Quiz: Test your U.S. history knowledge

Take it and see how you do.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, History

42 comments on “Quiz: Test your U.S. history knowledge

  1. Terry Tee says:

    I got 8 out of 10.
    One of the most depressing statistics I read was of a similar exercise which included the question of whether the US and the then USSR were allies or enemies during WW2. The majority of American students answered that they were enemies.

  2. ekcathey says:

    I managed 10 out of 10. However, did anyone notice the editor’s note that reads as follows “Education Overtime is [an] seven-week series…” Emphasis mine.

  3. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    I got 9 out of 10, only because at least one question has two correct answers. Indigo and Gold were both exported from the New World to Europe to fuel mercantilism, though the Indigo was a small portion of the exports.

  4. clarin says:

    10/10. Fortunately I didn’t have an American education. 🙂

  5. Nevin says:

    10/10, American private school education.

  6. carl says:

    10/10. But then I hold to the idea that life is too short to read fiction. History and Theology – that’s what I say! Well, and Math. History and Theology and Math. And Science, of course. History and Theology and Math and Science. And maybe a little Dosteoyevsky and Orwell – both of whom are properly categorized as Historians, so I am not sure why I mentioned them. And Dilbert. And maybe some “How to…” books like “How to build an Uber-Cool Potato Canon.” But No Ficiton!


  7. Michele says:

    I got 8 out of 10 and had an American public school education.

  8. Nikolaus says:

    10/10 – PS elementary and college, Catholic HS, private graduate school; but that was quite awhile ago. My daughter would say that I live through much of what they were asking questions about. I read fiction almost exclusively (currently fixated on Daniel Silva).

  9. Nikolaus says:

    The problem I had with the question about trade routes was that none were marked yet the question asked about the route marked “I.” Gold could not have been the correct answer as the question specified North America, not the New World.

  10. DTerwilliger says:

    10/10 – educated in the US and UK. The answer, as I see it (when it comes to history education), is having teachers of history who themselves are inspired by it. If they can in turn inspire their students, and draw them out and away from an “entertainment mindset”, I believe we will see students embrace history, and other subjects, with vigor and creativity.

  11. sophy0075 says:

    10/10. Archer, I agree with you about indigo. What I found strange about the question, however, was that the “Triangle Trade” did not include meat or gold, but molasses, rum, and slaves.

    Also the apprenticeship system declined not only because of the rise of the factory system, but because with the use of mass production techniques, one could hire unskilled labor (and pay them less).

  12. Anglicanum says:

    10/10: public school education in the 80s.

  13. David Hein says:

    No. 5: “10/10, American private school education.”

    Me, too. And I thank my wise parents for that. And, specifically regarding history, I take this moment to thank two wonderful St Paul’s history teachers:

    Mr. Martin D. (Mitch) Tullai, for stimulating interest in 8th graders thru a lively, almost combative, always engaging style. He was also the varsity football coach. Recently retired as senior master, I believe, and still publishes articles on history and impersonates Mr. A. Lincoln.


    Mr. Louis Dorsey Clark, my AP Am Hist teacher, quiet, gentle, knowledgeable, who prepared us all extremely well for university studies. We had to do a LOT of outside reserve reading and gained an important awareness not only of facts but also of historical analysis and argumentation.

    With every passing year, I become more devoted to the memory of my time with these gifted teachers.

  14. clarin says:

    #9: yes, that was strangely phrased. It puzzled me for a while.
    #13: agreed – good teachers are not quickly forgotten -nor bad ones! Preachers can learn from good teachers, that what communicates is above all infectious enthusiasm for one’s subject.

  15. KevinBabb says:

    10/10, but I’m not sure that is much of an accomplishment.

    For the record, twenty years of public school/university education. I hope that I could have gotten the same score without having completed all twenty of those years. I’m not sure that the last three years, being taken up in law school, contributed to any of my correct answers.

  16. David Hein says:

    No. 15: I know what you mean. But things happen in school–even law school–that foster our intellectual development without our being wholly aware of it at the time.

    Someone once said that having students fill out course evaluation forms on the last day of class is like asking someone on the way out of open-heart surgery if the operation was a success.

  17. Katherine says:

    9/10, because I thought “the closing of the frontier” was an odd item. If they’d said, because the West was filling up and wasn’t frontier so much any more, I wouldn’t have goofed. What worries me is that apparently there are people who don’t know the Allies fought Germany and the Cold War was with the Soviet Union.

