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Historical Glossary

There are 197 entries in this glossary.
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TermDefinition
Sabotage Act

(20 April 1918)    This law forbade obstruction of the US war effort in World War I by destroying property or interfering with the production or shipment of military supplies. It was largely aimed at radical labor unions, like the Industrial Workers of the World, who might strike to block war production. There were 10 arrests for anti-US sabotage.

Sacco and Vanzetti trial

On 14 July 1921, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti received death sentences for the murder on 15 April of a paymaster and guard at a shoe factory in South Braintree, Mass. Because the evidence against them was circumstantial and the jury may have been prejudiced by frequent mention of their radical political beliefs, the verdict was widely condemned as a miscarriage of justice. Governor Alvan Fuller ordered the trial record examined by a special committee, which declared the verdict fair. When the two were executed on 23 August, the act received widespread denunciation in the US and overseas as a political lynching. Whether they were guilty or innocent has never been resolved.

Sackett's Harbor, battle of (N.Y.)

On 29 May 1813, Brigadier General Jacob Brown's 650 US regulars and 500 N.Y. militia repulsed an amphibious raid by Sir George Prevost's 1,200 British. US losses: 160 killed, wounded. British losses: 260 killed, wounded.

Sacramento, battle of (Mexico)

On 28 February 1847, Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan's First Missouri Regiment (940 men) defeated General Garcia Conde's 2,820 Mexican soldiers and 1,000 rancheros. US losses: 2 dead, 7 wounded. Mexican losses: 300 killed, 500 wounded. Having ended the chance of Mexican invasion from Chihuahua, Doniphan left Mexico.

Sagadahoc (Maine)

On 14 August 1607, Sir George Popham and Raleigh Gilbert led 120 men to the Sagadahoc (lower Kennebec) River and built Fort St George for the Plymouth Company. The colony suffered from lack of strong leadership. Popham died on 5 February 1608, and the settlers abandoned the fort in September 1608.

Sagebrush Rebellion

Failed movement led by conservative Western politicians to cede federal control of western land to individual states, promoting private ownership and commercial development.

Sahaptin languages

his family of Indian languages was used by groups in southwestern Idaho, southeastern Wash., and northeastern Oreg. Its speakers included the Nez Perce Indians, the Yakima Indians, the Klikitat, Paloos, Tinino, Tyigh, Umatilla, Modoc, and the Wallawalla Indians.

Saipan, battle of

On 15–17 June 1944, General Holland Smith's Second USMC, Fourth USMC, and Twenty-seventh Army Divisions (71,000 men) landed on Saipan, held by Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's 32,000 Japanese; they ended organized Japanese resistance by 9 July. US losses: 12,000 USMC and 4,000 army casualties. Japanese losses: 30,000 killed or dead by suicide.

Salem witch trials

On 29 February 1692, indictments named three women in Salem Village (now Danvers) as witches on the testimony of several young girls. Pre-trial examinations were held that spring and the earliest cases were heard in June. By the time Governor William Phips suspended the trials on 29 October, 141 persons had been formally indicted, 200 others stood accused but not charged, 19 persons had been hanged, one man was pressed to death in an effort to make him enter a plea when charged, and five prisoners awaited execution. When the trials resumed on 3 January 1693, all the defendants were acquitted except for three, who were sentenced to hang. In May Phips discharged all remaining witchcraft cases and reprieved those awaiting execution. On 17 October 1711, the General Court voided the convictions of those hanged and voted £578.12s to compensate their heirs. On 28 August 1957, the state legislature passed a resolution condemning the witch trials as tainted by hysteria.

Salerno, battle of (Italy)

On 9 September 1943, Lieutenant General Mark Clark's Fifth US Army landed at Salerno, but was almost overwhelmed by Axis forces until the British Eighth Army's advance relieved the pressure by 15 September. Salerno's success enabled the Allies to begin advancing north to Rome.

Salish languages

This family of Indian languages was originally spoken across British Columbia, northern Wash., northern Idaho, and northwestern Mont., with some branches on the Pacific coast south to Oreg. It is subdivided into 16 languages, including those of the Flathead, Wenatchi, and Nisqualli Indians.

Salomon, Haym

(b. Lissa, Poland, ca. 1740; d. Philadelphia, Pa., 6 January 1785)    After emigrating to New York City in 1772, Salomon pursued merchandising until the Revolutionary War. Upon moving to Philadelphia in 1777, he soon became the primary broker in US securities and other notes of indebtedness, and later served as paymaster to French forces in America. He emerged as the lender of last resort for the US Treasury, and by 1784 had used his own credit to furnish loans of about $660,000 in specie. When he died, his estate was insolvent, because the government lacked the funds to honor its debts to him. His heirs were never fully compensated.

Salutary Neglect

This term signifies England's relatively benign neglect of its American colonies from about 1690 to 1760. During these years King and Parliament rarely legislated constraints of any kind and allowed the colonists much autonomy in provincial and local matters. In turn, the colonists supported the parent nation's economic political objectives. This harmonious period came to an end after the Seven Year's War when King and Parliament began asserting more control over the American colonists through taxes and trade regulations.

