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Historical Glossary

There are 109 entries in this glossary.
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Taft–Hartley Act

(23 June 1947)    Passed over Harry S Truman's veto, this law regulated union administration and defined unfair practices by labor. It required unions to register and file financial reports to the Labor Department, and forbade Communists from serving as their officers. It forbade strikes without a majority vote by workers. It allowed a president to halt strikes prejudicial to the national interest by obtaining an injunction for an 80-day “cooling-off” period, so that an executive commission could investigate grievances and make recommendations, and after that Congress might enact a legislative solution.
The law outlawed closed shops, but not union shops. It defined as illegal union practices: secondary boycotts, jurisdictional strikes, demanding kickbacks to perform work, and union payments to political campaigns. It protected management's right to explain its position during organizational campaigns, to petition the National Labor Relations Board for elections to decertify unions or change union representation, and sue unions for breach of contract or strike-related damages. The Landrum–Griffin Act strengthened several of its provisions.
On 8 May 1950, the Supreme Court upheld (5–1) its requirement that union officials not be affiliated with the Communist party as a proper precaution to prevent political strikes from blocking interstate commerce in American Communications Association, CIO et al. v. Douds.
Taft–Katsura Memorandum

Taft–Katsura Memorandum

On 29 July 1905, Secretary of War William Taft and Japan's foreign minister finalized a secret agreement that the US would not criticize Japanese infringements of Korean sovereignty if Japan accepted US control over the P hilippines. On 21 December, Japan declared Korea to be a protectorate of itself.

Tammany Hall

The Society of St Tammany was founded as a fraternal and benevolent organization in 1786, and chartered on 12 May 1789. In the 1790s, Aaron Burr transformed it into a partisan vehicle for mobilizing Democratic voters. Tammany's votes ensured Thomas Jefferson's winning margin in the 1800 election. It emerged as New York's most powerful political club and built an imposing hall that became its symbol. Tammany's success rested on machine-like efficiency in turning out its voters, whose loyalty it earned by providing jobs and social-welfare services to incoming waves of immigrants. By 1860 Tammany was the most powerful city machine in the US and a major kingpin in the national Democratic Party. Increasingly dependent on voter fraud and graft to stay in power, it became synonymous with corruption and honest graft, especially after Boss William Tweed's administration (see Tweed Ring). After attaining near unassailable power under Mayor Charles Murphy (1902–24), its control was broken by the reform administration of Republican Fiorello La Guardia (1933–45). Tammany's influence also withered because New Deal programs made its social-welfare services less important to the poor. Carmine De Sapio revived the Tammany system in the 1950s, but the organization became moribund after another decade.

Taney, Roger Brooke

(b. Calvert County, Md., 17 March 1777; d. Washington, D.C., 12 October 1864)    He entered public life in the Federalist party, but became a Jacksonian Democrat. He was Md. attorney general (1827–31), US attorney general (1831–3), acting secretary of war (1831), and acting secretary of the Treasury (1833–4) before being confirmed as fourth chief justice on 15 March 1836. Taney was the first Catholic on the Supreme Court. His most important and enduring decision was Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge. In Dred Scott v. Sandford and Abelman v. Booth, he led the Court in affirming that slavery enjoyed constitutional protections beyond the power of either Congress or the states to violate. Taney's other major decisions included  Bank of Augusta v. Earle, Luther v. Borden, Kendall v. United States ex rel. Stokes, Holmes v. Jennison, Kentucky v. Dennison, and Ex Parte Merryman.

Tarawa Atoll, battle of

On 20 November 1943, General Holland Smith's 12,000 marines began landing against Rear Admiral Keiji Shibasaki's 4,836 Japanese soldiers. Japanese resistance ended on 23 November. US losses: 1,056 killed, 2,292 wounded. Japanese losses: 4,819 killed, 17 captured. Tarawa's capture ended the threat from its Japanese airfield and gained a base for the Marshall Islands campaign.

Tariff of (14 July) 1832

This measure cut import duties by a total of $5,000,000 by reductions in general items and goods for which no protectionist lobby existed. Because it left rates on clothing and iron at about 50 percent, it was viewed as special-interest legislation passed to benefit the northeast at southern expense. It was the immediate spark of the nullification crisis.

