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26% of Americans don’t know who America fought in the Revolutionary War

July 15, 2010

  While perusing the blogs the other night, I came across a post at A View from the Right about how 26% of Americans surveyed could not correctly give the answer to the question of which country America gained her independence from in the Revolutionary War.

  This means that one out of ever four people polled could not correctly answer the question, and this got me thinking.

  Since I began blogging I have become a student of history; I am not stating that I know everything that I should know yet, but I have been working hard to learn as much as possible about the founding of this country, and  United States history in general. While doing this reading I have come to the conclusion that people need to learn how this country was founded in order to understand where it is headed; if you learn the past you can almost see the future.

   By that I mean that if a person doesn’t understand the ideas that this country was founded upon, and the vision of what the founders thought this country should be, that person cannot fully understand how far we have drifted away from the ideas and the form of government that the founders bestowed upon us.

  When I read about the philosophies of the founders and I see where America is today, I understand how far we have strayed from the constitution. More people need to understand what is going on, and the best way for them to do this is to read history; history is so interesting if only people would apply themselves– there is so much to learn– but people today are more interested in American Idol and other mindless television. These are nothing but diversions, and while a diversion once in awhile may be healthy, the fact that Americans have become so obsessed with this mindless drivel that more Americans vote for their favorite idol than vote for president shows us exactly how disengaged the American people have become to what is truly the important issues.

  This survey tells us that our schools– and parents as well– have been negligent in teaching our children what America is supposed to represent. Somewhere along the line American history took a back seat to other issues that are of more value to the leftist agenda than is the founding of the country, and I have to believe that this is being done on purpose as America heads to a European socialistic form of government that is at odds with the basic tenets of this country’s founding.

  As I said, if you don’t know where this country came from, you won’t understand where we are headed– or how this direction is at odds with the constitution of the United States. I have to believe that that is exactly what the far left radical socialists who teach our children want to accomplish.

  They want to move our country in an anti-constitutional direction and the best was to accomplish this with little resistance– the best way to ensure that the hijacking of our constitution is met with little or no resistance–  is to assure that as generations pass, the newest voters will have no idea what the origins of our government was, and the reservations the founders had about government were.  

  Through this ignorance, the left will be able to advance an agenda that would make the founders wince in pain, and through this ignorance they are slowly succeeding. It has taken them many years to reach this point, but they have finally reached the point where a large amount of Americans do not understand what it is that America is supposed to be, if these Americans cannot even name which country we fought during the Revolutionary War, there is no way we can expect them to understand anything about the founding of this country once the war ended.

  The fact that one quarter of those polled could not even answer the most basic of American history questions, tells us that the left is succeeding in this goal, and while three out of four people could name the country we fought in the Revolutionary War represents a strong majority, the fact that one quarter of the American people do not know which country America fought in the Revolutionary War means the leftists are making progress at a faster rate than I would have thought possible. We can only expect this number to grow as the years go on.

  This poll is even more disheartening when you realize that this was the most basic question on American history that could have been asked. If 26% of those polled didn’t even know America’s enemy during the Revolutionary War, what would the poll numbers be if you asked these same people questions about the type of government the founders set up, of if you asked them about basic consitutional premises?  The results would be much worse as the questions delved into American history. 

  It is unconscionable that our children are not being taught American history, but I have to believe that this is exactly what the leftists want. 

  James Madison once said, “knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

  And that is why the left is working so hard to keep the younger generation ignorant. It is not being done by mistake.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2010 11:22 pm

    Thanks for the mention, Steve. And you raise some great points. (I like the Madison quote, too.)

    Keeping our children ignorant of our history and the founding principles would indeed serve a Leftist agenda to take over (or “transform”) the nation from within. Scary, but it’s not too late to start pushing back — slow, sure, & strong.

    Like

    • July 16, 2010 10:08 pm

      You’re welcome. And yes, we must push back, we can do this but it is going to take time.

