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Historical Glossary

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Bemis Heights, battle of (N.Y.)

On 7 October 1777, two brigades of Continental infantry (about 2,500) under Brigadier General Benedict Arnold repulsed an assault by 2,000 of Major General John Burgoyne's troops on Major General Horatio Gates's army. US losses: 30 killed, 100 wounded. Estimated British losses: 600. Burgoyne's defeat forced his surrender at nearby Saratoga on 17 October.

Bennington, battle of (Vt.)

 On 17 August 1777 Brigadier General John Stark's 2,600 N.H. militia destroyed Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum's foraging party of 800 Hessians, and then defeated Lieutenant Colonel Francis Breymann's relief force of 600 Hessians. US losses: 30 killed, 50 wounded. Hessian losses: 200 killed, 696 captured (including wounded). The defeat cost Major General John Burgoyne a tenth of his expeditionary force invading N.Y.

Benton v. Maryland

On 23 June 1969, the Supreme Court extended (6–2) the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against double jeopardy to state courts through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; it reversed Palko v. Connecticut (6 December 1937), in which the justices held (8–1) that states might try persons twice.

Benton, Thomas Hart

(b. near Hillsboro, N.C., 14 March 1782; d. Washington, D.C., 10 April 1858)    He settled in Tenn., where he opened a law practice in 1806, but left for Mo. after a bar room brawl in which he shot Andrew Jackson and was stabbed five times by Jackson's friends. He was the first US senator to serve thirty consecutive years (1821–51). The antebellum era's fourth-greatest orator (behind Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John Calhoun), Benton was the voice of the west. He anticipated the first Homestead Act by proposing annual reductions in the price of public land to 25 cents per acre, until the national domain could be given away free. He was an expansionist who wanted to build national highways and railroads for moving American pioneers west, but opposed taking new territories by war. He became reconciled with Jackson, whom he supported on the Second Bank of the United States and Indian removal. Benton owned slaves, but his failure to defend slavery vigorously was unpopular in Mo. and he lost his Senate seat in 1851.

Berger, Victor Louis

(b. Nieder-Rehbach, Austria, 28 February 1860; d. Milwaukee, Wis., 7 August 1929)    In 1878 Berger emigrated to the US and came to Milwaukee, where he became a journalist. He helped found the Socialist party of America in 1901, and in 1911 became the first Socialist congressman. After being convicted under the Espionage Act, he was twice denied a seat in Congress, but later served six years after the Supreme Court reversed his conviction.