Why Some Leaders are Remembered, and Others are Forgotten in History
There are some people that leave an indelible mark during the brief time as a leader, while others fail to do anything good or of significance. What is it that sets these icons apart from the crowd of others? It comes down to the decisions they make. FDR was one of the better leaders of the country. During his time in office, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, leading the US to declare war on Japan. While this was a monumental decision, would any American president do differently?
Contrast the decision to go to war against Japan with the decision another US president made. Lincoln, for all intents and purposes, should have been a nobody, and should never have been in a position to go even consider going to war against his own country. However, Fort Sumpter, a small Union outpost, was surrounded by Confederate troops. Lincoln's staff was split, with some in favor of attacking, and others, including William Henry Seward, the man Lincoln beat out for the job of president, were adamently opposed. After winning the presidency, Lincoln invited Seward to join his cabinet, which Seward did, and told Lincoln to leave the important decisions to him. He felt that Lincoln was too inexperienced and too naive to make good decisions as president. So when Seward told Lincoln that the South wasn't that serious, he may have been right. However, Lincoln was not a very political man. He decided to supply the fort, in spite of a Confederate ultimatum that the Union withdraw. The fort was bombarded by the Confederates, and the war began.
Had Seward been president, he probably would have ignored the situation at Charleston. Had he been president, we might not have even had the Civil War. But he wasn't president. The unknown politician from Illinios was president, and he was famous because he did the unexpected. Leaders become known for doing what is completely unexpected. They don't do what the people around them would do. They have a tendency to ignore advice, and follow their own path, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Mark Zuckerberg was not expected to take the Facebook concept from the Winklevoss twins. Steve Jobs was not expected to create his own music service. Teddy Roosevelt was not expected to finish his speech after being shot in the chest. People make their mark in history by disrupting the course of those around them, and in doing so, disrupting the course of history.
Source - North Country Public Radio