U.S. Teens Struggle With History

Some American teens may think Independence Day was meant to celebrate the end of the school year.

A nationwide telephone survey found that one in five U.S. teens doesn't know from which country America declared its independence. Twenty-two percent of those who responded to the survey commissioned by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation did not know the answer was England. Fourteen percent thought it was France.

The majority surveyed knew that Washington, D.C., is the U.S. capital and that George W. Bush is president.


—One in 10 did not know George Washington was the first president.

—17 percent did not know there were 13 original colonies.

—15 percent did not know the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

—Nearly one in four did not know who fought in the Civil War; 13 percent thought it was the United States and England.

"When you look at these numbers, it means that more than 5 million U.S. teenagers don't understand the true meaning of Independence Day," said Colin Campbell, president of the foundation that runs Colonial Williamsburg, the restored 18th-century capital.

The survey of 1,020 youngsters ages 12 to 17 was conducted May 31 to June 5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.