Below are frequently used congressional terms and those that appear in the Office of the Historian publications, Women in Congress, Black Americans in Congress, Hispanic Americans in Congress, and Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress. For a list of terms about congressional records, see, Glossary of Terms Related to Congressional Records.
First used in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, a policy to promote opportunities for minorities and women by favoring them in hiring and promotion in government and private jobs, college admissions, and the awarding of government contracts as a means to compensate for their historic exclusion or underrepresentation.
“Aliens ineligible for citizenship”
Legal term describing those immigrants prohibited from attaining U.S. citizenship through naturalization, e.g., Asians (U.S. legislation limited naturalization to white individuals or African descendants). The prohibition on Asians becoming naturalized citizens was eliminated in stages between 1943 and 1952.
The children of U.S. military personnel and Asian partners born outside the United States.
The era preceding a war, especially the American Civil War, 1861–1865.
The action or process of joining or uniting with, especially in the case of a nation acquiring a territory.
The allocation of congressional seats in the House of Representatives in proportion to states’ populations as tabulated by the U.S. Census Bureau every 10 years. Although federal law determines the total number of Representatives, states determine the size and boundaries of their congressional districts based on population changes revealed in the census.
A chain or cluster of islands located in the same body of water.
Temporary detention centers established by the Wartime Civil Control Administration in March 1942 to facilitate the forced evacuation of 120,000 Japanese Americans primarily from California, Washington, and Oregon. The evacuation of citizens and residents to the assembly centers was completed by mid-September 1942.
A secure place of refuge, shelter, or retreat.
In modern practice, a Representative elected in a state that has only one seat apportioned to it in the U.S. House. For many years states that were apportioned more than one Representative could elect an At-Large Representative in statewide voting even when a majority of the state delegation was elected by single-member, geographically defined districts. Until the mid-20th century, At-Large Representatives were often elected immediately following decennial apportionment. At-Large elections in states with more than one seat in the U.S. House were abolished by federal law in 1968.
A neighborhood defined by geographical location, particular feature, or history.
A legislative body having two legislative chambers or houses.
Black Panthers (or Black Panther Party for Self-Defense)
An organization formed in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale to monitor police activity and brutality against residents in Oakland, California. In contrast to the southern civil rights movement’s advocacy of nonviolent resistance, the Black Panthers promoted local self-help, community activism, and armed defense against the use of excessive force by police. The Black Panthers also called for the restructuring of American society to ensure social, political, and economic equality for all races.
A violent event or controversial political issue used to stir up outrage or partisan support. Typically used during the late 19th century, “wave the bloody shirt” refers to the Republican Party’s use of the Civil War as justification for political revenge on former Confederates.
A derogatory term applied by the popular press to a Northerner who went to the South during Reconstruction to pursue economic or political opportunities. Many of these Northerners carried their belongings in carpetbags. This term is also used by observers of current political affairs to describe a person who interferes with the politics of a locality to which he or she has no permanent or genuine connection.
A meeting of party members in each chamber (House Republicans and Senate Republicans refer to their gatherings as a “conference”). A caucus is used primarily to select candidates for office and to consider other important business for furthering party interests. The term also describes an organization of House and Senate Members that is devoted to a special interest or legislative area.
An official count of a population that includes various related statistics. The U.S. Constitution mandates that a nationwide census be taken every 10 years.
The presiding officer of a committee, subcommittee, or other group such as a caucus. Chairs are selected by the majority party in the House and are elevated by seniority in the Senate. Committee and subcommittee chairs hire majority staff and set the committee’s schedule.
Chamorro Indigenous inhabitants of the Mariana Islands and Guam who migrated from Southeast Asia almost 3,000 years ago. The term also denotes a distinct Austronesian language.
Used by Americans of Hispanic and/or mestizo descent in the 1960s and 1970s as a term of self-identification that emphasized working-class origins as well as indigenous influences. The term is also used to describe the historical study of citizens of Mexican descent and a civil rights initiative that compelled federal authorities to acknowledge civil rights issues that relate to Chicanos.
A parliamentary procedure in the U.S. Senate requiring the approval of a super-majority (three-fifths in the case of legislation; two-thirds in the case of a motion to amend Senate rule) of all Senators present to end debate on a pending proposal and bring the measure to final consideration and a vote.
The influence or power of a political candidate to draw supporters to vote for other candidates on his or her party ticket on Election Day. In modern political lexicon, the term frequently is used to describe a presidential candidate’s ability to draw votes for congressional candidates further down the ballot.
