This week, Hawkins solicited a different list of the 20 "greatest figures in American history." His results are here; George Washington came in first, Thomas Jefferson second and Martin Luther King third.
I was among the bloggers polled. My list (approximately ranked) was:
Abraham LincolnMy "also-rans" included Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, George W. Bush, Ulysses Grant, Kenneth J. Arrow, Richard Feynman, Robert E. Lee, Harry Truman, Louis Brandeis, Bill Gates, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. I decided that too many of the achievements of Einstein and Hayek occurred when they were not "Americans."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Martin Luther King Jr.
James K. Polk
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Orville & Wilbur Wright
Even though my list departs from the consolidated outcome -- Jefferson before Lincoln?? no T.R. or F.D.R.?? -- these results are much more reasonable than Hawkins' earlier "worst" poll. BTW, Hawkins ran the same "greatest Americans" poll four years ago--compare the results here.
As always, thoughts, critiques and suggested substitutions welcome in comments. I recommend readers interested in disputing my inclusion of President Polk first research the amount of U.S. territory acquired during his one term (or according to his wishes when he was President-elect). See generally Walter A. McDougall, Let the Sea Make a Noise: Four Hundred Years of Cataclysm, Conquest, War and Folly in the North Pacific (1993) (discussed here).