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Historical Terms Study Guide

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Updated on Jul 15, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Historical Terms Practice Exercises

History tells us how the world got to where it is today so we can figure out where it's going. Sometimes it seems like history is just full of boring dates and tedious details, but history is actually stories of what's gone before us. It's full of joys and sorrows, victories and losses, life and death, and a lot of interesting people.

In this lesson, you'll find some of the most common historical terms from past eras. Knowing what they mean won't just help you understand your history textbooks better, it may also help you better understand newspaper articles, participate in current events conversations, and perhaps even appreciate those talkradio shows.

DEFINITIONS

  • abolitionist   a person who advocated or supported the end of slavery in the United States, typically prior to the Civil War
  • anarchy   a society without government or law; political and social disorder
  • antebellum   before or existing before the American Civil War
  • appeasement   the act of yielding or conceding to the demands of a nation in an effort for peace, sometimes at the expense of justice
  • archives   public documents or records relating to the lives of a nation or its people
  • armistice   a temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement of the warring parties; a truce
  • bourgeoisie   the class that, according to Marxist theory, is mainly concerned with property values and contrasted against the working class
  • caucus   a meeting of party leaders to select candidates; a group organized to further a special interest
  • chivalry   the rules and customs of medieval knighthood; customs such as honor, valor, and courtesy
  • doctrine   a particular principle, position, or policy taught by a religion or government
  • extradition   the surrender of an alleged fugitive from justice by a state, nation, or other authority
  • feudalism   a political and economic system in Europe from the ninth to the fifteenth century, based on the belief that all land was held by lords and tenants were servants
  • industrialization   the introduction of industry into an area on a massive scale
  • mercantilism   an economic system prevalent in eighteenth-century Europe that focused on commercialism
  • nullification   the failure or refusal of a state to aid in enforcement of federal laws
  • oligarchy   a form of government in which all power is held by a few people; government by the few
  • protectorate   a time period in English history during the mid-seventeenth century
  • secession   the withdrawal from the Union of 11 southern states in the period 1860–1861, which brought on the Civil War
  • suffrage   the right to vote in a political election, especially associated with the women's right-to-vote movement
  • tariff   an official list or table showing the duties or customs imposed by a government on imports and exports

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Historical Terms Practice Exercises

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