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Historical Glossary

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Blackfoot Indians

Speakers of one of the Algonquian languages, the Blackfeet included the Bloods, Piegans, and Northern (Canadian) Blackfeet. About 1780, they numbered perhaps 15,000 and inhabited northeastern Mont. and Saskatchewan. Various epidemics reduced their numbers to about 9,000 in 1837, when 6,000 of these perished in a smallpox outbreak. Although involved in many small hostilities with Mountain Men and miners, they never fought a full-scale war with the US Army. In 1877 most of them permanently moved to Canada. About 2,000 US Blackfeet settled on a reservation headquartered at Browning, Mont.

Blackstone, Sir William

(1723-1780) British jurist and legal scholar best known for his Commentaries on the Laws of England, which was, for over a century, the foundation for legal education in America and Great Britain. This work was a significant influence on the legal perspectives of the Founding Fathers, many of whom were lawyers schooled in English common-law tradition. One of Blackstone's strongest endorsements was for the right of citizens, in a free society, keep and bear arms for self-defense and to restrain the actions of an oppressive government.

Black–Connery Bill

In December 1932, Senator Hugo Black (Democrat, Ala.) introduced a bill to reduce unemployment in the Great Depression by setting a 30-hour maximum workweek and outlawing interstate shipment of goods made by factories with longer hours. The AFL strongly backed the bill, which passed the Senate on 6 April 1933. As representative William Connery (Democrat, Mass.) began hearings on his version of the bill in the House Labor Committee, Franklin D. Roosevelt mobilized his brains trust to formulate an alternative, which emerged as the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA). The administration blocked the Black-Connery Bill by substituting the NIRA.

Bladensburg, battle of (Md.)

On 24 August 1814, Major General Robert Ross's 4,500 British troops routed Brigadier General William Winder's 6,000 US militia. US losses: 71 killed, 100 captured. British losses: 64 killed, 185 wounded. Ross's victory allowed him to capture Washington, D.C. (see District of Columbia), without opposition that day.

Bland–Allison Act

(28 February 1878)    Acting to reverse the Crime of '73, Congress reestablished silver coins as part of the US currency (at a ratio to gold of 16 to 1). Representative Richard P. Bland (Democrat, Mo.) had demanded that the Treasury mint silver in unlimited quantities, but an amendment by Senator William B. Allison (Republican, Iowa) prescribed that the Treasury have discretion to purchase no less than $2,000,000 and no more than $4,000,000 per month. The act did not inflate the money supply to the degree intended because the Treasury kept silver purchases at the legal minimum. Congress next tried to expand silver coinage by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.