Sunday, July 02, 2006

U.S. civics flash cards

I was checking out the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, formerly the INS) web site for information on the next form I have to send in to the government. I found on the site a bunch of flash cards with U.S. civics questions. Since this is the 4th of July weekend, I thought I would post these.

The web page is:

I found many of the questions quite interesting. I also found an error on one of the answers. Below are the questions and answers.

Here are the questions:

  1. What are the colors of our flag?

  2. What do the stars on the flag mean?

  3. How many stars are there on our flag?

  4. What color are the stars on our flag?

  5. How many stripes are there on our flag?

  6. What do the stripes on the flag represent?

  7. What colors are the stripes on the flag?

  8. How many states are there in the Union (the United States)?

  9. What do we celebrate on the 4th of July?

  10. Independence Day celebrates independence from whom?

  11. What country did we fight during the Revolutionary War?

  12. Who was the first president of the United States?

  13. Who is the President of the United States today?

  14. Who is the Vice President of the United States today?

  15. Who elects the President of the United States?

  16. Who becomes President if the President dies?

  17. What is the Constitution?

  18. What do we call changes to the Constitution?

  19. How many changes, or amendments, are there to the Constitution?

  20. What are the three branches of our government?

  21. What is the legislative branch of our Government?

  22. What makes up Congress?

  23. Who makes the Federal laws in the United States?

  24. Who elects Congress?

  25. How many Senators are there in Congress?

  26. For how long do we elect each Senator?

  27. Name two Senators from your state.

  28. How many voting members are in the House of Representatives?

  29. For how long do we elect each member of the House of Representatives?

  30. Who is the head of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government?

  31. For how long is the President elected?

  32. What is the highest part of the Judiciary Branch of our Government?

  33. What are the duties of the Supreme Court?

  34. What is the supreme law of the United States?

  35. What is the Bill of Rights?

  36. What is the capital of the state you live in?

  37. Who is the current Governor of the state you live in?

  38. Who becomes President if both the President and Vice President die?

  39. Who is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

  40. What were the original 13 states?

  41. Who said, "“Give me liberty or give me death"?

  42. Name some countries that were our enemies during World War II.

  43. What was the 49th state added to our Union (the United States)?

  44. How many full terms can a President serve?

  45. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?

  46. What are some of the requirements to be eligible to become President?

  47. Why are there 100 Senators in the United States Senate?

  48. Who nominates judges for the Supreme Court?

  49. How many Supreme Court Justices are there?

  50. Why did the Pilgrims come to America?

  51. What is the executive of a state government called?

  52. What is the head executive of a city government called?

  53. What holiday was celebrated for the first time by American colonists?

  54. Who was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence?

  55. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?

  56. What are some of the basic beliefs of the Declaration of Independence?

  57. What is the national anthem of the United States?

  58. Who wrote The Star-Spangled Banner?

  59. What is the minimum voting age in the United States?

  60. Who signs bills into law?

  61. What is the highest court in the United States?

  62. Who was President during the Civil War?

  63. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?

  64. What special group advises the President?

  65. Which President is called the "Father of our Country"?

  66. Which President was the first Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army and Navy?

  67. What was the 50th state to be added to our Union (the United States)?

  68. Who helped the Pilgrims in America?

  69. What is the name of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America?

  70. What were the 13 original states of the United States called before they were states?

  71. What group has the power to declare war?

  72. Name the amendments that guarantee or address voting rights.

  73. In what year was the Constitution written?

  74. What are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution called?

  75. Whose rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

  76. What is the introduction to the Constitution called?

  77. Who meets in the U.S. Capitol building?

  78. What is the name of the President√É‚’s official home?

  79. Where is the White House located?

  80. Name one right or freedom guaranteed by the first amendment.

  81. Who is Commander-in-Chief of the United States military?

  82. In what month do we vote for the President?

  83. In what month is the new President inaugurated?

  84. How many times may a Senator or Congressman be re-elected?

  85. What are the two major political parties in the United States today?

  86. What is the executive branch of our government?

  87. Where does freedom of speech come from?

  88. What U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form is used to apply for naturalized citizenship?

  89. What kind of government does the United States have?

  90. Name one of the purposes of the United Nations.

  91. Name one benefit of being a citizen of the United States.

  92. Can the Constitution be changed?

  93. What is the most important right granted to United States citizens?

  94. What is the White House?

  95. What is the United States Capitol?

  96. How many branches are there in the United States government?

And now the answers. Note, if you go to the web site above you can see the questions (as colour flash cards), but you also get a more in-depth answer. I will include some interesting tidbits in parentheses:

  1. Red, white, and blue. (The flag was accepted on June 14, 1777. Later, Congress explained the colours: red stands for hardiness and valor, white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice.)

