Well, the case could be made that without Grant, Lincoln would not have been the greatest American, but rather the man to be president when the country broke up.
Grant earned his place on the strength of his record as a general, rather than on his strength as a politician. As a general, any honest ranking will place him in the forefront of military leaders from any time and any place. As a politician, he was a babe in a world of adults.
And in regards to Lincoln, as a Southerner, all I can say is that any list of the top Americans that does not have him at the top, is simply bogus. I would most likely be posting from a foreign country save for his resolute strength. Lincoln is the mark all American Presidents have to be measured against, with very very few coming any where near his quality of leadership.
Re: Ford. I have been randomly following threads about this topic, and it seems to me that there are different descriptions of the qualifier at each site: the Most Influential Americans, the Greatest Americans, Favorite Americans that aren't Men, etc. First, it must be more clearly stated what the conditions are.
That aside, to relegate Ford to a lower caste for being "a bumpkin and a rube" is ridiculous. He may have been an anti-semite, but the founding fathers OWNED SLAVES!
Speaking of which, are we willing to argue that Washington was a better president than Grant? Perhaps we should simply judge each man as a general. But I digress..
To casually mention that the implementation of the assembly line and the "development of mass production would merit him a spot in the top 100" seems like the greatest of understatements. Whether for good or ill, this country has transformed itself around the ideal of mass production. Everything is mass produced. If "Greatest" American refers to best-liked, or Hero, Ford does not deserve a spot anywhere on the list. However, if greatest implies influential, then Ford should be near the top.