This is an examination of American political thought which is based on the premise that the character of American institutions was established by experience and necessity, through the influence of the nation's leaders. Beginning with a discussion of general American attitudes toward government, Padover first traces the juridical and political sources relied upon by the founders of the Republic. The rest of the book is then devoted to nineteen biographical studies, illustrating the varieties of American political experience. Each of the figures selected is supposedly representative of one pronounced and distinguishing characteristic and they include not only Presidents and legislators but philosophers and writers as well. There are portraits of The American as Archetype- George Washington, The American as Aristocrat -- John Adams, The American as Democrat -- Thomas Jefferson, as Conservative -- Alexander Hamilton, as Federalist -- John Marshall; Lincoln, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Henry George, William James, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Dewey, Woodrow Wilson and the two Roosevelts. Padover's thesis is surely not meant to be original but he writes with force and clarity and his book should be of interest to that general readership interested in political history.