If you missed my first blog post last week, I began my 20 week series on the civics portion of the United States citizenship test. Each week, I will be blogging about five of the 100 potential questions of the test, along with the correct answer and a brief explanation or bit of trivia to explain why that question is important to our democracy.
Last week, I discussed voting. This week's theme is early American history. Let's get to some questions about how our nation began!
Question 6: Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?
Answer: American Indians/Native Americans
Native Americans are people who were indigenous to North America before the colonists arrived beginning in the late 1400s. The United States has had a long and complicated history with Native Americans, and there were many unfortunate instances of mistreatment and abuse along the way. Before the United States became an independent nation, relations between the colonists and "Indians" were tense at best. Thousands of Native Americans died from diseases like smallpox, to which they had not previously been exposed and had no immunity. Following the Revolutionary War, the federal government implemented many laws that negatively affected Native Americans. The infamous "Trail of Tears" was one such example, in which thousands of Native Americans died after being forcibly removed from their lands by the federal government.
Today, there are 567 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States. To learn more about the current relationship between Native Americans and the federal government, visit the Bureau of Indian Affairs website here.
Question 7: What is one reason colonists came to America?
Answer: (a) freedom; (b) political liberty; (c) religious freedom; (d) economic opportunity; (e) practice their religion; (f) escape persecution
Remember that you only have to provide one of these answer choices to get this question correct.
The colonists had many reasons for coming to the United States, and many immigrants from around the world come to the United States for these same reasons today. Whether you were a refugee or sought asylum in this country because you were persecuted in your home country, you moved here for a job or better economic opportunities for you and your family, or you came simply because America gives you the opportunity to express yourself freely and participate in our government, your reasons for immigrating are probably pretty similar to the original colonists!
Question 8: Why did the colonists fight the British?
Answer: Because of high taxes (taxation without representation); because the British army stayed in their houses (boarding/quartering); and because they didn't have self-government
"Taxation Without Representation" isn't just the slogan for Washington, D.C. license plates. It was one of the driving factors behind the American Revolution. The colonists were angry because they paid taxes, but they did not have a representative in the British government, and felt that the King was making decisions that affected them without taking their opinions into consideration. Washington, D.C. adopted this several years ago because their residents pay federal income taxes, but they don't have a representative in Congress.
The colonists felt they did not have a system of self-government because they did not have local residents making decisions in Parliament, which was located in England across the Atlantic Ocean. Instead, lawmakers who knew nothing about America were using colonial tax dollars for purposes that did not help the colonists. That is why our democracy is structured so that members of Congress come from each state or district and are elected directly by the people they represent.
Boarding or quartering of troops does not seem like much of an issue for us today, but it was a big consideration for the colonists in the 1700's. The British government had a strategy of forcing local residents to either provide lodging for soldiers or forcing the residents to allow the soldiers to stay in their private homes. Colonists resisted this idea because it was expensive and invasive. After achieving independence, they took action by passing the Third Amendment to the Constitution, which prevents the government from quartering troops in private homes without the consent of the homeowner.
The video below is a satire about the American Revolution set to the song "Apologize" by OneRepublic. Hope you find it amusing!
Question 9: There were 13 original states. Name 3.
Answer: New Hampshire; Massachusetts; Rhode Island; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Delaware; Maryland; Virginia; North Carolina; South Carolina; Georgia
This question is pretty self-explanatory. The 13 original colonies were the originally colonized part of the United States, and they became the first 13 states in the Union once the United States won independence. This map displays the 13 original states in purple. Keep in mind that in answering this question, you must list three of the original 13 states.
Question 10: Who is the "Father of Our Country"?
Answer: George Washington
George Washington was, and continues to be, a huge figure in American history. He was so important, in fact, that our nation's capital was named after him! Not only was Washington, D.C. was named after President Washington, but also Washington State, as well as a number of towns, cities, and ports throughout the country that all use the word "Georgetown" or "Washington" in their name. Additionally, several prominent colleges and universities have been named after President Washington, most notably Georgetown University and The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Washington and Lee University in Virginia, Washington University in Missouri, and many others. President Washington has also appeared on coins and paper money throughout our nation's history, and he currently is the face of the quarter dollar coin and the one dollar bill. His contributions to our nation's founding, as well as these contributions to American culture have earned him the nickname "Father of Our Country".
I hope you're finding this series helpful! If so, please use the box below to subscribe and stay updated as I continue weekly through the remaining 90 questions on the test.
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