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In 1862, Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered the excerpt below as part of a lecture called "American Civilization" at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
At this moment in America the aspects of political society absorb attention. In every house, from Canada to the Gulf, the children ask the serious father,—"What is the news of05 the war today? and when will there be better times?" The boys have no new clothes, no gifts, no journeys; the girls must go without new bonnets; boys and girls find their education, this year, less liberal and complete. All10 the little hopes that heretofore made the year pleasant are deferred. The state of the country fills us with anxiety and stern duties. We have attempted to hold together two states of civilization: a higher state, where labor and15 the tenure of land and the right of suffrage are democratical; and a lower state, in which the old military tenure of prisoners or slaves, and of power and land in a few hands, makes an oligarchy: we have attempted to hold20 these two states of society under one law. But the rude and early state of society does not work well with the later, nay, works badly, and has poisoned politics, public morals and social intercourse in the Republic, now for25 many years. The times put this question,—Why cannot the best civilization be extended over the whole country, since the disorder of the less civilized portion menaces the existence of30 the country? Is this secular progress we have described, this evolution of man to the highest powers, only to give him sensibility, and not to bring duties with it? Is he not to make his knowledge practical? to stand and to35 withstand? Is not civilization heroic also? Is it not for action? has it not a will? … America is another word for Opportunity. Our whole history appears like a last effort of the Divine Providence on behalf of the human race;40 and a literal slavish following of precedents, as by a justice of the peace, is not for those who at this hour lead the destinies of this people. The evil you contend with has taken alarming proportions, and you still content45 yourself with parrying the blows it aims, but, as if enchanted, abstain from striking at the cause. […] Emancipation is the demand of civilization. That is a principle; everything else is an50 intrigue. This is a progressive policy;—puts the whole people in healthy, productive, amiable position,—puts every man in the South in just and natural relations with every man in the North, laborer with laborer.55 The power of Emancipation is this, that it alters the atomic social constitution of the Southern people. Now their interest is in keeping out white labor; then, when they must pay wages, their interest will be to let it60 in, to get the best labor, and, if they fear their blacks, to invite Irish, German, and American laborers. Thus, whilst Slavery makes and keeps disunion, Emancipation removes the whole objection to union. Emancipation65 at one stroke elevates the poor white of the South, and identifies his interest with that of the Northern laborer. […] The end of all political struggle is to establish morality as the basis of all legislation. It70 is not free institutions, 'tis not a republic, 'tis not a democracy, that is the end,—no, but only the means. Morality is the object of government. We want a state of things in which crime shall not pay. This is the consolation75 on which we rest in the darkness of the future and the afflictions of today, that the government of the world is moral, and does forever destroy what is not.
1. What is the general purpose of this passage?
2. What is Emerson's overall attitude toward politics?
3. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
4. Lines 6-9 ("The boys . . . complete") most clearly indicate that
5. As used in line 12, the word "stern" most closely means
6. What is the purpose of the questions in lines 26-36?
7. Emerson frames the philosophical struggle underlying the nation's conflict as one between
8. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
9. As used in line 40, the word "following" most closely means
10. What option best summarizes the paragraph in lines 56-67?
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