Got a dollar? Survey reveals most Americans can't name nation's founding fathers

A survey commissioned by the United States Mint has found that most Americans don't know that Thomas Jefferson was the nation's third president and a shockingly small number could name the first four presidents in order. The United States Mint released the findings of the Presidential $1 Coin Survey, as the third Presidential $1 coin featuring Jefferson heads into circulation nationwide today.

"That's what's great about the Presidential $1 Coin Program," said United States Mint Director Ed Moy in a recent event for the new Jefferson coin at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. "This series of circulating coins provides the perfect opportunity for Americans to learn more about our presidents and the critical role they played in some of our nation's historic milestones."

Only 7 percent of those surveyed could name the nation's first four presidents in order: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. When asked specifically about Thomas Jefferson, only 30 percent knew that he was our nation's third president. However, slightly more than half of Americans, 57%, knew that Thomas Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence, the Presidential $1 Coin Survey revealed.

The United States Mint celebrated the new Thomas Jefferson $1 Coin by allowing visitors to the Jefferson Memorial to exchange dollar bills for the new coins one day ahead of their official release nationwide. Thomas Jefferson re-enactors walked among the crowd, quizzing them on their presidential knowledge.

The public may obtain Thomas Jefferson $1 Coins at most banks and financial institutions throughout the country starting Thursday, August 16, 2007. Thomas Jefferson $1 Coins in collector bags and rolls will be available for purchase on the United States Mint's website at 12:00 noon (ET) on August 16.

Survey Findings:

The Presidential $1 Coin Survey, commissioned by the United States Mint, also found:

  • Only 22 percent of Americans know that there have been 43 U.S. presidents to date.

  • Only 21 percent of Americans know that the faces of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt are carved on Mount Rushmore.

  • Only 35 percent of Americans surveyed knew Thomas Jefferson is featured on the nickel.

  • Only 28 percent of Americans surveyed knew that John Adams and John Quincy Adams were the original father-son pair of Presidents.

  • However, 68 percent of Americans surveyed knew that George Washington led the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

    To help Americans brush up on their presidential history, the United States Mint provides a number of educational materials on its website, including: downloadable lesson plans for teachers and parents; background information on the presidents featured in the Presidential $1 Coin Program; and other fun, educational and interactive options. Information and materials are free and readily available on the U.S. Mint web site.


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