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
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.
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
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.
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.