Vocabulary Lists

Historical Documents

  • 40 WordsNumber 1, Alexander Hamilton
  • 40 WordsNumber 9, Alexander Hamilton
  • 60 WordsNumber 10, James Madison
  • 35 WordsNumber 14, James Madison
  • 40 WordsNumber 23, Alexander Hamilton
  • 35 WordsNumber 39, James Madison
  • 35 WordsNumber 47, James Madison
  • 40 WordsNumber 51, James Madison
  • 40 WordsNumber 70, Alexander Hamilton
  • 40 WordsNumber 78, Alexander Hamilton
  • 30 WordsThe Declaration of Independence
  • 35 WordsDeclaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress
  • 15 WordsPreamble to the U.S. Constitution (1787)
  • 40 WordsThe Constitution of the United States
  • 40 WordsThe Bill of Rights
  • 40 WordsThe Federalist Papers, No. 1 by Alexander Hamilton
  • 60 WordsThe Federalist Papers, No. 10 by James Madison
  • 35 WordsThe Federalist Papers, No. 14 by James Madison
  • 40 WordsThe Federalist Papers, No. 51 by James Madison
  • 35 WordsBrown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
  • 35 WordsDred Scott v. Sandford (1857)
  • 45 WordsMiranda v. Arizona (1966)
  • 40 WordsNew York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)
  • 35 WordsTexas v. Johnson (1989)
  • 30 WordsSchenck v. United States (1919)
  • 40 WordsUnited States v. Nixon (1974)
  • 35 WordsKorematsu v. United States (1944)
  • 35 WordsPlessy v. Ferguson (1896)
  • 40 WordsMarbury v. Madison (1803)
  • 40 WordsRoe v. Wade (1973)

Historical Documents Vocabulary Lists:

The Constitution of the United States

The Constitution is, quite simply, the basis of American democracy. The document details what the branches of government must do, what they are entitled to do, and what they cannot do. Read the full text here.
40 Words

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)

In 1951, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recruited 13 parents to file a class action suit on behalf of their children. The named plaintiff, Oliver Brown, was the father of a third grader who, denied admission to a neighborhood school because of his race, was forced to walk six blocks to take a bus to a black school. On reviewing the District Court's ruling based on the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decided that segregated public schools were unequal and unconstitutional. This led to the Civil Rights Act of 1957. These words are from the unanimous opinion written by Earl Warren. Read the full text here.
35 Words

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Shortly before the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams appointed many judges and justices. While most of these Federalist commissions were delivered before the Democratic-Republican administration took over, some were delayed and declared void. Unable to take office, William Marbury petitioned the Supreme Court to force the new Secretary of State, James Madison, to hand over his commission. The Court recognized Marbury's right, but they decided against him because his claim was both inappropriately presented and based on an unconstitutional act of Congress. This ruling solidified the Court's power to review and interpret the laws of the land. These words are from the unanimous opinion written by John Marshall. Read the full text here.
40 Words

"The Declaration of Sentiments" (1848)

The Declaration of Sentiments was presented in July 1848 at the first Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls. Composed by the abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it deliberately echoes the Declaration of Independence by casting women in the role of the oppressed and men in the role of the tyrant. This led to much heated dispute, but it is now recognized as the first step towards the addition of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. E-text available here.
30 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 70 by Alexander Hamilton

Published on March 18, 1788, this essay argues that the executive office should be led by a strong president rather than several leaders with equal powers. Read the full text here.
40 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 41 by James Madison

This essay was published on January 19, 1788. In it, Madison weighs the pros and cons of the government's power to raise military forces in times of war and to keep standing armies in times of peace. Read the full text here.
40 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 23 by Alexander Hamilton

In this essay, published on December 18, 1787, Hamilton argues that the federal government must be granted sufficient power to provide for military defense. Read the full text here.
40 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 9 by Alexander Hamilton

This essay was published on November 21, 1787 in response to objectors who did not think that the United States would succeed as a confederate republic due to its size. Read the full text here.
40 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 47 by James Madison

