Only U.S. History Experts Can Identify 100% of These Important Dates

By: John Miller

July 4, 1776

The Declaration of Independence was ratified (not signed) on July 4, 1776. Americans now know this date as Independence Day or just the Fourth of July.

December 7, 1941

It was a "date which will live in infamy," December 7, 1941 marked Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack sucked America into World War II and changed the nation’s course.

September 11, 2001

We call it simply "9/11," in reference to the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans on their home soil and plunged the country into a Global War on Terror, which reached a climax of sort years later when Osama bin Laden was cornered and killed in Pakistan.

June 6, 1944

On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched the D-Day invasion of Normandy in hopes of pushing back the Nazi occupation of Europe. U.S. troops made up about half of the troops who landed on the bloody beaches.

July 20, 1969

It was just "one small step for man," but the July 20, 1969 manned moon landing forever altered human perceptions of what was possible in terms of space exploration. It also marked a climax of the Space Race with the Soviet Union.

August 6, 1945

It was another date that will live in infamy — August 6, 1945, the day that America used the first nuclear weapon in human history, on Nagasaki, Japan. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped, this time on Hiroshima.

March 5, 1770

On March 5, 1770, British soldiers fired on civilians, killing five people. The Boston massacre marked yet another shift in colonists’ attitudes toward the British motherland.

December 17, 1903

On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers sent the world’s first manned, controlled aircraft into the heavens. The era of airplanes had begun.

April 12, 1861

On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces began a barrage on Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina. The battle, in which the Union surrendered, marked the opening of the American Civil War.

December 16, 1773

Incensed by British tea taxes (and oppression in general), angry colonists dressed up as Indians, boarded British ships, and dumped loads of precious tea into the harbor. The British responded to the Boston Tea Party with a blockade that sent political tensions to an all-time high.

May 14, 1607

On May 14, 1607, a brave group of English colonists arrived in the New World. There, they established Jamestown, the first permanent European settlement in what eventually became America.

April 19, 1775

They were just skirmishes, really — but the Battles of Lexington and Concord, on April 19, 1775, meant that the American Revolution was officially in action. Had the colonists bitten off more than they could chew? It would be years before they’d know their ultimate fate.

November 22, 1963

As his motorcade streamed through downtown Dallas, President Kennedy was shot by a sniper from long range. His death ended the halycon moments of the early ‘60s and started a spiral into the most turbulent decade of the 20th century.

June 17, 1775

Sure, the British won the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, but they lost far too many men in the process. The battle actually boosted the hopes of colonial soldiers, giving them faith that perhaps they really could win their independence.

April 6, 1917

After years of hemming and hawing, the United States finally declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. The war would become a costly and bloody ordeal for the U.S., but it was nothing compared to the war that followed a generation later.

October 29, 1929

On October 29, 1929, "Black Tuesday" the U.S. stock market crashed and created a ripple effect that affected the rest of the world. It was the beginning of the heart-wrenching Great Depression.

November 5, 1940

On November 5, 1940, Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a third term, the most ever in America. A short time later, Congress passed legislation limiting presidents to two terms.

January 1, 1863

As the Civil War tore the country to shreds, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective on January 1, 1863. The Proclamation abolished slavery in America.

July 20, 2015

After decades of outright hostility, on July 20, 2015, the U.S. restored its political relations with Cuba. The two countries continue to reformulate their diplomatic stances.

January 17, 1920

On January 17, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect, prohibiting the sale of intoxicating beverages. The Prohibition Era had begun, and for 13 years, Americans had a very conflicted relationship with alcohol.

April 14, 1865

As he sat in a darkened theater, President Lincoln was shot by an assassin, who escaped the scene and wasn’t shot and killed until weeks later. Lincoln died a short time later, just before the end of the Civil War he fought to save the Union.

April 20, 2010

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began in the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s disaster killed 11 workers and still stands as the worst marine oil spill ever.

May 2, 2011

After nearly a decade-long hunt, U.S. special forces finally located the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Osama bin Laden was cornered, shot, and then dumped into the the ocean.

April 30, 1789

On April 30, 1789, George Washington, the father of America, was inaugurated as the first president in the nation’s history. He ultimately served two terms before stepping aside.

August 23, 2005

On August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and surrounding areas. More than 1,800 people died, and the disaster caused at least $50 billion in property damage.

January 17, 1991

On January 17, 1991, the U.S. led a huge coaltion force against Iraq, which had invaded Kuwait. Operation Desert Storm was a demonstration of Western firepower and military might.

May 20, 1932

On May 20, 1932, daring pilot Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic. Her bold feats set a new standard for what women could accomplish in a male-dominated society.

August 24, 1814

The War of 1812 brought violence back to America’s shores. On August 24, 1814, the British briefly occupied Washington D.C., and before they departed, the burned the White House and other buildings to the ground.

April 18, 1906

On April 18, 1906, an earthquake and subsequent fires destroyed much of San Francisco. More than 3,000 people were killed, and it was the deadliest earthquake ever in the history of America.

November 4, 2008

On November 4, 2008, America elected Barack Obama as president. He was the first president with African-American ancestry elected to the highest office — in a country that once enslaved blacks.

Explore More Quizzes

Image: Free School

About This Quiz

As the Civil War raged, President Abraham Lincoln tried to bring some sort of solace to suffering Americans. In his famous Gettysburg Address, he began, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” That speech was given on November 19, 1863, and still marks an iconic moment in the nation’s history. Do you think you can identify the other important dates in the history of the United States?

On December 13, 2011, U.S. special forces captured Saddam Hussein, permanently ending the reign of the Iraqi dictator. It was a turning point for both Iraq and for America, which invaded the Middle East nation twice in the 20th century. Do you recall the other big moments of conflict in America’s past?

From the Revolution, through the Civil War and two World Wars, United States troops have fought and died for freedom and democracy for hundreds of years. On some of those especially fateful days, the destiny of America seemed to hang in the balance. What do you remember about those vital turning points?

Whether you’re talking about groundbreaking presidential elections, top-level assassinations or technological breakthroughs of the most amazing kind, America has been a part of some of the world’s biggest moments. Take this U.S. history quiz now. We’ll see if you really know what happened on the most important dates in this nation’s past!

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!