Henry Ford, inventor of...well, perhaps not much! (See below)
Jennifer and I are still in the process of trying to get settled into our new home. We have finally reached the final stages, going through those last few boxes and determining whether or not to keep the stuff in them, and where to put the stuff we keep. Today I was going through a box of keepsakes and found some of my mom (may her memory be eternal!)'s old stuff.
One thing I found was a very interesting pamphlet called "The Most Overrated American." It includes the results of a survey conducted at some time in the past, perhaps about 20 years ago. Here's what the cover says about the survey:
"We asked journalists, politicians and historians to choose the single most overrated figure in American history. The 'nominations' are rather surprising. And some of them are enclosed."
The next couple of pages list a few of the unenviable "nominations." Each nomination is followed by a blurb written by one of the persons who made the nomination. As a life-long student of U. S. History, I found some of the nominations quite surprising. Because of this, I thought I would reproduce the pamphlet in full. I'll list the first three allegedly overrated Americans, and then next time, I'll list the other four. Then, in the third part in this series, I'll reproduce the fourth page of the pamphlet, which is called "Some of the Most Underrated Americans."
But before I give the list, one disclaimer: The opinions listed are not necessarily my own. I'm just copying what it says in the pamphlet (and perhaps adding a few comments of my own). So, if you disagree with any of these, please feel free to say so, but don't get mad at me!
Now, drum roll please... the first three people whom at least some scholars believe are overrated:
1. Patrick Henry: His "Liberty or Death" speech has him on a pedestal with the other Founding Fathers. But how much did he really do? He contributed practically nothing to the military side of the American Revolution. And he contributed only mischief to the many American politicians to get a away with the gift of gab. (Walter Lord)
2. Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence took on its much-admired spare elegance only after Congress had edited it heavily. He was a disastrous Revolutionary Governor of Virginia. And, a he had the grace to acknowledge, his Presidency was just as bad. (Pauline Maier) (This was a big surprise to me! This is the first time I've ever heard Jefferson's presidency described as bad. - FJE)
3. Henry Ford: Despite popular misconceptions, he did not invent the automobile, the assembly line, vertical integration, or mass ownership of cars. (Bernard Weisberger)
I'll list the "final four" overrated Americans (or at least the ones listed in this pamphlet) next time.