SAT Critical Reading : Context-Dependent Meaning of Phrases or Sentences in Social Science / History Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #11 : Context Dependent Meaning Of Phrases Or Sentences In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Extermination of the American Bison by William T. Hornaday (1889)

We come now to a history which I would gladly leave unwritten. Its record is a disgrace to the American people in general, and the Territorial, State, and General Government in particular. It will cause succeeding generations to regard us as being possessed of the leading characteristics of the beast of prey—cruelty and greed. We will be likened to the blood-thirsty tiger of the Indian jungle, who slaughters a dozen bullocks at once when he knows he can eat only one.

The men who killed buffaloes for their tongues and those who shot them from the railway trains for sport were murderers. In no way does civilized man so quickly revert to his former state as when he is alone with the beasts of the field. Give him a gun and something which he may kill without getting himself in trouble, and, presto! He is instantly a killer again, finding exquisite delight in bloodshed, slaughter, and death, if not for gain, then solely for the joy and happiness of it. There is no kind of warfare against game animals too unfair, too disreputable, or too mean for white men to engage in if they can only do so with safety to their own precious carcasses. They will shoot buffalo and antelope from running railway trains, drive deer into water with hounds and cut their throats in cold blood, kill does with fawns a week old, kill fawns by the score for their spotted skins, slaughter deer, moose, and caribou in the snow at a pitiful disadvantage, just as the wolves do; exterminate the wild ducks on the whole Atlantic seaboard with punt guns for the metropolitan markets; kill off the Rocky Mountain goats for hides worth only 50 cents apiece, destroy wagon loads of trout with dynamite, and so on to the end of the chapter.

Perhaps the most gigantic task ever undertaken on this continent in the line of game-slaughter was the extermination of the bison in the great pasture region by the hide-hunters. Probably the brilliant rapidity and success with which that lofty undertaking was accomplished was a matter of surprise even to those who participated in it. The story of the slaughter is by no means a long one.

The period of systematic slaughter of the bison naturally begins with the first organized efforts in that direction, in a business-like, wholesale way. Although the species had been steadily driven westward for a hundred years by the advancing settlements, and had during all that time been hunted for the meat and robes it yielded, its extermination did not begin in earnest until 1820, or thereabouts. As before stated, various persons had previous to that time made buffalo killing a business in order to sell their skins, but such instances were very exceptional. By that time the bison was totally extinct in all the region lying east of the Mississippi River except a portion of Wisconsin, where it survived until about 1830. In 1820 the first organized buffalo hunting expedition on a grand scale was made from the Red River settlement, Manitoba, in which five hundred and forty carts proceeded to the range. Previous to that time the buffaloes were found near enough to the settlements around Fort Garry that every settler could hunt independently; but as the herds were driven farther and farther away, it required an organized effort and a long journey to reach them.

The American Fur Company established trading posts along the Missouri River, one at the mouth of the Teton River and another at the mouth of the Yellowstone. In 1826 a post was established at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, at the head of the Arkansas River, and in 1832 another was located in a corresponding situation at the head of the South Fork of the Platte, close to where Denver now stands. Both the latter were on what was then the western border of the buffalo range. Elsewhere throughout the buffalo country there were numerous other posts, always situated as near as possible to the best hunting ground, and at the same time where they would be most accessible to the hunters, both white and Native American.

Which of these is the best antonym of the phrase “in earnest” underlined in the fourth paragraph?

Possible Answers:

In a state of joviality

Casually

Solemnly

With sobriety

Repeatedly

Correct answer:

Casually

Explanation:

As it is used in the text, “in earnest” means earnestly or seriously. A good antonym for this is “casually."

Example Question #1 : Context Dependent Meaning Of Phrases Or Sentences In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The Extermination of the American Bison by William T. Hornaday (1889)

We come now to a history which I would gladly leave unwritten. Its record is a disgrace to the American people in general, and the Territorial, State, and General Government in particular. It will cause succeeding generations to regard us as being possessed of the leading characteristics of the beast of prey—cruelty and greed. We will be likened to the blood-thirsty tiger of the Indian jungle, who slaughters a dozen bullocks at once when he knows he can eat only one.