Tariff of (2 March) 1833

Henry Clay introduced this measure as part of a compromise to end the nullification crisis. It expanded the number of duty-free goods, and reduced imposts at two-year intervals until 1842, when no rates would exceed 20 percent.

Tariff of (20 April) 1818

Passed to relieve complaints that British manufacturers were driving their US counterparts out of business by dumping goods at below-market prices, this tariff increased duties on iron imports and postponed a scheduled 20 percent reduction in the rates on clothing until 1826.

Tariff of (22 May) 1824

This law increased rates on imported clothing from 25 percent to 33.3 percent. Rates were set on raw wool at 15 percent to benefit domestic producers, and duties were increased on iron products, glass, lead, hemp, and cotton bagging.

Tariff of (27 April) 1816

This law was enacted largely to shield domestic industries that developed during the War of 1812 from competition by British manufacturers, which had far lower operating costs. Duties were fixed on most imported clothing and iron at 25 percent, but were set to decline to 20 percent in 1891. Ad valorem rates averaged 15 percent, with a high of 30 percent on leather, hats, paper, and various goods.

Tariff of (3 March) 1857

This law set rates at an average level of about 20 percent, the lowest level since 1816. By ending protectionism, this Democratic measure sparked claims by northern businessmen that it had prevented recovery from the panic of 1857, and consequently it increased the popularity of Republicans in the 1860 election.

Tariff of (30 March) 1842

This tariff phased in higher duties that would restore rates to the Tariff of 1832's approximate level. By reinstituting protectionism, it cut customs revenues and forced an end to sharing the US Treasury surplus by the Distribution Act.

Tariff of (4 July) 1789

The first US tariff was written to ensure a regular income from customs duties to finance the federal budget and not to create an economic advantage for US industries (except that a 10 percent discount was given to items imported by the US merchant marine rather than foreign ships). The Report on Manufactures' recommendation for protectionism was rejected. General rates were set at 5 percent (raised to 7.5 percent in 1792), and ad valorem rates averaged 8.5 percent (raised to 12.5 percent by 1812 and 25 percent by 1814) with a high of 15 percent.

Tariff of (6 June) 1872

This law lowered duties on all manufactured products by 10 percent.

Tariff of Abominations

(19 May 1828) Passed after intense lobbying by northeastern manufacturers, this law set import duties at their highest levels until the Morrill Tariff. Rates rose on most clothing from 33.3 percent to 45 percent and on wool from 15 percent to 50 percent. Charges also rose sharply on foreign iron and hemp, to near 50 percent. The tariff was designed to raise about $20,000,000 in revenue until 1830, when Congress modified duties to cut taxes by $4,500,000, but left rates on clothing, wool, hemp, and iron untouched.

Tassafaronga, battle of

On 30 November–1 December 1942, while bringing supplies to Guadalcanal, Admiral Raizo Tanaka's 8 Japanese destroyers defeated Rear Admiral Carlton Wright's 5 US cruisers and 7 destroyers. US losses: 1 cruiser sunk, 3 cruisers disabled, 400 casualties. Japanese losses: 1 destroyer sunk.

Tax Reduction Act

(26 February 1964)Proposed by John F. Kennedy, but enacted under Lyndon Johnson, this law cut taxes by $11.5 billion over two years. It reduced individual income tax rates from a range of 20–91 percent to 16–77 percent in 1964 and to 14–70 percent in 1965. Corporate rates were cut to 50 percent in 1964 and 48 percent in 1965.

Tax Reform Act

(27 September 1986)    Following two years of pressure from Ronald Reagan, Congress passed tax reductions and made major changes to the Internal Revenue code. Top marginal rates fell to 34 percent for individuals (from a former high of 50 percent) and 26 percent for businesses (from a former high of 46 percent). Tax brackets were compressed from 14 into 3, which set effective rates at 15, 28, and 33 percent. Offsetting the rate cuts were the elimination of many tax shelters, business expenses, and deductions from personal income.

