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Sven
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posted 19 March 2007 09:35 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In a recent edition of The Atlantic Monthly, the magazine published an article regarding the 100 Most Influential Americans (the list below is excerpted from the article—you’ll need to pull the magazine to see the article itself).

I have a weak, at best, understanding of Canadian history. Who do babblers consider to be the top, say twenty-five most influential Canadians in history? I think it would be interesting to see who people would put on such a list.

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.
11 John D. Rockefeller
The man behind Standard Oil set the mold for our tycoons—first by making money, then by giving it away.
12 Ulysses S. Grant
He was a poor president, but he was the general Lincoln needed; he also wrote the greatest political memoir in American history.
13 James Madison
He fathered the Constitution and wrote the Bill of Rights.
14 Henry Ford
He gave us the assembly line and the Model T, and sparked America’s love affair with the automobile.
15 Theodore Roosevelt
Whether busting trusts or building canals, he embodied the “strenuous life” and blazed a trail for twentieth-century America.
16 Mark Twain
Author of our national epic, he was the most unsentimental observer of our national life.
17 Ronald Reagan
The amiable architect of both the conservative realignment and the Cold War’s end.
18 Andrew Jackson
The first great populist: he found America a republic and left it a democracy.
19 Thomas Paine
The voice of the American Revolution, and our first great radical.
20 Andrew Carnegie
The original self-made man forged America’s industrial might and became one of the nation’s greatest philanthropists.
21 Harry Truman
An accidental president, this machine politician ushered in the Atomic Age and then the Cold War.
22 Walt Whitman
He sang of America and shaped the country’s conception of itself.
23 Wright Brothers
They got us all off the ground.
24 Alexander Graham Bell
By inventing the telephone, he opened the age of telecommunications and shrank the world.
25 John Adams
His leadership made the American Revolution possible; his devotion to republicanism made it succeed.
26 Walt Disney
The quintessential entertainer-entrepreneur, he wielded unmatched influence over our childhood.
27 Eli Whitney
His gin made cotton king and sustained an empire for slavery.
28 Dwight Eisenhower
He won a war and two elections, and made everybody like Ike.
29 Earl Warren
His Supreme Court transformed American society and bequeathed to us the culture wars.
30 Elizabeth Cady Stanton
One of the first great American feminists, she fought for social reform and women’s right to vote.
31 Henry Clay
One of America’s greatest legislators and orators, he forged compromises that held off civil war for decades.
32 Albert Einstein
His greatest scientific work was done in Europe, but his humanity earned him undying fame in America.
33 Ralph Waldo Emerson
The bard of individualism, he relied on himself—and told us all to do the same.
34 Jonas Salk
His vaccine for polio eradicated one of the world’s worst plagues.
35 Jackie Robinson
He broke baseball’s color barrier and embodied integration’s promise.
36 William Jennings Bryan
“The Great Commoner” lost three presidential elections, but his populism transformed the country.
37 J. P. Morgan
The great financier and banker was the prototype for all the Wall Street barons who followed.
38 Susan B. Anthony
She was the country’s most eloquent voice for women’s equality under the law.
39 Rachel Carson
The author of Silent Spring was godmother to the environmental movement.
40 John Dewey
He sought to make the public school a training ground for democratic life.
41 Harriet Beecher Stowe
Her Uncle Tom’s Cabin inspired a generation of abolitionists and set the stage for civil war.
42 Eleanor Roosevelt
She used the first lady’s office and the mass media to become “first lady of the world.”
43 W. E. B. DuBois
One of America’s great intellectuals, he made the “problem of the color line” his life’s work.
44 Lyndon Baines Johnson
His brilliance gave us civil-rights laws; his stubbornness gave us Vietnam.
45 Samuel F. B. Morse
Before the Internet, there was Morse code.
46 William Lloyd Garrison
Through his newspaper, The Liberator, he became the voice of abolition.
47 Frederick Douglass
After escaping from slavery, he pricked the nation’s conscience with an eloquent accounting of its crimes.
48 Robert Oppenheimer
The father of the atomic bomb and the regretful midwife of the nuclear era.
49 Frederick Law Olmsted
The genius behind New York’s Central Park, he inspired the greening of America’s cities.
50 James K. Polk
This one-term president’s Mexican War landgrab gave us California, Texas, and the Southwest.
51 Margaret Sanger
The ardent champion of birth control—and of the sexual freedom that came with it.
52 Joseph Smith
The founder of Mormonism, America’s most famous homegrown faith.
