SAT II US History : U.S. Intellectual and Cultural History from 1899 to the Present

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

What was the significance of Sputnik for the United States?

Possible Answers:

It caused a political crisis with the Soviet Union, almost leading to nuclear war.

It represented a sudden escalation in the space race with the Soviet Union and provided impetus to expand America’s own space program.

It was the first American satellite sent into orbit, and its success lead to the expansion of America’s space program.

It was the first attempt by the United States to put a man on the moon; the failure of the mission spurred John F. Kennedy to launch the Apollo Program.

It demonstrated the Soviet Union’s ability to manufacture and launch nuclear weapons.

Correct answer:

It represented a sudden escalation in the space race with the Soviet Union and provided impetus to expand America’s own space program.

Explanation:

Sputnik was the first satellite launched into orbit around the Earth. It was launched in 1957, twelve years before America would put a man on the moon, representing a major point of discomfort for many Americans who suddenly felt as if the US was falling behind the Soviet Union. Shortly after Sputnik was launched, the US space program was greatly expanded and significant resources were put into education for scientists and engineers. In 1961, John F. Kennedy initiated the Apollo Program with the intention of putting a man on the moon by 1971.

Example Question #1 : U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

Whose tumultuous 1962 integration of the University of Mississippi forced President John F. Kennedy to send federal troops to quell the riots in Oxford, Mississippi?

Possible Answers:

Thurgood Marshall

James Meredith

Jesse Jackson

Clennon King

Ernie Davis

Correct answer:

James Meredith

Explanation:

James Meredith was the student whose integration of the University of Mississippi inspired riots that eventually led President Kennedy to deploy federal forces to Oxford, Mississippi in an effort to keep the peace. Meredith enrolled in the University of Mississippi after being inspired by President Kennedy himself, as well as a desire and belief in his right to attend the most prestigious educational institution in his home state.

Example Question #2 : U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

Why would the Great Depression prove to be the end of the Harlem Renaissance? 

Possible Answers:

African-Americans rejected the themes of the Harlem Renaissance

Artists who fueled the movement could no longer financially support themselves

American society rejected the Harlem Renaissance as unrealistic 

American culture moved away from the arts

Correct answer:

Artists who fueled the movement could no longer financially support themselves

Explanation:

Simply put, the people who brought about the Renaissance, artists and writers, could not keep writing and creating art because no one could afford to pay them for their works anymore. The depression meant that these people had to move on to other way of making a living, thus taking the wind out of the sails of the movement.

Example Question #3 : U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

Why would Harlem be the center of the Renaissance of African-American culture in the 1920's?

Possible Answers:

Harlem had a historically large African-American population

Access to higher education

The strong anti-segregation movement in New York

Northern migration

Correct answer:

Northern migration

Explanation:

Harlem would become overwhelmingly African-American during this time. This is because of the large numbers of African-Americans moving north from the southern states. This large influx of people, many of which concentrated themselves into this neighborhood of New York, led to a confluence of different thoughts and ideas. This meant that artists and thinkers of the time had an audience to play to and work with in forging a new identity.

Example Question #4 : U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

Which of the following is not a reason for the mass northern migration of African-Americans in the early 1900's?

Possible Answers:

Escape institutional racism

Greater religious freedom

Jobs

Better education

Correct answer:

Greater religious freedom

Explanation:

While African-Americans faced many disadvantages while living in the southern states in this period, religious restrictions were not one of them. The south has many historic African-American churches that were and are well attended with little issue. While the Civil Rights Movement brought much ire to these institutions from radical elements of the segregationist population, at this point in history they were still largely sanctuaries from such issues.

Example Question #5 : U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

What event would spark the people of Harlem to launch this cultural and intellectual renaissance in the 1920's?

Possible Answers:

The start of the Civil Rights Movement

Election of 1920

World War I ending

The end of the Influenza Pandemic

Correct answer:

World War I ending

Explanation:

The end of the First World War brought with it a change in American attitude. This major foreign entanglement made the American people desire to focus more on the issues at home. The American public no longer wanted to deal with the issues of foreign nations, but with building the communities of the United States and tackling pressing issues within those communities.

Example Question #6 : U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

What event ultimately caused the end of the Harlem Renaissance? 

Possible Answers:

World War II

The Civil Right Movement

The Great Depression 

The Roaring 20's

Correct answer:

The Great Depression 

Explanation:

Like most of what was happening in American society at the time, the Great Depression brought the Harlem Renaissance to a halt. This down swing in fortune brought the hope and optimism that fueled the Harlem Renaissance to a stop. This new reality meant that the people of the Renaissance could no longer support themselves financially through the arts and this meant the movement would end with them.

Example Question #1 : Facts And Details In U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

In the late nineteenth century, William Randolph Hearst's newspaper, New York Journal, and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World were involved in a competition for the highest readership.  In order to increase their circulation, both newspapers sensationalized the news.  This sensationalizing of the news became known as what?

Possible Answers:

Coarse Journalism

New York Fare

Yellow Journalism

Risqué Reportage

Bawdy Journalism

Correct answer:

Yellow Journalism

Explanation:

Yellow Journalism is a term still used today to condemn reporting that is seen as unprofessional or unprincipled.

Example Question #2 : Facts And Details In U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

Who was the American author, known for his novels The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952) among other works, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962?

Possible Answers:

Arthur Miller

Henry Miller

Ernest Hemingway

Herman Melville

John Steinbeck

Correct answer:

John Steinbeck

Explanation:

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.  He is also known for his novella, Of Mice and Men.

Example Question #3 : Facts And Details In U.S. Intellectual And Cultural History From 1899 To The Present

Who was the author of the muckraking book The History of the Standard Oil Company?

Possible Answers:

Upton Sinclair

John D. Rockefeller 

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Ida Tarbell 

William Randolph Hearst 

Correct answer:

Ida Tarbell 

Explanation:

The History of the Standard Oil Company was written by Ida Tarbell in 1904. The Standard Oil Company was owned by John D. Rockefeller (at the time the richest man in the United States). The book exposes much of the improper practices in the company and paved the way for a wave of other “muckraking” books that would contribute to the anti-trust movement in America in the early twentieth century. The term muckraking refers to a type of progressive journalist who performs investigative work for the sake of promoting change.

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