Historical Figures

From Musketeers to Nazis, Archimedes to Harriet Tubman, these famous historical figures changed the course of history -- for better or worse.


Learn More / Page 2

Kamala Harris Becomes the First Black Female Vice President in U.S. History

Kamala Harris is the first woman in U.S. history (and first Black woman and first Asian American woman) to become vice president. But she's used to being a groundbreaker.

Beyond 'Braveheart': 5 Things We Get Wrong About William Wallace

The story of Scottish resistance hero William Wallace has morphed into fiction over time, but the truth is actually far more fascinating than the one we see in popular retellings.

Why Did Hitler Write 'Mein Kampf'?

In 1925, Adolf Hitler published the first volume of a semi-autobiographical book that laid out his racist policies. It is still in print today. But should anyone read it? And what would they find inside?

Amerigo Vespucci, a Lurid Pamphlet and the Naming of America

It pays to promote. That's how Amerigo Vespucci got a new continent named in his honor. That and a little historical misunderstanding.

Kate Warne: First Female Pinkerton Detective Thwarted Lincoln Assassination Attempt

Kate Warne was bold enough to walk into the Pinkerton Agency in 1856 and step into her role as the first female detective in U.S. history.

Aaron Burr: Yes, He Killed Hamilton, But What Else Did He Do?

Aaron Burr is perhaps best known as the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, but he also served as an aide to George Washington, vice president to Thomas Jefferson and as U.S. senator from New York.

Black Hair Care Made Madam C.J. Walker America's First Self-made Female Millionaire

Madam C.J. Walker made her mark helping Black women feel pretty. And beauty products made her the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S.

Voltaire Was an Enlightenment Celebrity Who Would've Loved Social Media

Before there was a Madonna, Bono or Beyoncé, the one-named Voltaire was Europe's first truly modern celebrity. And he didn't need the help of Twitter to keep his name in the public eye.

Ignaz Semmelweis Was Ridiculed for Advocating Hand-washing for Doctors

While Semmelweis wasn't the first doctor to advocate for hand-washing, he was certainly the most vocal proponent at the time. But his medical colleagues mostly ridiculed his belief.

5 Fascinating Stories of Abolitionists Past and Present

One was a former slave, turned best-selling writer; another was a wealthy pottery maker whose company is well-known even today. Here are five amazing stories of abolitionists.

Does Anne Boleyn Deserve Her Bad Reputation?

Anne Boleyn is too often known only for her brief tumultuous marriage to King Henry VIII and her subsequent beheading. But there was a lot more to her life than that.

5 Facts About the Wild West's Deadly 'Doc' Holliday

John Henry "Doc" Holliday was first and foremost a gambler and gunfighter. But he was also friend of Wyatt Earp and is best known for his role the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Ulysses S. Grant Was One of the Greatest Military Generals in U.S. History

As the commanding general of the Union Army, he helped save the United States during the Civil War. Grant was clearly a successful military man, but how was he as the 18th U.S. president?

Why Marcus Aurelius Matters, in 5 of His Classic Quotes

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius is remembered today, not so much for his conquests and governance but for a short, profound book he wrote called 'Meditations.' We give you a peek inside this ancient wisdom.

Unraveling the Romanticized Story of Pocahontas

History and the movie studios have twisted the story of Pocahontas into one of a mythical woman who saved John Smith, willingly converted to Christianity and married an Englishman. The truth, however, isn't so rosy.

Wyatt Earp Wasn't the Fastest Gunslinger in the West and That Didn't Matter

Wyatt Earp was a Wild West lawman, a member of the Dodge City Peace Commission and a deputy marshal in Tombstone, Arizona. What he wasn't was the quickest man on the draw.

African King Mansa Musa Was Even Richer Than Jeff Bezos, Some Say

In the 1300s, Mali's Mansa Musa set out for Mecca with an entourage of 60,000 people bearing thousands of pounds of gold. So, where did all that gold come from? And what would that be worth today?

6 Things We Still Thank Teddy Roosevelt for Today

Among a long list of accomplishments, Teddy Roosevelt literally changed the American landscape, establishing the first wildlife refuge and the U.S. Forest Service, protecting the magnificent green spaces we cherish today.

How Sarah Forbes Bonetta Was 'Gifted' to Queen Victoria

Though the story has become a bit mischaracterized over the years, Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a West African princess, was indeed liberated from slavery to become an intimate of Queen Victoria of England.

7 Reasons Catherine the Great Was So Great

Her legacy has been reduced to strange tales of horses and sordid affairs, but the real story of Russia's longest reigning female leader is truly fascinating.

9 Surprising Facts About Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa

Assassinated at the age of 45, Francisco 'Pancho' Villa was a general, a bandit, a politician and one of the most prominent figures of the Mexican Revolution.

Why Karl Marx Was One of the Most Influential and Destructive Thinkers In History

He famously co-authored The Communist Manifesto, which would be the basis for a new political movement. But to say he is only the Father of Communism sells Karl Marx short.

Audie Murphy, From World War II Hero to Hollywood Hitmaker

America's most decorated World War II combat soldier Audie Murphy was considered a hero and Hollywood icon. But those labels came at a price that not even Murphy could pay.

The Tragic Life and Curious Death of Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes was a man of great intelligence and wealth. He was also a man of mystery, secrecy and, ultimately, debilitating mental illness.

All Hail the Kings and Queens Quiz

Whether you love 'em or think they're irrelevant, there's no denying that commoners are and always have been fascinated by royalty. How well do you know these historic members of society's upper echelon?