Dictionary of US History
|African-Americans||Artists||Explorers of the US||Inventors||US Presidents|
Thomas Davenport (July 9, 1802 -July 6, 1851) was an American blacksmith and inventor who established the first commercially successful electric streetcar. Davenport, from Vermont, invented an electric motor in 1834 and began a small electric railway in 1835. He patented a device for "Improvements in propelling machinery by magnetism and electromagnetism" in 1837 (his electric railway). Davenport later started a workshop in New York City, New York, and published a journal on electromagnetism (it was printed on a press that was powered by motors which he devised).
|de Anza, Juan Bautista
Captain Juan Bautista de Anza (1736-1788) was a Mexican-born trailblazer and explorer. He was the first person of European descent to establish an overland trail from Mexico to the northern Pacific coast of California (then called New Albion). He found a corridor through the desolate Sonoran Desert. His expeditions brought hundreds of settlers to California. He founded the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose. De Anza was the commander of the presidio at Tubac.
|de Aviles, Pedro Menendez
Captain Pedro Menendez de Aviles (Feb. 15, 1519-Sept. 17, 1574) was a brutal Spanish sailor, soldier, explorer, and conquistador. The King of Spain sent Aviles to Florida in the New World, to start a Spanish settlement (St. Augustine, in northeastern Florida), and to decimate a nearby French settlement (Fort Caroline).
|de Ayllon, Lucas Vazquez
Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón (1475-1526) was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who tried to start a colony in North America in 1526. He was the first European colonizer of what is now South Carolina. His attempt to settle the coast of the Carolinas (near the mouth of the Peedee River at Winyah Bay) was unsuccessful.
|de Charlevoix, Pierre François-Xavier
Pierre François-Xavier de Charlevoix (Oct. 29, 1682 - Feb. 1, 1761) was a French Jesuit priest, explorer, and writer. His writings are some of the earliest written accounts of North America.
For more information on Charlevoix, click here.
|Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence is a document drafted by Thomas Jefferson and issued on 4th of July, 1776, in which the 13 United Colonies declared that they were free and not subject to the government of Great Britain.
|de Fuca, Juan
Juan de Fuca (15??-1601?) was a Greek navigator who sailed for Spain under a Spanish name; his original name was Apostolos Valerianos. De Fuca sailed up the western coast of North America from Mexico to Vancouver Island in 1592, looking for a passage from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. He was perhaps the first European to see this area. He sailed through the Strait of Juan de Fuca (which was named for him in 1725) and believed it to be the beginning of a route to the Atlantic Ocean (it is not). This strait connects the Pacific Ocean to the Puget Sound and the Georgia Strait, and is located between the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, USA, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. After sailing back to Acapulco, Mexico, de Fuca was not rewarded by Spain for his journey, and his discovery of the strait was not entirely believed until Captain Vancouver retraced de Fuca's route 200 years later. After this journey, de Fuca returned to Greece.
|de La Salle, Robert
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643-1687) was a French explorer. He was sent by King Louis XIV (14) to travel south from Canada and sail down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. He was the first European to travel the length of the Mississippi River (1682). His mission was to explore and establish fur-trade routes along the river. La Salle named the entire Mississippi basin Louisiana, in honor of the King, and claimed it for France on April 9, 1682. He also explored Lake Michigan (1679), Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. He tried to start a settlement in the southern Mississippi River Valley, but the venture ended in disaster.
For more information on La Salle, click here.
|de Leon Ponce
Juan Ponce de Leon (1460?-1521) was a Spanish explorer and soldier who was the first European to set foot in Florida. He also established the oldest European settlement in Puerto Rico and discovered the Gulf Stream (a current in the Atlantic Ocean). Ponce de Leon was searching for the legendary fountain of youth and other riches.
|de Narvaez, Panfilo
Panfilo de Narvaez (1470?-1528) was a Spanish explorer and soldier. He helped conquer Cuba in 1511 and led a Spanish royal expedition to North America (leaving Spain in 1527). He was born in Valladolid, Spain and died on his expedition to Florida.
De Narvaez was granted the land of Florida by the Emperor Charles V in 1526. He led an expedition there with 300 men, including Cabeza de Vaca. After surviving a hurricane near Cuba, his expedition landed on the west coast of Florida (near Tampa Bay) in April, 1528, claiming the land for Spain.
For more information on de Narvaez, click here.
|de Niza, Marcos
Fray Marcos de Niza (1495 - March 25, 1558 ) was a Franciscan priest who is said to have traveled to the fabled "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola" in what is now the western part of New Mexico.