The state of ideological, economic, political, military, and cultural warfare pitting a capitalist United States against a communist Soviet Union (USSR) from 1947 until 1991. Developing from divergent American and Soviet foreign policies concerning the restoration of Europe after World War II, the conflict spread from Europe to the rest of the world. Although there were no direct military conflicts, the Soviet and American superpowers tried to alter the international balance of power in their favor by competing globally for allies, strategic locations, natural resources, and influence in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The Cold War ended with the collapse and disintegration of the USSR in 1991.
The practice of a group of people who form a community in a new country or territory while remaining subject to their parent state. It also describes a policy of exploitation of a less-powerful country or territory by a dominant nation.
Committee (Standing, Joint, Select or Special)
A standing committee is permanently established by House and Senate Rules and has the ability to receive and report bills and resolutions to the full chamber. A Joint Committee is also established by House and Senate Rules with membership comprised of an equal number of Representatives and Senators and a chairperson that traditionally rotates between a House and a Senate Member each Congress. A Select or Special Committee is established by resolution for a defined period of time, is usually created to investigate a specific legislative issue, and may or may not have legislative authority.
Committee of the Whole
Also known as the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, a parliamentary procedure whereby the House dissolves into a smaller body for the purposes of expediting legislation and debate. The committee can then debate and amend legislation with a quorum of only 100 Members. House Rules permit Delegates and the Resident Commissioner to participate in debate and vote in the committee as long as their vote does not directly affect the legislation. The committee dissolves itself back into the full body of the House for final votes on legislation.
Commonwealth (in Puerto Rico, Estado Libre Asociado)
A nation, state, or political unit founded on law and united by compact or tacit agreement of the people for the common good. Used to refer to self-governing political units voluntarily associated with the United States, namely Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands and the Philippine Islands. The commonwealth agreement between the United States and Puerto Rico is the Estado Libre Asociado (Free Associated State or ELA), first enacted in 1952.
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a series of bills organizing land ceded by Mexico to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. After President Zachary Taylor proposed carving two free states out of the land, Southern opponents threatened secession. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky responded with a package of compromises that was later made into a single omnibus bill. Clay’s resolutions proposed admission of California as a free state; establishment of the territories of Utah and New Mexico without restrictions on slavery; adjustment of the Texas-New Mexico boundary; assumption of the debt of the Republic of Texas; enactment of a stronger fugitive slave law; abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia; and approval of a resolution stating that Congress had no power over the interstate slave trade. Although his proposals failed to pass as one bill, each gained a majority on its own. By September 17, 1850, all of these proposals were signed into law by President Millard Fillmore.
People living within the geographic area that a Member of Congress represents.
Spain’s parliament that consists of two houses: the lower house (Congreso de los Diputados), and the upper house (El Senado).
Unofficial title given to Representatives with the longest continuous service in the U.S. House of Representatives or from a particular state delegation.
A process that took place from 1945 to 1993 characterized by the dissolution of European colonial institutions in Africa and Asia and the emergence of postcolonial indigenous governments.
A nonvoting official in the U.S. House currently representing the following territories: the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Delegates serve two-year terms. Delegates cannot vote in the full House but are permitted to vote in committees and can introduce and cosponsor legislation. Under a House Rule in place from 1993 to 1994 and again from 2007 to 2011, Delegates were temporarily permitted to vote in the Committee of the Whole, during consideration of appropriations, authorization, and tax bills for amendment. If the votes of the Delegates were decisive on any vote in the Committee of the Whole, the amendment was automatically voted on again in the full House, where the Delegates could not vote. (See Resident Commissioner)
The migration of an ethnic group from their home country or region to different parts of the world.
A rarely used legislative procedure in the House to force a bill to the floor when stalled in committee for more than 30 days. A motion with the signatures of 218 Members is necessary to dislodge a measure from committee, making it possible for the bill to reach the floor.
The act of depriving an eligible citizen or a portion of the population of voting rights.
A geographical area represented by a U.S. Representative.
Political dominion by a sovereign state over one or more subject territories.
A foreign resident in a country with which his or her country is at war.
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
A proposed constitutional amendment granting women equal protection under the law. Passed by Congress in 1972, the ERA then went to the states for ratification. Despite a 3-year extension to the constitutionally-mandated 7-year deadline, the ERA amendment failed to gain passage in the requisite three-fourths of the states and expired in 1982.
