Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Democracy in Russia
Chas Algaier
US History
Time Frame:
15-20 minutes
World War I

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • This lesson presents an original AP US History-formatted Short Answer Question, or SAQ.  The SAQ is an integral part of the annual AP Exam and must be practiced and prepared for throughout the year.

  • APUSH teachers need an assortment of SAQs with which to practice throughout the year.  This lesson offers one appropriate to the World War One time frame.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

  • The  SAQ is an integral part of the CollegeBoard's Advanced Placement US History exam; individual state standards can be applied as appropriate.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Included in this lesson plan is a public domain pdf acquired from the internet ; the document is included in the file.
  • Also included is a public domain PowerPoint which further explains how to answer the SAQ using the  ACE (Answer, Cite, Explain) format.

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • The SAQ uses two historical quotes, one from Elihu Root and another from Woodrow Wilson.  Full citations are included with the quotes.

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • This lesson provides an original Short-Answer Question in the AP format for in-class or take-home practice.  If you have already taught the ACE method, simply give the SAQ to the students in your standard testing or practice testing method.   If you haven't taught the ACE method, use the included pdf and powerpoint to explain/teach the method, then give the test.  Students take the test.

Suggested time: 12 minutes


Directions: Read the question carefully and write your responses in the space provided for that question.


Answer all parts of the question. Use complete sentences: an outline or bulleted list alone is not acceptable. You may plan your answers in the exam booklet, but no credit will be given for notes written in this booklet. Only your responses on the designated pages of the exam booklet will be scored. Sources have been edited for the purpose of this exercise.


Use the passages and your knowledge of US History to answer all parts of the question that follows.


"Every American, every true American heart should respond with joy, amid its sorrow, to the feeling that if we enter this war to do our part towards bringing about the victory that is so important for us, we shall be fighting over again the battle of the American democracy.  The  democracy of England, the democracy of France, and now, God be praised, the great democracy of Russia."


Former Secretary of State Elihu Root, Madison Square Garden, New York, March 22, 1917


"Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia?  Russia was known by those who knew it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thoughts, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their habitual attitude towards life.  The autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, character, or purpose; and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their naive majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice, and for peace.  Here is a fit partner for a League of Honor."


Pres. Woodrow Wilson, speech to Congress asking for a Declaration of War, April 2, 1917



a)         Identify and explain one claim about Russian democracy made by Elihu Root.


b)         Explain what the agreement regarding Russian democracy between Root and Wilson says about American global hopes at the time.


c)         Identify and explain one historical difference between what American political leaders believed about Russian democracy and the reality of the Russian political state. 

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • The SAQ is scored according to the AP SAQ Scoring Rubric.  A pdf copy of that rubric, which explains and offers examples not only for the SAQ but also for the Document-Based Question  and the Free-Response Question, is attached. 

Additional resources

Ace the SAQ

AP History Rubrics