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 #101 : U.S. Political History

Which infamous 1896 United States Supreme Court case upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws under the doctrine of "separate but equal"?

Possible Answers:

Loving v. Virginia

Plessy v. Ferguson

Brown v. Board of Education

Sweatt v. Painter

Dred Scott v. Sandford

Correct answer:

Plessy v. Ferguson

Explanation:

In Plessy v. Ferguson, the United States Supreme Court case upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws under the doctrine of "separate but equal." The decision has widely been regarded as one of the worst in Supreme Court history.

Brown v. Board of Education was the landmark supreme court decision that overturned Plessy v. FergusonDred Scott v. Sandford (another contender for worst Supreme Court ruling) held that African-Americans could not be citizens. Sweatt v. Painter preceded Brown v. Board of Education, and in so doing set the precedent for the Brown v Board rulingLoving v. Virginia invalidated the laws restricting inter-racial marriage.

Example Question #102 : U.S. Political History

Racial segregation laws enacted after Reconstruction in the American South were commonly known as __________.

Possible Answers:

Black Codes

Code Noir

Mason-Dixon laws

Jim Crow laws

Apartheid

Correct answer:

Jim Crow laws

Explanation:

Racial segregation laws passed after Reconstruction in the American South were called Jim Crow laws. Black Codes were earlier nineteenth century laws that restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans. Apartheid was the policy of racial segregation in South Africa, which was officially in place until 1994.

Example Question #81 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

Which of the following best summarizes the platform of the Free Soil Party?

Possible Answers:

Slavery should be expanded into all new western territories without interference.

New territories should decide for themselves whether they will allow slavery in their borders.

Slavery must not be allowed to spread into any new western territories.

Slavery should only be allowed in new territories below the Mason-Dixon Line.

All slaves held in captivity must be immediately emancipated.

Correct answer:

Slavery must not be allowed to spread into any new western territories.

Explanation:

The Free Soil Party was a short lived, yet influential, third party that had some success between 1848 and 1852. Emerging after the territorial gains of the Mexican-American War, the Free Soil Party advocated for the halt to the spread of slavery throughout the new territories in the West. While largely made up of abolitionists, the Free Soil Party never argued for total abolition of slavery and was largely subsumed into the brand new Republican Party during the 1856 election.

Example Question #103 : U.S. Political History

Abraham Lincoln was the __________ Republican to run for President.

Possible Answers:

Abraham Lincoln did not run as a Republican, he ran for the Whig Party.

First

Second

Third

Correct answer:

Second

Explanation:

Straightforward question, but sometimes difficult to answer. Lincoln is, by far, the most famous Republican to run in the 19th century, but he was not the first. That particular honor goes to John. C. Fremont. Fremont ran in the election of 1856 as a Republican, and lost to James Buchanan, a Democrat. 

Example Question #82 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

The Compromise of 1850 included which of the following?

Possible Answers:

 All of the answers are correct

 California was admitted as a free state

A boundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico was decided in favor of New Mexico

Utah/New Mexico territories were allowed to decide whether to allow slavery on the basis of popular sovereignty

Correct answer:

 All of the answers are correct

Explanation:

The Compromise of 1850 was technically a series of compromises, hence the answer “all of the answers are correct.” You can see elements of compromise in the terms of the various bills themselves—California coming in as a free state was clearly a victory for the abolitionists; Utah/New Mexico deciding on basis of popular sovereignty was ostensibly a victory for those who favored slavery. Similarly, the banning of the slave trade (NOT slavery itself) in DC was a victory for the abolitionists while the harsher fugitive slave law was a victory for the pro-slavery factions.

Example Question #104 : U.S. Political History

“Fifty-four Forty or Fight” was the slogan for which president/presidential hopeful?

Possible Answers:

James K. Polk

John Hancock
      

Franklin Pierce

None of these answers are correct.

