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Historical Glossary

There are 44 entries in this glossary.
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U-2 affair

On 1 May 1960, an unarmed US reconnaissance plane, a U-2, was shot down during a spy mission over the USSR and pilot Gary Powers was captured. USSR Premier Khrushchev denounced the US and canceled a summit meeting scheduled for that month with Dwight D. Eisenhower. The incident escalated tensions in the cold war and damaged US prestige among nonaligned nations. On 19 August 1960, Powers was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 10 years in prison, but was exchanged for a Communist spy on 10 February 1962.

Ullmann v. United States

On 26 March 1956, the Supreme Court held (7–2) the Immunity Act to be constitutional in accordance with Counselman v. Hitchcock. The Court ruled on similar issues in Watkins v. United States and Barenblatt v. United States.

Unanimous Consent

In the U.S. Senate, a Senator may request unanimous consent on the floor to set aside a specified rule of procedure so as to expedite proceedings. If no Senator objects, the Senate permits the action, but if any one Senator objects, the request is rejected. Unanimous consent requests with only immediate effects are routinely granted, but ones affecting the floor schedule, the conditions of considering a bill or other business, or the rights of other Senators, are normally not offered, or a floor leader will object to it, until all Senators concerned have had an opportunity to inform the leaders that they find it acceptable.

underground railroad

This term referred to a haphazard, semisecret network of routes and hiding-stations used by free blacks and white abolitionists to help slaves escape to free states or Canada. After Pa. abolished slavery, the Philadelphia area gained a reputation as a relatively safe haven for runaways, and drew many slaves from the South. Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Chicago were important destinations for renegade bondsmen in the West. By 1820 a system had developed by which conductors guided slaves at night to stations, where they stayed hidden until the next leg of their journey. Virtually all stations were in the free states, where they served to protect escapees from arrest by law officers enforcing the Fugitive Slave acts. At least 3,200 northerners aided the railroad, which probably assisted 500 slaves per year.

Underwood–Simmons Tariff

(3 October 1913)    This measure replaced the Payne–Aldrich Tariff because the 1912 elections put Congress under Democratic control. To enable European manufacturers to compete with US industry, it lowered average rates to 29 percent and ended duties on iron, steel, wool, and sugar. To compensate for lost revenues, Congress enacted the first income tax under the Sixteenth Amendment. It was supplemented by the Emergency Tariff Act (1921).