Can You Ace This History IQ Drill?

By: John Miller
Image: Nicolas Gosse

About This Quiz

“This is a war to end all wars.” That was what United States President Woodrow Wilson said as American troops headed to Europe for World War I. In hindsight, of course, Wilson was a bit naïve. Did you know that Wilson won the Americans in part because he promised to keep his soldiers out of the messy conflict? Dive into the trenches of this impossibly tough world history quiz!

Long before the United States was even a twinkle in George Washington’s eye, other nations conceived of — and built — democratic institutions. Those ideals still affect Western society today. What do you know about the development of personal liberties and independence in our world?

As politics morphed, so too did human technologies. We began with fire and the wheel but created a raft of much more sophisticated inventions that completely altered our societies. The Industrial Revolution sped up those processes as well, making humans more efficient and giving them time to pursue things other than just work. What do you know about the most important inventions and machines in our history?

From wars of religion to digital magic to scientific advances that would have been unimaginable just decades ago, our shared history is a dramatic and fascinating one. Take this crazy-hard history quiz now!

What was the name of the NASA mission that landed the first men on the moon?

On July 20, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 landed two men on the moon. It was America’s most famous space accomplishment.

Where was paper invented?

Around the year 100, a Chinese man named Cai Lun invented paper and the processes used to make it. Paper, of course, transformed the way people communicated ideas.

Julius Caesar was a major figure in which area?

In the heady days of the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar was a dictator of immense power. But other Romans conspired against him in hopes of restoring a republic, so they assassinated Caesar in one of history’s most famous betrayals.

Where was the first democracy documented?

George Washington and Co. had nothing on the Greeks of the 6th century. It was there that the first documented democracy was built, inspiring many nations to reach for liberty in later centuries.

In the late 1800s, the linotype machine greatly affected which industry?

Linotype machines of the late 1800s greatly improved the efficiency of publishing, particularly newspapers. The machines made it much easier for people to share information.

The Red Baron was a famous _____.

During World War I, German pilot Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, or simply the Red Baron, became one of the conflict’s deadliest fighters. But in the end, he was killed as he killed — in the air.

What was the name of the horrifying epidemic that killed millions of people in the mid-1300s?

Around 1350, the plague began sweeping across much of Europe and Asia. The Black Death left incredible numbers of dead in its wake and completely altered societies.

In the late 1880s, what did Gottlieb Daimler invent?

In the 1880s, Gottlieb Daimler tested many engine types until he created the first gas-powered engine. His engines would help spark the automobile revolution.

Who wrote a masterpiece of drama titled "Hamlet"?

At the end of the 1500s, English legend William Shakespeare wrote "Hamlet." It is called an apex in the history of world literature.

What was the name of the military force that fought the British in the American Revolution?

George Washington led the Continental Army against the mighty British Army in the Revolution. What started as a group of rough colonists eventually morphed into a well-oiled military machine.

What did Eli Whitney invent?

In 1793, American Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which made it much easier to separate cotton fibers from seeds. His machine jumpstarted the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

Which of the following eras came first?

The Bronze Age started roughly around 3300 BC, far before the other ages. It was then that humans first learned to use bronze for things like tools and weapons.

Which entity started The Crusades in 1096?

In 1096, the Pope decided to drive Muslims out of the Holy Lands near Jerusalem, and so, The First Crusade began. Many people died, but no one really won.

In 1803, the United States bought a huge swath of land from ____ in what’s known as The Louisiana Purchase.

President Thomas Jefferson knew a good deal when he saw one. America doubled its territory in the Louisiana Purchase, thanks to the seller ... France, which got just $11 million in return.

In 1889, the invention of the electric furnace greatly impacted what part of society?

Invented in 1889, industrial electric furnaces transformed metal factories. It made it much easier and cheaper for companies to work with and crank out steel, aluminum, and more.

Nelson Mandela was a world leader known for his work on which issue?

In South Africa, Mandela was an activist who fought apartheid (racial segregation). He was imprisoned for nearly three decades ... and then became president.

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 overthrew the king of which country?

England’s King James II was cast out of power by the English conspirators and Dutch rivals in the Glorious Revolution. James’ overthrow severely hampered the Catholic Church’s influence.

What was the purpose of the Archimedes Screw?

The Archimedes Screw, often attributed to the famous Greek thinker of the 3rd century BC, is a screw pump. It features a large screw inside a pipe, and when the screw is turned, it can move water uphill.

A Serbian assassin famously started which war?

One killing turned into millions. In June 1914, a Serbian extremist killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and the murder spiraled into World War I.

Who won the Battle of Gettysburg?

In July 1863, both the North and South suffered terribly in the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. The Union won, and the battle became a turning point in the Civil War.

Who painted the "Mona Lisa"?

In the early 1500s, Leonardo da Vinci created the "Mona Lisa," a painting of a woman with a slight smile. On display at the Louvre in France, it is easily the most famous painting in the history of humankind.

In the 1940s, Robert Oppenheimer was in charge of making which technological leap?

He was the guy in charge of the Manhattan Project in WWII. Robert Oppenheimer led Allied scientists in their frantic bid to develop the atomic bomb.

In 1884, Charles Parsons invented which powerful technology?

Parsons invented the steam turbine in 1884. His turbines were great for propelling ships and powering electrical generators.

Where was "The Empire of the Rising Sun"?

The Empire of the Rising Sun grew to fame in the 20th century in large part due to its military conquest, including the bombing of Pearl Harbor in WWII. The Empire was then bombed to pieces.

English inventor Percy Shaw developed the "cat’s eye," which is good for what?

In the 1930s, Shaw made reflective cat’s eye roadway markers, which are now used all over the world. These markers make it much easier for drivers to see the road in dark conditions.

Samuel Colt became famous for his work with which product?

In the mid-1800s, Colt created a process to mass manufacture revolvers. His pistols became world famous and made him rich during the Civil War.

Who was the second president of the United States?

After George Washington served two terms, it was John Adams’ turn to become president. Adams was an odd duck who often conflicted with his peers ... and he lasted just a single term.

Louis Daguerre greatly contributed to the development of which field?

In the 1820s, Daguerre began developing technologies that would lead to photography. He used light-sensitive chemicals to produce daguerreotype, a forerunner of photographs.

Which U.S. president signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act that made it much easier for minority groups to cast their votes. It is frequently called one of the most important federal bills ever signed.

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