The act of barring or keeping out of a physical place or society.
Family Medical Leave Act
Legislation requiring businesses with 50 or more employees to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a one-year period to deal with the medical issues of close family members. These issues include the birth, adoption, or placement into foster care of a child and the caring for a child, spouse, or parent in the case of a chronic health problem. The measure was signed into law on February 5, 1993. Congress amended the measure in January 2008 expanding the benefits to the family members of wounded war veterans.
A technique or strategy used in the Senate to postpone or prevent a vote on a bill. A Senator or group of Senators may implement a variety of tactics to delay a vote such as lengthy speeches and numerous amendments.
A Representative or Senator who takes the lead in steering a bill or resolution through the debate and consideration process on the chamber floor. Often, such individuals are the majority chairman and ranking minority member of the committee that reports the bill to the floor.
From 1865 to 1872, the Bureau of Abandoned Lands, Freedmen, and Refugees (better known as the Freedmen’s Bureau) provided resources such as food, clothing, and medical treatment to freed slaves and southern white refugees. The Freedmen’s Bureau also interceded with employers to secure economic and civil rights for freed slaves and worked with northern philanthropists to open schools for them.
Nickname given to Representatives and Senators serving in their first congressional term.
A coalition of political parties or factions. Historically, the term refers to a movement in the South and West during the late 19th century, when the Populist Party “fused” with the Republican Party in an attempt to challenge Democratic Party rule.
The act of dividing a geographic area into districts so as to give one party an unfair advantage during elections. In the early 19th century, the party of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry redrew the state’s congressional districts to favor its candidates. One district resembled a salamander; hence the combination of “Gerry” and “mander.”
A constitutional provision that was frequently used in southern states, exempting descendants of men who voted prior to 1866 from suffrage restrictions such as literacy tests, poll taxes, and property requirements. This clause allowed poor, illiterate southern whites to vote while disfranchising blacks, whose enslaved ancestors had no voting rights.
The economic crisis and period of minimal business activity in the United States and other industrialized nations that began in 1929 and continued through the 1930s. During the 1920s in the United States, speculation on the stock market led to changes in federal monetary policy. The subsequent decline in personal consumption and investments triggered the stock market crash of 1929, which, along with World War I debts and reparations, precipitated the Great Depression.
A term used to describe two mass movements during the twentieth century. One movement occurred during the 1910s through 1950s as African Americans, in pursuit of economic, social, and political opportunities, moved from the rural, segregated South to the urban North and West. Another movement occurred during the 1950s as Puerto Ricans moved from Puerto Rico to the continental United States, especially New York City, for similar reasons.
A wave of social reform legislation championed by President Lyndon Johnson in the mid-1960s and passed in the wake of a Democratic sweep in the 1964 presidential and congressional elections. The crowning legislation of Johnson’s reforms included increased aid for education, the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid providing healthcare for the elderly and the poor, immigration reform, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed literacy tests and provided federal monitoring of elections in southern states.
A Hawaiian term that means “foreigner” but is mainly used to identify Caucasians.
A 19th-century term describing a person of Hispanic and/or mestizo descent native to the American West and Southwest.
The rules and precedents that govern the conduct of business in the House. These rules address duties of officers, the order of business, admission to the floor, parliamentary procedures on handling amendment and voting, and jurisdictions of committees. Whereas the House re-adopts its rules, usually with some changes, at the beginning of each Congress, Senate rules carry over from one Congress to the next.
Wealthy, educated Filipinos who mostly lived in the territory’s major cities during the era of Spanish rule (1600–1896). Many ilustrados fought against the Spanish during the 1896 revolution and against the United States during the Philippine-American War (1899–1902). Others cooperated with U.S. forces and helped develop a new territorial government. After both wars, ilustrados sought professional careers in business, education, and politics, including service as Resident Commissioners to the U.S. Congress.
The policy of extending the authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries or territories; acquiring and maintaining political control over colonies and dependencies.
The holding of an office or the term of an office (usually political).
A commonwealth, freely associated state, possession, or territory that falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government but is not a state or federal district.
An umbrella term used by the federal government and generally accepted by the American public to describe the systematic removal, relocation, and detainment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants primarily from the West Coast during World War II. The majority of internees were American citizens who—in addition to being denied due process and other constitutional rights—lost their possessions, homes, property, and businesses when they were forcibly moved to relocation centers in remote locations in the interior West. In recent decades, some leading scholars have contested the use of the term, arguing that “incarceration” is a more accurate description of the policy.
