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Newcomers Know More About America than Americans


About a million people every year become so-called “naturalized” citizens of the United States. They've lived here lawfully for at least five years, know enough English to converse with an examiner, are prepared to swear allegiance to the United States…

…AND they have studied U.S. history and constitutional principles to the point that they can pass a written test.

Now, the Walker & Company publishing house has put out a little paperback book that asks an interesting question to native-born Americans: can they pass their country’s own citizenship test?

The book is called The Great American Citizenship Quiz. Of course, you don't really have to be a great American to take it!

While immigrant citizens-to-be know their state's capital, for sure, and their two United States senators -- and probably a lot more, like the state motto and flag -- many lifelong Americans couldn't even guess. Ask them what ship the early settlers called the Pilgrims took, 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 even know who will become president if both the president and vice president should die. You wouldn't want to bet much money that the average citizen car mechanic or pro athlete or secretary -- or journalist, for that matter -- would know all those things.

Residents who are about to become naturalized citizens know and 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.

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