M-P
22.1 A-D
 
22.2 E-H
 
22.3 I-L
 
 
22.4 M-P
 
22.5 Q-T
 
22.6 U-Z
 
M-P
M
Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur was an American general who commanded the United States army in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he oversaw the American occupation of Japan and later led American troops in the Korean War. Though MacArthur pushed for total victory in the Korean War, seeking to conquer all of Korea and perhaps move into China, Harry S. Truman held him back from this aggressive goal. After a month of publicly denouncing the administration’s policy, MacArthur was relieved from duty in April 1951.
Machine politics
The means by which political parties during the Industrial Revolution controlled candidates and voters through networks of loyalty and corruption. In machine politics, party bosses exploited their ability to give away jobs and benefits (patronage) in exchange for votes.
Macon’s Bill No. 2
James Madison’s 1810 ploy to induce either Britain or France to lift trade restrictions. Under the bill, U.S. trade sanctions were lifted with the promise that if one country agreed to free trade with the U.S., sanctions would be reimposed against the other nation.
James Madison
Fourth president of the United States (1809–1817). Madison began his political career as a Federalist, joining forces with Alexander Hamilton during the debate over the Constitution. He was one of the authors of The Federalist Papers and a staunch advocate of strong central government. Madison later became critical of excessive power in central government and left the Federalist Party to join Thomas Jefferson in leading the Republican Party.
Maine
U.S. battleship sunk by an explosion in Havana harbor in February 1898. Though later investigations suggested that an onboard fire had caused the blast, popular rumor was that the Spanish were responsible. The sinking of the Maine, combined with sensationalist news reports of Spanish atrocities, led the American public to push for war against Spain.
Manhattan Project
A secret American scientific initiative to develop the atomic bomb. Scientists worked for almost three years in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and on July 16, 1945 succeeded in detonating the first atomic blast. The bombs produced by the Manhattan Project were subsequently dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
Manifest destiny
The belief of many Americans in the mid-nineteenth century that it was the nation’s destiny and duty to expand and conquer the West. Journalist John L. O’Sullivan first coined the phrase “manifest destiny” in 1845, as he wrote of “our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of our continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty.”
Horace Mann
Appointed secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837. Mann reformed the public school system by increasing state spending on schools, lengthening the school year, dividing the students into grades, and introducing standardized textbooks. Mann set the standard for public school reform throughout the nation.
Mao Zedong
Founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921. In 1949, Mao defeated Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist forces and established the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Marbury v. Madison
In this 1803 case, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional because Congress had overstepped its bounds in granting the Supreme Court the power to issue a writ of mandamus (an ultimatum from the court) to any officer of the United States. This ruling established the principle of judicial review.
March Against Death
In November 1969, 300,000 people marched in a long, circular path through Washington, D.C. for 40 hours straight, each holding a candle and the name of a soldier killed or a village destroyed in Vietnam. The march was a high point in the student antiwar movement and a poignant symbol of antiwar sentiment in the United States.
John Marshall
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 until his death in 1835. Under Marshall’s leadership, the Court became as powerful a federal force as the executive and legislative branches. Marshall’s most notable decision came in the 1803 Marbury v. Madison case, in which he asserted the principle of judicial review. During James Monroe’s presidency, Marshall delivered two rulings that curtailed states’ rights and exposed the latent conflicts in the Era of Good Feelings.
Thurgood Marshall
Attorney who successfully argued the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in front of the Supreme Court in 1954. In 1967, Marshall became the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.
Marshall Plan
A four-year plan (begun in 1948) to provide American aid for the economic reconstruction of Europe. The U.S. government hoped that this plan would prevent further communist expansion by eliminating economic insecurity and political instability in Europe. By 1952, Congress had appropriated some $17 billion for the Marshall Plan, and the Western European economy had largely recovered.
Mayflower
The ship that carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic, from the Netherlands to Plymouth Plantation in 1620, after intially fleeing England.
