or dead by suicide. The Marianas' capture outflanked enemy bases in the Caroline Islands, especially the Truk supply depot, and brought Japan within range of US heavy bombers. 

Marine Corps

Congress authorized the United States Marine Corps (USMC) on 10 November 1775. Marines first saw combat on 4 March 1776 when capturing Fort Nassau, Bahamas, in their first amphibious landing. Their primary mission was to fire from above decks as marksmen in battle. Disbanded in 1785 with the navy, the corps was reinstituted on 11 July 1798.
Starting with the wars with Barbary pirates, the corps took responsibility for overseas amphibious operations. Although marine detachments served as infantry in the Seminole, Mexican, and Civil wars, their primary duty was to augment a ship's crew offshore. From 1800 to 1940, the corps made 180 landings in 31 countries.
The corps was gradually expanded from 1898 to 1917 into a major body of infantry, with supporting artillery. Two USMC regiments fought in France in World War I. The corps's greatest military contribution came in World War II, when its strength peaked at 485,113 and fielded six divisions (primarily to support Chester Nimitz's central Pacific offensive). One USMC division fought in the Korean War and two in the Vietnam War. The corps participated in post-World War II US interventions in Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Haiti. In 1994 the regular USMC had an authorized strength of 174,000 (three divisions and three air wings) and received about 5 percent of the Defense Department budget. 

Mariposa War

This conflict was the only significant Indian disturbance during the California gold rush. In 1850, after miners had invaded their lands, Tenaya led the Yokuts and Miwoks in attacking prospectors in the San Joaquin valley and Sierra Nevada foothills. In 1851 James Savage's Mariposa Militia Battalion retaliated and dispersed the Indians after a few skirmishes.

Marquette and Joliet exploration

On 17 May 1673, Fr Jacques Marquette (1637–75), Louis Joliet (1648–1700), and five coureurs de bois left the Straits of Mackinac and became the first Europeans to find a water route to the Mississippi via Green Bay, Fox River, and Wisconsin River. They entered the Mississippi on 17 June and descended it to the Arkansas River by 17 July before returning north. Their voyage demonstrated that the Mississippi flowed to the Gulf of Mexico rather than to the Pacific Ocean. 

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