SAT II US History : SAT Subject Test in United States History

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

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Example Questions

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

What was the most significant consequence of the invention of the cotton gin?

Possible Answers:
A massive oversupply of cotton, causing prices to drop dramatically - leading to a brief recession
The destruction of Southern soil, causing widespread food-shortage and poverty
The North began to produce cotton on similar levels to the South - causing discontent to foster between Southern plantation owners at loss of business
A decrease in slave trade
An increase in slave trade
Correct answer: An increase in slave trade
Explanation:

Before the invention of the cotton gin, cotton was notoriously difficult to profitably produce. Cotton is encased in a hard shell - extracting it and removing excess material was a time consuming and costly process. The cotton gin, by mechanizing the process, dramatically increased the amount of cotton that a plantation owner could produce and made the cash crop extremely profitable again. However, in order to process the cotton it first needed to be picked - which called for an influx of a massive number of forced laborers (slaves). More than one of the answers presented here are true, however the key component is "most significant". The massive importation of slaves to harvest cotton probably prolonged the death of slavery by several years in the South and has ramifications for the economic, social and political make-up of America to this day. 

Example Question #2 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

The Pony Express, a mail delivery service reliant upon horseback mail-carriers, served the west of the United States from Missouri to California for roughly a year-and-a-half, from 1860 to 1861.  It was the quickest means of communication in the West until the establishment of what?

Possible Answers:

The telegraph

The telephone

The interstate highway system

The Transcontinental Railroad

The automobile

Correct answer:

The telegraph

Explanation:

It was the establishment of the telegraph that rendered the Pony Express obsolete. 

Example Question #3 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

The California Gold Rush of 1849 was enabled by which of the following?

Possible Answers:

The opening of the Panama Canal

New, quicker methods of overland transportation

The removal of the gold standard

The annexation of California by the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

New markets for gold in Europe and the large eastern cities of America

Correct answer:

The annexation of California by the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

Explanation:

Gold was found at Sutter’s Mill in Northern California in January of 1848, weeks before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo made California an American territory.  The ever present desire for gold led people to endure brutal travel either overland in stagecoaches or wagon trains, or by sailing to Panama and crossing the Isthmus by foot.

 

Example Question #4 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

Which inventor and industrialist first mass-produced the revolver, the weapon credited with helping to tame the Wild West?

Possible Answers:

Horace Smith

Oliver Winchester

Rollin White

Samuel Colt

Daniel B. Wesson

Correct answer:

Samuel Colt

Explanation:

Samuel Colt, of Colt 45 fame, is the inventor credited with mass-producing the revolver for the first time.

Example Question #5 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

What was one of the significant causes of the Panic of 1873?

Possible Answers:

The failure of President Ulysses S. Grant to cut business taxes

Bank failures due to rampant speculation over railroads

Decoupling of the monetary supply from the gold standard

The failure of international trade with European powers

An inability of former Confederate states to pay back debts from the Civil War

Correct answer:

Bank failures due to rampant speculation over railroads

Explanation:

The Panic of 1873 was one of the worst world wide economic depressions until the Great Depression occurred in 1929. The Panic began after widespread railroad speculation in the post Civil War era overstretched financial resources throughout the country. After the failure of a handful of railroads, banks themselves failed causing widespread unemployment, inflation, and bank runs. The depression would last until 1879, covering all of Ulysses S. Grant's second term in office.

Example Question #6 : Cause And Effect In U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

The cotton gin allowed the plantation system in the South to __________.

Possible Answers:

turn from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy

turn from an industrial economy to an agricultural economy

collapse under its own weight

change away from a slave dominated economy

expand greatly due to increased productivity

Correct answer:

expand greatly due to increased productivity

Explanation:

The cotton gin (short for engine) was invented by the Connecticut born Eli Whitney in 1793, and quickly the model spread throughout Southern plantations. The cotton gin was able to separate the cotton fibers from the seeds extremely quickly and efficiently, and allowed the production of cotton to increase exponentially. This meant that Southern plantation owners also increased their importation and trade of slaves, leading to a boom in the Southern slave population.

Example Question #1 : U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

A Robber Baron of the nineteenth century might have done all of the following exploitive practices to achieve wealth EXCEPT:

Possible Answers:

Exerted excessive, self-interested government influence

Obtained unyielding control over necessary resources of the nation

Paid very low wages

Created monopolies in order to raise prices

Supported the workers' right to unionize

Correct answer:

Supported the workers' right to unionize

Explanation:

A rich and powerful businessman of the 1800s, pejoratively named a Robber Baron, would not have supported the workers' right to unionize as this would have worked against his business interests.

Example Question #2 : U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

The Whiskey Rebellion, or Whiskey Insurrection, which began in 1791 (under the presidency of George Washington), was an often violent protest by farmers against what?

Possible Answers:

Price fixing

Federal taxes

The drinking age

Whiskey purity laws

The anticipated prohibition against alcohol

Correct answer:

Federal taxes

Explanation:

The Whiskey Rebellion was an oftenviolent protest by grain and corn farmers against Federal taxes levied on whiskey intended, primarily, to help pay for the nation's assumed war debt.

Example Question #3 : U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

The Homestead Acts                   .

Possible Answers:

Placed a cap on the number of Northerners who could move to the South in an attempt to placate disillusioned Southern land owners

Displaced Native American communities from territories in the western United States to make room for white settlers

Offered one-hundred and sixty acres of land to anyone who would commit to living on and working the land for a period not less than five years

Established protected Native American territories that could not be legally occupied by white settlers

Granted to every freed slave the right to forty acres and a mule to help get them started

Correct answer:

Offered one-hundred and sixty acres of land to anyone who would commit to living on and working the land for a period not less than five years

Explanation:

The Homestead Acts, first passed during the Civil War, offered free land grants to anyone who had not previously “taken up arms against the Union.” The land offered generally, although not always, amounted to roughly one-hundred and sixty acres. Between the period of 1862 and 1934, the Federal government granted 1.6 million homesteads to American families (roughly ten-percent of United States land was appropriated) and it was a big motivational factor behind the consistent westward expansion of the American people in that time period. The Homestead Acts were officially repealed in the 1970s. 

Example Question #4 : U.S. Economic History From 1790 To 1898

The southern plantation system underwent a lot of changes, while still maintaining economic power, throughout much of its existence. Which of the following changes did not create a positive change on the plantations?

Possible Answers:

The mercantilist system of the colonies.

The introduction of the cotton gin.

Increased prices of tobacco.

Harsh slave codes.

Bacon's Rebellion.

Correct answer:

Bacon's Rebellion.

Explanation:

The success of Bacon's Rebellion, in 1676, allowed for the change from indentured servants to slaves as the first major migration of indentured servants became free. The rebellion looted plantations and took over the government for a short period of time, but later led to the increase of African slaves.

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