U.S. History and Politics Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 3 (page 3)
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.
- The goals of the Lewis and Clark expedition include all of the following purposes EXCEPT to
- expand scientific knowledge.
- strengthen American claims to western territory.
- overcome Native American resistance with military force.
- introduce native inhabitants to the ways of Euro-American culture.
- make peaceful contact with native inhabitants.
- According to the passage, the United States government primarily viewed its role in relation to Native Americans as one of
- The word protocols as it is used in line 17 most nearly means
- According to the passage, the distribution of peace medals exemplifies
- the American republic's attempt to forge a relationship of equals with native people.
- a cultural bridge connecting the Euro-Americans with Native American tribes.
- the explorers' respect for Native American sovereignty.
- the imposition of societal hierarchy on Native Americans.
- the acknowledgment of the power and authority of Native American chiefs.
- The description of Lewis' actions in lines 41–43 is used to
- depict the expedition in a patriotic light.
- contradict commonly held views of imperialism.
- make an ironic statement about the meaning of the peace medals.
- give an explanation for the killing of a Piegan Blackfeet warrior.
- provide a balanced report of two opposing points of view.
- The description of the pipe ceremony in lines 48-53 is used to illustrate
- the naiveté of the Plains Native Americans.
- cultural confusion.
- the superiority of the native inhabitants.
- how Plains Native Americans honored low-ranking members of society.
- the addictive properties of tobacco.
- In line 47, adopt most nearly means
- The author uses the image of salesmen handing out free samples (lines 57–58) in order to
- depict Lewis and Clark as entrepreneurs.
- illustrate the generosity Lewis and Clark showed the tribal people they met.
- suggest that Lewis and Clark hoped to personally profit from their travels.
- imply that everyone likes to get something for free.
- show the promotional intent behind the explorers' gift-giving.
- The passage is developed primarily through
- the contrast of different abstract principles.
- quotations from one specific text.
- the analysis of one extended example.
- first-person narratives.
- recurring symbols.
- The author's primary purpose in the passage is to
- describe Lewis and Clark's expedition into the West.
- show the clashing views of the Indian nations versus those of the American republic.
- explore the tribal system of kinship.
- make an argument supporting Jefferson's quest for scientific knowledge.
- 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.
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 . . .
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.
- The author of Passage 1 supports her argument by
- providing information about the educational levels achieved by women.
- sharing anecdotes about women who fought in the American Revolution.
- referring to principles already accepted by her audience.
- describing her personal experience as a citizen of the United States.
- listing the states in the union that had granted women voting rights.
- The phrase learn it by heart as well as by head in line Passage 1, line 14 suggests
- an emotional and intellectual response.
- rote memorization.
- learning from experience rather than books.
- accepting an argument on faith.
- presupposition of an outcome.
- In line 27 of Passage 1, anxious most nearly means
- Lines 26–32 of Passage 1 portray American women as
- Which of the following best describes the author's strategy in Passage 2?
- summarizing public perceptions of the issue
- anticipating opposing viewpoints and then refuting them
- relating an incident and describing its significance
- persuading his audience through emotional appeal
- providing evidence that supports both sides of the issue
- As used in Passage 2, line 9, novel most nearly means
- In the third paragraph of Passage 2 (lines 23–33), the author characterizes the activists of the women's suffrage movement as
- The author of Passage 2 cites the example of a woman's right to her property (lines 29 and 30) in order to
- show that women are well represented by the legislature even if they cannot vote.
- demonstrate that if women can be responsible for property, they can be responsible voters.
- prove that unjust laws affect the condition of women.
- support the belief that political change should happen quickly.
- argue that political equality strengthens marriages.
- Which aspect of the topic of women's voting rights is emphasized in Passage 2, but not in Passage 1?
- the interpretation of the Constitution
- the contributions of American women
- the tax-paying status of women
- how the judiciary treats women
- how ready the country is to allow women the right to vote
- The two authors would most likely agree with which statement?
- Most women do not desire the right to vote.
- Women are not meant to be soldiers.
- Voting is more of a burden than a privilege.
- American society is ready for female voters.
- Men and women should be political equals.
- The approaches of the two passages to the topic differ in that only Passage 1
- describes an incident from the author's personal experience.
- gives a point and argues its counterpoint.
- cites several specific examples of laws that benefit women.
- addresses its audience in the second person.
- recommends an action to be taken.
- c. The Lewis and Clark expedition did not have a military goal and did not have any violent encounters except the one described in lines 41–43.
- b. Jefferson and his representatives wanted Native Americans to acknowledge American sovereignty and to see themselves as children to his role as their "father."
- c. One meaning of protocol is a code that demands strict adherence to etiquette.
- d. The passage states that Lewis and Clark sought to impose their own notions of hierarchy on Native Americans by "making chiefs" with medals, printed certificates, and gifts (lines 30–33).
- c. By placing a peace medal around the neck of a man killed by the expedition makes an ironic statement about the meaning of "peace."
- b. To the Plains Native Americans, the pipe ceremony meant that those who participated accepted sacred obligations to share wealth, aid in war, and revenge injustice (lines 50–51). The passage suggests that Lewis and Clark most likely did not understand the significance of the ceremony.
- e. One meaning of adopt is to take by choice into a relationship. In this context, adopt has another meaning: to take up and practice or use.
- e. By giving manufactured goods to Native Americans, Lewis and Clark were promoting Euro-American culture. Jefferson hoped that these free samples would introduce the Native Americans to mechanized agriculture as part of his plan to "civilize and instruct" them (lines 58–61).
- a. The passage compares different abstract principles, or organizing principles of Euro-American society versus that of tribal societies. For example, it explores the principles of hierarchy and kinship.
- b. Choice a is too general to be the primary purpose of the passage, whereas choices c and e are too specific. Choice d is not supported by the passage.
- c. Beecher Hooker invokes the Constitution (line 1) and recites the preamble (lines 9–13) in order to appeal to and persuade her audience.
- a. Beecher Hooker plays on the two meanings suggested by the phrase learn it by heart as well as by head. She asks her audience to not only memorize the Constitution's preamble, but to use both emotion and intellect to understand its meaning.
- e. One meaning of anxious is extreme uneasiness or dread. An alternative meaning applies to this context—that of ardently or earnestly wishing.
- c. Passage 1 argues that the foremothers of the nation were patriotic and did their full share (line 30) of contributing to the early republic.
- b. The passage anticipates the arguments of those in favor of women's right to vote and refutes them.
- c. Novel means new and not resembling something known or used in the past. Choice b, original, could fit this definition but its connotation is too positive for the context.
- a. Passage 2 describes woman-suffrage societies as thoroughly organized, with active and zealous managers (lines 14–15). Choice b, courageous, is too positive for the context of the passage.
- a. Passage 2 states that every one . . . knows that without female suffrage, legislation for years has improved and is still improving the condition of women (lines 24–27).
- d. Passage 2 emphasizes how well women are served by judges in line 35. Passage 1 does not refer to this issue at all.
- b. Passage 1 describes men as fighters by nature (line 37), but not women. Passage 2 describes women as incapable of performing military duty (lines 4–5).
- d. Passage 1 addresses its audience in the second person, whereas Passage 2 does not. Passage 1 also refers to its audience as friends (line 14) and brothers (line 18).
For more practice on U.S. history and politics critical reading questions, review:
- U.S. History and Politics Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 1
- U.S. History and Politics Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 2
- U.S. History and Politics Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 3 You are here
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