53 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
Known as “The Great Dissenter,” he wrote Supreme Court opinions that continue to shape American jurisprudence.
54 Bill Gates
The Rockefeller of the Information Age, in business and philanthropy alike.
55 John Quincy Adams
The Monroe Doctrine’s real author, he set nineteenth-century America’s diplomatic course.
56 Horace Mann
His tireless advocacy of universal public schooling earned him the title “The Father of American Education.”
57 Robert E. Lee
He was a good general but a better symbol, embodying conciliation in defeat.
58 John C. Calhoun
The voice of the antebellum South, he was slavery’s most ardent defender.
59 Louis Sullivan
The father of architectural modernism, he shaped the defining American building: the skyscraper.
60 William Faulkner
The most gifted chronicler of America’s tormented and fascinating South.
61 Samuel Gompers
The country’s greatest labor organizer, he made the golden age of unions possible.
62 William James
The mind behind Pragmatism, America’s most important philosophical school.
63 George Marshall
As a general, he organized the American effort in World War II; as a statesman, he rebuilt Western Europe.
64 Jane Addams
The founder of Hull House, she became the secular saint of social work.
65 Henry David Thoreau
The original American dropout, he has inspired seekers of authenticity for 150 years.
66 Elvis Presley
The king of rock and roll. Enough said.
67 P. T. Barnum
The circus impresario’s taste for spectacle paved the way for blockbuster movies and reality TV.
68 James D. Watson
He codiscovered DNA’s double helix, revealing the code of life to scientists and entrepreneurs alike.
69 James Gordon Bennett
As the founding publisher of The New York Herald, he invented the modern American newspaper.
70 Lewis and Clark
They went west to explore, and millions followed in their wake.
71 Noah Webster
He didn’t create American English, but his dictionary defined it.
72 Sam Walton
He promised us “Every Day Low Prices,” and we took him up on the offer.
73 Cyrus McCormick
His mechanical reaper spelled the end of traditional farming, and the beginning of industrial agriculture.
74 Brigham Young
What Joseph Smith founded, Young preserved, leading the Mormons to their promised land.
75 George Herman “Babe” Ruth
He saved the national pastime in the wake of the Black Sox scandal—and permanently linked sports and celebrity.
76 Frank Lloyd Wright
America’s most significant architect, he was the archetype of the visionary artist at odds with capitalism.
77 Betty Friedan
She spoke to the discontent of housewives everywhere—and inspired a revolution in gender roles.
78 John Brown
Whether a hero, a fanatic, or both, he provided the spark for the Civil War.
79 Louis Armstrong
His talent and charisma took jazz from the cathouses of Storyville to Broadway, television, and beyond.
80 William Randolph Hearst
The press baron who perfected yellow journalism and helped start the Spanish-American War.
81 Margaret Mead
With Coming of Age in Samoa, she made anthropology relevant—and controversial.
82 George Gallup
He asked Americans what they thought, and the politicians listened.
83 James Fenimore Cooper
The novels are unreadable, but he was the first great mythologizer of the frontier.
84 Thurgood Marshall
As a lawyer and a Supreme Court justice, he was the legal architect of the civil-rights revolution.
85 Ernest Hemingway
His spare style defined American modernism, and his life made machismo a cliché.
86 Mary Baker Eddy
She got off her sickbed and founded Christian Science, which promised spiritual healing to all.
87 Benjamin Spock
With a single book—and a singular approach—he changed American parenting.
88 Enrico Fermi
A giant of physics, he helped develop quantum theory and was instrumental in building the atomic bomb.
89 Walter Lippmann
The last man who could swing an election with a newspaper column.
90 Jonathan Edwards
Forget the fire and brimstone: his subtle eloquence made him the country’s most influential theologian.
91 Lyman Beecher
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s clergyman father earned fame as an abolitionist and an evangelist.
92 John Steinbeck
As the creator of Tom Joad, he chronicled Depression-era misery.
93 Nat Turner
He was the most successful rebel slave; his specter would stalk the white South for a century.
94 George Eastman
The founder of Kodak democratized photography with his handy rolls of film.
95 Sam Goldwyn
A producer for forty years, he was the first great Hollywood mogul.
96 Ralph Nader
He made the cars we drive safer; thirty years later, he made George W. Bush the president.
97 Stephen Foster
America’s first great songwriter, he brought us “O! Susanna” and “My Old Kentucky Home.”
98 Booker T. Washington
As an educator and a champion of self-help, he tried to lead black America up from slavery.
99 Richard Nixon
He broke the New Deal majority, and then broke his presidency on a scandal that still haunts America.
100 Herman Melville
Moby Dick was a flop at the time, but Melville is remembered as the American Shakespeare.

