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Historical Glossary

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African Methodist Episcopal church

This denomination originated in a dispute over segregated seating arrangements at Philadelphia's St George Methodist church. Richard Allen led his fellow blacks out of the congregation in protest and formed the Free African Society. Allen founded the Bethel church and was ordained the first black Methodist deacon in 1793. In 1816 the Bethel church called a general conference of black Methodists, which founded the African Methodist Episcopal church, with Allen as bishop. By 1865, the church included 53,670 members and 2,613 clergy. In 1990 it had 6,200 churches and 2,210,000 members (1.5 percent of all churchgoers).

African Methodist Episcopal Zion church

 This denomination originated in 1796 when James Varick led black members of New York's John Street Methodist church to withdraw in protest at discriminatory treatment. In 1821 a conference representing six churches, 19 preachers, and 1,426 members organized the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church. Varick became the first bishop in 1822. By 1865 it had 30,600 members and 661 clergy. In 1990 it had 6,060 congregations and 1,220,260 members.

Agency for International Development (AID)

The Foreign Assistance Act (4 September 1961) established AID to supervise US foreign assistance programs for economic development, Food for Peace, and direct relief for famines or other disasters. It has four divisions, for Latin America, the Far East, the Near East and South Asia, and Africa and Europe. It was part of the State Department until 1979, when it was transferred to the US International Development Cooperation Agency.

Agent Orange

The US military used this herbicide to defoliate jungles and deny cover to Communist forces in the Vietnam War. In 1962–9, the defoliation program sprayed almost half (7,800 square miles) of the country's rain forest and contaminated 800 square miles of farmland. US veterans alleged that agent orange, which contained dioxin, caused many service-connected disabilities; they filed a class-action suit in 1979, and in 1984 accepted an out-of-court settlement creating a court-administered fund of $180,000,000 to pay $3,200 to each veteran injured by exposure to the chemical.

Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933)

(12 May 1933)    This law created the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) to stabilize farm income by setting price supports and capping crop acreage. Its provisions were eventually extended to cotton, tobacco, beef, pork, wheat, corn, barley, rye, potatoes, grain sorghum, flax, peanuts, sugar beets, and sugar cane. It was supplemented by the Jones–Connally Farm Relief Act, Jones–Costigan Sugar Act, Bankhead Cotton Control Act, Kerr–Smith Tobacco Control Act, and Warren Potato Control Act. The AAA operated the Commodity Credit Corporation. By spring 1934, 3,000,000 farmers had joined 4,000 local AAA marketing associations to set limits on output. The law inadvertently led to large-scale dispossession of tenants, especially cotton sharecroppers, who were evicted so that landlords could receive AAA stipends for taking land out of production; it consequently stimulated the migration of southern blacks to northern cities. The law was held unconstitutional on 6 January 1936 in United States v. Butler. Congress satisfied the Court's objections by passing the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act (1936) and another Agricultural Adjustment Act in 1938.