U.S. history is absolutely fascinating—the good, bad and ugly, every minute of our history has brought us to where we are today. From the 1600s (and even earlier) until now, there is so much to learn about our nation. So, we've got plenty to share in this list of 150 U.S. history trivia questions.
From early exploration to modern-day politics, test your knowledge about American history, and maybe learn something new too. Are you a history buff? We're covering Colonial Settlement, the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, Y2K and so much more.
Then, of course, test your friends' and families' knowledge by quizzing them, and see how you compare.
Best U.S. history trivia questions
1. In 1701, the Collegiate School at Saybrook was founded in Connecticut. It is better known as what university today?
2. In 1962, the U.S. placed this against Cuba, which restricted the citizens and businesses from trading with them.
3. At the time of his death, who was the fourth president to have been assassinated?
Answer: John F. Kennedy
4. Name one of the two astronauts to walk on the moon in July of 1969.
Answer: Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin
5. The 26th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the federal government from using this as a reason for denying the right to vote.
6. Instead of being impeached for his part in the Watergate Scandal, this president resigned.
Answer: Richard Nixon
7. What was the 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, when American deployments of nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey were matched by Soviet deployments of nuclear missiles in Cuba?
Answer: The Cuban Missile Crisis
8. What was the crisis where 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian college students supporting the Iranian Revolution?
Answer: Iran Hostage Crisis
9. On March 23, 1983, President Reagan introduced a program that was proposed to protect the United States from ballistic strategic nuclear weapons. What was the program called? (Bonus points if you know what it was nicknamed as.)
Answer: Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) *Bonus - "Star Wars" Program
10. Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm were the two phases of this armed conflict between Iraq and a 42-country coalition led by the United States.
Answer: The Gulf War
11. This Amendment to the Constitution took 200 years, 7 months and 10 days to ratify.
Answer: 27th Amendment to the Constitution
12. For nearly three years, this period coincided with the massive growth in internet adoption, prolific venture capital availability and the rapid growth of the valuations in the new dot-com startups.
Answer: Dot-com bubble, in the late 1990s
13. With the world watching in 1986, this space shuttle exploded before ever leaving the atmosphere, killing all 7 crew members, including a schoolteacher.
14. A shooting, at what school, took place in Littleton, CO, killing 14 students dead and leaving one teacher, and 23 students wounded?
Answer: Columbine High School
15. In 2003, scientists finished sequencing 99.99 percent of the human genome. What was the project called?
Answer: The Human Genome Project
16. Who was the former computer intelligence consultant, turned whistleblower against the National Security Agency (NSA)?
Answer: Edward Snowden
17. What is the name of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, spilling millions of gallons of oil into the sea, and becoming the worst spill in U.S. History?
Answer: Deepwater Horizon
18. Who was the explorer who left Puerto Rico, seeking the coast of Florida, while looking for the Fountain of Youth?
Answer: Ponce de Leon
19. French explorer Jacques Cartier discovered the St. Lawrence River area, but was really looking for what?
Answer: Northwest Passage to Asia
20. Before the Battle of Lexington and Concord, who took a midnight run to warn the militia of the approaching British forces?
Answer: Paul Revere
21. Which celebration still held annually today in New Orleans, began in Mobile, the capital of the New France colony in Louisiana, in early 1703?
Answer: Mardi Gras
22. Who is known for inventing the lightning rod after earlier in the year proving that lightning was electricity by flying a kite in a thunderstorm?
Answer: Benjamin Franklin (1752)
23. The first U.S. patent was issued to which inventor for his improved method of making potash?
Answer: Samuel Hopkins (1790)
24. Which military academy opened on July 4, 1802, in New York?
Answer: West Point
25. During an experiment in 1808, which fossil fuel was burned for the first time as fuel?
U.S. history trivia questions about the 1600s and earlier
26. What major holiday was banned in Boston between 1659-1681?
27. It is believed that our earliest ancestors came here on foot by crossing a land bridge between what two places?
Answer: Asia and Alaska
28. What is the oldest European-founded city in the United States?
Answer: St. Augustine, Florida (founded in 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain)
