The political ideas that have inspired history's most vibrant democracy have also made significant contributions to world political thought and practice. This study examines those ideas within a chronological framework. Along with the well-known contributors to American political thought, it analyzes the ideas of many figures who are less well known, but whose ideas are nevertheless significant. This latter category includes women and members of groups often considered to be out of the mainstream and therefore too often ignored. The result reflects a body of thought that - despite vigorous currents and cross currents - demonstrates an inherent consistency and coherence.