Student's Guide to Elections


Edited by: Bruce J. Schulman

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    • Student's Guide to Elections

      • Volume 1: Student's Guide to Elections
      • Volume 2: Student's Guide to Congress
      • Volume 3: Student's Guide to the Presidency
      • Volume 4: Student's Guide to the Supreme Court


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      List of Illustrations


      Reader's Guide

      The list that follows is provided as an aid to readers in locating articles on related topics. The Reader's Guide arranges all of the A-Z entries in the Guide according to these 11 key concepts of the curriculum in American Government: Amendments, Elections and Election Campaigns, Electoral Process, Federalism and Politics, National and State Powers, Political Parties, Principles of Government, Public Policies, The Constitution, Three Branches of Government, and Voters and Voting Rights. Some articles appear in more than one category.

      • Amendments
      • Fifteenth Amendment
      • Nineteenth Amendment
      • Seventeenth Amendment
      • Twelfth Amendment
      • Twentieth Amendment
      • Twenty-fifth Amendment
      • Twenty-fourth Amendment
      • Twenty-second Amendment
      • Twenty-sixth Amendment
      • Elections and Election Campaigns
      • Buckley v. Valeo
      • Campaign Finance
      • Democratic Party
      • Election of 1789: George Washington
      • Election of 1792: George Washington
      • Election of 1796: John Adams
      • Election of 1800: Thomas Jefferson
      • Election of 1804: Thomas Jefferson
      • Election of 1808: James Madison
      • Election of 1812: James Madison
      • Election of 1816: James Monroe
      • Election of 1820: James Monroe
      • Election of 1824: John Quincy Adams
      • Election of 1828: Andrew Jackson
      • Election of 1832: Andrew Jackson
      • Election of 1836: Martin Van Buren
      • Election of 1840: William Henry Harrison
      • Election of 1844: James Knox Polk
      • Election of 1848: Zachary Taylor
      • Election of 1852: Franklin Pierce
      • Election of 1856: James Buchanan
      • Election of 1860: Abraham Lincoln
      • Election of 1864: Abraham Lincoln
      • Election of 1868: Ulysses S. Grant
      • Election of 1872: Ulysses S. Grant
      • Election of 1876: Rutherford Birchard Hayes
      • Election of 1880: James Abram Garfield
      • Election of 1884: Grover Cleveland
      • Election of 1888: Benjamin Harrison
      • Election of 1892: Grover Cleveland
      • Election of 1896: William McKinley
      • Election of 1900: William McKinley
      • Election of 1904: Theodore Roosevelt
      • Election of 1908: William Howard Taft
      • Election of 1912: Woodrow Wilson
      • Election of 1916: Woodrow Wilson
      • Election of 1920: Warren Gamaliel Harding
      • Election of 1924: Calvin Coolidge
      • Election of 1928: Herbert Hoover
      • Election of 1932: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
      • Election of 1936: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
      • Election of 1940: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
      • Election of 1944: Franklin Delano Roosevelt
      • Election of 1948: Harry S. Truman
      • Election of 1952: Dwight David Eisenhower
      • Election of 1956: Dwight David Eisenhower
      • Election of 1960: John Fitzgerald Kennedy
      • Election of 1964: Lyndon Baines Johnson
      • Election of 1968: Richard Milhous Nixon
      • Election of 1972: Richard Milhous Nixon
      • Election of 1976: James Carter
      • Election of 1980: Ronald Reagan
      • Election of 1984: Ronald Reagan
      • Election of 1988: George Herbert Walker Bush
      • Election of 1992: William Jefferson Clinton
      • Election of 1996: William Jefferson Clinton
      • Election of 2000: George Walker Bush
      • Election of 2004: George Walker Bush
      • Election of 2008: Campaigns
      • Elections, Congressional
      • Elections, Gubernatorial
      • Elections, House of Representatives
      • Elections, Presidential
      • Elections, Senate
      • Incumbency
      • Interest Groups
      • Media Coverage of Campaigns and Elections
      • PACs: Political Action Committees
      • Party Platforms
      • Special Elections, House of Representatives
      • Special Elections, Senate
      • Super Tuesday and Regional Primaries
      • Twelfth Amendment
      • Watergate
      • Electoral Process
      • Absentee Voting
      • Baker v. Carr
      • Campaign Finance
      • Caucus System
      • Election Day
      • Elections, Congressional
      • Elections, Gubernatorial
      • Elections, House of Representatives
      • Elections, Presidential
      • Elections, Senate
      • Electoral College
      • Faithless Electors
      • Gerrymandering
      • Interest Groups