  18. wildfire says:

    My wife, who was raised and largely educated outside this country and never had a single course in American history, got all ten.

    I, who was continuously educated in this country from the age of 6 until the age of 29 and who minored in history in college, got…9. (I missed the same one as Katherine, but must admit to guessing correctly on some others.)

  19. Ian+ says:

    10/10: Kentucky PS education, corrected by a major in colonial North American history in a Canadian university! e.g., I unlearned things like A. Lincoln coined the expression, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and that the US won the War of 1812 (no one did since nothing was gained).

  20. Cennydd13 says:

    PA and NYS public education, followed by an AAS and BS during my service career, and a minor in American History. I also learned that it wasn’t Lincoln who coined the phrase about “fooling the people,” but I never did learn who did. Does anyone know?

  21. TACit says:

    8/10, though it could have been 9 had I stayed with my original choice of answer about the apprentice system – it just didn’t sound likely that in the US generally the factory system was so influential in the early [i]1800s[/i] as to have caused a change, but maybe the question was really in reference to Britain/Europe or to former (US) colonies on the fall line. Then, I had no idea whether it was the Chinese or possibly Vietnamese Communists who fought with North Koreans, just that it was not the Japanese who had recently been defeated.
    In Question 7 or 8 (showing the triangular trade) there was no route marked as described, with a vertical line (a ‘1’?), but there was a route shown in red rather than black as the others were. I can hardly remember ever seeing a mistake like that on the mimeographed (remember [i]that[/i] technology??) worksheets and tests in my school years.
    Rather like Cenydd, public school education in NYS and in the 1950-60s; then followed three undergrad/graduate degrees from three highly selective private universities, in a physical science. I shall have to resume reading history.

  22. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    8 out of 10

    However, I am afraid I made a further mistake. I had understood that the troops of the South Koreans and the United Nations were engaged as allies in the Korean War. It took an American grade school quiz to correct my misunderstanding, much as it took GI Joe to teach me that WWII was won single-handedly by the United States military.

  23. TACit says:

    You weren’t mistaken, PM – see here:

    RE: your second point about WWII – in the US it is not taught, nor widely thought, that the US military single-handedly won the war. It is, however, recognized that the A-bomb definitively ended the War in the Pacific (V-J day, following V-E day). Until I lived in Australia I did not understand that the US military carried out that attack single-handedly and without support even from Allies; no one British or Australian that I know wants to own any aspect of it.
    But this wasn’t on the quiz.

  24. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #23 TACit
    “no one British or Australian that I know wants to own any aspect of it.”
    Were we told about the development of the A bomb and the flight of Enola Gay?

  25. TACit says:

    No one can do you any favo(u)rs, eh, PM? The cited article shows you were correct.
    Please don’t make me laugh – NO ONE was told about the development of the atomic bomb or the flight of the Enola Gay. In the US, either.
    Of course there were a few Brits and Aussies involved in the Project but they were as quiet as all the Americans about it.
    What I attempted to show was that what you heard from GI Joe probably had been influenced by the fact that the War in the Pacific was ended by US action, unless you heard it before 1945. That was not so with the war in Europe. Americans talk about these as two different things; I don’t know if that’s the case across the pond.
    It is highly ironic that things would be extremely different in the Indo-Pacific and even worse for Westerners had the war in the Pacific not been ended in 1945. The horrible rout in the Battle of Singapore, the Kakoda trail, the Japanese bombing of a Catholic mission with 30+ deaths at Kalumbaru in northwestern Australia, countless rapes and murders by Japanese of Dutch interned in Indonesia and of captured Australian nurses and missionaries in New Guinea, Japanese subs up and down the coast of Western Australia – people just wanted the end of all these things.
    So how should it have been ended?
    This sort of thing also should be on these US history quizzes by now, I think, at least to get discussion in the open.

  26. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #25 TACit
    Of course I am grateful for your favour.
    My point was that since the UK and Australia only knew about the A Bomb raid, ex post facto, there was no need for them to have a view. I certainly do not criticise anyone for the decisions they made although morally it was a loose-loose choice between two awful alternatives. I suppose the interesting question is how a Christian should view the issue, but perhaps that is where one gets into so-called just war theory.

  27. TACit says:

    I completely agree with you PM. I don’t have a ‘global answer’ to the question in your last sentence, either, rather some personalized testimonies. But it has broadened my horizons well, as the quiz also did, to learn about the events 1939-1945 and beyond from another Allied country’s viewpoint, starting with the fact that you all, British and Aussies, were in it more than 2 years before the (till then) isolationist-leaning USA.

