Are You a U.S. History Expert? Find Out by Taking This Quiz!

Jacqueline Samaroo

Image: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

About This Quiz

Ready for a historic quiz experience? This knowledge-packed adventure takes you from the Founding Fathers to moonwalking with Neil Armstrong and beyond!

America's history is filled with yearnings for independence, struggles for equality and stories of how a young nation grew to become the most powerful country in the world. As the United States has evolved, it has played a very influential role in shaping the development of the world. That makes having a sound knowledge of American history important for us all.

Do you know when this proud country declared its independence from Britain? If that seems too easy, then can you say when Independence Day became a national holiday? That one's sure to leave you thinking but we know you'll figure it out!

Many of America's "firsts," which were landmark moments in history, may seem commonplace to us today, like the appointment of the first female Supreme Court Justice or the first president to live in the White House. Any idea who they were? We've got them, plus some ground-breaking laws and proclamations, waiting for you in the quiz. Come find out what they are!

There are some U.S. history facts we all know and then there are some truths which are only evident to the experts. To put it simply, your knowledge of America's past will have to be up to scratch for you to ace this particular quiz!

Want to show you're a buff when it comes to U.S. history stuff? Start the quiz now!

Who is this U.S. President?

Abraham Lincoln, known as Honest Abe, the Rail-Splitter, and the Great Emancipator, served as the 16th President of the United States (1861 – 1865). He led the country during the American Civil War and signed the Emancipation Proclamation which effectively ended slavery. He was shot in the head by well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865,​ and died the following day.

In which year did America celebrate its 200th birthday?

Although its 200th birthday was on July 4, 1976, official events celebrating the bicentennial of the U.S.A. began in April 1975. This included the start of the American Freedom Train’s journey through all of the 48 contiguous states. The train, which had 26 cars and was painted red, white and blue, contained precious artifacts from America’s history which were put on display and viewed by more than 7 million people.

Which country gave the Statue of Liberty to the U.S. in 1886?

“Liberty Enlightening the World” is the official name of the Statue of Liberty. She is a copper statue given to the American people as a gift from the people of France in 1886. The statue is inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence in Roman numerals: JULY IV MDCCLXXVI.

How many justices usually make up the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the nation’s highest federal court. Nine justices typically sit on the court but this number remained at eight for several months in 2016 due to the record-setting long time it took the Senate to confirm a new justice following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Who was the first President to live in the White House?

John Adams is regarded as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He served as the nation’s first vice president (1789 – 1797) and its second resident (1797 – 1801). He moved into the White House on November 1, 1800 – the same day in which it was completed.

Which are two of the eight places where presidential proclamation or law requires that the U.S. flag be flown 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

There are eight locations which are required to fly the flag at ALL times. Apart from the White House in Washington, D.C. and the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, two others are the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. and United States Customs Ports of Entry.

In what year did American women gain the right to vote?

The Nineteenth Amendment was adopted on August 18, 1920, and with it, women all across the nation gained the right to vote in political elections. Before this, only some states allowed women to vote and only in certain situations.

Which was the first permanent British settlement in the Americas?

The Jamestown Colony was established on May 14, 1607, near present-day Williamsburg, Virginia. The original name of the settlement was James Fort and this was changed to Jamestown in 1619. Jamestown served as Virginia’s capital from 1616 to 1699, when it was abandoned and Williamsburg became the new capital.

In which city was President John F. Kennedy killed?

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (JFK) served as the 35th President of the United States. He has gone down in history as one of the best-loved of all American presidents. His term in office began on January 20, 1961, and ended tragically on November 22, 1963,​ when he was assassinated in downtown Dallas while traveling in a presidential motorcade.

Which laws were overturned by the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia?

The Lovings (Richard and Mildred) were sentenced to one year in prison for being married as an interracial couple and thus breaking anti-miscegenation laws. Richard (white) and Mildred (black) took their case to the Supreme Court and the resulting verdict set a precedent which led to the removal of all anti-miscegenation laws in all states.

