U.S. History and Politics Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 3 (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 27, 2011

Passage 1

First let me speak of the constitution of the United States, and assert that there is not a line in it, nor a word, forbidding women to vote; but, properly interpreted, that is, interpreted by the Declaration of Independence, and by the assertions of the Fathers, it actually guarantees to women the right to vote in all elections, both state and national. Listen to the preamble to the constitution, and the preamble you know, is the key to what follows; it is the concrete, general statement of the great principles which subsequent articles express in detail. The preamble says: "We, The People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Commit this to memory, friends; learn it by heart as well as by head, and I should have no need to argue the question before you of my right to vote. For women are "people" surely, and desire, as much as men, to say the least, to establish justice and to insure domestic tranquility; and, brothers, you will never insure domestic tranquility in the days to come unless you allow women to vote, who pay taxes and bear equally with yourselves all the burdens of society; for they do not mean any longer to submit patiently and quietly to such injustice, and the sooner men understand this and graciously submit to become the political equals of their mothers, wives, and daughters—aye, of their grandmothers, for that is my category, instead of their political masters, as they now are, the sooner will this precious domestic tranquility be insured. Women are surely "people," I said, and were when these words were written, and were as anxious as men to establish justice and promote the general welfare, and no one will have the hardihood to deny that our foremothers (have we not talked about our forefathers alone long enough?) did their full share in the work of establishing justice, providing for the common defense, and promoting the general welfare in all those early days.

The truth is, friends, that when liberties had to be gained by the sword and protected by the sword, men necessarily came to the front and seemed to be the only creators and defenders of these liberties; hence all the way down women have been content to do their patriotic work silently and through men, who are the fighters by nature rather than themselves, until the present day; but now at last, when it is established that ballots instead of bullets are to rule the world . . . now, it is high time that women ceased to attempt to establish justice and promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, through the votes of men . . .

Passage 2

This proposed amendment forbids the United States or any State to deny or abridge the right to vote on account of sex. If adopted, it will make several millions of female voters, totally inexperienced in political affairs, quite generally dependent upon the other sex, all incapable of performing military duty and without the power to enforce the laws which their numerical strength may enable them to make, and comparatively very few of whom wish to assume the irksome and responsible political duties which this measure thrusts upon them.

An experiment so novel, a change so great, should only be made slowly and in response to a general public demand, of the existence of which there is no evidence before your committee. Petitions from various parts of the country, containing by estimate about 30,000 names, have been presented to Congress asking for this legislation. They were procured through the efforts of woman-suffrage societies, thoroughly organized, with active and zealous managers. The ease with which signatures may be procured to any petition is well known. The small number of petitioners, when compared with that of the intelligent women in the country, is striking evidence that there exists among them no general desire to take up the heavy burden of governing, which so many men seek to evade. It would be unjust, unwise, and impolitic to impose that burden on the great mass of women throughout the country who do not wish for it, to gratify the comparatively few who do.

It has been strongly urged that without the right of suffrage women are and will be subjected to great oppression and injustice. But every one who has examined the subject at all knows that without female suffrage, legislation for years has improved and is still improving the condition of women. The disabilities imposed upon her by the common law have, one by one, been swept away until in most of the States she has the full right to her property and all, or nearly all the rights which can be granted without impairing or destroying the marriage relation. These changes have been wrought by the spirit of the age, and are not, generally at least, the result of any agitation by women in their own behalf.

Nor can women justly complain of any partiality in the administration of justice. They have the sympathy of judges and particularly of juries to an extent which would warrant loud complaint on the part of their adversaries of the sterner sex. Their appeals to legislatures against injustice are never unheeded, and there is no doubt that when any considerable part of the women of any State really wish for the right to vote it will be granted without the intervention of Congress.

Any State may grant the right of suffrage to women. Some of them have done so to a limited extent, and perhaps with good results. It is evident that in some States public opinion is much more strongly in favor of it than it is in others. Your committee regards it as unwise and inexpedient to enable three-fourths in number of the States, through an amendment to the National Constitution, to force woman suffrage upon the other fourth in which the public opinion of both sexes may be strongly adverse to such a change.

For these reasons, your committee reports back said resolution with a recommendation that it be indefinitely postponed.

  1. The author of Passage 1 supports her argument by
    1. providing information about the educational levels achieved by women.
    2. sharing anecdotes about women who fought in the American Revolution.
    3. referring to principles already accepted by her audience.
    4. describing her personal experience as a citizen of the United States.
    5. listing the states in the union that had granted women voting rights.
  2. The phrase learn it by heart as well as by head in line Passage 1, line 14 suggests
    1. an emotional and intellectual response.
    2. rote memorization.
    3. learning from experience rather than books.
    4. accepting an argument on faith.
    5. presupposition of an outcome.
  3. In line 27 of Passage 1, anxious most nearly means
    1. irritable.
    2. neurotic.
    3. apprehensive.
    4. hasty.
    5. eager.
  4. Lines 26–32 of Passage 1 portray American women as
    1. rebellious.
    2. ambitious.
    3. patriotic.
    4. uneducated.
    5. vulnerable.
  5. Which of the following best describes the author's strategy in Passage 2?
    1. summarizing public perceptions of the issue
    2. anticipating opposing viewpoints and then refuting them
    3. relating an incident and describing its significance
    4. persuading his audience through emotional appeal
    5. providing evidence that supports both sides of the issue
  6. As used in Passage 2, line 9, novel most nearly means
    1. rare.
    2. original.
    3. untried.
    4. brilliant.
    5. intellectual.
  7. In the third paragraph of Passage 2 (lines 23–33), the author characterizes the activists of the women's suffrage movement as
    1. ardent.
    2. courageous.
    3. conformist.
    4. modest.
    5. genteel.
  8. The author of Passage 2 cites the example of a woman's right to her property (lines 29 and 30) in order to
    1. show that women are well represented by the legislature even if they cannot vote.
    2. demonstrate that if women can be responsible for property, they can be responsible voters.
    3. prove that unjust laws affect the condition of women.
    4. support the belief that political change should happen quickly.
    5. argue that political equality strengthens marriages.
  9. Which aspect of the topic of women's voting rights is emphasized in Passage 2, but not in Passage 1?
    1. the interpretation of the Constitution
    2. the contributions of American women
    3. the tax-paying status of women
    4. how the judiciary treats women
    5. how ready the country is to allow women the right to vote
  10. The two authors would most likely agree with which statement?
    1. Most women do not desire the right to vote.
    2. Women are not meant to be soldiers.
    3. Voting is more of a burden than a privilege.
    4. American society is ready for female voters.
    5. Men and women should be political equals.
  11. The approaches of the two passages to the topic differ in that only Passage 1
    1. describes an incident from the author's personal experience.
    2. gives a point and argues its counterpoint.
    3. cites several specific examples of laws that benefit women.
    4. addresses its audience in the second person.
    5. recommends an action to be taken.
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