      • Nominating Conventions
      • One-Person, One-Vote
      • Poll Tax
      • Presidential Debates
      • Primary Elections
      • Primary Elections, Presidential
      • Seventeenth Amendment
      • Special Elections, House of Representatives
      • Special Elections, Senate
      • Super Tuesday and Regional Primaries
      • Third Parties
      • Twelfth Amendment
      • Twenty-fourth Amendment
      • Voter Registration
      • Federalism and Politics
      • Anti-Federalists
      • Baker v. Carr
      • Campaign Finance
      • Constitutional Convention, The
      • Democratic-Republican Party
      • Federalism
      • Federalist Party
      • Libertarian Party
      • Reapportionment and Redistricting
      • Term Limits
      • National and State Powers
      • Anti-Federalists
      • Baker v. Carr
      • Campaign Finance
      • The Constitutional Convention
      • Democratic-Republican Party
      • Elections, Gubernatorial
      • Electoral College
      • Federalism
      • Gerrymandering
      • Impeachment and Removal, Gubernatorial
      • Impeachment, Presidential
      • Libertarian Party
      • One-Person, One-Vote
      • Seventeenth Amendment
      • Political Parties
      • American Independent Party
      • Anti-Federalists
      • Anti-Masonic Party
      • Communist Party
      • Conservative Party
      • Constitutional Union Party
      • Democratic Party
      • Democratic-Republican Party
      • Dixiecrats
      • Federalist Party
      • Free Soil Party
      • Green Party
      • Greenback Party
      • Know Nothing (American) Party
      • Liberal Party
      • Libertarian Party
      • Liberty Party
      • National Unity Party
      • Natural Law Party
      • New Alliance Party
      • Party Platforms
      • Peace and Freedom Party
      • People's Party
      • Political Parties, Development and Role of
      • Populist Party
      • Progressive (Bull Moose) Party
      • Progressive (La Follette) Party
      • Progressive (Wallace) Party
      • Reform Party
      • Republican Party
      • Socialist Party
      • Socialist Workers Party
      • Third Parties
      • Whig Party
      • Principles of Government
      • Baker v. Carr
      • Campaign Finance
      • Constitutional Convention, The
      • Election Day
      • Elections, Congressional
      • Electoral College
      • Federalism
      • Impeachment, Presidential
      • Majority Rule
      • Separation of Powers
      • Term Limits
      • Public Policies
      • African American Voters
      • Bill of Rights
      • Campaign Finance
      • Census
      • Democratic Party
      • Dixiecrats
      • Election Day
      • Fifteenth Amendment
      • Gerrymandering
      • Interest Groups
      • Libertarian Party
      • Liberty Party
      • Literacy Tests
      • Nineteenth Amendment
      • Party Platforms
      • Republican Party
      • U.S. Labor Party
      • Voting Rights Act of 1965, The
      • The Constitution
      • Anti-Federalists
      • Bill of Rights
      • Census
      • Constitution of the United States
      • Constitutional Convention, The
      • Elections, Congressional
      • Elections, House of Representatives
      • Elections, Presidential
      • Elections, Senate
      • Electoral College
      • Fifteenth Amendment
      • Impeachment, Presidential
      • Nineteenth Amendment
      • Reapportionment and Redistricting
      • Separation of Powers
      • Seventeenth Amendment
      • Special Elections, House of Representatives
      • Special Elections, Senate
      • Term Limits
      • Twelfth Amendment
      • Twentieth Amendment
      • Twenty-fifth Amendment
      • Twenty-second Amendment
      • Three Branches of Government
      • African Americans in Congress
      • Caucus System
      • Census
      • Constitution, The U.S.
      • Constitutional Convention, The
      • Elections, Congressional
      • Elections, House of Representatives
      • Elections, Presidential
      • Elections, Senate
      • Hispanics in Congress
      • Separation of Powers
      • Seventeenth Amendment
      • Term Limits
      • Twelfth Amendment
      • Twenty-second Amendment
      • Women in Congress
      • Voters and Voting Rights
      • Absentee Voting
      • African American Voters
      • Baker v. Carr
      • Bush v. Gore
      • Election Day
      • Fifteenth Amendment
      • Gerrymandering
      • Hispanic Voters
      • Interest Groups
      • League of Women Voters
      • Literacy Tests
      • Motor Voter Registration
      • Nineteenth Amendment
      • One-Person, One-Vote
      • Poll Tax
      • Seventeenth Amendment
      • Twenty-fourth Amendment
      • Twenty-sixth Amendment
      • Voter Registration
      • Voters, Voting Behavior, and Voting Turnout
      • Voting Rights Act of 1965, The
      • Voting Systems and Technology
      • Women Voters

