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What makes a person influential? Is it the amount of following they had? The lasting impact they had on the world? The number of people who have read what they had to say, even after their death? Or the fact that they made their way into our school curriculums and will probably be studied until the end of the world? We’re no historians, but we’d say all those things matter.

But here’s the thing about being influential: it’s not for everyone. It takes a certain kind of person to stand out in a crowd and be heard, let alone listened to. No charismatic leader or incredible genius has ever changed the world by staying in their room and keeping all that talent hidden.

Let’s take a look at some of the men and women who have made their mark on society — either in politics, technology, or culture — and have become household names. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but it’s a good place to start if you want to know more about the most influential people of all time!

#1

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Whenever you’re talking about influential people, it’s hard not to mention Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights leader was one of the most prominent figures in the 20th century, a minister who fought for racial equality and is best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington. He was assassinated in 1968, but his legacy lives on through his speeches and actions which helped shape the world’s views about the fight for equality.

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#2

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, one of history’s most outstanding scientists, developed his theory of relativity at age 37. Nobody revolutionized physics like he did. He won a Nobel Prize in physics in 1921 for his services to theoretical physics and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.

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#3

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was a man who lived for what he believed in. He was the leader the country needed during one of the darkest times in American history, led the Union to victory over the Confederacy, and abolished slavery with his Emancipation Proclamation, which made him one of America’s most beloved presidents.

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gerard julien
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

" Influential People Who Changed The World Forever" Slavery had been abolished in Britain since 1843 ( The buying and selling of slaves was made illegal across the British Empire in 1807, but owning slaves was permitted until it was outlawed completely in 1833, beginning a process where from 1834 slaves became indentured "apprentices" to their former owners until emancipation was achieved for the majority by 1840 and for remaining exceptions by 1843.) and in France since 1848.

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#4

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was an inventor, engineer, physicist, and futurist who contributed significantly to electrical science and technology while working with Thomas Edison — although their turbulent work relationship caused by clashing ideologies is well-known, and the two scientists later parted ways for good. Tesla’s most significant contribution to the world was his invention of alternating current, a revolutionary technology that made transmitting electricity over long distances much cheaper.

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#5

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they wear smiles — and Nelson Mandela’s became a trademark of the charismatic leader. For a man who spent 27 years in prison for opposing the cruel apartheid system in South Africa, he still had the strength to guide his country towards liberation and became an inspiration to millions of people. There’s no way we wouldn’t mention him among the most important people in history.

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Bouche Clay
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I spent 11 years in prison. I often wonder how Mr. Mandela stayed so strong.

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#6

Wright Brothers

Wright Brothers

Orville and Wilbur Wright were aviation pioneers who invented, built, and flew the world’s first motor-operated airplane in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Their invention paved the way for modern commercial aviation as we know it today. The fact that the two brothers were self-taught mechanical engineers made their impact on the world even more incredible.

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gerard julien
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

" Clément Ader (2 April 1841 – 3 May 1925) was a French inventor and engineer. In 1890 Ader had made a brief uncontrolled and unsustained "hop" in his Éole, but such a hop is not regarded as true flight. It was a bat-like design run by a lightweight steam engine of his own invention, with 4 cylinders with a power rating of 20 hp (15 kW), driving a four-blade propeller." ader-avion...2f2185.jpg ader-avion-6304d7b2f2185.jpg

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#7

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

The only American Founding Father to sign all the key documents that officially established the United States of America as a nation, he was among the primary authors of the Declaration of Independence. Tirelessly innovative, capable, and wise, he was also instrumental in creating the U.S. postal system, the lighting rod, and bifocals, among other inventions.

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Bouche Clay
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Plus he was a silversmith, and wrote Poor Richard's Almanac. I would love to have known him.

#8

Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei

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Bouche Clay
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's hard enough to understand even basic astronomy now. Imagine trying to figure out the rules on your own. The intelligence and creativity of Galileo, Copernicus, and the others is awe-inspiring.

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#9

Socrates

Socrates

Little is known about his life except what classical authors — particularly his students Plato and Xenophon — wrote about him. Still, we like to think his most notable skill was making people feel like they were the dumbest person in the room. He’s widely regarded as one of the wisest men of all time and is credited as the founder of Western philosophy. Despite this, his views and personality got him a lot of hate in Athens, to the point he was sentenced to death.

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#10

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

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Bouche Clay
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Didn't he invent everything? Seriously. I mean, this guy was so far beyond his own time....

#11

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

The “Father of India” and one of the most well-known pacifists to date, Gandhi successfully used nonviolent resistance as a form of protest against British colonial rule in India — a movement that became known as Satyagraha (“truth force” in Sanskrit). Gandhi’s influence on civil rights movements worldwide is still profoundly felt today.

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#14

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

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Kim Contreras
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why does BP start off with descriptions and then stop? Aren't they all worthy of some idea as to why they are important? (This happens frequently when a list of some sort appears on BP.)

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#16

Anne Frank

Anne Frank

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Bouche Clay
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

She gave the victims a face and a voice. There were others, but because of her age, she was one of the most tragic. Either read or watch "Freedom Writers" to see some of her impact on our "lost" children.

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#17

Michelangelo

Michelangelo

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Bouche Clay
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Imagine painting the Sistine Chapel on an easel. No way I could have done it. Lying on my back on scaffolding? Forget it.

#18

George Washington

George Washington

As the United States’ first president and the Founding Father who led the Patriot forces to victory during the American Revolutionary War, George Washington is often included among famous historical people worth mentioning. He also served as the president of the convention that wrote the Constitution of the United States in 1787.

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#21

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Ludwig Van Beethoven

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#28

Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg

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Marisol L. Banks
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Should be higher. This man introduced movable type and the printing press - the forerunner of today’s mass communication. This was revolutionary for its time. Plus, anything that led to the creation of BOOKS gets an automatic upvote from me.

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#35

Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming

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Kim Contreras
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Don't know why this man is important - guess I'm showing my ignorance - but it would be helpful to at least have one sentence about him.

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#37

Marco Polo

Marco Polo

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Just a ray of f'ing sunshine
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

At the very least, he gave American children (Sorry, I don't know I'd they do this in other countries as well) a game to play while swimming. 😆

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#41

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

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Fabrice
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

a complex man, with dark sides. But he popularized scuba diving and fueled my childhood dreams.

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#42

Plato

Plato

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T Horn
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1 year ago

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#44

Alexander The Great

Alexander The Great

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T Horn
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1 year ago

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#45

Martin Luther

Martin Luther

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T Horn
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1 year ago

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#46

Aristotle

Aristotle

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#48

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

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#49

Geronimo

Geronimo

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R.j. Dones
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Where is Christopher Columbus or Genghis Khan? you have a bunch of unknowns in spite of not understanding history at all

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