What historical figure do you find most interesting? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 07:53 AM Thread Starter
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What historical figure do you find most interesting?

Today is the 140th anniversy of the assasination of Abraham Lincoln. I have been a lifelong student of his life, and consider him the single greatest figure in the history of this country, and one of the greatest men of all time. The idea that all men are truly equal before the law was so revolutionary that it took eighty years from the time it was first proposed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, and it took 600,000 American lives in the bloodiest war in our history to settle the matter once and for all. It then took another 100 years for it to truly become the law of the land, in our second relatively bloodless civil war of the 1960s. None of this would have been possible without the leadership of this man.

Linclon was also important for another, less discussed reason - he was a giant of American Literature. His clear, logical prose, presented with folksy irony and wit, is written in a timeless style that is still easily readable even today. He was not a novelist or non-fiction writer, he was an essayist of the highest order - his greatest work, the Gettysburg Address, was a mere 250 words or so, and is considered the most powerful statement of national purpose ever written. His other great achievement, the Second Inaugral Address, is a mere few paragraphs, expressing the sorrow and utter remose of war and a desire to forgive one's enemies in a way that still moves people today who read it for the first time. In honor of his passing, I present this speech, a monumental work of the human mind:

Fellow Countrymen:

At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it; all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war - seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained.

Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.








Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 09:47 AM
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

Since Lincoln is taken, and in the same vein, I would choose Thomas Jefferson. There are many reasons to choose this man, but the biggest and longest lasting attribute would be that he used his intellect and education for the benefit of the whole, and not the few. He loathed politicians but became one only to defeat a man he felt was more interested in his further advancement than in the public good. Sound familiar? Still applies today.
Amazing that the founding fathers were so giving. Bot could learn from this.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 10:48 AM
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

Some people may be shocked by this, but I'd say Hitler. Not because of his views on many subjects, which of course I disagree with, but because of his leadership ability and intelligence. He was able to rise to power in an extremely quick fashion and come with in spitting distance of global domination. If someone had his skills and drive with a good head on their shoulders, the world would probably be a far different place.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 11:14 AM
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

Got to agree, that while Hitler was a twerp, he clearly saw the power of nationalist propaganda early in his life and was capable of utilizing that awareness to unify and mobilize a lot of people.

One of my favorites is Emma Goldman. While she spoke out for women's rights, particularly reproductive rights, and was jailed for it, she saw the need for a fundamental political outlook which sought the liberty of all people. From her youth when she resisted the attempts of her father to marry her off, to her deportation for resisting WWI and her opposition to the Bolshevik revolution, she showed a consistent commitment to the freedom of the individual from social and economic bonds.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

If I remember correctly, there was a great deal of controversy over Time choosing the man of the century at the end of the 20th. Hitler was obviously the one human being who had more influence over every outcome of the century, but the common distaste for the man influenced the decision. I forget who they eventually picked. Hitler caused the rise of the great superpowers, the division of Europe, and the Cold War. I can think of no other single humand being that had a greater influence on every single person's life in the world, for better or worse, than him.

From a historical perspective, one has to admit he was an intensely interesting man. I find his writings most incomprehensible, they are nothing more than rants. His political movement was a cartoon. How in the hell, given all that, did this man raise to such incredible heights of power? Everything I have read suggests it is because he was a master manipulator who was also a political genius - recognizing the ebbs and flows of public opinion and always catching a ride on the tide. I have also met a German women who personnally heard him speak, and it is obvious from her relation of the experience that Hitler was an incredible orator, who brought his crowd thru the process the Greeks called "catharsis". At the end, they were as emotionally effected by the experience as if each person in the crowd had just had powerful sex with him, is the way she put it. Perhaps we should be grateful Mr. Bush lacks that one quality.



Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 03:58 PM
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

Pericles.

Jesus of Nazereth.

Tomas Aquinas.

Willam of Oakham.

Thomas More.

Elizabeth I.

William Shakespeare.

Oliver Cromwell.

George Washington.

Tecumseh.

Shaka Zulu.

Teddy Roosevelt.

Erwin Rommel.

George Patton.

Martin L. King.

Donald Rumsfeld.

I'd enjoy a conversation with any of them.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 05:48 PM
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

W.E.B DuBois, Socrates, DaVinci, Dorothy Parker and a bunch of other dead folks
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-15-2005, 07:38 PM
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

Socrates.

Bach.

All hail the Sixteen Men of Tain!
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-18-2005, 03:26 AM
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

Quote:
Botnst - 4/15/2005 5:58 PM

Pericles.

Jesus of Nazereth.

Tomas Aquinas.

Willam of Oakham.

Thomas More.

Elizabeth I.

William Shakespeare.

Oliver Cromwell.

George Washington.

Tecumseh.

Shaka Zulu.

Teddy Roosevelt.

Erwin Rommel.

George Patton.

Martin L. King.

Donald Rumsfeld.

I'd enjoy a conversation with any of them.


Hey Bot,Sir, Mr. Rumsfeld is still alive!
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-18-2005, 12:02 PM
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RE: What historical figure do you find most interesting?

Edison, without him you may not be reading this message in the same manner you are today.

Ops, I guess I will have to change that. A co worker just told me that all the inventions were really the doing of Al Gore and his fabulous time machine.
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