Dumbest Citizenship Test Question

I was recently looking at the questions that are asked on the citizenship test.  There’s a mix of good, bad, and confusing in there, but the oddest question is clearly this: “What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for?”  I’m not sure why this is so crucial, but things get worse when you look at the (only) acceptable answers:

1.  U.S. Diplomat

2.  Oldest Member of the Constitutional Convention

3.  First Postmaster General of the United States

4.  Writer of “Poor Richard’s Almanac”

5.  Started the first free libraries

Something is missing here.  Do you see what it is?

You may also like...

12 Responses

  1. TJ says:

    The question is way to vague, since I can add notable facts from “being on the $100 bill” to “signer of the Declaration of Independence” to “accomplished scientist and inventor.”

  2. nidefatt says:

    Kites and keys, bifocals, other such things come to mind

  3. paean says:

    “6. all of the above”

  4. Steven Lubet says:

    He was the founder of the Pennsylvania Anti-slavery Society.

    For more on problems with the citizenship test, see:


  5. mtb says:

    Well, Jefferson gets all the credit, but he really was one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence. Plus, he was president — of Pennsylvania. But if you are looking beyond citizenship, I’d say his experiments with electricity were pretty important.

  6. Adam says:


  7. Veracitor says:

    Come on, friends! Obviously the one thing missing is a WRONG answer, so the prospective citizen who is just guessing about Ben Franklin can have a ~20% chance of missing the question! (It diminishes the dignity of the United States to have a citizenship test you can’t even fail if you want to.)

  8. Sam Bagenstos says:

    Inventor of the stove, of course.

  9. Jimbino says:

    First Atheist among all those Deists and the superstitious Romanists, Jews and Puritans.

  10. Nicole Huberfeld says:

    Founder of the University of Pennsylvania (as well as “all of the above”).

  11. Ray Campbell says:

    Author of arguably the best American autobiography, and inventor of the self-improvement genre.

  12. Edward Still says:

    He was not Postmaster General of the US, but of the North American colonies under the British Crown.