Mayflower Compact
Often cited as the first example of self-government in the Americas. The Pilgrims, having arrived at a harbor far north of the land that was rightfully theirs, signed the Mayflower Compact to establish a “civil body politic” under the sovereignty of James I.
McCarthyism
The extreme anticommunism in American politics and society during the early 1950s. The term derives from the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who led an intense campaign against alleged subversives during this period.
McCulloch v. Maryland
1896 Supreme Court case that determined states could not tax federal institutions such as the Second Bank of the United States. The ruling asserted that the federal government wielded supreme power in its sphere and that no states could interfere with the exercise of federal powers. The ruling angered many Republicans, who favored states’ rights.
William McKinley
Republican candidate who defeated William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election. A supporter of big business, McKinley pushed for high protective tariffs. Under his leadership, the U.S. became an imperial world power. He was assassinated by an anarchist in 1901.
McKinley Tariff
Raised protective tariffs by nearly 50 percent in 1890, the highest in U.S. history.
Meat Inspection Act
Passed in 1906. The act set federal regulations for meatpacking plants and established a system of federal inspection after the muckrakers’ exposés revealed the unsanitary and hazardous conditions of food processing plants.
Medical Care Act
An element of President Johnson’s 1965 Great Society program. The Medical Care Act created Medicare and Medicaid to provide senior citizens and welfare recipients with health care.
Herman Melville
A prominent American fiction writer in the 1840s and 1850s. His best-known novel is Moby-Dick (1851).
H.L. Mencken
Writer who satirized political leaders and American society in the 1920s. Mencken’s magazine American Mercury served as the journalistic counterpart to the postwar disillusionment of the “lost generation.”
Mercantilism
Theory of trade which stresses that a nation’s economic strength depends on exporting more than it imports. British mercantilism manifested itself in the triangular trade and in a series of laws, such as the Navigation Acts (1651–1673), aimed at fostering British economic dominance.
Mexican War
Tension between the U.S. and Mexico grew after Texas accepted Congress’s offer of admission to the Union despite the Mexican government’s opposition. In 1846, after Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande, the U.S. declared war against Mexico. The U.S. won the war easily. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and granted the U.S. possession of Texas, New Mexico, and California in exchange for $15 million.
Minutemen
The nickname given to local militiamen who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. “Minutemen” were supposedly able to be ready for battle at a minute’s notice.
Missouri Compromise
Resolved the conflict surrounding the admission of Missouri to the Union as either a slave or free state. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 made Missouri a slave state, admitted Maine as a free state, and prohibited slavery in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory.
James Monroe
President from 1817 until 1825. His presidency was at the core of the Era of Good Feelings, characterized by a one-party political system, an upsurge of American nationalism, and Monroe’s own efforts to avoid political controversy and conflict.
Monroe Doctrine
Issued by President Monroe in December 1823. The doctrine asserted that the Americas were no longer open to European colonization or influence, and paved the way for U.S. dominance of the Western Hemisphere.
J.P. Morgan
A Wall Street financier and business leader during the era of industrialization. In 1901, Morgan bought Carnegie Steel and established the world’s first billion-dollar corporation, U. S. Steel Corporation.
Mormonism
The Church of Latter-Day Saints, founded by Joseph Smith in 1831. The church’s core tenets derive from the Book of Mormon, a book of revelation similar to the Bible. Led by Smith, the Mormons moved steadily westward during the early 1830s, seeking to escape religious persecution. After Smith was murdered in 1844, a new leader, Brigham Young, led the Mormons to Utah, where they settled and are still centered today.
Lucretia Mott
An outspoken proponent of women’s rights. Mott organized the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Muckrakers
Investigative journalists who worked during the early 1900s to expose the corruption in American industry and politics. Their writings and publications encouraged widespread political and social reform. Important muckrakers include Upton Sinclair, Ida Tarbell, and Lincoln Steffens.
Munich Pact
A 1938 agreement between Britain, France, Italy, and Germany. The Munich Pact permitted Germany to annex the Czech Sudentenland after Hitler declared he would take it by force. Intended to appease Hitler and avoid war, the pact only emboldened him further.