A Japanese term that identifies the generation of emigrants who left Japan to settle in the United States.
Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
A national civic organization formed in San Francisco, California, in 1929 from the merger of local West Coast nisei groups. The JACL lobbied against legal discrimination and confronted misperceptions about Japanese Americans’ loyalty to the United States.
The term used to describe the segregation, social control, and political and economic subjugation of African Americans in the South (and Hispanic Americans in the Southwest) from the late 1800s to the 1960s.
A meeting of both the House and the Senate which occurs upon the adoption of a unanimous consent agreement to recess and meet with the other legislative body. Joint Meetings are typically reserved for addresses by visiting dignitaries and other U.S. government officials.
A meeting of both the House and the Senate which occurs upon the adoption of a concurrent resolution. Joint Sessions are typically reserved for the purpose of hearing a presidential address or to count electoral votes.
A Japanese term that identifies nisei children who were born in the United States, educated in Japan, and returned to the United States.
Lame Duck Session
Refers to a session of Congress that transpires after congressional elections but before the start of a new Congress. In the 19th century, new Congresses commenced on March 4 (though both chambers often convened for business at later dates). Thus, after biennial fall elections, a new Congress was not seated for four months. Congress often convened for an additional, or lame duck, session in the intervening weeks in a hurried effort to complete legislative business. Ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933 set the start date for new Congresses to January 3, drastically reducing the time period in which a lame duck session could transpire. As a result, modern Congresses have rarely held lame duck sessions.
Execution without due process of law; the mob execution, usually by hanging and often accompanied by torture, of alleged criminals, especially African Americans, during the Jim Crow Era.
A term used to refer to tight political organizations under the control of party regulars, often under the authority of a regional leader or “boss.” In the 19th and early 20th centuries, political parties used this system to disburse patronage rewards, turn out votes, and enforce party discipline.
A term used in the 1840s to justify U.S. expansion into Texas, Oregon, and Mexico. Jacksonian journalist John O’Sullivan is reputed to have coined the term and wrote that Manifest Destiny was “to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”
A person of American Indian and Caucasian ancestry.
A journalistic description of Asian Americans that stresses their economic success and compliance towards general societal norms. The term has been used to denigrate other ethnic and racial groups while penalizing more recent Asian immigrants.
The action of admitting an alien to the position and privileges of a native-born citizen or subject.
A Japanese term used to identify any person of Japanese descent who emigrated abroad or is the descendant of such individuals.
A Japanese term that identifies the generation of Japanese Americans who were born in the United States from their issei immigrant parents.
A period of political, economic, and social activity spanning President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first two terms in office (1933–1941). Working with Congress, the Roosevelt administration provided an unprecedented level of emergency legislative intervention in response to the Great Depression that was designed to revive the economy and to provide basic welfare to citizens.
A meeting of local party officials to select the delegates who eventually designated party nominees for elective office or represented the locality at state or national conventions. Developed in the 1820s and 1830s, the system ensured that only one member would run for an elective position while providing structure and publicity for the party. In the early 20th century the modern primary election replaced nominating conventions as the principal method for selecting congressional candidates.
A 19th-century term used to describe Hispanics and Caucasians living in New Mexico. Hispanic Americans in Congress uses the term to describe New Mexicans of Hispanic and/or mestizo descent.
Oath of Office
An affirmation taken by Members of Congress acknowledging the duty to uphold their office and to defend the Constitution. In the House, the oath is administered during the opening day of each Congress. Until the 1920s, the Speaker administered the oath to each separate House delegation. In modern practice, the dean of the House usually swears-in the Speaker, who then administers the oath to the Members en masse. Representatives elected thereafter by special election, are administered the oath by the presiding officer in the House Chamber. The oath is prescribed by the Constitution, but its language is set by law.
A term used to refer to a package of numerous, often unrelated, bills that are bundled together and considered in Congress as a single measure.
The master or owner of an estate; also used to describe a political boss.
“Packing” and “Cracking”
Techniques used to redraw electoral boundaries to favor one political party over another. “Packing” clustered voters within a geographic area to ensure a biased result. “Cracking” distributed voters across geographic areas to dilute their voting strength.
An estate or farm, especially in a tropical or subtropical country, on which crops such as coffee, tobacco, or sugarcane were cultivated often by enslaved or contract laborers; also used to denote a company of settlers or colonists.
