July 20, 2007

Civics Quiz

The non-politician Jack Kemp recently sent us a You-tube video about the ignorance of history and civics in this country.  College girls were signing a petition to overturn female sovereignty, being ignorant of what that is.  He has been delving into this topic of knowledge and ignorance lately, and sends this quiz for your dining and dancing pleasure:

Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? 20 Basic Questions about American History

Recently YouTube video posted a video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uPcthZL2RE
that shows young women not knowing the meaning of women's suffrage. At the 2006 opening of museum and education center at Mt. Vernon, historian David McCullough noted that The American Council of Trustees and Alumni did a poll of seniors at the top 50 colleges and universities, showing that more than half  did not know George Washington was the commanding general who accepted the British surrender at Yorktown, effectively ending the American Revolution. This was conveyed to me in a fundraising letter I got from the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association who administer George Washington's home, museum and online education site. A tour guide at Mt. Vernon, when I was there last December, informed me that many visiting high school students do not know who won the American Revolution.

In light of all this all too common abdication of the responsibility to teach American History, I have created a twenty question basic quiz (answers are at the end) and listed a few reference books below. I also include this link to a US Citizenship 100 question basic practice test at http://www.theusgov.com/citizenshippreptest.htm.

Basic US History Quiz

1. What was the first US capital, where George Washington was sworn in as President and where the US Congress first sat? This is all one city.

2. Groucho Marx used to have a quiz show where he had a very easy question for a consolation prize. Typically, he asked, "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" 2. Who was Grant and 3.-4. What were Grant's two major accomplishments?

5. What major European country became an ally of the American forces in the American Revolutionary War?

6. Were the United States and the Soviet Union (Russia) allies or enemies during World War II?

7. Were the United States and China allies or enemies during World War II?

8. Were the United States and Great Britain allies or enemies during World War II?

9. In the Battle of New Orleans in 1814, who was the commander of the American forces? 10. What was the highest political position he later held?

11. What state did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (all three) come from?

12-13-14. Three Part Question: The two DVD set for the movie "Open Range" has a mini-documentary in which Kevin Kostner stands before the camera and claims that Teddy Roosevelt was elected President in 1902. This is wrong for both political and mathematical reasons. In fact, even the year Teddy Roosevelt became president is wrongly stated. 12. What is the political reason it is wrong? 13. What is the mathematical reason it is wrong? 14. What year did Teddy Roosevelt first become President?

15. Who was the President that ordered the development and building of the first atomic bomb?

16. Which President ordered it to be dropped on an enemy in WW II? 17. What was that enemy country?

18. In a 20 words or less, what is women's suffrage? 19. What amendment to the Constitution dealt with this issue?

20. On the US $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills, there appears an image of a famous American stateman. Which one of these men was not born in the US and never became President? Give his first and last name. The monetary denomination bearing his image is not required in the answer.

By the way, no one is buried in Grant's Tomb. Grant and his wife are entombed there in matching above ground coffins. It is a mausoleum.

Reference Books:

1. A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror by Larry Schweikart and Michael Patrick Allen
2. How to Raise an American: 1776 Fun and Easy Tools, Tips, and Activities to Help Your Child Love This Country by Myrna Blyth and Chriss Winston
3. Don't Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned by Kenneth C. Davis
4. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas E. Woods Jr
5. Homework Helpers: U.S. History (1492-1865) by Ron Olson.

Answers: 1.) New York City. 2.) Ulysses S. Grant. 3.-4.) Commander of the Union Army in the Civil War and later President of the US.  5.) France. 6.) Allies in WW II. 7.) Allies in WW II. 8.) Allies in WW II. 9.) Gen. Andrew Jackson. 10.) President of the US. 11.) Virginia. 12.) President McKinley was assassinated and Vice President Teddy Roosevelt then became president. 13.) Scheduled Presidential elections occurred in 1900 and 1904. 14.) 1901. 15.) President Franklin Roosevelt. 16.) Harry Truman. 17.) Japan. 18.) Women's Suffrage is women's right to vote. 19.) The Nineteenth Amendment. 20.) Alexander Hamilton (on the $10 bill).

Jack Kemp
(not the politician)



Tim, thinking over the 20th Question of my Quiz, George Washington and Andrew Jackson were born in a British colony, not the United States. However, since I originally used the phrase "and never became President," the question is correct as stated. But it would be more accurate and instructive if my 20th question was worded this way:
"20. On the US $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills, there appears an image of a famous American stateman. Which one of these men was not born in what is now the United States and never became President? Give his first and last name. The monetary denomination bearing his image is not required in the answer."

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 07:14 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 972 words, total size 6 kb.

1 Missed numbers 1, 12, 15, and 20.  Nice quiz.  'Scuse me, I need to go study.

Posted by: Mike C. at July 20, 2007 08:56 AM (jP9xk)

2 Without looking at Google or the money in my wallet. I missed number 1, (thought for sure it was Philadelphia) missed the year Teddy became president, and the womens suffrage amendment for a pretty good -3. I pride myself on my fundamental knowledge of American history. It is so sad that our schools - even the private ones, are so bad. My son at 15 had to ask me what the Fourth of July was all about!

Posted by: Craig at July 22, 2007 08:10 AM (RVJbP)


Good idea Mr. C!  (Just kidding.)

Good to hear from you Craig!

I missed the Amendment number of women`s suffrage myself, so don`t feel bad.  It IS amazing that we aren`t better grounded in history; a 5th grader would have been able to get these in 1900 (well, the ones before 1900, that is.) 

It is shameful how little we value our history.  Is it any wonder half of the country doesn`t believe it is worth defending?

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at July 23, 2007 06:30 AM (6yStW)

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