      About the Advisory Editor

      Bruce J. Schulman is The William E. Huntington professor of History at Boston University, a position he has held since 1994. Dr. Schulman has also served as the Director of the American and New England Studies Program at Boston University. Prior to moving to Boston University, he was associate professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Schulman received his Ph.D. and M.A. from Stanford University; he received his B.A., Summa Cum Laude with Distinction in history, from Yale University.

      Since the 1980s, Dr. Schulman has been teaching and writing about the political face of the United States. He has taken an active role in education at the high school level as well as serving as the principal investigator for the Teaching American History Grant program with the Boston Public Schools. He also worked with the History Alive program, a curriculum-based interactive instructional program. In addition, Dr. Schulman served as director of The History Project in California, a joint effort of the University of California and the California State Department of Education to improve history education in the public primary and secondary schools.

      Dr. Schulman is the author of several award-winning and notable books that combine his interest in history and politics. Among them are: From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt: Federal Policy, Economic Development, and the Transformation of the South, 1938–1980; Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism; The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Politics, and Society; and Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s (co-edited with Julian Zelizer). Dr. Schulman's published books and numerous essays have examined and scrutinized the fabric of America's political and socioeconomic life and its direct impact on today's citizens.


      As British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once remarked, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” In CQ Press's new series, Student's Guides to U.S. Government, librarians, educators, students, and other researchers will find essential resources for understanding the strange wonder, alternately inspiring and frustrating, that is American democracy.

      In the Student's Guide to Elections, the first volume in the Student's Guides series, young and experienced researchers, especially students and teachers, will find information on all aspects of how Americans choose their leaders: the constitutional provisions and legal procedures, the pivotal campaigns, the parties, the tactics and strategies, the controversies and key issues—the pure pageantry of American politics. The Student's Guide to Elections provides insight into the historical development of American elections—the ways they have changed over the past two-and-a-half centuries as well as their current status—unlocking the mysteries surrounding such contemporary issues as delegate selection for presidential nominees, campaign finance, and electoral college reform.

      Each of the three parts of the Student's Guide to Elections takes a unique approach to enhancing users' understanding of elections. Part One features three essays, each of which addresses a provocative question about American elections: “Could a Candidate Win the Most Votes and Still Lose the Election?;” “What Is the Role of Political Parties? Are They Even Necessary?;” and “Majority Rule vs. Minority Rights: What Makes America Democratic?”

