Historian Niall Ferguson in Newsweek, 2011: “Back in the 1840s, a group of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants in New York founded the Know-Nothing movement—also known as the Order of the Star Spangled Banner or, in the 1850s, the American Party—to agitate against the new wave of immigrants from Catholic Ireland and Germany. When asked about their organization’s semi-secret activities, members were supposed to reply, “I know nothing”—hence the name Know-Nothings.
“Today’s Know-Nothings aren’t necessarily opposed to immigrants. They certainly can’t feel superior to them, for the simple reason that they know less about the land of their birth than newcomers applying to become citizens of it. A shocking 38 percent of a representative sample of Americans failed the test that all immigrants applying for citizenship are required to take.”
Here is a sample test on the U.S. that immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens:
Ferguson pointed out some depressing statistics about Americans’ knowledge of their own history:
“Nearly nine in 10 ( 88 percent) can’t name two of the rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. Only one in 10 Americans ( 12 percent) knows the name of even one author of The Federalist Papers. Only one in five knows who was president during World War I. And only one in four knows what the Cold War was about.”