Monday, February 16, 2009

C-SPAN Historians Rank Lincoln Over Washington

A survey of historians, sponsored by cable channel C-SPAN, has ranked the Presidents of the United States from George Washington through George W. Bush.

To watch a C-SPAN video on the survey, click here.

To read the Yahoo! news article, click here.

For the second time in a row, the C-SPAN survey has ranked Lincoln above Washington, though Washington did a favorable swap with now-third place finisher Franklin D. Roosevelt.

While Abraham Lincoln was a great leader and strong President, it's a fact that our 16th President committed a few key missteps at the beginning of his presidency. This takes nothing away from the man. No one is perfect, and everyone has to learn. And Lincoln did.

Clearly, Lincoln deserves to be in the Top Five of our Presidents. In fact, I'd rank him at #2. But....Number One?????

Sorry, that prize goes to and must remain with George Washington. Our first President was truly the indispensable man. Without Washington, there would be no United States of America.

Significantly, President Washington had no frame of reference for his conduct as Head of State. Lincoln had fifteen predecessors to look to (for lessons both good and bad) and a fairly well-established Republic to govern. Sure, it split into a Civil War, but there had to be something there to split. In Washington's case, the nation was truly an infant - with no idea where to go or what to do.

Even though Washington may not be first in the minds of historians, he must always remain first in our hearts as Americans.


Our Founding Truth said...

Sorry, that prize goes to and must remain with George Washington. Our first President was truly the indispensable man. Without Washington, there would be no United States of America.>

Was the poll based on the Presidency or total accomplishments?

Anonymous said...

Washington was the greatest man in existence. Go to the site below to watch a tribute to His Excellency. :-)

Kieran said...

I would be obliged to agree with you. After some work, I composed a list of my top 10 presidents, and I think you will like #1.

1. Washington
2. Lincoln
3. FDR
4. Teddy R
5. Jackson
6. Polk
7. Wilson
8. Jefferson
9. Madison
10. Reagan

What are your thoughts on my rankings? I am actually currently taking a survery on who Americans feel are the top 10 presidents, would you like to particapate?

Brian Tubbs said...

Good list, Kieran. These kinds of list really come down to criteria. What are we evaluating - effectiveness? impact? policies?

If the criteria is who had the greatest impact in shaping US history, then it's hard to argue with your choices.

Brian Tubbs said...

OFT, the poll was focused on the presidency. But even here, I'd say Washington's presidency was indispensable. He set the precedents, breathed life into the executive branch, provided critical leadership. Had he failed as President, the USA wouldn't be here today.

Kieran said...

The criteria for my survey is based on-forgive me if it sounds ameteurish-everything in one. What I want to know is who is when you throw everything together, who do you regard as being the greatest Presidents in our history.

As for my own list, I spent the past few months putting this together, carefully considering who should go where. So far most of the criticism has been that I put Polk too high(although I believe he deserves #6), but other than that, it has been relatively well recieved, although no one agress with it entirely.

Brian Tubbs said...

James K Polk is one of our most underrated Presidents. He accomplished all four of his major campaign promises (and they were biggees) - and did it in ONE term!

He also confirmed the annexation of Texas, settled the Texas-Mexico boundary dispute with Mexico, and acquired virtually all of our modern-day southwestern US from Mexico. And he settled the Oregon boundary dispute with Britain.

People may object to Polk - call him an "imperialist" and things like that - but no one can question his effectiveness. The man had a profound impact on US history.