[ 19 March 2007: Message edited by: Sven ]


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
bohajal
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posted 19 March 2007 05:29 PM      Profile for bohajal   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If you are interested in such nonsense of "influential", McLean's had just got off the potty and left it still fresh. Pinch your nose and keep it pinched for a while, for there are 50 on the list:

http://www.macleans.ca/macleans50/index.jsp#mac31

In history?

It depends what we mean by "influential" and on whom or on what ? Influence the government ? The masses ? A particular field ? Farming ? Health Sciences ? Baking ?

[ 19 March 2007: Message edited by: bohajal ]


From: planet earth, I believe | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 19 March 2007 07:29 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bohajal:
In history?

It depends what we mean by "influential" and on whom or on what ? Influence the government ? The masses ? A particular field ? Farming ? Health Sciences ?


Yes. What Canadians in history have a broad and lasting impact on all (or a very large portion of Canadians)?

Jonas Salk is a person who had broad and lasting impact (positively) for largely erradicating polio. Robert Oppenheimer had a devastating impact on humanity with the development of atomic weapons.

That's the kind of thing that I'm talking about.


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Geneva
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posted 20 March 2007 03:26 AM      Profile for Geneva     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
very hard to compile list without being either a popularity contest (ie CBC Great Canadians thing), in which even Don Cherry gets big votes, or an abstract evaluation of worth in which some fairly obscure but seminal scientist (ex Logan) is judged in fact the country's "greatest"

otherwise, you just the get the predictable half-dozen prime ministers, a few explorers, some social pioneers, Banting and Best, some top artists -- and given the proportional sizes of the US and Canada we have way fewer of the latter

[ 20 March 2007: Message edited by: Geneva ]


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Sven
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posted 20 March 2007 04:11 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Don Cherry? That must be a joke of the CBC. Is he an interesting character? Maybe. Will he have any long-term lasting impact (positive or negative)? No.

Let me ask the question in a different way:

If someone wanted to read the biographies of ten Canadians who would likely be viewed five hundred years from now as having had lasting influence on Canada or the world, who you (babblers) include on such a list?


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Geneva
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posted 20 March 2007 04:15 AM      Profile for Geneva     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
some eager beaver here can find the CBC Greatest Canadian poll posted at babble last year and, yes, piles of CBC voters wanted Cherry recognized ..
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Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 20 March 2007 06:14 AM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I recently did a completely unscientific poll of my American friends: I made a point of asking people who don't know much about Canada, for example who either have never lived here or haven't lived here long. I said, "name a Canadian." They all named the same person! Guess who that was. (Hint: not a politician.)
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Geneva
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posted 20 March 2007 06:17 AM      Profile for Geneva     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gretzky?
or
Peter Whatsisname, once of ABC News ...

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Catchfire
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posted 20 March 2007 06:36 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Definitely Shania Twain. With an honourable mention to Celine Dion (not to be confused with the AWOL Céline Dion).
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Sven
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posted 20 March 2007 07:28 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's gotta be Gretzky. I would venture to guess that he represents the face of Canada to most Americans.

That being said, what did your American friends say???


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 20 March 2007 08:30 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Aside from (or at least in addition to) contemporary Canadians, who are some of the more influential historical Canadians, those whose lives will have a long-term impact on Canada or the world?
From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Québécois in the North
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posted 20 March 2007 09:05 AM      Profile for Québécois in the North     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Most influential, eh?

- Louis-Joseph Papineau and Chevalier DeLorimier -- these rebels shaped the canadian political debate for the last 170 years

- Conrad Black, Izzy Asper, Paul Desmarais and Pierre Péladeau -- These billionaires have decided how canadian would see the world for a fair six decades. That's pretty influential to me.

- "Boom-boom" Geoffrion -- he invented the slap shot

- John Molson and Alexander Keith -- for obvious reasons

- Kateri Tekhakwita -- this Mohawk catholic convert has served has an exemple of what is probably our most persistant historic heritage: the cultural genocide of tens of thousands of aboriginal persons. BTW, I wish not to insult the autonomous Mohawk nations by labelling her "a Canadian".


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Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 20 March 2007 02:42 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
When queried, my American friends say Gretzky.

Of course, they have heard of Shania Twain and Avril Lavigne and Jim Carrey, but many don't know that these are Canadians -- and even when they do know that these are Canadians, they don't spring to an American's mind when asked to "name a Canadian." Probably because Gretzky, as a hockey player, is not only a Canadian but (in their minds at least) represents Canada.

[ 20 March 2007: Message edited by: Martha (but not Stewart) ]


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quelar
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posted 20 March 2007 02:56 PM      Profile for quelar     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Montcalm

Real

Brock

Strachan

Douglas

Suzuki

Just a few off the top of my head


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SavageInTheCity
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posted 20 March 2007 05:49 PM      Profile for SavageInTheCity     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In 20 years, we may speak of Steve Nash in terms of Gretzky's stature.

