Historical Figures

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


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How Gloria Steinem Became a Feminist Shero

She is the face of feminism – a revolutionary pioneer who changed the trajectory of the feminist movement. We're talking about Gloria Steinem, who has been on the front lines of the fight for equality for more than 50 years.

Why Are We Still Talking About Plato 2,100 Years Later?

The ingenious Greek, who started as a young devotee of Socrates, laid the groundwork for more than two millennia of philosophical thought. But what did he say that was so remarkable?

Why Frederick Douglass Was the Father of the Civil Rights Movement

Frederick Douglass spent the first 15 years of his life as a slave but rose to become a famous orator and abolitionist – as well as the most photographed American of the 19th century.

How Cesar Chavez United Thousands of Farmworkers and Became a Civil Rights Icon

Cesar Chavez was able to do something nobody before him could — organize abused farmworkers through nonviolent resistance. His work transformed their lives forever.

Spartacus Was a Real Gladiator and the Baddest Rebel Leader in Rome

He's been the subject of several movies and TV shows, but make no mistake, Spartacus was a real person who started a short-lived rebellion against the Roman Empire with lasting consequences.

Why John Adams Despised Being Vice President

John Adams was the first vice president of the United States, a role he thought was contrived and insignificant. But the function of the VP has changed, and Adams played a huge part in that.

What People Get Wrong About Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Parks didn't refuse to move from her bus seat because her feet were tired. "The only tired I was, was tired of giving in," she said. What else do we get wrong?

Susan B. Anthony: Suffragist, Abolitionist, Teetotaler and Renegade

Susan B. Anthony's enduring legacy is for her tireless work for women's voting rights in the United States. But there's so much more to her story than just as a suffragette.

7 Facts About Socrates, the Enigmatic Greek Street Philosopher

"The unexamined life," said Socrates, "is not worth living." So what was the life of this Athenian sage really like?

A Short History of Napoleon, the Ambitious, Charismatic Emperor of France

Statesman, military leader and Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the most fascinating characters in European history and his height was the least of it.

7 Atrocities Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin Committed

Joseph Stalin ruled over the Soviet Union through force, fear mongering and absolute tyranny. His acts of cruelty made him one of the 20th century's worst dictators.

7 'Facts' They Got Wrong in School About Christopher Columbus

Did Columbus really prove the world was round? Did he think he had found a new continent? And how was he perceived back home?

Why the Ghost of Andrew Jackson Haunts the Modern U.S. Presidency

While all presidents seem to wax and wane in the public consciousness, Jackson's name pops up regularly, even more so in recent years. Why does a president who died in 1845 haunt contemporary political discourse?

Chinese-American Actress Anna May Wong Fought Racism in Life and Onscreen

As the first major Chinese-American film star, it wasn't easy for Anna May Wong. But she persisted and fought against stereotypes, eventually breaking down barriers in Hollywood.

Amelia Earhart Was Way More Than a Famous Aviator Who Disappeared

Amelia Earhart's reaction to seeing her first flight as a kid was one big yawn. But that attitude changed with her first plane ride, paving the way for a life of dare-devilry, one that ultimately cost her life.

The Story of Eric Rudolph, the Real 1996 Olympic Park Bomber

Eric Robert Rudolph evaded the FBI and police from 1996 until 2003, after a series of bombings in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. But what drove him to kill?

A Portrait of Jimmy Carter, America's Oldest Living President Ever

Jimmy Carter isn't considered one of America's greatest presidents. But the legacy he's built in the 40-plus years after leaving the White House is one that will be hard for other presidents to top.

9 Little-known Nuggets About Honest Abe

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and is known for many accomplishments, including ending the Civil War and slavery, and his famous speech at Gettysburg.

How 'Pretty Boy' Floyd Became the FBI's Public Enemy No. 1

Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd lived a life of crime robbing banks, stealing cars and killing his rivals. Then J. Edgar Hoover named him Public Enemy No. 1 and a massive manhunt was on.

5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Cleopatra

Today she is widely known for her beauty and her seductive ways, but scholars say we've been hoodwinked by propaganda written by her enemies. So what was the real Cleopatra like?

Second to None: Here's the Buzz on Buzz Aldrin

The second man on the moon is also a scuba enthusiast, math whiz, former combat pilot and the author of the first space selfie. Plus, he's the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story." How cool is all that?

A Portrait of John F. Kennedy, America's Youngest President

John F. Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected to be president of the United States. But his term was tragically cut short when he was assassinated in Dallas at age 46.

9 Fascinating Facts About Julius Caesar, 'Dictator for Perpetuity'

The Roman general and statesman's romantic exploits and bloody betrayal were juicy enough to fuel two different Shakespeare plays; he also lent his name to the C-section and the Caesar haircut. But not the Caesar salad.

Humble Hero: Why Neil Armstrong Became the First Man on the Moon

This self-described "nerdy engineer," and fearless test pilot, had a calm demeanor that won over the NASA top brass, even though Buzz Aldrin badly wanted the honor of being first.

7 Cool Facts About Will Rogers, Cowboy, Humorist, Self-declared President

Born on Nov. 4, 1879, Will Rogers was an iconic multitalent who never met a man he didn't like.