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Topic ClosedMichael Hart’s ranking of the 100 Most Influential people

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Michael Hart’s ranking of the 100 Most Influential people
    Posted: 07-Jun-2005 at 19:43
I also think the second list is pretty bad. The fact that it was written by an American Military officer does suggest some bias there. One thing that should be emphasized about the second list is that it is a ranking of influence rather than skill. The author admits that if it were based on actual skill, George Washington would probably not even make the top 100. IMO, I dont think Wash can be top 10. I think he can still cut it for top 20 though.

As for the first list, I  do think that it was a scholarly attempt at the rankings; much better than the second (for its ranking of military leaders).





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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2005 at 20:15

I agree with Imperator Invictus that the first list, being a scholarly attempt at the rankings, is relatively less biased than the second.  And considering that most people in the world are more or less influenced by Chirstianity, Judiasm, Islam, Buddahism, or Confusianism, one can argue with reason and logic that Jesus, Mohammad, Budda, Confucious, and Moses were, indeed, heavily influential people. 

The second list is even more biased the second time I look at it.  Even in terms of influence, George Washington should not have cracked the top 25.  The American Revolution succeeded because of many factors, not merely the integrity and symbolic leadership of George Washington.  If we use the logic of the second list, we can easily say that Oliver Cromwell or Miltiades were equally brillant military leaders.   One can argue that the Greek democratic tradition would not have been perserved without a victory in Marathon, or that parlimentary governments and even the ideas of the American Revolution would not have existed without the English Civil War.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2005 at 20:46

Originally posted by Laelius

For those of you who have a problem with Washington let me ask you this.  How would history be different if Washington had not been the Commander in Chief of the American Colonies?  What if it were instead a lesser man such as an Oliver Cromwell?  The fact that he resigned his commission peacefully says a great deal about his character and ensured allowed the survival of the fledgling American democracy. 

If you wish for me to spell it out for you then let me ask you this, would the Liberal revolts of Europe in the mid 19th century have happened if Washington appoints himself king?  Would the French revolution have occurred?

I am going to refute your statement idea by idea.

How would history be different if Washington had not been the Commander in Chief of the American Colonies?  What if it were instead a lesser man such as an Oliver Cromwell? 

History would not be different.  I believe that history is not decided by the whims of one man, but by ideas and tides of change.  The American Revolution happened because it was bound to happen.  The French Revolution took place because it was bound to take place.  If George Washington were not the Commander in Chief of the Contential Army, we would have "Jack Washington" or "John Washington."  The American Revolution was bound to succeed, in the same way that Germany was bound to start a second world war after Versailles, regardless of the existence of Adolf Hitler.

The fact that he resigned his commission peacefully says a great deal about his character and ensured allowed the survival of the fledgling American democracy. 

Here, you make an good point.  And this is exactly why I do admire George Washington.  But I think his resignation from his post speaks as much about his limitations as his integrity.  Washington was never into partisan politics; he was a figurehead, a symbol, but not the machine that ran the American democracy.  He never fully embraced the dynamics of the emerging two party system, and proved to be a deterrent to the development of American politics as we know it today.  I argue that Washington lacked the audacity and finesse to become a Napoleon, and lacked the political skill and interest to become a Jefferson.

Would the Liberal revolts of Europe in the mid 19th century have happened if Washington appoints himself king?  Would the French revolution have occurred?

The French Revolution in 1789, the July Revolution in 1830, and (to a lesser extent) the revolutions of 1848 are more rooted in social class struggles and the discontent of a middle class against an obsolete aristocracy (especially the French Revolution).   The American Revolution, on the contrary, was a revolution for independence, for national sovereignty. 

If Washington appointed himself as King, he would have been deposed and replaced with a republican government by the likes of Jefferson, Madision, and Adams.  It reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode about a man going back to time to foil the assassination of Lincoln.  In the end, he fails to save the president, because what will happen must happen.

Yes, the French Revolution would have, in my opinion, occured regardless of the American Revolution.  The American Revolution served as a catalyst for the French Revolution, but mostly as a catalyst.  The seeds of rebellion were already cast in France long before the American Revolution; if the American Revolution did not take place, another event would serve as catalyst and at the end, spark the French Revolution.

My apologies for being so harsh.



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2005 at 21:00
Washington is definatly one of the best generals.  Europe and others are just mad that they lost to him, and lost America!  And history IS based on one person, atleast in many cases.  If Hitler had not been around would WWII had happened?  I doubt it!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2005 at 21:09
The success of the American revolution changed the world. A bunch of farmers beat the best military there was, and When looking at america in the 20th century.......it does make sense that the commander of our revolution would be on the top 10. No one can deny America has not had a profound influence on the world.

