SAT Subject US History Practice Question 794: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 794

55. The event that brought the issue of civil service reform to the fore during the Gilded Age was

A. the Credit Mobilier scandal.
B. a report in McClure's magazine chronicling the extent of the patronage system.
C. a series of pointed cartoons by Thomas Nast.
D. the assassination of President Garfield.
E. the large number of civil servants fired by Democratic President Cleveland when he assumed office.

Correct Answer: D


President Garfield was assassinated by a party loyalist who felt he had been passed over for a job. The attention generated by the event led to the passage of the Pendleton Act (1883), which attempted to create a civil service based on merit rather than patronage. The Credit Mobilier scandal (A), which was exposed in 1872, concerned corruption in railroad construction as well as in the Grant Administration. McClure's magazine (B) was known for printing muckraking articles in the early 20th century, notably Ida Tarbell's expose of the Standard Oil Company (1902-1905). Thomas Nast (C) was probably the most influential political cartoonist in U.S. history. He was most prolific in the 1860s and 1870s and was best known for bringing down "Boss" William Tweed of New York City. Whenever a new party wins the White House, there is a change in personnel. This was the case with Cleveland (E), but it was not seen as a catalyst to civil service reform.

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