SAT Subject US History Practice Question 1004: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 1004

85. All of the following books could be used to justify the prevailing economic conditions in Gilded Age America EXCEPT

A. Risen From the Ranks (1874) by Horatio Alger.
B. What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1883) by William Graham Sumner.
C. Looking Backward: 2000-1887 (1888) by Edward Bellamy.
D. The Wealth of Nations (1776) by Adam Smith.
E. The Gospel of Wealth (1889) by Andrew Carnegie.

Correct Answer: C


Bellamy presented a scathing indictment of industrial capitalism and imagined a socialist utopia in its place. All other authors could be invoked to justify the economic conditions of the Gilded Age. Alger (A) wrote "rags-to-riches" stories in which poor boys achieve great success with hard work and a little luck. Sumner (B) championed the ideas of social Darwinism, which saw laissez-faire capitalism as a testing ground in which the fittest survive. Smith (D) wrote in the previous century, but his description of the economy guided by market forces-the invisible hand-sat well with Gilded Age advocates of laissez-faire capitalism. Carnegie (E) supported the idea of free-market capitalism but argued that the captains of industry should give something back to the community.

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