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Thread: Greatest American?

  1. #16
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    I'm trying to decide between MLK and Abe. Both were leaders under a time of great duress in our nation - both continuing battles related to civil rights and both coming from poor backgrounds. In some sense, Abe's battle wasn't just about civil liberties for all - a lot had to do with states' rights and the emancipation proclamation was partially about rallying the blacks to fight for the union - IMHO. Both may have had greater impact with their deaths - impossible to tell since they didn't get to lead the rest of the way.

    Reagan may have helped the downfall of communism, but I think it would have fallen eventually. If anything, it may have happened slower, which may have actually ended up easing the break up of the USSR.

    As someone else mentioned, George Washington was one of several founding fathers and just happened to become our 1st president. If I recall correctly, other presidents also signed the Declaration of Independence and served in a governing position.

    Ben Franklin was also a great man and of importance in history. I just don't feel that he was as strong an image of leadership as the others.

  2. #17
    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    It's very interesting that Americans seem to associate greatness with leadership. The only scientist in the final 5 is Franklin; and even he, I believe, was chosen for his participation in politics rather than his scientific and social achievements. Yet this was the man was invented a cast iron stove, bifocals, and the lightning rod. He was also instrumental in bringing services to communities (fire company, library, insurance company, academy, hospital).

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RealtorGal
    Not to belittle Washington, but if he hadn't been our first president, someone else would have been. I realize that's a major oversimplification of his contribution.
    Had Washington not been the first president, there may not have been a second. We take the success of the American experiment for granted, but throughout both of Washington's terms, there were fears that there could be a civil war, as well as war with Britain and France, whose government, after the revolution, was in a constant state of flux and whose ships were pirating US ships. There was little manufacturing in the US, which was still dependent on Britain for most goods, at disadvantageous trade terms. The Constitution was approved by New York kicking and screaming, as the state, a Tory stronghold during the Revolution, gave up much economic advantage by joining the union. The war debt was still scattered among the states, with the regions that bore the brunt of the fighting left with the greatest proportion of debt.

    Washington was a centrist and a proponent of strong federal government, which made him a pariah among his almost uniformly anti-Federalist Virginia neighbors. He was in essential agreement with Alexander Hamilton, who, as Secretary of the Treasury, with Washington's support, established a national bank, fought for assumption -- the consolidation of state war debt into an amortized federal debt -- created a tax system to reduce the debt, and masterminded the much hated tax inspection force to impose tarriffs.

    Political rifts, soon to form into factions and then formal parties, were already present at the beginning of the US. Newspapers in support of both parties were vicious and libelous in their characterizations of their opponents. Hamilton and Madison, who, along with John Jay, wrote the Federalist Papers in support of a strong federal government, split politically as soon as that power began to be exercised, and Madison, the original behind-the-scenes congressional force, became a fierce opponent of federalism. Plus, until an amendment changed this, the vice president was the person with the second highest number of votes, and could be a political opponent of the President.

    Washington was such a unanimous figure, that it was political death to oppose him. There wasn't another figure who didn't polarize the country politically, at least explicitly.

  4. #19
    Sal-Kowabunga!
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    I'm with hockey fan. Because Washington was our first president, we've had 2 centuries of constitutional rule. Because he was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, we held on long enough to be free from Great Britain. Washington was not one of our great orators or great writers or philosophers, but he was the epitome of a great leader -- he worked quietly and efficiently to build consensus, as a general and as president of the constitutional assembly and first president under that constitution. He could have become a king or emporer. He could have become a very rich dictator. He could have set many bad precedents as our first president. He didn't. HE is the model our best leaders try to emulate. He is the original "let-George-do-it" George!

  5. #20
    I'm an Italian Bambina icy fresh's Avatar
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    I thought that Abraham Lincoln had made a great contribution to American history. I was going to vote for him, but I didn't get a chance to get the phone number to vote. He was also the first Republican and he tried to stop slavery. I really respect him a lot. When are the results being aired, or have they already aired?

  6. #21
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    The polls are still open. You can vote on line here, up until Sunday at 9:00 PM, EST.

    http://tv.channel.aol.com/greatestamerican

  7. #22
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    I voted for Lincoln and King and then had a hard time choosing the 3rd one. I ended up with Franklin.

