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Historical Glossary

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Acheson, Dean Gooderham

(b. Middletown, Conn., 11 April 1893; d. Sandy Spring, Md., 12 October 1971) After serving as private secretary for Louis Brandeis (1918–21), Acheson practiced law in Washington until 1941, when he entered the State Department. He was secretary of state during the Korean War. He became foreign policy advisor to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and was influential in persuading Johnson to seek a negotiated settlement for ending the Vietnam War.

Adair v. United States

 On 27 January 1908, the Supreme Court ruled (6–2) that the Erdman Act (1898) was unconstitutional for forbidding railroads to require that their employees sign yellow-dog contracts. The Court held that the Fifth Amendment gave businesses the widest range of latitude to protect their property rights in contract negotiations, and that federal regulation of interstate commerce did not properly concern the organization of unions.

Adams, Charles Francis

(b. Boston, Mass., 18 August 1807; d. Boston, Mass., 21 November 1886)    Son of John Q. Adams, he opened a law office at Boston in 1829. He strongly supported abolitionism, was the nominee of the Free-Soil party for vice-president in 1848, and sat in Congress as a Republican (1859–61). As ambassador to Britain (1861–8), he performed valuable services by placating British anger over the Trent affair, blocking the shipment of ironclad rams for the CSA navy, and countering the efforts of CSA envoys for British aid or recognition for the Confederacy.

Adams, John

 (b. Quincy, Mass., 19 October 1735; d. Quincy, Mass., 4 July 1826)    In 1768 Adams opened a law office in Boston, where he was the political lieutenant of his second cousin, Samuel Adams. He successfully defended the British troops tried for the Boston massacre. At the first and second Continental Congresses, he molded support for the Declaration of Independence. He was the principal author of the Massachusetts Constitution (1780), which influenced the federal Constitution's structure. He helped negotiate the treaty of Paris (1783), was minister to Britain (1785–8), and as first vice-president, decided the fate of legislation in 20 tie-votes during his term. His term as president, representing the Federalist party (1797–1801) was dominated by extremists from that party who controlled Congress, and after Adams broke with them in 1800, he lacked sufficient support for reelection. He then left politics.

Adams, John Quincy

(b. Quincy, Mass., 11 July 1767; d. Washington, D.C., 23 February 1848)    Son of John Adams, he was envoy to the Netherlands (1794–6) and Prussia (1797–1801). Elected to the Senate in 1803, he resigned in 1808 under pressure from his Mass. constituents for having supported the embargo (see Embargo Act). He headed the US delegation at the negotiations for the treaty of Ghent and was ambassador to Britain (1815–17). He negotiated the Adams–Onis Treaty. Running for president in 1824 as a Democrat, he gained just 30.5 percent of the ballots but won through the “ corrupt bargain.”
His domestic agenda was the boldest yet proposed by a president, and included federal funding of internal improvements, scientific explorations, an astronomical observatory, a national university, and an Interior Department, but Congress enacted little of his program. Adams suffered another major defeat when Ga. forced him to accept the treaty of Indian Springs. It was Adams and Henry Clay around whom the National Republicans formed. In part because he refused on principle to use patronage to build a political machine, he took only 44.0 percent of the popular vote against Jackson in 1828. While in Congress (1831–48), he opposed the annexation of Texas and the extension of slavery to the territories. He was known as “Old Man Eloquent” for his efforts to overturn the Gag Rule.