AP US Government : Influencing Philosophies

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Influencing Philosophies

Which of the following is an example of an early, albeit unsuccessful, attempt by American colonists to establish a unified government?

Possible Answers:

The Constitutional Convention

The Albany Plan

The New Jersey Plan

The Virginia Plan

The Kentucky Resolution

Correct answer:

The Albany Plan

Explanation:

The Albany Plan of Union was adopted in 1754 during the Albany Congress. The Congress was established to help the colonists plan for a combined defensive effort in the event of war between the British and French Empires (The French-Indian War or Seven Years’ War). However, the Albany Plan, proposed by Benjamin Franklin, went far beyond the original scope and attempted to establish a unified colonial government. It was not successful, but could be said to represent the germination of an idea.

Example Question #2 : Influencing Philosophies

Which political thinker had the greatest influence on the writing of the Declaration of Independence?

Possible Answers:

Thomas Hobbes

Voltaire

Immanuel Kant

Sir Thomas More

John Locke

Correct answer:

John Locke

Explanation:

The Enlightenment thinker, John Locke, was the most influential philosopher shaping the ideas of the Declaration of Independence; particularly his emphasis on natural rights is almost word-for-word echoed by Thomas Jefferson: "Life, liberty, and property" versus "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Example Question #20 : Constitution And Government Foundations

The Enlightenment philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, was primarily concerned with __________.

Possible Answers:

preserving law and order, as well as life

individual freedom and basic human rights

a mercantilist economic policy

checks and balances and a system of separation of powers

a free market economy

Correct answer:

preserving law and order, as well as life

Explanation:

Thomas Hobbes was the author of the book, The Leviathan. He is most famous for advocating a strong autocratic ruler to prevent society from falling into a state of destructive chaos. Hobbes was most concerned with preserving law and order as a way to preserve life. He may be seen as an influential figure to the Constitutional Framers, if not the most important one.

Example Question #3 : Influencing Philosophies

The Spirit of the Laws was written by __________.

Possible Answers:

Thomas Jefferson

Charles de Montesquieu

John Locke

Voltaire

Thomas Hobbes

Correct answer:

Charles de Montesquieu

Explanation:

Charles de Montesquieu was a French, Enlightenment-era philosopher who greatly influenced the Constitutional Framers and the nature of the Constitution itself. In his The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu advocated for the separation of power into three branches of government, in order to prevent a democracy from descending into an autocracy or a monarchy.

Example Question #4 : Influencing Philosophies

The idea that legitimate government stems only from an agreed social contract with the people is most often attributed to which Enlightenment-era philosopher?

Possible Answers:

Voltaire

Charles de Montesquieu

Jean Jacques-Rousseau

Adam Smith

Immanuel Kant

Correct answer:

Jean Jacques-Rousseau

Explanation:

The Social Contract is a series of essays, written by Jean Jacques-Rousseau in the eighteenth century. Its primary argument is that only the people have the absolute right to govern, and a leader can only assume this right if agreed upon by a majority of the people. Rousseau’s writings were very influential for the Constitutional Framers.

Example Question #5 : Influencing Philosophies

The idea that the rights and protection of the nation is more important than the rights and protection of the individual is called __________.

Possible Answers:

statism

exclusionary rule

popular sovereignty

cloture

theocracy

Correct answer:

statism

Explanation:

According to statism, the rights of the individual are secondary to the rights and protection of the nation as a whole. Although the supreme right of the individual is supposed to be an established and guaranteed theory behind the formation of American politics and government, statism has taken on increased importance in recent years.

Example Question #6 : Influencing Philosophies

Which of these Enlightenment-Era philosophers wrote The Leviathan?

Possible Answers:

Voltaire

John Locke

Thomas Hobbes

Jean Jacque Rousseau

Thomas Jefferson

Correct answer:

Thomas Hobbes

Explanation:

The Leviathan was written by Thomas Hobbes in the seventeenth century. It can be seen as the philosophical foil for John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government. In The Leviathan, Hobbes argue that human beings are naturally belligerent and inclined toward aggressive competition and self-interest. He believed that, due to the defects of human nature, the best form of government was an absolute ruler, who could constrain the chaos that would ultimately ensue in a free and democratic society.

Example Question #7 : Influencing Philosophies

What did the French philosopher, Montesquieu, primarily contribute to the United States Constitution?

Possible Answers:

Separation of powers

The Bill of Rights

Freedom of the press

A bicameral legislature

A strong executive

Correct answer:

Separation of powers

Explanation:

Montesquieu was a French Enlightenment-Era philosopher whose writings greatly influenced the Founding Fathers. Most notably he argued determinedly for a separation of powers in any democratic government to ensure that no one part of the government could become despotic.

Example Question #8 : Influencing Philosophies

Laissez-faire economics are best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

an economic system where the government protects the interests of the national economy by establishing tariffs and other import restrictions

a mercantilist system focused on import and export balance

an economic system where the government actively works to promote the interests of the working class

a socialist system where everyone shares equally in production

a free and competitive market devoid of government interference

Correct answer:

a free and competitive market devoid of government interference

Explanation:

Laissez-faire economics is a system of economic practice where the market is entirely free and completely devoid of government interference. It long had an ideological impact on the formation of the American economy, but is very far removed from the type of economy that America has at the present.

Example Question #9 : Influencing Philosophies

Which of these American politicians was most notably influenced by the writings of John Locke?

Possible Answers:

Andrew Jackson

Thomas Jefferson

Harry Truman

Alexander Hamilton

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Correct answer:

Thomas Jefferson

Explanation:

John Locke was an English Enlightenment-Era philosopher who famously wrote two treatises on government. His beliefs that there were certain inalienable rights granted to all individuals—to life, liberty, and property—were very influential over many of the American Founding Fathers. In particular, Thomas Jefferson based many of his writings and political opinions on John Locke’s philosophies, as can be seen, for example, in his own writing that all men have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

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