      Part Two features 153 A to Z entries covering everything from “Absentee Voting” to “ZZZ,” which discusses voter apathy about elections and government. Entries address presidential elections from 1789–2004, the presidential campaigns of 2008 and numerous aspects of the electoral process, including major and third parties, the Electoral College, and the evolution of the franchise. Special features within Part Two abound: “Point/Counterpoint” highlights opposing views on the same issue, using primary evidence, and concludes with a thought-provoking “Document-Based Question.” “Spotlight” focuses on unique situations and events. “Decision Makers” takes a closer look at notable individuals, and “Justice for All” examines important moments in the long journey to obtain the vote for all Americans.

      Part Three contains a “Primary Source Library” of key documents, photos, and political cartoons that are essential to understanding the history of American elections. These documents complement the information conveyed in the essays in Part One and the A to Z entries in Part Two. Part Three also provides guidelines for using the Primary Source Library and for general research. The guidelines provide direction on Researching with Primary and Secondary Sources, Developing Research Questions, Identifying Sources of Information, Planning and Organizing research for use in a paper or report, Documenting Sources for the Bibliography, and Citing Sources.

      Other helpful tools include a List of Illustrations, a Reader's Guide that arranges material thematically in accord with the key concepts of the American Government curriculum, and a timeline of Historical Milestones in U.S. Elections. The Guide concludes with a Glossary of political and elections terminology, a Selected Bibliography, and an Index.

      An eye-catching, user-friendly design enhances the text. Throughout, numerous charts, graphs, tables, maps, cross-references, sources for further reading, cartoons, and photos illustrate concepts.

      The Student's Guides to U.S. Government Series

      Additional titles in the Student's Guides to U.S. Government series will include the Student's Guide to Congress, the Student's Guide to the Presidency, and the Student's Guide to the Supreme Court. Collectively, these titles will offer indispensable data drawn from CQ Press's deep archive of content and presented in a manner accessible to secondary level students of American history and government. The volumes will place at the reader's fingertips essential information about the evolution of American politics, from the struggles to create the United States government in the late eighteenth century through the ongoing controversies and dramatic strides of the early twenty-first century.

      For study in American history, the Student's Guides to U.S. Government collect a treasury of useful, often hard-to-find facts and present them in the context of the political environment for researching topics, answering document-based questions, and writing essays or reports.

      The Student's Guides offer valuable tools for civics education and for the study of American politics and government. They introduce young people to the institutions, procedures, and rules that form the foundations of American government. They assemble for students and teachers the essential material for understanding the workings of American politics and the nature of political participation in the United States. The Guides explain the roots and development of representative democracy, the system of federalism, the separation of powers, and the specific roles of legislators, executives, and judges in the American system of governance. The Guides provide immediate access to the details about the changing nature of political participation by ordinary Americans and the essential role of citizens in a representative democracy.

      At the heart of the Student's Guides to U.S. Government is the conviction that the continued success of the American experiment in self-government and the survival of democratic ideals depend on a knowledgeable and engaged citizenry—on educating the next generation of American citizens. Understanding American government and history is essential to that education; indeed freedom stems from the knowledge of knowing how our system of governance evolved, and how we are governed.

      By learning the rudiments of American government—the policies, procedures, and processes that built the modern United States—young people can fulfill the promise of American life. By placing at hand—in comprehensive essays, in easily recovered alphabetical format, and in pivotal primary source documents—the essential information needed by student researchers and all educators, the Student's Guides to U.S. Government offer valuable, authoritative resources for civics and history education.

