For all the hype the Discovery Channel has heaped on their "Who Is The Greatest American?
" show. I've found the list simply ridiculous. Some of the more ridiculous on the list are Laura Bush, Tom Cruise, Ellen Degeneres, John Edwards, Brett Favre, Michael Jackson, Barack Obama, Michael Moore and Oprah Winfrey.
This just proves that Americans are some very stupid individuals. I would say even nominating George W. Bush at this point is way premature. They should have stated only dead people could be in the list because you never know what someone will do later in their life that will not make them so great anymore (i.e. Michael Jackson).
So we get down to the top 5 now which are all good choices, but there is only one you can truly pick for whom the others would be lost without. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan would all be nobody without
Without Benjamin Franklin, George Washington would have failed. It could be argued that Washington is the only one who could have succeeded against the English, but that's not believable. You could try to argue Franklin's diplomatic skills away and say that someone else could have done just as well, but that would not ring true. Franklin was the only one with the ties at the time who could have pulled it off. I'd argue that even without Washington, another General could have defeated the English with the support brought by Franklin.
The redeeming value of Washington giving up his presidency in the mold of Cincinnatus -- a Roman who after doing his duty gave up power -- is his main attribute for greatness.
Without Franklin's diplomatic skills there would have been no help for America against the English and thus no Republic. Without Franklin all of the following; Lincoln, King and Reagan could not have had a system on which they did their greatest works.
This alone should put him at the top spot, without even taking into account his other contributions including: Poor Richard's Almanack, Fire Prevention, Electricity, the Franklin Stove, bifocals, the lightning rod and libraries. What did Washington, Lincoln, King or Reagan invent? Nothing!
Franklin believed so much in innovation that he refused to take out patents on things so that others could use and improve on them.
So it's quite clearly an easy decision to make Benjamin Franklin the Greatest American.
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