SAT II US History : U.S. Political History from Pre-Columbian History to 1789

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #45 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

A United States Senator has a term lasting __________

Possible Answers:

four years.

five years.

six years.

two years.

eight years.

Correct answer:

six years.

Explanation:

The first clause of Section 3, Article One of the Constitution, reads "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote." This is the only information on how Senators must be elected, and direct election of Senators by the population of a state was only guaranteed in 1913 by the Seventeenth Amendment.  The second clause divides the Senators into 3 roughly equal groups (classes), and staggers the elections of each class of Senators, providing that one third of the Senate seats will be elected every two years.

Example Question #51 : U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian History To 1789

The principle of popular sovereignty most directly states that ____________.

Possible Answers:

It is the responsibility of the people to protect the freedoms they have won through voluntary enlistment and westward settlement.

The United States Chief Executive should be elected directly by a popular vote of the people.

The people are the only legitimate source of government power.

There can be no taxation without representation.

None of those stated

Correct answer:

The people are the only legitimate source of government power.

Explanation:

The idea of popular sovereignty was extremely important to the fledgling United States. Fearing a return to a monarchic system, the Founding Fathers sought to have the only legitimate source of government power directly derived from the people. The Chief Executive was to be elected by a gathering of electors, who were in turn elected by the people.

 

Example Question #41 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

The original Thirteen Colonies declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. Which of the following was not one of the original Thirteen Colonies?

Possible Answers:

Vermont

New Jersey

Georgia

Delaware

North Carolina

Correct answer:

Vermont

Explanation:

Georgia, North Carolina, Delaware, and New Jersey were all members of the original Thirteen Colonies. Vermont remained a sovereign state, governing itself, issuing it's own coinage, and retaining it's own postal service, until 1791, when it was admitted as the 14th state.

Example Question #42 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

The first colony to have an elected legislative body was __________.

Possible Answers:

Virginia

Pennsylvania

Plymouth

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

Correct answer:

Virginia

Explanation:

The Virginia Company, after a decade and a half of struggles at Jamestown, sought to entice more people to come to North America through a new contract. The new Virginia Contract guaranteed any person who could pay their own way would receive tracts of land and be able to vote for a legislative body to help govern the colony. The House of Burgesses would first meet in 1619, before any other permanent English colonies were established in America, and would continue to help govern the colony of Virginia until the American Revolution.

Example Question #48 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

Which of the following statements regarding the Constitutional Convention of 1787 is NOT true?

Possible Answers:

Large states favored the Virginia Plan

The New Jersey Plan was largely a response to the Virginia Plan

Small states favored the New Jersey Plan

All of these answers are true/correct

States’ rights activists favored the Virginia Plan

Correct answer:

States’ rights activists favored the Virginia Plan

Explanation:

States’ rights activists, along with smaller states, disfavored the Virginia Plan. The reason for smaller states’ disfavor should be somewhat obvious: given that the Virginia Plan based apportionment (a fancy word that means the number of delegates or representatives each state gets) solely on population, smaller states would be at the complete mercy of the larger states (because of the [possibly] huge population differential).

States’ rights activists, on the other hand, opposed the Virginia Plan for a totally different reason: the sheer amount of power delegated to the central government under the plan. Somewhat more specifically, the Virginia Plan allowed the proposed central government to exercise something called the “universal negative,” which allowed the proposed central government to veto any state law with which it disagreed. Even more disturbingly, from the view of the states’ rights activists, the proposed central government had the ability (under the plan) to enforce its own laws with the full force of its army. Thus, for all of these reasons, the states’ rights activists disfavored the plan.

Example Question #51 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

Under the Articles of Confederation, the government could levy taxes ______________.
     

Possible Answers:

only on land or businesses

only at the municipal level 

only for the top earners

None of these answers. Under the Articles of Confederation the government cannot levy taxes.

Correct answer:

None of these answers. Under the Articles of Confederation the government cannot levy taxes.

Explanation:

This should have been a fairly easy question. Remember: one of the major reasons for the eventual proposal and ratification of the Constitution was the weakness of the government under the Articles of Confederation. One of those weaknesses, of course, was the inability to tax, which was not-so-slowly but surely driving the budding country into the ground. 

Example Question #57 : U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian History To 1789

Many of the abuses of the British government were so egregious that the colonists required protections from anything similar when creating their own government. One such of these protections is in the 4th Amendment—the protection against unauthorized searches and seizures. Which of the following British practices was this in response to?

Possible Answers:

The suspension of habeas corpus

The administration of justice act

Writs of assistance

The quartering act

Correct answer:

Writs of assistance

Explanation:

This was a difficult question. Before getting to the answers, let’s pick apart the question a little bit. The question is asking you to think about some of the abuses practiced by the British during their control of the colonies. After thinking about those, the question asks you to compare whatever abuses you’ve come up with to the protections granted in a particular clause of the 4th Amendment—the searches and seizures clause. Thus, you have to ask yourself what British practice is similar to an unauthorized search and seizure (the ones protected against in the 4th Amendment). The answer is, “writs of assistance.” A writ of assistance allowed an official to conduct a blanket search—that is, a general search without specifics in terms of location OR items sought. During the ratification of the new constitution, anti-federalists were so concerned about a possible repeat, that they demanded protections in the form of the Bill of Rights.

Example Question #51 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

The government under the Articles of Confederation had which of the following attributes?

Possible Answers:

Bicameral Legislature

Weak Judiciary

Strong Executive

Unicameral Legislature

Correct answer:

Unicameral Legislature

Explanation:

This should have been a fairly easy question. Since the Articles of Confederation allowed for only a legislature, all of the other answers (other than “Unicameral Legislature and Bicameral Legislature”) must be incorrect. Now, the only difficulty is determining which (unicameral or bicameral) is correct. Here, even if you’re not entirely sure of the meaning of uni/bicameral, you can apply basic prefix knowledge and assess that “uni” means one and “bi” means two. Then, you must simply remember that the Articles of Confederation legislature had only one chamber—thus the answer is “Unicameral” (which means one chamber).

Example Question #52 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian To 1789

What is one of the major reasons for an increase in British control and oversight of the colonies?

Possible Answers:

None of the answers are correct

 After the Albany Plan, the British were concerned for their safety

 The French and Indian War/Seven Years War led to an Empire desperate for an additional tax base

Lord Grenville convinced the English monarchy that additional control would be beneficial for the colonies

Correct answer:

 The French and Indian War/Seven Years War led to an Empire desperate for an additional tax base

Explanation:

This should have been a relatively easy question. The Seven Years War (the French and Indian War was the North American theater of the overall war) nearly bankrupted the British Empire. Wars are expensive to fight, and the French and Indian War was no exception. Moreover, the subjects of the British Empire (the citizens of England, essentially) were already the highest-taxed citizenry in the entire world, so the Brits were aware that, politically speaking, attempting to assess any additional taxes would be disagreeable, to say the least. Thus, the Brits turned their eyes to the colonies—the colonies who, due to smuggling, and lax oversight by the British government, were paying next to nothing in taxes of any kind.

Example Question #51 : U.S. Political History From Pre Columbian History To 1789

How much of a vote did it take to amend the Articles of Confederation?

Possible Answers:

Plurality

Unanimous

Simple Majority

Correct answer:

Unanimous

Explanation:

Open and shut answer here, no tricks or gimmicks. The Articles of Confederation imposed very high transaction costs on all parties involved (transaction costs, of course, are the time effort and money it takes to get something done). The transaction costs were so high that it took a unanimous vote to amend the Articles of Confederation.

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