      Bruce J.Schulman, Ph.D., Advisory Editor The William E.Huntington Professor of History, Boston University

      Historical Milestones of U.S. Elections, 1787–2007: A Timeline

      1787:The “Great Compromise” is reached.
      1789:George Washington wins the first presidential election on February 4.
      1800:Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tie in the election for president.
      1804:The Twelfth Amendment is passed requiring that electors vote separately for president and vice president.
      1807:Jefferson continues Washington's two-term precedent for presidents.
      1824:Andrew Jackson wins the popular vote but does not get an electoral vote majority. The election must be decided by the House of Representatives, which elects John Quincy Adams.
      1828:Andrew Jackson is elected president.
      1831:The first national party conventions are held in Baltimore.
      1832:Andrew Jackson is reelected.
      1837:For the first and only time, the Senate decides the vice-presidential election of Richard M. Johnson.
      1840:Van Buren loses to Whig William Henry Harrison.
      1841:William Henry Harrison dies after one month in office; John Tyler becomes president.
      1844:The Democrats nominate the first “dark-horse” presidential candidate, James K. Polk, who wins the election.
      1854:Anti-slavery supporters gather at Ripon, Wisconsin, and form the Republican Party.
      1856:Democrat Franklin Pierce becomes the only elected president denied renomination by his party. James Buchanan wins the presidency.
      1860:The new Republican Party elects its first president, Abraham Lincoln.
      1865:President Lincoln is assassinated six weeks after the start of his second term. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes president and comes into conflict with the Radical Republicans.
      1870:The Fifteenth Amendment, enfranchising newly freed slaves, is ratified on February 3.
      1874:Mississippi Republican Blanche K. Bruce is elected to the Senate and becomes the first black senator to serve a full term.
      1876:Democrat Samuel J. Tilden wins the popular vote against Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, but electoral vote hangs on one vote and three states dispute the results.
      1881:President James A. Garfield is shot by Charles J. Guiteau in Washington, D.C.
      1887:Congress passes the Electoral Count Act.
      1888:Benjamin Harrison becomes the third president elected without winning the popular vote.
      1892:First mechanical voting machine is used in Lock- port, New York.
      1901:President William McKinley is shot in Buffalo, New York.
      1904:Theodore Roosevelt is elected president.
      1912:Roosevelt leaves the Republican Party and forms the “Bull Moose” Party.
      1913:Seventeenth Amendment is ratified, requiring senators to be elected by popular vote.
      1916:Jeannette Rankin becomes the first woman elected to the U.S. House.
      1920:The Nineteenth Amendment is ratified, giving women the right to vote.
      1923:President Harding dies in office. Calvin Coolidge becomes president.
      1924:Miriam Ferguson of Texas and Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming become the first women elected governors of their respective states.
      1928:Republican Herbert Hoover is elected president over Democratic liberal Alfred E. Smith.
      1932:Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt promises a “new deal” for the American people and wins an election landslide.
      1934:Seventy-third Congress meets on January 3 ac- cording to the Twentieth Amendment (1933).
      1940:President Roosevelt breaks the two-term prece- dent and is elected to a third term.
      1944:The Supreme Court decides that political parties cannot exclude blacks.
      1945:Roosevelt dies in office on April 12 and Harry S. Truman becomes president.
      1948:President Truman defeats Thomas E. Dewey.
      1951:The Twenty-second Amendment, setting a two- term limit, is passed.
      1952:Richard Nixon delivers his “Checkers speech.”
      1954:Strom Thurmond becomes the only senator elected by write-in vote.
      1958:Hiram L. Fong of Hawaii becomes the first Asian American member of Congress.
      1960:The first debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon is televised from Chicago.
      1961:The Twenty-third Amendment is passed, giving residents of Washington, D.C., the right to vote in presidential elections.
      1962:The Supreme Court rules in favor of “one per- son, one vote.”
      1963:President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
      1964:The Twenty-fourth Amendment is ratified, abolishing the poll tax. President Johnson wins the presidency by the largest landslide in history.
      1965:The Voting Rights Act, protecting African Americans' right to vote, is passed.
      1967:The Twenty-fifth Amendment is passed providing procedures in case the president is ill.
      1968:Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated.
      1971:The Twenty-sixth Amendment is passed, lowering the national voting age to eighteen.
      1972:Richard Nixon wins reelection.
      1973:Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns because of corruption and Nixon nominates Gerald Ford to replace him.
      1974:President Nixon resigns because of the Water- gate scandal.
      1976:The first debate between vice-presidential candidates, Walter F. Mondale and Bob Dole, is televised from Houston, Texas.
      1981:Ronald Reagan becomes president and is wounded in an assassination attempt.
      1984:Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman on a major party presidential ticket.
      1988:Republican George Bush becomes the first sitting vice president to be elected president since 1836.
      1989:Virginia elects the first African American governor, L. Douglas Wilder.
      1990:Kansas elects Joan Finney governor, making it the first state to have a woman governor, senator, and House member at the same time.
      1992:Bush loses reelection thanks to H. Ross Perot, a billionaire who mounted the strongest ever individual campaign, which split the Republican vote.
      1994:The Republican Party wins control of Congress, despite Democrat Bill Clinton being president.
      1995:The Supreme Court rules that only a constitutional amendment could impose term limits on House and Senate members.
      1996:President Clinton is elected to a second term. The country becomes strongly politically divided by region.
      1998:A sex scandal threatens the Clinton presidency and the House votes for impeachment.
      1999:The Senate acquits Clinton of the charges, having failed to get a two-thirds majority vote.
      2000:The Supreme Court settles a disputed presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, giving the election to Bush.
      2001:The Senate is split 50-50, although the GOP retains power because Vice President Cheney casts a vote in the case of a tie.
      2002:Congress passes the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.
      2004:President George W. Bush wins reelection by a 51-48 split in the popular vote.
      2006:Spurred by dissatisfaction with the Bush presidency, voters elect Democrats as the majority in Congress.
      2007:Louisiana voters elect Piyush “Bobby” Jindal as governor, making him the first Indian American governor in history.
      2008:Senator Hillary Clinton—the first serious female U.S. presidential contender—and senator Barack Obama—the first African American contender since Jesse Jackson in 1988—campaign for the Democratic nomination.
    • Glossary