The men who killed buffaloes for their tongues and those who shot them from the railway trains for sport were murderers. In no way does civilized man so quickly revert to his former state as when he is alone with the beasts of the field. Give him a gun and something which he may kill without getting himself in trouble, and, presto! He is instantly a killer again, finding exquisite delight in bloodshed, slaughter, and death, if not for gain, then solely for the joy and happiness of it. There is no kind of warfare against game animals too unfair, too disreputable, or too mean for white men to engage in if they can only do so with safety to their own precious carcasses. They will shoot buffalo and antelope from running railway trains, drive deer into water with hounds and cut their throats in cold blood, kill does with fawns a week old, kill fawns by the score for their spotted skins, slaughter deer, moose, and caribou in the snow at a pitiful disadvantage, just as the wolves do; exterminate the wild ducks on the whole Atlantic seaboard with punt guns for the metropolitan markets; kill off the Rocky Mountain goats for hides worth only 50 cents apiece, destroy wagon loads of trout with dynamite, and so on to the end of the chapter.

Perhaps the most gigantic task ever undertaken on this continent in the line of game-slaughter was the extermination of the bison in the great pasture region by the hide-hunters. Probably the brilliant rapidity and success with which that lofty undertaking was accomplished was a matter of surprise even to those who participated in it. The story of the slaughter is by no means a long one.

The period of systematic slaughter of the bison naturally begins with the first organized efforts in that direction, in a business-like, wholesale way. Although the species had been steadily driven westward for a hundred years by the advancing settlements, and had during all that time been hunted for the meat and robes it yielded, its extermination did not begin in earnest until 1820, or thereabouts. As before stated, various persons had previous to that time made buffalo killing a business in order to sell their skins, but such instances were very exceptional. By that time the bison was totally extinct in all the region lying east of the Mississippi River except a portion of Wisconsin, where it survived until about 1830. In 1820 the first organized buffalo hunting expedition on a grand scale was made from the Red River settlement, Manitoba, in which five hundred and forty carts proceeded to the range. Previous to that time the buffaloes were found near enough to the settlements around Fort Garry that every settler could hunt independently; but as the herds were driven farther and farther away, it required an organized effort and a long journey to reach them.

The American Fur Company established trading posts along the Missouri River, one at the mouth of the Teton River and another at the mouth of the Yellowstone. In 1826 a post was established at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, at the head of the Arkansas River, and in 1832 another was located in a corresponding situation at the head of the South Fork of the Platte, close to where Denver now stands. Both the latter were on what was then the western border of the buffalo range. Elsewhere throughout the buffalo country there were numerous other posts, always situated as near as possible to the best hunting ground, and at the same time where they would be most accessible to the hunters, both white and Native American.

Which of these most accurately restates the meaning of “In no way does civilized man so quickly revert to his former state as when he is alone with the beasts of the field”?

Possible Answers:

We are not like our ancestors at all when we hunt.

Men of agriculture are no more civilized than hunters.

With the ability to hunt many more animals than he needs to survive, man is much more uncivilized now than he ever was in the past.

We are more eager to hunt animals when outside the confines of cities.

Humans are quicker to show uncivilized bloodlust when left unaccompanied with wild creatures. 

Correct answer:

Humans are quicker to show uncivilized bloodlust when left unaccompanied with wild creatures. 

Explanation:

The author compares the wasteful hunting of buffaloes for their tongues to the hunting methods of wild animals and says that we become much like those wild animals when we are given the chance to hunt wild creatures. There is no allusion to cities or agriculture.

Example Question #61 : Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from The War Message (1917) by Woodrow Wilson

On the third of February 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.

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 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 the humane practices of civilized nations. International law had its origin in the attempt to set up some law which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. The German Government has swept this 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.

When the author says “we must put excited feeling away” he is most nearly suggesting that __________.

Possible Answers:

America needs to enter the war with a surety of purpose

the German government has deliberately sought to foster feelings of anxious excitement for war among the American population

the American government cannot afford to encourage war with Germany if it is against the will of the American people

it is wrong to harbor feelings of joy or excitement about warfare

only calm and sober minded individuals should be allowed to contribute to the war effort

Correct answer:

America needs to enter the war with a surety of purpose

Explanation:

The author uses the word “excited” to caution against entering the war for the wrong reasons or without proper consideration. The author suggests that Americans must make a sober-minded decision and enter the war with a surety of purpose. This answer choice is supported by the author’s preceding statement that “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.”