Benito Mussolini
A fascist Italian dictator who rose to power in 1922. Mussolini aligned himself with Hitler, creating Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936. The union of the two fascist forces paved the way for World War II.
Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)
U.S. Cold War policy, developed in the 1960s, that acknowledged that both the U.S. and the Soviet Union had enough nuclear weaponry to destroy each other many times over. MAD policy hoped to prevent outright war with the Soviet Union on the premise that any attack would lead to the complete destruction of both powers.
N
Nagasaki
The site of the second U.S. atomic bomb attack on Japan. Nagasaki was devastated by a nuclear blast on August 9, 1945. The explosion caused 40,000 immediate deaths and 60,000 injuries.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Established in 1909 by a group of African Americans (led byW.E.B. Du Bois) who joined with white reformers. The NAACP called for an end to racial discrimination, attacked Jim Crow laws, and fought to overturn the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson. In the 1920s, it served as a counterpoint to the more radical black rights group, the UNIA, led by Marcus Garvey.
National Conservation Commission
Created in 1909 by Theodore Roosevelt. The National Conservation Commission aimed to achieve more efficient and responsible management of the nation’s resources.
National Defense Act
Passed in June 1916. The National Defense Act called for the buildup of military forces in anticipation of war and was largely a response to German threats to American neutrality.
National Labor Relations Act
Popularly known as the Wagner Act. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 provided a framework for collective bargaining. It granted workers the right to join unions and bargain, and forbade employers from discriminating against unions. The act demonstrated FDR’s support for labor needs and unionization.
National Origins Act
Passed in 1924. The National Origins Act established maximum quotas for immigration into the United States. This law severely restricted immigration from southern and eastern Europe, and excluded Asians entirely.
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Formed in 1966. NOW was a central part of the 1960s women’s liberation movement. The organization lobbied Congress for equal rights, initiated lawsuits, and raised public awareness of women’s issues.
National Recovery Administration (NRA)
Perhaps the most important element of the first New Deal, the NRA established a forum in which business and government officials met to set regulations for fair competition. These regulations bound industry from 1933 until 1935, when the Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional.
National Republican Party
Led by Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams. The National Republicans were one of the two new political parties that emerged in the late 1820s to challenge the dominant Republican Party. The National Republican Party found its core support in the industrial Northeast. During Jackson’s second term in office, the party reconfigured into the Whig Party.
National War Labor Board
Monitored and regulated the efforts of organized labor during World War II. Although the board restricted wage increases, it encouraged the extension of many fringe benefits to American workers.
Navigation Acts
Regulated trade in the colonies (1651–1673) in order to exclusively benefit the British economy. The acts restricted trade between England and the colonies to English or colonial ships; required certain colonial goods to pass through England or Scotland before being exported to foreign nations; provided subsidies for the production of certain raw goods in the colonies; and banned the colonists from competing with the English in large-scale manufacturing.
Neutrality Acts
Passed by Congress between 1935 and 1937. The acts made arms sales to warring countries illegal and forbade American citizens to travel aboard the ships of belligerent nations in an effort to keep the U.S. out of World War II.
New Deal
FDR’s strategy for relief and recovery in the United States during the Great Depression. Most New Deal measures emerged during the first hundred days of FDR’s presidency.
New England Confederation
Formed by New England colonies of Massachusettes, Connecticut, New Haven, and Plymouth in 1643 as a defense against local Native American tribes and the encroaching Dutch. The colonists formed the alliance without the English crown’s authorization.
New freedom
Woodrow Wilson’s approach to foreign relations. Unlike Roosevelt’s “big stick” policies and Taft’s dollar diplomacy, Wilson’s foreign policy denounced imperialism and economic meddling, and focused instead on spreading democracy throughout the world.
New Frontier
John F. Kennedy’s domestic policy. The “New Frontier” focused on reform at home and victory in the Cold War.
