The Top 10 Most Influential Figures in American History

According to The Atlantic Monthly, these are the most influential people in American history.  With apologies to currently influential people, time is the best judge of long-term impact, and each of these individuals has met that test.  They are:

  • Abraham Lincoln – He saved the Union, freed the slaves, and presided over America’s second founding.
  • George Washington – He made the United States possible—not only by defeating a king, but by declining to become one himself.
  • Thomas Jefferson – The author of the five most important words in American history: “All men are created equal.”
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt – He said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and then he proved it.
  • Alexander Hamilton – Soldier, banker, and political scientist, he set in motion an agrarian nation’s transformation into an industrial power.
  • Benjamin Franklin – The Founder-of-all-trades— scientist, printer, writer, diplomat, inventor, and more; like his country, he contained multitudes.
  • John Marshall – The defining chief justice, he established the Supreme Court as the equal of the other two federal branches.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. – His dream of racial equality is still elusive, but no one did more to make it real.
  • Thomas Edison – It wasn’t just the lightbulb; the Wizard of Menlo Park was the most prolific inventor in American history.
  • Woodrow Wilson – He made the world safe for U.S. interventionism, if not for democracy