Influential Men in World History


bn al-Wardi's atlas of the world (1349)
bn al-Wardi's atlas of the world (1349)

For more information on key people, see H-BOT historical fact finder from George Mason University

See Ranking the 100 Leaders from the National History Day website 100 Leaders in World History
  • Each leader has a brief biography and links for more information

Person
Time Period
Field/Nationality
Writing/Achievement
Lasting Impact
Hammurabi600px-Royal_head_0229.jpg
~1800 B.C.- 1750 B.C.
Babylonian ruler
Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi is the earliest known written legal code.

For more information, see Grade 7.11.
Thales
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620-524 B.C
Ancient Greek Philosopher
School of Natural Philosophy
A pre-socratic philosopher interested in multiple disciplines including: mathematics, engineering, philosophy, history, science, geography and politics. He was specifically interested in natural sciences and astronomy. He founded the scientific method, determined that there were seasons, 365 day in a year among other theories regarding astronomy and meteorology.

Euclid

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325 BCE to 265 BCE
Most famous mathematician of the ancient world.
The Elements was Euclid's famous treatise on mathematics.
Construction of a dodecahedron basing on a cube
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Socrates
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469-399 B.C
Greek Philosopher
The first of three influential Athenian philosophers. His contributions influenced Western Thought and the way in which people approach philosophy. Socrates was committed to intellectual and moral reform among his fell Athenians. He has no written works, so everything that is documented is secondary sources.
Founder of the Socratic Method- a method in which a teacher does not give a student the answer, but asks a series of questions to guide the student to their own knowledge and understanding.

Plato
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428/427 B.C.-348/347 B.C.
Classic Greek Philosopher
Founder of the Academy in Athens the first institution of higher learning, wrote the Socratic Dialogues
Help set the table for academic growth in philosophy, natural sciences, logic, rhetoric, and mathematics. Founded the academy in Athens: the first institution of higher learning in the Western World. His work in academics laid the ground for future Western philosophy.
Aristotle
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384-322 BC
Greek philosopher
Created one of the first systems of Western philosophy
Pupil of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, founder of the Lyceum; major influence on Western philosophy; shaped Medieval and Renaissance scientific beliefs; shaped modern scientific use of empirical knowledge and inductive reasoning (the basis of the Western scientific method); authored works on a wide range of topics.
Hippocrates

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450-380
Physician
Corpus Hippocraticum
He was one of the first physicians, and the author of Corpus Hippocraticum, which was a book containing information about professional ethics and biomedical methodology. He has a framework of theories that create the first guidelines for treatment and diagnosis. The ethical framework Hippocrates created, formed a great basis and is still used as a modle for other professions.
Herodotus

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485-425 BC
Greek Writer
The Histories
He is known as the father of history. He was the first investigate and document details of a particular point in time- The Persian Wars. If his birth year is correct, he was a child during the Persian war and as an adult traveled learning the oral history of the war; then compiled his learnings into one coherent story.
Sophocles
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497/6 BC – winter 406/5 BC
Greek Writer
Writer of Oedipus and Antigone
Sophocles influenced the development of the drama, most importantly by adding a third actor, thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. He also developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus
Cicero

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106 BC – December 7, 43 BC
Roman Philosopher
Political writings and introducing Greek Philosophy
Today, he is appreciated primarily for his humanism and philosophical and political writings. His voluminous correspondence, much of it addressed to his friend Atticus, has been especially influential, introducing the art of refined letter writing to European culture.
Hannibal
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247-182 B.C
General
A general in the ancient city of Carthage and commanded the army in the second Punic War.
He captured Sagunto in Spain and then continued to Italy, across the Alps with 40,000 men.

In hopes of taking Rome, Hannibal won several battles, but was unable to reach his goal.

