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# Tocqueville, apparently, was wrong. Jacksonian Americ

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Tocqueville, apparently, was wrong. Jacksonian Americ  [#permalink]

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29 Jan 2019, 03:30
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Question 1
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based on 19 sessions

63% (01:58) correct 37% (02:16) wrong

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Question 2
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based on 20 sessions

20% (00:28) correct 80% (00:29) wrong

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Question 3
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65% (01:16) correct 35% (01:03) wrong

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Tocqueville, apparently, was wrong. Jacksonian America was not a fluid, egalitarian society where individual wealth and poverty were ephemeral conditions. At least so argues E. Pessen in his iconoclastic study of the very rich in the United States between 1825 and 1850. Pessen does present a quantity of examples, together with some refreshingly intelligible statistics, to establish the existence of an inordinately wealthy class. Though active in commerce or the professions, most of the wealthy were not self-made but had inherited family fortunes. In no sense mercurial, these great fortunes survived the financial panics that destroyed lesser ones. Indeed, in several cities, the wealthiest one percent constantly increased its share until by 1850 it owned half of the community's wealth. Although these observations are true, Pessen overestimates their importance by concluding from them that the undoubted progress toward inequality in the late eighteenth century continued in the Jacksonian period and that the United States was a class-ridden. plutocratic society even before industrialization.
According to the passage, Pessen indicates that all of the following were true of the very wealthy in the United States between 1825 and 1850 EXCEPT:

(A)They formed a distinct upper class.
(B)Many of them were able to increase their holdings.
(C)Some of them worked as professionals or in business.
(D)Most of them accumulated their own fortunes.
(E)Many of them retained their wealth in spite of financial upheavals.

Spoiler: :: OA
D

The author's attitude toward Pessen's presentation of statistics can be best described as

(A) disapproving
(B) shocked
(C) suspicious
(D) amused
(E) laudatory

Spoiler: :: OA
E

Which of the following best states the author's main point?

(A) Pessen's study has overturned the previously established view of the social and economic structure of early nineteenth-century America. (B) Tocqueville's analysis of the United States in the Jacksonian era remains the definitive account of this period.
(C) Pessen's study is valuable primarily because it shows the continuity of the social system in the United States throughout the nineteenth century.
(D) The social patterns and political power of the extremely wealthy in the United States between 1825 and 1850 are well documented.
(E) Pessen challenges a view of the social and economic system in the United States from 1825 to 1850, but he draws conclusions that are incorrect.

Spoiler: :: OA
E

Source: GRE Official Material. The discussion could also find here https://greprepclub.com/forum/tocquevil ... -9116.html

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Re: Tocqueville, apparently, was wrong. Jacksonian Americ  [#permalink]

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29 Jan 2019, 03:48
A short but very troublesome passage as it is difficult to understand. Nevertheless, the flow of thought is palpable.
2 mins 51 secs to two out of three correct.

Detail question and can be found in the middle of the passage.
According to the passage, Pessen indicates that all of the following were true of the very wealthy in the United States between 1825 and 1850 EXCEPT:
(A)They formed a distinct upper class. Mentioned in the passage. Top 1%'s wealth was not ephemeral (meaning short-lived) and hence they were distinct.
(B)Many of them were able to increase their holdings. Also, verbatim from the passage.
(C)Some of them worked as professionals or in business. This is also mentioned in the passage - "Though active in commerce or the professions, most of"
(D)Most of them accumulated their own fortunes. Perfect - Pessen states that the fortunes were mostly accumulated and hereditary and not earned by them.
(E)Many of them retained their wealth in spite of financial upheavals. Also mentioned.

Tricky because some of the words in the options can confuse those whose first language is not English. Also, the author ends with stating that Pessen though did make correct observations his conclusions were not on point.
The author's attitude toward Pessen's presentation of statistics can be best described as
(A) disapproving TRAP - this focusses only on the latter half of the last conclusion. However, the entire passage focusses on how the observations made by Pessen's study were true. VERY TRICKY!
(B) shocked Out of scope. No reason to suspect shock.
(C) suspicious Again, same as above.
(D) amused Again, why would the author be amused? Discard.
(E) laudatory Purely out of the process of elimination as well as the fact that the author has spent the entire passage in describing the theory by Pessen the author surely does agree with the observations. Hence this is the correct choice. Tricky.

Need to know the meaning of the word "iconoclastic" - which means challenging the set principles. Also, the opening line is a giveaway that Pessen is stating that someone is wrong. Next, the author does agree that Pessen's observations were right on, but goes on to say that the conclusions drawn from them were overestimations and hence incorrect.
Which of the following best states the author's main point?
(A) Pessen's study has overturned the previously established view of the social and economic structure of early nineteenth-century America. Too extreme to be the main point. Also, does not capture the essence of the passage.
(B) Tocqueville's analysis of the United States in the Jacksonian era remains the definitive account of this period. 180 Opposite of what is mentioned in the passage. The first line is evidence for it.
(C) Pessen's study is valuable primarily because it shows the continuity of the social system in the United States throughout the nineteenth century. Again, 180 opposite of main idea.
(D) The social patterns and political power of the extremely wealthy in the United States between 1825 and 1850 are well documented. TRAP - they are well documented but this is not the full picture. Hence not the main point.
(E) Pessen challenges a view of the social and economic system in the United States from 1825 to 1850, but he draws conclusions that are incorrect. Perfect - this is exactly what we are looking for.

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Re: Tocqueville, apparently, was wrong. Jacksonian Americ   [#permalink] 29 Jan 2019, 03:48
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# Tocqueville, apparently, was wrong. Jacksonian Americ

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