SAT Subject US History Practice Question 785: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 785

46. The "Turner Thesis," put forward by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in the 1890s, held that

A. Darwin's ideas about the natural world could be applied to human communities.
B. America, if it hoped to compete with European powers, must build up its navy and acquire overseas colonies.
C. it was the "manifest destiny" of the United States to expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
D. the frontier experience had produced a practical, self-reliant people who valued individualism and freedom.
E. slavery had developed an excessively negative reputation and that African Americans had been better off under slavery than living in the Jim Crow South.

Correct Answer: D


The Turner thesis held that the pioneering experience gave Americans a sense of optimism and individualism. Social Darwinism (A) was most closely associated with the writer William Graham Sumner. It was Alfred T. Mahan who pushed forcibly for an expansionist foreign policy and a strong navy (B). "Manifest Destiny" (C) was an idea held by a large cross section of the American population in the 19th century. Turner was not known for being outspoken on issues of race (E).

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