Brief Review in United States History and Government

The World in Uncertain Times, 1950–Present

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This task is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents and is based on the accompanying documents (1–6).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: The Preamble to the United States Constitution reads: "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."

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 whether the American government, since 1950, has achieved the goals established for our nation in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States.

PART A: SHORT ANSWER

Document #1

"One thing became clear: that in the black movement I had been fighting for someone else's oppression, and now there was a way that I could fight for my own freedom, and I was going to be much stronger than I ever was."
—Cathy Cade, women's rights activist

1. What experience motivated Cathy Cade to work for the delivery of the "blessings of liberty" to women?

Document #2

Selected Great Society Legislation, 1964–1966

Legislation Purpose
Economic Opportunity Act, 1964 Created to combat causes of poverty, such as illiteracy and unemployment.
Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), 1964 Sent volunteers to help people in poor communities and set up community action programs to give the poor a voice in defining local housing, health, and education policies.
Medicare, 1965 Provided hospital and low-cost medical insurance for most Americans aged 65 and older.
Medicaid, 1965 Provided low-cost health insurance for low-income Americans of any age who could not afford private health insurance.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 Provided education aid to states based on the number of children from low-income households.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 1965 Established to oversee the nation's housing needs and to develop and rehabilitate urban communities. HUD also provided money for rent subsidies and low-income housing.
Water Quality Act, 1965
Clean Water Restoration Act, 1965
Established water and air quality standards and provided funding for environmental research.
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, 1966 Established safety standards for all vehicles to protect consumers.
2. How did Lyndon Johnson's Great Society "promote the general welfare"?

Document #3

"The issues called the cold war … must be met with determination, confidence, and sophistication … [C]hannels of communication should be kept open. … Our discussion, public or private, should be marked by civility, our manners should conform to our own dignity and power and to our good repute throughout the world."
—Secretary of State Dean Rusk in a speech at the University of California, Berkeley, California, March 20, 1961

"[I]t is really astounding that our government has never stated its purpose to be that of complete victory over the tyrannical forces of international communism. … And we need an official act, such as the resumption of nuclear testing, to show our own peoples and the other freedom-loving peoples of the world that we mean business."
—Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona in a address to the United States Senate, July 14, 1961

3. How do the two views above express the different opinions on how the American government should "provide for the common defense"?

Document #4

Public Opinion of U.S. Involvement in Vietnam

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Johnson is handling the situation in Vietnam?"
  Approve Disapprove No opinion
December 1965 56% 26% 18%
May 1966 41% 37% 22%
April 1967 43% 42% 15%
July 1967 33% 52% 15%
December 1967 39% 49% 12%
February 1968* 35% 50% 15%
"In view of the developments since we entered the fighting in Vietnam, do you think the United States made a mistake sending troops to fight in Vietnam?"
  Yes, made mistake No, did not No opinion
May 1966 36% 49% 15%
April 1967 37% 50% 13%
July 1967 41% 48% 11%
February 1968** 49% 41% 10%

*During Tet Offensive
**After Tet Offensive
Source: The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1935–1971, by George H. Gallup

4. According to the chart above, what happened to the American public's belief that the Vietnam conflict was necessary to the "common defense" of the country?

Document #5

"Nixon acts as if the kids had it coming. But shooting into a crowd of students, that is violence. They say it could happen again if the [National] Guard is threatened. They consider stones threat enough to kill children. I think the violence comes from the government."
—Mother of Jeffrey Glenn Miller, a student killed at Kent State University, quoted in Life magazine, May 15, 1970

5. What opinion did this speaker have about the actions of the National Guard at Kent State University?
6. Who does this speaker blame for the events at Kent State?

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: The Preamble to the United States Constitution reads: "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."

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

Discuss whether the America government, since 1950, has achieved the goals established for our nation in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States.

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.