WASHINGTON - A new poll gauging American knowledge on a basic question about the nation's history - "From which country did the United States win its independence?" - is either good news or bad news, depending on your expectations:
Twenty-six percent of those surveyed did not know that the United States achieved its independence from Britain, according to the poll, conducted by the nonprofit Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
Six percent named a different country, including France, China, Japan, Mexico and Spain. Twenty percent said they weren't sure.
The pollsters broke down the numbers and found gaps in knowledge according to region: 32 percent of Southerners weren't sure or named the wrong country; 26 percent of Midwesterners were in the same category, as were 25 percent of Westerners and 16 percent of Northeasterners.
In a 2007 poll conducted by the U.S. Mint, only 7 percent of those surveyed could name the first four presidents in order: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Thirty percent knew that Jefferson was the third president; 57 percent identified Jefferson as the main author of the Declaration of Independence.