New Jersey Plan
Presented at the Constitutional Convention as an alternative to the Virginia Plan. The New Jersey Plan proposed a unicameral Congress with equal representation for each state.
New Look
Eisenhower’s Cold War strategy, preferring deterrence to ground force involvement, and emphasizing the massive retaliatiory potential of a large nuclear stockpile. Eisenhower worked to increase nuclear spending and decrease spending on ground troops.
Nineteenth Amendment
Ratified in August 1920. The Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote.
Richard Nixon
Republican, served as president from 1969 until his resignation on August 9, 1974. Nixon oversaw a moderately conservative domestic program; gradually pulled troops out of Vietnam; and improved relations with the nation’s communist enemies. He resigned from office after being implicated in the Watergate scandal.
Nixon Doctrine
Announced in July 1969 as a corollary to Nixon’s efforts to pull American troops out of Vietnam, the Nixon Doctrine pledged a change in the U.S. role in the Third World from military protector to helpful partner.
Non-Intercourse Act
After the repeal of the Embargo Act, this 1809 law restricted trade with Britain and France only, opening up trade with all other foreign ports.
Oliver North
A member of the National Security Council who was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. In 1987, investigations revealed that North had headed the initiative to secretly and illegally fund the contras in Nicaragua, who fought against an anti-U.S. regime.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Passed by a narrow margin in Congress in November 1993. NAFTA removed trade barriers between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. President Bill Clinton championed this and other efforts to integrate the U.S. into the international economy.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Formed in 1949 to counter the Soviet threat in Eastern Europe. NATO members agreed to be a part of a unified coalition in the event of an attack on one of the nations. Throughout the Cold War, NATO was the primary Western alliance in opposition to communist forces.
Northwest Ordinance
Defined the process by which new states could be admitted into the Union from the Northwest Territory. The ordinance forbade slavery in the territory but allowed citizens to vote on the legality of slavery once statehood had been established.
Nullification Crisis
Like the tariff bills of 1816 and 1824, the Tariff of 1828 hurt the Southern economy while benefiting Northern and Western industries. For this reason, Southerners called it the “Tariff of Abominations.” Vice President John C. Calhoun denounced the tariff as unconstitutional on the grounds that federal laws must benefit all states equally, and urged that states nullify the tariff within their own borders. South Carolina did so in November 1832, punctuating a debate over tariffs and states’ rights that raged within the administration and the entire federal government between 1828 and 1833.
Nuremberg Trials
Trials of Nazi war criminals that began in November 1945. More than 200 defendants were indicted in the thirteen trials. All but thirty-eight of the defendants were convicted of conspiring to wage aggressive war and of mistreating prisoners of war and inhabitants of occupied territories.
O
Oil embargo
In 1973, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) nations refused to export oil to Western nations. The embargo, in effect until 1974, sparked rapid inflation in the West and had a crippling effect on the U.S. economy. The ensuing economic crisis plagued Gerald Ford’s tenure as president.
Office of Censorship
Created in December 1941. The Office of Censorship examined all letters sent overseas and worked with media firms to control information broadcast to the people in an attempt to limit information leaks during World War II.
Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Established by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1942 to conduct espionage, collect information crucial to strategic planning, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy.
Office of War Information
Employed artists, writers, and advertisers to shape public opinion concerning World War II. The office publicized reasons for U.S. entry into the war, often portraying the enemy Axis powers as barbaric and cruel.
Open Door policy
Developed by Secretary of State John Hay in 1899. The Open Door policy aimed to combat the European spheres of influence that threatened to squeeze American business interests out of Chinese markets. It pressured European powers to open key ports within their spheres of influence to U.S. businessmen.
Operation Overlord
The Allied air, land, and sea assault on occupied France. The operation centered on the “D-Day” invasion on June 6, 1944 in which American, British, and Canadian troops stormed the beaches at Normandy. These Allied forces sustained heavy casualties but eventually took the beach and moved gradually inland.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Head of the Manhattan Project, the secret American operation to develop the atomic bomb.