After losing a pivotal battle defending Carthage he was sent into exile, and ultimately committed suicide to escape capture.
Alexander the Great
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336-323 BC
Greek King of Macedon
Created Macedonian Empire
Military leaders to this day measure themselves against Alexander and his military skill; his conquests spread Greek culture to the East
Homer
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Approximately 800 B.C.-750 B.C., although no definitive records exist
Greek Epic Poet
Believed to have written the Odyssey and the Iliad
Although his authoring of the Odyssey and the Iliad, and in fact even his existence have been debated by modern scholars, Homer is believed to have helped develop the genre of epic poetry and in fact the field of literature as a whole both grammatically and content wise
Pythagoras
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570 B.C.-495 B.C.
Greek Philosopher
Developed Pythagorean Theorem
Greek Philosopher who contributed greatly in the fields of mathematics and natural sciences, particularly with the development of the Pythagorean theorem.
Jesus of Nazareth
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Beginning of Common Era (CE) to 28 -30 CE
Religious prophet
A Jewish Prophet upon whose life and teachings Christianity was founded. Christianity acknowledges Jesus as the son of God and believes he sacrificed himself and died to absolve the sins of man kind.
Christianity developed slowly after the death of Jesus and eventually became the national religion of Rome. For more information on the birth of Christianity, see Grade 7.41
Julius Caesar
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July 13th 100 BC-March 15th 44 BC
Consul/Dictator of the Roman Republic
Military and Political leader who led the charge to transform Rome from a Republic to an Empire
After taking control as dictator of Rome, Caesar began a series of reforms of Roman society and government before being murdered by a group of senators led by Marcus Brutus who hoped to reestablish the Republic but ended up starting yet another Roman Civil War which led to Julius Caesar's adopted son Caesar Augustus being installed as Emperor of Rome.
Augustus
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September 23, 63 B.C.-August 19, 14 A.D.
First Ruler of the Roman Empire
Established the Roman Empire in the footsteps of his father Julius
The first emperor of Rome, named the revered one by the Roman senate, established the power of the Empire, and created system of roads which remains part of the lexicon today with the phrase "all roads lead to Rome"
Solon
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638 B.C.-558 B.C.
Greek Statesmen and poet
Widely regarded as the founder of Athenian democracy
While little known about Solon due to a lack of written accounts during this period, Solon was recognized for developing an influential code of laws. These achievements helped secure his place in history from changing Athens as a home of archaic government to a democratic form of government.
Muhammad
570-632
Arab prophet
Qur'an revealed to Muhammad over 22 year period
Founder of Islam
Constantine
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272 – 337
Roman emperor
First Christian Roman emperor
Emperor of Rome who stopped the persecution of Christians and in 324 made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire; in 330 he moved his capital from Rome to Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople
Justinian
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482 - 565
Roman emperor
Justinian Code
Emperor of Rome who compiled an extensive list of laws known as the "codex Justinianus" or the "code of Justinian." He forced all those in his empire to follow the orthodox Christian faith and imprisoned those who sought to practice otherwise.
Sundiata Keita
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1210-1260
Mali King
Founder of the Mali empire in West Africa. For more information, see World History I.19
Now regarded as a great national hero of the Malinke-speaking people
Mansa Musa
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1312-1337
King
Created a great African empire.
For more information, see World History I.19
Expanded trade routes, added the cities of Timbuktu and Gao to his empire, and consolidated the lands of Western Sudan under a single system of rule.
Confucius
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551-479 BC
Chinese Philosopher
Creator of Confucianism
Confucius created a philosophy based on the principles of what he thought were considered justice. These teachings became fundamentals in Chinese law.
Niccolo Machiavelli
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1469-1527
Italian Philosopher
The Prince
An analyst of political power in all its forms, Machiavelli's writings are still read in high schools and colleges around the world. He proposed that rulers should operate on what is best for the political state and less according to Christian ethical principles.

See WHI.29 for more
Leonardo da Vinci
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1452-1519
Italian "Renaissance" Man
Artist and Scientist
Mona Lisa, The Last Supper
Da Vinci was a true Italian Renaissance man of the 15th century. While widely admired for his paintings, he was also known as an Italian polymath, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, botanist, and writer. Leonardo wanted to portray the world in a realistic yet idealistic fashion.
Raphael
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1483-1520
Artist
The School of Athens
Italian artist whose style and accomplishments were prominent features of the High Renaissance, the name given to directions in art that emerged in the 15th century. Raphael painted the frescoes in the Vatican Palace.
William Shakespeare
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1564-1616
Playwright
Romeo and Juliet