Jean Chretien - the only leader (i know of) that took their country out of a hole, only to leave after have created a bigger hole.

Who can leave Bryan Adams off such a list?(SARCASM ADDED)


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Nanuq
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posted 20 March 2007 05:53 PM      Profile for Nanuq   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
1 Abraham Lincoln
He saved the Union, freed the slaves, and presided over America’s second founding.

Actually, the 13th amendment of the US constitution formally abolishing slavery wasn't ratified until after his death. For him, the Civil War was more about reining in the South rather than ending slavery. He admitted as much in his writings.

quote:

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.”

Slaveowners both. And the democracy they established limited the vote to white male landowners. Enough said.


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jrose
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posted 21 March 2007 04:54 AM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I would place Stephen Lewis pretty high on my list.
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Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 21 March 2007 09:16 AM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Nanuq:
Slaveowners both. And the democracy they established limited the vote to white male landowners. Enough said.

The point is extremely well taken: I always bristle at the idea that Washington and Jefferson were heroes. As pointed out, they saw fit to buy and sell women and men as if they were cattle. One might even claim that Jefferson's "affair" with Sally Hemmings was a series of rapes (starting, on some accounts, when she was a teenager): as a slave, she was in no position to refuse his advances.

I believe that the vote was extended to all white males, whether or not they were landowners -- not that this is much better. A question occurs to me: were free black men allowed to vote after 1789?


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bigcitygal
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posted 21 March 2007 09:45 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks to Nanuq and Martha for poking some holes in the generic "Great Americans" list. That kind of knee-jerk patriotic posturing needs to be challenged on all levels for the colonialism that it erases, the racism that is overlooked, in that many of the men endorsed and approved of slavery, and the way capitalism is deified.

And, I'm sorry, but:

quote:
2 George Washington
He made the United States possible

It would be funny if it wasn't so horrific.

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

quote:
14 Henry Ford
He gave us the assembly line and the Model T, and sparked America’s love affair with the automobile.

Check out how the environment is doing just about 100 years later, hm?

I could go on but now I'm depressed.


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Geneva
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posted 21 March 2007 10:27 AM      Profile for Geneva     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
unfortunately, this kind of list -- as demonstrated above -- tends to mix up two entirely different things:

"Great" (as in praiseworthy, good, fine, admirable)
and
"Influential/Important" (meaning "having a great IMPACT", whatever the consequences)

so, one more time:
it is unquestionable that Hitler was a monster, but he was also absolutely one of the 100 Most Influential Germans,
hell, of the Top 5 Most Influential, heck, maybe No. 1 (vs. Luther? Charlemagne? Goethe? Bismarck?)

nobody said "good", just influential

many posters above seem to want a list of saints, hence no progress in either assessing the US Influentials list or establishing a Canadian one

and yes, Lincoln is almost certainly the most influential American: fought and won the great war to save the nation, and imperfectly and belatedly ended slavery


.

[ 21 March 2007: Message edited by: Geneva ]


From: um, well | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 21 March 2007 10:51 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Geneva:
nobody said "good", just influential

many posters above seem to want a list of saints, hence no progress in either assessing the US Influentials list or establishing a Canadian one


Correct. A person could be influencing in a positive way or influential in a negative way. So, regardless of how George Washington is viewed positively or negatively, he was clearly very influential.

All I was asking was to get babblers' thoughts on influential (not great) Canadians. Canadians who have had (and will continue to have) a long-term impact on Canada or the world. Not looking for a list of saints!


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bigcitygal
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posted 21 March 2007 06:54 PM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I agree that influential doesn't mean good, or even imply it. But it's funny, isn't it, that the list from the Atlantic Monthly are all "good" people? Except for Nixon. Who's #99 anyways.

I regret my assumption, but USians crowing about how influential their "great men" are is a bit much.

Yeah I know there are a few women up there. Whoop-dee-doo.

And Martin Luther King makes these lists, but Malcolm X doesn't.

Oh, and calling Einstein an American is pushing it. Indeed he was an American citizen, but was also a German and Swiss citizen.

wikipedia link, I know, I know...


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
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posted 21 March 2007 08:02 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bigcitygal:
I agree that influential doesn't mean good, or even imply it. But it's funny, isn't it, that the list from the Atlantic Monthly are all "good" people? Except for Nixon. Who's #99 anyways.

Who are some of the "bad" people that should be on that list? Jefferson Davis, perhaps?

