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United States History Final Exam

Standard 11.1 Discuss the significant events in the founding of

the nation and its attempts to realize the philosophy of

government described in the Declaration of Independence.

The founders of the United States borrowed heavily from

European Enlightenment ideas. Their belief that they had inalienable

rights clearly led to the American Revolution when they were treated

as second-class citizens by Great Britain. The swaying of the hearts

and minds of the colonists was the first step in founding the nation.

Worsening relations with Great Britain and written works such as

Paine’s Common Sense convinced the majority of the colonists. The

writing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 was

another significant step forward. The Declaration has four main

sections consisting of philosophical idealism, a list of complaints about

King George III, a justification for rebellion, and the concluding action

statements. The first section is the most important when analyzing

their reasoning. The Continental Congress and the majority of the

colonists believed they were entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of

happiness. They essentially believed that government should work for

the people, and that tyrannical governments were automatically

entitled to be destroyed. This enlightened thinking was a clear

departure from centuries of the acceptance of despotism in most of the

world. These logical and liberating ideas helped create a sense of unity

and helped the colonists win the war against Great Britain. This

philosophy was also present in the early Constitution and the Bill of
Rights, which both showed unprecedented amounts of foresight while

remaining moderate enough to gain two-thirds ratification. This

ratification was the last major hurdle as the essentially sovereign

American states had to accept federalism. The Constitution never

explicitly defined federalism, but rather assumed powers for the

federal government. The eventual acceptance of federalism by the

states finalized the realization of the government described in the

Declaration of Independence. Wars later in history redefined the United

States, but its governmental philosophy has remained the same.

Standard 11.2 What was the relationship among the rise of

industrialization, large-scale rural-to-urban migration, and

massive immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe?

United States industrialization first trickled in from Europe and

then expanded rapidly in the mid-1800s. This led to a large-scale

internal migration from rural to urban areas, as people could not find

jobs elsewhere. Most workers worked an average of 11 to 12 hours a

day by 1865 and gave up most of their wages to live right next to the

factory. Rural areas were sometimes stunning to year-long factory

workers, such as Jurgis in The Jungle, yet few could find any work

outside of industrialized cities. Industrialization and the expanding

global economy also forced European immigrants to find work in the

United States. Over thirty million immigrants arrived between 1815

and 1914 and secured jobs in factories or other industrial businesses.

This type of large-scale internal and external migration was

unprecedented for the United States. To counter the worsening

conditions, activists in the Progressive era increased industrial safety,

lowered working hours, and curbed the amount of underhanded deals

by corrupt politicians.

Standard 11.3 How was the American economy and the

changing social and political conditions in the U.S. transformed

in response to the Industrial Revolution?

The booming American industry rapidly expanded the economy

and permanently altered social and political conditions. The factory

work helped the economy through dehumanizing methods. A system of

piecework and the interchangeability of workers guaranteed that

everyone was just a cog in the machine. These social conditions

eventually led to the Progressive era, repairing the damage caused by

rapid industrialization. Some politicians that adhered to Progressive

principles included Theodore Roosevelt, Robert LaFollette, William

Jennings Bryan, and Woodrow Wilson. Journalists known as muckrakers

who investigated corruptions and scandals during this era. The

Industrial Revolution also partly determined the outcome of the

American Civil War. The North had industrialized far more than the

South and secured a victory in four years. In short, industrialization

helped to assert federal power and eliminate slavery. The major

negative impacts of the Industrial Revolution were slowly replaced by

more Progressive ideals while simultaneously ensuring more social

justice and liberty.

Standard 11.4 What role did religion play in the founding of

America, and how has it affected moral, social, and political

issues regarding religious liberty?

Religion has played a major role throughout all of U.S. history.

During its founding, the writers of the Declaration of Independence

used God-given rights as the justification for rebellion:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created

equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain

unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the

Pursuit of Happiness.”

The United States has had several religious revivals, including the First

Great Awakening and Second Great Awakening. While the Constitution

guarantees freedom of religion, there has been religious intolerance in

the past (towards Mormons, Catholics, and Jews) and continues today

with our intolerance of Muslim society, as well as a disregard for

atheism as a viable option. Today, Christian fundamentalism plays a

large role in government. Issues that are non-political are politicized by

religious politicians who assert the importance of the Bible, in either a

covert or obvious manner. Religion has often impacted the judgment of

the United States people as we prioritize absolutist arguments and the

word of God over thoughtful debate and consequence and risk

analysis. Today’s decisions on gay marriage, abortion, sex education,

science, and drugs are largely based on Christian fundamentalism in

the United States.

Standard 11.5 Discuss the rise of the United States to its role

as a world power in the twentieth century.