De Niza was born in Savoy (now in France, but it was Italian then), and became a Franciscan friar. He sailed to the Americas in 1531, and traveled to Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. He freed some Native American slaves at Culiacán, Mexico.
He and the Moorish slave Estevanico were sent from Mexico City to find Cibola by the Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza (March to August 1539). De Niza reported that he and Estevanico saw the extraordinarily rich "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola," but they were later found to be simple Zuni Indian pueblos. Estevanico was killed by Zuni Indians during this expedition. De Niza survived and eventually was in charge of his Franciscan order (1541).
|de Onate, Juan
Juan de Oñate (1550?-1630) was a Spanish conquistador who established the colony of New Mexico for Spain. Oñate was married to a granddaughter of Hernán Cortés. In 1595, Oñate requested that he be sent to conquer and rule New Mexico, search for treasure (especially the legendary silver treasure of Quivira), and bring Christianity to the local Indians. After governmental approval, Oñate left for New Mexico in January 1598 with 400 settlers and soldiers (and their livestock). In July 1598, the expedition crossed the Rio Grande at El Paso. They arrived at the Tewa pueblo of San Juan and were helped by the local Indians. Oñate group built San Gabriel, New Mexico's first capital. After they realized that the area was not rich in silver, many settlers wanted to return to Mexico, but Oñate would not let them go, and executed many of them. He was also incredibly brutal to the local Indians, killing, enslaving, and mutilating many Indian men, women, and children. In 1601, Oñate unsuccessfully tried to find the legendary silver of Quivira (thought to be in what is now central Kansas). While he was gone, most of his settlers returned to Mexico City. In 1604, he explored the area west toward the Colorado River and south to the Gulf of California. In 1607, Spain removed him from office (Don Pedro de Peralta was appointed to be the new governor); Oñate was later tried and found guilty of cruelty, immorality, mismanagement, dereliction of duties, and false reporting. He was exiled from the colony.
|de Pineda, Alonso Alvarez
Alonso Alvarez de Pineda was a Spanish explorer and map-maker. De Pineda sailed for the Spanish Governor of Jamaica, Francisco de Garay, who sent him to explore and chart the Gulf Coast from Florida to Mexico in 1519. Captain De Pineda and his crew were probably the first Europeans in Texas, claiming it for Spain. One of the regions he explored and mapped was the area around Corpus Christi Bay; De Pineda entered Corpus Christi Bay on the feast day of Corpus Christi, hence the name.
|de Portola, Gaspar
Gaspar de Portolá (1767-1784) was a Spanish soldier, leader, and explorer. Portolá was appointed Governor of Las Californias from 1768-1770 and founded Monterey and San Diego (California). As governor, Portola was ordered to arrest and expel all Jesuits from their well-established colleges and 14 missions; many of these missions were given to the Franciscans. In 1768, Portola volunteered to lead a large expedition of settlers, missionaries, and soldiers up the California coast to San Diego and Monterey (in California) in order to establish new Franciscan missions; the expedition was planned by Jose de Galvez. Portolá's overland expedition began on July 14th, 1769, and included Father Junipero Serra and 63 other men. They reached Los Angeles on August 2, 1769, Santa Barbara on August 19, Santa Cruz on October 18, and the San Francisco Bay area on October 31 (they missed Monteray). They again failed to find Monteray on their return trip to San Diego (both by land and by sea), so Portolá, Father Serra, and others tried another expedition, arriving at Monterey on May 24, 1770. In 1776, Portolá was chosen governor of the city of Puebla; he served for eight years, until his death .
|de Soto, Hernando
Hernando De Soto (1500?-1542) was a Spanish explorer who sailed the Atlantic Ocean and was the first European to explore Florida and the southeastern US.
|de Vaca, Alvar Nunez Cabeza
Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca [Cabeza de Vaca means "head of a cow"] (1490?-1557?) was a Spanish explorer who sailed to North America from Spain, leaving in 1527. He traveled from Florida to Texas on a raft, then walked from Texas to Mexico City. He also explored the Paraguay River in South America. De Vaca and his fellow travelers were the first Europeans to see the bison, or American buffalo.
Bandages for wounds had been around since ancient times, but an easy-to-use dressing with an adhesive was invented by Earle Dickson (a cotton buyer at the Johnson & Johnson company). Dickson perfected the BAND-AID® in 1920, making a small, sterile adhesive bandage for home use. Dickson invented the BAND-AID® for his wife, who had many kitchen accidents and needed an easy-to-use wound dressing. Dickson was rewarded by the Johnson & Johnson company by being made a vice-president of the company.
