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. JOhn

    No big surprise here...........With the TOTAL national teaching emphasis on reading and Math, as the totality of what our teachers are evaluated on, and to hell with science, history, music, PE, and many other areas that need equal focus..................This standardized testing on Math and English only is the biggest educational mistake ever made...............another gift from GW.

    July 2, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. NVa Native

    So all our kids need is to call it "Independence Day", be disciplined (spanked?), and cut back on funding (not spend more per child like Asia and Europe) so then they'll be smart?
    Or as one said – all young people are stupid because they voted for (the most educated and intelligent candidate) Obama?
    And people wonder why we have dumb kids!
    It's because they have morons for parents!
    You degenerates don't deserve smart kids!

    July 2, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Death Panel Sarah

    To all you talking about Obama.....need we remind you that the 'liberals' are the more educated, that's why your neo-God, (Rush) calls them all 'elitists'!!!
    The 'hicks' can only vote for a moron like Bush (or Palin)!!

    July 2, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. D. Bunker

    Maybe some of you clueless folks should be looking in the mirror rather than blaming teachers. There are parents right now that can't help their kids with their homework, even if they wanted to. How many parents are stupid themselves and/or slacking off? And what about the parents that have to work two or three jobs now that they've been victimized by the GOP's pro-corporations policies (throw a lot Dems in there, too)?

    And look at how parts of our country exalt ignorance by giving credence to uneducated morons like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Rush Dumbo. What kind of message does that send to kids about the value of an education?

    July 2, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. John Adkisson

    I would love to see the results of this poll cross-tabulated with Americans who call themselves members of the "tea party" movement. I have an inkling that even more than on in four tea baggers think the Boston Tea Party was a protest against the liberal policies of Lipton Tea.

    July 2, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Gulf Resident........Life ruined by Obama

    I know this much about American History.............Obama is no where to be found in any of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 2, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. D. Bunker

    "Perhaps if we were still allowed to call it Independence Day some of you might have a clue."

    Perhaps if you admitted that no one has said you aren't allowed to call it Independence Day you'll get a clue.

    July 2, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Peter

    thanks BUSH for not funding NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND!!!

    July 2, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    The poll didn't mention that 100% of those people who did not know are member Tea Baggers. You know, those people who don't know how to research anything. Those who just follow blindly behind Beck and the like. These of course are also the ones who want to do away with public education. Can you just imagine the idiots who would be produced by being home schooled by these idiots? Would that be idiots squared?

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    July 2, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Not Surprised

    And certain people get mad when Bill Maher says America is stupid. Apparently Miss teen South Carolina is in good company. *rolling my eyes*

    July 2, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Death Panel Sarah

    How do you KNOW that these children are a product of 'public education'? Maybe they went to private schools and were taught that the Earth was FLAT!!!!!

    July 2, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Death Panel Sarah

    TO... Barack.Hussein.Obama-America's-Benevolent-DICTATOR

    Is that why all the "liberal and socialist" countries have better educated students than we have.....
    You are telling a dirty little secret that our system is failing!!!!

    July 2, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. barbara

    obama doesnt know about our history either (and is hoping that most of us dont either). Heard him say in his speech that the people pitched in, basically, and paid for the staue of liberty. everyone knows that the money ONLY paid for the foundation by which this great lady stands. the french gave us the statue. He can say this and people will belive him because they, no doubt, attended public school and because they will believe anything told to them by the messiah.

    July 2, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. NC

    Doesn't suprise me at all. Last year when Senator Kennedy died I was talking to the lady cutting my hair in her 30's about Senator Kennedy being the last Kennedy brother. She did not know that President Kennedy, Bobby kennedy and Ted Kennedy were brothers. I think this country got away from the basics of education a long time ago. The young lady can text and blog and I guess tha't all that matters even if she can't spell. Have a Blessed, safe Fourth of July everyone.

    July 2, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Stacey

    The liberals and Progressive Communists have controlled the schools in this country for DECADES. The fight to get their destructive influence out just started in Texas with the fight over history textbooks. So much of our history has been cleansed and distorted by them it is ridiculous.

    So if you want see why our children are nearly blithering idiots, you need look no further than the NEA and teachers unions around the country. It is impossible to fire the bad teachers and the children pay the price. Throwing money at the problem is a complete waste.
    ___________________________________________________

    LOL! So this is why the GObP are so dumb!

    July 2, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Death Panel Sarah

    Actually, the problem is the focus of the school system.....
    Bubba and his friends have decided that the most important function of school is athletics!!
    Don't worry about history or math, just run the ball!!!!!

    July 2, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. Fed Up!

    Perhaps that 25 percent came from Texas, which I believe has their own history of the United States.

    You know, the history where Theodore Roosevelt is a socialist, FDR a traitor and Joe McCarthy the country's savior.

    July 2, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. waheid

    I have always maintained that education is not the responsibility of the school system, it is the responsibility of the parents. This survey shows how poorly young people know their U.S. history, but their parents probably aren't any better.

    There is a misconception that children are sent to school to learn and when the dismissal bell rings, then all education ceases. Wrong! When the dismissal bell rings and school ends, then the parents' responsibility begins. We have gotten to the point where too many of our high schools are essentially day-care centers for teen-agers who are legally required to be in school, but since they would like to be elsewhere they are not interested in learning and spend far too much of their time disrupting the learning process for those who would like to learn.

    If these young people don't know anything about our government, then it is a sure bet that this topic has not been discussed at home.

    Time to turn off the TV folks!

    July 2, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Death Panel Sarah

    A dumber worker works for less money.....do you see the conspiracy??????

    July 2, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Dis-appointed

    This is really sad...

    Such an important day in American history, and some people don't even know something as basic as this.

    It's not a Republican or Democrat issue, but an economics issue. We are spending more tax dollars paying for other things than a child's education.

    Perhaps its time we spend less dollars supporting something where few would benefit and spend those dollars where more would benefit.

    July 2, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. David

    This speaks volumes about what a progressive policy has done to the educational system in the U.S. and the effect of political correctness has had on the schools.

    It does not help matters when a great number of immigrants enter the country to partake of a very liberal benefits program and are not asked to assimilate to their new country.

    I recall reading that Thomas Jefferson believed that a republic so construed as ours would last approximately 200 years. Tempus fugit.

    July 2, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. Insanity

    No child left behind.

    July 2, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. CaliforniaBC

    AND HERE lies the core reasons for the success thus far of the tea party movement and up-surge in GOP support.....ignorance of American History and a poorly educated electorate.

    July 2, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. MLS

    Kids are more interested in sexting, texting, gaming and being wannabe gangsters these days rather than what they are studying in school. I can't believe some of the things I see kids getting away with at home and school – and some of these things that we never would have dreamed of doing are simply accepted as 'normal' behavior now. Crazy times, I tell you...

    July 2, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Insanity

    Texas changing history books
    very scarey
    they will say Sam Houston was the first real
    president .

    July 2, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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