Taylor Grazing Act

(28 June 1934)    This law was intended to prevent damage to open ranges from overgrazing. It directed the Interior Department to set aside 12,500 square miles as livestock ranges, which would be leased to cattlemen through 10-year permits. (The land reserved for grazing was increased to 22,000 square miles in 1936.) The law resulted in closing the public domain to occupation because in 1935 the president declared an end to entering land under the first Homestead Act so that the grazing districts could be delineated.

Taylor, Zachary

(b. Orange County, Va., 24 November 1784; d. Washington, D.C., 9 July 1850)    After growing up on a Ky. plantation, Taylor entered the army in 1808. He fought in the War of 1812—when he won acclaim for repulsing an Indian attack on Fort Harrison, Ind.—the Black Hawk War, and the second Seminole War, when he scored a major victory at Lake Okeechobee in 1837. As a Mexican War hero and La. planter, he was elected Whig party president with 47.4 percent of the ballots over Lewis Cass and Martin Van Buren. After 15 months in office, he died suddenly during the conflict over the Compromise of 1850.


From 1880 to 1910, Frederick W. Taylor devised this system for scientific management of industrial output, which was publicized and widely imitated after 1910. Taylor was the first major efficiency expert to explain how productivity could be raised significantly by establishing a research department to identify ways of improving technology, monitoring performance with time-and-motion studies, suggesting how to eliminate unnecessary steps in the work process, and motivating workers by bonus incentive plans. His ideas inaugurated the modern study of business management, contributed to significant increases in manufacturing productivity by 1929, and stimulated Progressive Era reformers to apply his analytical tools to finding solutions to social and economic problems.

Tea Act

(10 May 1773)    Confronted with the prospect of the bankruptcy of the East India Company, whose administrators and military forces performed valuable services for Britain in India, Parliament passed this law to revive sales of the company's tea in the thirteen colonies. Because the colonies were boycotting legally imported British tea to protest the Townshend Revenue Act's taxes—but consuming less expensive smuggled varieties—increasing the volume of East India tea sold not only benefited the company, but also accomplished Parliament's long-standing goal of establishing an internal tax by the Townshend Revenue Act.
The Tea Act reduced the cost of East India tea by cutting the duties previously collected when it entered Britain; the law also allowed the company to lower costs by selling tea directly to colonial consumers, rather than being forced to auction teas for overseas markets to merchants who added their own charges as middlemen when they retailed the tea. East India tea could consequently undersell any smuggled competitor, even when the Townshend tax of three pence per pound was added. Americans succeeded in preventing any East India tea from being landed at all colonial ports except Charles Town, S.C., where it was kept in customs warehouses and not released for sale, and Boston, where the B oston Tea Party resulted.

Teapot Dome scandal

In 1921 Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall persuaded Warren Harding to give his department responsibility for managing navy oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyo., and Elk Hills, Calif. In 1922 Fall secretly leased the petroleum fields to oil businessmen upon taking interest-free loans of $125,000. When the scandal broke in 1923, Fall was forced to resign. He was the first cabinet officer convicted of high crimes committed while in office, and went to prison for a year in 1931. Teapot Dome was the Harding administration's worst scandal.


(b. near Springfield, Ohio, ca. 1768; d. near Moraviantown, Ontario, 5 October 1813)    In 1805 Tecumseh, the main Shawnee Indian leader, and his brother, the Prophet (Tenskwatawa), began organizing a pan-Indian alliance to halt Anglo-American expansion. Just as Tecumseh seemed likely to unite northern Indians and the five civilized tribes, the Prophet suffered a demoralizing loss in a rash attack on US forces at Tippecanoe Creek, Ind. When the War of 1812 erupted soon after, Tecumseh lent Britain enough Indian support to keep US forces on the defensive until mid-1813. After he was killed at the battle of the Thames River, his followers abandoned Britain and signed the second treaty of Greenville. Tecumseh was the last Indian leader who seriously challenged US control of the Northwest Territory.

Teheran conference (Iran)

Between 28 November and 1 December 1943, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Joseph Stalin for the first time to discuss military strategy and arrangements for peace after World War II. Stalin promised to enter the war against Japan as soon as possible. (Russia entered six days before V-J Day.) The US and Britain acquiesced in Russia's keeping territory in eastern Poland that it had seized while Germany's ally. The Allies laid plans for convening the Dumbarton Oaks conference.

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