What was housed on Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954?

Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay served as the nation’s busiest immigration inspection station from 1892 to 1954 (a total of 62 years!) It is estimated that more than 12 million immigrants were processed there.

Where did the first Fourth of July celebration featuring a fireworks display take place?

Every year, fireworks displays are a huge part of Fourth of July celebrations and it's hard to imagine Independence Day celebrations without them. The first fireworks display to celebrate the Fourth of July actually took place one year after the Declaration of Independence – in Boston, Massachusetts (1777).

What name is given to the first day of the Invasion of Normandy in WWII?

Although its official codename was Operation Neptune, D-Day is the term most used to refer to the first day of the Allied invasion of Normandy (codename: Operation Overlord). On D-Day (Tuesday, June 6, 1944) more than 150,000 Allied troops staged a surprise attack against German forces when they landed on the Normandy coast in northern France.

Who is this First Lady?

Eleanor Roosevelt holds the distinction of being the longest-serving First Lady in U.S. history. Her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, served as President for three terms and 82 days, spanning 12 years. Eleanor was very involved in politics with a special interest in human rights.

Who was the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court?

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Marshall was the Supreme Court’s 96th justice and the first African-American justice. He served in the post from August 30, 1967 – October 1, 1991.

Which U.S. president was born on the Fourth of July?

While Calvin Coolidge was the only president born on the Fourth of July. There are three other presidents who died on that day. Coolidge was born July 4, 1872, and both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826 (hours apart). In 1831, James Monroe became the third president to die on Independence Day.

Who served three full terms as president?

After he first assumed the presidency on March 4, 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt went on to serve three full terms before being elected for a fourth straight term. His inauguration for the fourth term took place on January 20, 1945. Roosevelt, however, fell ill and died just 82 days into the term. Vice President Harry S. Truman then became president.

In which year was the Declaration of Independence signed?

On July 4, 1776 (just over a year after the Revolutionary War had started), the leaders of the 13 colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. This significant moment in U.S. history took place at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, which has since been renamed Independence Hall.

Which document issued by Abraham Lincoln freed slaves in the rebellious states?

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln. The order took effect on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War and was, in essence, a war order since the president is also the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. armed forces.

Who was the first female Supreme Court justice?

After being appointed as the first female Supreme Court justice in 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor went on to serve her country in that position for a quarter of a century. She retired on January 31, 2006.

In what year did Congress first establish Independence Day as a national holiday?

The Fourth of July was officially proclaimed a national holiday by Congress in 1870. It wasn’t designated as a paid holiday for federal employees, however, until 1938.

Who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner"?

The lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner are from a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and poet. The music is even older, as it was created around 1773 by John Stafford Smith, a British composer and church organist. The song was officially adopted as the national anthem of the United States of America on March 3, 1931.

Which space shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff on January 28, 1986, killing all seven people on board?

At 11:39 a.m. EST on January 28, 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart and disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The shuttle was just 73 seconds into its flight when the accident occurred, killing all seven people on board. That number was made up of fi e NASA astronauts; Gregory Jarvis (an engineer); and Christa McAuliffe (a teacher).

What statement was famously made by Patrick Henry in 1775?

Patrick Henry is regarded as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He is well remembered for passionately proclaiming “Give me liberty, or give me death!” at the end of a speech he gave to the Second Virginia Convention in1775, at the start of the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783).

When did Prohibition officially begin and end?

The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by Congress on January 16, 1919, and took full effect nationally on January 17, 1920. It prohibited the production, transport, ​and sale of alcohol but the consumption or private possession of alcohol remained legal. Prohibition was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment on December 5, 1933.

In which state did the two halves of the Transcontinental Railroad meet in 1869.

The eastern and western sections of the Transcontinental Railroad met in Utah on May 10, 1869. The builders in the west had to contend with higher mountains and a shortage of labor, hence the far west location of the meeting point. Over the years, the route has been called the First Transcontinental Railroad, the Great Transcontinental Railroad, the Pacific Railroad, and the Overland Route.

