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Glossary of the 1800s

In some ways the 19th century had its own language, as terms and events which would have been common knowledge 150 years ago have faded into history. On this page are links to definitions which will help to broaden your understanding of the times.

The Great Triumvirate: Clay, Webster, and Calhoun
Definition of the Great Triumvirate: Clay, Webster, and Calhoun

Abolitionist
Definition of abolitionist.

American Colonization Society
Definition of the American Colonization Society

American Lyceum Movement
The American Lyceum Movement was a thriving social movement to spread education through lectures and other programs. Learn about the lyceums and the difference they made in early America.

American System (Economic Ideas Advanced by Henry Clay)
Definition of American System

Anaconda Plan
Definition of Anaconda Plan

Antebellum Era
Definition of Antebellum Era.

Bank War Waged By President Andrew Jackson
Definition of The Bank War

Barnburners and Hunkers
Definition of Barnburners and Hunkers

Bleeding Kansas
Definition of Bleeding Kansas

Boycott
Definition of Boycott

Brokered Convention
Definition of Brokered Convention

California Gold Rush
Definition of California Gold Rush

California Trail
Definition of California Trail

Chartist Movement, or Chartism
Definition of Chartist Movement or Chartism

Chinese Exclusion Act
Definition of Chinese Exclusion Act

Clipper ship
Definition of clipper ship.

Code Duello
Definition of Code Duello

Compromise of 1877
Definition of Compromise of 1877

Conestoga Wagon
Definition of Conestoga wagon

Congreve Rocket
Definition of Congreve Rocket, British Weapon Referred to in the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Copperhead
Definition of Copperhead

Crittenden Compromise
Definition of Crittenden Compromise

Daguerreotype
Definition of daguerreotype.

Dark Horse Candidate
History of the term dark horse candidate and its 19th century origins.

Decoration Day
Definition of Decoration Day

Dime Novel
Definition of dime novel.

Doughface
Definition of Doughface

East India Company
Definition of East India Company

Emancipation Proclamation
Definition of The Emancipation Proclamation

Embargo Act of 1807
The Embargo Act of 1807 was Thomas Jefferson's misguided plan to punish Britain for interfering with American trade.

Era of Good Feelings
Definition of Era of Good Feelings

Fenian Movement
Definition of Fenian Movement.

Fire-Eaters
Fire-Eaters

Forty Acres and a Mule
Definition of Forty Acres and a Mule

Franklin Expedition
Definition of the Franklin Expedition.

Freedmen's Bureau
Definition of Freedmen's Bureau

Fugitive Slave Act
Definition of Fugitive Slave Act.

Gadsden Purchase
Definition of Gadsden Purchase

Gerrymander
Definition of Gerrymander

Grand Army of the Republic
Definition of the Grand Army of the Republic

Great Game, The
Definition of The Great Game

Greenbacks
Definition of Greenbacks

Impressment of Sailors
Definition of Impressment of Sailors

King Cotton
Definition of King Cotton

Kitchen Cabinet
Definition of Kitchen Cabinet

Knights of Labor
Definition of Knights of Labor

Know-Nothing Party
Definition of the Know-Nothing Party.

Land League
Definition of Land League.

Lecompton Constitution
Lecompton Constitution

Loco-foco
Definition of Loco-foco

Louisiana Purchase
Definition of Louisiana Purchase

Lowell Mill Girls
Definition of Lowell Mill Girls and the Lowell System of Labor

Luddites
Definition of Luddites

Manifest Destiny
Definition of Manifest Destiny.

McCormick Reaper
Definition of McCormick Reaper

Molly Maguires
Definition of Molly Maguires

Monroe Doctrine
Definition of Monroe Doctrine

Mountain Men
Definition of mountain men.

Mugwumps
Definition of Mugwumps

National Road
Definition of National Road

Nullification Crisis
Definition of Nullification Crisis

Opium War
Definition of Opium War.

Oregon Trail
Definition of Oregon Trail.

Packet ship or packet liner
Definition of packet ship or packet liner.

Penny post
Definition of penny post.

Phrenology
Definition of Phrenology

Pogrom
Definition of Pogrom

Pony Express
Definition of Pony Express

Prairie Schooner
Definition of Prairie Schooner

Privateers
Definition of Privateers

Radical Republicans
Definition of Radical Republicans

Reconstruction
Definition of Reconstruction

Santa Fe Trail
Definition of Santa Fe Trail.

Scotland Yard
Definition of Scotland Yard

Scrimshaw
Definition of scrimshaw.

Secession
Definition of Secession

The Secret Six
Definition of The Secret Six

Sharecropping
Definition of Sharecropping

The Spoils System
Definition of Spoils System

Stump Speech
Definition of Stump Speech

Tariff of Abominations
Definition of Tariff of Abominations

Transcendentalist
Definition of Transcendentalist

Transportation (as Punishment)
Definition of transportation as punishment

Treaty of Ghent
Definition of Treaty of Ghent

United States Colored Troops
Definition of United States Colored Troops

United States Sanitary Commission
Definition of U.S. Sanitary Commission

Van Diemen's Land
Definition of Van Diemen's Land.

Victorian
Definition of Victorian

War Hawks
Definition of War Hawks

Wet Plate Collodion Process of Photography
Definition of Wet Plate Method (of Photography

Whig Party
Definition of the Whig Party

Yosemite Valley Grant Act
Definition of Yosemite Valley Grant Act

Young Ireland
Definition of Young Ireland.

Treaty of Kanagawa
Definition of Treaty of Kanagawa

Adams-Onis Treaty
Definition of Adams-Onis Treaty

Wilmot Proviso
Definition of Wilmot Proviso

Free Soil Party
Definition of Free Soil Party

Pendleton Act
Definition of the Pendleton Act, which reformed the Civil Service in the 1880s.

Robber Baron
Definition of Robber Baron

Homestead Act
Definition of Homestead Act

Yellow Journalism
Definition of Yellow Journalism

Fort Laramie
Definition of Fort Laramie

Border States
Definition of Border States

Northwest Passage
Definition of Northwest Passage, the long-sought ocean route across the top of North America.

Bessemer Steel Process
Definition of Bessemer Steel Process, a method of producing high-quality steel.

Sherman Anti-Trust Act
Definition of Sherman Anti-Trust Act, a landmark law which attempted to curtail the influence of robber barons.

Millerites
Definition of Millerites, a 19th century religious sect whose members believed the world would end in the early 1840s.

British Empire
Definition of the British Empire, the colonies controlled by Great Britain spread across the globe throughout the 19th century.

Penny Press definition

Humbug definition

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