Reading Comprehension Quiz

[A new interlinear poem will be available each Monday: Weekly Interlinear Poem .]

Use the dictionary, the acronym finder, and the word origins dictionary (links above) as needed. A new quiz is available each Monday through Thursday. This is the quiz for December 24.

James Buchanan, Jr. (died 1868) was the fifteenth President of the United States. As president he was a "doughface" (a Northerner with Southern sympathies). As Southern states declared their secession in the lead-up to the American Civil War, he held that secession was illegal but that going to war to stop it was also illegal, and hence he remained inactive. His terrible performance just before the Civil War has been assessed as the worst single failure by any President of the United States. Before the presidency of George W. Bush, Buchanan was ranked by many scholars as America's worst president.

In his inaugural address Buchanan referred to the territorial question (allowing slavery or not allowing it in the territories not yet accepted as states) as "happily, a matter of but little practical importance," since the Supreme Court was about to settle it "speedily and finally." Two days later, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivered the Dred Scott Decision, asserting that Congress had no constitutional power to exclude slavery in the territories. Buchanan was widely believed to have been personally involved in the outcome of the case, with many Northerners recalling Taney's whispering to Buchanan during Buchanan's inauguration. Buchanan wished to see the territorial question resolved by the Supreme Court in favor of allowing slavery. To further this, Buchanan personally lobbied Justice Grier to vote with the majority to uphold the right of owning slave property. Abraham Lincoln denounced him as an accomplice of the Slave Power (the political power of the slaveholding class in the South), which Lincoln saw as a conspiracy of slaveowners to seize control of the federal government and nationalize slavery.

Buchanan threw the full prestige of his administration behind congressional approval of the Lecompton Constitution in Kansas, which would have admitted Kansas to the Union as a slave state, going so far as to offer patronage appointments and even cash bribes in exchange for votes. Even though the voters in Kansas had rejected the Lecompton Constitution, Buchanan managed to pass his bill through the House, but it was blocked in the Senate by Northerners led by Stephen A. Douglas.

1. A doughface was
A. a paleface.
B. a Southerner.
C. a Northerner with Southern sympathies.
D. a sickly person.
2. The Latin origin of secede (secession) meant
A. to go apart.
B. to plant.
C. to irritate.
D. to to travel afar.
3. Slave Power was
A. the power of slaves.
B. the politial power of the slaveholding class in the South.
C. the power of the anti-slave movement.
D. the power of farmers.
4. Roger B. Taney was
A. an enemy of Buchanan.
B. a member of Congress.
C. opposed to slaveholding.
D. a believer in slaveholding.

The information comes from Wikipedia.

Write down your answers and then see Answer Key below.

Answer Key: 1-C..........2-A..........3-B..........4-D
Corrections? Questions? Comments? E-mail Robert Jackson at