A vote by which the people of an entire country or district express an opinion for or against a proposal especially on a choice of government or ruler following the call for a referendum.
Political Action Committee (PAC)
In existence since the mid-1940s, PACs are non-party, political committees organized by a special interest to receive and spend money either to support or to defeat candidates seeking elective office. Federal PACs must register with the Federal Election Committee.
A tax required as a qualification for voting used by some southern states to circumvent the 15th Amendment. Many poor African Americans could not afford to pay the tax and thus were unable to vote, but poor whites were exempt from the tax.
A political philosophy and movement that emerged in the agrarian West and South during the late 19th century. Populists advocated greater public participation in government and business to protect individuals from impersonal bureaucracies and financial conglomerates.
The period after a war, especially the American Civil War, 1861–1865.
A preliminary election usually between aspirants from the same political party held to determine who will serve as the party’s candidate in the general election.
An official legislative day that fulfills the Constitutional mandate for Congress to assemble; however, no votes are cast and little floor business is conducted.
A social movement roughly beginning in the 1890s and ending shortly after U.S. entry in the First World War in 1917. Marked by a desire to reform society in the wake of the dramatic changes brought on by rapid American industrialization. Activists of the era—many of whom were women—pursued a broad range of democratic reforms within political, social, and cultural contexts. The attention paid to public service and political activism of the era contributed to the eventual success of the women’s suffrage movement.
Refers to the federal ban on alcohol implemented after passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act. Prohibition laws made the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol—as well as its importation into the United States—illegal. The term also is used to describe the era when than alcohol ban was in effect, from its passage in January 1919 to its repeal in December 1933.
The minimum number of Members needed to be present for the House or Senate to conduct business. The Constitution requires simple majorities of Members to achieve a quorum; in the modern chambers, given no vacancies, the numbers are 218 for the House and 51 in the Senate. In practice, however, both bodies act on the assumption that a quorum is present unless a Member suggests the absence of one or requests a quorum call. Additionally, according to a House rule, only 100 Members are required to achieve a quorum to conduct business in the Committee of the Whole.
This term refers to the minority party member with the highest rank on a committee or a subcommittee. In some usages it can also apply to the majority party member next in rank to the chairman or chairwoman. Ranking minority members have a leadership role in that they often serve as floor managers to debate legislation on the floor and they also oversee the budget and administrative duties allotted to minority committee staff. From their initial assignment to a committee, Members generally work their way up from the bottom of the list as vacancies open above them.
A new or unique merging of disparate political parties, philosophies, or organizations.
Refers to both the 12-year period (1865–1877) and political process after the American Civil War in which the former Confederate states were re-admitted to the Union, beginning the nation’s long process of readjustment after the end of slavery.
A term used to denote either the political movement or the period in which white southerners worked to dismantle Reconstruction governments, disfranchise blacks, and reshape the South’s legal system to foster labor control and subordination of blacks to whites.
The redrawing of U.S. House districts within states following the constitutionally mandated decennial census and the apportionment of seats. State legislatures draw new districts based on population declines or increases that result in the subtraction or addition of House seats apportioned to the state.
Satisfaction or compensation for a wrong sustained or the loss resulting from such a wrong. It was also the name given to a grassroots movement organized by Japanese-American groups to seek restitution for being interned by the federal government in violation of their civil rights during World War II, which resulted in loss of their possessions, homes, property, and businesses.
A person who seeks refuge in a foreign country as a result of warfare, religious persecution, or political persecution in their home country.
The official term for the 10 War Relocation Center facilities where 120,000 Japanese Americans, both immigrants and native-born citizens, were incarcerated for much of World War II. During and since World War II, these facilities have also been called “relocation centers,” “detention centers,” “evacuation camps,” “internment camps,” and “concentration camps.” Federal officials frequently referred to them as “concentration camps” during the war at a time when the label was associated with the Boer War and the Cuban rebellions of the 1890s. Many of the post-war histories and studies of this event have used “relocation,” “evacuation,” and “internment.” More recent studies have begun to use “incarceration” as a more accurate term.
A person who makes a formal resignation of some right or trust, including citizenship.
The act of making amends for a wrong done; offering compensation.
