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Historical Glossary

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Air America

This organization was a front for operations by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Vietnam War. The airline operated as a regular commercial business carrying freight and passengers in southeast Asia. Only about a quarter of its missions concerned intelligence gathering or military activities in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos.

Air Mail Act

(12 June 1934)    Congress forbade several abusive practices that had developed under the Kelly Air Mail Act by denying air mail contracts to monopolies or holding companies, requiring competitive bids for all air mail contracts, setting maximum rates and mail loads, and directing the Interstate Commerce Commission to set “fair and reasonable” air mail rates.

air traffic controllers' strike

On 29 July 1981, the largest strike by federal employees began when 95 percent of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers' Organization (PATCO) walked out in violation of their employment oath. After failing to heed Ronald Reagan's demand to return to their terminals, 11,000 were fired on 5 August and PATCO ceased to exist. The system was rebuilt without any air disasters, using 521 military controllers to supplement the nonstrikers. In 1993, William Clinton gave fired PATCO strikers the right to apply for vacancies as air traffic controllers.

Aix-La-Chapelle, treaty of

(18 October 1748)    This treaty ended King George's War. Britain returned Louisbourg to France in exchange for certain concessions in Europe, but otherwise the situation in North America remained the same as in 1744. An Anglo-French boundary commission was established to determine the Nova Scotia–Acadian boundary, but it had reached no agreement by 1754.


In 1702, at Mobile Bay, France built Fort St Louis, the first white settlement in Ala. and capital of its La. colony until 1722. Anglo-American settlement began in 1805 at Huntsville, but proceeded slowly until after the Creek War. After becoming a territory on 3 March 1817, it grew rapidly (especially in the Black Belt region) and became the 22nd state on 14 December 1819. The Creek Indians were relocated west in 1834–5. Cotton-growing dominated its economy. By 1860 Ala. ranked 12th among states, with 964,201 inhabitants, of whom 45 percent were slaves and 1 percent were foreign-born; it stood 11th in the value of its farmland and livestock and 25th in manufactures.
Ala. became the third CSA state on 11 January 1861. In the Civil War, it furnished 75,000 CSA troops and 7,545 USA soldiers (2,576 white and 4,969 black). Ala. was the site of 336 military engagements.
In June 1865, Andrew Johnson instituted a provisional civilian government, which ended slavery in September. White supremacists took over the legislature and passed a black code (see black codes). Congress imposed military rule on 2 March 1867, but restored self-government and congressional representation on 25 June 1868. Republican control of Ala. ended six-and-a-half years later, on 14 November 1874. Ala. disfranchised most blacks in 1901 and then legislated segregation.
In 1900 it was the 18th state in size and had 1,828,697 people, who were 83 percent rural, 45 percent black, and 1 percent foreign-born; it ranked 19th in the value of its agricultural goods and 30th in manufactures. From 1920 to 1970, it lost 1,258,500 residents, mostly blacks moving to northern cities, and its racial composition shifted greatly. Ala. was a prominent battleground of the civil rights movement and site of the Montgomery bus boycott, the Birmingham desegregation violence, Selma freedom march, and Governor George Wallace's defiance of federal court orders to integrate the University of Alabama in 1963. By 1990 Ala. ranked as the 22nd state, with 4,040,587 residents (73 percent white, 25 percent black, 1 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian), of whom 67 percent were urban and 1.1 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing employed 23 percent of the work force and mining 8 percent.