Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The 100 Most Influential Americans

The Atlantic magazine for December 2006 has a list of the Top 100 Most Influential Americans. The top 10:

1) Abraham Lincoln -- He saved the Union, freed the slaves, and presided over America’s second founding.

2) George Washington -- He made the United States possible—not only by defeating a king, but by declining to become one himself.

3) Thomas Jefferson -- The author of the five most important words in American history: “All men are created equal.”

4) Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- He said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and then he proved it.

5) Alexander Hamilton -- Soldier, banker, and political scientist, he set in motion an agrarian nation’s transformation into an industrial power.

6) Benjamin Franklin -- The Founder-of-all-trades— scientist, printer, writer, diplomat, inventor, and more; like his country, he contained multitudes.

7) John Marshall -- The defining chief justice, he established the Supreme Court as the equal of the other two federal branches.

8) Martin Luther King Jr. -- His dream of racial equality is still elusive, but no one did more to make it real.

9) Thomas Edison -- It wasn’t just the lightbulb; the Wizard of Menlo Park was the most prolific inventor in American history.

10) Woodrow Wilson -- He made the world safe for U.S. interventionism, if not for democracy.

Read the whole list - there are many deserving and interesting individuals on the list. And many are left off.

My own view is that Washington - the Father of His Country - should be #1. The Founders are near the top - as they should be. I'm happy to see an inventor - Edison - at #9, it is well deserved. The Wright Brothers are #23. I disagree with most of the entertainers on the list, but not most of the authors. Why Nixon and LBJ, and not William Taft or William McKinley? Why not Billy Graham and Nikola Tesla? How about William Brewster, William Bradford, John Winthrop and John Smith?

Your thoughts? Who would you add to the list?

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