New SAT Reading Practice Test 46: Women's Suffrage

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Women's Suffrage

The United States Constitution has been amended 27 times since its ratification. Rights such as freedom of speech, religion, and press, for example, are granted by the First Amendment. This passage focuses on the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The American political landscape is constantly
shifting on a myriad of issues, but the voting process
itself has changed over the years as well. Electronic
ballot casting, for example, provides the public with
05instantaneous results, and statisticians are more
accurate than ever at forecasting our next presi-
dent. Voting has always been viewed as an intrinsic
American right and was one of the major reasons
for the nation's secession from Britain's monarchical
10rule. Unfortunately, although all men were consti-
tutionally deemed "equal," true equality of the sexes
was not extended to the voting booths until 1920.
The American women's suffrage movement began
in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia
15Mott organized the Seneca Falls Convention. The
meeting, initially an attempt to have an open dia-
logue about women's rights, drew a crowd of nearly
three hundred women and included several dozen
men. Topics ranged from a woman's role in society
20to law, but the issue of voting remained a conten-
tious one. A freed slave named Frederick Douglass
spoke eloquently about the importance of women in
politics and swayed the opinion of those in attend-
ance. At the end of the convention, one hundred
25people signed the Seneca Falls Declaration, which
listed "immediate admission to all the rights and
privileges which belong to [women] as citizens of
the United States."
Stanton and Mott's first victory came thirty years
30later when a constitutional amendment allowing
women to vote was proposed to Congress in 1878.
Unfortunately, election practices were already a
controversial issue, as unfair laws that diminished
the African American vote had been passed during
35Reconstruction. Questionable literacy tests and a
"vote tax" levied against the poor kept minority
turnout to a minimum. And while several states
allowed women to vote, federal consensus was
hardly as equitable. The rest of the world, however,
40was taking note—and women were ready to act.
In 1893, New Zealand allowed women the right
to vote, although women could not run for office in
New Zealand. Other countries began reviewing and
ratifying their own laws as well. The United King-
45dom took small steps by allowing married women to
vote in local elections in 1894. By 1902, all women
in Australia could vote in elections, both local and
The suffrage movement in America slowly built
50momentum throughout the early twentieth century
and exploded during World War I. President Wood-
row Wilson called the fight abroad a war for democ-
racy, which many suffragettes viewed as hypocritical.
Democracy, after all, was hardly worth fighting for
55when half of a nation's population was disqualified
based on gender. Public acts of civil disobedience,
rallies, and marches galvanized pro-women advo-
cates while undermining defenders of the status quo.
Posters read "Kaiser Wilson" and called into ques-
60tion the authenticity of a free country with unjust
laws. The cry for equality was impossible to ignore
and, in 1919, with the support of President Wilson,
Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the
Constitution. It was ratified one year later by two-
65thirds of the states, effectively changing the Consti-
tution. Only one signatory from the original Seneca
Falls Declaration lived long enough to cast her first
ballot in a federal election.
America's election laws were far from equal
70for all, as tactics to dissuade or prohibit African
Americans from effectively voting were still rou-
tinely employed. However, the suffrage movement
laid the groundwork for future generations. Laws,
like people's minds, could change over time. The
75civil rights movement in the mid- to late twentieth
century brought an end to segregation and so-
called Jim Crow laws that stifled African American
advancement. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was
the final nail in the coffin; what emerged was a free
80nation guided by elections determined not by skin
color or gender, but by the ballot box.

1. The stance the author takes in the passage is best described as that of

  • A. an advocate of women's suffrage proposing a constitutional amendment.
  • B. a legislator reviewing the arguments for and against women's suffrage.
  • C. a scholar evaluating the evolution and impact of the women's suffrage movement.
  • D. a historian summarizing the motivations of women's suffrage leaders.

2. Lines 69-70 ("America's election laws…equal for all") most clearly support which explicit claim?

  • A. The founders of the Constitution did not provide for free and fair elections.
  • B. The United States still had work to do to secure equal voting rights for some people.
  • C. Most women in the United States did not want suffrage and equal rights.
  • D. The women's suffrage movement perpetuated discriminatory voting laws.

3. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 13-14 ("The American…in 1848")
  • B. Lines 41-42 ("In 1893…to vote")
  • C. Lines 63-64 ("Congress…the Constitution")
  • D. Lines 78-79 ("The Voting Rights Act…the coffin")

4. As used in line 57, "galvanized" most nearly means

  • A. displaced.
  • B. divided.
  • C. excited.
  • D. organized.

5. The main rhetorical effect of lines 73-74 ("Laws, like…could change") is to

  • A. connect the success of legislative reform with shifts in public sentiment.
  • B. dissuade reformers from focusing on grassroots activity rather than political campaigns.
  • C. evaluate the effectiveness of judicial rulings based on popular response to public polls.
  • D. reject the need for legal actions and court proceedings to attain social change.

6. As a whole, the passage most strongly suggests which conclusion?

  • A. American government adapts to the changing needs and ideas of society.
  • B. The best-organized reform movements are most likely to achieve their goals.
  • C. The nation is more vulnerable to change during the confusion of wartime.
  • D. The civil rights movement would not have happened without women suffragists.

7. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?

  • A. Lines 3-7 ("Electronic ballot casting…our next president")
  • B. Lines 7-10 ("Voting has…monarchical rule")
  • C. Lines 15-19 ("The meeting…dozen men")
  • D. Lines 74-78 ("The civil rights…advancement")

8. The graphic most clearly illustrates which idea?

  • A. The Nineteenth Amendment happened as a result of World War I.
  • B. The states slowed reform of national voting rights laws.
  • C. Women's suffrage resulted from a slow evolution of events.
  • D. Acts of civil disobedience won support for suffrage in Congress.

9. In line 60, the word "authenticity" most nearly means

  • A. reliability.
  • B. realism.
  • C. legitimacy.
  • D. truth.

10. The passage suggests that President Wilson contributed to the success of the women's suffrage movement by

  • A. circulating government propaganda in support of women's suffrage.
  • B. framing the fight in World War I as a fight for democracy and freedom.
  • C. engaging in a foreign war to distract the nation from political debate.
  • D. working with legislators to write the Nineteenth Amendment.

11. The graphic helps support which statement referred to in the passage?

  • A. Early women suffragists did not live to vote in national elections.
  • B. The Nineteenth Amendment passed within a few years of its introduction.
  • C. A majority of state representatives opposed women's suffrage in 1918.
  • D. Many state governments approved suffrage before the federal government did.