Which event took place at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861?

The First Battle of Fort Sumter was the location of the very first shots fired in the American Civil War (1861 – 1865). Beginning on Friday, April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on the Union-occupied fort for 34 hours straight. On Saturday, April 13, the Union forces surrendered the fort to the Confederate troops and later failed in their attempt to retake it in the Second Battle of Fort Sumter on September 7 – 8, 1863.

What was Alcatraz Island used for before it became a national park?

Alcatraz Island has been designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1986. Before that, however, the island was home to a maximum security prison from 1934 to 1963 and held some to the most dangerous convicted criminals in the country. Notorious prisoners held at Alcatraz included Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz.”

Who was President when Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State?

Condoleezza Rice served as the 66th United States Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009. While she wasn’t the first woman nor the first African-American to hold that post, she was the first African American woman to do so. The first female Secretary of State was Madeleine Albright (1997 to 2001) and the first African-American Secretary of State was Colin Powell (2001 to 2005).

Which was the 49th state admitted to the Union?

Alaska became the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959. The area was purchased on March 30, 1867, by the U.S. which paid the Russian Empire roughly $7 million for it.

Who was U.S. President for most of the 1950s?

Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States. His presidency lasted two terms, from 1953 to 1961. Before this, Eisenhower served in World War II as a five-star general of the United States Army.

Which president was the first to appear on television?

Franklin D. Roosevelt holds the distinction of being the first American president to appear on television, albeit to an extremely small audience. At the 1939 New York World's Fair, the president’s speech was broadcast live to approximately 200 black and white TV sets and watched by roughly 1,000 persons in New York.

Which is the oldest U.S. national park?

President Ulysses S. Grant signed Yellowstone’s status as a National Park into law on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone is one of the oldest, largest and best-known National Parks in the world. It lies mostly in northwestern Wyoming with smaller portions in southern Montana and eastern Idaho.

Who said "Speak softly and carry a big stick”?

The complete statement, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far” was popularized by President Theodore Roosevelt. It applied to what later became known as his Big Stick Policy – engaging in peaceful negotiations while always having a superior military power. President Roosevelt stated that it was a West African proverb that he had always liked.

The Great Depression took place mostly during which decade

In October 1929, following the prosperous decade of the “Roaring Twenties” (1920 – 1929), the stock market crashed, triggering the Great Depression. Millions of investors were devastated and the global economy took its worst dive in history. Although the Depression lasted until 1939, by 1933 more than half of U.S. banks had failed and more than 15 million Americans were unemployed.

Where did the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775) take place?

The American Revolutionary War officially began on April 19, 1775. The Battle of Bunker Hill, in what is now the Charlestown area of Boston, Massachusetts, took place shortly thereafter on June 17, 1775. The British forces were victorious but they suffered greater casualties than the United Colonies which they defeated.

Which future president was Commanding General of the Union Army at the end of the American Civil War?

Ulysses S. Grant served as Commanding General of the Union Army from 1864 – 1869. He led the Union Army in its defeat of the Confederacy during the American Civil War (1861 – 1865). He became the nation’s 18th President on March 4, 1869.

In what year did the first manned moon landing take place?

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. They landed on the moon’s surface in a lunar module named “Eagle.” Their fellow astronaut, Michael Collins, remained on the command module, Columbia, safely piloting it in orbit around the moon until their return.

Which of the following states was an independent republic before it became a state?

Before becoming a state, Texas was an independent republic having gained its independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836. It was admitted to the Union on December 29, 1845, becoming the nation’s 28th state. Texas ranks as the second-largest state both in terms of area and population.

After which event did the U.S. officially enter WWII?

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy Air Service launched a surprise attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The act resulted in the deaths of more than 2,300 American. The very next day, the United States formally entered WWII with a declaration of war against Japan.

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