      abolition A social movement that emerged before the Civil War (1861–1865) which demanded an end to slavery; practiced by abolitionists

      absentee ballot A ballot that allows a person to vote without going to the polls on election day

      ad hoc groups Groups formed for or concerned with one specific purpose

      Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 Laws passed by the Federalist-controlled Congress that were designed to increase the time for foreigners to become American citizens and limit criticism of the federal government

      aliens Relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government

      American dream An American social ideal that stresses egalitarianism and material prosperity

      amnesty A group pardon to individuals for an offense against the government

      anarchist One who believes in the doctrine that all forms of government are oppressive and should be abolished.

      Bank of the United States One of two official national banks of the United States. The First Bank of the United States existed from 1791 to 1811; the Second Bank of the United States existed from 1816 until 1836, when its federal charter expired. President Andrew Jackson almost destroyed the bank when he ordered the Department of the Treasury to stop depositing the nation's money into the bank.

      bicameral Two-house legislatures

      biennial Lasting for two years

      bill of attainder A law that establishes guilt and punishes people without a trial

      bipartisan Involving members of two political parties

      bloc A group united to promote a common interest

      “bloody shirt” Something intended to stir up or revive partisan animosity

      bosses Powerful political party leaders

      caucus Organized group of legislators with a common background or goals; also, a closed meeting of party members within a legislative body to decide on questions of policy or leadership

      census a periodic governmental count of the population

      civil service reform The changing of the administrative service of the government exclusive of the armed forces

      cloture The closing or limitation of debate in a legislative body

      conservative Someone who believes that the role of the government should be very limited and that individuals should be responsible for their own well-being

      dark-horse candidate An unexpected or unknown successful candidate

      decennial Lasting for ten years

      decennial reapportionment The act of allotting representatives among the states every ten years

      demagogy Of or relating to the characteristics of a demagogue, one who makes impassioned pleas that manipulate audiences by appealing to their emotions and prejudices disenfranchise To take away the right to vote disenfranchisement The deprivation of the right to vote; being disenfranchised deprives one of the right to vote

