July 2nd, 2010
11:24 AM ET
8 years ago

Don't know much about history?

 One in 4 Americans had difficulty identifying who this nation declared independence from.

One in 4 Americans had difficulty identifying who this nation declared independence from.

(CNN) – As Americans get ready to spend a long weekend marking this country's independence 234 years ago, a new poll suggests more than 1 in 4 Americans don't know which country America declared its independence from.

According to a new survey from Marist College, 26 percent failed to correctly identify Great Britain as the country the United States fought an eight-year war with to gain its independence.

That percentage of Americans includes the 20 percent who were "unsure" and the six percent who thought the U.S. fought a revolution against another country. Among the countries mentioned were France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain, according to the poll.

The poll's internals show younger Americans know least about this country's founding: only 60 percent of 18-29 year-olds could correctly name Great Britain. Men also had a considerable 81-67 percent advantage over women in naming the correct country.

The poll surveyed 1,004 Americans between June 17 and 24. It carries a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: July 4
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    So much for No Child Left Behind....

    July 2, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Get A Grip

    We know one thing for sure. History will show Obama as the worst President this country has ever had.

    July 2, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    In an apples to apples comparison, taking dollar valuing over time, we spend more money now on education than we ever have in our history.

    The result is 1 in 4 Americans not knowing who we declared independence from.

    I've got a great idea... let's throw more money at the problem. Maybe by 2025, we can get that number to 1 in 3.

    July 2, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Greg Pottstown PA

    I am not surprised. How else do you think we elected a president that was pushing principles that have failed every time they have been implemented in several countries around the world. We don't teach history anymore. We teach liberal spin on what really happened.

    July 2, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. Randy

    Here is a great reason to get rid of the Dept of Education. Not to mention a bunch of govt spending. Throwing more money at schools has done nothing. If you want to pick up the European model on something do it with education. Schools in Europe are there to teach kids. The schools are not for sports, moral issues, and other extra curricular activities. They are there to educate.

    July 2, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Scary

    Proves that some young people just don't care about this country. It's also scary that these ignorant people get to vote...and I would bet that most of them voted for Obama. No wonder the US is going down the toilet.

    July 2, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. Sarah, the baby seal basher

    Why do you think Republicans still get voted into anything?They have dumbed down people so badly by not funding schools,that they now have a tea party of morons.Watch Jay Leno ask the people on the street some history questions.Its sad to see the answers they give.

    July 2, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Seattle Girl

    That it is so sad!!!

    July 2, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Willy Brown

    I know the real American history but daily the progressives and this administration are teaching that we were the villains.

    July 2, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. who thought the U.S. fought a revolution against another country

    and a generation was brought up believing that the tea party had nothing to do with England but instead the tea party was a right wing fringe group set out to insulate the rich from paying their fair share

    having very little to do with tea, it confused a whole generation who went on to name a coffee party for the anti war movement

    Palin was associated with the lead of the tea party, and the generation in question believed in order to be an effective leader you must shoot wild animals from a helicopter

    July 2, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. teach

    No surprise there. What do you expect from a culture that values sex, fun, junk food, alcohol and drugs more than education, respect and hard work?

    July 2, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. phoenix86

    This is why we need Teachers Unions and tenure, to ensure that Americans continue to be dumbing down.

    July 2, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Charles

    Newly sworn-in immigrant Americans know more than most kids who go through our school system. Thank you to all the teachers trying to teach the basics to our ever-increasingly distracted and unmotivated kids. And the kids should slam their parents for not pushing them to learn and understand the things a reasonably intelligent person should know. No wonder this country is going downhill. Now, let the apologists and parents respond with their excuses as to why their children are so woeful ignorant.

    July 2, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. Augsbee

    Well of course kids these days are dumber about American History than their parents who are almost as dumb.

    This is the fault of our school system for not teaching American History based on the facts, details of events instead of some teacher's personal philosophy behind the facts. It's actually a miracle they are still teaching American History in school.

    Wasn't the Texas School Board of Education recently arguing to stop teaching about our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, President Washington, etc...War World I &II because they saw no need for it?????? How dumb do they want us to be next to the rest of the world???

    July 2, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. dale

    One of them can see Russia from her house...

    July 2, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Cody

    God help us. At least they did not say that the Fourth of July commemorates the first half off sale at Macy's.

    July 2, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. Lisa, Miami


    no surprise here, americans are notoriously ignorant!!!!!!


    July 2, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. jeff jackson, alabama

    Just more justification for doing away
    with teacher's tenure. One of the most
    out of whack propaganda machines in
    this country is our teacher's unions always
    telling us what heros our teachers are.
    Bull crap !!!!!
    Why do you think so many young Americans
    don't know their history.
    Our teachers are a lazy spoiled lot who have
    too many benefits and too much pay for a
    part time job.
    And yeah....I said part time because it is.
    Next time you head to work on one of our many
    holidays or during the summer, look and
    see if your teacher neighbor's cars are still
    in their driveway. Meanwhile our kids don't know
    their history, geography, or science.
    If students aren't learning then fire their teachers
    like you would any other working American who's
    not doing their job.

    July 2, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. snow

    This is called dumbing down and is the intent of the liberals in the school systems and the Department of Education. The teachers unions want more money and they are not earning what they get in most cases.

    July 2, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Steve

    How is this even possible?

    July 2, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. candy

    wow we fail. this is what happens when we underfund our schools.....

    July 2, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. key

    The US is a very young country compared to some European contries. Most have done well some not so well the ones that do love thy neighbor.

    July 2, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. roro

    That is a complete disgrace. Shame on you who do not even know the country we sought freedom from. Ever think about listening while in class? I am appalled!

    July 2, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. sal, omaha

    I would tend to think we can all thank our modern day
    school systems for our youth's lack of basic knowledge.
    The ball of education is being dropped somewhere.

    July 2, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Gee the Neo-Confederates want to abolish Public Education and the U.S. Department of Education...what a surprise 25% of people are so ignorant that they don't even know what the 4th of July is.

    July 2, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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