AP US History : Domestic Politics 1946–1980

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Domestic Politics 1946–1980

"I have come today from the turmoil of your Capital to the tranquillity of your campus to speak about the future of your country.

The purpose of protecting the life of our nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a nation.

For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people.

The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.

Your imagination and your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning."

Which is not a social program eventually proposed as part of "The Great Society?"

Possible Answers:

Social Security

Medicare

Head Start

Medicaid

Correct answer:

Social Security

Explanation:

The Social Security Administration was established under the FDR administration in 1935. It was part of the New Deal. Medicare, Medicare, and Head Start were created during the LBJ administration. These measures were as part of the "Great Society," outlined by LBJ in the above passage.

Example Question #2 : Domestic Politics 1946–1980

"This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent." 

Which U.S. Supreme Court Case is this passage excerpted from?

Possible Answers:

Miranda v. Arizona

Roe v. Wade

Loving v. Virginia

Gideon v. Wainwright

Correct answer:

Roe v. Wade

Explanation:

Roe v. Wade was decided by the Burger court in 1973. It found that the right to privacy encompassed a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. Gideon v. Wainright provided the counsel to the indigent. Miranda v. Arizona provided for notice of certain rights upon arrest. Loving v. Virginia invalidated laws against interracial marriage. 

Example Question #3 : Domestic Politics 1946–1980

"Put to trial before a jury, [he] conducted his defense about as well as could be expected from a layman. He made an opening statement to the jury, cross-examined the State's witnesses, presented witnesses in his own defense, declined to testify himself, and made a short argument 'emphasizing his innocence to the charge contained in the Information filed in this case.' The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and petitioner was sentenced to serve five years in the state prison".

-- Excerpt from a U.S. Supreme Court Case

What amendment to the U.S. Constitution is most likely discussed in the U.S. Supreme Court case excerpted above?

Possible Answers:

6th Amendment

5th Amendment

7th Amendment

1st Amendment

Correct answer:

6th Amendment

Explanation:

The 6th Amendment provides in part, that in criminal trials, a defendant will "have the assistance of counsel for his defense." In Gideon v. Wainwright, excerpted above, the defendant was unable to afford an attorney and had to provide for his own defense. This was found to be unconstitutional under the 6th Amendment for felony cases. Therefore, defendants who are unable to afford an attorney are now appointed one.

Example Question #4 : Domestic Politics 1946–1980

"Put to trial before a jury, [he] conducted his defense about as well as could be expected from a layman. He made an opening statement to the jury, cross-examined the State's witnesses, presented witnesses in his own defense, declined to testify himself, and made a short argument 'emphasizing his innocence to the charge contained in the Information filed in this case.' The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and petitioner was sentenced to serve five years in the state prison."

-- Excerpt from a U.S. Supreme Court Case

What case is this excerpt most likely taken from _________________.

Possible Answers:

Escobedo v. Illinois

Miranda v. Arizona

Gibbons v. Ogden

Gideon v. Wainwright

Correct answer:

Gideon v. Wainwright

Explanation:

The excerpt is taken from Gideon v. Wainwright. This case, from 1963, established that the 6th amendment requires that counsel must be provided to indigent defendants. In this case, Gideon was unable to afford an attorney and was forced to provide for his own defense.

Example Question #5 : Domestic Politics 1946–1980

The election of 1960 marked the end of the two terms of President Eisenhower. The election was important for many reasons. It was assumed, correctly, that Eisenhower’s Vice President Richard Nixon would be the Republican Party nominee. Nixon had turned the office of the Vice President into a national political base for the 1960 election during his time in office, thus the assumption was correct. Additionally, the 1960 election was the first election in which Alaska and Hawaii participated in the election process, as they had been granted statehood the previous year. This is significant because now all fifty states would hold primaries. However, Nixon did not run in all the state primaries because of the assumption that he would be his party’s nominee because he had served as Vice President under President Eisenhower. He did choose to run uncontested in a few primaries but only to prove his ability to get popular votes. The election was the source of much debate as well, because of the candidacy of Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd running as a third party candidate. His presence also contributed to making the election of 1960 the closest in popular vote since the 1884 election.

Why was the election of 1960 considered one of the closest elections in American History?  

Possible Answers:

John F. Kennedy won the election with 100,000 popular votes and a 303 to 219 vote margin in the Electoral College.

It was the first time a third party candidate ran for office.

Richard Nixon won the election with 100,000 popular votes and a 303 to 219 margin in the Electoral College.

It was the first election to use television to broadcast debates between the candidates, giving more people the opportunity to see the candidates without leaving their homes.

The election resulted in a tie and was sent to the Senate to decide who would be the new President.

Correct answer:

John F. Kennedy won the election with 100,000 popular votes and a 303 to 219 vote margin in the Electoral College.