Imperialism and war were the driving forces that led the U.S. to

become a world power. The United States’ need to become self-

sufficient was even emphasized by George Washington in his farewell

address: “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with

any portion of the foreign world…” By the late 1800s, lobbyists favored

a strong U.S. Navy, and by the early 1900s, the United States had navy

capable of winning in a time of war. The Spanish-American War proved

that the United States had a capable military while acquiring the

Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The annexation of Hawaii and the

islands of Samoa added to the United States’ territorial gains. The

Open Door Policy with China gave the U.S. some degree of political and

economic control. U.S. foreign policy further helped it to become a

world power. The 1904 Roosevelt Corollary read:

“We desire peace with all the world, but perhaps most of all with

the other peoples of the American Continent. There are, of

course, limits to the wrongs which any self-respecting nation can

endure. It is always possible that wrong actions toward this

Nation, or toward citizens of this Nation, in some State unable to

keep order among its own people, unable to secure justice from

outsiders, and unwilling to do justice to those outsiders who treat

it well, may result in our having take action to protect our

Our endless desire to make the world “right” is the reason we are

always fighting in some corner of the world, and becoming more

powerful because of it. Today, this is aided further with the military-

industrial complex, as first described by President Eisenhower. We can

only wait so long to fight another war, and when the leadership allows

for it, we invade as many countries as possible in a short timeframe,

with more technology than ever before.

Standard 11.6 What were the major political, social, economic,

technological, and cultural developments of the 1920s?

The 1920s brought a conversion from a wartime economy to a

peacetime economy. A peacetime economy meant a consumer

economy, and buyers piled on debt or paid in installment plans. New

products like the Ford Model T, toasters, ovens, sewing machines, and

vacuum cleaners all spurred the consumer economy. In society, the

roles of women changed as they adopted new styles and were more

rebellious than before. Women also began to vote but had more impact

in local elections than national ones. Americans began to move to

suburbs as automobiles were popularized. Demographically, the

amount of European immigrants decreased, with more immigrants

coming from Mexico and Canada. Many African Americans also

migrated North but usually faced the same anger and hatred from

whites. The Harlem Renaissance empowered African Americans as

literature helped their culture become more recognized. The “Jazz Age”

of the 1920s also brought along the mass media. Movies, newspapers,

and radio expanded beyond anyone’s expectations. Jazz became

known as the “expression of the times” and “won over Americans who

had been horrified by it at first.” The late 1920s would bring the start

of the Great Depression.

Standard 11.7 Discuss the Great Depression and how the New

Deal fundamentally changed the role of the federal


The Great Depression and the resultant New Deal forced the

expansion of the federal government. While many protested, the

expansion was necessary to restore a functional economy. Before the

Great Depression, the government refused to lend excessive

assistance. For example, President Coolidge consistently vetoed the

McNary-Haugen farm relief bill, even though it was passed twice by

Congress. The stock market crash of 1929 affected four million people

directly and the rest of the United States people as well. The GNP

halved from $103 billion, small businesses closed, banks closed, and

few people could afford to buy any surplus products. President Hoover

could not manage the crisis. He initially ignored it, then signed

extremely high import taxes. Both plans were unsuccessful and his

popularity sunk as more citizens blamed Hoover for their problems.

The inauguration of President Roosevelt in 1933 was a turning point for


Roosevelt’s New Deal was proposed and implemented between

1933-37 and was a set of economic and social programs to aid

economic recovery. The plan included relief, recovery, and reform

(Roosevelt’s three R’s). Many public projects were constructed by new

organizations such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and Public Works

Administration. This employed workers while providing direct benefits

for the U.S. Roosevelt adopted fiscal conservatism and spent and

regulated the way to recovery. Important agencies established by the

New Deal include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as well as Social

Security. Some critics argued that the New Deal adopted fascist models

for economic recovery, but the more powerful national government

was highly successful in controlling and restoring the national


Standard 11.8 Discuss the timeline of America's participation

in World War II and the effect of the war on the home front. Be

sure to include the social, economic and psychological effects

as well as the major events.

German aggression alone could not push the United States to

war. Americans generally did not want to fight another war in a distant

part of the world. The United States came to Britain’s aid and loaned

them weapons without payment, as well as other aid. Conflict with

Japan increased by 1941 over territorial disputes, which led the United

States cut off all trade with Japan. After the bombing and strafing of

Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States declared war on

Japan. The war spending doubled the GNP and ended the economic

depression in the United States. Patriotism drove people to work

overtime which further helped the economy. The demand for war

supplies and workers grew rapidly, nearly eliminating unemployment.

Many commodities were rationed to support the war, including meat,

sugar, gasoline, and clothing. The draft was instated for the first time,

requiring all males aged 21 to 36 to register for the military. The

psychological effects on Japanese Americans were very visible, as all

“aliens” on the west coast were relocated to internment camps. World

War II ended on August 14, 1945, after the nuclear attack on Japan.

Standard 11.9 What was post-World War II America like and

how had America changed?

The post-World War II United States was led by President Harry S.

Truman. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the

United States had clearly established itself as a leading world power.

The United States also became a member of the United Nations,

turning towards more international involvement. Russia soon became

the focus of foreign policy, as Winston Churchill said, “The real problem

is Russia. I can’t get Americans to see it.” The end of the war marked

the beginning of sustained economic expansion and the decades-long

Cold War.