29. In the 10th century, who became the first European to land in North America?
Answer: Leif Erikson
30. Who did Pocahontas marry?
Answer: John Rolfe
31. Name the English colony that, in 1607, became the first permanent colony in the U.S.
32. What was the name of the Pilgrim's ship?
Answer: The Mayflower
33. How many people were actually killed during the Salem Witch Trials?
34. What was the name of the first English settlement in the New World that failed miserably?
35. What is the name of the individual who was the leader of the Jamestown settlement?
Answer: Captain John Smith
36. How much did European Peter Minuit buy Manhattan Island for?
Answer: The equivalent of $24 worth of goods
37. How long was the first Thanksgiving celebration?
Answer: Three days
38. What was the first representative assembly in America called?
Answer: The House of Burgesses
39. What agreement was signed by the 41 men of the Mayflower before leaving for disembarking for the Plymouth Colony?
Answer: Mayflower Compact
40. In 1664, the English seized the colony and city of New Amsterdam from the Dutch and named it what?
Answer: New York
41. This was the first Englishmen to land on the New England coast in 1602 and named Cape Cod and Marth's Vineyard.
Answer: Bartholomew Gosnold
42. In 1609, this explorer set sail for the Dutch, exploring the Hudson River and the Delaware Bay.
Answer: Henry Hudson
43. During the 1617-1619 time period, 90 percent of the Massachusetts Bay Indians died of which disease?
44. This University is the oldest institute of higher education in the United States and was founded in 1636.
45. A member of the Patuxet Tribe, he was one of the first liaisons between Native Americans and the Pilgrims.
46. In 1681, this man received a royal charter from King Charles II to establish Pennsylvania.
Answer: William Penn
47. Virginia's capital moved from Jamestown, which eventually became abandoned, to this town in 1699.
48. The Beaver Wars escalated to full warfare in 1640—what was another name for these wars?
Answer: French and Iroquois Wars
49. Who was known for his exploration of the Appalachian Mountains in 1669-1670 and the first to ever see the Shenandoah Valley?
Answer: John Lederer
50. These laws were enacted in Connecticut to enforce strict rules upon the Puritans in 1672.
Answer: Blue Laws
U.S. history trivia questions about the 1700s
51. What is the name of the final conflict between the British and French for control of the eastern part of North America?
Answer: French and Indian War
52. Colonists dumped over 300 crates of tea into the ocean as a protest to what?
Answer: British Tea Tax
53. What is the event called where the colonists dumped tea into the ocean to protest the British?
Answer: Boston Tea Party
54. In 1701 this colony separated itself from Pennsylvania.
Answer: Delaware Colony
55. John Campbell started the first regularly published newsletter in 1704 in what city?
56. Known as one of the founding fathers of our country, this man was born in Boston in 1706.
Answer: Benjamin Franklin
57. Starting in 1739, George Whitfield began traveling throughout the colonies, preaching of having a personal connection with God, which resonated and began with the people?
Answer: First Great Awakening
58. This Act passed by Britain in 1750, eliminated the taxes that Britain paid on iron imported to them by the American colonies.
Answer: The Iron Act
59. The British were busy trying to raise taxes from the American colonies by imposing numerous taxes in 1767. Collectively, they were known as what?
Answer: The Townsend Acts
60. Protesters surrounded eight British soldiers in 1770 and were fired upon, starting what incident?
Answer: The Boston Massacre
61. The British Parliament punished Boston, and Massachusetts in general, for their Boston Tea Party rebellion by imposing numerous Acts. These were later called what by the colonists?
Answer: The Intolerable Acts
62. What two battles were the first armed conflicts between the British and American revolutionaries?
Answer: The Battles of Lexington and Concord
63. During a costly battle for this hill in 1775, British forces suffered more casualties than the Americans, but were still able to gain control of it.
Answer: Bunker Hill
64. The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in what year?
65. During the winter of 1777, Washington and the Continental Army lacked necessary supplies and were bombarded with poor conditions, causing nearly 2,500 men to die. Where were they camped at?
Answer: Valley Forge
66. Because of the Americans' victory at Saratoga, this country changed the course of the Revolutionary War by forming an alliance with America.
67. The surrender of 7,500 British troops, commonly known as the "Surrender at Yorktown," effectively marked the end to what?
Answer: The Revolutionary War
68. The British officially accepted defeat and recognized The United States of America's independence by signing what?
Answer: The Treaty of Paris
69. From May to September of 1787, delegates from all 13 colonies participated in what convention that decided how the new country was to be led?
Answer: Constitutional Convention
70. In order to get support from the people and states of the new constitution, these papers and essays were written to help explain how the constitution would work.
Answer: Federalist Papers
71. This declaration said that the 13 American colonies were no longer under British rule and considered themselves independent entities.
Answer: The Declaration of Independence
72. Not all states agreed to the constitution, however, they did vote it in on the condition that they could amend it soon after. These 10 amendments are known as what?
Answer: The Bill of Rights
73. In 1794, what did the government do to help pay back the enormous debts incurred during the Revolutionary War?
Answer: Imposed a whiskey tax
74. During the 1790's, the construction of what famous house began?
Answer: The White House
75. This Act forced the colonists to purchase only expensive embossed paper from London, angering colonists to the point that it became the main fuel for the start of the Revolutionary War.
Answer: The Stamp Act
U.S. history trivia questions about the 1800s
76. In 1800, this officially became the capital of the United States.
Answer: Washington, D.C.