Published on February 1, 1788, this essay by Madison discusses the separation of powers among the three branches of government, as described in the proposed U.S. Constitution. Read the full text here.
35 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 78 by Alexander Hamilton

Published on May 28, 1788, this essay discusses the judicial framework of the new U.S. government. Read the full text here.
40 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 39 by James Madison

Published on January 18, 1788, this essay argues that the new U.S. government should be a republic guided by both national and federal principles. Read the full text here.
35 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 1 by Alexander Hamilton

The collection of essays known as The Federalist Papers was written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay between 1787 and 1788, under the pseudonym Publius. The writers' main objective was to garner support for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Federalist No. 1 by Hamilton is both an introduction to and a blueprint for the collection. In this essay, Hamilton considers whether society is capable of forming a just government based on rational choice. Read the full text here.
40 Words

The 25th Amendment (1967)

Congress ratified the 25th Amendment on February 10, 1967. It lays out the measures to be taken in case the President or the Vice President is unable to hold office. Read the full text here.
10 Words

The 18th Amendment (1919)

Ratified by Congress on January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment imposed a federal ban on the manufacture, sale, transport and consumption of alcohol. In 1933 it was repealed by the 21st Amendment, bringing the Prohibition Era to a close. Read the full text here.
10 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 51 by James Madison

Published on February 8, 1788, this essay by Madison advocates for a system of checks and balances within the United States government. Read the full text here.
40 Words

The Federalist Papers, No. 14 by James Madison

Published on November 30, 1787, this essay was a response to Anti-Federalist complaints that the United States was simply too large to govern as a single entity. Read the full text here.
35 Words

Preamble to the U.S. Constitution (1787)

This introduction to the United States Constitution lays out the foundational principles of the nation. Read the full text here.
15 Words

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

In 1966, the Supreme Court issued a decision that created a set of rights known as "Miranda rights." According to the opinion, a person being arrested and held in police custody must be informed that he or she has a right to representation by an attorney and a right to avoid self-incrimination. Read the full text here.
45 Words

19th Amendment (1920)

The 19th Amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote. Congress passed it on June 4, 1919 and ratified it on August 18, 1920. This list includes vocabulary from the transcription of the Joint Resolution of Congress proposing the 19th Amendment. Read the full text here.
20 Words

"On Women's Right to Vote" by Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was arrested when she illegally voted in the 1872 presidential election. She delivered this argument for women's suffrage in 1873. Read the full text here.
24 Words

13th Amendment (1865)

The 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865. It abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. Read the full text here.
10 Words

"Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)

Imprisoned in April, 1963 for protesting segregation, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote this letter to affirm that nonviolent civil disobedience was essential to achieving the goals of the Civil Rights Movement. Read the full text of the letter here.
45 Words

The Bill of Rights

Learn these words to better understand the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution ratified by Congress on December 15, 1791. Read the full text here.
40 Words

Christopher Columbus' Diary: The First Voyage

Christopher Columbus embarked on the first of three voyages to the "New World" with three ships — the Ni?a, Pinta and Santa María — on August 3, 1492. On October 12th, Columbus and his crew arrived on the island known today as San Salvador. He kept a logbook in which he faked some entries to soothe a mutinous crew, and a private diary in which he described the journey that shaped the subsequent history of the western hemisphere. Upon his return to Spain, Columbus presented these records to Queen Isabella I of Castile. She had the diary copied and retained the original, then gave the copy to Columbus before his second voyage. The whereabouts of the original Spanish text remain a mystery — its location has not been known since 1504. Here are 14 words selected from the historic text.
14 Words

Lee's General Order No. 9: A Farewell Address

Robert E. Lee's farewell to the Army of Northern Virginia was delivered at Appomattox Court House on April 10, 1865, one day after the surrender that effectively ended the Civil War. The speech is brief and eloquent. Lee thanks his men for their sacrifice and explains that the outcome is not due to their performance. For more on this speech and its important words, read the full article.
15 Words

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