P
Thomas Paine
Author of influential pamphlet Common Sense, which exhorted Americans to rise up in opposition to the British government and establish a new type of government based on Enlightenment ideals. Historians have cited the publication of this pamphlet as the event that finally sparked the Revolutionary War. Paine also wrote rational criticisms of religion, most famously in The Age of Reason (1794–1807).
Palmer Raids
A series of raids coordinated by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Throughout 1910, police and federal marshals raided the homes of suspected radicals and the headquarters of radical organizations in thirty-two cities. The Palmer Raids resulted in more than 4,000 arrests, 550 deportations, and uncountable violations of civil rights.
Panama Canal
An articifial waterway built by the U.S. between 1904 and 1914 as part of Roosevelt’s “big stick” diplomacy. The canal stretches across the isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Panama gained full control of the canal in 1999.
Panic of 1819
The start of a two-year depression caused by extensive speculation, the loose lending practices of state banks, a decline in European demand for American staple goods, and mismanagement within the Second Bank of the United States. The panic of 1819 exacerbated social divisions within the United States and is often called the beginning of the end of the Era of Good Feelings.
Panic of 1837
Punctured the economic boom sparked by state banks’ loose lending practices and overspeculation. Contraction of the nation’s credit in 1836 led to widespread debt and unemployment. Martin Van Buren spent most of his time in office attempting to stabilize the economy and ameliorate the depression.
Panic of 1873
Due to overexpansion and overspeculation, the nation’s largest bank collapsed, followed by the collapse of many smaller banks, business firms, and the stock market. The panic of 1873 precipitated a five-year national depression.
Panic of 1893
Began when the railroad industry faltered during the early 1890s, sparking the collapse of many related industries. Confidence in the U.S. dollar plunged. The depression lasted roughly four years.
Paris Accords
Signed on January 27, 1973. The Paris Accords settled the terms of U.S. withdrawal from Indochina, ending the war between the U.S. and North Vietnam but leaving the conflict between North and South Vietnam unresolved.
Rosa Parks
African American seamstress who sparked the Montgomery bus boycott by refusing to give up her bus seat for a white man in December 1955.
Peace Corps
Created by JFK in 1961. The Corps sends volunteer teachers, health workers, and engineers on two-year aid programs to Third World countries.
Pearl Harbor
An American naval base in Hawaii that was bombed by Japan on December 7, 1941. The surprise attack resulted in the loss of more than 2,400 American lives, as well as many aircraft and sea vessels. The following day the U.S. declared war against Japan, officially entering World War II.
Pendleton Act
Passed in 1883. The Pendleton Act established a civil service exam for many public posts and created hiring systems based on merit rather than on patronage. The act aimed to eliminate corrupt hiring practices.
William Penn
English Quaker who founded Pennsylvania in 1682 after receiving a charter from King Charles II. Penn launched the colony as a “holy experiment” based on religious tolerance.
Ross Perot
A third-party candidate in the 1992 presidential election who won 19 percent of the popular vote. Perot’s strong showing demonstrated voter disaffection with the two major parties.
Personal liberty laws
Passed by nine northern states to counteract the Fugitive Slave Act. These state laws guaranteed all alleged fugitives the right to a lawyer and a trial by jury, and prohibited state jails from holding alleged fugitives.
Franklin Pierce
Democrat, served as president of the United States from 1853 to 1857. Pierce was the last president until 1932 to win the popular and electoral vote in both the North and South. Pierce was little more than a caretaker of the White House in the years leading up to the Civil War.
Pilgrims
A group of English Separatists who sought refuge from the Church of England in the Netherlands. In 1620, they sailed to the New World on the Mayflower and established the colony of Plymouth Plantation.
Platt Amendment
Passed in 1901. The Platt Amendment authorized American withdrawal from Cuba only on the following conditions: Cuba must make no treaty with a foreign power limiting its independence; the U.S. reserved the right to intervene in Cuba when it saw fit; and the U.S. could maintain a naval base at Guantánamo Bay.