Add this is a list of military figures, not constitutional figures like Jefferson or Franklin. So, Washington is really one of the only American revolutionaries that can even make the list.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2005 at 21:14
No, Washington was definately not a "revolutionary" tactician LoL. He lost most of his battles. He was a great leader but that did not take form in military skill. He still won the war despite losing more battles than won. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2005 at 16:07

Originally posted by Illuminati

A bunch of farmers beat the best military there was,

no the british army was most definately not the best military of the late 18th century...

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2005 at 16:33
Originally posted by Temujin

Originally posted by Illuminati

A bunch of farmers beat the best military there was,

no the british army was most definately not the best military of the late 18th century...

I am going to side with Temujin on this debate.  The British Army in the late 18th century was composed mostly of the scums of the British Empire.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2005 at 20:50
Originally posted by poirot

Originally posted by Temujin

Originally posted by Illuminati

A bunch of farmers beat the best military there was,

no the british army was most definately not the best military of the late 18th century...

I am going to side with Temujin on this debate.  The British Army in the late 18th century was composed mostly of the scums of the British Empire.

scum that just 20 or 30 years later that was beating Napolean's army down.  the best trained scum in the world.  though i agree that Washington wasn't the best general, it wasn't for the lack of talented rank and file soldiers on the British side.  Washington did however have endless land to work with and an enemy that was 2000 miles away though.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2005 at 21:07
British land army was never that good compared to others, just average, all the effort and resources went into the navy. Its only relativly recently that the British armys reputaion as a cut above the rest has some real merit, and even then, there isn't alot in it.
Napolean was fighting against half of Europe, not just against the British.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2005 at 22:42

Poirot don't worry about it, and if I sound snippy and arrogant in this post please think nothing of it

 

History would not be different.  I believe that history is not decided by the whims of one man, but by ideas and tides of change.  The American Revolution happened because it was bound to happen.  The French Revolution took place because it was bound to take place.  If George Washington were not the Commander in Chief of the Contential Army, we would have "Jack Washington" or "John Washington."  The American Revolution was bound to succeed, in the same way that Germany was bound to start a second world war after Versailles, regardless of the existence of Adolf Hitler.


I suppose I should have done a better job explaining myself.  First I at no point stated that George Washington was an indispensible part of the Revolutionary War.  Rather I think that given time without Washington far deadlier commanders would have emerged in the likes of Hamilton and Greene.  However how many would have had the moderation to simply resign their commission following the American victory?  You might make the argument that a dictator would have been overthrown but where does that put the fledgling American nation?  In the same boat as numerous collapsed states around the world.

 

Here, you make an good point.  And this is exactly why I do admire George Washington.  But I think his resignation from his post speaks as much about his limitations as his integrity.  Washington was never into partisan politics; he was a figurehead, a symbol, but not the machine that ran the American democracy.  He never fully embraced the dynamics of the emerging two party system, and proved to be a deterrent to the development of American politics as we know it today.  I argue that Washington lacked the audacity and finesse to become a Napoleon, and lacked the political skill and interest to become a Jefferson.

 

And do his shortcomings diminish his influence on future events?  You might say yes but I believe you are making poor observations in this part of your post.   First you accuse him of lacking the audactiy and finesse of a Napoleon.  While he most certainly was not Napoleon's equal as a commander Washington was certainly everybit as audacious given his circumstances.  I would hope you are familiar with his assault on Trenton followed by his princeton campaign.  Even if the concepts for these successes originated with his subordinates it was Washington who decidedto embark on two separate successive campaigns which would have broken his army.  Second you claim Washington lacked political deftness yet was this a flaw of his character or was his refusal to engage in partisan politics another virtue of his leadership?  Washington's refusal to engage in petty political allignments allowed him to retain his reputation as a powerful unifying figure.  You may recall that the initial purpose of the presidency was to merely enforce the will of the Senate.

 

The French Revolution in 1789, the July Revolution in 1830, and (to a lesser extent) the revolutions of 1848 are more rooted in social class struggles and the discontent of a middle class against an obsolete aristocracy (especially the French Revolution).

Yes, the French Revolution would have, in my opinion, occured regardless of the American Revolution.  The American Revolution served as a catalyst for the French Revolution, but mostly as a catalyst.  The seeds of rebellion were already cast in France long before the American Revolution; if the American Revolution did not take place, another event would serve as catalyst and at the end, spark the French Revolution. 

