SAT II US History : Summary of U.S. Political History from 1790 to 1898

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

The term Manifest Destiny described which nineteenth-century American belief?

Possible Answers:

The nullification of federal laws by state governments who disagreed with them.

The ability of states to secede from the Union if they so choose.

The isolationist foreign policy stance of Whig politicians.

The abolition of all slavery in all states in America.

The American desire to expand the country throughout the entire continent.

Correct answer:

The American desire to expand the country throughout the entire continent.

Explanation:

Manifest Destiny describes  the idea that America had a right and need to extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  This concept was a large driver of pre-Civil War American foreign policy, including the annexation of Texas, the Mexican-American War, and the California gold rush.

Example Question #2 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

A loose constructionist describes someone who believes that

Possible Answers:
The decisions of the Judiciary must always be based on the intentions of the original Constitutional framers.
None of those mentioned
The primacy of States’ rights must always be maintained over the Federal government
The Federal government must be able to regulate the States in order to preserve the Union
The Constitution needs to be able to adapt to changes over time
Correct answer: The Constitution needs to be able to adapt to changes over time
Explanation:

A loose constructionist believes that the Judiciary must take into account changes over time when making decisions to amend the Constitution. A strict constructionist is someone who believes the opposite, that the Judiciary should always base its decision off of the original intentions of the founding fathers. The Warren Court is an important example of a loose constructionist Court. 

Example Question #3 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

Which body determined the controversial 1824 Presidential election between John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William H. Crawford?

Possible Answers:
None of the other answers
The United States House of Representatives
The United States Supreme Court
The Electoral College
The United States Senate
Correct answer: The United States House of Representatives
Explanation:

The 1824 Presidential Election occurred during the interim between the First and Second Party System, after the fall of the Federalist Party and before the rise of the Whig Party.  With four legitimate candidates, the Electoral College could not produce a majority vote for one candidate, and thus the House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams as the next president despite Andrew Jackson winning more popular and electoral votes.

Example Question #4 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

The Wilmot Proviso proposed that any land acquired from Mexico would 

Possible Answers:

Be open to slavery

Have the issue of slavery settled by a popular vote once the territory gained statehood

Be used to settle displaced Native American populations

Be closed to slavery

Have the issue of slavery settled by a Congressional vote upon acquisition

Correct answer:

Be closed to slavery

Explanation:

The Wilmot Proviso, proposed by David Wilmot, argued that any territory acquired from Mexico should be forever closed to slavery. The Bill passed the House, but failed in the Senate – where the South had a much greater proportion of representation. For much of the recent history prior the introduction of this bill, both political parties had sought to keep the issue of slavery out of the national debate. The Wilmot Proviso is considered important by historians because it began a period of national fracturing, that would temporarily be solved by the Compromise of 1850, but would flare up again in the years building up to the Civil War. 

Example Question #5 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

Which President presided over the “Era of Good Feelings”?

Possible Answers:

Thomas Jefferson 

John Quincy Adams

James Madison

James Monroe

James K. Polk

Correct answer:

James Monroe

Explanation:

The “Era of Good Feelings” is the name given to the eight-year term of President James Monroe, from 1816-1824. The period of time was marked by an extensive geographic expansion of national territory and mostly sustained economic prosperity. It was also a period with little political maneuvering as the Democratic-Republican Party assumed almost complete control of government. Monroe even ran unopposed for election in 1820. 

Example Question #6 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

Which of these was not an advantage that the North had over the South during the Civil War?

Possible Answers:

International recognition

Better Naval forces

National history and unity

Greater industrialization

Superior military commanders 

Correct answer:

Superior military commanders 

Explanation:

The North had many advantages over the South throughout the Civil War. Firstly, the North was a much more industrialized society, able to draw on a greater wealth of resources and factories to produce weaponry. Secondly, the North had a national history, unity, collective consciousness and all the institutions that go with these ideas already set up at the time of the outbreak of war—the South had to develop these on the fly. Thirdly, the South struggled to gain international recognition from any European nations because no European country wanted to be seen to support the institution of slavery. Finally, the North had a much more developed navy and this proved to be the difference in the Mississippi River campaign. One of the few advantages that the South had over the North was superior military commanders, like Robert E. Lee, and more than a few battles were won or lost based on this difference. Many historians believe that the South might have won the war on the strength of the Generals and military tactics alone were it not for the overwhelming economic advantages of the North and the dwindling supply of Southern soldiers. 

