melting pot - The mingling of diverse ethnic groups in America, including the idea that these groups are or should be "melting" into a single culture or people. "Colonial America was a melting pot and has been from the outset."
sect - A small religious group that has broken away from some larger mainstream church. "They belonged to several different Protestant sects...."
agitators - Those who seek to excite or persuade the public on some issue. "Already experienced colonizers and agitators in Ireland, the Scots-Irish proved to be superb frontiersmen...."
stratification - The visible arrangement of society into a hierarchical pattern, with distinct social groups layered one on top of the other. "...colonial society....was beginning to show signs of stratification...."
mobility - The capacity to pass readily from one social or economic condition to another. "...barriers to mobility...raised worries about the ‘Europeanization' of America."
elite - The smaller group at the top of a society or institution, usually possessing wealth, power, or special privileges. "...these elites now feathered their nests more finely."
almshouse - A home for the poor, supported by charity or public funds. "Both Philadelphia and New York built almshouses in the 1730s...."
gentry - Landowners of substantial property, social standing, and leisure, but not titled nobility. "Wealth was concentrated in the hands of the largest slave-owners, widening the gap between the prosperous gentry and the ‘poor whites'..."
tenant farmer - One who rents rather than owns land. "...the ‘poor whites'...were increasingly forced to become tenant farmers."
penal code The body of criminal laws specifying offenses and prescribing punishments. "But many convicts were the unfortunate victims...of a viciously unfair English penal code...."
veto - The executive power to prevent acts passed by the legislature from becoming law. "Thomas Jefferson...assailed such vetoes...."
apprentice - A person who works under a master to acquire instruction in a trade or profession. "Aspiring young doctors served for a while as apprentices to older practitioners...."
speculation - Buying land or anything else in the hope of profiting by an expected rise in price. "Commercial ventures and land speculation...were the surest avenues to speed wealth."
revival - In religion, a movement of renewed enthusiasm and commitment, often accompanied by special meetings or evangelical activity. "The stage was thus set for a rousing religious revival."
secular - Belonging to the worldly sphere rather than to the specifically sacred or churchly. "A more secular approach was evident late in the eighteenth century..."