SAT II US History : U.S. Political History

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #91 : U.S. Political History

The layout of Washington D.C. was primarily designed by __________.

Possible Answers:

Pierre L’Enfant 

Thomas Jefferson

Bartolomeo Rastrelli

Thomas Fuller 

Alexander Wren 

Correct answer:

Pierre L’Enfant 

Explanation:

At the signing of the Constitution, in 1789, Congress was given the authority to establish a district capital for the new nation. The task for designing and implementing this plan was given to a resident French architect named Pierre L’Enfant. Due to disagreements between government officials and L’Enfant on the nature and timeframe of his work, he was replaced before he could complete his design. 

Example Question #62 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

"John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!"
                                                                                   --Pres. Andrew Jackson

The above quote from President Andrew Jackson regarding the US Supreme Court's decision in Worcester v. Georgia (1832) shows what weakness of the judicial branch?

Possible Answers:

The inability for courts to set precedent

The inability for the courts to make decisions that are popular with the public

The inability for the courts to live up the Article III of the Constitution

The inability for justices to agree on decisions

The inability for the courts to enforce their decisions

Correct answer:

The inability for the courts to enforce their decisions

Explanation:

Worcester v. Georgia regards forcing the Cherokee living on tribal lands in Georgia to obey laws set by the state of Georgia. Andrew Jackson, often associated with removal of Native Americans from US lands, signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, saying that the president could negotiate treaties with the Native Americans in regards to moving them further west.

The legal matter of Worcester v. Georgia revolves around the discovery of gold on Cherokee lands in Georgia. The ensuing jurisdiction dispute found its way to the US Supreme Court. The Court ruled that President Jackson did not have the power to expell the Native Americans from their tribal land. However—as the quote shows—Jackson disregarded this and forced the Cherokee to leave in what is popularly known as The Trail of Tears.

Example Question #71 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

John C. Calhoun held all of the following positions except __________.

Possible Answers:

President of the United States

Vice President of the United States

Secretary of State of the United States

United States Senator from South Carolina

Secretary of War of the United States

Correct answer:

President of the United States

Explanation:

Throughout the early nineteenth century, South Carolina's John C. Calhoun was one of the most prominent and influential politicians in the nation. After serving in the House of Representatives, Calhoun was Secretary of War under President James Madison.  In 1824, he sought the Presidency, but instead ran for Vice President, winning that office when John Quincy Adams won the controversial Presidential campaign. After 1828, Calhoun remained Vice President under Andrew Jackson, and created controversy on a number of issues, notably over Nullification. After severe disagreement, Calhoun resigned the Vice Presidency in 1832 and became a Senator from South Carolina. Later, President James Tyler briefly made him Secretary of State. After this, Calhoun returned to the Senate until his death in 1850.

Example Question #92 : U.S. Political History

The Free Soil Party was a "single issue party" largely devoted to __________

Possible Answers:

the direct election of Senators.

the prohibition of alcohol.

the spread of American territory across the continent to the Pacific.

the abolition of slavery.

the access to farmland on the Great Plains.

Correct answer:

the abolition of slavery.

Explanation:

The "Free Soil Party" arose in the 1840s amid further sectional conflicts around slavery. The Free Soilers were the political organization advocating for the complete abolition of slavery. As such, they saw surprising political success. The Party sent representatives to congress over a number of years, and former President (and former Democrat) Martin Van Buren garnered 10% of the popular vote as the Free Soil candidate in 1848.

Example Question #72 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

What was the change made to the Constitution after the controversial presidential election of 1796?

Possible Answers:

The Electoral College voted for both president and vice president, instead of voting only for president and making the runner up vice president.

Senators were directly elected by a popular vote in each state.

The president's time was limited to two four-year terms.

The vice president was made the automatic successor to the president in the case of a president’s death.

The presidential terms were shortened from six to four years.

Correct answer:

The Electoral College voted for both president and vice president, instead of voting only for president and making the runner up vice president.

Explanation:

In the election of 1796, John Adams was elected president by the Electoral College, while his political rival and opponent Thomas Jefferson was elected vice president by coming in second place.  After the 1796 election, the 12th Amendment was passed to change this.  For the 1800 election and all subsequent elections, the president and vice president were elected together.

