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March History Madness: Students Choose Most Influential American

March History Madness“I think we finally have hit our groove,” Chris Palladino, Assistant Professor in the School of Education says of the History Madness Tournament . Mr. Palladino, along with several social studies education majors, started this tournament in 2007 in order to illustrate how interdisciplinary history can be and that the past is far more than just facts, dates, and dead people.  Since then they have hosted tournaments for The Most Influential Person of the Second Millennium (2007, 2011), Most Influential American (2008), Most Influential Fictional Work of Literature in the Western World (2009), and the Most Influential Invention or Innovation in History (2010).
This year’s tournament will return to the 2009 category and determine the Most Influential American. The first round of student voting will take place Wednesday evening, March 21, 2012 in the Biblical Learning Center room 225. The tournament, now in its sixth year, is a tournament of historical figures patterned after the NCAA March Madness Tournament.  “We tried a variety of different ways of narrowing down the bracket in the voting rounds, and last year decided to model it after the Athenian democracy,” says Mr. Palladino.
For the first three rounds, the votes will be tallied using a “white stone/black stone” format. Two historical figures will face each other – their images and descriptions displayed on the screen for all the students to consider.  Each student will be given two slips of paper, one color for one figure, another color for the other. After a few moments of deliberation, the students must vote by placing their slip of paper in a basket. While the votes are tallied for the first match-up, the second match-up moves forward. Last year, over 50 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and families participated in the first round.
“It’s great, because as the evening goes on, you begin to get discussion going about the different figures and the decisions made. But once a vote is in, there’s no going back,” Mr. Palladino says.
For the first two nights (March 21 and March 29) the voting will continue in this manner, narrowing the field from 64 down to 8.  On April 4, the final rounds will commence.  From the Round of 8, the match-ups are displayed on screen, and those present have seven minutes to convince whoever they can to vote for their choice.  A student can call a “soapbox” and for 30 seconds has the right to speak to the entire room before the discussions begin again.  At the end of seven minutes, the votes are taken and the next match up begins.
Finally, the champion of this year’s tournament, entering the pantheon of winners, must go into one final match-up: four years ago, Henry Ford won the title of Most Influential American, and he must defend his crown.
This year, for the first time, the students are inviting the online community to join in their tournament. From the Round of 8, online voting will begin and anyone can have their say in the match ups. The results from the online voting results will be kept separate from the student voting results, but will be published.
This year’s bracket is divided into eight categories: Military & Political Leaders, Presidents, Theologians & Philosophers, Fine Arts, Entertainers, Inventors & Explorers, Philanthropists & Businessmen, and Activists. A team of students has been working for months selecting the historical figures, determining their seeds, and setting up the bracket.
The matchups are listed below. Check back later this week to find out the results.

Military/Political Leaders
Alexander Hamilton vs. James Madison
John Marshal vs. Henry Clay
Dwight D Eisenhower vs. Earl Warren
Ulysses S. Grant vs. Robert E. Lee

Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. Richard Nixon
Abraham Lincoln vs. Harry Truman
George Washington vs. Woodrow Wilson
Andrew Jackson vs. Theodore Roosevelt
Benjamin Franklin vs. W.E.B. DuBois
Thomas Jefferson vs. Henry David Thoreau
John Edwards vs. Thomas Paine
Horace Mann vs. John Dewey

Fine Arts

Mark Twain vs. Dr. Seuss
Edgar Allen Poe vs. Walt Whitman
John Phillips Sousa vs. George Gershwin
Andy Warhol vs. Louis Sullivan

Jackie Robinson vs. Babe Ruth
Elvis Presley vs. Louis Armstrong
George Lucas vs. Walt Disney
Oprah Winfrey vs. Charlie Chaplin

Inventors/ Explorers

Thomas Edison vs. Cyrus McCormick
Eli Whitney vs. Elisha Otis
Robert Oppenheimer vs. Samuel Morse
Lewis and Clark vs. The Wright Brothers


John D. Rockefeller vs. Mark Zuckerberg
Andrew Carnegie vs. W. Randolph Hearst
Sam Walton vs. J. P. Morgan
Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs
Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Jacob Riis
Susan B Anthony vs. William Lloyd Garrison
Rachel Carson vs. Betty Friedan
Margaret Sanger vs. John Muir


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