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Monday, July 16, 2007

25 Greatest Americans in History (25-21)

All right, here we go. If you don't know the deal, catch up by reading the posts since Friday.

First, let's take a moment to examine those Americans that just missed being in the Top 25. After all, being the 44th Greatest American is not a slight. Simply put, it's tough competition.

36-50 in no order of significance:
*Denotes toughest ommission(s) from next group

Muhammed Ali
Charlie Chaplin*
Noam Chomsky
Bob Dylan
Dwight Eisenhower
JP Morgan*
Hugh Hefner
Robert Kennedy
Eleanor Roosevelt
Babe Ruth
Upton Sinclair, Jr.
Al Smith
Harry Truman*
Woodrow Wilson
Malcolm X

"The Next Ten" (26-35 in no order of significance)
These are the Americans who just missed the cut.

Cesar Chavez* - Labor leader, civil rights activist, founded the eventual UFW. Perhaps the greatest civil rights leader this side of Martin Luther King.
Walt Disney* - Probably the most influential person in the history of American entertainment.
Bill Gates - Chairman and co-founder of Microsoft. Generous philanthropist. Not adjusted for inflation, arguably the richest man ever.
Barry Goldwater - The man who kick-started modern political conservatism.
Woody Guthrie - The most significant and influential singer/songwriter in American History, and was the primary inspiration of the greatest singer/songerwriter in American History - Bob Dylan.
Andrew Jackson - Started the Democratic Party, pushed the strength of the executive branch, weakening the legislative branch in the process (Jacksonian Democracy).
John F. Kennedy - Busy three year Presidency including pushing the space race, assisting the Civil Rights Movement, and manning up during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Was the first non-Protestant President, which would have been more important if a non-Protestant has won since.
Rosa Parks* - Dubbed the "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement" by the United States Congress.
Henry David Thoreau* - Championed civil disobedience scores of years before Ghandi and Dr. King. Lasting contributions to natural history and philosophy. Leading abolitionist.
Wright Brothers (pick one) - Can't be in Top 25 because of all of the competing claims of the first flight. Basically, someone would have done it if they didn't, and right around their time period.


Without further ado...

The 25 Greatest Americans in History

25. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919; Entrepreneur, philanthropist) - Yeah, U.S. Steel, ever heard of it? It's the largest steel producer in the country and seventh largest in the world. He merged his Carnegie's Steel Company with JP Morgan's Federal Steel Company and U.S. Steel was born. Carnegie's ranking ahead of Morgan, who also founded General Electric, is because of Carnegie's work after his retirement. Andrew Carnegie became one of the largest philanthropists in the history of the world. All of his financial and public support of great causes are enough to write a book. Ultimately, he gave millions and millions of his own dollars to libraries, schools, scholarships, technology institutes, music (Carnegie Hall, anyone?), African-American causes, and much, much more. When it was all said and done, Carnegie had given away $350,695,653 (inflation number brings it over $4.3 billion). On his death bed, he gave away the last $30,000,000 to foundations, charities, and to pensioners.

Yeah, and he's only #25.

24. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937; Entrepreneur, philanthropist) - How fitting that the first billionaire became such by peddling the product that, upon its depletion, might someday eliminate everyone's wealth: Oil. His revolution of the petroleum industry gave way to a world that is now inconceivable without petroleum. He also started perhaps this country's foremost ongoing dynasty: The Rockefellers, which have included a former Governor of Arkansas, a former Vice-President, and a current Senator from Virginia. Moreover, other family members have made impacts with their money outside of politics. Like Carnegie, Rockefeller was a leading philanthropist of the early 20th century.

23. Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922; inventor) - In 1876, he became the inventor of the telephone.

22. Ulysses S Grant (1822-1885; General, 18th President) - As general-in-chief of the United States armed forces beginning in 1863, he guided the Union to victory in the U.S. Civil War. He was the first of the several union generals to coordinate multiple war theaters to make the most of his army's potential. He led the victory against General Lee at the Battle of Richmond, leading to Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Three years later, he was elected President, and served a complete, consecutive two-term presidency, being the only President of the twenty between 1837 (Jackson) and 1921 (Wilson) to do so. Grant ably oversaw eight years of the Reconstruction period, and was as much of a friend towards African-Americans as can be expected at the time.

21. Thomas Paine (1737-1809; Author, revolutionary) - "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." - Paine, The American Crisis, 1776

Thomas Paine also wrote perhaps the greatest piece of non-binding literature of the overwhelmingly significant final quarter of the 18th century, Common Sense, a pamphlet which promoted secession from Great Britain in prose so simple that every American could easily read and comprehend it (which rankled but also made him the envy of no less than Thomas Jefferson).

"Small islands not capable of protecting themselves are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something very absurd in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island." - Paine, Common Sense, 1776

And, like countless great Americans, Paine died in obscurity.


Check back tomorrow for numbers 20-16, where we'll find another President and the only athlete in the Top 25.

8 comments:

The Culture King said...

AC and The Rock to start? This list is clearly sponsored by corporate America. Can Sam Walton, Kenneth Lay, and Dick Cheney be in the Top 20?

I'm with you on Paine. I didn't include him because he was born in England, and was considered a Brit later in life when he lived in France.

You obviously have never spent in time in California, especially the 619. Chavez has a holiday in his honor throughout the Southwest. You are Mister East Coast Bias...

The Culture King said...

Your also obtuse...like Janitor on Scrubs. Hefner's impact on the world is immesurable.

IC said...

The joke's on you, Culture King. Walton, Lay, and Cheney are nowhere to be found.

I was aware of the quasi-holiday in Chavez' honor. The guy is top 35, no doubt.

As far as my obtuseness, the insult didn't sting nearly as much considering your spelled you're "your."

The Culture King said...

Next List...The Top 10 American Grammar Whores...

IC said...

Your boy Noam Chomsky made by Top 50; I bet you're proud.

sptmck said...

May I use the beautiful term, "Grammar Whore?"

IC said...

Wait, your promotion doesn't mean you don't have to worry about poor grammar ever again?

sptmck said...

IC-It's official: I've been deleted from the WPS system. E-mail me at home or at FHS if you need to get to the mother ship

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