SAT II US History : Cause and Effect in U.S. Political History from 1899 to the Present

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II US History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Which of these was not part of the motivation for the repeal of alcohol prohibition?

Possible Answers:

Repeal of prohibition would stimulate the economy

It encouraged the growth of organized crime

There was a growing awareness about the dangers of homemade alcohol

Prohibition turned ordinary Americans into criminals

Protestant leaders began to speak less harshly about prohibition

Correct answer:

Protestant leaders began to speak less harshly about prohibition

Explanation:

The prohibition of alcohol caused a great deal of social problems in 1920s America. It directly led to the growth of the American mafia and organized crime in general. It caused people to attempt to distill their own alcohol at home, a practice that could be dangerous to undertake and also poisonous to drink. Furthermore, the economy was struggling and the repeal of prohibition was seen as  a small measure that could help the economy and alleviate the difficulty of daily life. Finally, it ideologically turned ordinary Americans into criminals. The correct answer is that Protestant leaders did not begin to speak in less condemning tones about alcohol; rather, the majority of people just were not listening.

Example Question #2 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

How did General Sherman’s victories in Georgia effect the election of 1864?

Possible Answers:

It helped propel Lincoln to an unexpected victory.

It illustrated that the war was unwinnable and provided a mandate for a third party.

It provided emphasis for an already emphatic Lincoln victory.

General Sherman’s victories had little effect on the election of 1864.

It encouraged support for former General, George McClellan. 

Correct answer:

It helped propel Lincoln to an unexpected victory.

Explanation:

Prior to Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea," in which he defeated the Confederates in Atlanta and Savannah, crippling the Southern war effort, popular support for Lincoln was waning heavily. Many voters in the North felt that the Civil War could not be won or that Lincoln’s lack of military knowledge was hindering the war effort. In the months leading up to the election the Democratic candidate General George McClellan was seen as the ideal replacement. However, Sherman’s victories provided a greater degree of legitimacy to Lincoln’s administration and campaign, and he was helped along to a somewhat unexpected victory. 

Example Question #3 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

What was the result of the televised debates between Nixon and Kennedy during the election of 1960?

Possible Answers:

Nixon went from a slight deficit in the polls to a slight lead.

Nixon went from a massive deficit in the polls to a massive lead.

There were no major changes in the polls after the debates .

Kennedy went from a slight deficit in the polls to a slight lead.

Kennedy went from a massive deficit in the polls to a massive lead.

Correct answer:

Kennedy went from a slight deficit in the polls to a slight lead.

Explanation:

The election of 1960 was the first election to have televised debates. At this time, over eighty percent of Americans owned a television, and a massive proportion of the population tuned in to watch the debates. Kennedy—tall, confident, and expressive—came across very favorably in comparison to Nixon, who had refused makeup and failed to grasp the significance of the occasion. Prior to the debates, most polls had Kennedy trailing Nixon slightly.

Example Question #4 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Which of these was not a consequence of the Watergate scandal?

Possible Answers:

The strengthening of the National Bar’s code of conduct for lawyers

An increased distrust of politicians among Americans

The resignation of President Nixon

The creation of a less aggressive American media 

The loss of credibility for President Ford

Correct answer:

The creation of a less aggressive American media 

Explanation:

The Watergate scandal refers to Richard Nixon’s attempts to spy on and quiet Democrats and anti-war protestors. The event caused massive disdain among the American population for politicians, and the eventual resignation of President Nixon following the release of the tapes. When Ford came into office he pardoned Nixon and immediately lost credibility. It also directly caused two other major changes. The National Bar Association strengthened its code of conduct, as many of the men incriminated had been lawyers. Watergate also encouraged the American media to engage in aggressive investigative practices. 

Example Question #5 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

In response to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, President Theodore Roosevelt passed which law?

