An old Irish proverb says:
You build a dozen roads, but do they call you Connor the road-builder? No. You sire six wonderful sons, but do they call you Connor the child-rearer? No. But you fuck one sheep...
It's true. Some men are remembered for their greatness, some men are remembered for their evil, and some men are just remembered for that one fantastic failure that taints their entire existence. Like...
Remembered For: Getting Massacred at Little Bighorn.
Shortly before being killed, General George Custer supposedly stated: "Hurrah boys, we've got them! We'll finish them up and then go home to our station." Aside from "woops" and "bitchtits," those are pretty much the most hilariously inappropriate last words ever, because his last stand was a slaughter.
The fact that he stands as the perfect symbol for America's mindlessly violent treatment of Native Americans ensured that his name would forever associated with laughably arrogant failure.
Not Remembered For: His progressive views and battle prowess.
Custer was at West Point when the Civil War started, where he graduated bottom of his class (that's called foreshadowing, friends). Despite his apparently crippling stupidity, he nonetheless went on to participate in some of the war's most important battles, and he was promoted rapidly up the ranks. During the battle of Gettysburg he was promoted to brigadier general at the age of only 23, making him one of the youngest in the entire Union Army. He also led a team of cavalry called the "Wolverines," who we remember and honor to this day for singlehandedly turning back the Russian invasion of the United States.
History is surprisingly more Swayze-centric than we remembered.
What has been completely forgotten, however, is that Custer was also remarkably liberal for the time. During President Grant's term, Custer publicly opposed the standing government's anti-Indian policies, and his testimony to Congress about the abuses on Indian reservations almost lost him his command.
Obviously his staunch moral stance didn't extend to "not trying to kill a shitload of them pretty much by yourself," but at the time that practically made him an Indian-loving hippie.
5John Wilkes Booth
Remembered For: Assassinating Lincoln.
In 1865, two weeks after the Civil War drew to a close (and it was far too late to actually affect any policy change, genius) John Wilkes Booth entered a box at Ford's Theater and shot President Lincoln. It was the first successful presidential assassination in American history. He was cornered a few days later and died in a shootout with police, because that's the retirement package for presidential assassins; there's no 401k in it for you.
Here's your retirement package, asshole
Not Remembered For: He was a hell of an actor.
NOTE: WE ARE NOT FUCKING SAYING THAT HIS BEING AN ACTOR MAKES UP FOR KILLING LINCOLN.
It's just that people don't realize if he hadn't shot the president in the head, Booth would still have had a place in history because he was a huge deal in the acting world. Maybe he wasn't at Brad Pitt's level of stardom, but he was at least equivalent to one of the Baldwin brothers. You know, like a good one. Not one of the ones you can rent for your kid's birthday party or anything (Stephen).
To get there, he taught himself Shakespeare and elocution (that means talkin' all sortsa' pretty-mouthed) on his family's rural estate before moving to the city to pursue his career. He was called "the handsomest man in America" and a "natural genius" by some reviewers, and was also noted for having an "astonishing memory."
Handsome was a, uh... it was a different thing back then.
At the age of 22, after only five years on stage, Booth was earning the equivalent of $500,000 a year, making him one of the highest paid actors of the time. And he killed the President of the United States! Can you imagine how insane that was at the time? Like if you heard tomorrow that Tom Cruise tried to stab Obama you'd hardly be able to bel- eh, maybe that's a bad example.