      Emancipation Proclamation The formal document delivered by President Abraham Lincoln which announced that slaves in rebel territory were free and became effective on January 1, 1863

      embargo A country's banning the export and import of goods to and from another country

      enfranchising To give the right to vote

      engrossed The formal or official copy of a document or a bill

      ex post facto laws After the fact; making crimes of acts that were legal when they were committed

      faction a group of people with a united interest

      factionalism An interest group within a country's political parties

      favorite sons Candidates with strong support from one state or region of the country

      filibuster An attempt to extend debate upon a bill or a proposal to delay or prevent its passage

      financial panic An economic situation in which business activity decreases, people lose their jobs, and banks fail

      “floater” A person without fixed duties

      franchise The right to vote

      free enterprise The opportunity to make economic gains and to control one's economic decisions

      free trade Trade based on the unrestricted international exchange of goods front-runner The early leader in an election campaign

      gold standard A monetary system that requires the paper money issued by a government to be supported by an equal amount of gold bullion in that nation's treasury

      grandfather clauses Provisions that make exemptions in the law for a certain group based on previous conditions

      grange A farmers' association

      Hartford Convention A meeting of Federalist Party members opposed to the War of 1812. The convention called for a number of amendments that would weaken the federal government; it also raised the issue of secession

      ideological dealing with a particular set of beliefs about life, culture, government, or society

      ideological PACs Political Action Committees organized on ideological or political grounds

      illiterate Unable to read or write

      impeachment The formal accusation of misconduct in office against a public official

      imperialist Extending power and authority to gain control over the political and economic lives of others

      incumbent Politician running for the office that she or he is currently holding

      indentured servitude Forcing people to work for little or no pay for a set period of time in order for them to pay off debts

      internationalist a person or group that believes that a country should be involved in world affairs

      isolationism The avoidance of involvement in world affairs; an isolationist supports this type of foreign policy

      laissez-faire The theory that government should not interfere in the economy

      lame-duck A politician who, at the end of his or her current term, will be succeeded either due to choice or to term limits

      leftist Individual who follows the supports or practices of the political Left

      liberal In the modern era, someone who believes the national government should be active in helping individuals and communities promote health, education, justice, and equal opportunity

      loophole primary A type of primary election in which voters express a preference for a presidential nominee, but also elect convention delegates who are then to support the winner of the presidential preference vote at the nominating convention

      machine A highly organized political group under the leadership of a boss or small clique

      majority-minority districts Legislative districts created specifically to include a majority of a minority group in order to increase the possibility that a member of that minority group will be elected from that district

      malapportionment Inappropriate or unfair distribution of representatives within a legislative body

      Manifest Destiny The belief that it was obvious, certain, and right for the United States to expand its territory to cover North America and spread republican democracy

      nationalism A strong feeling of pride in one's nation, culture, or heritage

      nativist One who supports a policy of favoring inhabitants as opposed to immigrants

      new right A political movement primarily made up of Protestants, who were especially opposed to secular humanism and concerned with issues of the church and state, patriotism, laissez-faire economics, pornography, and abortion

      nullification The process by which a law is declared null and void

      nullified To have made something of no consequence or value

      patronage The practice of granting favors to reward party loyalty

      philanthropist One who practices goodwill to others

      plaintiff The person who brings charges in a court of law

      platform A political party's statement of principles, beliefs, and positions on important issues

      plurality A simple majority; the largest share (as of votes)

      political machine An organized and highly efficient group of politicians who work together as a well-oiled machine to achieve their political goals; in general, political machines operate by trading favors, especially government jobs, benefits, and contracts for votes and support

      polygamist A person involved in a marriage arrangement in which a spouse has more than one mate; most often a man having multiple wives

      popular sovereignty The concept that citizens in a region should vote to decide an issue, often used before the Civil War (1861–1865) to mean that the voters in the states should determine whether to allow slavery