Example Question #72 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

The Supreme Court's Dred Scott v. Sandford decision made what proclamation about the rights of people of African descent?

Possible Answers:

That people of African descent were accorded only some rights under the Unites States Constitution.

That all people had equal rights under the United States Constitution.

That people of African descent had more rights under the United States Constitution than any other group of Americans.

That they were not citizens and received no protection from the United States Constitution.

That people of African descent would gain full rights under the United States Constitution in ten years.

Correct answer:

That they were not citizens and received no protection from the United States Constitution.

Explanation:

Dred Scott, a slave brought by his master into the free state of Wisconsin, sued to get his freedom, claiming he was a natural born citizen under the United States Constitution.  Scott lost the case, with Chief Justice Roger B. Taney writing an opinion which asserted that people of African descent had no rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Example Question #93 : U.S. Political History

Which of the thirteen original states never ratified the U.S. Constitution?

Possible Answers:

They all ratified the U.S. Constitution

New York

Rhode Island

Georgia

South Carolina

Correct answer:

They all ratified the U.S. Constitution

Explanation:

Although the Constitution went into effect in June 1788 when nine of thirteen states had ratified it, its supporters saw the necessity of having each of the states ratify it and formally recognize and accept it. All thirteen original states eventually ratified the Constitution, with North Carolina (on November 21, 1789) and Rhode Island (on May 29, 1790) being the last two to do so.

Example Question #94 : U.S. Political History

Which of the following was not a part of the Bill of Rights added to the U.S. Constitution?

Possible Answers:

The members of the U.S. Senate are to be elected by popular vote

There are to be no unreasonable searches and seizures and all warrants must be issued upon probable cause

The Constitution is not an explicit and exhuastive list of individual rights possessed by the people

There is to be the right to trial by an impartial jury

Powers not delegated to the Federal government by the U.S. Constitution are reserved to the states or to the people

Correct answer:

The members of the U.S. Senate are to be elected by popular vote

Explanation:

The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution and deals almost entirely with guaranteeing individual liberties. While all of the answers are amendments, the incorrect answer is from the 17th Amendment (ratified in 1913), which revised Article I Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, changing the election of U.S. Senators from election by a state legislature to popular vote. Here are the amendments in which the other answers are found. The 4th Amendment says that there are to be no unreasonable searches and seizures and all warrants must be issued upon probable cause. The 7th Amendment provides for the right to a trial by an impartial jury. The 9th Amendment says that the Constitution is not an explicit and exhuastive list of individual rights possessed by the people. The 10th Amendment says that powers not delegated to the Federal government by the U.S. Constitution are reserved to the states or to the people

Example Question #74 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

In which court case did the U.S. Supreme Court establish its power to exercise judicial review of the constitutionality of federal laws?

Possible Answers:

Plessy v. Ferguson

Marbury v. Madison

Commonwealth v. Hunt

Cherokee Nation v. Georgia

McCulloch v. Maryland

Correct answer:

Marbury v. Madison

Explanation:

Marbury v. Madison was a Supreme Court case in 1803 most significant for establishing the U.S. Supreme Court as arbiter in the event of a conflict between federal law and the U.S. Constitution. The conflict in the case specifically concerned the Judiciary Act of 1798 and Article III of the Constituion. Chief Justice John Marshall held that in the event of a conflict between a law by Congress and the Constitution, the Court must follow the Constitution, exercising the power of judicial review.

Example Question #95 : U.S. Political History

Who was the first (and only) President of the Confederate States of America?

Possible Answers:

George Custer

Ulysses S. Grant

Alexander Stephens

Robert E. Lee

Jefferson Davis

Correct answer:

Jefferson Davis

Explanation:

Jefferson Davis was President of the Confederate States of America, formed in 1861 and abolished in 1865. The Confederate States was a union of the states that declared their secession from the United States, precipitating the American Civil War. Alexander Stephens was Vice President of the Confederate States. Robert E. Lee was the commander of the Confederate Army. Ulysses S. Grant was the commander of the Union Army. George Custer was a famous Union soldier.

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