AP US Government : Historic Political Parties

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Political Parties And Elections

The States’ Rights Party (The Dixiecrats) was led by __________.

Possible Answers:

Strom Thurmond

John C. Breckinridge

Thomas Jefferson

Ross Perot

Theodore Roosevelt

Correct answer:

Strom Thurmond

Explanation:

The States’ Rights Party, also popularly called the Dixiecrats, was led by Strom Thurmond, who ran for President on the platform of States’ Rights and the continuation of segregationist policies in the election of 1948. The Dixiecrats carried four states—South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Example Question #1 : Historic Political Parties

Which of these Presidential or political actions is most antithetical to the political beliefs of that President or politician?

Possible Answers:

James Madison and the War of 1812

Richard Nixon and the opening of trade with China

Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase

Alexander Hamilton and the creation of the National Bank

Franklin D. Roosevelt and the extension of Social Security

Correct answer:

Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase

Explanation:

All of these politicians are matched with political actions that are consistent with their political parties and the political beliefs that they held, apart from Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was an ardent Democratic-Republican. As such, he purported to favor a weak central government, stronger power for the States, and many protections against the possible tyranny of the Executive Branch; however, as President, he unilaterally acted to purchase the Louisiana territory, greatly expanding both the territory of the United States and the powers of the President. Few Americans would suggest he acted wrongly, but he certainly acted contrary to his own public conscience.

Example Question #3 : Political Parties And Elections

Which of these political figures is incorrectly matched with his political party?

Possible Answers:

Henry Clay: Democrats.

James Monroe: Democratic-Republicans.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Democrats.

Andrew Jackson: Democrats.

Thomas Jefferson: Democratic-Republicans.

Correct answer:

Henry Clay: Democrats.

Explanation:

Of these political figures, only Henry Clay is incorrectly matched with his political party. Henry Clay was the leader of the Whig party during the Second Party System in the United States; as such, he was a rival of the Jacksonian Democrats.

Example Question #4 : Political Parties And Elections

Which of these third-parties has had the most success in an American election?

Possible Answers:

The Populist Party

The Progressive Party

The Green Party

The Know-nothing Party

The Anti-Federalists

Correct answer:

The Progressive Party

Explanation:

The Progressive Party, led by Theodore Roosevelt in the election of 1912, is the third party which has had most success in American political history. Roosevelt carried eight states in the electoral college; however, Roosevelt’s success ended up splitting the Republican support base, ensuring that Wilson, a Democrat, was elected with only forty-two percent of the popular vote.

Example Question #5 : Political Parties And Elections

Which of these political parties fell apart during the election of 1856?

Possible Answers:

Federalists

Anti-Federalists

Whigs

Democratic-Republicans

Republicans

Correct answer:

Whigs

Explanation:

From the early 1830s through 1856, American politics had been dominated by the Democrats and the Whigs, but in the election of 1856 the Whig Party fell apart, as many of the politicians and its support base migrated and formed the Republican Party.

Example Question #6 : Political Parties And Elections

Eugene Debs was __________.

Possible Answers:

a Presidential candidate for the Green Party during the 1980s

the first leader of the Populist Party

a Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

convicted of selling war secrets to the Japanese during World War Two

convicted of the assassination of John F. Kennedy

Correct answer:

a Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

Explanation:

Eugene Debs was one of the most famous socialists in American history. He ran for Presidency as the candidate of the Socialist Party of America on five separate occasions, once attracting over five percent of the popular vote.

Example Question #7 : Political Parties And Elections

Which of these politicians was affectionately known as "The Great Commoner?"

Possible Answers:

Henry Clay

William McKinley

John C. Calhoun

Daniel Webster

William Jennings Bryan

Correct answer:

William Jennings Bryan

Explanation:

It is probable you had not heard this nickname before. As such you would have to try and infer the correct answer from what you know about the five men who are given as options. William Jennings Bryan was the representative of the Populist movement with the Democratic Party throughout the waning decades of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth century. He supported many issues that favorably affected the common man and had great faith in the ability of the common man to make informed decisions. For this faith he was affectionately called "The Great Commoner."

Example Question #1 : Historic Political Parties

Which of these groups would have been most likely to vote for the Populist Party in the 1890s?

Possible Answers:

The urban working class

The rural working class

Bankers

Industrialists

African-Americans

Correct answer:

The rural working class

Explanation:

The Populist Party arose very quickly in the 1880s and early 1890s and disappeared even quicker after the election of 1896. The Party was a coalition of the poor and farmers from the South and the western plains. They primarily wanted to see America come off the gold standardin order to put a stop to the rapid deflation that was affecting the price of agricultural products.

Example Question #8 : Political Parties And Elections

In the 1940s America was dominated by __________.

Possible Answers:

the Whigs

the Republicans

the Democratic-Republicans

the Democrats

the Federalists

Correct answer:

the Democrats

Explanation:

From the beginning of Roosevelt’s government in the 1930s—during The Great Depression—all the way through to the mid 1960s, American politics was dominated by the Democratic Party. This dominance fell apart in the dealignment election of 1968, when much of the Democratic Party’s support base migrated towards the Republicans.

Example Question #2 : Historic Political Parties

Which political party became the dominant political party in America in the election of 1860?

Possible Answers:

The Republican Party

The Constitutional Union Party

The Democratic-Republican Party

The Democratic Party

The Whig Party

Correct answer:

The Republican Party

Explanation:

The election of 1860 was the last election before the Civil War, and it demonstrated a stark sectional divide in political preference. Lincoln, and the Republican Party, carried every Free Soil state and won the electoral vote with only thirty-nine percent of the popular vote. This election propelled the Republican Party into a period of national dominance.

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