Julius Caesar
Shakespeare in known as a master of Victorian English and a master playwright. He has an extensive collections of tragedies and comedies that are known as classics.
Johannes Gutenberg
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1400-1468
Inventor
Printing Press
Credited with advancing the development of printing with movable metal type. In 1455 or 1456, The Gutenberg Bible was the first book produced using movable type. His invention allowed for improved accessibility to books, pamphlets, and newspapers for all. This publishing was the first of its kind in that it made publishing available in large quantities.
Martin Luther
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1483-1546
German Theologian
Lutheranism, Protestantism

95 Theses
Posted the "95 Theses" on the door of a Catholic Church. The 95 Theses were a list of problems or issues that Luther had with Catholic Church doctrine, including the sale of indulgences (buying your way into heaven). This protesting led to the Protestant Reformation in which people began to join Luther in dissenting from the Church, which had held absolute religious power for a long time.
John Calvin
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1509-1564
French theologian
Calvinism
He was a French Protestant theologian during the Protestant Reformation and was a central developer of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism or Reformed theology. In Geneva, his ministry both attracted other Protestant refugees and over time made that city a major force in the spread of Reformed theology.
Ignatius Loyola
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1491- 1556
Spanish Priest
Founder of the Jesuits
Ignatius Loyola was the founder of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. He was dubbed the patron saint of catholic soldiers and created a major sect of Christianity.
Francis Bacon
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1561-1626
Philosopher
The Advancement of Learning
Leading Renaissance philosopher of science who created the basis for what is today called the scientific method.
Nicholas
Copernicus
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1473-1543
Mathematician
On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres, 1543
Copernicus set forth the concept of a sun-centered or heliocentric view of the universe, arguing that the sun was motionless at the center of the universe and the planets revolved around it. This view directly contradicted the prevailing view of an earth-centered or geocentric view, first proposed by the Ptolemy in the second century C.E.
Rene Descartes
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1596-1650
Philosopher
(France)
Discourse on Method, 1637*
Principles of Philosophy, 1644
Rules for the Direction of the Mind, 1619
The father of modern philosophy, Descartes influenced or was challenged by Locke, Hume, Leibniz and Kant. Descartes' ideas marked a shift out of Medieval thinking into a link between philosophy and science. He rejected the idea that the senses lead to Truth and knowledge and said that, in the search for Truth, it is impossible to know something unless there is no doubt about it; the one thing he knew, therefore, was that in knowing, he himself must exist. Hence his most famous quote*: "I think, therefore I am." Only by starting at that most basic point can we move on to prove anything to be true. The Cartesian method became the basis for the natural sciences.
Galileo Galilei
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1564-1642
Astronomer
The Starry Messenger, 1610
First European to use a telescope to make scientific observations of the planets, further supporting the view of the universe proposed by Copernicus. His work was directly opposed by the Catholic Church who condemned both Galileo and the Copernican system.
Johannes Kepler
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1571-1630
Mathematician and Astronomer
Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, Epitome of Copernican Astronomy
He proposed laws of planetary motion that confirmed Copernicus' view of a sun-centered universe. One of his major insights was that planets moved in an elliptical rather than circular orbit around the sun.
Issac Newton
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Astronomer
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, 1642
One of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution, Newton's ideas confirmed the earlier work of Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. His three laws of motionwere about the movement of planets; his theory of gravity began a central principle for science.
Denis Diderot
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1713-1784
Philosopher
Encyclopedia or Classified Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Trades
A French Enlightenment thinker noted for his strong criticism of Christianity. He wrote a 28 volume encyclopedia summarizing all known information of the time that is credited with spreading Enlightenment ideas throughout Europe.
Immanuel Kant
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1724-1804
Philosopher
Critique of Pure Reason
Kant created a new widespread perspective in philosophy. He argues that the human autonomy influences people's understanding of the laws of nature which influence our experience; reason influences moral law and beleifs in God, immorality and freedom. Science and these three beliefs remain consistent according to Kant becuase they all rely on the same foundation- the human autonomy.
John Locke
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1632-1704
Philosopher
Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690)

See American Government 2.3
Locke influenced the development of Political Thought in the United States.
Charles de Montesquieu
Charles_Montesquieu.jpg
1689-1775
Philosopher
The Spirit of the Laws (1748)
French enlightenment thinker. In The Spirit of the Laws , he set forth the theory of separation of powers and the concept of checks and balances, ideas which powerfully influenced the authors of the American Constitution.
Jean-Jacques
Rousseau
Jean-Jacques_Rousseau_(painted_portrait).jpg
1712-17783
Philosopher
Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality (1755)