Example Question #11 : Understanding The Content Of Social Science Passages

Adapted from “Introductory Remarks” in The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (trans. 1913)

In attempting to discuss the interpretation of dreams, I do not believe that I have overstepped the bounds of neuropathological interest. For, when investigated psychologically, the dream proves to be the first link in a chain of abnormal psychic structures whose other links—the hysterical phobia, the obsession, and the delusion—must interest the physician for practical reasons. The dream can lay no claim to a corresponding practical significance; however, its theoretical value is very great, and one who cannot explain the origin of the content of dreams will strive in vain to understand phobias, obsessive and delusional ideas, and likewise their therapeutic importance.

While this relationship makes our subject important, it is responsible also for the deficiencies in this work. The surfaces of fracture, which will be frequently discussed, correspond to many points of contact where the problem of dream formation informs more comprehensive problems of psychopathology which cannot be discussed here. These larger issues will be elaborated upon in the future.

Peculiarities in the material I have used to elucidate the interpretation of dreams have rendered this publication difficult. The work itself will demonstrate why all dreams related in scientific literature or collected by others had to remain useless for my purpose. In choosing my examples, I had to limit myself to considering my own dreams and those of my patients who were under psychoanalytic treatment. I was restrained from utilizing material derived from my patients' dreams by the fact that during their treatment, the dream processes were subjected to an undesirable complication—the intermixture of neurotic characters. On the other hand, in discussing my own dreams, I was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of my psychic life than I should like, more so than generally falls to the task of an author who is not a poet but an investigator of nature. This was painful, but unavoidable; I had to put up with the inevitable in order to demonstrate the truth of my psychological results at all. To be sure, I disguised some of my indiscretions through omissions and substitutions, though I feel that these detract from the value of the examples in which they appear. I can only express the hope that the reader of this work, putting himself in my difficult position, will show patience, and also that anyone inclined to take offense at any of the reported dreams will concede freedom of thought at least to the dream life.

When he uses the underlined phrase “the inevitable,” the author is referring to __________.

Possible Answers:

the fact that he had to publish some of his own dreams, which made him uncomfortable

the gradual loss of detail in what one can remember about a dream

the idea that all dreams contain significant meaning

the scorn of many important psychologists upon his publication of his work on dreams

the discomfort that everyone feels when discussing dreams with other people

Correct answer:

the fact that he had to publish some of his own dreams, which made him uncomfortable

Explanation:

The author uses the phrase “the inevitable” in the third paragraph when he states, “This was painful, but unavoidable; I had to put up with the inevitable in order to demonstrate the truth of my psychological results at all.” But what is he actually discussing at this point? To figure this out, we need to consider the preceding sentence: “On the other hand, in discussing my own dreams, I was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of my psychic life than I should like, more so than generally falls to the task of an author who is not a poet but an investigator of nature.” From this, we can correctly say that in this context, “the inevitable” refers to “the fact that [the author] had to relate some of his own dreams in his work, which made him uncomfortable.”

Example Question #1 : How To Find Word Meaning From Context

While the Gutenberg press was perhaps one of the greatest inventions of all time, we should not let its importance blind us to other very important events in the history of linguistic development. Granted, the efficiency of printing allowed for the dissemination of much learning in Europe. Still, such printing was not unique to Europe, and even in the scope of world history, there are several events that are equally as miraculous regarding the transmission of knowledge.

For instance, most people overlook the amazing nature of the first time that human beings communicated with spoken language. Perhaps there were simple signs by which these early humans could indicate their needs to each other. However, when the first event of person-to-person speech occurred, it was far more marvelous than simple practical communication. Such speech was like a sharing of ideas. When true speech happened, people were able to communicate knowledge to each other, freeing it from its isolation in one lonely person. By means of such speech, knowledge could be orally transmitted from generation to generation, thus preserving wisdom in a way that is completely impossible without speech.

Of course, such spoken tradition is very fragile, relying on memories and stories that are passed down from generation to generation. For this reason, the invention of writing is extremely important. In contrast to the spoken word, the written word can continue to exist and be useful so long as it can be read intelligently. Likewise, much more can be recorded than ever could be remembered by someone with the best of memories. Indeed, once these records are written, copies can be sent to anyone who is able to read the language in question. Likewise, it can be translated into written copies to be read by others. For these (as well as many other reasons) the invention of writing was a very significant event in history, greatly expanding the possibilities for the exchange of knowledge.

Thus, the printing press is quite important, but it is part of a larger story. Like both spoken and written communication, it allows human beings to communicate knowledge not only to each other but also across multiple generations. Often, we think of the press merely in its ability to provide a great number of books in a short period of time. However, when considered as a chapter in this longer tale, it likewise appears as the means by which humanity is able to conquer time by allowing the knowledge of today to live for multiple generations.