 

Though the spark may seem insignificant to the keg of powder it is still an integral part of the reaction.  Though the American Revolution was not the cause of the French Revolution and the student revolts it certainly encouraged these events.  I find it hard to believe that the successful American revolt and subsequent emplacement of a working American democracy did not provide the necessary catalyst for European liberals to stake their lives on the line and revolt.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2005 at 22:44
BTW I agree that its history that makes the man and not the other way around yet I feel that you've underestimated the effects that one man's decision may have on the future.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jun-2005 at 23:11

Originally posted by Cywr


Napolean was fighting against half of Europe, not just against the British.

he wasn't in the early 1810's before he invaded russia, and there was fighting in spain. not that he was there in person but once i think.  the english (with spanish guerrillas and portugese regulars, but not that many of them) were taking on french armies quite larger than there own.  are you going to put all that glory on the truly superb Wellington, did the men who were part of this (and i read it somewhere that they were the only ones who trained with live ammo and could shoot (man-per-man) the quickest in europe). 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2005 at 06:11
Originally posted by Thegeneral

Washington is definatly one of the best generals. Europe and others are just mad that they lost to him, and lost America!


Europe is mad for loosing America? Most of Europe was fighting against the British and/or supporting the Americans. France, Spain and the Netherlands fought an open war, while the most important naval supplies and ore producers, Russia and Sweden, boycotted the British and joined in the Armed Neutrality together with Denmark. Polish, French, German, Swedish, etc officers fought in the revolutionary armies. Washington being one of the best generals is about as truthful as your second statement.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2005 at 06:18
I'm sorry for the American pride, but the American revolution has nothing to do with the French one.

The people were very poor before the revolution, Louis XIV bankrupted the state and his successors, Louis XV and XVI did nothing against it. They made the situation even worse.

The French revolution would have happen with or without the USA, yet the American war of independance might not have been a success without the French support. Think of De Grasse and chesapeake bay.

And Washington is very overated, without La Fayette he was nothing. Before the American war of independance, do you guys even know of the Battle of Monogahela? The American forces came to seize the French lands in Louisiana under the general Braddock, the American had a 1.500 strong men force and the French a 700 men strong one. More than half of the American force were killed in battle with minor casualties on the French side. Braddock was hit and wounded and no one was couragous enough to rescue him, especially not this officer named Georges Washington who left the battle as the only officer to survive it.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2005 at 09:32
Washington is definatly one of the best generals.  Europe and others are just mad that they lost to him, and lost America!


Europe and others? LMAO.
Yes, i renember that long struggle for US indipendance from the rest of the planet.

he wasn't in the early 1810's before he invaded russia, and there was fighting in spain. not that he was there in person but once i think.  the english (with spanish guerrillas and portugese regulars, but not that many of them) were taking on french armies quite larger than there own.  are you going to put all that glory on the truly superb Wellington, did the men who were part of this (and i read it somewhere that they were the only ones who trained with live ammo and could shoot (man-per-man) the quickest in europe).


The French handed not a few defeats to the English on land, and Iberia was something else.
British army was nothing special, even British historians agree on this. There was the tendancy in Britian to distrust large militaries, especialy at home, so it often didn't get the attention other continental powers would have given it.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2005 at 11:54

TO Laelius: I always enjoy a good-hearted debate. 

I see two sides: a pro-Washington American-centric team and a George Washington was nothing compared to X and Y European-centric side

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2005 at 12:35

Originally posted by Cywr

British land army was never that good compared to others, just average, all the effort and resources went into the navy. Its only relativly recently that the British armys reputaion as a cut above the rest has some real merit, and even then, there isn't alot in it.
Napolean was fighting against half of Europe, not just against the British.

Also, the British never committed many troops to the War for American Independence nor did they committ much defending Canada in the war of 1812. The American Revolution was a very small and unimportant event when it happened, only resently with America becoming a superpower did people outside the U.S. begin studying it. But it remains a small event in history. In fact the French and Russian Revolutions changed the world in a more immediate and significant way.  America was not that important back then, continental interests and India were the main concerns the British had.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jun-2005 at 13:59

I think it's so ironic that nowadays Americans have such a dislike of the French. If it wasn't for the French expeditionary force, the Americans would have surely lost the revolution. They spent the first part of the war losing battle after battle, they lost New York and Philadelphia, all the while waiting for the French to get in the war. And when they did, not only did the French provide the Americans with vital naval support, but they also provided the bulk of the army which won the crucial battle of Yorktown - the turning point of the war. Washington was an excellent politican and a good rallying symbol for the Americans, but a very lousy general. Most of his supposed vctories were actually won by other officers.

I know that the Americans will disagree with me, because the version of history they learn in school is loaded with propaganda, but the truth is that without the French, America would have never won the war. America wouldn't be be America without the French that they hate so much right now!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jun-2005 at 02:20

 

Anyway this is hart's opinion which i disagree with. People like Bismarck and Louis IV who have radically changed europes landscape and military are missing.

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