Hall of Fame for Great Americans 1915

About the members of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans for 1915 including Choate, Hamilton, Boone and others.



There were 99 electors, so 50 votes were required for election.

Under the original rules, no one could be elected who was not a native-born American. This was altered in 1914, so two men could be elected in 1915 who previously had been excluded--Alexander Hamilton, who was born in the West Indies, and Louis Agassiz, who was born in Switzerland.

The selections of 1915 included three who are of doubtful merit: Mark Hopkins, Charlotte Cushman, and Rufus Choate.

Alexander Hamilton, statesman (70)

Mark Hopkins, educator (69). Hopkins (1802-1887) became president of Williams College and served there 36 years. Important in his own time, he does not really rank among the top educators in U.S. history. His selection was due to sentiment and nostalgia.

Francis Parkman, author (68)

Louis Agassiz, scientist (65). Agassiz (1807-1873) taught natural history at Harvard and was one of the most vital minds in 19th-century American science. There is no question of his importance and the justification of his election.

Elias Howe, inventor (61). Howe (1819-1867) invented the sewing machine.

Joseph Henry, scientist (56). There would have been scant protest if Henry (1797-1878) had been among the original inductees. Henry discovered many principles of electricity.

Charlotte Cushman, actress (53). This is a difficult choice to justify. That Cushman (1816-1876) was an accomplished actress cannot be denied. That she belongs in the Hall of Fame is another matter. Perhaps her selection was due to the desire of the electors to honor the acting profession and to be fair by choosing a woman--any woman.

Rufus Choate, lawyer (52). Those who heard Choate (1799-1859) in the courtroom remembered it the rest of their lives, for he was a brilliant attorney. But he had been dead for 56 years by 1915, and one wonders how many of the electors ever knew him. The impression remains that Choate was named because the electors had been told how good he was and not enough of them put the standard of greatness to a true test.

Daniel Boone, explorer (52). Of all the thousands of explorers in American history, Boone (1734-1820) is the only one who has even come close to being elected. Lewis and Clark have never had true consideration.

Louisa May Alcott received 44 votes to become the candidate who came closest without making it. Included among the long shots were clergyman Horace Bushnell with 42 votes, Mary Washington (the mother of George), and clergyman Matthew Simpson.

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