The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History

List Rules
American leaders only. Note: "Most important" or "most influential" does not equal "best."

List of the most important leaders in U.S. history. Love 'em or hate 'em, these leaders shaped American history from its founding through today. Men and women who have truly defined America through their work and leadership, even if it did not mean serving political office, are ranked here on this master list of leaders. Pioneers who changed the landscape, from the Civil Rights Movement, to Women's Suffrage, to the atom bomb, appear on this list of American leaders who changed the world.

The most important American presidents are ranked here, like Harry S. Truman and George Washington to name a few, along with First Ladies like Eleanor Roosevelt. Industry leaders like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller cannot be overlooked, nor can leaders who were not in the U.S. government itself, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Susan B. Anthony.

Leadership takes many forms throughout American history, and famous American leaders pervade all of history, but this list gives props to those who were the most influential. Vote up the most important U.S. leaders below, or if the United States is too small for you, make sure to peruse this list of The Most Important Leaders in World History.
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Ranked by
  • George Washington
    1
    Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)
    • Birthplace: Popes Creek, Colony of Virginia, British America
  • Benjamin Franklin
    2
    Dec. at 84 (1706-1790)
    • Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
  • Abraham Lincoln
    3
    Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)
    • Birthplace: Kentucky, Hodgenville, United States of America, United States, with Territories
  • Theodore Roosevelt
    4
    Dec. at 60 (1858-1919)
    • Birthplace: New York City, Manhattan, Area code 917, Contiguous United States, New York
  • Thomas Jefferson
    5
    Dec. at 83 (1743-1826)
    • Birthplace: Shadwell, Colony of Virginia, British America
  • Albert Einstein
    6
    Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)
    • Birthplace: Eurasia, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Ulm
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
    8
    Dec. at 39 (1929-1968)
    • Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
  • Alexander Hamilton
    9
    Dec. at 47 (1757-1804)
    • Birthplace: Charlestown, Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Wright Brothers
    10
  • Nikola Tesla
    11
    Dec. at 86 (1856-1943)
    • Birthplace: Smiljan, Croatia
  • John Adams
    12
    Dec. at 90 (1735-1826)
    • Birthplace: Braintree, Massachusetts Bay, British America
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
    13
    Dec. at 63 (1882-1945)
    • Birthplace: Hyde Park, New York, United States of America
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
    14
    Dec. at 78 (1890-1969)
    • Birthplace: Texas, Denison, Contiguous United States, United States of America, Grayson County
  • Harriet Tubman
    15
  • Jonas Salk
    16
    Dec. at 80 (1914-1995)
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York
  • George S. Patton
    17
    Dec. at 60 (1885-1945)
    • Birthplace: San Gabriel, California
     (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945)
  • Alexander Graham Bell
    18
    Dec. at 75 (1847-1922)
    • Birthplace: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Jackie Robinson
    19
    Dec. at 53 (1919-1972)
    • Birthplace: Cairo, Georgia, United States of America
  • Samuel Adams
    20
    Dec. at 81 (1722-1803)
    • Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
  • Ulysses S. Grant
    21
    Dec. at 63 (1822-1885)
    • Birthplace: Point Pleasant, Ohio, United States of America
  • John F. Kennedy
    22
    Dec. at 46 (1917-1963)
    • Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts, USA
  • Sitting Bull
    23
    Dec. at 59 (1831-1890)
    • Birthplace: South Dakota
  • James Madison
    24
    Dec. at 85 (1751-1836)
    • Birthplace: Port Conway, Colony of Virginia, British America
  • Ronald Reagan
    25
    Dec. at 93 (1911-2004)
    • Birthplace: Tampico, Illinois, United States of America