      Like

  2. Hedinj permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:35 pm

    “a Leftist agenda to take over (or “transform”) the nation from within.”

    I think the Texas school board has shown us that both sides can have an agenda. That said, I don’t think this is part of some leftist conspiracy, but more of a general failing of our educational system. The system is broken, and people injecting personal politics into their lessons aren’t helping the matter

    Like

  3. Chris Nyden permalink
    July 16, 2010 1:56 am

    This is an interesting read, not because of its content, but rather because it repeats the arguments that nearly every Tea Partier makes. It’s important to analyze the argument that we should basically revert to a government of the past.

    The Founders were not anywhere close to perfect, and they knew that. The “form of government that the founders bestowed upon us”, while very innovative at the time, would not be great today. Although the Constitution certainly secured the rights of rich white men, it did absolutely nothing to end slavery. This is despite the attempts of founders like Robert Carter III, who emancipated all of his 452 slaves.

    With such a limited government, it would also be difficult for us, as workers, to have any protections. There was very little of this protection until the Progressive Era, and employers continued to treat workers poorly even after that. It wasn’t until “big government,” as you would probably like to call it, stepped in that there was a true middle class in America. The New Deal brought a steadiness to our economy not previously seen through tough financial regulation and insurance measures. It also brought incredible gains to labor unions. Thanks to those gains, many Americans would have job security and higher salaries for years after the Great Depression. This economic stability was not seen in the frequent panics of the 1800’s and the devastating collapse leading to the Great Depression. Social Security has provided a source of income for the nation’s most vulnerable demographic for 75 years now.

    I’m not going to argue for all expansion of government. Much of the expansion during the terms of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did very little to help the majority of Americans. The Department of Homeland Security certainly wasn’t necessary, and the exorbitant defense and war spending has ruined our global image, while bankrupting our country.

    But, as I’ve shown, expansion has directly helped many Americans. In addition, protections for African-Americans and other races has allowed them to increase their socioeconomic status (though they must still strive for equality in education, college acceptance, and employment). Today, I can vote and voice my opinion freely. I don’t have to worry about intimidation when I go to vote. The country has also become more democratic in many ways. I already mentioned the labor unions bit, but we now have the right to elect our U.S. Senators. State legislatures chose Senators before, which, naturally, led to much corruption in politics. The Supreme Court has also greatly changed its decisions over the years to be much more favorable to the average person.

    You can certainly advocate what this country came from. But I will continue to advocate what has made this country great. We have the highest median pay in the world, and that is not because of limited government. It’s easy to yell and fuss about big government today, but the fact of the matter is there is a reason FDR was the first President elected to four terms. He actually helped out the common man.

    I think one of the most humorous things in this post is how you blame schools for ignorance. I’ve been schooled in West Virginia schools for the past twelve years. While we aren’t exactly known for the quality of our education system, I feel I got a very good education. I learned a great deal about our founding. I’ve learned more than my own reading as well. But to attribute this ignorance to our education system is a complete rejection of a principle that the Tea Party apparently stands for – personal responsibility. The fact that many kids do not pay enough attention in school is not always the fault of the school.

    You can pray for a reversion back to the times when the great majority of people lived in poverty. I don’t think most of America would agree with you on that point though. This, and the fact that you can’t get beyond petty partisan attacks, is one of the reasons the Tea Party is not dignified as a legitimate movement in many ways.

    You also might want to take a look at the question: http://maristpoll.marist.edu/wp-content/misc/usapolls/US100617/July%204th_summer%20vacation/Country_From_Which_US_Declared_Independence.htm
    It’s not the same way you represent it: “If 26% of those polled didn’t even know America’s enemy during the Revolutionary War”
    Actual question: “On July 4th we celebrate Independence Day. From which country did the United States win its independence?”
    There actually is a difference between the two, though you ignore it. And many said “Not Sure”, meaning that some of those could have known. Study polling more, and get back to me on that one.

