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7/2: Don’t Know Much About History?


7/2: Don’t Know Much About History?

There’s good news for American education.  About three-quarters of residents — 74% — know the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776.  The bad news for the academic system — 26% do not.  This 26% includes one-fifth who are unsure and 6% who thought the U.S. separated from another nation.  That begs the question, “From where do the latter think the U.S. achieved its independence?”  Among the countries mentioned are France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain.



Table: Country from Which U.S. Declared Independence

Marist Poll Methodology

Check out The Marist Poll’s mention on Countdown with Keith Olbermann

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  1. Ed Hogan

    July 4, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Good news for American education when 26% of those polled, did not know from what country the US obtained its independence? That’s more than a quarter of the people polled. That is a standard question, that requires a correct answer, on the citizenship examination given to all who apply for U.S. Citizenship, and the writer of this story thinks that the response from the poll is “good news for american education’? I must have fallen down Alices rabbit hole!

  2. Lyric

    July 3, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    The fact that 26% of the respondents to the poll didn’t have an answer or a correct answering is disturbing but even more disturbing and troubling in regard to the health of our nation are the many bigoted, hateful, hostile comments that have been posted. The Republicans hate and denigrate the Democrats and vice versa — unfortunately for our country — we all live here and because of this ongoing unwillingness to attempt to work together to solve problems, we are pulling the country down and destroying it by insulting one another on stupid websites instead of actually DOING something constructive.

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  4. NJ DWI Lawyer

    May 24, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    Good content, but honestly.. I think that everyones said the same thing that youve said over and over again. Dont you think its time for something newer, especially for a college site…?

  5. miss facebook

    May 19, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Lizette Marucci

    February 28, 2011 at 12:06 AM

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  15. landing page builder

    August 10, 2010 at 4:59 AM

    Hey there,

    I really don’t know so much about the history of the USA. Could you supply some images regarding on the US history, I am really lack of this information regarding on the history.

  16. shanbo

    August 6, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    Almost all of these comments are self-righteous and use assumptions, petty defense, or incorrect statements. I’d discuss all 113 of them individually, but I don’t have time.

  17. PST

    August 5, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Raven, this just goes to show how confusing the poll was, since there doesn’t seem to be agreement on what the kingdom was called between 1707 and 1801. It’s a trivial question of terminology, but it may have led to a misleading poll result if some people answered “Not sure” because of it. I respectfully disagree with you about when the United Kingdom began. There were Acts of Union in 1707 and 1800 (effective 1/1/1801), but the first of these — although it united two kingdoms — did not result in a kingdom with the word United in its name. It was just the Kingdom of Great Britain, and that is the country the U.S. attained independence from. It is interesting, though, that the Wikipedia article on the Kingdom of Great Britain describes the existence of a dispute over which name is proper for that span of years: plain old Kingdom of Great Britain or United Kindom of Great Britain.

  18. Raven

    July 18, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    PST, the formal legal beginning date of the United Kingdom was not 1801 but 1707, with the Acts of Union between England and Scotland, under Queen Anne.

    A less formal date, because not legislated, could be set earlier, at the Union of the Crowns in March 1603, when James VI of Scotland became also James I of England, and thereafter styled himself “King of Great Britain…”.

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  21. PST

    July 12, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Paw1500t-7v noted that Northern Ireland officially belongs to the United Kingdom. True enough, now, but there was nothing called the United Kingdom until January 1, 1801. At the time of the American Revolution, there was just a Kingdom of Great Britain. The King of Great Britain was also the King of Ireland, but the kingdoms were legally separate. All of which contributes to the possibility that some people answered “don’t know” because they were confused about nomenclature, not because they didn’t know that the United States gained independence from some variant on England/Great Britain/UK. I wish someone from Marist would tell us if the poll was multiple choice, and if so, what the choices were.

  22. Paw1500t-7v

    July 10, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Norther Ireland officially belongs to the United Kingdom. Otherwise interesting to follow this discussion.. : -)

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  25. Zack

    July 8, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Grand has a good point.
    Don’t take ANY poll for face value…. especially coming from a Keith Olberman who would say anything about anyone to get a taste of higher ratings.

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  28. Regina 1959

    July 7, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    To Diego: Even if it was Europeans that answered the survey/poll, Europeans are far more educated and would know the answer to that question very easily.

  29. Regina 1959

    July 7, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    Our educational system has been very poor these past three decades, so it is not surprising that they don’t know their history. Besides, one young girl I worked with in the 90’s told me point blank when I asked her about something on history, her answer I’ll never forget was, “Oh, that happened was before I was born.” Meaning, it didn’t count in her view. I told her it was before I was born as well. You see to her and others I guess, history only starts at the time of your particular birth. How unfortunate for these students not to know history, they are doomed to repeat the errors of the past because they never learned.

  30. PST

    July 6, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    Can someone from Marist tell us if this was a multiple choice question? If so, what were the choices? If not, what answers were treated as equivalent to Great Britain?

    I honestly have to say that this would have looked like a trick question to me, had I been one of the people polled. Of course I know that the United States declared independence in 1776 from an island kingdom with its capital in London. But what was the name of that kingdom in then? I know now that from 1707 through 1800 it was the Kingdom of Great Britain, but I didn’t know that last week. There must be many Americans who would answer England or United Kingdom. I would be surprised if 74 percent got this right without multiple choices. Please, Marist, tell us more about the poll.

