Brief Review in United States History and Government

The United States in an Age of Global Crisis

Document-Based Essay

This task is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents and is based on the accompanying documents (1–6). Some of the documents have been edited for the purposes of this question. As you analyze the documents, take into account both the source of each document and any point of view that may be presented in the document.

Directions: This document-based question consists of two parts: Part A and Part B. In Part A, you are to read each document and answer the question or questions that follow the document. In Part B, you are to write an essay based on the information in the documents and your knowledge of United States history.

Your first name only:

Your teacher's e-mail address:

Obtain the correct e-mail address from your teacher
(e.g., "teachers_name@somewhere.com")

Historical Context: World events after 1939 drew the United States into greater international involvement. These events forced the United States to abandon its isolationist foreign policy in favor of more active global involvement.

Task: Using information from the documents and your knowledge of United States history and government, answer the questions that follow each document in Part A. Your answers to the questions will help you write the Part B essay in which you will be asked to discuss how the need for military security and the protection of democratic ideals have shaped American foreign policy since 1939.

PART A: SHORT ANSWER

Document #1

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
     The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
     As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. … I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
     I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."
—Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Address to Congress," December 8, 1941

1. Why did President Roosevelt believe that the attack on Pearl Harbor justified the United States officially declaring war on Japan?

Document #2

"[The Soviet Union] cannot be easily defeated or discouraged by a single victory on the part of its opponents…but only by intelligent long-range policies…no less steady in their purpose…than those of the Soviet Union itself. In these circumstances, it is clear that the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies."
—Foreign service officer George Kennan, July 1947

2. What foreign policy position did Kennan believe the United States should take toward the Soviet Union?

Document #3

"The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence…will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking … such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."
—The North Atlantic Treaty, April 4, 1949

3. How did joining NATO demonstrate the long-term commitment of the United States to international involvement?

Document #4

"I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation [takeover] by armed minorities or by outside pressures. … I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes. …
     I therefore ask the Congress to provide authority for assistance to Greece and Turkey in the amount of $400,000,000. …
     The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world—and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation. Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of events. I am confident that the Congress will face these responsibilities squarely."
—President Harry S Truman, Address Before a Joint Session of Congress, March 12, 1947

4. Based on this quote, why did President Truman believe that it was in the best interests of the United States to help Greece and Turkey in their fight against a communist takeover?

Document #5

Berlin Airlift Statistics, 1948–1949

  Flights Cargo (short tons)
Total Food Coal Other
USA 189,963 1,783,573 296,319 1,421,119 66,135
UK 87,841 541,937 240,386 164,911 136,640
France 424 896 unknown unknown unknown
Total 278,228 2,326,406      

Source: United States Airforce in Europe, Berlin Airlift Quick Facts.

5. How does the chart above demonstrate the commitment that the United States made to prevent the Soviet Union from crippling West Berlin in the blockade of 1948–1949?

Document #6

"Our purpose in the Persian Gulf remains constant: to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, to restore Kuwait's legitimate government, and to ensure the stability and security of this critical region. Let me make clear what I mean by the region's stability and security. … We seek a Persian Gulf where conflict is no longer the rule, where the strong are neither tempted nor able to intimidate the weak.
     "Most Americans know instinctively why we are in the Gulf. They know we had to stop [Iraqi leader] Saddam [Hussein] now, not later. … They know we must make sure that control of the world's oil resources does not fall into his hands, only to finance further aggression. They know that we need to build a new, enduring peace, based not on arms races and confrontation but on shared principles and the rule of law."
—President George Bush, State of the Union Address, January 29, 1991

6. According to this quote, why did President Bush believe that American involvement in the Persian Gulf War was necessary?

PART B: ESSAY

Directions: Using information from the documents provided, and your knowledge of United States history, write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, several paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Historical Context: World events after 1939 drew the United States into greater international involvement. These events forced the United States to abandon its isolationist foreign policy in favor of more active global involvement.

Task: Using information from the documents and your knowledge of United States history and government, write an essay in which you:

Discuss how the need for military security and the protection of democratic ideals have shaped American foreign policy since 1939.

Guidelines: When writing your essay, be sure to

  • address all aspects of the Task by accurately analyzing and interpreting at least four documents.
  • incorporate information from the documents in the body of the essay.
  • incorporate relevant outside information throughout the essay.
  • richly support the theme with relevant facts, examples, and details.
  • write a well-developed essay that consistently demonstrates a logical and clean plan of organization.
  • introduce the theme by establishing a framework that is beyond a simple restatement of the Task or Historical Context and conclude the essay with a summation of the theme.

When you're done, your answers to your teacher.