    Like

    • July 16, 2010 1:43 pm

      Chris,

      I’m sure someone will respond to the bulk of your comments, but I wanted to address your last two.

      Steve and I both may have paraphrased the question in our posts, but there’s not much nuance here. Independence Day celebrates the independence of the United States — or, more precisely, the declaration of independence by the newly-renamed states and the union they formed. These states had, until that day, been colonies of the British Empire. Ergo, the answer to, “From which country did the United States win its independence?” seems pretty obvious. England/Britain was the primary enemy.

      You also said, “And many said ‘Not Sure’, meaning that some of those could have known.” We could assume that some were purposely answering incorrectly, but you can assume that with any poll. So, let’s assume these were honest answers. Some people might have been thinking along the lines of “Gee. I think it was England, but… wait, maybe it was France, or Spain. No, pretty sure it was England. Wait…” This lack of confidence in a particular answer means they were “not sure”. They might have been sort of leaning one way or the other, but they did NOT “know”. Is that so hard?

      Even if that whole 6% really knew the right answer and were just messing with the pollster, that still leaves 1 in 5 that were clueless. Still pretty bad.

      Many polls are confusing or misleading with the questions — e.g., assuming there are no other valid choices than the ones they give. But, this case seems pretty clear. What is it, exactly, that we need to “[s]tudy polling more” about?

      Like

    • July 17, 2010 2:13 pm

      I have written in the past about the seventeenth amendment and my questions as to whether it was beneficial or not, you can read it here if you want to.
      The biggest reason that FDR was the only president to serve more than two terms is because he was the first president to not honor the unwritten rule of the time that presidents sisn’t run for a thrird term. (Or second if you take TR’s failed presidential comeback bid as a third party candidate seriously.)

      Like

  4. July 16, 2010 1:54 pm

    There is a HUGE segment of Americans, natural born Americans, that if they weren’t natural born Americans, would not be able to pass the citizenship test…

    Morons regarding the way this nation was founded, the 3 branches of government, the list goes on and on…

    Like

  5. July 16, 2010 3:09 pm

    Steve,

    When I knew a lot less about history — aside from dates, and against whom — my conclusions were quite different then they are today. I’m guessing age and experience also helped me, but understanding history better has completely changed my mindset. Theory means little to me, but practicality is everything.

    I look at the practical methodology of our forefathers, and am constantly amazed at the strength of what they put together. No, they weren’t perfect, but then again not many ever were. Now, they were the liberals of their day, which I find is so ironic that today’s conservatives are so keen on their philosophies. Be that as it may, their ideas and ideals were what our country was founded upon. It was something that worked, and worked well.

    Look to businesses — they are always looking for “Best Practices”, or in other words looking to their history to see what worked, and emulate that. This is not often taught in our schools — places where kids spend more time than with their own parents. We can equate this to our country. For success, we look to what our country was built upon. The most powerful country in the history of the earth was built on some simple principles, yet there are elements that try so hard to get away from them.

    The more I study the history, the more puzzled I am that this is the case…

    Like

    • July 16, 2010 10:20 pm

      I believe that the founders were more libertarian than they were liberal. I guess the term that would also describe them would be classic liberals, which certainly is more closely related to libertarianism than to modern liberalism.

      Like

  6. July 16, 2010 8:58 pm

    LOUDelf, I don’t know if it’s age or what, my kids, all 3, were history buffs, and they were all into sports, a not too usual combination… Now, they are grown, early 20’s, and all 3 are into politics and news of the day…

    I think a lot of it is how you’re raised.. Some folks have NO interest in politics, history, anything other than who’s on DWTS and America’s Got Talent…

    Like

  7. July 16, 2010 11:57 pm

    At 26%, it’s actually better than I thought it would be. If you asked why the revolution was fought, that percentage would be much higher.

