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 #19 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

The seven articles of the Constitution, as written by the Constitution Convention, include which three aspects found below?

Possible Answers:

Rights of the states, an amendment process, acceptance of a state religion.

A Supreme court, a system of checks and balances, rights of the states.

An Amendment process, a religious test as a qualification for office, a system of checks and balances.

The electoral college, the abolition of slavery, an amendment process.

A Supreme Court, two houses within a legislative branch, the inclusion of Native Americans in the population.

Correct answer:

A Supreme court, a system of checks and balances, rights of the states.

Explanation:

The following aspects are not found in the original seven articles: the inclusion of Native Americans; a state religion; a religious test to qualify for office; and the abolition of slavery.

Example Question #20 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

Henry Clay is best remembered for his important contribution to              .

Possible Answers:

The Compromise of 1850 

The Treaty of Paris

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 

The opposition to the war of 1812 and the demise of the Federalist Party

The admission of Missouri as a free state

Correct answer:

The Compromise of 1850 

Explanation:

Henry Clay is most famously remembered as the “Great Compromiser”. In his time as a United States Congressman he helped broker both the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850—which helped, temporarily, prevent the Union from fracturing. The Compromise of 1850 settled a number of territorial disputes and for half a decade diminished the importance of the slavery issue in the national political arena. Clay’s work on the Missouri Compromise admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state so that answer is incorrect. Clay also argued in favor of war and was considered a “war-hawk”. 

Example Question #41 : U.S. Political History

Which of the following was not enacted by the Compromise of 1850?

Possible Answers:

The abolition of slave trade in the District of Columbia 

New Mexico was admitted to the Union as a slave state 

Utah was admitted to the Union with popular sovereignty to be used to settle the issue of slavery

A new Fugitive Slave Act

The admittance of California as a free state

Correct answer:

New Mexico was admitted to the Union as a slave state 

Explanation:

The Compromise of 1850 was actually a collection of several bills that managed to pass Congress, narrowly, by co-opting the votes of those in favor and those moderates in the middle who desired preservation of the Union over all else. As part of the Compromise; California was admitted as a free state; The slave trade was abolished in the District of Columbia; a new Fugitive Slave Act was passed; Texas lost control over the territory of New Mexico; Utah and New Mexico were admitted into the Union and popular sovereignty was to be used in both territories to settle the issue of slavery. The incorrect answer is therefore that New Mexico was admitted to the Union as a slave state. Neither the North nor the South was entirely satisfied with the Compromise. In particular, the North found the new Fugitive Slave Acts abhorrent and the passage of that bill made compromise much harder to reach in the years that followed. The Compromise of 1850 is important for temporarily staving off Civil War, but as war broke out a decade later it must ultimately be viewed as only a fleeting success.

Example Question #42 : U.S. Political History

Which of the following is not protected by the Bill of Rights?

Possible Answers:

Freedom of press

Equal protection under the law 

Freedom of speech 

Civil trial by jury of peers 

Freedom of religion 

Correct answer:

Equal protection under the law 

Explanation:

The Bill of Rights is the name given to the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights had been a necessary addition to the Constitution in order to ensure the unanimous support of all the States. They came into effect in 1791. The Freedom of speech, religion, and press are all established in the First Amendment. The right to a civil trial by a jury of one’s peers was established in the Seventh Amendment. The right to equal protection under the law, regardless of race, was not, however, established until after the Civil War—in the Fourteenth Amendment. 

Example Question #22 : Facts And Details In U.S. Political History From 1790 To 1898

The direct election of state senators by a popular vote was established through the passage of which amendment? 

Possible Answers:

Seventeenth

Fifteenth 

Thirteenth

Fourteenth

Nineteenth

Correct answer:

Seventeenth

Explanation:

The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments were all passed during the Reconstruction period, immediately following the Civil War, and were concerned with the inclusion and protection of freed slaves in the Union. The Nineteenth Amendment granted the right to vote to women. The Seventeenth Amendment is correct—it mandated that state senators were to be elected by a popular vote. Previously state senators had been elected by the State Legislature, but fear of corruption and political unaccountability lead to a campaign for reform in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. 

Example Question #43 : U.S. Political History

In which conflict did the United States acquire the territory of California?

Possible Answers:

The United States acquired California peacefully in the Louisiana Purchase

The Mexican War

The Spanish-American War

The War of 1812

The French-Indian Wars

Correct answer:

The Mexican War

Explanation:

The Mexican War, which ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, ceded the territory of California to the United States. Due to the California Gold Rush and rapid settlement it was admitted to the Union very shortly after. The Spanish-American War was a half century after the acquisition of California. Likewise, the War of 1812, the Louisiana Purchase and the French-Indian Wars were much too early. 

Example Question #44 : U.S. Political History

What is the name given to the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States that guarantee the rights of property and liberty, secure several personal freedoms, constrain the power of the government in certain matters, and reserve certain powers to the states?

Possible Answers:

The Federalist Papers

The Bill of Rights

The Articles of Confederation

The Rights of Man

The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union

Correct answer:

The Bill of Rights

Explanation:

Ratified on December 15th, 1791, the Bill of Rights is the name given to the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States that guarantee the rights of property and liberty, secure several personal freedoms, constrain the power of the government in certain matters, and reserve certain powers to the states.

Example Question #45 : U.S. Political History

On April 14th, 1865, this famous stage actor assassinated President Lincoln while the President was watching a performance at Ford's Theatre.

Possible Answers:

John Wilkes Booth

Lee Harvey Oswald

William H. Seward

Joseph E. Johnston

Leon Czolgolsz

Correct answer:

John Wilkes Booth

Explanation:

John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer and a member of the famous Booth acting family, assassinated President Lincoln.  He was later shot by a Union soldier in rural northern Virginia.

Example Question #46 : U.S. Political History

What 1862 Act, signed into law by President Lincoln, granted land in the West to people who would cultivate it?

Possible Answers:

The Homestead Act

The Timber Culture Act

The Stock-Raising Homestead Act

The Southern Homestead Act

The West Land Act

Correct answer:

The Homestead Act

Explanation:

The Homestead Act of 1862 granted land in the West to people who would cultivate it.  It was the first of the Homestead Acts.

Example Question #47 : U.S. Political History

The Alien Act, passed during the Presidency of John Adams, gave the Executive branch the authority to                  .

Possible Answers:

Prosecute those found speaking out against the United States government

Remove Native American peoples from lands owned by the Federal government

Set a limit on the number of immigrants that could arrive from certain parts of Europe and Asia

Expel from the United States any foreign born individual believed to be dangerous

Extend the number of years required before a foreign born individual could gain citizenship

Correct answer:

Expel from the United States any foreign born individual believed to be dangerous

Explanation:

During the Presidency of John Adams two major strains of American political ideology were separating and solidifying. Adams belonged to the Federalist Party and was generally opposed, on most issues, by the Republican Party. The growing enmity between the two parties lead to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts by the Federalist controlled Congress. The Alien Act stated that the United States government had the authority to expel any foreign-born individual believed to be dangerous to the preservation of the Union or to the American war effort. The Sedition Act stated that any individual found making slanderous or libelous comments regarding the government was subject to prosecution. Both laws were seemingly implicitly aimed at negating government criticism and expelling foreign nationals born in France. The Alien and Sedition Acts were heavily protested against, most notably by Thomas Jefferson who argued that States had the right to nullify Federal laws that were unconstitutional. 

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