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Spin Control: Here’s our annual July 4th trivia quiz to prove you’re the dandiest of Yankee Doodlers

An American flag flies at the U.S. Capitol before the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.  (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

So you consider yourself a true, red-white-and-blue patriot, one who lists “The Star-Spangled Banner” as your favorite song for the security question to your online accounts and wears an American flag pin on your pajamas.

Then you probably wait all year to take Spin Control’s Fourth of July trivia quiz, our annual collection of 13 questions – one for each colony, of course – that challenge your Yankee Doodleness. It’s our way of getting out of writing a political column on the holiday.

Have at it, then challenge your friends to do better at today’s barbecue.

1. What was the first state to join the nation after the original 13?

A. Kentucky

B. Vermont

C. Tennessee

D. Alabama

2. Although Betsy Ross was probably not the sole designer of what became the American flag, she likely convinced George Washington to make a key design change. What was it?

A. Start the stripes with red on top.

B. Put the field of blue on the upper left corner rather than in the center.

C. Make the stars with five points rather than six points

D. Drop the idea for a coiled rattlesnake.

3. If you like watching or setting off fireworks to celebrate the Fourth, what country should you thank for inventing them?

A. England

B. France

C. Japan

D. China

4. One of the tax decisions by the British Parliament that angered the colonists was the Stamp Act. What did it tax?

A. Tea

B. Firearms

C. Documents

D. Liquor

5. Who said, “Give me liberty or give me death”?

A. George Washington

B. Thomas Paine

C. Samuel Adams

D. Patrick Henry

6. In 1775, which colony did Parliament declare to be in “open rebellion”?

A. Massachusetts

B. New York

C. South Carolina

D. Virginia

7. As military commander, how was George Washington’s overall record?

A. He won almost all of the battles.

B. He won more than he lost.

C. He won and lost the same amount.

D. He lost more than he won.

8. To add to the British troops in America, George III hired mercenaries from what country?

A. France

B. Germany

C. The Netherlands

D. Spain

9. What was the name of the group of colonists that staged actions like the Boston Tea Party?

A. Sons of America

B. Sons of Freedom

C. Sons of Liberty

D. Sons of Democracy

10. After approving the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress continued to meet in Philadelphia until the British took the city. To what city did the Continental Congress move temporarily?

A. Baltimore

B. New York

C. Pittsburgh

D. Richmond

11. From where does the Declaration of Independence say a government receives the ability to secure inalienable rights like “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

A. From the separation powers

B. From the laws of Nature and Nature’s God

C. From wisdom and strength

D. From the consent of the governed

12. What southern city did not celebrate Fourth of July for 81 years after the Civil War?

A. Vicksburg

B. Richmond

C. Memphis

D. Atlanta

13. To fix problems with the Articles of Confederation, the new states named a total of 70 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. How many signed on to the final product?

A. 70

B. 57

C. 48

D. 39


1. B. Vermont territory was disputed between New Hampshire and New York and was not one of the original colonies. Its residents initially declared themselves a sovereign state but joined the union in 1791.

2. C. Washington reportedly wanted six-point stars, but Ross showed him it was easier to create 5-pointers with a single cut of folded fabric.

3. D. Gunpowder was invented in China around the 9th Century.

4. C. The law required documents and some other paper products, including newspapers, to have a tax stamp, raising money to help pay off costs of colonial protection after the French and Indian War.

5. D. Patrick Henry. Although he was a delegate to the Continental Congress, he said this at the convention to draft Virginia’s constitution in 1775.

6. A. The site of the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, Massachusetts was the largest hotbed of rebellion against the crown.

7. D. Washington had a string of early defeats, but learned those lessons and escaped to fight another day, held his troops together at Valley Forge and won the most important battles, including the surprise attack on Trenton and the final battle at Yorktown, which led to the British surrender.

8. B. George III, who had strong family ties to Germany, hired Hessian mercenaries.

9. C. Among the group were Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

10. A. The Congress met in Baltimore for part of 1776 and 1777, before returning to cities in Pennsylvania.

11. D. The sentence after the statement of inalienable rights is “To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

12. A. After a long siege, the Confederate general commanding Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863.

13. D. Not all 70 delegates were able to attend the convention and some who did left early because of business, family issues or illness. Among those who wouldn’t sign were Patrick Henry, who thought it gave too much power to the federal government, and George Mason, who thought it should include a Bill of Rights.


0-3: Union Jack

4-6: Yankee Doodle

7-10: Minute Man

11-13: Founding Father (or Mother)

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