The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary American Politicians of all time. This list of famous American Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of American Politicians.
With an HPI of 89.78, Thomas Jefferson is the most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 148 different languages on wikipedia.
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He was previously the nation's second vice president under John Adams and the first United States secretary of state under George Washington. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation. He produced formative documents and decisions at state, national, and international levels. During the American Revolution, Jefferson represented Virginia in the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration of Independence. As a Virginia legislator, he drafted a state law for religious freedom. He served as the second Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781, during the Revolutionary War. In 1785, Jefferson was appointed the United States Minister to France, and subsequently, the nation's first secretary of state under President George Washington from 1790 to 1793. Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party during the formation of the First Party System. With Madison, he anonymously wrote the provocative Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 and 1799, which sought to strengthen states' rights by nullifying the federal Alien and Sedition Acts. Jefferson and Federalist John Adams became friends as well as political rivals, serving in the Continental Congress and drafting the Declaration of Independence together. In the 1796 presidential election between the two, Jefferson came in second, which according to electoral procedure at the time, made him vice president to Adams. Jefferson challenged Adams again in 1800 and won the presidency. After his term in office, Jefferson eventually reconciled with Adams and they shared a correspondence that lasted fourteen years. As president, Jefferson pursued the nation's shipping and trade interests against Barbary pirates and aggressive British trade policies. Starting in 1803, he promoted a western expansionist policy with the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the nation's claimed land area. To make room for settlement, Jefferson began the process of Indian tribal removal from the newly acquired territory. As a result of peace negotiations with France, his administration reduced military forces. He was re-elected in 1804, but his second term was beset with difficulties at home, including the trial of former vice president Aaron Burr. In 1807, American foreign trade was diminished when Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act in response to British threats to U.S. shipping. The same year, Jefferson signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves. Jefferson, while primarily a plantation owner, lawyer, and politician, mastered many disciplines, ranging from surveying and mathematics to horticulture and mechanics. He was also an architect in the Palladian tradition. Jefferson's keen interest in religion and philosophy led to his presidency of the American Philosophical Society; he shunned organized religion but was influenced by Christianity, Epicureanism, and deism. Jefferson rejected fundamental Christianity, denying Christ's divinity. A philologist, Jefferson knew several languages. He was a prolific letter writer and corresponded with many prominent people, including Edward Carrington, John Taylor of Caroline and James Madison. Among his books is Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), considered perhaps the most important American book published before 1800. Jefferson championed the ideals, values, and teachings of the Enlightenment. Over the course of his life, Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves. Since Jefferson's time, controversy has revolved around his relationship with Sally Hemings, a mixed-race enslaved woman and his late wife's half-sister. According to 1998 DNA testing of Jefferson's and Hemings' descendants, combined with documentary and statistical evidence and oral history, Jefferson fathered at least six children with Hemings, including four that survived to adulthood. Evidence suggests that Jefferson started the relationship with Hemings when they were in Paris, some time after she arrived there at the age of 14 or 15, when Jefferson was 44. By the time she returned to the United States at 16 or 17, she was pregnant.After retiring from public office, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. He and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of U.S. independence. Presidential scholars and historians generally praise Jefferson's public achievements, including his advocacy of religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia, his peaceful acquisition of the Louisiana Territory from France without war or controversy, and his ambitious and successful Lewis and Clark Expedition. Some modern historians are critical of Jefferson's personal involvement with slavery. Jefferson is consistently ranked in the top ten presidents of American history.
With an HPI of 87.46, Jimmy Carter is the 2nd most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 140 different languages.
