In an article certain to stir debate, The Atlantic Monthly this week published their list of the "100 Most Influential American Figures." Spanning American history from the Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin) to the computer age (Bill Gates), the list was compiled with the input of ten eminent historians who weighed the contributions, for good or for ill, of the people who shaped American history and made us who we are today.
"Our goal in compiling the 'Atlantic's 100 Most Influential Americans' list wasn't to end a debate about historical influence, but to start one," says James Bennet, editor of The Atlantic Monthly. "We're not planning to engrave this list on a marble wall somewhere. Instead, we hope it will provoke discussion and even some serious disagreement about who made America and how. Why is Walt Disney ranked ahead of Elizabeth Cady Stanton? How did Woodrow Wilson make the top 10 but not Ronald Reagan? How can Bill Gates be ahead of Elvis Presley, or Presley ahead of Lewis and Clark, or Lewis and Clark ahead of Ralph Nader, or Nader ahead of Richard Nixon? The debates over the rankings in our offices have been fascinating and, at times, feisty. We hope other people have as much fun debating them as we have."
Here is The Atlantic Monthly's Top 10:
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Thomas Jefferson
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt
5. Alexander Hamilton
6. Benjamin Franklin
7. John Marshall
8. Martin Luther King, Jr.
9. Thomas Edison
10. Woodrow Wilson
Walt Disney ranks 26th on the list. Other notable names making the cut include Henry Ford, Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein, Susan B. Anthony, Sam Walton and Babe Ruth.
The complete list can be found at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200612/influentials. The Atlantic Monthly encourages readers to submit their own lists of influential Americans.