Explanation:

John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election with 49.9% of the votes while Richard M. Nixon gathered 49.7% of the votes. Of the 68 million votes cast, John Kennedy won the election with 100,000 popular votes. The Electoral College gave John Kennedy 303 votes as opposed to Richard Nixon’s 219 votes. The vote was close, but was not a tie and for that reason there was no need to send the election to the Senate. In past elections, Vice-Presidents ran for the Presidency without any restraint as a common expectation for the Vice-President. Third party candidates, while not common, had run in Presidential elections in prior years and the candidacy of Senator Byrd did not play a role in the closeness of the election of Kennedy as President. Post-election analysis showed that one of the contributing factors of the close vote were the televised debates. John Kennedy was more photogenic in the televised debates, but Richard Nixon was more appealing to the radio listeners of the debates. Therefore, the televised debates were not the deciding factor. The correct answer is based purely on voter preference and the popular vote count.

Example Question #6 : Domestic Politics 1946–1980

The Cold War intensified in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Tensions between the United States and the United Soviet Social Republic increased as the rivalry between the United States and the USSR manifested itself in economic and political clashes. In the United States, this lead to a period of perceived threats posed by communist and leftist sympathizers inside the country. It was feared that these individuals would work as spies for the USSR, and therefore, posed a threat to the security of the United States. This fear was known as the Red Scare; red referred to the red color of the Soviet flag and the supposed allegiance to the Soviet beliefs. This fear effected both the American government and society. In March 1947, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9835, known as the Loyalty Order, requiring all federal employees to be analyzed for sufficient loyalty to the government. This was an unusual action, when one considers the foundation of American in liberty and freedom of political organization. The legislative branch became involved in the Red Scare with the actions of The House Unamerican Activities Committee and Senator Joseph McCarthy in the forefront of investigating allegations of subversive elements in the government and the Hollywood film industry. Other governmental agencies were involved in the investigations as well. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover equated any form of protest to communist subversion and took a role in the investigations as well. Hoover had been part of an earlier less pervasive Red Scare in the years following World War I. He viewed his role in the investigations to be one of information gathering. He collected extensive files on suspected subversives using wiretaps, surveillance and infiltration of leftist groups. These files were used in trials for espionage. The House Unamerican Activities Committee reacted to probes into alleged subversive activity by “blacklisting” individuals it considered suspicious. But Senator Joseph McCarthy was the most visible and well-known figure during the years of the Red Scare. His anticommunist campaign took the form of Senate hearings relying on hearsay and intimidation to obtain testimony against alleged communist sympathizers. He was the most powerful and most feared figure in American politics during the Red Scare. Many individuals came under his scrutiny. Some lost careers and had their reputations destroyed. One of the most famous cases was that of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were tried, convicted and executed for committing espionage. The United States Supreme Court also played a role in the Red Scare with its ruling on a case that shocked many Americans by limiting the basic rights and freedoms of Americans.  

What was the name and ruling of this Supreme Court case?

Possible Answers:

United States vs Willow River Power Company; ruling on the power of government to take property from any citizen

Chaplinsky vs.New Hampshire, ruling on the use of fighting words or incendiary words

United States vs. Classic, ruling that the federal government had a right to wiretap suspected spies

Ex parte Quirin, ruling that suspected communist sympathizers’ were to be tried by military tribunals

Dennis vs. United States, ruling that free speech rights of alleged communists could be restricted because their actions presented a clear and present danger to the American government.

Correct answer:

Dennis vs. United States, ruling that free speech rights of alleged communists could be restricted because their actions presented a clear and present danger to the American government.

Explanation:

There were many cases brought before the United States Supreme Court during the Red Scare. Dennis vs. United States is the strongest and emphasized the fear in the country of communist influences by stating that free speech rights could be restricted if it was determined to be a clear and present danger to the country. The determination of a clear and present danger was open to interpretation and circumstance. Ex parte Quirin limited the scope of its ruling to suspected spies stating that they were to be tried by military tribunals. Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire ruled on the use of derisive, offensive and annoying speech (often referred to as “fighting words). United States vs. Willow River Power Company ruled on property rights and the rights of the government to take personal property, namely land, for public use. United States vs. Classic ruled on the power of the federal government to regulate primary elections.  

Example Question #7 : Domestic Politics 1946–1980

"I have come today from the turmoil of your Capital to the tranquillity of your campus to speak about the future of your country.

The purpose of protecting the life of our nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a nation.

For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people.

The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.

Your imagination and your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning."

Who delivered the speech above?

Possible Answers:

Lyndon B. Johnson

John F. Kennedy

Richard Nixon

Martin Luther King

Correct answer:

Lyndon B. Johnson

Explanation:

Lyndon B. Johnson delivered the "Great Society" speech on May 22, 1964 to expand the social programs of the New Deal. Support for the initiatives was high, in part due to the assassination of JFK. In 1965, Congress passed several reforms, including Medicaid, Medicare, and educational programs. 

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