The respected Marist Poll this week released a national telephone survey of 1,004 U.S. residents, ages 18-29, asking this one question: "From which country did the United States win its independence?"
The results are jaw-dropping. Better than one out of four Americans, on average, have no idea from whom the U.S. won its political independence:
Cynical as we can be sometimes, we had our doubts that Americans could be this dumb. So, yesterday we conducted a very unscientific, impromptu poll of customers randomly lined up at a check-out counter in the local Winn-Dixie grocery store (where, incidentally, freshly-baked $6 apple pies briefly went on sale for 99 cents apiece).
Results: 3 out the 4 we polled had no idea what country we fought for our independence. One attractive, manifestly well-to-do mother said "Europe." Her teen-aged daughter thought hard for half a minute and finally said, "Wasn't it Austria?" Another middle aged man mulled the question over for a full minute, shook his head, and said, "I'm not sure."
None of the four could correctly identify the century, much less the year, in which we won our independence.
So, for all of those Americans who haven't heard -- below is the latest news from Philadelphia, as it appeared on Page One of the two-page New York Gazette for July 15, 1776. (News traveled slower in those days). Click on the image below for a readable close-up.