Plessy v. Ferguson
The 1896 Supreme Court decision ruled that segregation was not illegal as long as facilities for each race were equal. This “separate but equal” doctrine served to justify segregation throughout the early and mid-1900s. In 1954, the Supreme Court overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.
Edgar Allan Poe
A fiction writer who gained popularity in the 1840s for his horrific tales. He published many famous stories, including “The Raven” (1844) and “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846).
James K. Polk
President from 1845 to 1849. A firm believer in expansion, Polk led the U.S. into the Mexican War in 1846, after which the U.S. acquired Texas, New Mexico, and California. Many Northerners saw Polk as an agent of Southern will aiming to expand the nation in order to extend slavery into the West.
Popular Front
A political group active in aiding the leftist forces in the Spanish Civil War. Prominent American intellectuals and writers, including Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, joined the group.
Popular sovereignty
First espoused by Democratic presidential candidate Lewis Cass in 1848 and eventually championed by Stephen A. Douglas. The principle of popular sovereignty stated that Congress should not interfere with the issue of slavery in new territories. Instead each territory, when seeking admission into the Union, would draw up a constitution declaring slavery legal or illegal as it saw fit. Popular sovereignty became the core of the Democratic position on slavery’s expansion during the 1850s.
Populist Party
Formed in 1892 through farmers’ alliances in the Midwest and South with poor laborers. The Populist Party agitated for various reforms that supported farmers and the poor, including “free silver” (the unlimited coinage of silver), which would ease debt payments. In 1896, the Democrats appropriated parts of the Populist platform and nominated William Jennings Bryan for president. Bryan lost the election despite the joint backing of the Democrats and Populists.
Potsdam Conference
Held July 17–August 2, 1945. At the conference Truman, Churchill, and Stalin met to coordinate the division of Germany into occupation zones and plan for the Nuremberg Trials. Potsdam was the final meeting between the Big Three powers under the pretense of a wartime alliance.
Elvis Presley
Most famous rock star of the 1950s. His sexually charged dance moves and unique sound played a major role in defining the growing genre of rock-and-roll, which became prominent during the 1950s.
Proclamation of American Neutrality
In the early 1790s, Britain and France went to war with each other. The American public was torn over which nation to support: the South largely backed France, while the North favored the British. Issued in 1793, the Proclamation was George Washington’s response to the public division, and it stated that the U.S. would maintain neutral during the war.
Public Works Administration (PWA)
Created by the National Industrial Recovery Act as part of the New Deal. The PWA spent over $4 million on projects designed to employ the jobless and reinvigorate the economy.
Joseph Pulitzer
Owner of the New York World, the main competitor of William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. Though the World was the (slightly) more reputable of the two papers, both engaged in yellow journalism, exaggerating facts and sensationalizing stories about the Spanish-American War.
Pullman strike
1894 strike against the Chicago-based Pullman Palace Car Company after wages were slashed and union representatives were fired. Led by Eugene Debs, the boycott completely crippled railroad traffic in Chicago. The courts ruled that the strikers had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and issued an injunction against them. When the strikers refused to obey the injunction, Debs was arrested and federal troops marched in to crush the strike. In the ensuing frenzy, thirteen died and fifty-three were injured.
Puppet governments
Governments set up and supported by outside powers. Puppet governments were established by both the U.S. and the USSR. during the Cold War. The two superpowers hand-picked the leaders of developing nations in order to maintain influence over those countries.
Pure Food and Drug Act
Passed in 1906 in response to questionable packaging and labeling practices of food and drug industries. The act prohibited the sale of adulterated or inaccurately labeled foods and medicines.
Puritans
A radical Protestant group that sought to “purify” the Church of England from within. Persecuted for their beliefs, many Puritans fled to the New World in the early 1600s, where they established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in present-day Boston. The Puritans placed heavy emphasis on family values and strict morality.
Help | Feedback | Make a request | Report an error