    Like

  8. Rick permalink
    July 18, 2010 6:39 pm

    Your hard earned tax dollars at work in the public school system
    Congratulations America you voted for this…so you got what you wanted
    Of course No one here voted for this…Im just sayin…

    Like

    • July 18, 2010 7:46 pm

      The old saying goes something like this, you get the government you deserve. I can’t help but thinking how true that statement is!

      Like

  9. John permalink
    July 18, 2010 7:39 pm

    1 in four Americans don’t know who we fought in the 1770s. This is exactly what happens when Republicans and conservatives cut funding for public education. Thank you, Republicans, for making the United States one of the dumbest nations on our planet.

    Like

    • July 19, 2010 10:37 pm

      C’mon, John. Don’t you really mean “It’s all Bush’s fault!”

      Seriously, I may not know who cut what school budgets when, but here are a few things to chew on:

      1) Age-wise, the worst score (only 60% correct) was by those in the 18-29 year range. This seems like an indication that things have only gotten worse in the past 10-20 years. How much of that has a direct correlation to conservatives cutting state funding for public schools?

      2) Sometime ago, I read that there is no consistent correlation between how much a district spends per child and how well the average student performs. (If I could remember where I read this, I’d tell ya or link to it.) There are too many other factors involved, plus a lot of things such monies get spent on that have little or nothing to do with learning (e.g., sports facilities & new equipment, building maintenance, etc.).

      3) Historically, children got great educations even in the most humble of accomodations — not even a sports program!

      4) Statistically, homeschooled children test better (on average) than publicly-educated children.

      5) Little Jimmy spends 6+ hours a day in the classroom, whether his local government spends $5000/yr or $15000/yr “on him”. He is either learning, or not. If so, he is either learning / being taught important & useful things (including non-PC, non-revisionist history) or not. How much more money does Jimmy’s school need to educate him correctly? How much to learn “U.S. gained its independence from England.”?

      Methinks your explanation, John, just doesn’t cut it.

      (Just for the record, I don’t think all public schools are terrible. There are some great schools and wonderful teachers out there.)

      Like

  10. Rick permalink
    July 19, 2010 9:17 am

    Yea, That’s it JohnnyBoy. Republicans and Conservatives cut funding for public education.
    That’s why our public school kids don’t know the history or exceptionalism that makes up America.
    Yea that’s it…
    It has nothing to do with the democratic teachers union or the rewriting of history by liberal progressives. No,no, it’s a lack of even more money then they get already. Yea thats it…They need more money…Yea thats the ticket!
    And JohnnyBoy here is gonna be the first one on the block to give it to them…Aren’t you JohnnyBoy?
    Because we all know how much Johnny cares about the school kids education and how those mean old conservatives just want to feel good about themselves by cutting the funding.

    Your a fine example of someone who can’t see the forest for the trees if I ever saw one.

    Like

  11. August 2, 2010 12:09 pm

    Just f.y.i., I came across the following comment on a blog post about blogging & correct spelling/grammar/punctuation. Sorry if it hits close to home for some, but it is relevant to the broader conversation about public education.

    “Very good post but if you want to get to the root of the matter you should take it up with Society and the Public School System. It’s very difficult for young people (those under, say, 25-27) to spell correctly when they’re listening to Ludacris (ludicrous) and they think that’s the way it’s spelled. They think that because no one corrects them!

    My daughters’ English teachers drove me nuts!! My kids would come home with B’s on their papers and they were so proud. I would look at it and everything was mis-spelled or improperly punctuated, full of run-on sentences and just…ahhhhhh. Not ONE of those teachers made a correction. I had to do it. To this day they still come to me at say; “Mom, how do you spell _______? What does ________ mean?” Simply because they weren’t given the tools they needed by their teachers at an early age.

    When I complained about it to the schools I was told that ‘wasn’t as important as creativity’. It ‘wasn’t as important as getting your point across’. I told them you couldn’t get your point across if no one could understand what you were talking about.

    No one cared.”

    Like

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