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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June 2005, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Reagan voted 'greatest American'
Former President Ronald Reagan
Many Americans look back fondly at Reagan's presidency
Former US President Ronald Reagan has been voted the "greatest American" of all time by his fellow citizens.

Mr Reagan, who died last year aged 93, topped a list of 10 contenders, which featured six former presidents.

He edged out Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Some of the most notable names of US history such as Albert Einstein and Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, did not make the top 10.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is the highest ranked female contender at ninth place, making her the greatest American woman.

George Washington, the first US president who is considered the father of the nation, comes in at fourth place.

Current US President George W Bush and his predecessor Bill Clinton, whose presidency was tarnished by the Monica Lewinski sex scandal, are both in the top 10.

Top 10 greatest Americans
1 Ronald Reagan
2 Abraham Lincoln
3 Martin Luther King
4 George Washington
5 Benjamin Franklin
6 George W Bush
7 Bill Clinton
8 Elvis Presley
9 Oprah Winfrey
10 Franklin D Roosevelt

More than 2.4 million Americans cast their vote by phone, text or e-mail in the poll, organised by the Discovery Channel and AOL.

Some observers suggest the image of Mr Reagan, who was criticised as an intellectual lightweight during his presidency, has been enhanced following his death as millions of Americans cast a rose-tinted look back at his presidency.

His two terms in office (1981-1989) coincided with a period of economic prosperity, the crumbling of the Soviet bloc and a renewed sense of pride among Americans still reeling from the Vietnam War.

Other greats

In a similar exercise held in the UK in 2002, wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was voted the greatest Briton.

More than one million votes were cast to select the final 10 which included inventor Brunel and scientists Darwin and Newton.

In France, where former President Charles de Gaulle finished first in April 2005, the final list also contained two scientists, Louis Pasteur and Marie Curie.

In a poll held in Germany in 2003, former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer beat Reformation monk Martin Luther and political thinker Karl Marx into second and third place in a top 10 that included Albert Einstein and the inventor of the printing press Johannes Gutenberg.

Who do you think is the "greatest American"?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

If the same poll was done before Reagan died it might have yielded a different result
Vikas Saxena, Bangalore
I do not think that these kinds of polls are really worth any thing. Having the current US President George W Bush and his predecessor Bill Clinton in the top 10, itself suggest a time bias in the list. If the same poll was done before Reagan died it might have yielded a different result all together. Similarly if this is done again in two years time the results will be totally different again.
Vikas Saxena, Bangalore, India

The greatest American is Abraham Lincoln. The Discovery/AOL poll, and similar polls, illustrate the perils of evaluation by numbers whether self-selected or not.
Drag Li, Melbourne, Australia

Daffy Duck.
Martin, Beckenham, England

Great man, great leader, great American. He was the one who had torn down the wall dividing peoples of Europe into slaves and free men. If it was not for Ronald Reagan, Poland would still be under Soviet-Russian occupation. Thanks to Mr Reagan I can now write these comments on my laptop, here in Warsaw. Thank you Mr President. May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.
Marcin, Poland

Should have been Elvis!
James, London, UK

Johannes Gutenberg did not invent the printing press. It was invented in China; Gutenberg added the movable type, and nearly all Westerners take the liberty of wholly assigning the credit of the invention to him. I'm surprised that a news site of BBC's scope and calibre would publish such misrepresented information.
Vicky Zhao, Hong Kong

Bill Clinton, for presiding over the greatest economic expansion in America, peace in the world and for cultivating a sense of sharing in the world. He gave the world a collective feeling of belonging to one humanity with a common goal of uplifting economically each soul on earth. To me it's the only path to world peace and security.
Joseph Wambugu, Nashua, NH

Dick Feynman was more than a quantum physicist. He excelled at everything he did, played bongos, painted, cracked safes and wrote calligraphy - but mostly he was unflinchingly honest and down-to-earth, attacking hypocrisy and refusing to submit to mindless rules.
Richard Feynman, Eastwood, Australia

According to the CIA world fact book, the population of the USA is 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.). So less than 1% of America voted Ronald Regan as "greatest American," and I certainly know that my vote was not included. Surely Martin Luther King Jr accomplished more, for more people, than Ronald Regan ever did.
Crystal Martin, American living in Munich, Germany

One comment to this article - don't they know in France that Marie Curie was Polish? She was born Maria Sklodowska in Poland!
Kasia, Poland

For people like Oprah Winfrey and Elvis Presley ahead of Roosevelt shows how short memories can be. Roosevelt transformed the US from an economically depressed country into the world's greatest superpower in a period of 12 years. Admittedly there was the impetus of WWII, but an astonishing achievement nonetheless.
Mike, Romsey


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