Not that literacy tests are necessarily a good thing, but if such a proposition were being considered here’s the type of question that would seem ideal for weeding out the civics-challenged:
On July 4th we celebrate Independence Day. From which country did the United States win its independence?
About three-quarters of the 1,001 US residents queried by Marist College knew the United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776.
Amazingly, 26 percent did not. This includes a small percentage who thought the US separated from another nation.
Among answers given to the question, “What country did the US achieved its independence from?” were France, China, Japan, Mexico and Spain.
One supposes that if one doesn’t realize that the US gained its independence from Great Britain, one probably isn’t going to know such historical tidbits as the fact that Mexico didn’t exist as an independent country at the time of the American Revolution, Japan was a closed society that had almost no contact with any outside nation and China was in the midst of a long decline, barely able to keep order within its own borders, never mind try to control another continent.
On top of that, France, of course, was our key ally during the Revolution, while Spain also aided us in the fight against the British.
Still, there are a handful of facts that one would expect every American to know, including: George Washington was our first president, the North and South fought against one another in the Civil War, the Americans defeated the Germans and Japanese in World War II, and the US achieved its independence from Great Britain.
That one in four US residents can’t figure out the last item can’t be pinned on our education system, either.
At some point, the failure to comprehend the simplest facts regarding America’s founding have to be laid at the feet of those who, for whatever reason, have failed to grasp even the most basic tenets of our nation’s history.
(Hat tip: Waldo Lydecker’s Journal)