Test Your Knowledge Of American History With This Quiz!

HISTORY

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John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Yoichi Robert Okamoto

About This Quiz

In the early 18th century, most people around the world accepted that monarchies – governments ruled by kings and queens – were just how human societies operated. But in the 1770s, the leaders of the Thirteen Colonies got some bold ideas. What would happen, they wondered, if all people were treated equally in the eyes of the law, rather than having cultures warped to bend to the contrived powers of a crown? That kind of thinking evolved into the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. In this quiz, what do you really know about the American experiment?

Once the Constitution took hold, Americans began overhauling the way their society operated. With a representative government, everything changed. What do you know about the formation of early American institutions?

After the Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s, America’s size doubled overnight. Settlers of all kinds spread throughout the new lands. What do you know about the vast riches and conflicts that inevitably arose in the Old West?

From Fort Sumter to Normandy, to New York City and Seattle, America is a sprawling place with a chaotic and inspiring history. Take our tough American history quiz now!

Before the Civil War, why was the South more dependent on slavery than the North?

Before the Civil War, the South was far more reliant on agriculture than the North, and they needed field laborers. Much of that labor came through the practice of slavery.

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Which country was responsible for passing the Stamp Act?

In 1765, Britain passed the Stamp Act, which levied intolerable taxes on the American colonies. Those taxes became a rallying cry for colonists who wanted independence from the motherland.

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What was a name of militiamen who were ready at a moment's notice during the American Revolution?

During the American Revolution, militiamen called the Minutemen trained to be ready at a moment's notice. Then, when called to action, they often fought alongside regular troops.

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Who was U.S. president when America joined the fray of World War I?

In 1914, the Europe was consumed with World War I. Woodrow Wilson kept America out of the war for years, but in 1917 finally joined the fight.

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Which man became president following assassination of John F. Kennedy?

On November 22, 1963, a sniper shot and killed President Kennedy in Dallas. That night, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson took the helm of a wounded nation.

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Which country offered invaluable assistance to the rebels during the American Revolution?

It took years of cajoling (and begging) from the likes of Benjamin Franklin and other colonial representatives, but when the colonists finally showed they could defeat the British in large numbers, the French joined the fray. France's assistance helped the Americans win their independence.

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What was America's first national park?

Established in 1872, Yellowstone was America's first national park. Each year, more than 4 million people crowd themselves into the park to see amazing landscapes and fantastic wildlife.

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What was the Pony Express?

In 1860, the Pony Express was founded. This service saw young, brave men galloping horses from town to town to deliver mail. The iconic service lasted for only a few years and then the transcontinental railroad made horse-based mail delivery obsolete.

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In 1848, gold was discovered in what area?

In 1848, miners discovered gold in California. The Gold Rush of '49 found many thousands of Americans scurrying to the squalid camps of the West in hopes of striking it rich. Most did not.

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In 1989, what event devastated San Francisco?

In 1989, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake shattered parts of San Francisco and Oakland. It killed dozens of people and caused more than $6 billion in property damage.

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Bull Run was the first major battle of which war?

On July 21, 1861, Union and Confederate forces clashed at the Battle of Bull Run, the first major battle of the Civil War. The South unexpectedly won the battle, setting the stage for a long and bloody war.

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What was George Washington's middle name?

Founding father George Washington is probably the most famous American ever. He didn't have a middle name … and because he George Washington, he didn't need one.

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Which word best described the American public's stance on WWII BEFORE the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

After the mess of WWI, Americans really wanted no part of WWII, preferring isolationism to intervention. But once Japan attacked Hawaii, the gloves came off.

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Who is the only sitting president to lead U.S. troops to the field?

Before presidents hid behind bulletproof glass, they were more like George Washington, who led his troops toward the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. His demonstration of force helped to preserve peace and establish norms of government revenue collection.

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What job did George Washington hold before he became a military man?

Washington grew up in a well-to-do family and was educated to become a surveyor. His understanding of the lay of the land was important to his development as a military leader.

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Which infamous group was founded in 1865?

In 1865, in the wake of the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded in the Southern United States. The group flourished, spreading its racist, white supremacist ideals through intimidation and violence. Currently, the once-mighty organization only has a few thousand (rather history-challenged) members.

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The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made which behavior a crime?

George Washington signed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 into law. His signature made it illegal to assist escaped slaves -- and it also created methods to push slaves back into the hands of their owners.

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Which famous person died at the Battle of Little Bighorn?

In 1876, General George Custer underestimated a group of Indian warriors who were fighting the Great Sioux War. His unit was wiped out, and Custer himself died during a last stand.

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In 1973, what sort of crisis struck America?

In 1973, Middle East oil producers drastically increased the price of oil, causing an oil crisis in America and other countries. The cost of gasoline skyrocketed and lines formed at gas stations, many of which were closed Saturday nights and Sundays.

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The Battle of the Alamo took place during which conflict?

In 1836, as the Texan Revolution pitted independence-minded Texans versus Mexico, the Mexican army subjected soldiers holed up at the Alamo to a 13-day siege. Then, they killed everyone inside … and the Alamo became a symbol of steadfastness in the face of a superior enemy.

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Why did immigration to America increase substantially starting in 1848?

In 1848, a failed democratic uprising in Germany led to disenchantment there. Many Germans fled the country to pursue liberty in America, greatly altering U.S. demographics.

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In 1950, two Puerto Rican nationals tried to kill which U.S. president?

In 1950, two men trying to spark an independence movement for Puerto Rico tried to kill Harry Truman. White House security staff successfully fended off the attack, killing one of the men and wounding the other.

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True or false, did the American military resort to conscription BEFORE entering World War II?

It's true, WWII was such a major conflict that the military resorted to the first peacetime draft in American history. About 16 million men and women served in uniform during the war.

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What city was the very first capital of the United States?

In 1785, the Articles of Confederation made New York City the first national capital. And when the Constitution was introduced in 1789, New York was again the capital, but only for a short time.

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"Liberty poles" were popular during which era of American history?

Before and during the American Revolution, colonists sometimes raised large wooden poles topped with symbolic caps. These liberty poles became icons of people yearning for freedom from Britain.

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In Britain, they were called the Coercive Acts. In the American colonies, they were the ______ Acts.

In 1774, Britain's leaders, infuriated by the Boston Tea Party, passed a series of Coercive Acts meant to punish the American colonies. In the colonies, they were called the Intolerable Acts, and they helped to spark a revolution.

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A ship named the Mayflower left England in 1620 to settle the New World. How long did it take for the settlers to reach Cape Cod?

In the 17th century, the journey across the Atlantic was an arduous one. It look 66 days -- more than two months -- for the settlers to finally reach the shores of what would eventually be called America.

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How many men have been named General of the Armies of the United States?

It is the highest rank possible in the military. The title of General of the Armies (essentially a six-star general), has only been awarded twice in American history, once to WWI hero John J. Pershing, and once to George Washington (posthumously).

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True or false, do most historians regard George Washington as a military mastermind?

Washington was no Napoleon, and his battlefield maneuverings were less than masterful. What he lacked in proficiency he more than made up for with persistence, and he became a thorn in the sides of superior British forces.

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Which of the following American events came FIRST?

The Revolution broke out in April 1775. The following year, the founding fathers issued the Declaration of Independence, which further stoked Britain's ire against its wayward colonies.

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