In any event, rather than simply ripping on the Atlantic Monthly list, who would you put on a Canadian list of highly influential people (good and bad)? People that have had and will have a long-term impact on Canada and/or the world?


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Nanuq
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posted 21 March 2007 08:14 PM      Profile for Nanuq   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What constitutes Canadian anyway? Should the list only include those born after 1867? Do people born in Canada and who found fame elsewhere count? Does Alexander Graham Bell count even though he was born and raised in Scotland? How about John Kenneth Galbraith then?
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jrose
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posted 21 March 2007 08:28 PM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
and yes, Lincoln is almost certainly the most influential American: fought and won the great war to save the nation, and imperfectly and belatedly ended slavery

I was meaning to post something about the Civil War the other day, but because we don't have a history thread it somewhat slipped my mind. So excuse the brief thread drift.

I was editing a book for children on the Civil War the other day, which obviously sheds a wonderful light on the Union soldiers of the North. I read some interesting journal articles however, that attempt to prove otherwise. That the north was the corporate, capitalist oppressor, that was trying to squash out the independent, small businesses of the south, by abolishing slavery (thus eliminating profit).

Though I'm not up on my American history, I know that a lot of these theories were bull- and even if they had some truth to them, the end would certainly justify the means in this one! I just thought it was an interesting concept that there are historians out there attempting to prove this, and what an interesting theory it really is.

Like I said, I'm not a Civil War buff, and I'm happy to admit I'm not confident in any of this knowledge, I just thought the view of the North as the corporate oppressor, instead of the moral knights in shining armour was quite interesting.


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obscurantist
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posted 22 March 2007 12:12 AM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
JRose, of course it's a good idea to look at historical theories critically. As you suggest, the proponents of theories like this one may have their own axes to grind.

But there can still be elements of truth to them, as I think there are here. The tension between free and slave states arose not just from moral revulsion against slavery, but also from the economic advantage it gave to businesspeople who used slave labour.

In the north, not just businesses but workers as well would have had compelling self-interested reasons for wanting to see slavery at the very least contained in the short term, and hopefully eradicated over time. (Hence the clashes in the 1850s over the admission of a number of states to the Union, and the question of whether they would be admitted as free or slave states.) So there was a strong constituency for an anti-slavery party like the Republicans.

The economic motives overlapped with the moral ones. It would be facile to say that the moral arguments advanced were simply a cover for economic self-interest. You can sincerely believe that something is the right thing to do even when you know it will be to your own benefit. There are some parallels between the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement and the present-day environmental movement in that respect.

The list seems to have more than a whiff of American-history-as-comedy. In other words, "we've had some setbacks, we've made some mistakes, but everything works toward the greater good, even if indirectly -- everything eventually gets resolved for the better."

At least in the summary excerpted here, there’s not a lot about the idea of history as tragedy -- like, where did aboriginal people and nations fit into Andrew Jackson's vision of democracy? What happened AFTER the Civil War? What happened to Reconstruction? Why did it take a hundred more years for governments to start making serious progress on civil rights? And what happened after THAT?

But I realize these questions make people uncomfortable, and most people don't like it when their country's history makes them feel uncomfortable. Americans don't have a monopoly on this sort of selective amnesia, either.

The Atlantic list does seem to make a few nods in the direction of history-as-tragedy, with the inclusion of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon (although Nixon's rise and fall was arguably more farce than tragedy). A few of the other figures on the list could fall into this category as well -- people whose earlier achievements were sullied by what they did later, like Nader and Bryan.

The magazine’s general editorial perspective is what we’d call right-wing in Canada, but for the most part it rises above the anti-intellectual reactionary ranting that claims the name of “conservatism” in the States today. It’s more like a moderate-to-conservative equivalent of Harper’s. (Often better, in my opinion.) In other words, the Atlantic is quite capable of publishing pieces that are critical of American icons. So I'm curious to read the article and see what they have to say about Jackson, Clay, Calhoun, Polk, Hearst, and Walton, among others.

As for influential Canadians ... well, I’ve taken so long to write this that I’m too tired to start thinking about that. Plus, I have to admit that American history interests me more than my own country’s history does. How typically Canadian of me....


From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Bobolink
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posted 22 March 2007 07:25 AM      Profile for Bobolink   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Preston Manning: For resurrecting his father's Social Credit party, renaming it, and developing a force that would destroy the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

George Brown: For proposing a federal union of Canada East and Canada West that would grow into the idea of a federal union for all of British North America.

Nova Scotia Premier Charles Tupper who brought his opposition leader as part of the Nova Scotia delegation to the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences thus enabling his delegation to speak with a united voice.


From: Stirling, ON | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged

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