See World History I.35

See United States History I.2
Contributed greatly to the movement in Western Europe for individual freedom and against the absolutism of church and state, his conception of the state as the embodiment of the abstract will of the people and his arguments for strict enforcement of political and religious conformity are regarded by some historians as a source of totalitarian ideology.
Voltaire
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1694-1778
French Philosopher and Writer
Oedipe a play written while he was in prison for insulting the French government
Born Francois Marie Arouet, Voltaire (his pen name) was a well-known wit and social/ political critic in France at the end of its monarchy and the start of its revolutionary period. He was a "champion of the oppressed," (National Gallery, Washington D.C., web site), as well as a humorist. He followed the ideas of Locke and Newton, he advocated rationalism, and criticized religious intolerance.
Louis XIV
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September 1638- September 1715
French King

Louis XIV was king of France from the age of four until his death at age 76 the longest documented reign of any European monarch during most of his reign France was one of if not the leading world power.
Peter the Great
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May 7th 1682-February 8th 1725
Russian Emperor

Peter the Great modernized Russian during his reign overseeing its transformation from the tsardom of Russia to the Russian Empire reinventing the country as a major world power.
Louis XVI
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August 23, 1754- January 21, 1793
French King

Last King of the French his indecisiveness led to the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of the national convention, although seen as selfish and a symbol of the aristocracy during his downfall is now looked upon more kindly by scholars and the French people as a man with good intentions who couldnt handle the task of reforming the monarchy
Adam Smith
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1723-1790
Economist
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776

For more on Adam Smith, see Economics 1.3 and WHII.5
Smith believed that people pursue their natural economic self-interests and should be free to do so without interference by government regulation, a concept known as laissez-faire (French for leave it alone).
Robert Owen
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May 14th 1771- November 17 1858
Philosopher
Historic New Harmony Museum

Robert Owen Museum
Owen was a social reforming and one of the founding fathers of socialism and the cooperative movement
Charles Darwin
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Feb. 1809 - April 1882
Biologist and Writer
On the Origin of Species

American Natural History Museum on-line exhibit on Darwin.
All of Charles Darwin's written works


Multimedia.pngHere is a mulitimedia exploration of PBS's series "Evolution: Darwin: An Origin of Species"
Born into a wealthy English family, Darwin originally studied Theology and intended to become a Priest. He was very well read and his studies began to lead him down the path of his father who was a medical doctor. While in college, Darwin developed a deep interest in biology and the history of life on Earth. His legendary trip to South America and the South Pacific islands on the H.M.S. Beagle provided him with first hand evidence to begin his Theory of Evolution.

By synthesizing ideas by his grand father, Erasmus Darwin, as well as James Hutton, Charles Lyell, Georges Cuvier, Carolus Linnaeus, Thomas Malthus, and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, he was able to develop a theory that remains largely intact to this day, despite a century and a half of testing.
Karl Marx
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1818-1883
Revolutionary Communist/Social Philosopher/Economist
The Communist Manifesto
Outlined the modern communist philosophy. Predicted a rise of the working class and paved the way for Socialist Philosophy. His work was idealized by Communist leaders of the 20th Century.
Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour
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August 10th 1810- June 16th 1861
Italian Prime Minister

Cavour is viewed by modern scholars and Italians as the mastermind of the unification of Italy and served as the unified country's first prime minister
Otto Von Bismark
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April 1, 1815- July 30 1898
German Chancellor

Bismark was a German nationalist and is viewed as largely responsible for the unification of Germany
Mohandas Gandhi
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October 1869 – 30 January 1948
Indian political and spiritual leader

Gandhi led a non-violence peace movement in India essentially ending British rule in India. His refusal to give in to any demands at the cost of physical violence made him a unique protestor and peace symbol.
Sun Yat-Sen
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12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925
Founder of the KMT
Three Principles of the People
Sun Yat-Sen was the founder of the Chinese Communist party also known as the (Kuomintang).
Simon Bolivar
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1783-1830
Argentinian Liberator and President
Jamaica Letter
Bolivar is considered the liberator of South America. He tried to unite Venezuela, Colombia, New Granada, Ecuador, and Peru into a giant federation in an effort to throw off Spanish colonialism. The federation falls apart, but South America is free from Spanish colonial rule.
Jose de San Martin
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25 February 1778 – 17 August 1850
Argentine General

