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Don’t know much about history…

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Yesterday, we wrote about the importance of teaching civic education in schools, and the disagreement about what the best way to do so is. Today, we turn to a related topic: American history.

Over at Real Clear History, Samuel Chi, the site’s editor, argues that Americans’ knowledge of history is declining:

We’re now a country led by a man who thought JFK talked Khrushchev out of the Cuban missile crisis (he didn’t); claimed that our country built the “Intercontinental Railroad” (must be from New York to Paris); and bragged that his uncle liberated Auschwitz (was he in the Soviet Red Army?).

And I’m not picking on just Obama. His political detractors are every bit as ignorant on history: Ask them about the American Revolution, and you’d find that Michele Bachmann thought the battles at Lexington and Concord were in New Hampshire; Rick Perry believed the war was fought in the 16th century; and Sarah Palin claimed it all began when Paul Revere warned the British.


A Marist College survey last year revealed just how clueless Americans are about history. Barely half of the respondents knew that the U.S. declared its independence in 1776 (Rick Perry sure wasn’t among them), and over a quarter thought the colonies revolted against a country other than Britain (some believed it was China). The percentage of correct answers was proportional to the respondents’ age — which certainly is no surprise.

Read the whole thing here.