Can You Score 24/30 on This Difficult American History Quiz?

By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Jack Kightlinger

About This Quiz

On July 4, 1776, a new nation declared itself in the Declaration of Independence, a document unique in the history of humankind. In the Declaration, the United States (rather politely) indicated that it intended to separate from Britain and establish a new country. King Henry responded with death threats, but it was too late – America's story had already begun. What do you know about the history of the United States?

You probably already know that America isn’t a pure democracy. Instead, it’s a type of republic, one that allows its people to vote for their leaders. What do you know about the men and women who helped America emerge from the backwaters of the world into a true superpower?

From the start, America has experienced plenty of armed conflict, sometimes by no intentions of its own. Do you know the deadliest battles in this nation’s history? And do recall the wars that the United States found simply to maintain its own survival?

Revolutions and World Wars aside, American ingenuity has played a role in technological and democratic advances in the lives of countless people, but its society has inflicted a share of hardship, too. Let’s see if you really know the failures and the triumphs of the United States in our history quiz!

What was the name of the first permanent settlement in the New World?

In 1607, English settlers arrived and established Jamestown, Virginia, England's first permanent settlement in the New World. Early settlers nearly abandoned the area but eventually survived and managed to build their lives in Jamestown.


In 1775, what happened at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts?

In April 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord marked the opening salvos of the American Revolution. For years, the fate of the colonies and their declaration of independence was very much in doubt.


Who was Harriet Tubman?

Harriet Tubman was a Maryland slave who escaped her violent master and then set about rescuing other slaves. She coordinated efforts on the Underground Railroad, undertaking dangerous missions to free other people their suffering in bondage.


What's the name of an act that contributed to the start of the American Revolution?

In 1765, the British created the Stamp Act, which forced its New World colonies to pay a tax on paper. A resulting outcry helped fuel the American Revolution.


Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

In public, Thomas Jefferson was not much of an orator. But give the guy a quill and ink, and he could burn down an empire -- his Declaration of Independence is still regarded as a turning point in the history of democracy.


The 18th Amendment pertained to which issue?

In 1920, the 18th Amendment went into effect, banning alcohol and its distribution. The Prohibition era really did decrease America's alcohol consumption ... but not for long. Vast criminal enterprises benefited from Prohibition, particularly a mob boss named Al Capone.


What was the first battle of the American Civil War?

In April 1861, Confederate forces began a bombardment of Union troops at Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina. There were no casualties, but the Union surrendered the fort, and the Civil War was on.


What happened on December 7, 1941?

It was a day that will live "in infamy," accordingly to the timeless words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, triggering America's rise in World War II.


Who was the SECOND president of the United States?

In 1797, John Adams took office as the second president of America. Adams was known was an outspoken revolutionary who advocated for independence from Britain, a fact that helped him win office following George Washington.


The Watergate scandal ruined which American president's administration?

In the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon and his cronies couldn't survive the fallout of the Watergate political scandal. By 1974, Nixon became the first and only president to resign from office.


In the War of 1812, America fought against _____.

With the wounds of the American Revolution just healing, the War of 1812 found the U.S. and Britain in battle again. This time, the two forces essentially fought to a draw.


Which American president was assassinated in 1865?

In April 1865, the Civil War was nearly over, but that didn't stop hardcore Confederate supporters from trying to turn the tide. John Wilkes Booth, a supporter of the South, shot President Lincoln at a theater, and "Honest Abe" died soon afterward.


The "antebellum" period preceded which event in American history?

The first half of the 19th century was called the "antebellum" era, the pre-Civil War period. During that time, clear divisions between the values and cultures of the North and South began to cause intense political and social friction.


What was one of President Theodore Roosevelt's signature achievements?

Roosevelt was a stout man known as a fierce conservationist. He created the National Park service and eventually established five of America's best-known national parks.


The Cold War found America at odds with which country?

After WWII, the ideologies of the East and West resulted in the Cold War between America and the USSR. For decades, these nations faced off with the specter of nuclear war hanging overhead.


What is the deadliest war in American history?

Altogether, perhaps 1 million people died in the carnage of the American Civil War, far more than any other armed conflict. For four years, the nation ripped itself apart, killing scores of soldiers and civilians alike.


The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution are called _____

The Constitution was always meant to be a flexible and adaptable set of guidelines for the new republic. The Founding Fathers immediately saw fit to adjust the Constitution with 10 important Amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights.


In the U.S., what's the name of the largest area controlled by Native Americans?

In the 1800s, U.S. politicians set out to force Native Americans into submission, often leaving families stuck on impoverished reservations. In 1858, the Navajo Indians carved out some land for themselves, establishing the Navajo Nation, which is still the largest Indian-controlled area in the country.


Which Civil War battle essentially meant the end of the Confederacy?

In July 1863, tens of thousands of troops clashed at the Battle of Gettysburg. Legendary Confederate commander Robert E. Lee lost this fight, and it ultimately cost the South the war.


Which U.S. president led America into World War I?

After campainging on an isolationist policy, Woodrow Wilson won office … and then immediately flip-flopped on his WWI stance, sending hundreds of thousands of troops to do battle in Europe.


In the 1940s and '50s, the "Red Scare" was a backlash against ______.

In the post-WWII era, anti-Communist sentiments ran hot in the U.S., a fact that politicians used to inflame their constituents. The Red Scare became a Communist witch hunt, ruining the lives of many people who didn't join in the mob mentality.


True or false, has the United States ever invaded Canada?

Canada has scary bears, so Americans should have known better. The U.S. has actually invaded Canada several times, notably during the War of 1812, when the Canadians and British sent U.S troops running for their lives.


Which general helped lead the Union to victory in the Civil War?

For years, the Union struggled to subdue the rebellious Confederacy, but in the end, one commander -- Ulysses Grant -- won the battles that mattered most. Grant went on to become a true war hero, and eventually, a well-regarded president.


Which one of the following American presidents served first?

Grover Cleveland is the only American president ever elected to two non-consecutive terms. His first term started in 1885; his second, in 1893, before both Coolidge and Truman.


In 1970, the Kent State shootings made headlines all over the country, as four college students died at the hands of _____

During a Vietnam War protest at Kent State University in Ohio, National Guard members fired on a crowd of students. Four students died, and American anti-war sentiments gained even greater strength.


A man named John J. Pershing became exceptionally famous during which era of American history?

John"Black Jack" Pershing was the top commander of U.S. forces during World War I. One of his first decisions was hugely consequential. He insisted that American forces fight as they'd trained -- together, rather than integrated into British or French armies.


True or false, was the American flag designed by a high school student?

In 1958, a high school student named Robert Heft designed a flag as part of a class project. He only got a B- on his assignment, but thanks to the help of a local congressman, the design was accepted as America's banner.


On September 14, 1847, American forces captured which city?

In the 1850s, America and Mexico squabbled over the lands of the Southwest, eventually resulting in the Mexican-American War. U.S. troops battled south and captured Mexico City, ending the war in America's favor.


In the 1930s, which event caused massive disruptions in American society?

In 1929, a stock market crash set economies all over the world careening into obivion. For the better part of a decade, the Great Depression caused tumult in America and abroad.


Which achievement did America claim July 20, 1969?

On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to step onto the moon. Their actions marked the end of the hotly-contested Space Race with the USSR.


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