What is meant by the boldfaced clause, “Of course, such spoken tradition is very fragile”?

Possible Answers:

The spoken word can convey meanings only in a weak manner.

The spoken word is a very weak thing, flimsy at best.

The spoken word is a pitiful thing, not very impressive to modern man.

The spoken word is fracturable like glass.

Such a spoken tradition is easily interrupted or destroyed.

Correct answer:

Such a spoken tradition is easily interrupted or destroyed.

Explanation:

Although this metaphor can likely be discerned by its immediate context, the next several sentences should help you to understand its meaning more clearly. The paragraph goes on to discuss how the written word can continue to exist, implying that when it is merely spoken it is less likely to have such continuance. Because it relies on memories and stories, the spoken word is much more easily interrupted in its passing on. If a local "story teller" dies, it is possible that the spoken history—important though it might be—will suddenly be gone forever. This makes it very "fragile," that is, very vulnerable and easily destroyed.

Example Question #1 : Finding Context Dependent Meanings Of Phrases In Argumentative Social Science Passages

While the Gutenberg press was perhaps one of the greatest inventions of all time, we should not let its importance blind us to other very important events in the history of linguistic development. Granted, the efficiency of printing allowed for the dissemination of much learning in Europe. Still, such printing was not unique to Europe, and even in the scope of world history, there are several events that are equally as miraculous regarding the transmission of knowledge.

For instance, most people overlook the amazing nature of the first time that human beings communicated with spoken language. Perhaps there were simple signs by which these early humans could indicate their needs to each other. However, when the first event of person-to-person speech occurred, it was far more marvelous than simple practical communication. Such speech was like a sharing of ideas. When true speech happened, people were able to communicate knowledge to each other, freeing it from its isolation in one lonely person. By means of such speech, knowledge could be orally transmitted from generation to generation, thus preserving wisdom in a way that is completely impossible without speech.

Of course, such spoken tradition is very fragile, relying on memories and stories that are passed down from generation to generation. For this reason, the invention of writing is extremely important. In contrast to the spoken word, the written word can continue to exist and be useful so long as it can be read intelligently. Likewise, much more can be recorded than ever could be remembered by someone with the best of memories. Indeed, once these records are written, copies can be sent to anyone who is able to read the language in question. Likewise, it can be translated into written copies to be read by others. For these (as well as many other reasons) the invention of writing was a very significant event in history, greatly expanding the possibilities for the exchange of knowledge.

Thus, the printing press is quite important, but it is part of a larger story. Like both spoken and written communication, it allows human beings to communicate knowledge not only to each other but also across multiple generations. Often, we think of the press merely in its ability to provide a great number of books in a short period of time. However, when considered as a chapter in this longer tale, it likewise appears as the means by which humanity is able to conquer time by allowing the knowledge of today to live for multiple generations.

What is meant by the boldfaced expression “a chapter in this longer tale”?

Possible Answers:

An interesting subspecies of history

A selection from a history book

A printed version of a former handwritten book

A part of a larger context

A leaf of paper within a large tome

Correct answer:

A part of a larger context

Explanation:

This paragraph opens by stating that the printing press is "part of a larger story." This metaphor is then explained when the passage states that the printing press is like spoken and written communication in that it permits information to be shared from generation to generation. This is contrasted with the common idea of the importance of the printing press, namely that it allows for the printing of many books in a short period of time. Then, in the sentence in question, it is reconsidered "in the broader context" of speech and writing.

Example Question #1 : Analyzing Meaning, Purpose, And Effect Of Specified Text In Mixed Passages

Adapted from The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)

The greatest improvements in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labor. The effects of the division of labor, in the general business of society, will be more easily understood by considering in what manner it operates in some particular manufactures. It is commonly supposed to be carried furthest in some very trifling ones; not perhaps that it really is carried further in them than in others of more importance, but in those trifling manufactures that are destined to supply the small wants of but a small number of people, the whole number of workmen must necessarily be small; and those employed in every different branch of the work can often be collected into the same workhouse, and placed at once under the view of the spectator.

In those great manufactures, on the contrary, which are destined to supply the great wants of the great body of the people, every different branch of the work employs so great a number of workmen that it is impossible to collect them all into the same workhouse. We can seldom see more, at one time, than those employed in one single branch. Though in such manufactures, therefore, the work may really be divided into a much greater number of parts, than in those of a more trifling nature, the division is not near so obvious, and has accordingly been much less observed.

