July 2nd, 2010
11:24 AM ET
4 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. Jim

    1 in 4 Americans don't know who we fought to gain our independence? I can believe it. Just look at the elections we have.

    Many working class American's vote Republican because they identify with being conservative. Many blue collar workers who are unemployed vote Republican because they think they the Republicans have their best interest at heart.

    It is beyond me so yes I can believe that 1 in 4 American's are clueless when it comes to our nations history after all our politicians want the country to be ignorant. An ignorant nation doesn't question it's leadership. It just falls in line step by step voting the same way every election.

    July 2, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. JP

    I am sure most of the people who don't know voted for Obama.

    July 2, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Will

    Too much time is spent in school today trying to represent everyone and gloss over actual history in place of emotional history. Places and dates have been replaced by how people felt during these periods of history and giving everyone a slice of the text books.

    The result is a lot of people knowing very little about not much.

    July 2, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Ralph

    +++ This ignorance explains how Obama won the election. Even fewer know that the US Army captured and occupied Mexico City in 1847.

    July 2, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. ETM

    Remarkable that so many people want to blame liberals when it is obvious that rightwingers and teabaggers are the most ignorant people in America. Just consider the fools who think Obama is not a citizen or deny the theory of evolution. The right wing hates facts and knowledge, so it should not be surprising that their offspring would pick up this trait.

    July 2, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. Pete in Guilford

    And these people can vote!

    July 2, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Roger

    I would love to see the percentage breakdown by geographical and states. I think I could draw the graph with my eyes closed......

    July 2, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. dofhacc

    Now that is an interesting thought. 18-29 year old folks are poorly informed. Wouldn't most of those folks fall in the time span of "No Child Left Behind," and the drive for private schooling modalities?

    July 2, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    This is exactly why the one party system (Demo-Repubs) can continue to fool us into voting them in over and over......

    July 2, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. Greg Pottstown PA

    Republicans Are The American Taliban July 2nd, 2010 11:29 am ET

    So much for No Child Left Behind....
    ______________________________________________________
    NCLB was a dem written bill look it up.

    July 2, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    Teachers need to make the kids put down the cell phones and pull the buds out of their ears and they need to fail the kids that don't keep up. After a few years in the fifth grade, these guys and gals will learn a little history.

    Let's hope 'Race to the Top' works because it addresses a lot of the things that are wrong with education today, including getting rid of teachers that can't get kids to learn.

    July 2, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Richard

    It's very interesting that the folks who are at the front line in the parade and have the biggest and brightest flags have the least knowledge about American History.
    My suggestion, go take Dr. Randall Miller classes at Saint Joseph's University.

    July 2, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Looks like the 25% without a clue are posting here by WHINING about Obama yet again...he has only been President for 1.5 years. It is cloudy today and very windy...must be Obama's fault.

    July 2, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Patrick

    Seriously, folks. I think you're pointing the blame at teachers and politicians is just foolish. I'm 31 and was taught in a public school my entire life, besides when I went to college. My parents drove me to learn and didn't fill me up with a lot of time in front of a TV or buying me every little thing I wanted.

    You need to only point the finger at yourself, parents. Parents need to remain a very active part of their kids education. Stop point fingers and be an adult. Kids have no respect for authority anymore and that is why they are being dumbed down. Too much disrespect and too much TV.

    This is the life they promised in the 50's. You know, the good ol' days. Well this is what 60 years of that gets you. We deserve it.

    July 2, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. vdm

    I agree that government-run schools do not do a good job at teaching our kids and spending more money on these schools is just throwing money away. The families of children attending public schools are responsible for their children's education, not the government, and blaming a corrupt, inefficient, and brainwashing system is only passing the buck. You can take control of your children's education by tutoring, home schooling, sending them to private school – there are lots of options even if you can't afford a private school. But don't blame public schools for your child's lack of learning if you are not willing to step up and take responsibility.

    July 2, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. Bertina

    Wasn't it Texas Oil Slick state that decides what goes into children's history books? And people shouldn't fear our education system?

    July 2, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  17. John D

    Maybe if the schools actually tried teaching the basics instead of teaching songs praising idiots like OBOZO and kids may have a chance. Time to do away with the liberal education dept. and start over. Get back to the basics.

    July 2, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. thor

    Most of the schools in this country are nothing more than liberal indoctrination centers where American history has no place.

    July 2, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Joe

    Amurka was not in a war for indapendense. It was made by God. We all no it is a christian kuntry. So all you liburl Amurka haters go back to where you came from so we can teech are kids the reel fax abowt Amurka. God guts and guns. That's Amurka

    July 2, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. La Piovra

    We were pretty dumb in the Fifties, when the point was to make sure students grew up "adjusted" to life in the Levittowns of corporate America. Sputnik shook us out of it... for a while. The resistance to Vietnam and segregation soon convinced the power structure that dumb citizens were more desirable, after all, and we have been dumbed down ever since-the one educational goal that has been acheived with stellar success.

    July 2, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. andrey

    I bet those idiots all vote republican, that is a party of dark ages.
    What, it's not in the bible?

    July 2, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    So we don't know basic history ... we all know how to send text messages and own cool sunglasses. So whatever.

    July 2, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Rickster

    I'm not at all surprised by this. Democrats have had control of the education system in this country for 40 years and have thought it more important to bash our country's great heroes of the past and teach such things as "diversity studies" then to provide a real education because democrats don't like this country.

    July 2, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Kevin

    No wonder we have people who believe this was founded as a Christian nation on Biblical principles...

    July 2, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Parent in GA.

    The CRCT is to blame. Our schools curriculums are geared towards children passing this one test, and nothing else.

    July 2, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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