Marion Donovan (1917-1998) was an American mother, inventor, and architect who invented the disposable diaper in 1950. Her first leak-proof diaper were fast-selling "Boaters," plastic-lined cloth diapers (diapers lined with pieces cut from a shower curtain, and later with surplus parachute nylon). Donovan then developed a completely disposable diaper. She was unsuccessful at selling this invention to established manufacturers, so she started her own company, which she later sold. Donovan produced many other consumer-based inventions and held more than a dozen patents
|Dorticus, Clatonia Joaquin
Clatonia Joaquin Dorticus was an African-American inventor who received many patents. He invented an apparatus for applying dyes to the sides of the soles and heels of shoes (patent # 535,820, March 19, 1895), a machine for embossing (contouring the paper of) photographs (patent # 537,442, April 16, 1895), a device that helped develop photographs (patent # 537,968, April 23, 1895), and a leak stopper for hoses (patent # 629,315, July 18, 1899).
Aaron Douglas (May 26, 1899 - February 3, 1979) was an African-American artist who was associated with the Harlem Renaissance art movement. Douglas was born in Topeka, Kansas, and studied art at the University of Nebraska. He later moved to Harlem, New York, and soon became a pre-eminent artist. Douglas did many paintings, woodcut prints, murals, and book and magazine illustrations.
Earl Douglass (1862-1931) was a US fossil hunter who in 1909 found the Carnegie Quarry (now known as Dinosaur National Monument) in Utah, USA. Douglass found many specimens (350 tons of fossils!), including Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Camptosaurus, Diplodocus, Hoplosuchus, Othnielia, and Stegosaurus, for the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey Douglass (Feb. 7, 1817-Feb. 20, 1895) was an abolitionist, orator and writer who fought against slavery and for women's rights. Douglass was the first African-American citizen appointed to high ranks in the U.S. government.
Sir Francis Drake (1545-1596) was a British explorer, slave-trader, privateer (a pirate working for a government) in the service of England, mayor of Plymouth, England, and naval officer (he was an Admiral). Drake led the second expedition to sail around the world in a voyage lasting from 1577 to 1580 (Magellan led the first voyage around the world).
Frank Drake (1930-) is an American radio astronomer who, in 1961, formulated an equation for very-rough estimates of the possible number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy (the Drake equation).
Draper, Henry (1837-1882) was an American astronomer. He was also an early astronomical photographer. In September, 1880, Draper took the first photograph of a distant astronomical object (the Orion Nebula). He also studied stellar spectra and was the first person to photograph stellar spectral lines. The Henry Draper system of star identification (HD) system of stellar classification was named for Draper. His father, John William Draper (1811-1882), who was a chemist, took the first photographs (using a five-inch reflector telescope) of the moon in 1839-1840.
|Drew, Charles Richard
Dr. Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) was an American medical doctor and surgeon who started the idea of a blood bank and a system for the long-term preservation of blood plasma (he found that plasma kept longer than whole blood). His ideas revolutionized the medical profession and have saved many, many lives.
Richard G. Drew (1899-1980) invented masking tape and clear adhesive tape (also called cellophane tape or Scotch tape). Drew was an engineer for the 3M company (the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing).
Drew's first tape invention was a masking tape made for painters in 1923 (this tape was designed to help painters paint a straight border between two colors). This early masking tape was a wide paper tape with adhesive on only the edges of the tape - not in the middle. Drew made an improved tape called Scotch (TM) Brand Cellulose Tape in 1930. This tape was a clear, all-purpose adhesive tape that was soon adopted worldwide. The first tape dispenser with a built-in cutting edge was invented in 1932 by John A. Borden, another 3M employee.
William Edward Burghardt DuBois (February 23, 1868 - August 27, 1963) was a writer, historian, leader and one of the founders of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). DuBois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He was a gifted student who became a reporter for the New York Globe when he was 15 years old. He later attended Fisk University, then transferred to Harvard University; he was the first black to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University. DuBois became a teacher and later studied the state of black people in the USA and around the world; he wrote many books.
Julian Dubuque (or Du Buque) was a French miner who traveled through regions of the Upper Mississippi area of the USA. In 1786, Dubuque founded the city of Dubuque, Iowa, USA. After buying land from the Fox Indians, he started mining lead near what is now Dubuque. Julian Dubuque was Iowa's first European settler.
Du Sable, Jean-Baptiste-Point
Jean-Baptiste-Point Du Sable (1750?-1818) was a Haitian-French pioneer and trader; he founded the settlement that would later become Chicago.
Dictionary of US History
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