I was in Sacramento a couple weeks ago, working and meeting with some clients. It has been a really long time since I last visited Sac, but enjoyed seeing the small town. It was pretty dead while I was there because the Legislature is out of session – which means most of the population of that city is gone. One of our clients, a lawyer-gone-lobbyist, arranged for my coworkers and I to have a private tour of the state capitol. It was pretty amazing, to be honest. We walked right past the “Governator’s” office – no, I don’t know if he was “in” or not.
As we were leaving the capitol, I saw an announcement for the naturalization ceremony. I thought how cool it would be to see a naturalization ceremony and watch people be sworn in as citizens of the U.S. On my plane ride home, I found an article in Southwest’s “Spirit” magazine highlighting citizens from other countries who were recently sworn in as U.S. citizens. I was surprised to learn that citizenship candidates must demonstrate a knowledge of American history and an understanding of the principles of democracy. What follows are 25 out of 100 possible questions the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services uses to test this knowledge. Applicants are asked 10 out of these questions and must respond correctly to at least six of them.
I shouldn’t have been surprised as I read through these questions and I felt like I was back in my tenth-grade AP American History class with Mr. Ochoa. I remember flirting (or rather, trying to flirt) with the cute guy sitting next to me – Jonathan. My best friends were in that class, which is a really bad idea if one should be concentrating on learning. And, it was the last class period of the day- dangerous. I’m being pretty sarcastic if you can’t tell, but what I took for granted in that eighth period, some people spend years trying to learn so they can master this test and prove their loyalty to their new country - all to become a legal citizen of The United States of America.
So, what kind of citizen are you? If you were to take this test, would you become a citizen right away? Or would you have to study a little longer and retake the test? I’ll admit that I was a little rusty on one or more of the answers, but for the most part, I feel that I am a dedicated citizen of the U.S. (Answers are included below.)
1. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?
2. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?
3. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
4. What is freedom of religion?
5. What is the “rule of law?”
6. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?
7. If both the President and the ice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?
8. What does the President’s cabinet do?
9. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?
10. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states?
11. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.
12. What is one responsibility that is only for U.S. citizens?
13. Name one right only for U.S. citizens.
14. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?
15. What are two ways that Americans cap participate in their democracy?
16. What is one reason colonists came to America?
17. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?
18. What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?
19. Why did the colonists fight the British?
20. Name one problem that led to the Civil War?
21. What was one important thing Abraham Lincoln did?
22. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
23. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?
24. What movement tried to end racial discrimination?
25. What did Martin Luther King Jr. do?
1. We the people
2. Speech/ religion/ assembly/ press/ petition the government
3. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
4. You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion
5. Everyone must follow the law/ Leaders must obey the law/ Government must obey the law/ No one is above the law
6. Checks and balances/ separation of powers
7. The Speaker of the House
8. Advises the President
9. To print money/ to declare war/ to create an army/ to make treaties
10. Provide schooling and education/ provide protection (police)/ provide safety (fire departments)/ give a driver’s license/ approve zoning and land use
11. Citizens eighteen and older can vote/ You don’t have to pay to vote/ Any citizen can vote (women and men can vote)/ A male citizen of any race can vote
12. Serve on a jury/ vote in a federal election
13. Vote in a federal election/ run for federal office
14. Freedom of expression/ freedom of speech/ freedom of assembly/ freedom to petition the government/ freedom to worship/ the right to bear arms
15. Vote/ join a political party/ help with a campaign/ join a ciic group/ join a community group/ give an elected official your opinion on an issue/ call Senators and Representatives/ publicly support or oppose an issue or policy/ run for office/ write to a newspaper
16. Freedom/ political liberty/ religious freedom/ economic opportunity/ practice their religion/ escape persecution
17. American Indians/ Native Americans
18. Africans/ people from Africa
19. Because of high taxes (taxation without representation)/ because the British Army stayed in their houses (boarding, quartering)/ because they didn’t have self-government
20. Slavery/ economic reasons/ states’ rights
21. Freed the slaves (Emancipation Proclamation)/ saved (or preserved) the Union/ led the United States during the Civil War
22. Fought for women’s rights/ fought for civil rights
24. Civil rights (movement)
26. Fought for civil rights/ worked for equality for all Americans
God bless America.