Former US President Bill Clinton presented the award
Oscar-winning film director Steven Spielberg has received an honour for his artistic and humanitarian work at a ceremony in Philadelphia.
Former US President Bill Clinton presented the 62-year-old film-maker with the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center.
Spielberg was praised for "inspiring millions to better understand the abiding call of liberty".
U2 singer Bono and Nelson Mandela have previously been awarded the prize.
Mr Clinton said: "We honour a man today who has always been able to make a simple story and make it scary, make a simple story and make it interesting, and make a simple story and remind us of the greatness in us all."
Spielberg won Oscars for Holocaust drama Schindler's List in 1994 and the World War II epic Saving Private Ryan in 1999.
After making Schindler's List, based on the true story of a man's efforts to save Jews from the Nazis, Spielberg established a foundation to produce video and oral histories of Holocaust survivors.
The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation now boasts a collection of nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages, representing 56 countries.
Spielberg will donate the Liberty Medal's $100,000 (£62,500) cash prize to foundation, the National Constitution Center said.
The medal, established in 1988, is awarded annually to those whose actions represent the founding principles of the United States.