Today, July 4, Americans celebrate themselves on the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Right?
Most signers put their “John Hancocks” on the document on August 2, 1776. After signing, Mr. Hancock remarked, “Gentlemen, we must now all hang together,” placing on a tee a reply for Ben Franklin: “Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Franklin’s wit contains the bravery of the men in Philadelphia that summer. They knew if things turned out badly the document they had just signed guaranteed they’d wind up swinging from the wrong end of an English rope.
Another question: Which people are rated among the most ignorant in the world?
We the People.
According to the European Journal of Communication, 76 percent of Finns and 68 percent of Danes could identify the Taliban. Only 58 percent of Yanks knew who they are, even though we’ve been fighting them for more than 10 years.
Which leads us to ask the European Journal of Communication: What’s a Finn? And come on, a big brown dog is smarter than we are?
It’s not just creepy European and foreign stuff, either. A while back, Newsweek gave the U.S. citizenship test to a group of Americans and close to 40 percent flunked. A third couldn’t name the vice president, three-quarters didn’t know what the Cold War was and 44 percent couldn’t describe the Bill of Rights.
To which we reply: Yeah? So?
But don’t get down if you missed some (all?) of these questions. America is the land of second chances, and so is this column, so here’s an opportunity to prove your knowledge of our country’s history.
Answers at the bottom. Eyes on your own paper. Check your work at the end. Begin … now.
1) Where was the Battle of Long Island fought?
b: Penn Station, before the last trains to Ronkonkoma between Christmas and New Year’s.
2) Who said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
a: Richard Nixon
b: Barack Obama
c: Samuel Johnson
3) What American president imported Spanish fly for personal use?
a: George Washington
b: Andrew Johnson
c: William Henry Harrison
4) Who was William Floyd?
a: Billy “Sandman” Floyd, president and CEO of Calverton’s Dig This, Inc., indicted, never convicted for bid rigging concrete contracts for the parkway named for him.
b: Only Long Islander to sign the Declaration of Independence.
c: Will “Iron Hands” Floyd, personal bodyguard to Robert Moses.
5) How many presidents are not buried on American soil?
6) Who said that along with age and citizenship, business experience should be a qualification for the presidency?
a: Mitt Romney
b: Ronald Reagan
c: Steve Jobs
7) Name the last four businessman presidents.
8) What political leader compared himself to Charles DeGaulle, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Marion Barry and Ho Chi Minh?
a: Anthony Weiner
b: Newt Gingrich
c: Barack Obama
9) What does the Japanese word “Bushusuru” mean?
a: Choking on a pretzel
b: Stealing an election
c: Publicly vomiting
10) Name the president who once worked as a hangman.
a: Grover Cleveland
b: Ulysses S. Grant
c: John Adams
11) Who was the only president who held a license to tend bar?
a: Abraham Lincoln
b: George W. Bush
c: Ulysses S. Grant
12) Harry S. Truman and Ulysses S. Grant share the same middle initial. What does the “S” in both cases stand for?
13) Who said: “Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change government.”
a: Barack Obama
b: Ronald Reagan
c: Abraham Lincoln
14) What was the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought over?
b: Defamation charges in newspapers
c: “Sassy” Sarah Lippincott
15) Which Supreme Court chief justice rejected calls to adopt a judicial code of conduct?
a: John Marshall
b: Earl Warren
c: John Roberts
16) What did Dolly Madison save from the White House before it was torched by the British?
a: A portrait of George Washington
b: An ice cream maker and baking sheet
c: The silver
17) In Thomas Jefferson’s editing of his Declaration of Independence, what did he change to make the final “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
a: “… life, liberty and the pursuit of the indolency of the body and the possession of outward things.”
b: “… life, liberty and property.”
c: “… life, liberty and the pursuit of slaves.”
Happy Independence Day. Class dismissed. You’re free.
Answers: 1) a 2) c 3) a 4) b 5) a — Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama 6) a 7) Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush 8) b 9) c 10) a 11) a 12) c 13) c 14) b 15) c 16) a and c 17) b