  8. #23
    Extinction is Forever 4dogknight's Avatar
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    I voted for Martin, Abraham and George.

    4dk

  9. #24
    Sal-Kowabunga!
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    Since I've been flapping my lips about it, I figured I ought to actually go there and vote. I went for George, Ben and Abe.

  10. #25
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    Ronald Reagan did more for our country than Washington or Lincoln? I must have been in all of the wrong history classes.....LOL!

  11. #26
    Extinction is Forever 4dogknight's Avatar
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    BronzeisGolden said:
    Ronald Reagan did more for our country than Washington or Lincoln? I must have been in all of the wrong history classes.....LOL!
    I was going to quip, "And in the wrong country", until I accessed the site and saw that Regan did win and he is now called the 'Greatest American'.

    So all I'm going to say is, "that dime better not be touched and who's got the Pepto Bismol?"

    4dk

  12. #27
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    Ronald Reagan is the Greatest American?

  13. #28
    Sal-Kowabunga!
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    Bogus. And you thought all those conservatives didn't watch educational-type tv! Or maybe only young people who know nothing about history voted?

  14. #29
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    You're right, Johio...I mean, Benjamin Frankiln was the first Millionaire in America. That's the equivalent of being Bill Gates now.

    Thom Jefferson sure did a few neat things, but he dipped his quill in too many ink wells.

    Abe Lincoln held the Union together and authored modern progressivism...crazy family, knocks you out evertime.

    FDR, MLK, JFK...too idealistic, I suppose,

    Now I get it, to be a great American you must have acted in a movie with a monkey. That's it!!! It's what seperates dear Prez Reagan from all the rest. Then there's Death Valley Days, but hey, that's just icing on the cake! :banging:

  15. #30
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    From Mike79's post:
    Quote Originally Posted by RealtorGal
    Who won [the Canadian one]?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike79
    Tommy Douglas, the man who Canadians consider to be our 'Father of Medicare', i.e. our universal healthcare system. He was a pretty good selection, as was Terry Fox who came second.
    Americans, take a HINT! With the exception of Clinton, since 1980 every administration and congress has treated healthcare as if it's just another part of the marketplace economy. You get chronic, lifelong catastrophic illness or get in an accident that results in catastrophic chronic injuries, hello poverty!--about $550 a month plus, foodstamps, which max out at about $160 in New York. Oh, but people have family to take care of them. Talk to the people I used to work with--and that's when things were good.

    Speaking of family, have a child with a catastrophic illness, good-bye everything you've worked for, good-bye educations your other children may deserve, and most of the time, good-bye marriage.

    But don't get me started. As long as people think Ronald Reagan is the greatest American, this country is headed for the pits.

    I voted for Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Eleanor Roosevelt, although I'm very much in agreement with Hockeyfan and could have changed MLK and especially Eleanor with Washington, but given the times and the way she affected FDR, plus my desire for a woman in the top three, well, it's not the best reason, but Washington's place is solid. BTW, my write-in votes would have been Alfred Kinsey (seriously) and Bill and Hillary Clinton for trying to do something about healthcare, but they did it so badly, they took themselves way out of the race.

    But apparently these people doesn't rate up there with Oprah--and you're right, Longhornliz, certain people on this board say I'm not in my right mind. Oprah is a great capitalist, an extremely popular talkshow entertainer, and mediocre actress who would have been nothing without Lincoln, MLK, and Eleanor Roosevelt. She is indeed "a successful icon [for the success of her show, buying it out, and an incredible PR machine], role mode[for diets and losing and gaining weight, though now--the earth holds still--her weight is healthy and under control]l" and I'll also agree with you on "philanthropist"--good for her, but so is every other close to being a billionair on the list of those alive today. But as an advocate, the only thing she ever took a serious controversial stand on that could have hurt her career was beef because of the possibility of mad cow disease and by all reports, including her protégé, Dr. Phil, what freaked her out was the lawsuit the beef industry brought against her. So when it DID threaten her career, Oprah shut-up about beef.

    I'm sorry; I don't mean to diss someone you respect, but Oprah irks me to the nth degree. As for Michael Jackson--puh-lease!

    Rgirl

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