Glossary

Here's a comprehensive collection of vocabulary terms and concepts from all six lessons.

Abridge

To curtail (rights or privileges).

American Revolution

The war of 1775–83 in which the American colonists won independence from British rule.

Annex

To take over territory and incorporate it into another political entity.

Bail

Money paid for the release of an accused person as security.

Barracks

A building or group of buildings used to house a specific group of people, such as military personnel, laborers, or prisoners, in austere conditions.

Benign

Pleasant and kind; not harmful or severe.

Civic Engagement

At the core of the issue, civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and nonpolitical processes.

Civil Disobedience

The refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest.

Civil Liberties

Individual rights protected by law from unjust governmental or other interference.

Civil Rights

The rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.

Color Barrier

Also known as the color line in U.S. baseball, which excluded African American players from Major League Baseball and its affiliated minor leagues until 1947.

Common Law

The body of English law as adopted and modified separately by the different states of the United States and by the federal government.

De Jure

Based on laws or actions of the state.

Decommission

To withdraw (something, especially weapons or military equipment) from service.

Demographics

Statistical data relating to a population.

Disparage

To regard or represent as being of little worth.

Due Process

Fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen's entitlement.

Egalitarian

Asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic, or social life.

En Masse

In a group; all together.

Encroachment

Intrusion on a person's territory, rights, etc.

Et Al.

Abbreviation of et alia, meaning “and others.”

Ethnic Cleansing

The mass expulsion or killing of members of an unwanted ethnic or religious group in a society.

European Revolutions of 1848

Liberal and nationalist rebellions that broke out in 1848 in several European nations including Germany, Austria, France, Italy, and Belgium.

Eviction

The act of expelling someone, especially a tenant, from a property; expulsion.

Ex Parte

Refers to improper contact with a party or a judge. Ethical rules forbid (with some exceptions) a lawyer from contacting the judge or the opposing party without the other party's lawyer also being present. A breach of these rules is referred to as improper ex parte contact.

Executive Order

A rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law.

Grand Jury

A jury, normally of 23 jurors, selected to examine the validity of an accusation before trial.

Gross National Product (GNP)

The total value of all goods and services produced within a country in a year, including net income from investments in other countries.

Habeas Corpus

A writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person's release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.

Hedonism

The pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence.

Indefensible

Not justifiable by argument.

Indentured Servant

A person under contract to work for another person for a definite period of time, usually without pay but in exchange for free passage to a new country. During the seventeenth century most of the white laborers in Maryland and Virginia came from England as indentured servants.

Indictment

A formal charge or accusation of a serious crime.

Irish Potato Famine

A famine in Ireland caused by the failure of successive potato crops in the 1840s. Many in Ireland starved, and many emigrated. More than a million Irish came to the United States during the famine.

Issei

A Japanese immigrant to North America; literally "first generation".

Jim Crow Laws

State and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. Enacted by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures in the late 19th century after the Reconstruction period, these laws continued to be enforced until 1965. 

Jurisdiction

The authority to enforce laws or pronounce legal judgments.

Justice

Behavior or treatment in accordance to what is morally right and fair.

LGBTQ

Abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning.

Leadership

A process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.

Longshoreman

A person employed in a port to load and unload ships.

Loophole

An ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules.

Mess Hall

A room or building where groups of people, especially soldiers, eat together.

Mollify

To appease the anger or anxiety of (someone).

Nascent

Coming into existence; emerging.

Naturalize

To acquire citizenship in an adopted country.

Nisei

A person born in the United States or another country like Canada whose parents were immigrants from Japan; literally “second generation.”

Ostracize

To exclude (someone) from a society or group.

Paramount

More important than anything else; supreme.

Presentment

A formal presentation of information to a court, especially by a sworn jury regarding an offense or other matter.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

The highest civilian honor awarded by the president of the United States presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Probable Cause

Reasonable grounds (for making a search, pressing a charge, etc.).

Protectorate

A country or region that is officially controlled by another country.

Quarter

To be stationed or lodged in a specified place.

Redress

Remedy or compensation for a wrong or grievance.

Regime

A mode or system of rule or government.

Sansei

A person born in the United States or another country like Canada whose grandparents were immigrants from Japan; literally "third generation."

Secretary of the Interior

The head of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the division of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources.

Shogun

A hereditary commander-in-chief in feudal Japan. Because of the military power concentrated in his hands and the consequent weakness of the nominal head of state (the emperor), the shogun was generally the real ruler of the country until feudalism was abolished in 1867.

Silicon Valley

A part of the San Francisco Bay Area that is known for the many technology companies that have either started in the area or that have offices there. Major companies located in Silicon Valley include Google, Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo.

Spanish America

The parts of America once colonized by Spaniards and in which Spanish is still generally spoken. This includes most of Central and South America (except Brazil) and part of the Caribbean.

Spartan

Showing the indifference to comfort or luxury traditionally associated with ancient Sparta.

Stalemate

A state of deadlock.

Topography

The arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an area.

Warrant

A document issued by a legal or government official authorizing the police or some other body to make an arrest, search premises, or carry out some other action relating to the administration of justice.

Writ of Coram Nobis

A legal order allowing a court to correct its original judgment upon discovery of a fundamental error which did not appear in the records of the original judgment's proceedings and would have prevented the judgment from being pronounced.

Yellow Journalism

Journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.

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