SAT II US History : Cause and Effect in U.S. Social History from 1790 to 1898

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : U.S. Social History

Eli Whitney’s 1793 invention of the cotton gin did all of the following EXCEPT:

Possible Answers:

Decrease the number of slaves in the American South

Mold the economy of the South before the Civil War

Make upland short cotton a more reasonable cash crop

Strengthen the institution of slavery in the United States

Play a major role in the American Industrial Revolution

Correct answer:

Decrease the number of slaves in the American South

Explanation:

Whether intentional or not, Eli Whitney's cotton gin resulted in an increase of slave numbers throughout the American South, as the southern economy became more heavily dependent upon upland short cotton.

Example Question #2 : U.S. Social History

Which of these was not an impact of United States railroad expansion in the nineteenth century?

Possible Answers:

Greater legislative action to preserve America’s National wonders

Growth of urban communities throughout America

Significant aid to westward expansion

Improved American relations with Native Americans

Improved American trade with the Far East

Correct answer:

Improved American relations with Native Americans

Explanation:

In the era of America’s Founding Fathers, most prominent thinkers thought that it might take as much as a thousand years to settle the entirety of the continent under one national entity. Due largely to the invention and widespread construction of Railroads this was achieved in a mere few decades. Railroads helped promote trade across the continent and further afield – enabling goods from the Far East to be shipped back to the Eastern seaboard. It encouraged the growth of urban communities which could be much more easily sustained by railroad trade. And, not insignificantly, it provided for the first time a far easier means for tourists from the East to travel to places like Yosemite to witness the wonders of America’s, as of yet not established, National Parks—which in turn lead to much wider support for legislation to protect them. It did not, however, improve American relations with Native American communities—one might suspect that the removal of the massive boundary of space might have resulted in the reduction of the perception of Native Americans as an “other” group to be feared; on the contrary, it allowed Americans to move en masse to territories occupied by Native Americans, and made it much easier to keep supply lines reinforced. 

Example Question #3 : U.S. Social History

Why did the Pony Express fail?

Possible Answers:

The new telegraph lines became a faster and cheaper mode of communication.

The service was too expensive and fell out of fashion.

The passage of the Stamp Act outlawed the service.

The high crime rate created too much instability.

Increasing riots made the routes too dangerous to travel.

Correct answer:

The new telegraph lines became a faster and cheaper mode of communication.

Explanation:

The Pony Express was known for it's speed and reliability, but the new telegraph lines, once complete, were much cheaper and more efficient. This development rendered the Pony Express obsolete in a mere 18 months.

Example Question #4 : U.S. Social History

A key cause of widespread Irish immigration to America in the 1840s was __________.

Possible Answers:

lack of employment opportunities in Ireland because of serfdom

opportunities to own plantations in the Southern states

work as mercenary soliders in Indian wars

devastation of Irish crops by the Potato Famine of 1845

Irish independence from Great Britain

Correct answer:

devastation of Irish crops by the Potato Famine of 1845

Explanation:

Irish immigrants had come to America since the first Europeans arrived, but the first large migration occurred in the 1840s and 1850s. The biggest reason for this was the Irish Potato Famine that began in 1845. The famine was exacerbated when the British government refused to give any assistance. Estimates are that as many as 1 million Irish died during the famine, while another million emigrated elsewhere, chiefly to the Northern cities of the United States.

Example Question #1 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Social History From 1790 To 1898

The Alien and Sedition Acts resulted in which of the following?

Possible Answers:

President John Adams gained popularity and support for himself and his party

Many Americans started supporting the Democratic-Republicans because of the Federalists' abuse of power

All foreign-born residents in the U.S. were exiled until after the settlement of the XYZ Affair

Congress formally repealed the First Amendment guarantees to freedom of speech and to freedom of the press

War was declared upon England

Correct answer:

Many Americans started supporting the Democratic-Republicans because of the Federalists' abuse of power

Explanation:

In the aftermath of the XYZ Affair and straining relations with France, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which outlawed anti-government activity, lengthened the residency time required for naturalization of foreigners, and allowed the President to imprison or deport aliens who he deemed dangerous to American peace and safety. The laws were unpopular with many Americans due to their authoritative nature, leading to increased support for Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans at the expense of John Adams and the Federalists.

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