A non-voting Member of the House that is sent to represent the constituents of an unincorporated territory. Unlike Representatives and non-voting Delegates, Resident Commissioners currently serve for four-year terms. Puerto Rico has had a Resident Commissioner in the House since 1901. While under U.S. rule, the Philippines also had Resident Commissioners who were elected by the Philippine legislature from 1907 to 1936 and served in pairs. Philippine presidents appointed subsequent Resident Commissioners from 1936 to 1946 per the Tydings–McDuffie Act of 1934. They served in fixed terms that ranged from two to four years. Many sought greater autonomy for the Philippines but were unable to vote on final legislation or serve on committees per House Rules. A total of 13 Resident Commissioners from the Philippines served in the House from 1907 to 1946.
An action to hold or keep something or someone fixed in a place or position.
Literally “the rich”; a term used to describe affluent Hispanos and Anglos in 19th-century New Mexico.
A Japanese term that identifies the second generation of Japanese Americans who were born in the United States.
A derogatory name denoting an imposter or intriguer, especially in politics. In the 19th century, the popular press applied the name to white southerners who willingly worked within the system of the Union-backed state Reconstruction governments.
Priority or precedence in office or service; superiority in standing to another of equal rank by reason of earlier entrance into the service or an earlier date of appointment.
From the Latin, meaning “without setting a day.” A sine die adjournment signifies that Congress has adjourned (suspended its business) at the end of an annual or special session.
A 19th-century sociological theory, now discredited, that argued that societies advance because of intense competition and conflict between social groups. According to the theory, social elites acquired their status as a result of their biological superiority over weaker social groups.
An election held by a state to fill a vacancy created when a Member of Congress dies, resigns, or is expelled. All House vacancies must be filled by election; Senate vacancies usually are filled by temporary appointments until a special election can be organized.
A position defined by congressional mandate rather than by the U.S. Constitution. Territorial Delegates and Resident Commissioners are statutory representatives. Senators and Representatives are constitutional representatives.
The right to vote; the term also refers to the exercise of that right.
The act of serving as a representative of or spokesperson for a group of persons united by gender or race and not confined to the boundaries of a congressional district or state. This representational style was prevalent among some minorities in Congress—particularly after the 1960s—to advance a legislative agenda important to minorities nationwide. To a degree, each minority group in Congress has adopted some form of “surrogate representation.”
The portion of the Educational Amendments of 1972 barring schools receiving federal funding from discrimination based on sex. The law precludes qualified institutions from denying participation in and equal benefits to women for any school-related program or activity. In 2002, Congress officially renamed the legislation the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act to honor one of the key authors of the initial bill.
The portion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibiting employers from discrimination in recruiting, hiring, and advancement based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
A contract between two or more nation states relating to peace, commerce, or other international relations.
An insular area that the United States controls but that has not been fully incorporated into the Union and where Congress has determined that only select parts of the U.S. Constitution apply. Citizens of an unincorporated territory receive some constitutional protections but not all the rights enjoyed by the citizens of U.S. states.
A person who lives in an unincorporated territory. Their citizenship is defined by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or from specific statutes. U.S. Nationals receive some constitutional protections but are exempt from all the rights reserved to citizens of U.S. States.
An assistant House or Senate Floor leader who helps round up party Members for quorum calls and important votes. Coined in the British Parliament, this term is derived from “whipper-in,” a person who keeps the dogs from straying during a fox hunt.
Describes the phenomenon of women succeeding their late husbands in Congress—a main entrée for women into political office until the 1960s. Particularly in the House, which requires special elections to fill vacancies, local party leaders often asked widows to serve as candidates. Expectations were that widows would serve as placeholders and retire to private life once a suitable long-term candidate (usually a man) was identified. Many congressional widows served abbreviated terms but others, particularly those who had prior experience serving as aides in their husbands’ offices or as his political surrogate in the district, enjoyed long and influential careers.
A reform movement which occurred in the U.S. from 1848 to 1920, which encompassed a wide range of issues concerning women’s equality. The movement began with the Seneca Falls Convention in New York in 1848, where activists unveiled the “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions”—a document modeled after the Declaration of Independence that outlined the goals of women’s rights reformers, including suffrage. Reformers also advocated increased economic freedom and educational opportunities for women. The passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, granting women the right to vote, is widely regarded as the culmination of the first phase of the women’s rights movement. A second phase—prefaced on educational, economic, and sexual equality—occurred during the 1960s and 1970s.
Year of the Woman
Term used to describe the record number of new women who won election to the House of Representatives (24) and the Senate (4) in the 1992 election. In all, voters sent as many women to Congress in one year as were elected in any previous decade. The gains made by women during this election cycle received vast media attention and set into motion a decade of remarkable momentum and progress for women in politics.