Emily Dickinson

Key Terms and Events

Terms

Abolitionist Movement  -  · A social movement organized in the North to abolish the institution of slavery, upon which the economy of the South depended. The movement gained most of its influence during the three decades preceding the Civil War.
Assonant rhyme  -  · Repetition of related vowel sounds, or the rhyming of vowels rather than whole words. Dickinson often used assonant rhyme in her poetry in order to retain the most apt word choices for her meanings, rather than picking two words that rhymed but did not convey meaning most accurately.
Congregationalism  -  · The type of Protestantism that the Dickinsons practiced in their Amherst church. It differs from other kinds of Protestantism because of its organization–it allows each congregation control over its own affairs, rather than centralizing power. It holds to the principle that God is the true head of each church, not a bishop or other religious leader.
The Great Revival  -  · A religious movement that swept New England around 1850. A renewal of religious conviction and activity, it mandated a recommitment to Jesus Christ and the tenets of Christianity. The movement boosted the temperance cause.
Temperance -  · An organized effort that culminated in Prohibition, its great success. The Temperance movement urged people to abstain from drinking alcohol. Temperance was a political as well as a social issue, since proponents of Temperance sought government control over liquor, not just licensing.
Transcendentalism -  · A philosophical and literary movement popular in New England between about 1836 and 1860. Its central precepts focus on the divinity of man and his relationship to nature. It leaned on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the English romantic poets Coleridge and Wordsworth. In America, Ralph Waldo Emerson was the most prominent proponent of Transcendentalism.

Events

Civil War - The conflict between the Northern and the Southern states, which seceded and formed the Confederacy. The war lasted from 1861 to 1865 and was one of the bloodiest conflicts in U.S. history, resulting in over 600,000 deaths.
Dred Scott case  - Officially called Scott v. Sanford, this case was argued before the United States Supreme Court from 1856–1857. Dred Scott, a slave from Missouri, accompanied his master to Illinois and then to the Wisconsin territories, where slavery was illegal. When his master died, Scott sued his master's widow for his and his family's freedom, stating that because he was in a free state, he was no longer a slave. The Supreme Court ruled against Scott. Their decision meant that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in new states and territories.
Kansas-Nebraska Act  - A bill passed by Congress on May 30, 1854, granting statehood to the Kansas and Nebraska territories. The bill intensified the slave debate in America because it directly contradicted provisions in the Missouri Compromise, which barred the extension of slavery into new states. The legality of slavery, according to this new law, would be decided by "popular sovereignty"–that is, by the inhabitants of the territory.
1850 Compromise - A series of legislative measures meant to assuage Southern fears that slavery was on the way out, and to reassure Northern anti-slavery forces that slavery was not going to be extended. Under this compromise, California was admitted as a free state, New Mexico and Utah territories were organized with the possibility of choosing to make slavery legal, and slavery was prohibited in the newly organized District of Columbia. In addition, the fugitive slave laws were made more strict.