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  32. diego

    July 6, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    Maybe the residents polled were not even Americans. We have foreign residents. including diplomats, not to mention the countless illegals. To be meaningful, the poll should have been conducted with Americans. Or perhaps has the pollster forgotten the difference between citizen and resident.

  33. tgbwc

    July 5, 2010 at 11:57 PM

    The article reads, “6%… thought the U.S. separated from another nation.”
    What am I missing? How were those 6% incorrect? Is England not another nation?

  34. Wow

    July 5, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    Well, 74% decided to answer, 20% hung up the phone out of annoyance and 6% gave a silly answer to amuse themselves. Scientific explanation to this ridiculous survey.

  35. Pete

    July 5, 2010 at 8:15 PM

    Well possibly several of these people were illegals and maybe more have just immigrated and possibly a few are people who have never had any education and have know idea what just happened.

  36. Arrow

    July 5, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    The United States and our Education is lost. The effort started years ago to hide our history and make up crap as they go. The State of Texas is demanding our real history and not this crap they call history now. The Library of Congress holds the histroy of this nation but socialist and communist want nothing more than to make this country “The Dumb Country”. By dumbing America down the government can control people better. An intelligent Patriot knows the value of freedom and those are a dying breed unless this country wakes up.

  37. Mike M

    July 5, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    If this poll is actually correct and they didn’t accidentally contact foreign citizens by mistake then all I can say is that now I understand why the United States is not even ranked in the top 50% in international polls of student education. I’m now actually embarassed to say I’m an American. This is depressing!

  38. Fidel Castro

    July 5, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Americanos are stupido gringos.

  39. SP

    July 5, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    All these attacks on liberals in this forum are ridiculous. There are ignorant conservatives and liberals, and there are exceptionally intelligent conservatives and liberals. And all this talk about the younger generation being more unintelligent is ridiculous too. Stereotyping is the easiest way to get you into trouble. It’s like saying all Americans are fat and all the French are rude. They’re not. I happen to be a 19 year old liberal from a pretty well off family that probably has a higher IQ than a lot of the people who are commenting on this forum and I know who the colonies declared independence from and when the declared it. Don’t generalize and attack others with your own convoluted ideas of right and wrong. I just makes you look like an ignorant bigot, whether or not you know the answer to the poll question.

  40. Jerry

    July 5, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    Most amusing. I’m not a historian. I’m a mathematician. Yes, these polls all have inaccuracies, but if someone is educated enough and smart enough to realize that the name of the entity we declared independence from could be argued, then they are also smart enough to realize that the answer on the multiple-choice poll that’s closest to correct is Great Britain. The results of the poll can only be explained by the ignorance of some of those taking it. Also, look at the poll by region – correct answers were highest in the northeast and lowest in the south. One comment argued that the 26% ignorant were democrats, but the republican states of the south had 32% wrong answers. Incidentally, I’d be glad to take Carol’s be that Obama voters don’t know the answer (you can’t be a “liberal elitist” without some education – we sure aren’t elite based on income) and I’ve heard tea partiers declare that the census was against the constitution.

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  42. Colin McNaull

    July 5, 2010 at 6:51 AM

    We citizens must demand that history be taught in our schools.

    There is a benefit to required curricula.

    Most frightening thing about the 26% who do not know that we fought to achieve independence from Great Britain is that they vote.

  43. Dude

    July 5, 2010 at 3:56 AM

    @ most of the comments here- It seems very unlikely that there is any political demographic that performed better/worse than any other on this poll. If you are convinced that liberals or Obama voters are less intelligent than you, then I’d point out that you are engaging in the same snobbish type of “elitism” that you conservatives so often complain about from liberals. Personally I find your hypocrisy quite funny!

  44. Billy

    July 5, 2010 at 3:18 AM

    It is simple, yes people are that stupid. Yes people will defend the stupidity with nonsense. No matter who you vote for there will be someone to shoot you down for it.
    @JDW are you walking down the streets of Detroit or what? Not everyone who lives in the inner city would respond like that but I hope next time you are in a city you don’t make it back out.

    Also Obama is just the same old presidents with a new paint job. Haters gonna hate that’s all, get over it people and do something productive.

  45. cd

    July 5, 2010 at 3:15 AM

    is it stupidity? … un-educated? …or Attention Deficit Disorder – AKA: a great excuse to never have to listen yet elicit sympathy.

    PS – the person who spoke about meanings of words changing is right …’absolutely’ is the new ‘yes’ …just an observation.

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  47. Stone cold

    July 5, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    It’s not a matter of liberals like many extremists would suggest. Most of you conservatives were educated in the liberal public schhol system. The truth is that there are morons and plain old fashioned dummies on both ends of the political spectrum. I’ve lived the Appalachian heartland of conservativsim and the liberal cites of the east coast. Dumbness is rampant everywhere.

  48. true religion

    July 5, 2010 at 12:08 AM

    The authority of the survey

  49. American

    July 4, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    Is Northern Ireland considered part of your island of Great Britain Beefeater? Last time I checked the Brits still think so and yet water needs to be crossed to get there from England. If you’re going to be a wise ass do a bit of research.

  50. Ralph

    July 4, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    The U.S. cast off the chains of the Nicaraguan Empire in 1987 in the Battle of the Contras. Don’t you remember?

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