As compiled by The Atlantic:
1 Abraham LincolnThe list didn't limit itself to 'good' influence on America, putting Richard Nixon at #99 and John C. Calhoun at #58, among others.
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 of 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— scientist, 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. interventionism, if not for democracy.
Numerically, Presidents rule - 'Founding Fathers' especially. Washington #2, Jefferson #3, Hamilton #5, Madison #13, and Adams #25. Post WWII Presidents include FDR #4, Reagan #17, Truman #21, Eisenhower #28, LBJ #44, and Nixon #99. In total eighteen Presidents are on the list.
How John F. Kennedy got left out I cannot understand.
The list includes statesmen, activists, artists, (two Architects! Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan) athletes, scientists, abolitionists, inventors, and a smattering of Supreme Court Justices.
Overall, the lest is very progressive in that influential Americans are the ones that reinforce America's core social value: Progress. The list holds up the men and women (women being vastly under represented) that moved America forward.
Go check out the whole thing.
Atlantic has a page for recommendations on who should have been on the list. My first choice:
John F. Kennedy
Looked the Soviets - and nuclear war - straight in the eye and made both blink.
Who would you include?