Each year, about 750,000 people become what's called naturalized U.S. citizens. They've lived here lawfully at least five years, know enough English to take a test, are prepared to swear allegiance to the United States . . .
. . . AND are some of the smartest people in the land when it comes to U.S. history and constitutional principles. Smarter than a great many life-long U.S. citizens, in fact.
Walker and Company has published a little paperback book that challenges native-born Americans to pass their country's own citizenship test.
The book is called The Great American Citizenship Quiz. And you don't even have to be a GREAT American to take it!
While immigrant citizens-to-be know their state's capital, its two U.S. senators, and a lot more (like the state motto), many Americans couldn't even guess. Ask them who was the only person to serve as both president and chief justice, and you're liable to get a blank stare.
People studying to be naturalized citizens know there are nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, know that the electoral college has no campus, and know who is next in line if both the president and vice president should die. You wouldn't want to bet much money that the average citizen shopkeeper or pro athlete or secretary — or journalist, for that matter — would know all those things.
Those who are about to become naturalized citizens appreciate the rights that American citizens enjoy — to meet, to vote, to worship, to speak openly. They'll even have the right to FORGET almost everything they learned about the United States — AFTER they pass their citizenship tests.
By the way, the fellow who was president and later chief justice was William Howard Taft, early in the 20th century.
Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.