  28. recchip says:

    TACit wrote:
    RE: your second point about WWII – in the US it is not taught, nor widely thought, that the US military single-handedly won the war.

    TACit, In fact, when I was in High School (private, during the 1980’s) it was pretty much taught that the US won the war and saved Britain and France. (Just like in WW One there was a stalemate until the US entered and then won the war.). This is very wrong of course, the Brits, Aussies, Canadians and New Zealanders as well as other allies helped. (Of course, the Soviet Union won their war on the Eastern Front.)

  29. MargaretG says:

    9/10 — and I am in New Zealand and have never done American history. If you know the history of the world most of it was obvious — because US just fits into a wider pattern.

  30. TACit says:

    Guess there had been a little ‘content creep’ in high school history from the mid-1960s to the 1980s! We assuredly did not learn to take all the credit for the USA. Still, we didn’t like to be reminded how Commonwealth countries came in when Britain did while we tried to stay out, and perhaps tend to conveniently forget that. Like I forgot entirely about the Soviets, as well.
    That’s kind of an interesting point, MargaretG, that the US fits into a wider pattern – I wouldn’t have thought it helped with the closure of the frontier question (which I very nearly got wrong despite my own forebears having been there!), for instance, but of course there were commonalities to all the British colonial developments, and history seems to me to be well taught in many Australian schools, and evidently in NZ ones too.

  31. IchabodKunkleberry says:

    Am coming to this late, but I did get 10 out of 10. Elementary
    school education was by Roman Catholic Franciscan nuns, who
    were not shy about instilling a rigorous attitude toward history,
    religion, math, and science into their young charges. HS education
    was publicly supported, since we by then couldn’t afford a Catholic
    HS. The public HS was quite good then in the late 1960’s, and I
    especially remember the history, math, and science courses as very
    congenial, but was rather put off by the emphasis on sports.

    In my 20’s I read quite a bit of history as presented in Will Durant’s
    volumes on Western history. I like his style and great erudition, but
    am told that his approach to history is very much out of favor these
    days. A shame.

  32. Robert Lundy says:

    9/10 the Frontier one tripped me up. I’ve gone to public schools all my life.

  33. Cennydd13 says:

    One little tidbit: How many of you know that Gene Autry (remember him, the “singing cowboy” of Hollywood fame?) flew as a tail gunner in a B-29 bomber? This is supposedly a fact.

  34. Cennydd13 says:

    Actually, he flew supplies over the Hump…….a very dangerous operation.

  35. Cennydd13 says:

    And actually, the troops of South Korea, as well as Australia, Britain, Greece, Turkey, Canada, and several other nations fought alongside troops of the United States during the Korean War. So yes, it was a UN force.

  36. Grant LeMarquand says:

    I also got 10/10 – and I didn’t do schooling in the US (I’m Canadian). Is it possible that this test is just a bit too easy…everyone on this list seems to have done well – how about a bit more challenge?

  37. Cennydd13 says:

    Okay, then……what was the [b]real[/b] cause of the American Civil War?

  38. David Hein says:

    Brief answer to a brief question: The real cause of the American Civil War was secession (over slavery)–and the national government’s determination to preserve the Union.

  39. Cennydd13 says:

    Congratulations…..you win the Brass Ring! Contrary to what so many still believe, the issue of states’ rights was only secondary.

  40. Clueless says:

    10/10 I went to a six year combined BS/MD program in the USm, which allowed me to skip all the idiotic liberal arts courses and just focus on science, math and medicine (also fencing) with a smattering of whatever else I wanted to learn. But I read widely including history for pleasure, and my (episcopal) high school gave me an excellent grounding. I can’t say I missed out.

  41. Deacon Francie says:

    Interesting to read all the comments. I answered all 10 correctly. I am completely the product of public education in California….but mostly in the 1950’s and college in the 1960’s: Commodore Sloat Elementary; Aptos Jr. High; Lowell High School all in San Francisco and U.C. Berkely for my B.A. Somehow I fear that public schools in California are not as good at teaching the basics of English, Math, Science and History as they were so long ago when I was a student, lol!!

  42. David Hein says:

    No. 40 (Clueless):

    “which allowed me to skip all the idiotic liberal arts courses and just focus on science, math and medicine…. I can’t say I missed out.”

    Well, you missed out on learning what the idiotic liberal arts are: they include math and science. Clueless, indeed.