HIST 4485

US Politics Since 1900

Study Guide for the Midterm Exam (March 11)


You will need to purchase a bluebook for this exam.  The university bookstore sells bluebooks in two sizes; both sizes are acceptable for this test. 


The exam will consist entirely of IDs and essay questions.  There will be no multiple choice questions, so you will not need a Scantron sheet.  No notes, books, or other study resources will be allowed during the exam.


The questions on the midterm exam will be selected from the following items.  If you prepare and memorize answers for all of the IDs and make sample outlines for four of the essay questions, you will be well prepared for the exam.


Six of the following IDs will appear on the exam, and you will be expected to choose four of them to identify.  Identifications should consist of approximately three sentences (or four or five bullet points) that identify the subject and state its historical and political significance.  You will also be asked to give the date for each ID term.  For legislative acts, you should give an exact date within a three-year margin of error.  For presidents, governors, and senators, you should list the years when they were in office, and for presidential candidates, you should list the year(s) in which they ran for office.  For presidents, you should list their significant pieces of legislation, their political philosophy (e.g., liberal, conservative, centrist, etc.), and the effect that they had on subsequent political history.  For all other figures, you should discuss their significant political actions and impact on American policy or party politics.  Identifications of policy terms or legislative acts should list the provisions of the acts and should discuss the political context in which these pieces of legislation were created and their long-term political significance.  When you identify a term, relate it to broader themes in the course.  Each ID term will be worth up to 10 points on the exam. 


An excellent sample ID might look like this: Dwight Eisenhower, 1953-1961.  Popular former general who governed as a centrist conservative with an international focus.  Responsible for the Interstate Highway Act and the creation of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.  Under his leadership, the GOP abandoned the isolationist / Asia First policies of Robert Taft, and became the party of balanced budgets, anticommunism, and a moderate approach to welfare spending that accepted the legacy of the New Deal. 



ID terms (40 points):


Civil Rights Act of 1964


Democratic Convention of 1968

Warren Harding

Herbert Hoover

House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC)

Hubert Humphrey

“Hundred Days” (the First New Deal)

Lyndon Johnson

John F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy

Robert La Follette

Huey Long

National Recovery Administration

Eleanor Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Social Security Act

Lincoln Steffens

Students for a Democratic Society

Robert Taft

Tammany Hall

Harry Truman

Vietnam War (effect on domestic politics)

Voting Rights Act

War on Poverty

Woodrow Wilson



Essay Questions (60 points):


TWO of the following essay questions will appear on the exam, and you will be required to answer ONE of them.  Your essay should be well organized and should cite specific historical examples (e.g., you should mention specific people, events, etc.) in addition to discussing broader historical trends.  Essays should synthesize material from the lectures and, when applicable, the assigned readings.


  1. Compare the administrations of two Progressive presidents – Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.  What assumptions did they share?  To what extent did their political policies (both foreign and domestic) differ?  Which of these presidents do you view as a more effective political leader?


  1. How might the Progressives have viewed the New Deal?  To what extent did the New Deal reflect Progressive ideology, and to what extent did it go beyond what the Progressives had envisioned?


  1. Compare the New Deal with the Great Society.  Describe the political context in which each of these programs emerged, discuss the various measures associated with each one, and then compare the effects that the New Deal and the Great Society had on American party politics.


  1. What was the “liberal consensus” that operated in the United States from 1932-1968?  Why did the liberal consensus emerge, and why did it remain the dominant ideology of both political parties for more than three decades?  What caused its demise in the late 1960s?


  1. Compare the politics and policies of three postwar presidents: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.  What were some of the common political assumptions that they shared?  To what extent did their policy emphases differ?  How would you evaluate the political effectiveness of their administrations?