Independence Day rolls around each July, but how many teens stop to think what all the celebrating and fireworks are about?
According to several recent studies and polls, Americans are ignorant of their country's history. It was found that graduating seniors from leading colleges and universities couldn't identify words from the Gettysburg Address or didn't know that James Madison was considered the Father of the Constitution.
Wayne Mixon, the head of Augusta State University's history department, said that though he has had his share of students who know their history, many do not.
It extends beyond the classroom, Dr. Mixon said.
"If many of the citizens who were born in the United States had to take the test that naturalized citizens had to take about American history, I suspect they would fail," he said.
Knowing the answers to such questions is important but being knowledgeable about the country's history isn't just about passing a test, said Thomas Lindsay, director of the We the People, an initiative begun by President George W. Bush in 2002 to promote U.S. history.
"All of our great founding fathers and leading people in politics have always realized liberty is not a gift, each generation has to earn it. Earning it is learning what the principles of self-government are," Mr. Lindsay said.
For example, a Chinese leader from 1787 wouldn't recognize China today. Neither would a Russian ruler from that same era recognize Russia today, Mr. Lindsay said, "but if James Madison were to come back today he'd understand exactly what was going on in America."
"We're not just studying these things that are neat to know," Mr. Lindsay continued. "They're essential to how we function today. It's great to know facts, it's that history, but these principles are with us today."
In that vein, we teamed up with Dr. Mixon and devised a few questions, including some from the online study guides for the naturalization test administered through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to test your basic knowledge about the American Revolution, the Fourth of July and this country.
Take our Independence Day-related quiz and see what you know about your country 'tis of thee.
Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or kamille.bostick@ augustachronicle.com.
1. WHO WROTE THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE?
a. Martin Luther King Jr.
b. James Madison
c. Thomas Jefferson
d. James K. Polk
2. WHO WERE THE FIVE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE TO DRAW UP THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE?
a. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston
b. Sam Houston, John Jay, Samuel Adams, John D. Rockefeller and Aaron Burr
c. Paul Revere, Patrick Henry, Francis Marion, George Washington and John Hancock
d. Nathan Hale, Alexander Hamilton, William Howe, George Walton and Edward Rutledge
3. WHOM DID THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS APPOINT AS THE COMMANDER OF THE AMERICAN FORCES?
a. Marquis de Lafayette
b. John J. Pershing
c. Colin Powell
d. George Washington
4. WHO WAS THE AUTHOR OF COMMON SENSE, THE PAMPHLET THAT PUSHED COLONIES TO DECLARE INDEPENDENCE?
a. Benjamin Franklin
b. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
c. Thomas Paine
d. Adam Smith
5. IN WHAT CITY DID THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS MEET?
a. New York
6. What were the dates of the American Revolution?
7. WHAT WERE THE 13 ORIGINAL STATES?
a. Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland
b. Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland
c. Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland
d. Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, District of Columbia
8. WHAT IS THE INTRODUCTION TO THE CONSTITUTION CALLED?
a. The Bill of Rights
b. The Articles of the Confederation
c. The Preamble
d. The Declaration of Independence
9. WHAT DO THE STRIPES ON THE FLAG MEAN?
a. The Cabinet
b. One for each state in the Union
c. One for each Article of the Constitution
d. They represent the 13 original states
10. WHAT COUNTRY DID WE FIGHT DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR?
11. WHICH OF THESE QUOTES DIDN'T OCCUR DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION?
a. "Give me liberty or give me death."
b. "No taxation without representation."
c. "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
d. "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
12. WHAT IS THE BASIC BELIEF OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE?
a. That there are 50 states in the Union
b. That George Washington was the first president of the U.S.
c. That all men are created equal
d. That the flag is red, white and blue
13. WHAT DID THE COLONISTS DRESS UP AS AT THE BOSTON TEA PARTY?
a. British soldiers
14. WHEN WAS THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ADOPTED?
a. July 4, 1776
b. July 4, 1787
c. July 4, 1812
d. July 4, 1876
15. HOW DOES THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE BEGIN?
a. "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..."
b. "When in the course of human events ..."
c. "Fourscore and seven years ago ..."
d. "We the people ..."