  2. One for each state (The blue area of stars represents "a new constellation" in the sky, representing the fact that republican government was a new idea in the 18th century.)

  3. There are 50 stars on our flag.

  4. The stars on our flag are white.

  5. There are 13 stripes on our flag. (Each stripe represents one of the original 13 states. Interestingly, when Kentucky and Vermont were added as states in 1794, the number of stars and stripes was increased to 15. The number of stripes were brought back down to 13 "many years later" according to the flash cards. They don't give the actual date until the answer to the next card. According to this article on Wikipedia, the flag was changed to 15 stripes in 1795, and was changed to 20 stars and thirteen stripes — one stripe for each of the original 13 colonies — in 1818.)

  6. The first 13 states. (See above for more information.)

  7. The stripes on the flag are red and white.

  8. Fifty states.

  9. Independence Day. (The country voted for independence on July 2, 1776, but it took two days to decide on the final wording of the Declaration of Independence).

  10. Independence from Great Britain.

  11. We fought Great Britain in the Revolutionary War.

  12. George Washington. (The flash cards say that it was Washington who started the "very democratic tradition" of only serving two terms.)

  13. George W. Bush.

  14. Dick Cheney (Richard B. Cheney).

  15. The Electoral College. (Folks were given a lesson in the Electoral College in the 2000 election. The flash card site says, "The Electoral College is not a place or a school. It is a process that was designed by the writers of the Constitution to select presidents. It came from a compromise between the President being elected directly by the people and the President being chosen by Congress. Combining these ideas, the American people vote for a 'college' of electors, who then meet to choose the President. Today, the people of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia vote for the electors in November. The electors then officially vote for the President in December.")

  16. The Vice President.

  17. The supreme law of the land. (The flash card site mentions that the U.S. constitution has lasted longer than any other country's. This is an odd statistic. I suppose it is true for nations who have documents they call a "constitution". Surely, though, there are older "supreme laws of the land". Though not called a constitution, England's Magna Carta was a supreme law of the land, and it has lasted 791 years.)

  18. Amendments.

  19. Twenty-seven amendments. (I didn't get this one right. I thought there were twenty two... An amendment has to pass a 2/3 majority in both the Senate and the House, and then be ratified by the legislatures or conventions in 3/4s of the states in order to pass. The most recent amendment was in 1992, dealing with how Representatives and Senators were paid. According to the flash card site, this same amendment was discussed back in 1798. Most recently, a gay marriage and a flag burning amendment failed to pass in the Senate, the latter failing by a single vote.)

  20. Executive, Judicial, and Legislative.

  21. Congress.

  22. The Senate and the House of Representatives. (Only the Senate can reject a person chosen to serve on the Supreme Court, which I knew, but I didn't know that the Senate —— and only the Senate —— can reject a treaty signed by the President. Only the House can introduce a bill involving taxation, and only the House can impeach a president.)

  23. Congress.

  24. The citizens of the United States.

  25. There are 100 Senators in Congress, 2 from each state.

  26. 6 years.

  27. The answer to this question depends on where you live. For a complete list of United States Senators and the states they represent, go to (In Louisiana, it's Mary Landrieu —— the concerned looking blonde standing in the background in all the news conferences with Governor Blanco during the Katrina crisis — and David Vitter — he has his office in Monroe, was supported by the president of the company where I work, and is probably best known for adamantly denying that New Orleans was "filling up like a bowl" the day after it began filling up like a bowl.)

  28. There are 435 voting members in the House of Representatives. (The only reason I got this right is because of Stephen Colbert's "Four hundred and thirty-five part series, 'Better Know a District'", on The Colbert Report. I can't wait for him to profile Louisiana's 5th District, the Fightin' Fifth!)

