Dead White Guys Rule

The Atlantic Monthly has compiled a list of the 100 most influential Americans. I don’t know if it’s more of a commentary on the list or America that there’s so little diversity on it. Full list behind the cut, for the curious.

    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
    11 John D. Rockefeller
    12 Ulysses Grant
    13 James Madison
    14 Henry Ford
    15 Theodore Roosevelt
    16 Mark Twain
    17 Ronald Reagan
    18 Andrew Jackson
    19 Thomas Paine
    20 Andrew Carnegie
    21 Harry Truman
    22 Walt Whitman
    23 Wright Brothers
    24 Alexander Graham Bell
    25 John Adams
    26 Walt Disney
    27 Eli Whitney
    28 Dwight D. Eisenhower
    29 Earl Warren
    30 Elizabeth Cady Stanton
    31 Henry Clay
    32 Albert Einstein
    33 Ralph Waldo Emerson
    34 Jonas Salk
    35 Jackie Robinson
    36 William Jennings Bryan
    37 J.P. Morgan
    38 Susan B. Anthony
    39 Rachel Carson
    40 John Dewey
    41 Harriet Beecher Stowe
    42 Eleanor Roosevelt
    43 W.E.B. DuBois
    44 Lyndon Baines Johnson
    45 Samuel F.B. Morse
    46 William Lloyd Garrison
    47 Frederick Douglass
    48 Robert Oppenheimer
    49 Frederick Law Olmsted
    50 James K. Polk
    51 Margaret Sanger
    52 Joseph Smith
    53 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
    54 Bill Gates
    55 John Quincy Adams
    56 Horace Mann
    57 Robert E. Lee
    58 John C. Calhoun
    59 Louis Sullivan
    60 William Faulkner
    61 Samuel Gompers
    62 William James
    63 George Marshall
    64 Jane Addams
    65 Henry David Thoreau
    66 Elvis Presley
    67 P.T. Barnum
    68 James D. Watson
    69 James Gordon Bennett
    70 Lewis and Clark
    71 Noah Webster
    72 Sam Walton
    73 Cyrus McCormick
    74 Brigham Young
    75 George Herman "Babe" Ruth
    76 Frank Lloyd Wright
    77 Betty Friedan
    78 John Brown
    79 Louis Armstrong
    80 William Randolph Hearst
    81 Margaret Mead
    82 George Gallup
    83 James Fenimore Cooper
    84 Thurgood Marshall
    85 Ernest Hemingway
    86 Mary Baker Eddy
    87 Benjamin Spock
    88 Enrico Fermi
    89 Walter Lippmann
    90 Jonathan Edwards
    91 Lyman Beecher
    92 John Steinbeck
    93 Nat Turner
    94 George Eastman
    95 Sam Goldwyn
    96 Ralph Nader
    97 Stephen Foster
    98 Booker T. Washington
    99 Richard Nixon
    100 Herman Melville

5 thoughts on “Dead White Guys Rule”

  1. It actually exhausts me to think about the sheer number of different (sometimes competing) ways that this list is fucking twaddle.

  2. You know some of them are no-brainers (really taking a chance with George Washington, Lincoln and MLK arent’ they?) but I’m stumped by why you would include Nixon, Herman Melville or Walt Disney and not Malcom X. And it’s influence on who exactly?
    The whole thing just seems bizarre.

  3. That would be Malcolm X. I can spell, really. (And is it just me is there not a single member of the space program there? And what about the architects of Los Alamos? Or Joseph McCarthy whose anti-communism hearings destroyed thousands of lives? or Robert McNamera whose policies and designs dragged us further into Vietnam or…or….or. You get the idea.)

  4. To get an idea how the list is skewed, I noticed that Douglass is #47 and Grant is # 12. They got Melville, who’s my old boy, but yet no Poe, who had a hell of a lot of firsts. Forget about Margaret Fuller and Dickinson, they’re not even in the ball park here. I think my fifth grade social studies teacher, Mr. Edwards, made this list up. He made history dry as dust and would reach around the back of his head with his left arm in order to pick with his pinky his right nostril.

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