Glossary

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A

Amendment:

A change or addition that is made to a law or a bill.

American Revolution :

The American colonies' war for freedom and independence from Great Britain. It lasted from 1775 to 1781.

"Anacreon in Heaven":

A song which was written in England in the 1770's. It is the tune to which we sing our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner".

Articles of Confederation:

This was the first constitution of the United States. It was adopted in 1781 and was replaced by our present constitution in 1788.

B

Bald Eagle:

This symbol is our national bird. Congress chose it in 1784 because it represents strength, skill, and bravery.

Bill of Rights:

These are the first ten laws called amendments that were added to the Constitution. These laws protect the rights of all Americans.

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C

Cambridge Flag:

This is another name used for the first flag of the United States. It flew over Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1776.

Cannon:

In this unit, the word cannon means the upper left hand corner of the flag. It is the area on our national flag that has a dark blue background with white stars on it.

Compromise:

There are two sides to an argument. When a person compromises, he learns to listen to the other person. The two people talk about the disagreement and they come to a decision both of them can agree upon.

Congress:

A group of lawmakers who are elected by the people to make the laws of the land.

Constitution of the United States of America:

It is the document that is the main law of the United States. Every other law in the United States must agree with it.

D

Declaration of Independence:

It is the document that our Founding Fathers wrote to tell why the colonists wanted to be independent and free. It told about the main ideals and goals we wanted for our new nation. It also told what the colonists did not like what the British king was doing and why they did not like the things the king was doing.

E

Executive Branch:

This is one of the three branches of the United States government. It is the branch that makes sure the laws written by the Legislative Branch are obeyed. The president of the United States is the leader of this branch. The president has a vice-president to help him. They are each elected by the people for a four year term.

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F

First Continental Congress :

The national legislature which governed the American colonies from 1774 until the adoption of the Articles of Confederation was called the First Continental Congress.

Francis Scott Key:

This man was the author of a poem, "The Defense of Fort McHenry" which became our national anthem. He wrote the poem while watching the battle of Fort McHenry in the Revolutionary War. He was under arrest in a ship in the harbor. He was inspired by the sight of the bombs bursting in the air and the sight of the flag still standing after the bombing stopped.

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi:

He was the young French sculptor who designed and created the Statue of Liberty. He workedon the statue from 1781 to 1886.

G

George Washington:

He was an important general in the American Revolution. He was the leader of the Continental Army. He also was elected to be the first President of the United States.

Grand Union Flag:

This was the first flag of the United States. This flag was first raised by General George Washington over Cambridge, Massachusetts in January of 1776.

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I

Independence Hall:

This is a famous meeting place in Philadelphia where many of our important documents of freedom were created and signed. Independence Hall was built as the State Hall for the colony of Pennsylvania. It is now a national museum.

Inscription:

Something such as words that are carved or written on stone or some other hard surface.

Insignia:

This is a badge of honor. It is a mark that shows a symbol of importance. It could be special sign, a flag, a coat of arms, or something else similar.

J

Judicial Branch:

This is one of the three branches of the United States government. This branch tells what the laws written by the Legislative Branch mean. The Judicial Branch is made up of courts and judges. It makes sure that all citizens who are accused of breaking a law are given a fair and just trial.

July 4th:

July 4, 1776 is the date that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress. It is a national holiday for American citizens. We celebrate our freedom on this day.

L

Legislative Branch:

This is one of the three branches of the United States government. The Legislative Branch is made up of two parts, the Senate and the House of Representatives. These two groups write the laws of our nation.

Legislature:

A group of people who can make, change, or repeal the laws of a country or state.

Liberty Enlightening the World:

This is the name that Frederic Auguste Bartholdi gave the Statue of Liberty when he was building it.

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M

Mayflower Compact:

The mayflower compact was the first agreement the pilgrims wrote to govern themselves in the New World. It was written on the ship, the Mayflower, when the pilgrims landed in America.

O

Old Glory:

This is another name for our national flag.

P

Pedestal:

The support or base for a column or statue. It is the bottom part on which the statue or column

stands.

Pledge of Allegiance:

It is a statement that United States citizens say to honor our flag. The right hand is held over the heart while the pledge is being said. People in the military salute the flag while they are saying the pledge.

Plimouth Plantation:

The colony the pilgrims established in southeastern Massachusetts when they landed in America in 1620.

Preamble:

The Preamble is the introduction to the Constitution. In the Preamble the Framers of the Constitution said two things. 1. It was stated that the people established a government. 2. The purposes of the government were listed.

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S

Skeleton:

The supporting framework of a building, ship, and so forth. The skeleton of the Statue of Liberty was made of strong steel.

Spectacular:

Something that is thrilling and not often seen.. Something that is very big and outstanding.

Stars and Stripes:

This is the name which was given to our present flag. This flag which has thirteen alternating red and white stripes with dark blue cannon that had a circle of thirteen white stars. This flag was adopted by Congress on June 14, 1777.

Star Spangled Banner:

This phrase has two meanings. 1. It is the name of our national anthem which is a poem written by Francis Scott Key. 2. It is also another name for our national flag.

Statue of Liberty:

It is a symbol of our freedom. It is a statue which was created by a French sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. It was given as a gift to the people of the United States by the French people.

It stands on Bedloe's Island in the New York harbor. It was put on the island and dedicated in 1886.

T

The Defense of Fort McHenry:

This is the poem that Francis Scott Key wrote the night he watched the battle of Fort McHenry. It became our national anthem.

The Youth's Companion:

This was the Boston magazine that published the first Pledge of Allegiance on September 8, 1892.

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U

Uncle Sam:

It is the nickname used for a cartoon character that symbols the United States. It was first used in the War of 1812. Congress passed a resolution which recognized Uncle Sam as a national symbol in 1961.

United States of America:

When the colonists decided to become an independent nation, they decided to called themselves the United States instead of colonies. The thirteen colonies became the United States of America.

W

White House:

The White House is the home of the president of the United States. The president lives and works there. It is in Washington D.C. The president has private living quarters there. There are also rooms for public meetings and affairs. Part of the house is open to the public and people can go through that part on scheduled tours. The White House belongs to every American citizen.

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