  29. For 2 years.

  30. The President.

  31. The President is elected for 4 years.

  32. The Supreme Court.

  33. To interpret and explain the laws.

  34. The Constitution. (You only get this one wrong if you're not paying attention to earlier questions...)

  35. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution. (I didn't get this one right. I blame my Canadian upbringing, because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a separate document from the Canadian Constitution.)

  36. The answer to this question depends on the state where you reside. To learn the
    capital of your state, go to and select the state government link. (I remember having to memorize the capitals of all the U.S. states when I was in grade 7 or 8. This was quite a task for a kid in Canada who hadn't heard of most of them, and who got confused by the fact that most states do not have the largest city as the capital, whereas in Canada most provinces do have the largest city as the capital, Alberta and Quebec being the exceptions. Anyway, in Louisiana it is Baton Rouge, which has the tallest capital building of any state in the Union.)

  37. The answer to this question depends on where you live. To learn the name of the Governor of your state, go to and select the state government link. (As most folks know, post Katrina, it's Kathleen Blanco. At least for now, though Ray Nagin getting in again as New Orleans mayor must give Blanco a good feeling. Most people around here didn't care for her before Katrina, and really dislike her now. They don't see a lot of good initiatives she has done, particularly for health care for the poor and disabled.)

  38. The Speaker of the House. (I guess Alexander Haig would have gotten this one wrong back in 1982. He was Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan at the time. When Reagan was shot and then Vice President George Bush, Sr. was out of Washington, Haig famously quipped, "I'm in charge here..." even though that wasn't, constitutionally speaking, correct. It was correct in 1947, when the law was changed to make the Speaker of the House the second in line of succession. Maybe Haig just hadn't read up on civics since his days in grade school.)

  39. John G. Roberts, Jr.

  40. Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Georgia.

  41. Patrick Henry. (Ironic bit of synchronicity. As I write this on June 28, my America: The Book desk calendar is almost a month out of date. I have been too busy to pull the pages off. Anyway, the entry is for June 30, and it says, "'Give me liberty or give me death... but preferably liberty.' - Patrick Henry".)

  42. Germany, Italy, and Japan.

  43. Alaska.

  44. Two full terms. (I could never figure out the necessity of this Amendment. The flash card site mentions, again, that Washington thought a president shouldn't serve for too long. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only president to serve more than two terms without the Amendment, so why bother with an Amendment if the people are capable of changing leaders on their own? And wouldn't the country have been worse off if FDR had been unable to run in 1940 and 1944?)

  45. A civil rights leader.

  46. A candidate for President must: be a native-born, not naturalized, citizen; be at least 35 years old; and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years. (I knew the first one, couldn't remember the exact age of the second, and didn't know the third.)

  47. Each state elects 2 senators.

  48. The President nominates judges for the Supreme Court.

  49. There are 9 Supreme Court Justices. (I knew this. I didn't know that the number is not set in the Constitution and that it has been as high as 10 and as low as nine.)

  50. To gain religious freedom.

  51. The Governor.

  52. The Mayor.

  53. Thanksgiving. (According to the flash card site, this was only made an official holiday in 1941.)

  54. Thomas Jefferson.

  55. July 4, 1776.

  56. That all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (All men, at the time of its writing, being white men. Women and non-whites needed not apply. There was also open persecution of Catholics and Jews, regardless of their skin colour.)

  57. The Star-Spangled Banner. (Written by Francis Scott Key, inspired by the bombing of Fort McHenry, which protected Baltimore. The fort, and Washington, were attacked by the British in retaliation for a raid on the town of York, now present day Toronto.)

  58. Francis Scott Key. (According to the flash card site, it was originally written as a poem called, "The Defence of Fort McHenry". The music was from the song, "To Anacreon in Heaven", the theme song of the Anacreontic Society of London, England. The tune was likely written by society member John Stafford Smith in the 1760s, while a teenager. The society was to promote music, but there was likely alcohol involved in the group meetings. This has led to stories that the American National Anthem is sung to the tune of an English drinking song. According to a Wikipedia article, 'The song, through its bawdy and imbibing lyrics, gained popularity in London and elsewhere beyond the Anacreontic Society, and new lyrics were also fashioned for it, including, in the United States, under such patriotic titles as 'Adams and Liberty' and 'Jefferson and Liberty.'" They also mention that the same melody, sung off key, was used as a Betelgeusean death anthem in the BBC production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

  59. 18 is the minimum voting age.

