In the late 1800’s, two colleges were founded in the US based on German–not English–Universities. Oxford and Cambridge in England were, like Harvard and Princeton that modeled them, traditional universities emphasizing character development, abstract thought and rhetoric. The new German universities explicitly sought to conduct scientific research and dedicate themselves to the advancement of human kind. These two colleges were Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and the University of Chicago. Clark University followed shortly. Today, many colleges and universities in the US distinguish themselves as ‘Research’ or ‘Teaching’ Universities, although most seek to do both.
This ranking is according to a single metric, and so will necessarily highlight colleges and universities on the extremes. If you are looking for more well-balanced institutions, try searching according to multiple metrics, or try matching colleges based on your own aspirations.