Argentine revolutionary and skilled military commander who led revolts against Spanish rule. He helped win independence for the South American countries of Argentina (1812), Peru (1821), and Chile (1818).
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
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1881–10 November 1938
First President of Turkey
Turkish Constitution
Ataturk was a Turkish military leader who led the Turkey Independence Movement. After a successful war for independence, Ataturk was elected the first president of Turkey.
John Maynard Keynes
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1883-1946
British Economist
The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919)
The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936)
Was at the head of economic thought in the West in the first half of the 20th century. He challenged ideas that a standard "free market" economy would solve issues with unemployment. His ideas were adopted by many Western Powers.
Ludwig von Mises
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1881-1973
Austrian Economist
The Theory of Money and Credit (1912)
Socialism (1922)
Omnipotent Government (1944)
Human Action (1949)
Theory and History (1957)

Friedrich von Hayek
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1899-1992
Austrian Economist
Prices and Production (1931)
The Pure Theory of Capital (1941)
Road to Serfdom (1944)
The Constitution of Liberty (1960)

Milton Friedman
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1912-2006
American Economist

Income from Independent Professional Practice (1945)
Studies in the Quantitative Theory of Money (1956)
A Theory of Consumption Function (1957)
Monetary History of the United States 1867-1960 (1963)
Free to Choose (1980)
Alan Turing
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1912-1954
English Mathematician and Computer Scientist

His flagship invention. the Turing Machine. played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. He also helped the British decipher German Naval code during WWII.
Benito Mussolini
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29 July 1883- 28 April 1945
Italian Dictator
Led the Italian Fascist Party
Benito Mussolini led Italy during World War II in a campaign against the Allies.
Adolph Hitler
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Leader of the Nazi Party
Mein Kampf (1925)
Adolph Hitler was the leader of the Nazis in Germany leading into and during World War II. He started World War II by invading poland in 1939. He went on to tai control of much of Western Europe. During his reign, the Nazi party killed millions of Jews, disabled people, homosexuals, and gypsies in concentration camps. This was called the Holocaust.
Vladimir Lenin
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22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924
Leader of the Bolsheviks
Led Russian Revolution in 1905
In the early part of the 20th Century, Lenin led the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. This Revolution effectively overturned the government and began the beginnings of Russian Communism.
Joseph Stalin
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18 December 1878 – 5 March 1953
Head of the Soviet Union
Soviet Leader during World War II
Joseph Stalin, "the man of steel" was the head of the Soviet Union following the death of Lenin. During his reign, Russia saw a boost in its industrial fields and the deaths of millions of soldiers and civilians during World War II.
Winston Churchill
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30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965
British Prime Minister
Iron Curtain Speech

His writing included 43 book-length works in 72 volumes.
Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of England during World War II. His famous "Iron Curtain" speech came to symbolize the satellite nations around Russia during the Cold War.

His war-time speeches inspired the British people in their fight against Germany. Click here for a link to Their Finest Hour speech, June 4, 1940.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
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January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945

Time in Office: 1932-1945
American President
The Atlantic Charter

For more information, see the FDR Presidential Library
Franklin D. Roosevelt was an American president during the Great Depression and World War II. During World War II he tried to stay neutral, but eventually had to come to British aid after the fall of France. After Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, he sent troops to war.
Mao Tse-tung
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December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976
Chinese Communist Leader
Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung
Mao's communist revolution in China ended the civil war that had been going on since the fall of the Qing Empire. Mao successfully became the ruler of China and instituted his Great Leap Forward plan. Leader of the Communist Revolution, most commonly referred to as Chairman Mao. 1st Chairman of the Communist Party of China.
Albert Einsteinexternal image Albert_Einstein_Head_cleaned.jpg
14 March 1879–
18 April 1955
German-American-Jewish Scientist
General Theory of Relativity
One of the most influential scientists of the 20th century.

