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Columbus Meets the New World: A Quiz

Most American schoolchildren learn about Christopher Columbus, his patronage from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, and his three ships that came to the New World. But few of us know very much about what that “world” was like when Columbus arrived. Here’s a fun quiz to test your knowledge.


1. The New World got the name “America” from …?

A. The Latin word for “Amazing Land”

B. A tribute to Queen Amelia of the Netherlands

C. The explorer Amerigo Vespucci

D. A mineral commonly found in its soil


2. Based on the best current estimates of demographers, how many people lived in the Americas when Columbus arrived?

A. 4 million

B. 40 million

C. 400 million

D. Fewer than a million


3. How many men sailed with Columbus on the Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria?

A. 90

B. 100

C. 125

D. 150


4. When the Europeans arrived, the dominant force on the continent was …?

A. The Mayan Empire

B. The Iroquois Confederacy

C. The Olmecs

D. The Aztec Empire


5. Before Columbus arrived, which of the following was not available to the people of the Americas?

A. Horses

B. Coffee

C. Wheat

D. All of the above


6. Which of the following was not available in Europe until Columbus reached the New World?

A. Corn

B. Potatoes

C. Chocolate

D. All of the above


7. The “Pinta” was not the ship’s formal name, but a nickname given by the sailors. It meant:

A. “Painted one” or “prostitute.”

B. “Pony”

C. It was short for “pinata.”

D. A reference to the pine in the ship’s construction.


8. The Europeans in Central America faced warriors who wielded the “atlatl.” What sort of weapon was it?

A. A curved sword.

B. A primitive firearm.

C. A device that flung darts and spears.

D. A lasso.


9. While 1492 may have been his most famous trip, how many voyages did Columbus make to the New World?

A. One

B. Two

C. Three

D. Four


10. Columbus spent most of the last year of his life …?

A. Living like a king in Spain

B. Exploring the coastline of the Americas

C. Castaway on Jamaica waiting for rescue

D. Building his family home in Hispaniola


ANSWERS:  1-C, 2-B, 3-A, 4-A, 5-D, 6-D, 7-A, 8-C, 9-D, 10-C

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Rediscovering America: A Quiz for Presidents Day

Presidents Day, which originated in the 1880s, will be observed on February 21 this year. The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of America’s presidents and the American presidency. It was written by Sarah M. Burns,  a member of the Ashbrook Center faculty and an associate professor of political science at Rochester Institute of Technology.


1. Presidents Day originally was established to honor which president?

A. George Washington

B. Abraham Lincoln

C. Thomas Jefferson

D. All of the above


2. Only two presidents were among the signers of the Constitution.  Which two were they?

A. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

B. George Washington and John Adams

C. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

D. James Madison and George Washington


3. Which of the following is not specified in the Constitution’s list of crimes that warrant a president’s removal from office on impeachment?

A. Treason

B. Abuse of power

C. Bribery

D. High crimes and misdemeanors


4. Of all the presidents, only one had a formal education in political science. Who was that?

A. Jimmy Carter

B.  Harry Truman

C.  John F. Kennedy

D. Woodrow Wilson


5. Which president named the president’s residence and workplace the White House?

A. John Adams

B. Andrew Johnson

C. Theodore Roosevelt

D. Zachary Taylor


6. Four U.S. presidents were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Who were they?

A. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama

B. Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Woodrow Wilson. and Barack Obama

C. Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama

D. John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama


7. Which president served as a Supreme Court justice after his presidential term in office?

A. Grover Cleveland

B. Calvin Coolidge

C. Benjamin Harrison

D. William Taft


8. Which document is most responsible for laying out the process by which we nominate presidential candidates today?

A. Article II of the U.S. Constitution

B. The 22nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

C. The McGovern-Fraser Commission Report of 1971

D. The Brownlow Committee Report of 1937


9. Two U.S. presidents began life as indentured servants.  Who were they?

A. Zachary Taylor and James Polk

B. Millard Filmore and Andrew Johnson

C. Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant

D. John Tyler and James Buchanan


10. Which famous historical document is read on the U.S. Senate floor every Presidents Day?

A.  Declaration of Independence

B. George Washington’s farewell address

C. Gettysburg Address

D. John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address

Answers: 1-A, 2-D, 3-B, 4-D, 5-C, 6-A, 7-D, 8-C, 9-B, 10-B

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Rediscovering America: A Quiz for Veterans Day

November 11 is both Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the solemn landmark at Arlington National Cemetery honoring military personnel killed in action who have never been identified. Since 1999, a vacant crypt on the grounds has honored missing service members from the Vietnam War.

The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of Veterans Day and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

1. What was Veterans Day originally called?

A. Armed Forces Day

B. Remembrance Day

C. Soldiers Day

D. Armistice Day

2. In what year was the name changed to Veterans Day?

A. 1938

B. 1945

C. 1954

D. 1962

3. Starting in 1971, after the Uniform Holiday Bill was passed moving federal holiday observances to Mondays, Veterans Day was observed on different dates. What president signed the legislation returning the annual observance to its original date?

A. Richard M. Nixon

B. Gerald R. Ford

C. Jimmy Carter

D. Ronald Reagan

4. Why is Veterans Day always observed on November 11, rather than on a Monday, like other national holidays?

A. The World War I ceasefire was signed on the 11th day of the 11th month

B. The Allies won the First Battle of Ypres on November 11

C.  The last World War I soldier returned home on that date

D. The Battle of the Somme ended on November 11 after 141 days

5. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are approximately how many veterans living in the United States today?

A. 7 million

B. 12 million

C. 19 million

D. 46 million

6. Which U.S. state is credited with being the home to the most Medal of Honor winners?

A. New York

B. Pennsylvania

C. Ohio

D. Texas

7. In proposing legislation to create the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1921, which congressman said, “It is hoped that the grave of this unidentified warrior will become a shrine of patriotism for all the ages to come, which will be a source of inspiration, reverence and love of country for future generations”?

A. William A. Ashbrook of Ohio

B. Champ Clark of Missouri

C. Hamilton Fish III of New York

D. Frederick Gillett of Massachusetts

8. Which U.S. president officiated at the ceremony dedicating the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?

A. Woodrow Wilson

B. Warren Harding

C. Calvin Coolidge

D. Herbert Hoover

9. In addition to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery also houses a Tomb of the Civil War Unknowns. Of the 2,111 unidentified soldiers buried there, 1,800 were recovered from which battlefield?

A. Antietam

B. Vicksburg

C. Gettysburg

D. Manassas (Bull Run)

10. Which former general said, “The highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country”?

A. George Patton

B. John Pershing

C. George Marshall

D. Douglas MacArthur

ANSWERS: 1-D, 2-C, 3-B, 4-A, 5-C, 6-A, 7-C, 8-B, 9-D, 10-A

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