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Black slave who led an ill-fated rebellion
in Virginia in 1831. The deeply-religious Turner sought a violent
overthrow to the sinful institution of slavery. Before they were
apprehended, Turner and his followers murdered more than sixty
whites, sending a shockwave throughout the South.
Black abolitionist and author of the
incendiary Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, which advocated
a bloody end to white supremacy.
Son of second president John Adams, John Quincy Adams served as secretary of State under
James Monroe before becoming the sixth president of the United
States. A strong advocate of national finance and improvement,
Adams faced opposition from states’ rights advocates in the South
and West. His controversial election—the allegedly “corrupt bargain”
of 1824—and his lack of political acumen further hampered his presidential agenda.
Free black who orchestrated an
aborted slave uprising in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822.
Vesey’s plan was uncovered before he could put it in motion, and he
and thirty-four accomplices were put to death.
President of the Republic of Texas and
U.S. senator, Houston led Texas to in dependence in 1836 as commander
in chief of the Texas army. As President of the Republic,
Houston unsuccessfully sought annexation into the United States.
Once Texas officially joined the Union in 1845, Houston was elected
to the U.S. Senate, later returning to serve as Governor of Texas
until 1861, when he was removed from office for refusing to take an
oath of loyalty to the Confederacy.
Established the first major Anglo settlements
in Texas under an agreement with the Mexican government.
Though loyal to Mexico, Austin advocated for local Texans’
rights, particularly the right to bring slaves into the region. Briefly
imprisoned by Santa Anna for inciting rebellion, Austin returned to
Texas in 1836 to serve as secretary of state of the newly-independent
republic until his death later that year.
Inventor of the telegraph and the
telegraphic code that bears his name. He led the effort to connect
Washington and Baltimore by telegraph and transmitted the first
long-distance message—“What hath God wrought”—in May of 1844.
Inventor of the McCormick
mower-reaper, a horse-drawn contraption that fueled the development
of large-scale agriculture in the trans-Allegheny West.
who constructed the first operating steam boat, the Clermont, in
Great American inventor, best known for
his Cotton Gin, which revolutionized the Southern economy.
Whitney also pioneered the use of interchangeable parts in the production
Founder of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the young Smith gained a following
after an angel directed him to a set of golden plates which, when
deciphered, became the Book of Mormon. Smith’s communal,
authoritarian church and his advocacy of plural marriage antagonized
his neighbors in Ohio, Missouri and finally Illinois, where he
was murdered by a mob in 1844.
One of the leading revival
preachers during the Second Great Awakening, Finney presided
over mass camp meetings throughout New York state, championing
temperance and abolition, and urging women to play a greater role
in religious life.
Second president of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Young led his Mormon followers
to Salt Lake City, Utah after Joseph Smith’s death. Under Young’s
discipline and guidance, the Utah settlement prospered, and the
church expanded to include over 100,000 members by Young’s
death in 1877.
Ardent abolitionist and publisher
of The Liberator, an antislav ery newspaper that advocated the
immediate emancipation of slaves. In 1833, Garrison founded the
American Anti-Slavery Society, the largest abolitionist organization
in the North, counting more than 250,000 members by 1838.
New England teacher-author and
champion of mental health reform, Dix assembled damning reports
on insane asylums and petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to
Scottish-born textile manufacturer and
founder of New Harmony, a short-lived communal society of about
a thousand people in Indiana.
Secretary of the Massachusetts Board
of Education and a champion of public education, advocating better school houses, longer terms, better pay for teachers and an expanded curriculum.
American naval officer whose
decisive victory over a British fleet on Lake Erie during the War of
1812 reinvigorated American morale and paved the way for General
William Henry Harrison’s victory at the Battle of the Thames in 1813.
American naval officer who
secured a decisive victory over a British fleet at the Battle of
Plattsburg, halting the British invasion of New York.
Hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe and ninth president of the United States. Harrison, a
Whig, won the 1840 election on a “Log Cabin and Hard Cider” campaign,
which played up his credentials as a backwoods westerner
and Indian fighter. Harrison died of pneumonia just four weeks
after his inauguration.
American author and lawyer who
composed the “Star Spangled Banner”—now the national anthem—
purportedly while observing the bombardment of Fort McHenry
from the deck of a British ship where he was detained.
War hero, congressman and sixth president of the United States. A Democrat, Jackson ushered in a new era in American politics, advocating white manhood suffrage
and cementing party loyalties through the spoils system. As president,
he dismantled the Bank of the United States, asserted federal
supremacy in the nullification crisis, and oversaw the harsh policy
of Indian removal in the South.
Revolutionary war soldier, statesman
and fifth president of the United States. As president, he supported
protective tariffs and a national bank, but maintained a Jeffersonian
opposition to federally-funded internal improvements. He sought to transcend partisanship, even undertaking a goodwill tour of the states in 1817, his presidency was rocked by
bitter partisan and sectional conflicts.
