The top 100 influentials

Atlantic lists The Top 100 — the most influential Americans in history.

James K. Polk?

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  1. If it weren’t for James K. Polk, you would be blogging from San Jose, Mexico.

  2. Polk also brought Texas into the Union. Just imagine if the Dallas Cowboys represented the Texas Republic… He had limited goals as a president, he achieved them, and then he left office. We won’t see another one like him.

  3. Check out Polk’s position in these presidental rankings:

    He’s 10th or 11th in the rankings among scholars, but lower among the general public, behind more famous ones.

    There’s also a great song about JKP by They Might Be Giants.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    I would put Ernest Lawrence instead of Enrico Fermi. Lawrence started the idea of big machine science, and put Northern California on the map for the location of science and technology.

  5. Wayne Martin says:

    I’m not certain Woodrow Wilson belongs on this list.

  6. Wayne: Wilson belongs, although maybe not so high on it. Being “influential” doesn’t have to be a good influence – and I like the way they phrased his entry, leaving it to us to judge whether it was good or bad.

    Polk certainly should be higher than #50.

    I didn’t find Teddy Roosevelt on the list. Certainly he belongs there.

  7. Mrs. Davis says:

    TR is #15.

    Milton Friedman less influence than Betty Freidan? Norman Borlaug less influence than anybody?

  8. wayne martin says:

    > Wilson belongs, although maybe not so high on it.

    Why? He was the first Southern president since the Second War for Southern Independence. He was president of UVA. He didn’t support England, France and Canada in the War against the Kaiser until late in the War. He was incapacitated by the end of the engagement, so the English and French were able to set the stage for WWII. The League of Nations, which he supported, ended up being of no particular value. There is a bridge on the DC beltway bearing his name.

    Sorry .. Not certain I see Wilson’s value to be on this list. How about the Wright Brothers, or Seymour Cray, or George Westinghouse? William Randolph Hurst, or Horace Greeley?