To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labor has been very often taken notice of: the trade of a pin-maker. A workman not educated to this business (which the division of labor has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labor has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them.

In every other art and manufacture, the effects of the division of labour are similar to what they are in this very trifling one; though, in many of them, the labour can neither be so much subdivided, nor reduced to so great a simplicity of operation. The division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour. The separation of different trades and employments from one another, seems to have taken place, in consequence of this advantage.

By “peculiar trades” in the underlined sentence, the author means __________.

Possible Answers:

Strange exchanges

Necessary professions

Weird jobs

Unique tasks

Singular deals

Correct answer:

Unique tasks

Explanation:

The author uses the phrase “peculiar trades” in the third paragraph, stating, “But in the way in which this business [of pin-making] is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades.” This may not appear to narrow down your answer choices much at all, as “peculiar” can mean strange, weird, singular, or unique. It cannot mean “necessary,” so we can ignore that answer choice. At this point, you need to consider the context around the sentence in which the phrase is used. Before the sentence quoted earlier, the author writes, “One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head . . .” In doing so, he is listing out the specific, unique tasks involved in making pins on a large scale. Based on this context, we can tell that “peculiar trades” must mean “unique tasks” in the context of the passage.

Example Question #11 : Context Dependent Meaning Of Phrases Or Sentences In Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from Dangers of the Hour by Matilda Joslyn Gage (1890)

In 1889, four new States were admitted to the union, not one possessing a republican form of government as required by the Federal constitution, not one recognizing the rights of one half their citizens to self government. The defeat of woman suffrage was remarkable because in each of these four States a battle was fought in its favor by women. The new state of Washington is especially noticeable as three times under territorial laws woman had gained and used the ballot. Eighteen hundred and eighty-nine will not soon be forgotten by the friends of woman suffrage. Forty-one years after the first convention making such demand, four new States which at that period were unknown portions of the world, their very names yet to be given, if at all on geography or atlas, noted as desert lands, but now possessing tens of thousands of inhabitants, have this year come into the union denying the first principles upon which this government purports to be founded, equality of rights and self government.

We are told the country is in a dangerous condition with tens of thousands uncultured emigrants yearly pouring onto its shores. We are told our flag is hissed by anarchists who have 25,000 drilled men at their command. We are told the experiment of free government in towns and cities is a failure, but what danger from ignorant emigrants so great, what peril from anarchists so near, what experiment of free government such an utter failure as the admission of four new States largely populated by native-born American citizens, men and women of American birth, the young, the cultured, wide-awake business men and business women, under denial of the first principles of freedom?

The danger menacing our country does not lie with the foreigners, nor the Anarchists, nor in municipal mismanagement. Free institutions are jeopardized because the country is false to its principles in the case of one-half of its citizens. But back of this falsity away down to the depths of causes deep in the hidden darkness of men's minds, must we look for the source of this perennial wrong. To a person of thought this is easily found in early religious training. Men have not yet learned to regard woman as a being of equal creation with themselves. Do not yet believe that she stands on a par with them in natural rights even to the air she breathes. In order to secure victory for woman we must unfetter the minds of men from religious bondage.

We have petitioned legislatures and congress, we have appeared before committees with the best arguments founded on justice, we have educated men politically, and yet the victory is not ours because the teachings of the church have stood in the way. Now our warfare must be upon another plan, now we must free men from that bondage of the will which is the most direful form of slavery, now we must show the falsity of that reed upon which men lean. In the old anti-slavery times men did not hesitate to call the American Church the bulwark of American slavery. In like manner to-day we shall proclaim the Church-American, English, Greek, Protestant, Catholic-to be the bulwark of woman's slavery. Man trained by the church from infancy that woman is secondary and inferior to him, made for him, to be obedient to him, the same idea permeating the Jewish and all Christian churches, all social, industrial and educational life, all civil and religious institutions, it is no subject of astonishment, if one gives a moment's thought, that woman's political enfranchisement is so long delayed.

From the context of the whole passage “one half their citizens” most likely describes __________.

Possible Answers:

men 

immigrants 

political opponents 

religious dissidents

women 

Correct answer:

women 

Explanation:

This passage focuses on the failure of the women’s suffrage movement in the four newest states to be admitted into the union, as well as in the United States as a whole. From this understanding of the primary purpose of the passage you can reasonably infer that “one half of their citizens” refers to “women.”

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