SAT II US History : Facts and Details in U.S. Political History from 1899 to the Present

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Which of the following was the most significant campaign issue in the election of 1992?

Possible Answers:

Health care

Gun control

Racial injustice

The economy

Educational reform

Correct answer:

The economy

Explanation:

Much of the respective campaigns of each party in the 1992 election centered on the state of the economy at the time and its minimal growth during the Bush administration. The Democrats were able to refer to Bush’s promises not to raise taxes, which his administration had gone back on, and a floundering economy as evidence of the Republican Party’s ineffectual leadership.

When facing a question like this, particularly regarding modern elections, if you do not know the answer it is always most prudent to guess that it was the economy that was the biggest issue. Generally speaking, people care about that which affects themselves, and the economy most obviously affects every voter. The other issues were all part of the campaign platforms of both parties, but the economic arguments made the difference. 

Example Question #22 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

On January 16th, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified which prohibited the manufacture, transportation, or consumption of what?

Possible Answers:

caffeine

tobacco

heroin

opium

alcohol

Correct answer:

alcohol

Explanation:

The Eighteenth Amendment, which ushered in the Prohibition Era with its illegal bars known as speak-easys, prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcohol.  The Amendment was repealed on December 5th, 1933 with the Twenty-First Amendment.

Example Question #23 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

To date, who has been the only President of the United States to resign the office?

Possible Answers:

Ronald Reagan

Dwight Eisenhower

Jimmy Carter

Richard Nixon

Gerald Ford

Correct answer:

Richard Nixon

Explanation:

Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, has been the only president to resign.  He did so as a consequence of his involvement in the Watergate Scandal.

Example Question #24 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

The Teapot Dome Scandal occurred during the term of which President?

Possible Answers:

Herbert Hoover

Calvin Coolidge

Warren G. Harding 

Harry S. Truman

Woodrow Wilson

Correct answer:

Warren G. Harding 

Explanation:

The Teapot Dome Scandal occurred during the Presidency of Warren G. Harding. Harding’s Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, leased nationalized oil reserves to private companies in exchange for bribes. In 1922 the practice was investigated by Senator Thomas Walsh and once the full details emerged the Harding administration suffered a massive drop in public support.

Example Question #25 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Which Third Party has achieved the greater proportion of the popular vote in a United States election?

Possible Answers:

Libertarian Party

Socialist Party

American Party

Progressive Party

Green Party 

Correct answer:

Progressive Party

Explanation:

The Progressive Party of Theodore Roosevelt campaigned in the election of 1912. The Progressive Party was formed when Roosevelt and his supporters split from the Republican Party of President Taft. In the subsequent election, however, Roosevelt only succeeded in splitting the votes that would usually go to the Republican Party. His party gained twenty-seven percent of the popular vote, more than twenty-three percent achieved by Taft. But, less than the forty-two percent of votes that went to Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson. 

Example Question #26 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

The Espionage Act                           .

Possible Answers:

established the Central Intelligence Agency

ended the sale of arms to Communist nations

dramatically increased the funding to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency

created a new Federal department to deal with the massive government responsibilities in war-time

made war-time protest illegal during World War One 

Correct answer:

made war-time protest illegal during World War One 

Explanation:

The Espionage Act of 1917 was passed during World War One. Its stated intention was to prohibit any interference with the working of the United States Army and to eliminate any assistance that might have been provided to the enemies; however, it was quickly amended to outlaw any form of dissent or protest against the war effort. It famously resulted in the arrest of Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs (as well as, much later, the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg). The Act has consistently held up in the Supreme Court despite its apparent violation of the Freedom of Speech. 

Example Question #27 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Which three candidates were the main contestants in the 1912 Presidential Election, and which parties did they represent?

Possible Answers:

William Howard Taft of the Republican Party, Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic Party, and Theodore Roosevelt of the Progressive Party.

William Howard Taft of the Republican Party, Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic Party, and Robert M. LaFollette of the Progressive Party.

William Howard Taft of the Republican Party, William Jennings Bryan of the Democratic Party, and Theodore Roosevelt of the Progressive Party

William Howard Taft of the Republican Party, William Jennings Bryan of the Democratic Party, and Robert M. LaFollette of the Progressive Party.

William McKinley of the Republican Party, Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic Party, and Theodore Roosevelt of the Progressive Party.