Possible Answers:

Antiquities Act

Newlands Reclamation Act

The Elkins Act

The Pure Food and Drug Act

Aldrich-Vreeland Act

Correct answer:

The Pure Food and Drug Act

Explanation:

In 1906, Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle to expose the plight of immigrants; however, most Americans were instead struck by the unsanitary conditions in which their food was made and processed. In response, the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed to ensure cleaner and healthier conditions for food processing.

Example Question #6 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 Presidential campaign was launched because __________.

Possible Answers:

of a "Draft Roosevelt" movement that was responding to a lack of available candidates

of Roosevelt's dissatisfaction with the more conservative policies of his successor, William Howard Taft

of the platform made by the Democratic Party and its candidate, Woodrow Wilson

of the entry into the race of the Socialist candidate, Eugene V. Debs

of a desire to break the power of the two main political parties

Correct answer:

of Roosevelt's dissatisfaction with the more conservative policies of his successor, William Howard Taft

Explanation:

Theodore Roosevelt had made a promise to the country to not seek reelection in 1908, and handpicked his Secretary of State, William Howard Taft, as his successor. During Taft's term in office, however, many of Roosevelt's progressive policy goals were reversed by Taft, who had joined with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Roosevelt challenged Taft for the Republican Nomination in 1912 to return the party to his brand of progressivism, and created the Progressive Party (also known as the Bull Moose Party) when he was denied the Republican nomination. The split Republican Party allowed another Progressive, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, to win the Presidency.

Example Question #7 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

President Theodore Roosevelt was inspired by Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906) to found which federal agency?

Possible Answers:

The Department of Motor Vehicles

The Drug Enforcement Agency

The Food and Drug Administration

The National Labor Relations Board

The Internal Revenue Service

Correct answer:

The Food and Drug Administration

Explanation:

In response to widespread public outrage after abhorrent factory conditions were exposed in Sinclair's book, Roosevelt passed the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act, which established the FDA.

Example Question #8 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

The Sedition Act (1918) _________________.

Possible Answers:

was incredibly vague, and thus lent itself to prosecution

forbade “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” in regards to the US

was not a control on free speech

More than one answer is correct

Correct answer:

More than one answer is correct

Explanation:

The Sedition Act of 1918 (technically a series of amendments to a previous act) was a very vague law. It forbade “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” against the US, the flag, or the military. Clearly, this language covers quite a lot, and can be stretched even further. This is, of course, a good example of what often happens in wartime—civil liberties get drastically reduced in name of necessity. Here, the law clearly encroaches on free speech.

Example Question #9 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Schenck v. US acknowledged that the Espionage Act was an infringement on free speech, but upheld it anyway. Which of the following is the (in)famous reasoning behind that decision?

Possible Answers:

“There but for the grace of God go I”

“Clear and present danger”/”fire” in a crowded theater analogy

“Here today, gone tomorrow”

 “With all deliberate speed”

Correct answer:

“Clear and present danger”/”fire” in a crowded theater analogy

Explanation:

Although this had the potential to be a difficult question, the answer choices should have narrowed it down considerably for you. In fact, only two of the answer choices are legal maxims used in a case (the other two are just platitudes). The correct answer is yelling “fire” in a crowded theater—the analogy that Justice Holmes used to support his legal conclusion that, when there is a “clear and present” danger, liberties may be restricted.

Example Question #10 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Which of the following was the most direct cause of the Emergency Quota Act?

Possible Answers:

World War I

World War II

Chinese immigration during the California Gold Rush

None of these

The Cuban Revolution of 1959

Correct answer:

World War I

Explanation:

The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 severely limited immigration to the US and resulted from social and political unrest in the US and Europe following World War I. The US government feared new immigrants, especially from Eastern Europe, would spread radical revolutionary ideas and further contribute to unrest. The Emergency Quota Act was passed decades after both the California Gold Rush and the banning of Chinese immigration, and was therefore not caused by either of these. The act predated both World War II and the Cuban Revolution.

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