      Populist Era The late 1800s in the United States and the time when a third political party, known as the Populist Party, organized and claimed to represent the goals of the common people

      precedent An established course of action in a given situation

      primary election An election in which qualified voters nominate or express a preference for a particular candidate or group of candidates for political office

      progressive Wanting social, economic, and governmental reforms, especially in the late 1800s and early 1900s

      Progressive era The late 1800s and early 1900s when reformers sought social, economic, and governmental reforms

      progressivism The principles, beliefs, or practices of the Progressives

      prohibition The act of prohibiting by authority

      quorum A specific number of an organization's members required to conduct business

      Radical Republicans Members of the Republican Party who advocated extreme measures to bring about change in the South after the Civil War (1861–1865)

      rank-and-file The individuals who constitute the body of an organization, society, or nation as distinguished from the organization's leaders

      ratification A formal approval or confirmation (of an amendment or treaty)

      ratified Approved

      reapportion To reallocate, as in the allotment or representatives among the states

      Reconstruction The period in United States history when the former Confederate States were brought back into the Union, lasting from about 1865 until 1877

      registrars Official recorders or keepers of records

      religious right Beginning in 1980, a term used to describe those groups of citizens who, because of their conservative religious beliefs, voted for conservative political candidates

      secession The act of leaving or withdrawing from a nation or other political entity or organization

      secessionist One who joins a secession or maintains that secession is a right

      sectional divisions Differences in political opinions arising from differences in location

      segregationist A person who believes in or practices segregation (especially of races)

      soft money Political donations made to avoid federal campaign laws, such as a donation of money to a political organization rather than directly to a candidate

      special interest groups Organized individuals seeking to influence legislative or government policy to further often narrowly defined interests

      speculator Someone who takes on a business risk in the hopes of gaining large profits

      spoils system A term that stemmed from the phrase “to the victors go the spoils of the enemy,” credited to Andrew Jackson

      standard bearer The leader of an organization, movement, or party

      state machines Political machines organized at the state level, attempting to control the state government as well as local governments

      states' rights The concept that the rights and laws of individual states override the powers of the federal government

      suburbanization The process of making a smaller community adjacent to or within commuting distance of a city

      suffrage The right to vote

      suffragist A person who advocates the extension of suffrage

      “swing states” The deciding states in an election

      Tammany Hall Headquarters of the Tammany Society, a political organization in New York City associated with corruption and bossism

      tariff Tax on imported goods

      temperance laws Laws that restrict the sale, use, or consumption of alcoholic beverages

      third party In a two-party political system, as in the United States, any political party other than the two main parties—Democratic and Republican

      third-party candidate A candidate from any political party other than one of the two major parties

      two-thirds nominating rule A nomination based on the approval by two-thirds of the whole

      unicameral A one-house legislature veto Rejection of a bill

      Virginia Dynasty The era spanning the presidencies of the first five presidents of the United States, four of whom were from Virginia; George Washington is often excluded from the list because of his political views. The Virginia Dynasty ended after James Monroe's second term

      vote-by-mail A method of voting in which a person fills out a ballot and mails it

      war hawks Political figures who favor engaging in military conflicts

      “whip” Assistant to the party floor leader

      Wilmot Proviso A part of an appropriation bill, introduced in 1846 into the House of Representatives by David Wilmot, which would have banned slavery in any territory that the United States obtained from Mexico after the Mexican-American War (1846–1848); the proviso did not become law

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      Appleby, Joyce. Thomas Jefferson. New York: Times Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2003.
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      Witcover, Jules. Party of the People: A History of the Democrats. New York: Random House, 2003.
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