SAT Subject US History Practice Question 815: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 815

76. "Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests, and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their [the wealthy classes'] demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

In this 1896 speech, William Jennings Bryan is advocating

A. government subsidies to farmers.
B. free and unlimited coinage of silver.
C. passage of higher protective tariffs.
D. reduction of the workday to eight hours.
E. the enactment of laws restricting immigration.

Correct Answer: B


The excerpt is from the "Cross of Gold" speech by William Jennings Bryan, who ran for president on the Democratic ticket with the support of the Populist Party in 1896. It is one of the most cited speeches in U.S. history. The gold standard was harmful to farmers, he argued. Let money be backed by silver as well, thus allowing the government to issue more money, which would cause inflation and help debtors, including most farmers. Agrarian organizations would not support higher tariffs (C); farmers generally want free trade so their products are more desirable on the international market. Though the Populist Party supported subsidies for farmers (A), an eight-hour day for industrial workers (D), and restrictions on immigration (E), this excerpt is only a critique of the gold standard.

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