As America prepares to celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2026, America250 has launched with the ambitious goal of creating the nation’s largest and most inclusive commemoration in its history. To better understand how Americans feel today, America250 partnered with Social Science Research Solutions, Inc. (SSRS), a leading public opinion and market research firm, to survey adults and teenagers on their views of the United States, its history, and its future.
Here are the top findings from 1,249 adult Americans and 327 American teenagers polled in May 2021:
- Hope for the Future: American adults are united by classic American ideals.
- Ninety-two percent (92%) of adults are united in wanting to help make America a better place to live. They collectively believe in the American Dream of working hard (83%).
- In their own words, Americans are hopeful for a better future (38%), a better political system (23%), and a future with more unity and acceptance (23%).
- Seventy-nine percent (79%) of adults agree that they would rather live in America than elsewhere.
- Respondents rally around words like “freedom” (81%) and “opportunity” (80%) as the top words associated with America.
- Seventy-eight percent (78%) of adults agree they are proud to be an American, while 72% consider themselves patriotic.
- When asked to use their own words, American adults overwhelmingly associate being American with freedom (51%).
- Future Leaders: America’s teens want to learn more about how the past ties into the present.
- Like adults, teens want to help America become a better place to live (77%) and 66% would like to see America250 encourage unity through focusing on shared common bonds.
- Teens recognize the importance of American history and government, with 79% noting it is important to teach civics and 74% agreeing it is important to have a good understanding of how the government works.
- Most teens (87%) indicate they want to learn more about some aspect of American history, government, or civics. Of particular note, 46% of teens want to learn more about non-white history. Teens would also like to learn more about:
- Voters’ rights (34%)
- The Civil War (30%)
- Religion in America (29%)
- World War II (29%)
- The Great Depression (28%)
- Local government (26%)
- When it comes to the top issues facing the country, teens are focused on COVID-19 (34%) and racial injustice (19%), while adults feel that political divisions are the most important issue facing the country (21%), with COVID-19 a close second (20%).
- Desire to Learn More: American adults are eager to create a deeper understanding of how the country works.
- More than nine out of 10 adults agree that teaching and having an understanding of American history, government, and civics are important.
- However, they want to learn more about topics that are relevant to today’s world rather than history. For example:
- Non-white history (47%)
- Rights and responsibilities as a citizen (43%)
- Migration and immigration (32%)
- Lobbying (32%)
- How the American government functions in the world (31%)
- Economics (30%)
- Just three in 10 adults (31%) believe American history is taught in a fair and balanced way. In addition, most adults (90%) think a better job should be done teaching civics.
- Looking Ahead: America250 can connect with Americans by reflecting on the past, but looking towards a bright future.
- At least four in five American adults find several America250 goals important: open dialogue, American traditions, justice, accessibility, and diversity.
- Having an open dialogue and discussion is key, with 85% of adults noting it as important, including 54% as extremely important.
As the countdown to 2026 begins, feedback and participation by the public are critical to ensure this historic commemoration is inclusive and reflective of all. To get involved, follow America250 on social media for more updates or share your ideas for America250 at www.America250.org.
* The survey was administered online among 1,249 adults (18 and over) and 327 U.S. teens (13-17) throughout the national United States (50 states + DC) from May 12 – May 26, 2021. Samples were targeted to reach a representative sample across key variables (gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, and region).