During the Manhattan Project, Einstein contributed to the scientific effort to create the first successful nuclear weapon.
Enrico Fermi
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29 September 1901 – 28 November 1954
Italian Scientist
Scientist on the Manhattan Project
Fermi was an essential part to the Manhattan Project which developed the first successful nuclear weapon. His previous work had crafted him into a great expert on neutrons, and his work on this material won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938. He went on to develop a reactor and witness the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in 1942. This work was the precursor to his position on the Manhattan Project.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
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April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967
American Physicist
"Father of the Atomic Bomb"
Oppenheimer is sometimes regarded as the "father of the atomic bomb," and is also often seen as the father or the American school of theoretical physics. He was a very engaging professor and became extremely interested in the development of an atomic bomb after news came in 1939 that the Germans had split an atom. He was appointed to be the head of the Manhattan Project during World War II.
EdwardTeller
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January 15, 1908 – September 9, 2003
Hungarian-American physicist
"Father of the Hydrogen Bomb"
Teller was on the Manhattan Project in the early stages. Later in his life he spent a lot of time developing the hydrogen bomb.
Wernher von Braun
Picture of Wernher von Braun 1912 -1977
Picture of Wernher von Braun 1912 -1977

March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977
German-American Rocket Scientist

Wernher Von Braun was instrumental in the development of rocket science in Germany and the United States. He and his Team worked on a number of test sites through out the U.S. and he spear headed the development of a number of different missiles for the Germans and later for the U.S. He also worked for NASA.
Jonas Salk
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October 28, 1914 – June 23, 1995
American Virologist
Founder of the Polio Vaccine
Jonas Salk was a medical researcher who studied Polio. On April 12, 1955, it was announced that the Salk Polio vaccine was safe and effective. Salk was cheered as a hero for finding the cure for polio, in the wake of a prominent polio epidemic in the 1950s.
James Watson
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born April 6, 1928
American Molecular Biologist
Discoverer of the structure of DNA
James Watson is an American scientist who is known for his research on DNA. On April 8, 1953, he and Francis Crick announced they discovered the double helix. Watson was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".
Francis Crick
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8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004
British Molecular Biologist
Discoverer of the structure of DNA
Of Molecules and Men (1966)
Life Itself (1981)
What a Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery (1988)
The Astonoshing Hypothesis: Scientific Search for the Soul (1994)
Francis Crick and James Watson worked together to uncover the structure of DNA. Crick possessed a great deal of knowledge on x-ray diffraction, while Watson had extensive knowledge of phage and bacterial genetics. In 1953, they uncovered the structure of DNA: the double helix. After discovering the double helix, Crick started to investigate the relationship between DNA and genetic coding. Crick "established not only the basic genetic code, but predicted the meachanism for protein synthesis." His work led to many discoveries on DNA and RNA and helped to create the DNA/RNA dictionary. In 1962, along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, he won the Nobel Prize of Medicine and Physiology.
Fidel Castro
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13 August 1926-
Cuban Communist Leader
President of Cuba

"History Will Absolve Me"
Fidel Castro is a former communist Cuban president. His political affiliations caused a lot of tension between Cuba and the United States during the Cold War.
Patrice Lumumba
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2 July 1925–17 January 1961
1st Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo

Patrice Lumumba was elected the first president of Congo after its independence from Belgium.
Ho Chi Minh
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1890-1969
Vietnamese Communist Leader
Some Considerations on the Colonial Question, 1922
Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, 1945
Led the struggle for independence against French imperialists, and help develop communism in Vietnam.

