My list of American history's 25 greatest progressives

Based on their achievements, actions and impact, from presidents and Founding Fathers to suffragettes and abolitionists.

1. James Madison (1751-1836)
Father of the Constitution, co-author of the "Federalist Papers," fourth president of the United States

2. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
Civil rights advocate, Nobel Peace Prize recipient

3. Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
Author of "Common Sense,""The Crisis,""Rights of Man" and "Age of Reason"

4. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Author of the Declaration of Independence, author of the Virginia Statutes of Religious Freedom, third president of the United States, founder of the University of Virginia

5. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Author, publisher, scientist, diplomat, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, founder of the University of Pennsylvania

6. William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879)
Co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society, editor of "The Liberator"

7. Roger Williams (1603-1684)
Co-founder of Rhode Island colony, author of "The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution" and "The Bloudy Tenent yet more Bloudy"

8. George Mason (1725-1792)
Author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, delegate to the Constitutional Convention

9. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
Abolitionist, author, civil rights advocate

10. Roger Nash Baldwin (1884-1981)
Co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union

11. Earl Warren (1891-1974)
14th chief justice of the United States Supreme Court

12. Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
26th president of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize recipient

13. Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926)
Co-founder of the American Socialist Party

14. Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
Co-organizer of the Seneca Falls Convention, co-founder of the National Women's Suffrage Association

15. Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Co-founder of the National Women's Suffrage Association, author of "The History of Women's Suffrage"

16. Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)
Co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association

17. Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)
Civil rights advocate, anti-lynching advocate, muckraker

18. Upton Sinclair (1878-1968)
Author of "The Jungle," muckraker

19. Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)
Civil rights advocate, author, educator

20. Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)
Treasury Secretary, co-author of the "Federalist Papers"

21. W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963)
Civil rights advocate, author

22. Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
Author of "Silent Spring," environmentalist

23. Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
Civil rights advocate, author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"

24. Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
Founder of Planned Parenthood

25. Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)
33rd president of the United States

Tags: american history, founding fathers, Madison, Martin Luther King, progressives (all tags)



Re: My list of American history's 25 greatest prog


Your list is rather "interesting."

Harry Truman, last on your list, was the most despised president in my lifetime.  Also perhaps the greatest of them all.

One of the groups that despised Harry Trumans were liberals.

One the things that does not notably redound to Truman's benefit is the Vietnam War.  It was Truman who first committed Americans to securing Vietnam as a French colony after the abortive establishment of an independent Vietnamese government following WWWII.

Truman was no more a liberal than say - oh, ahh, umm - Franklin D. Roosevelt.  FDR too came from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party.

The most liberal presidency of my lifetime was, very oddly, the Nixon administration despite the horrendous shortcomings of the man.

History can be very strange.

by terryhallinan 2006-06-19 03:50AM | 0 recs
Al Smith and FDR????

How could you leave Al Smith and FDR off this list?  I know Al Smith was never President but he was a great progressive leader in his time and enacted many things in NY including child labor and worker saferty laws that became models for the fed govt.  FDR improved upon those laws and brought them to the nation.  FDR's admin was responsible for many of the social safety net we take for granted today including Social Security, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, union organizing laws, etc.

by John Mills 2006-06-19 06:14AM | 0 recs
Eleanaor Roosevelt? n/t

by michael in chicago 2006-06-19 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: My list of American history's 25 greatest prog

I left off FDR because I think although he was a good politician and naturally very popular in his day, the New Deal was essentially a mixed bag of economic and social ideas that he wanted to experiment with without much of a clear road to success. After all, it was WWII that finally ended the Depression. Also, the Japanese internment was unforgiveable, both then or today if it were implemented. I give more credit to America's labor leaders and New Dealers in his Cabinet and in Congress for more of the labor achievements.

I have Truman because his stances on civil rights in the late '40s, early '50s were the first bold presidential steps toward desegregation pre-Brown v. Board. There's also the Marshall Plan, Berlin air lift and NATO. Sure Truman may have aided the French in Vietnam but his successors chose to get involved, also. In my opinion, Dem candidates this year need to find their inner-Truman  ;)

Eleanor Roosevelt was surely ahead of her time but not impactful enough in my mind.

by mkfox 2006-06-19 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: My list of American history's 25 greatest prog

"I have Truman because his stances on civil rights in the late '40s, early '50s were the first bold presidential steps toward desegregation pre-Brown v. Board."

Thank you.

Very insightful.

by terryhallinan 2006-06-19 10:17AM | 0 recs
Truman? Bold on race?

My understanding is that Truman dragged his feet on the race issue just as much as he could.

The famous Rowe/Clifford memorandum said that the Negro vote in 48 would be a problem - because the likely GOP candidate, Dewey, had been so strong on civil rights as NY Gov (he had passed a variety of FEPC). So Truman set up a Commission.

When it reported, he sat on his hands, even on those matters (like government desegregation) which could be dealt with by executive order.

When it came to the 48 Convention, he wanted to carry over the same anodyne civil rights plank in the 44 platform: Humphrey and ADA (who were pleading with Ike to run not long before) forced their (not terribly radical) civil rights plank on him.

Then, finally, he issued his EOs on government desegregation (civil and military).

After the Dems regained the trifecta, it was stymie as usual. Truman had too many troubles (what with China and Berlin and 'commies' in the State Department) to push the Senate to do what it never would do in a million years.

Except for the timely intervention of Bull Connor and Lee Harvey Oswald, that is.

by skeptic06 2006-06-19 11:44AM | 0 recs


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