United States History



Habeas CorpusConstitutional guarantee of a day in court for arrested persons. Lincoln suspended it during the Civil War in areas where Southern sympathizers were disrupting the Northern war effort.
Nathan HaleAmerican patriot who was hanged for treason by the British on September 22, 1776. He had served in the militia in the early days of the war and volunteered for surveillance activity. Undercover as a Dutch schoolmaster, he got information on British troop movements and was headed to the American side of the line when he was captured. When asked by the executioner if he had any last words, Hale had this to say: "I only regret I have but one life to lose for my country."
Henry HalleckMexican-American War veteran and Union general ("Old Brains") who commanded first the Western department and then all the Union armies. In 1864, he was named chief of staff, a secretarial office. Like General George McClellan, he was known for deliberate action and fighting by the book.
Alexander HamiltonFirst Secretary of Treasury, under George Washington. His ideas about government were at the heart of the republican form of government we now have, and his economic theories form the basis of our economy still. Along with James Madison and John Jay, he wrote The Federalist Papersem>, letters to New York newspapers designed to convince the people in that state to ratify the Constitution. He was a leader of the new Federalist Party, along with John Adams. His politics brought him into conflict with Thomas Jefferson, who was a leader of the new Democratic-Republican Party. Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.
Hannibal HamlinFormer governor of and Representative and Senator from Maine and Lincoln's first vice-president. A strong opponent of slavery, he left the Democratic Party in 1856 and helped form the Republican Party. He was not considered for re-election because Lincoln wanted a Democrat on the ticket.
Hampton RoadsSite of many important Civil War events, including the battle of the ironclads, the Monitor and Merrimack; the land-based beginning of McClellan's Peninsular Campaign; and a diplomatic conference aimed at ending the war (attended by Lincoln and War Secretary Edwin Stanton for the Union and Vice-President Alexander Stephens, President Pro Tem of the Senate R.M.T. Hunter of Virginia, and Judge John A. Campbell of Alabama for the Confederacy).
John HancockSigner of the Declaration of Independence who was also a wealthy Massachusetts merchant who liked to defy the British authorities. He was also president of the Continental Congress and governor of Massachusetts. His main contribution, however, to the American Revolution was using his fortune to help finance the struggle.
Harpers FerryFederal arsenal seized by John Brown in 1859 with the intent of arming slaves and Stonewall Jackson in 1862 just before the Battle of Antietam.
William Henry HarrisonNinth president of the United States. Early in his career, he became famous for his military successes, including fighting with General "Mad" Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and defeating the Shawnee at the Battle of Tippecanoe (while territorial governor of Indiana). He also fought in the War of 1812, taking part in the American victory at the Battle of the Thames River. He served in the Ohio Senate and the U.S. Senate, then joined the new Whig Party and got elected president in 1840. On the day he was inaugurated, Harrison gave one of the longest inaugural addresses in history. He did this in the rain, got pneumonia, and died a month later. His term as president: 30 days. His vice-president, John Tyler, succeeded him.
Patrick HenryFiery orator and tireless champion of American independence who is best known for his speech ending with, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" He was an outspoken critic of the Stamp Act and introduced seven resolutions against it to the Virginia House of Burgesses. He was the first governor of Virginia and led the fight for the adoption of the Bill of Rights.
HessiansGerman soldiers loyal to King George III who fought for Britain in the Revolutionary War. King George was from Hanover, an area in Germany, and called in a favor to his homeland, asking for soldiers willing to fight in the New World. The Hessians numbered almost 30,000, and they fought mostly in the Northern Campaign. They are most famous, however, for being surprised and defeated at Trenton by American forces under General George Washington, whose army had just crossed the Delaware River in the dead of night on Dec. 25, 1776.
Homestead ActPassed by Congress in May, 1862. The act gave anyone over 21, head of a family and a U.S. citizen the right to claim 160 acres of public land provided he live on and improve the land or pay $1.25 per acre. The territory available was in western states recently admitted to the Union. This act set off a large movement westward.
John B. HoodConfederate general who fought as a brigade and division commander with General Robert E. Lee at Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg and with General Braxton Bragg at Chickamauga. He fought Union General William T. Sherman at Atlanta but was forced to withdraw.
Joseph HookerMexican War veteran and Union general who led the Army of the Potomac to the disastrous defeat at Chancellorsville. He had previously fought at Seven Days, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. After the disgrace at Chancellorsville, he finished out his career in the Chattanooga and Atlanta campaigns.
Horseshoe BendBattle that took place on March 27, 1814, near Daviston, Alabama. American troops under General Andrew Jackson defeated a smaller force of Upper Creek or Red Stick Native American warriors. This was the final battle of the Creek War, which is considered part of the War of 1812.
House of BurgessesFirst representative government group in the American colonies. Famous delegates include Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. The House of Burgesses met for the first time at Jamestown. It was July 30, 1619.
Sam HoustonFirst president of the Republic of Texas. He had gained fame as a soldier in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (during the War of 1812). He served in Congress and as governor of Tennessee. When Texas declared itself independent from Mexico in 1836, it named Houston as its president. Houston later became represented Texas in the Senate and became governor.
