COLUMN: American History Quiz

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

It is hard to write a column the week of Independence Day. As an unbridled lover of American History and a proud native of Philadelphia, the city that gave birth to the greatest nation the world has ever known, it is easy for me to look upon the 4th of July as a time for enthusiastic celebration. I do not want to write a column that criticizes anyone. I do not want to scribe a sugary ballad extolling America’s excellence—-I just would not do that subject justice.

Instead, I offer CVD readers a break from commentary and bring “Fourth” an American History quiz. Part One will be a multiple choice. Part Two will ask you to identify if the events listed happened before or after a given year. The answers can be found below. Let us know how you did in the comments section (and try to do it without cheating).

On July 4th, I ask only one thing: Take a moment to think about how difficult it was for wealthy, haughty men to risk their lives and fortunes to proclaim independence from the most powerful empire on Earth. They committed this act of treason with an unskilled militia, no navy to speak of and with 13 individual states with their own agendas. The United States of America still is a remarkable, unbelievable achievement.


1) What did Rhode Island do at the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787?

a. Proposed returning back to the UK.

b. Nothing. They boycotted the convention.

c. Threatened to declare war on Massachusetts.

2) Why was President John Tyler (1841-1845) known as “His Accidency”?

a. He was notorious for often falling off of his horse drunk.

b. During the War of 1812, he pulled his gun from his holster and shot himself in the foot.

c. He was the first vice president to ascend to the presidency because of the death of his predecessor.

3) What did Alexander Cartwright organize in New York City in 1845?

a. The first Socialist political party in America.

b. The first recognized baseball club in America.

c. The first public abolitionist society in America.

4) During the Civil War, Irvin McDowell, Joseph Hooker and Ambrose Burnside all held what title?

a. Commander of the Army of the Potomac.

b. Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

c. U.S. Secretary of War

5) North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted as states to the Union on the same date. But, we do not know which state was actually signed into statehood first. Why is that?

a. Only the day, and not the exact time, was on the official documents. Later on, President Benjamin Harrison could not recall which he had signed first.

b. It was supposed to be decided by a coin flip. But both state governors wanted to call heads; and both refused to back down. So, it was agreed that the order would remain a secret.

c. President Harrison intentionally signed the papers without seeing which was first. James Blaine, Harrison’s Secretary of State, was ordered to submit the documents blindly.

6) Where did California rank in the 1900 U.S. Census of most populated states?

a. 10th

b. 21st

c. 33rd

7) Adopted in 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does what?

a. Prohibits the sale of alcohol.

b. Gives women the right to vote.

c. Imposes a federal income tax.

8) What debuted on April 18th, 1938?

a. The first Superman comic book.

b. The first Ford pick-up truck.

c. The first box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.

9) Who was the last Democratic presidential nominee to win Utah?

a. Harry Truman in 1948

b. Lyndon Johnson in 1964

c. Jimmy Carter in 1976

10.) What event, centered in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1982, is considered to be a financial, logistical, cultural, political, structural and public relations disaster?

a. Hands Across America

b. The World’s Fair

c. The Pan-Am Games


For the following ten events, determine if they happened BEFORE or AFTER the year 1915.

1) Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” is published.

2) Former president William Howard Taft becomes Chief Justice of the United States.

3) Lizzie Borden’s parents are axed to death.

4) The U.S. Department of Agriculture is formed.

5) New York City subway opens.

6) Alcatraz Island prison opens.

7) Charlie Chaplin character “The Tramp” makes his film debut.

8) George Gershwin releases the musical composition “Rhapsody In Blue”.

9) Anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti are executed for murder.

10) Chicago Cubs last won the World Series.


Part one

1) B

2) C

3) B

4) A

5) C

6) B

7) C

8) A

9) B

10) B

Part Two

1) After (1926)

2) After (1921)

3) Before (1892)

4) Before (1889)

5) Before (1904)

6) After (1934)

7) Before (1914)

8) After (1924)

9) After (1927)

10) Before (1908)

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