Example Question #7 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

The North imposed a series of blockades on Southern port cities during the Civil War, what was the name of this plan?

Possible Answers:

Anaconda Plan

Operation Stonewall

Shock and Awe

Operation Barbarossa 

The "Perfect Union" Plan

Correct answer:

Anaconda Plan

Explanation:

The Anaconda Plan was the name colloquially given to Winfield Scott’s strategy of choking the Confederacy during the Civil War. It called for the blockading of Southern ports to ruin the Confederacy’s ability to sustain itself economically, as well as an advance down the Mississippi river to divide the Confederacy in two. Historians generally agree that the fighting in the Mississippi theatre was crucial to the Union victory. 

Example Question #8 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

What were the Monitor and the Merrimack?

Possible Answers:

Muckraking books written in the late nineteenth century 

“Yellow journalism” newspapers

None of the other answers

Sites of two bloody Civil War battles

Ironclad Civil War ships 

Correct answer:

Ironclad Civil War ships 

Explanation:

The Monitor and the Merrimack were two ironclad Civil War ships. A naval battle between the two ships marked the first time in history that two ironclad ships had fought. The Monitor was a Union ship, the Merrimack a former Union ship operated by the Confederacy (for a time called the CSS Virginia). The battle began when the Merrimack obliterated the Union wooden ship forces, culminating the next day with the arrival of the Monitor.

Example Question #9 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

Which of these mid-nineteenth-century politicians is incorrectly associated with a region?

Possible Answers:

John Quincy Adams: North 

Andrew Jackson: West 

Henry Clay: North 

Daniel Webster: North

John C. Calhoun: South

Correct answer:

Henry Clay: North 

Explanation:

Henry Clay was closely associated with the West. Clay was a Representative and Senator from Kentucky, who served as Speaker of the House on numerous occasions and Secretary of State to John Quincy Adams. The politics of mid-nineteenth-century America were heavily based upon regional identity—with the North and South most vigorously opposed on the majority of issues.

Example Question #10 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

"I beg your pardon, gentlemen; I am very glad to have in my Cabinet such able statesmen as you have proved yourselves to be—and I shall be pleased to avail myself of your counsel and advice—but I can never consent to being dictated to as to what I shall or shall not do. I, as President, shall be responsible for my administration. I hope to have your hearty co-operation in carrying out its measures. So long as you see fit to do this, I shall be glad to have you with me. When you think otherwise, your resignations will be accepted.”

Which former Vice-President and President most likely said these words?

Possible Answers:

John Tyler 

Abraham Lincoln 

William Henry Harrison

James Buchanan 

Thomas Jefferson

Correct answer:

John Tyler 

Explanation:

John Tyler served as Vice-President to President William Henry Harrison. Harrison was the first President to die in office. His death created significant controversy in American politics over who should succeed him. The United States Constitution stated that in the event of the death of the President the office and its powers shall “devolve on the Vice-President”. Many politicians, particularly Tyler’s opponents believed that this called for a sort of regency position whereby Tyler would act as President in name until a new election could be called. Tyler, convinced he was in the right, arrived in Washington and immediately took the oath of office and called together Harrison’s existing cabinet. When informed by Daniel Webster that Harrison usually made decisions based on the majority vote of his cabinet Tyler roundly informed Webster of his aforementioned stance – namely that he was President now and they ought to accept his decisions or find a new line of work. Eventually both houses of Congress accepted Tyler’s candidacy for Presidency and inaugurated him officially as the Tenth President of the United States. Later, the Tyler Precedent, would be codified into law under the Twenty-fifth Amendment. 

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