For more, see AP World History 6.2
Gamal Abdel Nasser
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15 January 1918 – 28 September 1970
Second President of Egypt
Coup against King Farouk
Gamal Abdel Nasser led a bloodless coup against King Farouk which modernized the country of Egypt.
Jawaharlal Nehru
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1889-1964
First Prime Minister of India
Purna Swaraj--The Indian Declaration of Independence
Jawaharlal Nehru was a key figure in the Indian Independence movement. He was an influential member of the Indian National Congress, which looked to find great autonomy from the British in the 1920s and 1930s. Nehru was also side by side with Gandhi during his civil disobedience demonstrations and was jailed numerous times. During the independence negotiations with the UK, Nehru made sure the country was not split along religious lines. He served as the first Indian Prime Minister from 1947 until his death in 1964.
Juan Peron
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1885-1974
President of Argentina from 1946-52, 1952-55, and 1973-74
Leader and founder of the Peronist movement in Argentina
As a military leader Peron was a part of the coup that over through Chilean Government that was controling Argentina. He gradually gained the support of the working lower class and was elected as President in 1946 and in 1952. He was the founder of Peronism and was married to Evita.
President Ronald Reagan
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1911-2004
Republican President of the United States from 1981-1989, Governor of California from 1967-1975
founder of 'Reaganomics'
Before entering politics he was president of the Screen Actors Guild and starred in a number of films. As POTUS, Reagan reduced taxes in order to jumpstart the economy with 'Reaganomics'. He was in office when the Cold War ended
Mikhail Gorbachev
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15 March 1990- 25 December 1991
President of the Soviet Union
Perestroika and Glasnost reforms to the USSR
The President of the Soviet Union. Attempted to reform the Soviet Union, by introducing what he called a "fast paced technological modernization", and increased industrial and agricultural productivity. He realized that reforming the Soviet Union economy would be impossible without fixing the social and political groups of the Soviet Union. His two major ideas: Perestroika and Glasnost. Gorbachev also participated in summit conferences with the United States, and President Ronald Reagan and eventually would lead to the fall of communism and the Cold War.
Vaclav Havelexternal image vaclav-havel-2.jpg
5 October 1936-18 December 2011
Political Leader in Czech
The Power of the Powerless (1978)
A leader of anti-Soviet opposition in Czech. His book criticized western democracies for their silence about the problem of totalitarian forms of power. His writing inspired anti-Soviet movement in Poland and other eastern European states. He was also the last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic
Andrei Sakharovexternal image 1991_CPA_6322_crop.jpg
May 21, 1921 - December 14, 1989
Russian Physicist and Human Rights Activist
Winner of the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize
Sakharov was part of the team tasked with developing nuclear weapons for the Soviet Union. He was also an early proponent of peaceful uses for nuclear technology. As his moral and political consciousness shifted he became an outspoken dissident, arguing against nuclear proliferation and for human rights.
Alexander Solzhenitsynalexander.jpg
lived from Dec 11, 1918 –August 3, 2008
Russian and Soviet novelist
The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
He helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best-known works. Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970.
Lech Walesa
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29 September 1943-
in office: 1990-1995
Polish
Political Leader
Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (1983)
Organized for free, non-Communist trade unions in 1978. In August 1980 led Gdansk shipyard strike, which set off strikes throughout Poland. Led to Gdansk Agreement of Aug.31,1980 which gave workers the right to strike and organize their own unions. Elected chairman of Solidarity, the new trade union. Interned in his house when General Jaruzelski declares martial law. Negotiations in 1989 for semi free elections. He became the first non-Communist president of Poland from 1990-1995. This marked the thawing of Soviet/Communist influence in Eastern Europe.
Nelson Mandela
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born:
18 July 1918
Political Leader
Statement at the Rivonia Trial (1964)
In the 1950's, Nelson Mandela began fighting to end apartheid in South Africa. In 1964, he was arrested and imprisoned for trying to overthrow the government, but continued his struggle from within his prison cell. Mandela was released from prison in 1990. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. In 1994, Mandela became the first black South African to be elected president.
Saddam Husseinexternal image Iraq%2C_Saddam_Hussein_%28222%29.jpg
1937-2006
President of Iraq: 1979- 2003
Dictatorial Leader of Iraq

Hussein was President of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Persian Gulf War (1991), and the Iraq War until his ousting in 2003. He was also known for his ruthless repression of segments of the Iraqi population, especially the Kurds in the North.
Christopher Columbus
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1451-1506
Explorer from Genoa who conquered for Spain
Excerpts from his journal chronicling his exploration of the New World
Integration of Europe into the New World on a permanent basis. This meant that Europe began to colonize the New World beginning with Hispaniola. This eventually lead to the rise of the Atlantic Ocean system and the slave trade.
George Washington Carver
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1864-1943
Inventor, Agricultural Chemist
Crop rotation, multiple uses for peanuts
His work at the Tuskegee Institute's Agricultural Department promoted crop rotation to stimulate the South's agricultural economy. He is best known for his work with peanuts, specifically development multiple uses for the peanut. His work emphasized planting peanuts and soy beans as alternatives to cotton to add more nitrogen to enrich Southern soil. He is credited with inventing multiple and diverse uses for the peanut including hair products, soap, medicine, oils, and of course peanut butter.