Correct answer:

William Howard Taft of the Republican Party, Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic Party, and Theodore Roosevelt of the Progressive Party.

Explanation:

After serving seven years as President, having ascended from the Vice Presidency on the death of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt refused to seek reelection in 1908, and handpicked William Howard Taft as his successor. During Taft's four years in office, a huge rift develop between Taft and Roosevelt. In 1912, Roosevelt attempted to get the Republican nomination for president as a liberal influence in contrast to Taft. After he was unsuccessful, he helped start the Progressive Party, colloquially known as the Bull Moose Party, and ran as its candidate for President. Woodrow Wilson, a moderate who was Governor of New Jersey, won the Democratic Party's nomination in 1912 then defeated both Roosevelt and Taft for the Presidency. Roosevelt's 27% of the vote remains the highest any third party candidate has received in an election since the Civil War.

Example Question #28 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Which two United States Presidents have been impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate?

Possible Answers:

Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton

Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton 

Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter

Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon

Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon

Correct answer:

Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton 

Explanation:

Andrew Johnson, in 1868, and Bill Clinton, in 1998, are the only two United States Presidents to have been impeached by the House. Both were acquitted in the Senate. Richard Nixon would have likely been the only President to undergo the full impeachment process, if he had not chosen to resign before the trial began. Andrew Johnson’s impeachment was an effort by the Radical Republicans (who controlled Congress at the time) to remove Johnson from office. They desired control over the reconstruction process in the South and charged Johnson with a violation of the Tenure of Office Act and improper conduct against the will of the public. The vote passed the house, but did not gain the necessary two-thirds majority vote in the Senate—they were just one vote short. The impeachment of Bill Clinton was made on grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice. The opposition Republican Party controlled Congress at the time, but not sufficiently to carry out the impeachment in the Senate. The vote was evenly split in the Senate, falling seventeen votes short. 

Example Question #29 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Which President authorized the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Possible Answers:

Woodrow Wilson

Harry S. Truman

Dwight Eisenhower

Richard Nixon

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Correct answer:

Harry S. Truman

Explanation:

The dropping of the atomic bombs was authorized by President Harry Truman. In the weeks leading up to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States issued warnings to the Japanese government that if they did not surrender—immediately and unconditionally—then Japan faced absolute annihilation; however, the Japanese government policy and cultural mindset at this time forbade surrender. The United States began by firebombing many Japanese cities and plans were laid for a ground invasion of Japan. Truman considered his options: he could either authorize a ground invasion of Japan, risking hundreds of thousands of American lives and many more Japanese lives, or he could attempt to end the war in one dramatic and abhorrent atomic attack. He picked the latter. Hiroshima was bombed on August 6th, 1945—Nagasaki three days later. The devastation caused by these bombings was unprecedented in human history—they remain the only nuclear attacks the world has ever witnessed. The Japanese government realized nothing could be done in the face of this new overwhelming technology and surrendered unconditionally a few days later. Historians still debate the decision Truman made: many condemn him, while many others praise him.

Example Question #30 : U.S. Political History From 1899 To The Present

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt at court packing                    .

Possible Answers:

failed due to resistance by the existing Supreme Court members

succeeded, enabling Roosevelt to pass further liberal reforms 

failed, contributing to his loss in the 1940 election

failed due to adverse public opinion 

succeeded, but backfired when the Justices ignored Roosevelt’s wishes

Correct answer:

failed due to adverse public opinion 

Explanation:

By 1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt had grown weary of the Supreme Court’s older, more conservative judges. Throughout the Great Depression Roosevelt had attempted to pass massive relief and reform bills to drag the country out of depression and ensure that it did not happen again. In many ways he succeeded in this goal; however Roosevelt felt he was being hindered by the Supreme Court consistently ruling that some of his new laws were unconstitutional. In a thinly veiled attempt to assure liberal control of the Supreme Court, Roosevelt sought to expand its size by passing a bill that allowed the President to elect a new Justice for every existing one older than seventy. Unfortunately for Roosevelt, public opinion saw it as an attempt to grab at too much power. Americans generally did, and still do, revere the system of checks and balances in their Constitution, and many felt that Roosevelt was attempting to circumvent the system in a manifestly unfair manner. The Court Packing Scheme never passed Congress. 

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