William HoweBritish general who commanded troops at the Battle of Bunker Hill and replaced General Thomas Gage as commander of British troops in America in October 1775, when Gage was called home to Britain. Howe commanded the British to victory in the Battles of Brooklyn and Brandywine and managed to escape with most of his army intact from the trap set for him at Germantown. His decision to go to Philadelphia, not Albany, doomed General John Burgoyne's grand plan for the occupation of New York, leading to the British surrender at Saratoga (and the entrance of France into the war). In May 1778, Howe was replaced by General Henry Clinton and returned to Britain.
William HullHull was a Revolutionary War hero, having fought in battles at Trenton, Princeton, and Saratoga. He was also governor of Michigan Territory during the War of 1812. He tried to invade Canada but failed miserably. The British responded by attacking Detroit, which Hull had to surrender in August 1812. He became a symbol of American failure in battle and was sentenced to death but was pardoned by President James Madison.
ImpressmentForced "recruitment" of sailors into the British Navy. The British Empire was so large by the late 18th Century that the number of sailors needed to staff the ships that sailed around the world was not nearly enough. As a result, the British government decided to "supplement" the Navy with kidnappees. These included Americans, kidnapped from American ships and coastal cities and forced to serve aboard British ships. Nearly 6,000 Americans were impressed in the early 1800s, when Great Britain was at war with Emperor Napoleon of France. Naturally, Americans were outraged about this practice. It finally ended in 1815, with signing of the Treaty of Paris that ended the War of 1812.
Industrial RevolutionPeriod in American (and world) history in which society moved to a focus on machines, factories, and industry. Populations in northern America, especially, built large factories and large machines to do things people used to do by hand.
Intolerable ActsSeries of laws sponsored by British Prime Minister Lord North and enacted in 1774 in response to the Boston Tea Party.
Andrew JacksonSeventh president, served two terms. Known as "Old Hickory." Hero of War of 1812, including the Battle of New Orleans. First person elected to House of Representatives from new state of Tennessee. First president elected from new Democratic Party. Wanted to make government more representative. Declared war on the Bank of the United States. Upheld power of federal government during the Nullification Crisis, some states' attempt to avoid paying a protective tariff.
Stonewall JacksonMexican War veteran, former Virginia Military Institute professor and Confederate general who earned his nickname at Bull Run and earned his reputation by grabbing success from the jaws of defeat time and again. Confederate commander Robert E. Lee called Jackson his ablest commander. His Shenandoah Valley campaign played a part in ending General George McClellan's Peninsular Campaign. He seized Harpers Ferry and then fought at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. It was this last battle that cost him life. He was shot by his own troops and died eight days later.
Thomas JeffersonThird president of the United States, serving two terms. He was also vice-president under John Adams. He wrote the Declaration of Independence. He was a minister to France and later kept his country out of wars with England and France. Jefferson, along with James Madison, was a leader of the new Democratic-Republican Party. His politics brought him into conflict with Adams and Alexander Hamilton, who were the leaders of the new Federalist Party. Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase and sent Meriwether Lewis and James Clark on their famous visit to the Pacific Ocean. In his personal life, he was a successful inventor, inventing among other things a swivel chair and a wheel cipher, which could be used to send or read coded messages. He also had many interesting inventions at his home, Monticello.
Andrew JohnsonLincoln's second vice-president, president in his own right after Lincoln was killed, and first president ever to be impeached. He began his career in the Tennessee state legislature and moved on to both houses of Congress and also served as governor of Tennessee and, during the Civil War, as military governor. His Reconstruction policies had the Lincoln framework, but Congressional leaders wanted policies that were more militant and unforgiving. Many Reconstruction bills were passed over Johnson's veto, including the Tenure of Office Act, a dispute over which ultimately led to Johnson's impeachment and trial.
JamestownFirst English colony in America to survive and become permanent. It was settled in 1607 and supported itself through tobacco farming. It was later the capital of Virginia and the site of the House of Burgesses.
John JayPresident of the Continental Congress, Minister to Spain, author of the Treaty of Paris, the first Chief Justice of the U.S., and governor of New York. He also wrote the New York constitution and wrote several of The Federalist Papers.
Joseph Johnstonformer quartermaster general of the U.S. Army and Confederate general in command of the Virginia army at the First Battle of Bull Run. He later tried to relieve the siege at Vicksburg and forced Union General William T. Sherman to chase him to Atlanta.
John Paul JonesAmerican naval hero famous for captaining the Bonhomme Richard and uttering the phrase, "I have not yet begun to fight." He was born in Scotland and later moved to Virginia. He began fighting British ships in 1775, winning some flashy victories. In 1777, he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to France in order to refit his ship. From there, he sailed north to Britain and fought several battles there. One of these battles was against the Serapis and was the occasion on which Jones said his famous words. In fact, Jones was fighting against two faster ships at the time (the other one being the Countess of Scarborough). The Bonhomme Richard had 42 guns; the two British ships combined had 72 guns. Yet Jones outwitted the two captains and claimed victory. In 1781, he was given command of a new ship, but it never sailed.
Judiciary Act1789 law that created the Judicial Branch of the federal government. Among the things provided for in the Act:
  • the number of members of the Supreme Court (6)
  • the number of lower district courts (13)
  • the idea that the Supreme Court can settle disputes between states
  • the idea that a decision by the Supreme Court is final.
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