U.S. History and Politics Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 3

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Updated on Sep 27, 2011

U.S. History and Politics Critical Reading

Questions 1-10 are based on the following passage.

In 1804 President Thomas Jefferson sent Army Officers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on an expedition to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase and beyond and to look for a waterway that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This passage describes the collision of cultures that occurred between Native Americans and the representatives of the United States government.

When Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark into the West, he patterned their mission on the methods of Enlightenment science: to observe, collect, document, and classify. Such strategies were already in place for the epic voyages made by explorers like Cook and Vancouver. Like their contemporaries, Lewis and Clark were more than representatives of European rationalism. They also represented a rising American empire, one built on aggressive territorial expansion and commercial gain.

But there was another view of the West: that of the native inhabitants of the land. Their understandings of landscapes, peoples, and resources formed both a contrast and counterpoint to those of Jefferson's travelers. One of Lewis and Clark's missions was to open diplomatic relations between the United States and the Native American nations of the West. As Jefferson told Lewis, "it will now be proper you should inform those through whose country you will pass . . . that henceforth we become their fathers and friends." When Euro-Americans and Native Americans met, they used ancient diplomatic protocols that included formal language, ceremonial gifts, and displays of military power. But behind these symbols and rituals there were often very different ways of understanding power and authority. Such differences sometimes made communication across the cultural divide difficult and open to confusion and misunderstanding.

An important organizing principle in Euro-American society was hierarchy. Both soldiers and civilians had complex gradations of rank to define who gave orders and who obeyed. While kinship was important in the Euro-American world, it was even more fundamental in tribal societies. Everyone's power and place depended on a complex network of real and symbolic relationships. When the two groups met—whether for trade or diplomacy—each tried to reshape the other in their own image. Lewis and Clark sought to impose their own notions of hierarchy on Native Americans by "making chiefs" with medals, printed certificates, and gifts. Native people tried to impose the obligations of kinship on the visitors by means of adoption ceremonies, shared names, and ritual gifts.

The American republic began to issue peace medals during the first Washington administration, continuing a tradition established by the European nations. Lewis and Clark brought at least eighty-nine medals in five sizes in order to designate five "ranks" of chief. In the eyes of Americans, Native Americans who accepted such medals were also acknowledging American sovereignty as "children" of a new "great father." And in a moment of imperial bravado, Lewis hung a peace medal around the neck of a Piegan Blackfeet warrior killed by the expedition in late July 1806. As Lewis later explained, he used a peace medal as a way to let the Blackfeet know "who we were."

In tribal society, kinship was like a legal system—people depended on relatives to protect them from crime, war, and misfortune. People with no kin were outside of society and its rules. To adopt Lewis and Clark into tribal society, the Plains Indians used a pipe ceremony. The ritual of smoking and sharing the pipe was at the heart of much Native American diplomacy. With the pipe the captains accepted sacred obligations to share wealth, aid in war, and revenge injustice. At the end of the ceremony, the pipe was presented to them so they would never forget their obligations.

Gift giving was an essential part of diplomacy. To Native Americans, gifts proved the giver's sincerity and honored the tribe. To Lewis and Clark, some gifts advertised the technological superiority and others encouraged the Native Americans to adopt an agrarian lifestyle. Like salesmen handing out free samples, Lewis and Clark packed bales of manufactured goods to open diplomatic relations with Native American tribes. Jefferson advised Lewis to give out corn mills to introduce the Native Americans to mechanized agriculture as part of his plan to "civilize and instruct" them. Clark believed the mills were "verry Thankfully recived," but by the next year the Mandan had demolished theirs to use the metal for weapons.

  1. The goals of the Lewis and Clark expedition include all of the following purposes EXCEPT to
    1. expand scientific knowledge.
    2. strengthen American claims to western territory.
    3. overcome Native American resistance with military force.
    4. introduce native inhabitants to the ways of Euro-American culture.
    5. make peaceful contact with native inhabitants.
  2. According to the passage, the United States government primarily viewed its role in relation to Native Americans as one of
    1. creator.
    2. master.
    3. admirer.
    4. collaborator.
    5. agitator.
  3. The word protocols as it is used in line 17 most nearly means
    1. beliefs.
    2. tenets.
    3. codes.
    4. tactics.
    5. endeavors.
  4. According to the passage, the distribution of peace medals exemplifies
    1. the American republic's attempt to forge a relationship of equals with native people.
    2. a cultural bridge connecting the Euro-Americans with Native American tribes.
    3. the explorers' respect for Native American sovereignty.
    4. the imposition of societal hierarchy on Native Americans.
    5. the acknowledgment of the power and authority of Native American chiefs.
  5. The description of Lewis' actions in lines 41–43 is used to
    1. depict the expedition in a patriotic light.
    2. contradict commonly held views of imperialism.
    3. make an ironic statement about the meaning of the peace medals.
    4. give an explanation for the killing of a Piegan Blackfeet warrior.
    5. provide a balanced report of two opposing points of view.
  6. The description of the pipe ceremony in lines 48-53 is used to illustrate
    1. the naiveté of the Plains Native Americans.
    2. cultural confusion.
    3. the superiority of the native inhabitants.
    4. how Plains Native Americans honored low-ranking members of society.
    5. the addictive properties of tobacco.
  7. In line 47, adopt most nearly means
    1. advocate.
    2. nurture.
    3. promote.
    4. foster.
    5. practice.
  8. The author uses the image of salesmen handing out free samples (lines 57–58) in order to
    1. depict Lewis and Clark as entrepreneurs.
    2. illustrate the generosity Lewis and Clark showed the tribal people they met.
    3. suggest that Lewis and Clark hoped to personally profit from their travels.
    4. imply that everyone likes to get something for free.
    5. show the promotional intent behind the explorers' gift-giving.
  9. The passage is developed primarily through
    1. the contrast of different abstract principles.
    2. quotations from one specific text.
    3. the analysis of one extended example.
    4. first-person narratives.
    5. recurring symbols.
  10. The author's primary purpose in the passage is to
    1. describe Lewis and Clark's expedition into the West.
    2. show the clashing views of the Indian nations versus those of the American republic.
    3. explore the tribal system of kinship.
    4. make an argument supporting Jefferson's quest for scientific knowledge.
    5. criticize Lewis and Clark's use of peace medals to designate the rank of a chief.

Questions 11–21 are based the following passages.

These passages concern themselves with the nineteenth-century arguments made for and against women's right to vote in the United States. Passage 1 is an excerpt from an address by Isabella Beecher Hooker before the International Council of Women in 1888. Passage 2 is an excerpt from an 1878 report from the Senate's Committee on Privileges and Elections in response to a proposed constitutional amendment that would give women the right to vote.

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