Americans, on the whole, should probably spend a little more time educating themselves about their homeland and a little less time barbecuing this weekend. According to a new poll released earlier today by Marist, a substantial portion of the nation appears confused about the most basic details of America's founding. Marist reports:
Only 58% of residents know that the United States declared its independence in 1776. 26% are unsure, and 16% mentioned another date.
There are age differences on this question. Younger Americans are the least likely to know the correct answer. Only 31% of adults younger than 30 say that 1776 is the year in which the United States broke away from Great Britain.
As for another question about the nation's founding -- which country patriots freed themselves from -- 76 percent of respondents correctly stated Great Britain. While this majority figure sounds excellent (Americans were actually up two percentage points from the previous year), this means that one in four people have no idea which country citizens fought against to obtain our freedom. That 76 should certainly be 100!
Surprisingly, nine percent of college graduates didn't know that Great Britain was the correct answer. And, on both indicators there were significant disparities in correct answers between men and women:
When it comes to gender, men — 65% — are more likely to respond with 1776 than are women — 52%.
Men — 83% — are more likely than women — 68% — to know that the United States declared its independence from Great Britain.
Either way, Americans need to crack open those history books. Hopefully next year the proportions will reflect a nation fully in-tune with its history. We shall see.