1001 People Who Made America

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He was not an American—How could he have been? And that brings us to another criterion for inclusion. So readers will find a good many outsiders here—explorers, mostly—whose doings were somehow very important to who we are. And being dead is not necessary for inclusion, either.


Readers will find in this book plenty of people who, as of , were very much with us. How did I happen to choose each of the 1, people in this book? First, by reading a lot of history. The majority of people in this book are the people a majority of historians think should be in such a book as this. That is, they are here by consensus.

Now, consensus is a valuable tool of knowledge, but, taken alone, it is pretty dull. So I have also looked beyond it to include some people who speak directly to me, who seem to me—as an American—important to America. First: 1, people in a book the size of your hand leaves precious little space to spend much time with any one person. Second: The alphabet can be an awful tyrant.

A to Z, after all, is always A to Z. Go backwards or sideways, if you like. You cannot lose your way. This book is the collective biography of America. Dig in where you will. Abbey, Edward — Novelist, journalist, lecturer, and university professor Cactus Ed Abbey wrote about the American West and the environmental problems created by human exploitation of the region.

Abbey often called for radical methods to remedy environmental ills. His novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, about a group of environmental vigilantes, inspired the founding of the Earth First! He was the dominant force in shaping the Cold War policy dubbed in the Truman Doctrine, which pledged economic and military assistance to any nation fighting the expansion of Communism.

With Secretary of State George C. As her husband began work with Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence, Abigail asked him to remember the ladies and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Adams, Henry — Great grandson of John Adams, Henry Adams was a journalist, historian, novelist, and educator whose autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams , presented himself as the typical man of the dawning 20th century, struggling to move from a world defined by faith and custom into one both shaped and torn by science and technology, a world in which absolute certainty had yielded to relativism and doubt.

The book is one of the great spiritual and intellectual testaments of American literature.

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Adams, John — The son of a shoemaker and farmer, Adams became a highly successful lawyer in Massachusetts and was among the first great champions of American independence. A radical in the Revolution, Adams was a conservative force after it. Adams was a formidable diplomat who, as secretary of state under President James Monroe, formulated the Monroe Doctrine, by which the president served notice on all European powers that any attempt to colonize or interfere with any state in the Western Hemisphere would be treated as an attack on the United States.

As a president, Adams was a visionary, who proposed creating a national university and a national astronomical observatory, creating a federal trust for the western territories, and using federal funds to build national roads.

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Unique among U. After , Adams was chief architect of intercolonial committees of correspondence, which coordinated the developing revolution, and in , was the prime instigator of the Boston Tea Party. Adams helped mastermind the Articles of Confederation, precursor of the Constitution.

This institution offered hot meals, child care services, tutoring in English, and many classes in vocational and other subjects—all with the goal of tending to the physical and intellectual needs of the community as well as creating a community in which residents themselves worked together to improve their lives. Adler, Dankmar — Adler immigrated to the United States from Prussia in and settled in Detroit, where he began his study of architecture in He died in their custody of according to them a heart attack.

One of the great scientists of the 19th century, Agassiz established a museum of comparative zoology at Harvard and opened the field of ecology to generations of scientists.

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  5. His teaching method, radical in its day, emphasized personal contact with nature rather than instruction from books and lectures. Agnew, Spiro T. In , he was accused of extortion, bribery, and income-tax evasion while governor of Maryland.

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    Albright, Madeleine — With her family, Albright fled her native Czechoslovakia after the Nazi occupation she learned late in life that her family was Jewish and earned degrees from Wellesley College and Columbia University M. President Bill Clinton appointed her ambassador to the United Nations in , then secretary of state in This philosophy profoundly influenced American literature and art throughout most of the 19th century.

    Alcott, Louisa May — Second daughter of the Transcendentalist philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott realized that her highly spiritual but totally impractical father was bringing the family to financial ruin; she therefore embarked on a career as an author of books for young people, producing a string of hits, including Little Women — , about the coming of age of four daughters during the era of the Civil War. Frail and overworked, Alcott died just two days after her father. He preached until , when he was forced out of his Brewster Massachusetts pulpit by charges of sexual misconduct with local boys.

    Alger fled to New York City and began writing books about desperately poor lads who, by virtue of hard work and courage— pluck and luck —rise to great wealth. During three decades, he wrote more than enormously successful rags-to-riches novels purveying the profoundly influential mythology of anything-is-possible in America. Ali, Muhammad — One of the greatest athletes in history, Ali was a three-time world heavyweight boxing champion. He was also a compelling champion of civil rights, a protester against the Vietnam War, and a dedicated member of the Black Muslims Nation of Islam.

    Born Cassius Clay, he was raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and encouraged by a local white police officer, Joe Martin, to train at a neighborhood gym. Clay went on to win an Olympic gold medal at age 18 which he later renounced in protest over racism in the United States and went on to a spectacular professional career.

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    5. In , during the Vietnam War, he refused to accept conscription in the U. Army and was stripped of his heavyweight title. His many supporters saw this as a bold act of civil disobedience. A subsequent attempt to take Montreal September failed miserably.


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      Out of office, he returned to the private practice of law with his partner, Clarence Darrow. Anxious to complete the floundering transcontinental railroad, Abraham Lincoln asked Ames to oversee financing the massive project. Anastasia, Alberto — Emigrating from Italy in , Anastasia became the chief executioner of the Giuseppe Masseria gang, then founded Murder, Inc.

      Anderson, Bloody Bill — After one of his sisters was killed and another crippled in the collapse of the Kansas City jail in which Union forces held them, Anderson and men under his command joined William C. His most infamous deed was the brutal murder in Centralia, Missouri, of 24 unarmed Union soldiers.

      101 Objects that Made America: America in the World

      When Union cavalrymen gave chase, Anderson and his gang ambushed them, killing and scalping , then cutting off noses and ears as souvenirs. Anderson, Marion — Born in Philadelphia, Anderson earned fame in the black community as a church singer. She went on to study classical voice, and performed in opera houses and concert halls throughout Europe, only to be turned down in by the Daughters of the American Revolution DAR when she sought to perform at Washington, D.

      Anderson performed on Easter Sunday to an audience of 75, Anthony, Susan B. Armour, Philip — A Chicago meat packer, Armour innovated mass slaughtering and butchering techniques, recycled waste products, perfected the canning of meat, and pioneered the use of refrigerated transportation—even exporting meat to Europe. He used his enormous profits for philanthropy, founding in Chicago the Armour Mission and the Armour Institute of Technology, later called the Illinois Institute of Technology. Armstrong, Louis — Born poor in New Orleans, trumpeter and vocalist Armstrong was one of the jazz pioneers who brought the music up North—and to the world at large.

      He transformed jazz from band music to a popular art form suited to intense and exuberant solo expression. On July 16, , Armstrong with Edwin E. Buzz Aldrin, Jr. At p. Arnold, Benedict — Born in Norwich, Connecticut, Arnold served as a teenager in the French and Indian War — and, during the American Revolution — , compiled a brilliant combat record, but became embittered when he was passed over for promotion. In , he married Margaret Shippen, the daughter of a prominent Philadelphia Loyalist.

      An interesting read. It is good a briefly covering events and perhaps whetting the appetite for further reading on events. I agree with other reviewers that he does seem to forcus more on more modern historical events.

      1001 People Who Made America

      Alan Axelrod. For some, patriotism means flags and parades, for others it's "My country right or wrong. It's a challenge that calls for an open mind and a clear perspective on the people, events, and issues that shaped our society--and that's just what Events That Made America provides.