SAT Subject US History Practice Question 901: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 901

72. Many historians believe that Stephen A. Douglas wrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act because he

A. wanted a railroad to the West that would start in Chicago.
B. wanted votes from Easterners for a future presidential run.
C. wanted to expand farming because he was for the Homestead Act.
D. wanted to please the South by opening up more land for cotton farming.
E. opposed slavery.

Correct Answer: A


Stephen Douglas tried to provide the opening for a railroad route to the West that would start in his home state of Illinois. At least this is the supposition of many historians-no one knows for sure. The real problem, of course, was that to get the swing votes of Southerners in Congress, he agreed to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise line, opening up the question of slavery in Kansas and Nebraska. Allowing the opportunity for slavery to spread north of the Missouri Compromise line is hardly an act of someone seriously opposed to slavery (E). Later, in the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, Lincoln tried to show that Douglas simply didn't care about slavery. There is no evidence Douglas was thinking of a presidential bid (B) in 1854. Although a future presidential run might have been in his mind, it's unlikely the Kansas-Nebraska Act was part of any plan to get Eastern support for a presidential bid, because the Northeast overwhelmingly opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. There is no direct relationship between the Homestead Act (1862) and the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854). The Act would not open up more land for cotton farming (D), because Kansas and Nebraska did not have a suitable climate for cotton production.

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