John Winthrop (1588–1649) political and religious leader

As Puritan leader and first governor of Massachusetts Bay, John Winthrop played a fundamental role in establishing both the Puritan cultural ethos that characterized the leading English colonists in America and England’s actual political control of the Atlantic seaboard.

John Smith (ca. 1580–1631) military leader, colonist

A veteran of many European military campaigns, Captain John Smith is best known for his presidency of the governing council of Jamestown in Virginia colony.

Al Smith (Alfred Emmanuel Smith) (1873–1944) politician

Smith was the first U.S. politician to build a national reputation by appealing to ethnic groups and was the first Roman Catholic to run for president.

William Penn (1644–1718) colonist, religious leader

The founder of the Pennsylvania colony, William Penn brought religious tolerance and cultural diversity to the English colonies in America.

John Orlando Pastore (1907–2000) politician

The first Italian-American governor and U.S. senator, John Pastore represented the post–World War II shift in public opinion that enabled politicians of southern and eastern European descent to play a more prominent role in statewide and national politics.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917–1963) politician

The election of John F. Kennedy, a Catholic of Irish descent, as president in 1960 marked both an ethnic victory—80 percent of both Catholics and Jews voted for him, but only 38 percent of Protestants—and the beginning of the end of the old age of European immigration.

Daniel K. Inouye (1924– ) politician

Hawaii’s first U.S. congressman and the first member of Congress of Japanese descent, Daniel Inouye has represented, for more than 40 years, the patriotism of Japanese Americans.

Henry B. Gonzalez (1916–2000) politician

Henry Gonzalez was the first Mexican American to be elected to the Texas state senate in the modern era, setting an example for Hispanics in the political mainstream.

William Bradford (1590–1656) religious leader and colonizer

One of the chief architects of the Pilgrim migration from Holland to Plymouth in 1620, William Bradford served as Plymouth Colony’s governor between 1622 and 1656 (excepting 1633–34, 1636, 1638, and 1644).