American novelist and a
member of New York’s Knickerbocker Group, Cooper wrote adventure
tales, including The Last of the Mohicans, which won acclaim
on both sides of the Atlantic.
Vice president under Andrew
Jackson, Calhoun became a U.S. senator from South Carolina
after a public break with the administration. A fierce supporter of
states’ rights, Calhoun advocated South Carolina’s position during
the nullification crisis. In the 1840s and 1850s, he staunchly
defended slavery, accusing free-state Northerners of conspiring to
free the slaves.
Lawyer, congressman and secretary
of state, Webster teamed up with Henry Clay in the Bank War
against Andrew Jackson in 1832. Hoping to avoid sectional conflict,
Webster opposed the annexation of Texas but later urged the North
to support the Compromise of 1850.
Secretary of state and U.S. senator from
Kentucky, Clay was known as the “Great Compromiser,” helping to
negotiate the Missouri Compromise in 1820, the Compromise Tariff
of 1833 and the Compromise of 1850. As a National Republican,
later Whig, Clay advocated a strong national agenda of internal
improvements and protective tariffs, known as the American
Jacksonian Democrat who became
the eighth president of the United States after serving as vice president
during Andrew Jackson’s second term. As president, Van Buren
presided over the “hard times” wrought by the Panic of 1837, clinging
to Jackson’s monetary policies and rejecting federal intervention
in the economy.
Banker, financier, and President of
the Second Bank of the United States from 1822 until the bank’s
charter expired in 1836.
Mexican general, president and dictator,
who opposed Texas’s independence and later led the Mexican army
in the war against the United States.
Sauk war chief who led the Sauk and
Fox re sis tance against eviction under the Indian Removal Act in
Illinois and Wisconsin. Brutally crushed by American forces,
he surrendered in 1832 and lived out his days on a reservation in
British-born mechanic and father of
the American “Factory System,” establishing textile mills throughout
Governor of New York state and promoter
of the Erie Canal, which linked the Hudson River to the Great
Lakes. “Clinton’s Big Ditch”, as the canal was called, transformed
upstate New York into a center of industry and gave rise to the
Midwestern cities of Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago.
Prominent Quaker and abolitionist,
Mott became a champion for women’s rights after she and her fellow
female delegates were not seated at the London antislavery
convention of 1840. She, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, held
the first Woman’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848.
Methodist revivalist who traversed
the frontier from Tennessee to Illinois in the first decades of the
nineteenth century, preaching against slavery and alcohol, and calling
on sinners to repent.
Reformer and woman suffragist,
Anthony, with long-time friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton, advocated
for temperance and women’s rights in New York State, established
the abolitionist Women’s Loyal League during the Civil War, and
founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 to lobby
for a constitutional amendment giving women the vote.
Boston-born scholar and leading
American transcendentalist, whose essays, most notably “Self-
Reliance” stressed individualism, self-improvement, optimism and
Novelist and author of The
Scarlet Letter, a tale exploring the psychological effects of sin in seventeenth
century Puritan Boston.
and author of Walden: Or Life in the Woods. A committed idealist
and abolitionist, he advocated civil disobedience, spending a night
in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax to a government that supported
Brooklyn-born poet and author of
Leaves of Grass, a collection of poems, written largely in free verse,
which exuberantly celebrated America’s democratic spirit.
New England born author of popular
novels for adolescents, most notably Little Women.
Early American historian who
wrote a series of volumes on the imperial struggle between Britain
and France in North America
Black abolitionist, preacher and
women’s rights activist, who worked tirelessly on behalf of slaves
and freed blacks.
Fervent abolitionist and
author of American Slavery as It Is, an antislavery tract that dramatized
the horrors of slave life.
Prominent back abolitionist,
whose autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,
detailed his experience in bondage and his daring escape to the
North. More practical than many of his fellow abolitionists,
Douglass looked to politics to put an end to slavery. After the Civil
War, he continued to write and speak on behalf of blacks, calling on
the federal government to help ensure economic independence for
newly freed slaves.
Military officer and presidential candidate,
Scott first made a name for himself as a hero of the War of
1812. During the war with Mexico, he led the American campaign
against Mexico City, overcoming tremendous handicaps to lead his
men to victory. He later made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency
in 1852 as the Whig candidate.
American diplomat who negotiated
the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, ending the Mexican-
American War and acquiring a vast secession of territory from
American officer during the
Mexican-American War, who led a detachment of troops into New
Mexico, capturing Santa Fe.
Pennsylvania congressman best known
for his “Wilmot Proviso”—a failed amendment that would have prohibited
slavery from any of the territories acquired from Mexico. He
later went on to help organize the Free Soil and Republican parties,
supporting Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
Explorer who helped overthrow the
Mexican government in California after the outbreak of war with
Mexico. He later ran for president as the Republican nominee in
1856, losing the election to Democratic candidate James Buchanan.
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