  60. The President.

  61. The Supreme Court.

  62. Abraham Lincoln. (Even though Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered at Appomattox on April 10, 1865, the country was still in the grips of the Civil War when Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865. He died the next day, making Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, the president. So, technically, there were two presidents during the Civil War.)

  63. The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves. (This answer is wrong. The Emancipation Proclamation did not "free the slaves", the 13th Amendment freed the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation declared that slaves in the territories in rebellion against the government would be freed as of January 1, 1863. This was a brilliant maneuver by Lincoln, because it immediately put the Union on the moral high ground while declaring to the Confederacy that the only way they could return to status quo would be to surrender before the proclamation went into effect. The proclamation did not free slaves in territories already captured by the Union — though local military governors had essentially freed the slaves in the New Orleans area — and it did not free the slaves in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, which were ostensibly Union states. The flash card site gives the simple answer of "freed the slaves" on the card, but corrects itself in the detailed notes.)

  64. The Cabinet advises the President.

  65. George Washington.

  66. George Washington.

  67. Hawaii.

  68. The American Indians/Native Americans. (Technically, members of the Wampanoag tribe.)

  69. The Mayflower.

  70. Colonies.

  71. Congress has the power to declare war.

  72. The 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th amendments. (I didn't know this.)

  73. The Constitution was written in 1787. (I knew it was later than the Declaration of Independence, but I couldn't remember the exact year.)

  74. The Bill of Rights. (Another one of those answers you could guess from other answers. I think I got this one right, but the previous "Bill of Rights" question wrong.)

  75. All people living in the United States. (I wonder if this will continue to be true after the next immigration bill is passed.)

  76. The Preamble. (I remember this from Schoolhouse Rock, which is where I got most of my American civics lessons from!)

  77. Congress.

  78. The White House. (I remember reading when I was younger that the building was made of pink marble, but it was painted white after it was burned during the attack in the War of 1812. See the Star Spangled Banner answers, above. So, the U.S. should thank the British for not having the Pink House.)

  79. Washington, D.C.

  80. The rights of freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, of assembly, and to petition the Government. (I got them all right, except for the "petition the Government".)

  81. The President.

  82. November. (There was no set election day until 1845, when Congress set the Tuesday after the first Monday in November as Election Day. They chose Tuesday so that voters had a full day after Sunday to travel to the polls. This was because many Americans thought it was sinful to travel on a Sunday. The whole idea of an established, set election day is foreign to me. Canadian elections are called by the Prime Minister when he sees fit, but within the term limit for the government. The date can be any time, though it's typically in the spring or fall as no one wants to try to get people to the polls during summer vacations or the dead of a Canadian winter.)

  83. January. (Until 1933, the inauguration was held on March 4th, giving the president plenty of time to get to Washington. Car and train service made this unnecessary by 1933.)

  84. There is no limit.

  85. The Democratic and Republican parties.

  86. The President, the Cabinet, and departments under the cabinet members. (I missed the part about the departments under the cabinet members.)

  87. The Bill of Rights. (Specifically, the 1st Amendment.)

  88. Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization). (Not exactly an answer most Americans would know. I didn't get it right either, but I'm more concerned about form I-751 right now.)

  89. A Republic. (Technically the U.S. is a "Presidential system" (or "Congressional system") representative democracy. Canada, in contrast, is a "Westminster system" representative democracy. Both countries are also federations, since a federation just means that there's a central government with semi-autonomous regional governments. Canada is also a constitutional monarchy.)

  90. For countries to discuss and try to resolve world problems or to provide economic aid to many countries.

  91. To obtain Federal Government jobs, to travel with a U.S. passport, or to petition for close relatives to come to the United States to live. (Of course, some would say — depending on where you were going — that traveling with a U.S. passport was not a benefit. *rimshot*)

  92. Yes, the Constitution can be changed. (If you answer "no", you weren't reading the bits about amendments...)

  93. The right to vote. (Which makes U.S. voter turnout somewhat ironic.)

  94. The President's official home.

  95. The place where Congress meets. (I answered, "Washington, D.C.". Oops.)

  96. There are 3 branches. (One last repetitive question to see if you were paying attention.)


Arty4ever said...

Speaking of patriotic flash cards... if you want to remember all 50 states and capitals there's a funny new study aid available at:

Check it out!

Allan Goodall said...

Thank you! I'll look at that...