SAT Subject US History Practice Question 674: Answer and Explanation
Which of the following statements is consistent with the data in the graphs above and with trends in American history from 1865 to 1900?
A. Mechanization greatly benefited farmers, as output of corn nearly tripled between 1865 and 1900.
B. General Sherman's march to the sea during the Civil War destroyed farming equipment, which led to a decline in corn prices after 1865.
C. The Radical Republicans' policy of giving freedmen 40 acres and a mule during Reconstruction led to excessive corn production.
D. The inflationary policies of the government between 1865 and 1900 did not benefit farmers.
E. Mechanization led to a glut of corn on the market and to reduced prices per bushel.
Correct Answer: E
Mechanization was a double-edged sword for farmers. It increased output, but with so much corn and wheat on the market, prices fell. Farmers then had difficulty paying back the loans that they had taken out to buy the new equipment. The graph shows a decrease in prices, which did not benefit farmers (A). In addition, between 1865 and 1900 the federal government both maintained the gold standard for currency and kept the same amount of money in circulation, which led to deflation, not inflation (D). General Sherman's march to the sea (B) destroyed infrastructure in Georgia, but corn was produced in the Midwestern states. Though the Radical Republicans advocated giving freed men and women "40 acres and a mule" (C), the government never implemented the policy.