In Their Own Words

Of the 100 Americans selected by our panel of historians, thirty-two contributed to The Atlantic. Below is a selection of their writings.

The Bear Hunt
by Abraham Lincoln (#1)
An original ballad composed by the president.

Unpublished Letters of Franklin to Strahan
by Benjamin Franklin (#6)
In this correspondence, the Founding Father talks shop with a fellow bookseller.

The Author Himself
by Woodrow Wilson (#10)
A meditation on what makes a work of literature immortal.

The College Graduate and Public Life
by Theodore Roosevelt (#15)
Roosevelt charges university graduates to assume the mantle of civic responsibility.

Some Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion
by Mark Twain (#16)
The humorist shares his impressions of nineteenth-century Bermuda.

President Truman to Dr. Compton
by Harry S. Truman (#21)
The president justifies his decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima in a brief letter to The Atlantic.

Bardic Symbols
by Walt Whitman (#22)
The poet laments his inability to express the inexpressible.

John Adams As He Lived
by John Adams (#25)
Adams shares, among other things, his fear that his son John Quincy will make a poor showing on his exams.

George Catlett Marshall
by Dwight D. Eisenhower (#28)
Eisenhower honors the man who formulated the Marshall Plan and shaped America's approach to foreign aid.

Atomic War or Peace
by Albert Einstein (#32)
The physicist encourages the militaries of all nations to join forces for the common good.

Four Poems
by Ralph Waldo Emerson (#33)
The philosopher and Atlantic cofounder published a selection of anonymous poems in the magazine's first issue.

The Ethics of Animal Experimentation
by John Dewey (#40)
The landmark educator defends animal experimentation as "the duty of scientific men."

The True Story of Lady Byron's Life
by Harriet Beecher Stowe (#41)
The activist and author defends the reputation of Lord Byron's wife.

Churchill at the White House
by Eleanor Roosevelt (#42)
The independent-minded first lady offers a nuanced portrait of her husband's British friend and ally.

Strivings of the Negro People
by W.E.B. Du Bois (#43)
In an essay that gave rise to The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois urges black Americans to achieve "self-realization, self-respect."

by Frederick Douglass (#47)
After Lincoln's assassination, Douglass tackles the problematic issue of postwar integration.

The Open Mind
by J. Robert Oppenheimer (#48)
The inventor of the atom bomb encourages Americans to take responsibility for the world's fate.

Village Improvement
by Frederick Law Olmsted (#49)
The father of landscape architecture outlines his approach to utility and beauty.

Familiar Letters of William James
by William James (#62)
A collection of warm and witty dispatches to family members and close friends.

The Devil-Baby at Hull House
by Jane Addams (#64)
The pioneering social worker tells a tale of poverty, supersition, and the struggles of ordinary women.

by Henry David Thoreau (#65)
The naturalist and philosopher proclaims that "in Wildness is the preservation of the world."

Moving Toward the Clonal Man
by James T. Watson (#68)
The man who discovered DNA encourages the public to think seriously about the future of genetics.

Coercion in the Classroom Won't Work
by Benjamin Spock (#87)
The child psychologist shares his thoughts on progressive education.

Cuba and the Nuclear Risk
by Walter Lippmann (#89)
The outspoken journalist assures Europe that the United States will protect the Free World.

The Awakening of the Negro
by Booker T. Washington (#98)
The African-American innovator explains the empowering methods of his Tuskegee Institute.