Once upon a time, this world was totally a different place to live in. What we see today, what we believe today, what we use today and whatever we have at our disposal today is due to the people who dared to challenge the status quo. These people are termed as influencers as they influenced history through their thoughts and works. Our history is full of influencers who have impacted different fields from science, literature to politics, and brought a radical change in the world around us. All such people with great minds and extraordinary contribution deserve a mention among the most influential people of history. So, here’s our list of most influential people in history that includes people who laid the foundation of the contemporary world.
Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton was a mathematician, astronomer, physicist, and author. He is an eminent personality and widely recognized as the most influential scientist of all time. He is a key figure driving the scientific revolution. Newton is famous for his discoveries in optics and mathematics. He gave Newton’s three laws of motion, which laid the foundation for modern physics. He is also renowned for discovering gravity. His theory about gravity explained the movements of the sun and planets. In honor of Sir Isaac Newton, the unit of force has been named after his surname, “Newton”.
One of the most influential people in the history of science is Stephen William Hawking. He was an English physicist, cosmologist, and author. He has worked at the “Centre for Theoretical Cosmology” as its director. Hawking’s scientific works led to the generation of gravitational singularity theorems. His contributions led to the framework of general relativity. He also gave the foundation of theoretical prediction about why black holes emit radiation (Hawking radiation). The theorems of Hawking radiation focus on the reduction of mass and rotational energy.
Michael Faraday was an English scientist, physicist, and chemist. He has established his name due to his contributions to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main contribution can be bestowed to the invention of the principles of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and electrolysis. His biggest breakthrough was the invention of the electric motor. The discovery was extraordinary that marked the future of science and technology He has marked his contributions even in the discovery of varying magnetic fields, electricity flow in the electric circuit. Faraday discovered that the magnetic movement causes a current to flow.
He is one of the most influential people in the history of the political arena. Adolf Hitler is one of the most acknowledged as well as hated figures in history. Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He was involved in military operations. Hitler’s ambition was to elevate the image of Germany as the world’s leading power in the era characterized by colonialism. He is the most powerful dictator in history. Hitler has authored his book, Mein Kampf where he has shared his ideas about how a country must be governed. He became the chancellor of Germany in 1933 and as the Führer in 1934. Hitler had claimed that he stood by his the singular goal of assisting the German government in “fighting Marxism.”
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was an eminent doctor, scientist, architect, artist, and engineer. He is regarded as an overall genius. He marked essential contributions in science, architecture, and technology. He is well known for his amazing painting, The Mona Lisa (c. 1503–19). It is the most notable painting of the artist. Leonardo Da Vinci, the Renaissance artist, was an inventor. He had designed a mechanical knight, popularly known as Leonardo’s robot. A workable precursor designed by him served as the modern-day diving suit. He developed a tank that became a reality after 400 years. Vinci conceptualized glider, parachute, helicopter, and landing gear.
George Washington was a famous American political leader, statesman and a military general. Due to his memorable contribution to America’s War of Independence, the administrative capital of the USA, Washington DC has been named after him. He was the first president of the United States and served the nation from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriots to victory, during the nation’s War of Independence. George Washington served as the commander- in- chief of the Continental Army. His tenure was marked during the American Revolutionary War. The troops under him marked the victory of the US over the British. He became a national hero owing to this feat.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and the political leader in South Africa. He is one of the most influential people in history of the contemporary world. Apart from being a philanthropist, he also served as the President of South Africa for a full term. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work and contribution to society. Mandela supported the South African team in the first major sports competition – the Rugby World Cup (1995). This event marked the unity of the country. Nelson Mandela is the father of South Africa. The anti-Apartheid activist is well known and respected even today for standing against racial segregation. Mandela rose to become a civil rights leader, leading the nation to stand against the Apartheid government.
Albert Einstein is a German-born physicist who developed the general and special theories of relativity. He is well known for being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics (1921). He is famous for his ideas about the photoelectric effect. Albert Einstein developed the theories of relativity. Later, Einstein founded the unified field theory. He had also made some essential contributions to the development of quantum theory. Einstein is best known for the theory of relativity and the formulation of the equation E=MC2. At a later stage, it foreshadowed the development of atomic power.
William Shakespeare was a popular English poet, playwright and actor. He is well known as a great dramatist and writer in the English language. His plays, poems and stories are still influencing the field of literature. The most famous poem written by William Shakespeare is Sonnet 18. His maximum works are about life, death, revenge, grief, murder, love, jealousy, and mystery. He wrote many blockbuster plays of his time like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Hamlet. William Shakespeare changed the world through his poems and dramatic plays that cover all human emotions, some portrayed conflicts, and many influenced the work of English literature. He made a significant contribution to literature.
Mahatma Gandhi, popularly known as “Bapu”, is recognized as a great political and spiritual leader of India. He is honored in India as “Father of Nation.” He played an important role in the freedom of India. Mahatma Gandhi focused on non-violating and peaceful ways to get Independence. The most prominent contribution of Gandhi was towards society. He strived to ensure equality and to secure better living conditions for the people. All the moments and revolutions he made was a major contribution to society. He introduced the Non-cooperation movement, where he asked Indians to boycott British goods and become self-dependent. He started and practiced the SatyaGrah movement and applied nonviolence methods. Mahatma Gandhi started and followed a movement against untouchability, and was completely against it.
Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck had served as the prime minister of Prussia (1862–73, 1873–90). He was the founder and first chancellor of the German Empire. The German statesman was responsible for the German Empire’s inception in 1871. He is popular among the masses as a leading diplomat. He became popular in the name of “Iron Chancellor.” Bismark rose to power to make Germany a modern, unified nation. During his tenure, he had effectively ruled all of Germany. He is known for his leadership abilities and masterful strategy employed in wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. The agenda used by him marked the strengthening of Prussian leadership.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a Swiss-born philosopher and writer, is an eminent political theorist. The poetries and novels written by him had inspired the leaders during the French Revolution. The inspirations led to the generation of an era of Romantic generation. He is best known as an influential philosopher (18th century). He is well known for writing the acclaimed work of a Discourse based on the Arts and Sciences. Rousseau expressed his thoughts in terms of Political Economy and interests in Social Contract.
Mother Teresa is one of the most influential people in history of India known for serving society. She was a nun and later on, she became a saint for the people of India. She gave her full life in caring for destitute in the villages of Kolkata. Her main focus was on serving poor people around the world. She spent many years in Kolkata and formed many missionaries of charity that were devoted to helping many poor people of India. She was born in a wealthy family but when she was 18 years old, she decided to go to Kolkata to help the needy. Teresa constructed a hospital for leprosy and HIV Aids patients and made sure that all poor people get free medical assistance.
Neil Alden Armstrong was the first man who walked on the moon. He is one of the most influential astronauts in the world. He was a famous American astronaut and engineer. Along with that, he was also a naval aviator and professor of a University. He worked for NASA as an astronaut and walked on the moon on 20th July 1969. After his retirement, he was quite active in the airspace community. He died at the age of 82. Being in a naval aviator, he also served in the Korean War.
Jawahar Lal Nehru
He was the first Prime Minister of India post-independence in 1947. He was the active leader in the Indian Independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi. Nehru served the position of Prime Minister till his death in 1964. Nehru focused on four major principles that contributed to India’s progress they are: secularism, democracy, unity and socialism. He established parliamentary government and aligned foreign affairs policies. He shared an impeccable love for children and shared immense love for them.
Perhaps the exemplary example of the role of will power and patience in attaining goals in one’s life has been shown by him. After spending days and nights working hard in his laboratory, he had made a massive impact on the daily life of human beings by inventing the electric bulb in the year of 1879, which contributed towards a new era of human civilization. He received the gold medal in 1928 for developing applying inventions that helped in the revival of civilization at that time. Edison has made many other inventions in the field of electricity, power, communication, etc. His contributions are so vast that the famous Edison Awards goes by his name which is given to those who have produced excellence in people-centered innovation and design.
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most influential people in history for his thoughts. He is highly respected and appreciated all over the world for his thoughts towards the equal status of every human against the practice of slavery, which widely existed during the eighteenth century in America.He was born on 12th February 1809 in Kentucky, USA. Right from his childhood, he struggled a lot. At the tender age of nine, he lost his mother. Afterward, Lincoln and his family moved to Illinois where he struggled for his livelihood. He worked as a postmaster, shopkeeper and even surveyor. As time took a turn and he tried himself in politics and at the age of 25, he managed to get a seat in Illinois legislature.
Abraham Lincoln served as the president of the United States of America from 1861-1865. He has earned the accolade of being honorary citizenship and received a gold medal by the Union League of Philadelphia in 1863. He stood against slavery and subsequently paved the way of eradicating the practice of slavery by his famous Emancipation Proclamation dated 1st January 1863. Lincoln successfully maintained the integrity of the USA during the civil war of America. His speech in Gettysburg about equality of people and unity of states gained huge popularity.
The famous Darwinism Theory which describes biological evolution was proposed by English Naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin. His theory is based on natural selection which solved the mystery behind the survival or perishing of living organisms.
After graduating from Christ College, he went on a voyage to take a round trip of the world which took five years. During his journey, he accumulated several different species of plants, birds and many fossils that helped him to develop the theory of evolution. He received various awards like Coplay medal, Royal medal, etc. for his significant research works.
Darwin’s famous theory of evolution which states the existence of species even today was gradually developed and shared as a common ancestor previously. He compiled his works in the form of the book “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural”, a breakthrough contribution in the field of biological sciences. His work on the finches of Galapagos Island may be considered as the pillar of evolutionary biology in modern times.
Jack Ma is a well-known philanthropist and entrepreneur. He is a live and a real source of inspiration for all of us. He taught us that if we have the zeal to achieve heights of success despite the repeated number of failures, we’ll achieve it one day. Born in Hangzhou China, Ma grew up in such a family which can’t even be considered as middle class. In previous years of professional life, he managed to get a job as an English teacher at Hangzhou Diazo University. Throughout his professional life, he had to face numerous rejections and failures. He has been rejected ten times by Harvard University for admission, rejected for a job in KFC, police and on many other occasions. However, all these failures never let his spirit down.
It was until in the year of 1995 when Hack Ma came to America and gradually started his e-commerce venture Alibaba. Since then there was no turning back for him. He is the co-founder and chairman of corporate company Alibaba Group. He is China’s richest person with a net worth of 44 billion dollars. Forbes ranked him 21st in the list of “World’s Most Powerful People.” In 2019, Forbes added his name in the list of “Asia’s 2019 Heroes of Philanthropist”
So these were some of the most influential people in history that shaped the world in their way. Even today, we can see many influencers who are continuing to influence us with their thoughts and revolutionary work.