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Mastery Tests

Mastery Test 4


Preview the following selection. Then read it and answer the questions.

A transportation system based solely on rivers and roads had one enormous gap—it did not provide an economical way to ship western farm produce directly east to ports engaged in transatlantic trade or to the growing urban market of the seaboard states. The solution offered by the politicians and merchants of the Middle Atlantic and midwestern states was to build a system of canals that linked seaboard cities directly to the Great Lakes, the Ohio, and ultimately the Mississippi.

The best natural location for a canal connecting a river flowing into the Atlantic with one of the Great Lakes was between Albany and Buffalo, a relatively flat stretch of 364 miles. The potential value of such a project had long been recognized, but when it was actually approved by the New York legislature in 1817, it was justly hailed as an enterprise of breathtaking boldness. At that time, no more than about 100 miles of canal existed in the entire United States, and the longest single canal extended only 26 miles. Credit for the project belongs mainly to New York’s vigorous and farsighted governor, De Witt Clinton. He persuaded the New York state legislature to underwrite the project by issuing bonds, and construction began in 1818. In less than two years, 75 miles were already finished and the first tolls were being collected. In 1825, the entire canal was opened with great public acclaim and celebration.

At 364 miles long, 40 feet wide, and 4 feet deep, and containing 84 locks, the Erie Canal was the most spectacular engineering achievement of the young republic. Furthermore, it was a great economic success. It reduced the cost of moving goods from Buffalo to Albany to one-twelfth the previous rate. It not only lowered the cost of western products in the East but caused an even sharper decline in the price of goods imported from the East by Westerners. It also helped to make New York City the commercial capital of the nation. (Taken from America Past and Present, Divine, Breen, Fredrickson, Williams, Gross and Brands, 7th Ed, New York: Pearson, 2005, pg 257-258)

Why would the builders choose a flat spot to build a canal?


2.   The word "vigorous" used to describe De Witt Clinton has which of the following connotations?  

3.   The following statement: "it [the canal] was justly hailed as an enterprise of breathtaking boldness" is what?  

4.   "The Erie Canal was the most spectacular engineering achievement of the young republic." This sentence is which of the following?  

5.   Which of the following can be inferred from the text?  


Preview the following selection. Then read it and answer the questions.

Chicago's early boosters bragged that nature had given their city everything it needed to be great: a river running through it and a harbor on busy Lake Michigan. What the boosters did not say was that the river was short and shallow-"a sluggish, slimy stream, too lazy to cleanse itself," a visitor noted-or that sand often blocked the entrance to the harbor. To make Chicago work, humans would have to intrude upon nature to change the river and clear the harbor, creating out of "first nature" a "second nature," as environmental historian William Cronon put it.

They did just that. In remaking "first nature," government-financed engineers deepened the river and erected barriers to the sand. Then they turned to another of nature's challenges-the thick, cloying mud that plagued Chicago whenever it rained. Using muscle and jacks, they simply lifted the city a dozen feet out of the mud, producing "second nature" once again.

The city, now raised to working level, next turned to the railroads, the dazzling technological innovation that mastered nature to transform 19th century life. Unlike rivers and canals, railroads could go virtually anywhere, and many of them wound up going to Chicago, which became the main terminal point for trains heading east and west. It was "natural" for them to do so. Chicagoans believed, and they certainly seemed right. By the early 1890s, one-twenty-fifth of all railroad mileage in the world terminated in Chicago.

They terminated there, in part, to drop off and pick up the city's most recent tinkering with nature, the pigs and cows destined to feed the country's growing population. A city that exuded life and growth, Chicago became filled with death, famed for "the Chicago style" of killing pigs. It was, said British writer Rudyard Kipling after visiting the city, a "death factory."

To organize the killing, the giant Union Stockyards opened on Christmas Day, 1865, built just south of the city on a marshy prairie prone to flooding. "Second nature" again took charge. Thirty miles of pipes drained the water from the prairie. The water, carrying with it waste from the stockyards, discharged into the Chicago River, which soon smelled horrific and carried disease. Within the stockyards, 10 miles of troughs dispersed corn and hay among 2000 pens, to feed at any one time 21,000 head of cattle, 75,000 pigs, and 22,000 sheep. Sidetracks allowed animals to be brought into the yards for slaughter and then carried the resulting products out to distant markets. (Taken from America Past and Present, Divine, Breen, Fredrickson, Williams, Gross and Brands, 7th Ed, New York: Pearson, 2005, pgs 526-527)

"A sluggish, slimy stream, too lazy to cleanse itself" is an example of which of the following?


7.   What does the article imply about "Chicagoans?"  

8.   What does the term "second nature" seem to indicate?  

9.   Kipling was using which of the following when he referred to Chicago as a "death factory?"  

10.   The Chicago River, "which...carried disease," could be called what?  


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