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

Don't know much about history?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/02/art.flag.gi.jpg caption =" 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. sammieb51

    Don't know much about history .... great song. Wonder how many of these 18-29 YOs were home schooled. Yes, I discovered when I went to college at 30 that college classes were reading books I had read in HS. The professor even got mad I had read it and questioned "well what school did you go to" like I had done something wrong. That was more than several years ago - now I work with college 'grads' who can't spell, can't set up a spreadsheet, can't punctuate or put together a sentence, and can't add or subtract without a calculator. Easier to manipulate folks if they don't know the facts though, isn't it?

    July 2, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. Greg in MO

    18-29 year olds. At least this information helps explain Obama being elected president.

    July 2, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. Chuck T

    Why is this surprising? 1 in 4 probably believes that Iraq had something to do with 9/11 and will not admit that their taxes have gone done under the Obama administration. These are the same people that get their opinions from FOX noise, where history is distorted for spin.

    July 2, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    And yet we're treated to stories about the TX board of education attempting to skew history and science texts in an attempt to indoctrinate children with a more "conservative-friendly" version of history and the natural world, downplaying Jefferson, euphamizing concepts like capitalism with new catch phrases like "free enterprise" (because you can't disagree with something called "free enterprise" without sounding like jerk, whereas pointing out that randian reagonomic free market deregulatory capitalism has been a proven failure for decades is an accurate factual statement), forcing science teachers to present a "balanced" view of natural science versus "intelligent design" or darwinism/evolution versus the Bible, etc. All while they scream bloody murder that Obama wanted to give a "stay in school and try hard" speach to the nation's youth, claiming he was trying to indoctrinate them with socialism. RETARDED. And people wonder why NCLB was the masterstroke it was in helping debilitate the public education system so they could get away with that kind of nonsense? People fear what they do not understand...so the GOP wants people to understand less and less...so they're easier to scare.

    July 2, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. Insanity

    We need to start a new school
    No Republican left behind.

    July 2, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. sammieb51

    And I do not think it is the teacher's fault - parents are asleep at the wheel, afraid to be in charge of their kids - hovering helicopter parents who don't want anyone to upset little Johnny and if the teacher oversteps, they are in trouble.

    Relax everyone - I saw a report recently where a group of parents are questioning the military as to why their kids got killed ... no end to the hovering helicopters that won't even let Johnny grow up and make his own choices ..... Thank God these buffoon parents were NOT around during the big WAR or we would all be speaking German-Japanese and walking in lock-step. (for those of you that don't know, the WAR was WWII – World War 2 – where we fought Germany and Japan)

    July 2, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Methodman

    As I see it the problem is that there is a disconnect caused by changing hard to get concepts in math from the original variations and dumbing them down into everyday chit chat. For example read Great Books of the Western world than look through a textbook. Those books kept the original language intact which presented many important but not always used at this moment ideas. Geography is learned by comparing where you live to other places that are around the same size as you. For example California Texas, People have to want to be curious and unfortunately the everyday conversation disconnects because of the religious foolishness that has been inserted into it that falls apart when you study geometry mechanics, law and computer programming of even Basic or Pascal and C and Java really push a disconnect upon the religious idiot myopic mythology. It's sad being that all the knowledge is available. Kids play Carmen SanDiego or release the Mathblaster Geometry for WinXP or Success builder buy it. Then learn to master Mathematica Home edition its easy and plot things on Maple sim. Then paint with Twisted Brush or Corel Painter student version. Stop beleiving that everything is understood the first second you look at it. Or because you didn't get it the first time you never will both of those are Evangelical lies. God didn't kick Adam out of the garden of Eden the first time he misunderstood something.

    July 2, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    And we wonder why somebody like the imbecile from AK can bring most of these uneducated twits together?
    I am sure twitting and facebooking is more important than reading and learning. Never mind what their spelling is going to be.

    @get a grip – you need to get a life. Nobody will ever be worse than the shrub – eight years of rethug tyranny!

    July 2, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. billp

    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." – Winston Churchill

    July 2, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. Mike in NYC

    Republicans is smart in the head area July 2nd, 2010 12:39 pm ET - Love how all the right wing knuckle draggers are trying to pin this on Obama. Seriously, the poll is talking about 18-29 year old people. That would put this population of geniuses somewhere in the middle of Reagan/Bush 1. Not surprising.

    Actually GENIUS ... educationally that would put them squarely in Clinton's 2 terms. But I'm sure you don't want to hear that!!!!!

    July 2, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Mike in NYC

    Sarah, the baby seal basher July 2nd, 2010 11:38 am ET - 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.

    Hmmm Sarah .... Jay Leno does his show in Los Angeles. I can assure you that people in LA would NOT be Republicans!!!!!!!!!!

    July 2, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Louis Jacinto

    Each generation of Americans, beginning with Sara Palin, has become less educated. I wish groups like the NRA would become as fervent about the poor educational standards in American schools as they are about hanging on to their guns!

    July 2, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Tulsa

    Greg, I agree.... How could we have elected W?
    Over and over we've seen what happens when we elect Republicans.
    We have to elect Democrats to right the ship.

    July 2, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Hugo

    Simple, depending on which State you are in 1 in 4 is an illegal immigrant, welfare recipient, product of the dumb them down public school system or just brain dead social reject. Dumb them down and they can't think for themselves, can't think for yourself then you are easily swayed to vote for a lie.

    July 2, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Bill

    This how we end up with a "tea party" movement that is in no way related to the historical "tea party" events that they reference.

    We are a nation with too many idiots. And they all get to vote.

    July 2, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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