SAT II US History : Summary of U.S. Political History from Pre-Columbian to 1789

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 Pre Columbian To 1789

All of the following are true about the beginning of the Revolutionary War EXCEPT:

Possible Answers:
in 1783, Britain acknowledged the legitimacy of America.
George Washington's troops fared very poorly at Valley Forge, losing thousands of men.
The Revolution went well at first, with several victories for the Americans coming early on.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence led to the first shots fired of the war.
The French were instrumental in helping the Americans fight against the Royal Navy.
Correct answer: The signing of the Declaration of Independence led to the first shots fired of the war.
Explanation:

The first fighting of the Revolution started in April of 1775 when Paul Revere road through the night to spread the news.  The Declaration of Independence, however, didn't happen until July of 1776, over a year after the war began.  

Everything else here is true.  America saw early victories at Fort Ticonderoga and Boston, but then the war took a turn for the worse, and over 2,500 Americans died at Valley Forge. The French, still angry over the French and Indian War, offered support to the Americans and were instrumental in changing the tide of the war. The Americans and the French trapped the British in Chesepeake Bay, and on September 3, 1783, the British prime minister resigned and officially recognized the United States. 

Example Question #2 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

The Presidential Veto is an example of which tenet of the United States Constitution?

Possible Answers:

Popular Sovereignty

Judicial Review

Republicanism

Separation of Powers

Checks and Balances

Correct answer:

Checks and Balances

Explanation:

The ability of the President to veto a law passed by Congress is an example of the system of checks and balances that the founding fathers believed would help prevent any one branch of government from wielding too large a portion of control. In a further example of the system of checks and balances, Congress can overturn a Presidential Veto with a two-thirds majority vote in both Houses of Congress. 

Example Question #3 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

The Albany Plan                 .

Possible Answers:

passed the colonial assemblies, but was rejected by the British government 

called for a united government of the thirteen colonies for mutual protection 

proposed a peaceful and immediate resolution to conflict with Britain

improved trade relations between the colonies and France

rejected the imposition of taxation without representation on the colonists

Correct answer:

called for a united government of the thirteen colonies for mutual protection 

Explanation:

The Albany Plan was proposed by Benjamin Franklin in the middle of the eighteenth century. Franklin called for the creation of a unified government to provide for the mutual defense and protection of the thirteen colonies. The representatives were motivated by a desire to better protect themselves against raids by Native American people and the French. The plan was rejected both by the colonial assemblies and by the British government—who feared that the Albany Plan would lead to further unification and weaken British control on the individual colonies. Many of the ideas expressed in the Albany Plan would resurface in the Articles of Confederation, following the end of the Revolutionary War. 

Example Question #4 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

The Proclamation of 1763                    .

Possible Answers:

allowed the British the right to unlimited search and seizure of Colonists’ properties

mandated that colonists had to quarter British soldiers in their homes

made it illegal to speak against the Crown

issued a series of heavy taxes on the colonists

forbade colonists from crossing west of the Appalachian Mountains 

Correct answer:

forbade colonists from crossing west of the Appalachian Mountains 

Explanation:

The Proclamation of 1763 was issued by Great Britain after the end of the French-Indian Wars, in which Britain gained a great deal of new territory in North America. It was passed to prevent colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains. The purpose of the Proclamation was to re-establish positive trading rights with Native Americans, who were upset with the constant westward expansion of European settlers. 

Example Question #5 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

Which amendment established that the people of the United States had rights outside of those specifically outlined in the Bill of Rights?

Possible Answers:

Eighteen Amendment

Nineteenth Amendment 

Tenth Amendment 

Ninth Amendment 

Twenty-First Amendment

Correct answer:

Ninth Amendment 

Explanation:

The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution, included in the Bill of Rights, states that the people of the United States have rights that are not included in the Constitution. The framers of the Bill of Rights understood that the interpretation and viability of the Constitution would change over time, so designed it to be specifically elastic in an attempt to prevent future abuses of rights. 

Example Question #6 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

What was the main effect of the "Three-Fifths Compromise" in the Constitution of the United States?

Possible Answers:

To count all slaves as three-fifths of a person for apportionment of representation in the United States House of Representatives

To allow only three-fifths of all states to ever allow slavery

To allow three-fifths of slaves held in southern states to be used in building the new capital of Washington, D.C.

To require three-fifths of all slaves in new slave states to be sold to owners in existing states

To require three-fifths of slaves to be freed in 20 years

Correct answer:

To count all slaves as three-fifths of a person for apportionment of representation in the United States House of Representatives

Explanation:

The "three-fifths" compromise was a deal struck between Northern and Southern representatives to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Southerners believed the full population of their states, including slaves, should be counted to determine representation in the House of Representatives. Northerners argued that slaves would never vote and that fully counting them would disproportionately represent the South in Congress. A compromise was agreed to with the following language, in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." This clause was not taken out of the Constitution until the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.

Example Question #7 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

The Reserved Power clause is a counter to which Constitutional right of the Federal government?

Possible Answers:

The Commerce clause

Judicial Review 

Elastic clause

Implied Powers clause

Expressed Powers clause

Correct answer:

Elastic clause

Explanation:

The Elastic clause states that the Federal government has the right to make any laws, even those outside of the ones specifically mentioned in the Constitution, if Congress deems the passage of these laws to be “necessary and proper.” As a corollary and counter to the Elastic clause, the Reserved Powers clause was added into the Bill of Rights as the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment states that any powers not reserved for the Federal government are the sole property of the States and of the People.

Example Question #8 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

What was the primary motivation of French exploration of the New World?

Possible Answers:

To spread Christianity 

To gain individual and national glory

To discover a trade route to Asia 

The search for gold and other valuable minerals

To establish settlements for religious dissidents in France

Correct answer:

To discover a trade route to Asia 

Explanation:

French exploration of the New World was motivated primarily by a desire to find a trade route to Asia. Much of the Eastern trade routes had been closed following the Ottoman Empire’s capture of Constantinople, and the French wanted to find a quicker route to Asia that did not involve passing through Ottoman territory or sailing around the horn of Africa. The French later founded colonies throughout the New World, particularly in Canada where they engaged in fur trading with the native population. 

Example Question #9 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

Which of the following states was not visited by Hernando de Soto's expedition of 1539–1542?

Possible Answers:

New Mexico

Florida

Mississippi

Alabama

Georgia

Correct answer:

New Mexico

Explanation:

Hernando de Soto was a Spanish conquistador who attempted to follow in his countrymen's path by exploring uncharted areas of North America. Beginning in Spanish held Florida, De Soto's expedition ventured across the present day Southeast of the United States. De Soto died of disease in present-day Arkansas, in 1542. His expedition continued into Texas and down towards New Spain (present-day Mexico).

Example Question #10 : Summary Of U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

Which of the following was NOT a problem under the Articles of Confederation that led to the drafting and adoption of The United States Constitution in 1787–1789?

Possible Answers:

The inability to leave States to govern themselves

The inability to promote interstate trade

The inability to raise armies

The inability to have any central authority for the nation

The inability to raise taxes for the Federal government

Correct answer:

The inability to leave States to govern themselves

Explanation:

After overthrowing a government seen as tyrannical in the Revolutionary War, the nascent United States of America adopted a loose agreement called the Articles of Confederation to govern itself. The Articles sat a single body, known as the Congress of the Confederation, with equal representation and no real executive authority. This light structure soon proved a burden to the young country, as they had no way to collect taxes, establish interstate trade, or raise any kind of national army. In 1787, delegates from all the states began meeting about revising the Articles, which eventually led to the writing and the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

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