77. President John Adams approved legislation to set aside $5,000 to establish books for a library. Today, it is one of the largest and most prestigious in the world.
Answer: The Library of Congress
78. A Founding Father and author of the Declaration of Independence, who was the third president of the United States?
Answer: Thomas Jefferson
79. This $15 million agreement between France and the U.S. doubled the size of the U.S. in 1803.
Answer: The Louisiana Purchase
80. Who led the expedition, approved by President Jefferson, to explore the lands west of the Mississippi?
Answer: Lewis and Clark
81. Which amendment ratified the original procedure for how the electoral college worked in electing the president and vice president; taking effect on June 15, 1804?
Answer: Twelfth Amendment
82. Beginning in 1806, President Jefferson approved a military party to go out and explore the areas south and west of the Louisiana Purchase. Who led the journey?
Answer: Zebulon Pike, Jr. (Pike Expedition)
83. Beginning in 1810, this conflict was between the Shawnee tribe and the United States, continuing all the way through the War of 1812.
Answer: Tecumseh's War
84. Following a 13-day siege in 1836, Texian troops were far outnumbered and slain at this location, by Mexican soldiers who were under orders from then President of Mexico, Santa Anna.
Answer: The Alamo
85. This man became the 10th president of the United States in 1841, after the death of William Henry Harrison.
Answer: John Tyler
86. The Republic of Texas officially became the State of Texas on December 29, 1845, becoming what numbered state to join the union?
Answer: The 28th state
87. This 31st state was admitted into the Union on September 9, 1850.
Answer: The state of California
88. The Wounded Knee massacre occurred as U.S. military troops killed nearly 300 members of what tribe?
89. Seven rebellious slave states: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, on February 4, 1861, came together to form what?
Answer: Confederate States of America
90. Known for his "Fourscore" speech and abolishing slavery, who was our 16th president of the U.S.?
Answer: Abraham Lincoln
91. Disputing whether or not to continue to allow slavery, which war was between the states that seceded from the Union and the Union itself?
Answer: The American Civil War
92. Fought in Virginia, this was the first major battle in the American Civil War.
Answer: Battle of Bull Run
93. This battle between Lee and McClellan remains the bloodiest day in American history, with a combined tally of 22,727 dead, wounded or missing.
Answer: Battle of Antietam
94. During the American Civil War, President Lincoln issued this, changing the legal status of 3.5 million people from enslaved to free people.
Answer: Emancipation Proclamation
95. While attending Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre, this president was assassinated on April 14, 1865.
Answer: Abraham Lincoln
96. Commonly referred to as Custer's Last Stand, it was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army.
Answer: Battle of Little Bighorn
97. A former mayor of New York, this politician served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States.
Answer: Grover Cleveland
98. Signed by Spain and the U.S. in 1898, this treaty relinquished most of Spain's acquisitions to the United States and was the catalyst for the United States' emergence as a world power.
Answer: Treaty of Paris
99. On July 4, 1809, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the end of this war.
Answer: Philippine-American War
100. The USS Charleston was sent during the Spanish-American war to take control over what island?
U.S. history trivia questions about the 1900s
101. Galveston, Texas was struck by what natural disaster in 1900, killing approximately 8,000 people?
102. President William McKinley was assassinated, and this man became the 26th president in 1901.
Answer: Theodore Roosevelt
103. The United States took over the building of this modern marvel in 1904, and finished its construction in 1914, thus creating a shortcut from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.
Answer: Panama Canal
104. In 1906 a tremendous earthquake hit this California city in the early hours of the morning, and still ranks as one of the most significant earthquakes of all time.
Answer: San Francisco
105. This Amendment to the Constitution allowed Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it to the states on the basis of population.
Answer: The 16th Amendment
106. The United States declared war on the German Reich in what year?
107. In 1919, the 18th Amendment enforced the prohibition of this substance but was later repealed by the 21st Amendment.
108. President Warren Harding died, and on August 2, 1923, this man became the 30th president of the United States.
Answer: Calvin Coolidge
109. The time period between 1929 and 1939 was an economic shock to most of the world. It was known as what?
Answer: The Great Depression
110. To help jumpstart the economy during the Great Depression, President Roosevelt enacted what plan that was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations between 1933 and 1939?
Answer: The New Deal
111. In 1921, this man contracted an illness that left him paralyzed, but it didn't stop him from getting elected to the presidential office three times.
Answer: Franklin D. Roosevelt
112. This conflict involved most of the world powers, beginning in 1939 and ending in 1945.
Answer: World War II
113. On June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched a successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during WW11. It was nicknamed what?