Salutary Neglect

This term signifies England's relatively benign neglect of its American colonies from about 1690 to 1760. During these years King and Parliament rarely legislated constraints of any kind and allowed the colonists much autonomy in provincial and local matters. In turn, the colonists supported the parent nation's economic political objectives. This harmonious period came to an end after the Seven Year's War when King and Parliament began asserting more control over the American colonists through taxes and trade regulations.

San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez

On 21 March 1973, the Supreme Court ruled (5–4) that equal protection does not entitle all children in a state to attend schools that receive roughly the same financing per pupil, because education is not a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. Although great differences exist among school districts in the adequacy of their funding by property taxes, the Constitution provides no basis for federal intervention to reallocate tax resources among poor and rich districts. The ruling forced school-reform activists to use state courts for challenging financial disparities among school districts that arose from reliance on property taxes. Of 33 such suits filed through 1993, educational systems were found to violate state guarantees of equal protection under the law in Ala., Ky., Mass., Mont., N.J., N.Dak., Tenn., and Tex.

San Gabriel, battle of

On 8–9 January 1847, Commander Robert F. Stockton's 565 US troops defeated Governor Jose Flores's 450 Calif. rancheros and four artillery crews. US losses: 1 dead, 13 wounded. Mexican losses: “considerable” (Stockton's words). The battle ended fighting in Calif. by dispersing Mexican forces and allowing Stockton to occupy Los Angeles.

San Ildefonso, treaty of

On 1 October 1800, Spain secretly transferred its La. colony to France, and confirmed possession by the treaty of Madrid (21 March 1801). Spanish officials continued to administer La. until 1804. The treaty spurred Thomas Jefferson to begin negotiations on the Louisiana Purchase.

San Jacinto, battle of

On 21 April 1836, General Samuel Houston's 783 Texans routed President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's 1,400 Mexicans. The battle lasted 18 minutes. Texan losses: 9 dead, 30 wounded. Mexican losses: 630 killed, 200 wounded, 730 captured (including Santa Anna). The victory forced Santa Anna to recognize Texan independence.

San Juan Hill, battle of

On 1 July 1898, Major General Jacob Kent's 10,000 troops drove General Arsenio Lenares Pomba's 1,200 Spaniards from the ridges above Santiago. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt became a national hero for leading his Rough Riders up Kettle Hill. US losses: 124 killed, 817 wounded. Spanish losses: 358 killed, wounded. Combined with the Spanish loss of El Caney, victory allowed US artillery to begin shelling the enemy fleet, which was then forced into the battle of Santiago Bay.

San Lorenzo, treaty of

On 27 October 1795, Thomas Pinckney signed this treaty at Madrid, by which Spain recognized the line set by the treaty of Paris (1783) (31û latitude) as the southern US border and granted Americans the right of deposit at New Orleans for three years. The Senate ratified it on 15 March 1796. The treaty stimulated settlement of the Ohio valley by providing an overseas outlet for western produce.

San Pasqual, battle of (Calif.)

On 6 December 1846, Captain Andres Pico's 160 California lancers defeated Colonel Stephen W. Kearney's 85 US regulars and then besieged the survivors. US losses: 18 killed, 13 wounded, 1 howitzer. Mexican losses: 27 dead, wounded. On 10 December, 180 US troops from San Diego drove off Pico's men. Kearney's men gave critical support that allowed US forces to win the battle of San Gabriel and occupy Los Angeles.

Sand Creek massacre (Colo.)

On 29 November 1864, Colonel John Chivington's 700 Colo. troops (with four howitzers) attacked 500 nonhostile Cheyenne Indians who had sought US Army protection at Fort Lyon. Colo. losses: 9 killed, 38 wounded. Cheyenne losses: 200 killed.

Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company

In 1886 the Supreme Court held unanimously that the Fourteenth Amendment intended that corporations be entitled to claim protection as legal persons from state violations of their civil rights. (That interpretation was first made in arguments presented during the adjudication of San Mateo County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1882.) The decision enabled businesses to challenge unfavorable decisions by state regulatory commissions with lawsuits claiming to have been deprived of their property (anticipated profits) without due process of law. The ruling reversed the Court's pro-regulatory position in the Granger cases, and was later elaborated in Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul Railroad Company v. Minnesota and Reagan v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Company, and Smyth v. Ames. Because federal courts so often overruled decisions by state commissions under suit by corporations, the decision contributed to the growing ineffectiveness of state regulation and led to demands for federal laws to control public carriers and monopolies.

Santa Cruz Islands, battle of

On 26 October 1942, Admiral Chiuchi Nagumo's carrier force (3 carriers, 2 battleships, 5 cruisers, 15 destroyers) defeated Admiral Thomas Kinkaid's task force (2 carriers, 1 battleship, 6 cruisers, 14 destroyers). US losses: 1 carrier sunk, 1 destroyer torpedoed, 50 planes destroyed. Japanese losses: over 100 planes destroyed.

Santa Fe Trail

This trail connected N.Mex. with Mo. via the Arkansas River. When Mexico became independent in 1821, it ceased enforcing Spanish regulations that forbade trade with US merchants. In 1821–2, William Becknell of Mo. made a profitable business trip between Santa Fe and Franklin, Mo. The commerce over the trail grew so large by 1825, that Thomas H. Benton persuaded Congress to fund an army survey of the route. The trail was 800 miles long and required about 10 weeks for loaded wagons. Half the US merchandise was resold by Mexican merchants in Chihuahua.

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