SAT II US History : Cause and Effect in U.S. Intellectual and Cultural 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. Intellectual And Cultural History

How did Yellow Journalism most significantly contribute to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War?

Possible Answers:
The treatment suffered by citizen journalists, at the hands of the Spanish, threatened American national rights
The widespread use of photos, for the first time in print media, created a visceral reaction among the American population
Sensationalized accounts of major news stories angered the population and directed a shift in public opinion that favored war
Newspaper editors actively chastised the American public for their lack of ambition and created a support for Imperialist action
Yellow Journalism did not actively contribute to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War
Correct answer: Sensationalized accounts of major news stories angered the population and directed a shift in public opinion that favored war

One of the primary causes of the Spanish-American War, were sensationalized accounts of news events, for example the sinking of the USS Maine. These accounts provided by The New York Journal and New York World, owned respectively by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, focused on the implied responsibility of the Spanish government for the sinking of the ship, even though most of the evidence supported that it had been an accident. Whilst it is true that the editors championed Imperialistic responses and the use of photos engendered a strong visceral response among the United States’ population, the most significant contribution was the so called “Yellow Journalism” that sensationalized detail and often completely fabricated facts when evidence did not exist to support the claims being made. The American public, already angered by Spanish involvement in Cuba, became increasingly more supportive of war. 

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

Yellow journalism stoked American passions over the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine, which created support for which war?

Possible Answers:

Spanish-American War

French and Indian War

None of the other answers

American Civil War

Mexican-American War

Correct answer:

Spanish-American War


Yellow journalism was a product of the rivalry between William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Both papers printed exaggerations and false news reports to sell more papers.  The sinking of the battleship U.S.S. Maine near Cuba was portrayed by Hearst’s newspaper as an attack by Spanish forces fighting Cuban rebels.  This propaganda engendered support for American efforts to send armed forces to Cuba, leading to the Spanish-American War.

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