Answer: Operation Overlord
114. What was the strategic World War II meeting in 1943 between the heads of the United States and the United Kingdom?
Answer: Trident Conference
115. The first phase of the amphibian invasion and establishment of a strong foothold during WWII was nicknamed Operation Neptune, but is often referred to as this day?
116. The coastline of Normandy was divided into 17 sectors, all of which were named using a spelling Alphabet. Name the sectors that began with "O" and "U?"
Answer: Omaha and Utah
117. What were the Japanese military suicide missions during WWII called that took out 1600 aircraft, along with carriers and merchant ships?
Answer: Kamikaze missions
118. This was the largest, most ferocious assault in the Pacific theater between the Imperial Japanese and the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps.
Answer: Battle of Okinawa
119. Where was the first testing of the atomic bomb done on July 16, 1945?
Answer: The Trinity Site in New Mexico
120. Name the two landing spots for the two atomic bombs that the United States dropped during WWII.
Answer: Nagasaki & Hiroshima
121. Who was the man who took over office for Franklin D. Roosevelt upon his death in 1945?
Answer: Harry S. Truman
122. On October 25, 1945, the United States, along with 50 other nations formed what?
Answer: United Nations
123. From March of 1945 all the way until December 25, 1991, this was a period of geological tension between the U.S. and the Soviets, along with their respective allies.
Answer: The Cold War
124. These two neighboring countries began this war that escalated from clashes along their borders, ongoing from 1950 to 1953.
Answer: Korean War
125. This war left a bad taste in the mouths of the American people and was fought between 1959 and 1975.
Answer: Vietnam War
U.S. history trivia questions about the 2000s
126. There were concerns that computers would have trouble with their internal clock and calendars when the year went from 1999 to 2000. What was this coined as?
127. Who was behind the plane attacks against the U.S. on September 11, 2001?
128. The Iraq War was the conflict where the United States and its coalition overthrew the Iraqi Government of which leader?
Answer: Saddam Hussein
129. Name the hurricane that hit Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, subsequently flooding 80 percent of New Orleans due to failure in its canal drainage systems.
Answer: Hurricane Katrina
130. Impacting over half the homes in America, the housing bubble collapsed in what year?
131. After the housing crisis in the United States, a severe worldwide economic crisis hit in 2007-2008, superseding the Great Depression. What was it called?
Answer: Global Financial Crisis (GFC)
132. In 2009, this man became the first black president in American history.
Answer: Barack Obama
133. In 2009, a fiscally conservative movement within the Republican party began. What was it called?
Answer: Tea Party Movement
134. As part of NATO, the United States was a part of placing a no-fly zone over this country on March 19, 2011.
135. On May 2, 20011, U.S. Navy Seals killed the mastermind of the September 11 attacks in Pakistan.
Answer: Osama bin Laden
136. On December 15, 2011, this war was finally declared over.
Answer: The Iraq War
137. The COVID-19 pandemic hit full force, stopping nearly all of the world, beginning in what year?
138. In 2021, the United States officially declared this conflict over, putting an end to the longest war in United States history and passing the Vietnam War by 6 months.
Answer: War in Afghanistan (2001-2021)
139. Myspace was the most popular social networking site until June 2009 when it was overtaken by this entity.
140. The deadliest natural disaster and most powerful earthquake of the 21st century occurred in 2004 when a 9.1–9.3 earthquake struck multiple nations in the Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people. Due to the location of the earthquake what other natural disaster occurred?
Answer: A tsunami
141. In his first State of the Union address, President Bush declared that the U.S. would wage war against states that develop "weapons of mass destruction" and labeled the following countries: Iran, Iraq and North Korea as what?
Answer: Axis of Evil
142. What space shuttle exploded upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere in 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board?
143. The first woman who served on the Supreme Court retired from the court in 1986. What was her name?
Answer: Sandra Day O'Connor
144. On January 10, 2000, American Online agreed to the largest corporate merger with what company for 162 billion dollars?
Answer: Time Warner
145. During a keynote speech at Apple, this CEO pulled out the iPhone from his pocket in 2007.
Answer: Steve Jobs
146. This all-star basketball player, his daughter and seven others were killed in 2020 when their helicopter crashed.
Answer: Kobe Bryant
147. What president became the first ever to have been impeached two times?
Answer: Donald Trump
148. This longtime landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 1973, which declared women's right to have an abortion, was protected under the Constitution of the United States, was overruled in 2022, sending the decision back to the States to make those decisions moving forward.
Answer: Roe vs. Wade
149. This actor became the oldest person to go into space, at the age of 90, on board the Blue Origin NS-18.
Answer: William Shatner
150. The Supreme Court struck down this Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, which banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
Answer: Defense of Marriage Act
Wowzer! That was a lot of United States history! But in case you aren't tired of trivia yet, we've got 150 movie trivia questions to keep your game night going!