Standard 11.10 Students analyze U.S. foreign policy since

World War II.

Trace the origins and geopolitical consequences (foreign and

domestic) of one of the following:

• The Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis

The origins of the Bay of Pigs invasion were rooted in the United

States’ anti-communist agenda. The Eisenhower and Kennedy

administrations could not tolerate what they saw as Castro’s shift to

the Communist Party. The original plan was to have Cuban exiles

remove Castro from power, but Kennedy believed there was no chance

of success without U.S. help. The invasion took place on April 17, 1961

and failed miserably, causing international embarrassment.

Domestically, the consequences were the resignation of three CIA

directors and embarrassment for the United States. In Cuba, Castro

became more popular and became more wary of future U.S.

intervention. The USSR support provided to Cuba during the Bay of

Pigs Invasion also sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis. The origin of the

crisis was nuclear stockpiling between the Soviet Union and the United

States. Cuba was a perfect location for the Soviet Union to regain a

nuclear advantage, so they shipped over twelve nuclear warheads for

offensive use. Kennedy responded with a naval blockade and

negotiations in the Soviet embassy. The agreed-upon deal removed the

Soviet missiles in Cuba with a secret term that the U.S. would also

remove its missiles in Turkey within six months. The domestic and

geopolitical consequences of this crisis was the avoidance of global

nuclear warfare. A second consequence was embarrassment for

Khrushchev and the Soviet Union because the planned removal of the

missiles from Turkey was not made public at the time.

Standard 11.11 Discuss the development of federal civil rights

and voting rights in the United States.

Some of the first civil rights were granted by the Bill of Rights. To

guarantee passage and avoid controversy, the Constitution avoided

explicitly granting rights to blacks or women. These battles came later

in U.S. history. Women’s rights pioneers such as Elizabeth Stanton and

Susan Anthony launched a life-long campaign for gaining women’s

suffrage. Suffragists gained voting rights in specific states, but at a

federal level, it took the 19th Amendment to the Constitution,

eventually ratified in 1920. The African American rights movement

progressed with the abolition of slavery during the end of the American

Civil War. However, abolition never came close to ending racial

discrimination. Nonviolent activism by Martin Luther King, Jr. and

others led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This

guaranteed the elimination of blocked registrations and literacy tests.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also banned employment discrimination on

the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin.

Standard 11.12 What are the major social problems and

domestic policy issues in contemporary American society?

(same question twice?; the five options below cover it mostly)

Standard 11.13 Discuss the major social problems and

domestic policy issues in contemporary American society in

terms of immigration, education, economics, civil rights and

One of the most important domestic policy issues today is illegal

immigration from Mexico to the United States. Most immigration is

driven by market forces, yet the United States federal government

refuses to acknowledge the necessity of these workers. The United

States’ border walls and patrols only increase the effort to enter while

killing thousands of trespassers. There seems to be a huge disconnect

between business owners that need cheap labor and the federal

government, insisting no access to work permits or temporary

residency. Some progress towards acceptance of illegal immigrants is

being made, and it will become the major campaign issue for

politicians in the next few years.

Education in the United States, especially science, is falling

rapidly behind. Current trends show that just four years from now, 90

percent of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia. A lack of

emphasis on science and math is proving harmful in a technology-

based world. However, it still isn’t too late for the United States to fix

its K-12 and higher-level education.

Our economic policies on federal spending are out of control. One

of the largest economic policy issues is the U.S. national debt. It stands

at $8.4 trillion as of June 2006, and increases almost $2 billion per day.

Whenever the debt hits a new record, Congress sets a new Federal

Debt Limit; the current one is $9 trillion. Fortunately, other countries

continue to buy our debt as our U.S. dollar miraculously holds most of

its value. However, we might soon have to trade oil and other

commodities in euros because of our economic policies. One proposed

solution is to require cuts to funding somewhere in order to approve

spending elsewhere. This might not work for the federal government at

this time, because it has too many intelligence agencies with

undisclosed budgets, 25,000 private contractors in Iraq, and other

secret war contracts.

Civil rights have been under assault since 9/11 mostly due to the

Bush Administration and a Congress that cares little about the average

person. The president has stated his opinion on free speech: “there

ought to be limits to freedom.” From the USA PATRIOT act, to illegal

wiretapping, indefinite detainment as an “enemy combatant”, no fly

lists, attacks on gay marriage, and a general disregard for the

Constitution and checks and balances, civil rights have been moving

backwards. Nothing short of a regime change will set us on a path to

restoring full and absolute civil rights for all Americans.

The gap between rich and poor has been widening in the United

States. The United States has 269 billionaires, yet more than 10% of

citizens live below the poverty line. An extra 5.4 million citizens have

slipped into poverty in the last six years, and over 46 million people

have no health insurance. Poverty is immensely difficult to tackle in a

paragraph, but federal, state, and local governments could do more to

improve conditions.