Our recent survey reveals two out of three Americans don’t know the true meaning of Independence Day

Our online poll tested the patriotic knowledge of 1,000 U.S. respondents, 99% of whom identified as either a born or naturalized citizen of the United States.

When asked what July 4 is meant to officially commemorate, only 59% gave the correct answer: “The signing of the Declaration of Independence.” 

Although 41% got the question wrong, 22% came close, choosing “The establishment of the United States as an independent nation.”

Similarly, only 45% correctly answered the year the very first organized celebration of independence took place: 1777, a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.

“At night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.”

The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported of the event.

Where the rest of the survey was concerned, however, many respondents did well in their understanding of U.S. history and Civics, answering a series of questions that are often used in the U.S. Citizenship Test…

  • A whopping 82% correctly answered that the “Commander in Chief” of the military is the President
  • A similar percentage (82%) identified the “Star Spangled Banner” as the title of the National Anthem.

But some basic civics lessons still eluded those polled; for example:

  • Only 65% knew that there are nine members of the Supreme Court, which is currently in session.
  • Forty percent didn’t know that the “right to bear arms” is a part of the second amendment rather than the first
  • 11% mistakenly believed that “freedom of speech” was not part of the first amendment at all. 

Prior to the test, only 61% claimed to be very knowledgeable about U.S. history. At the end 73% believed they got either most or all of the questions correct, suggesting that they were more confident in their abilities after the test.

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,000 Americans was conducted in June 2023 by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

Photo credit: image by Luke Michael