American Philosophy Index

American Philosophy is a section of Adventures in Philosophy devoted to a brief history of American philosophic thought from its beginnings in colonial times to approximately the Second World War. You may notice that some of the thinkers included here are not ordinarily considered to be philosophers. We think their inclusion here is justified, however, because of the intellectual impact they had on the development of social and political thought in America as well as on the American culture in general.


Foundational Documents in American Political Philosophy

Important American Documents

The Constitution of the United States of America

In the Politics Resource Center


The American Divines

Introduction: Puritanism, the Quakers
William PennSamuel JohnsonJonathan Edwards



The Founding Fathers

Introduction: The American Revolution
Thomas PaineEthan AllenBenjamin FranklinJohn Adams
Thomas JeffersonBenjamin Rush




America’s Coming of Age

Introduction: The Abolitionists
Henry Ward BeecherJohn C. Calhoun
Joseph AldenAbraham LincolnRobert Green Ingersoll



American Transcendentalism

Introduction: Unitarianism , Transcendentalism
William Ellery ChanningAmos Bronson Alcott
Theodore ParkerRalph Waldo Emerson
Henry David ThoreauWalt WhitmanWilliam Torrey Harris


Background Online E-Book (Offsite)


Late 19th-Century Thinkers

Introduction: The Reconstruction Period, The Gilded Age
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.George Holmes HowisonJosephus Flavius Cook
Henry GeorgeJohn Clark RidpathOliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
John FiskeAmbrose Bierce



Idealism in America

Introduction: Idealism, Personalism
Josiah RoyceBorden Parker Bowne
William Ernest Hocking



American Pragmatism

Introduction: Pragmatism, Instrumentalism
Charles Sanders PeirceWilliam JamesJohn Dewey

Expanded Discussions



Recent American Thought

John BurroughsGeorge SantayanaPaul CarusFelix Adler
Thorstein VeblenGeorge Herbert MeadMary Whiton Calkins
Ferdinand Canning Scott Schiller
Frederick J. E. WoodbridgeWilliam McDougallWilliam Pepperell Montague
Morris R. CohenP.W. BridgmanHorace Meyer KallenClarence Irving Lewis