All Common Core: 9th Grade English Language Arts Resources
Example Question #1 : Reading: Informational Text
Passage 2: Adapted from Woodrow Wilson’s “War Message to Congress” ("Address of The President of the United States Delivered at a Joint Session of The Two Houses of Congress") (April 2, 1917)
On the third of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government that on and after the first day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean.
That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year, the Imperial Government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its undersea craft in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meager and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed.
The new policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom: without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe conduct through the proscribed areas by the German Government itself and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or of principle.
I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact be done by any government that had hitherto subscribed to humane practices. [International maritime law] the German Government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for the understandings that were supposed to underlie the intercourse of the world. I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of noncombatants, men, women, and children, engaged in pursuits which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be. The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind.
It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.
Based on what is stated in the passage, which of the following is most likely the recommendation the author makes later in this speech?
That the U.S. should join Germany's side in the war
That the U.S. should declare war against Germany
That the U.S. should send food and supplies to Germany and other European countries
That the U.S. should increase naval security around its own ports to fend off potential attacks
That the U.S. should not get involved in the war between Germany and other countries
That the U.S. should declare war against Germany
Being asked to infer the recommendation the author makes later in the speech after the presented excerpt may initially seem like it requires a logical leap that is impossible to make from the given material; however, keep in mind that you only given four answer choices from which to choose, and one of them is the correct answer. If this were an open-ended question, it would be far too broad to be reasonable, but since it asks you to choose the most reasonable inference from presented options, answering the question correctly becomes a matter of taking stock of the passage and figuring out which answer choice is supported by the most textual evidence.
To infer what is most likely the recommendation the author makes later in the speech, let's first briefly summarize the main point of each paragraph. This can help us get a better idea of the general progression of topics in the passage, and such a bird's-eye view of the passage's content can aid in predicting how the speech continues after the passage's excerpt concludes.
Paragraph 1: Statement of Imperial German Government's new policy of sinking vessels around specific ports
Paragraph 2: Context provided about the old policy, which provided certain safety measures for vessels that would otherwise be attacked
Paragraph 3: Contrasting of new policy against old one; new one is much worse and does not provide any safety measures like the old one did
Paragraph 4: Reflection of the author on the new policy as terrible and inhumane; start of generalization of specific situation to greater problem
Paragraph 5: Continued generalization of specific situation to general, worldwide problem, beginning of suggestion that the U.S. will respond to the problem by opposing Germany's actions
Most of the evidence about the recommendation the author makes after this particular excerpt concludes can (perhaps unsurprisingly) be found at the end of the passage. At this point, the author is moving from discussing a generalization of the problem presented by the Imperial German government's actions to discussion of how the U.S. will respond. Let's look at the passage's final lines:
The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.
Consider in particular how the author states, "Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but . . . " Even though the author is asserting that this is what the U.S. will not do, the mentioning of "the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation" as even a possible motive for the actions of the U.S. suggests that the author is about to suggest that the country go to war. This fits with the perspective of the entire passage, which denounces the actions of the Imperial German government, considers those actions as indicative of large-scale problems, and recommends that the U.S. respond to them directly. The best answer is thus that the most likely recommendation the author makes later in the passage is "that the U.S. should declare war against Germany." (Indeed, this is exactly what the author suggests at the end of the paragraph that follows the passage's last one.) None of the other answer choices are supported by the passage.