Correct answer:

James K. Polk

Explanation:

That slogan was most famously used by James K. Polk in his bid for the presidency in 1844. The numbers refer to coordinates in what is essentially modern-day Oregon which was, for a variety of different reasons, jointly occupied by the US and the British. Polk’s slogan was essentially saying “we should push the British out of the territory—we should claim the territory all for ourselves all the way up until the 54-40 line—and if they don’t like it, we should start a war!” It, like much of what happens in the west during this era, was a product of manifest destiny and the accompanying attitudes.

Example Question #83 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

The ‘Corrupt Bargain’ of 1824 ___________.

Possible Answers:

ended with the Jackson elected President

ended the Era of Good Feelings

Two of the answers are correct

ended with John Quincy Adams elected President

Correct answer:

Two of the answers are correct

Explanation:

The Corrupt Bargain of 1824 marked the end of the Era of Good Feelings (which was the two terms that James Monroe was in office) and it also resulted in the election of John Quincy Adams as president with Henry Clay as his Secretary of State. It was (and is) called the ‘Corrupt Bargain’ because of the way in which JQ Adams won the Presidency. Essentially, because nobody received a majority in the Electoral College (you must have a majority—a plurality will not do), the top three vote-getters (from the Electoral College) get tossed into the House of Representatives. Thus, out of the four candidates running (William Crawford, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, and JQ Adams) only the top three vote-getters from the Electoral College (Crawford, Jackson, and Adams) got thrown into the House of Representatives. The House then votes on a candidate. It is at this point that Clay—who, notice, did not make it into the House—has an advantage: Henry Clay, in addition to being a presidential candidate, was Speaker of the House. Clay, who hated Jackson, approached Adams and offered to throw his support behind Adams in exchange for a position in Adams’ cabinet at Secretary of State. Unsurprisingly, Adams accepts, is elected President, and appoints Clay as his Secretary of State. Jacksonian Democrats cry foul—hence the “Corrupt Bargain.”

Example Question #105 : U.S. Political History

The __________ purported to reinstate the Missouri Compromise Line (and extend it west), and protect slavery everywhere it already existed.

Possible Answers:

Crittenden Compromise

the Compromise of 1850

the Connecticut Compromise

the Great Compromise

Correct answer:

Crittenden Compromise

Explanation:

This is a straightforward vocabulary question. The Crittenden Compromise was named after Senator Crittenden, who proposed it. Essentially, he wanted to end the Civil War before it even really began by reinstating the Missouri Compromise line—and providing that everything under it (everything meaning any acquired territories as well) was to be open to slavery and everything above it to be free—and protecting slavery in the places in which it already existed. All of the other compromises are incorrect.

Example Question #85 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

Andrew Johnson was a __________ selected to be Vice President by Lincoln, a __________.

Possible Answers:

Democrat . . . Democrat

Republican . . . Republican

Democrat . . . Republican

Republican . . . Democrat
      

Correct answer:

Democrat . . . Republican

Explanation:

Andrew Johnson was a Democrat—from Tennessee, no less—selected by Lincoln, a Republican, to be his Vice President. Lincoln likely believed that Johnson’s selection (geographically and politically speaking) would help ease the Southern states back into the union. Lincoln, of course, did not plan on being assassinated, and thus did not plan on leaving a southerner in the captain’s seat during Reconstruction. Unfortunately, however, Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson became President by way of succession. Tensions between the Democrat president and the Radical Republican Congress came to a head when Johnson was actually impeached in the House (although the Senate acquitted him—thus he escaped being removed from office—by one vote).

Example Question #106 : U.S. Political History

The Liberty Party, American Party, and Constitutional Union party are all examples of what?

Possible Answers:

Scare tactics by Henry Clay

Major political parties

Fictitious parties

Third Parties

Correct answer:

Third Parties

Explanation:

All of those parties—Liberty, American/Known Nothings, Constitutional Union—are all examples of third parties during the early-mid 1800’s. Oftentimes third parties coalesced around similar issues; the Free Soil party and the Liberty party, for example, had similar planks (individual stances on issues) in their respective party platforms.

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