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Historical Glossary

There are 90 entries in this glossary.
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Radical Republicans

The term radical was applied to those Republicans who advocated the most uncompromising policies to defeat the Confederacy, end slavery, achieve equal political rights for freedmen, and keep ex-Confederates from regaining power in the South. The Wade–Davis Bill outlined their alternative to Abraham Lincoln's plan for Reconstruction. By winning support from moderate Republicans, Radicals used the Joint Committee on Reconstruction to draft the Fourteenth Amendment and draft a program of Congressional Reconstruction. Under Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, and Benjamin Wade, the radicals spearheaded the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, and swayed Congress to pass the Reconstruction acts, Fifteenth Amendment, and the Force acts. The Radicals' influence declined greatly after Ulysses S. Grant's first administration.

Radical Revolutionaries

At the time of the American Revolution, they argued in favor of establishing more democratic forms of government. Radical revolutionaries had a strong trust in the people, viewed them as inherently virtuous (see public virtue), and believed that citizens could govern themselves. Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine might be described as radical revolutionaries.

Rage Militaire

Meaning a passion for arms, the rage militaire characterized the attitudes of American colonists as the war with Great Britain began in 1775. When the ravages and deprivations of warfare became more self-evident, however, this early enthusiasm gave out. In 1776 Thomas Paine criticized the "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots" among the colonists who seemed so eager to fight at the beginning of the War for Independence but who so quickly dropped out as the dangers of engaging in warfare increased.

railroad retirement acts

On 27 June 1934, Congress created a comprehensive, compulsory retirement system for transportation workers subject to the Interstate Commerce Commission Act. On 6 May 1935, in Railroad Retirement Board et al. v. Alton Railroad Company et al., the Supreme Court (5–4) held that it violated the Fifth Amendment by improperly confiscating corporate property and it was not warranted under the Constitution's grant of federal authority over interstate commerce. Congress reenacted its provisions in the Wagner–Crosser Railroad Retirement Act (29 August 1935), but a district court struck down its financing measure, a tax on payrolls.
The Roosevelt administration solved the constitutional problem of financing railroad pensions by having the companies and unions draft a voluntary agreement to fund pensions by joint contributions from employees and railways. The Railroad Retirement Act (29 June 1937) enacted this formula, exempted railway workers from social security laws (see Social Security Administration), and created the Railroad Retirement Board.
Because the number of railway workers shrank from 700,000 in 1980 to 400,000 in 1983, the system's 1,000,000 retirees faced pension reductions of 40 percent to prevent impending insolvency. The Railroad Retirement Act (12 August 1983) averted this prospect. It raised employee and employer payments by $0.5 billion over five years, contributed $1.7 billion in federal money (offset by higher taxes on retiree benefits), cut benefits for early retirement, and delayed cost-of-living increases by six months.

railroad strike of 1877

After the largest eastern railroads announced a 10 percent pay cut, a general strike ensued, beginning on 17 July 1877 with walkouts at Baltimore and Ohio yards. Walkouts spread to other eastern lines and then west of the Mississippi, until two-thirds of US railway mileage was closed. Major riots occurred at Parkersburg, W.Va., Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Chicago, and St Louis. By the time federal troops and state militia restored order, almost 100 persons had died.