Taken directly from the Atlantic Monthly site:
1. Abraham Lincoln-He saved the Union, freed the slaves, and presided over America’s second founding
2. George Washington-He made the United States possible---not only by defeating a king, but by declining to become one himself.
3. Thomas Jefferson-The author if the five most important words in American history: “All men are created equal.”
4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt-He said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and then he proved it.
5. Alexander Hamilton-Soldier, banker, and political scientist, he set in motion an agrarian nation’s transformation into an industrial power.
6. Benjamin Franklin-The founder-of-all-trades----scientists, printer, writer, diplomat, inventor, and more; like his country, he contained multitudes.
7. John Marshall-the defining chief justice, he established the Supreme Court as the equal of the other two federal branches.
8. Martin Luther King, Jr.-His dream of racial equality is still elusive, but no one did more to make it real
9. Thomas Edison-It wasn’t just the lightbulb; the Wizard of Menlo Park was the most prolific inventor in American history.
10. Woodrow Wilson-He made the world safe for U.S. inverventionism, if not for democracy.
11. John D. Rockefeller-The man behind Standard Oil set the mold for our tycoons---first by making money, then by giving it away
12. Ulysses S. Grant-He was a poor president, but he was the general Lincoln needed; he also wrote the greatest political memoir in American history
13. James Madison-He fathered the Constituition and wrote the Bill of Rights.
American Presidents has created a mini-list from the Atlantic list compiling just the presidents on the list. It can be seen here. The most amazing find at the Atlantic site is the list of links to articles written by some of the famous Americans on the list. These writings were actually published in Atlantic Magazine. They include a ballad written by Abraham Lincoln, a letter written by Harry Truman which gives his justification for dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, a nuanced portrait of Churchill by Eleanor Roosevelt, an essay authored by W.E.B. Dubois urging members of his race to achieve “self-respect” and “self-realization”, and an essay written by J. Robert Oppenheimer, inventor of the atomic bomb in which he encourages Americans to take responsibility for the world’s fate. These writings and many more can be found at the Atlantic site here.
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