Only 7 percent? Really?

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According to today’s Springfield Republican, just 7% of American adults can name the first four Presidents in order. Not 17%. Not 70%. That’s right, 7%. And not all of the Presidents in order, just the first four, who among other things, drafted the Declaration of Independence, led a military campaign to insure that independence, drafted Massachusetts’ Constitution, which was one of the bases of the United States Constitution, and, finally, composed the Bill of Rights.

Now, this has only tangentially to do with Pioneer’s current focus, but my predecessors at the Institute did, once upon a time, publish a report on the state of Civic Education in Massachusetts. Even if they hadn’t, can I just say: Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison? Really? Only 7% of American adults can name Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison? We’re not talking Hayes, Garfield, Arthur and Cleveland. We’re talking about the founding fathers.

In an America in which everyone seems to know the daily comings and goings of Paris, Nicole, Britney, Lindsey and now Amy Winehouse, it might be time to pull ourselves away from and pick up an American history book. I will suggest two: Washington’s Crossing, by David Hackett Fischer, and The Glorious Cause, by Robert Middlekauff. Enjoy. Please.