PRINCETON, N.J. — The nation’s Founding Fathers would be spinning like tops in their graves if they saw how poorly Americans pay attention to their history.
Less than half of North Dakotans and Minnesotans — 45 percent — earned a passing grade on history questions from the U.S. citizenship test, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation reported this month.
Only one state, Vermont, had more than half of those tested (53 percent) earn a passing grade on the test, while in Louisiana, only 27 percent of those quizzed scored 60 percent or more on the test — a D or better — to pass.
From sea to shining sea, just four in 10 of the 41,000 Americans tested passed the exam. Perhaps more disturbing, only 27 percent of those tested under the age of 45 could show a basic understanding of red, white and blue history, the survey indicated.
North Dakota was ninth in the rankings. One percent of North Dakotans scored an A (90-100 percent); 8 percent received a B (80-89 percent); 15 percent a C (70-79 percent); and 21 percent a D (60-69 percent) on the 20-question survey.
Minnesota was eighth in the rankings. Two percent scored an A, 8 percent scored a B, 17 percent scored a C, and 18 percent a D.
Maybe having the faces of four presidents carved into Mount Rushmore inspired South Dakotans to pay more attention in history class. South Dakotans were third overall: 1 percent scored an A, 15 percent scored a B, 17 percent earned a C and 15 percent a D.
“Unfortunately, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation has validated what studies have shown for a century: Americans don’t possess the history knowledge they need to be informed and engaged citizens,” Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine said.
The top states after Vermont were Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana and Virginia.
The lowest performing states were Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.
To take the full test, go to www.woodrow.org/americanhistory/.
Otherwise, here are some sample questions:
1. There were 13 original states. Please select the option that names 3 of them.
A. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine
B. New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire
C. New Hampshire, West Virginia, Virginia
D. Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia
2. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
A. James Madison
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. Abraham Lincoln
D. George Washington
3. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?
D. Puerto Rico
4. When was the Constitution written?
5. Which of the following wars was fought by the United States in the 1800s?
A. Mexican-American War
B. World War II
C. World War I
D. Korean War
6. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
A. Founded the Red Cross
B. Made the first flag of the United States
C. Fought for women’s rights
D. Was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives
7. Before he became President, Dwight Eisenhower was a general. What war did he fight in?
A. Vietnam War
B. World War II
C. Civil War
D. Spanish-American War.
8. Who did the United States fight in World War II?
A. Japan, China, and Vietnam
B. The Soviet Union, Germany, and Italy
C. Japan, Germany, and Italy
D. Austria-Hungary, Japan, and Germany
9. What is one right or freedom given by the First Amendment?
D. Bear arms
10. Why did the colonists fight the British?
A. Because the British Army stayed in their houses
B. To free the African slaves
C. To help native Indians to get freedom
D. Because of financial crisis
Answers: 1 (B); 2 (B); 3 (A); 4 (C); 5 (A); 6 (C); 7 (B); 8 (C); 9 (B); 10 (D)