James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American former politician who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 76th governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975 and as a Georgia state senator from 1963 to 1967. Since leaving office, Carter has remained engaged in political and social projects, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his humanitarian work. Born and raised in Plains, Georgia, Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree and joined the United States Navy, serving on numerous submarines. After the death of his father in 1953, he left his naval career and returned home to Plains, where he assumed control of his family's peanut-growing business. He inherited comparatively little, because of his father's forgiveness of debts and the division of the estate amongst himself and his siblings. Nevertheless, his ambition to expand and grow the family's peanut farm was fulfilled. During this period, Carter was encouraged to oppose racial segregation and support the growing civil rights movement. He became an activist within the Democratic Party. From 1963 to 1967, Carter served in the Georgia State Senate, and in 1970 was elected as governor of Georgia, defeating former Governor Carl Sanders in the Democratic primary. He remained in office until 1975. Despite being a dark-horse candidate who was not well known outside of Georgia, he won the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination. In the 1976 presidential election, Carter ran as an outsider and narrowly defeated incumbent Republican president Gerald Ford. On his second day in office, Carter pardoned all Vietnam War draft evaders by issuing Proclamation 4483. During his term, two new cabinet-level departments—the Department of Energy and the Department of Education—were established. He created a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, and the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II). On the economic front he confronted stagflation, a persistent combination of high inflation, high unemployment, and slow growth. The end of his presidency was marked by the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Nicaraguan Revolution, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In response to the invasion, Carter escalated the Cold War when he ended détente, imposed a grain embargo against the Soviets, enunciated the Carter Doctrine, and led a 1980 Summer Olympics boycott in Moscow. He is the only president to have served a full term in office and not have appointed a justice to the Supreme Court. In the 1980 Democratic Party presidential primaries, he was challenged by Senator Ted Kennedy, but won re-nomination at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Carter lost the 1980 presidential election in an electoral landslide to Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. Polls of historians and political scientists generally rank Carter as a below-average president, although his post-presidential activities have been viewed more favorably than his presidency. In 1982, Carter established the Carter Center, aimed at promoting and expanding human rights. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Center. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, monitor elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is considered a key figure in the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity. He has written over 30 books, ranging from political memoirs to poetry, while continuing to actively comment on ongoing American and global affairs, including the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. At 98 years old, Carter is both the oldest living and longest-lived president, as well as the one with the longest post-presidency, and his 76-year-long marriage makes him the longest-married president. He is also the third-oldest living person to have served as a state leader.
With an HPI of 85.22, Abraham Lincoln is the 3rd most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 191 different languages.
Abraham Lincoln ( LINK-ən; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War and succeeded in preserving the Union, abolishing slavery, bolstering the federal government, and modernizing the U.S. economy. Lincoln was born into poverty in a log cabin in Kentucky and was raised on the frontier, primarily in Indiana. He was self-educated and became a lawyer, Whig Party leader, Illinois state legislator, and U.S. Congressman from Illinois. In 1849, he returned to his successful law practice in central Illinois. In 1854, he was angered by the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which opened the territories to slavery, and he re-entered politics. He soon became a leader of the new Republican Party. He reached a national audience in the 1858 Senate campaign debates against Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln ran for president in 1860, sweeping the North to gain victory. Pro-slavery elements in the South viewed his election as a threat to slavery, and Southern states began seceding from the Union. During this time, the newly formed Confederate States of America began seizing federal military bases in the south. Just over one month after Lincoln assumed the presidency, the Confederate States attacked Fort Sumter, a U.S. fort in South Carolina. Following the bombardment, Lincoln mobilized forces to suppress the rebellion and restore the Union. Lincoln, a moderate Republican, had to navigate a contentious array of factions with friends and opponents from both the Democratic and Republican parties. His allies, the War Democrats and the Radical Republicans, demanded harsh treatment of the Southern Confederates. Anti-war Democrats (called "Copperheads") despised Lincoln, and irreconcilable pro-Confederate elements plotted his assassination. He managed the factions by exploiting their mutual enmity, carefully distributing political patronage, and by appealing to the American people. His Gettysburg Address came to be seen as one of the greatest and most influential statements of American national purpose. Lincoln closely supervised the strategy and tactics in the war effort, including the selection of generals, and implemented a naval blockade of the South's trade. He suspended habeas corpus in Maryland and elsewhere, and he averted British intervention by defusing the Trent Affair. In 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the slaves in the states "in rebellion" to be free. It also directed the Army and Navy to "recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons" and to receive them "into the armed service of the United States." Lincoln also pressured border states to outlaw slavery, and he promoted the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which upon its ratification abolished slavery. Lincoln managed his own successful re-election campaign. He sought to heal the war-torn nation through reconciliation. On April 14, 1865, just five days after the war's end at Appomattox, he was attending a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., with his wife Mary when he was fatally shot by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln is remembered as a martyr and a national hero for his wartime leadership and for his efforts to preserve the Union and abolish slavery. Lincoln is often ranked in both popular and scholarly polls as the greatest president in American history.
With an HPI of 84.29, Ulysses S. Grant is the 4th most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 129 different languages.
Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant HY-rəm yoo-LISS-eez; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American military officer and politician who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. As Commanding General, he led the Union Army to victory in the American Civil War in 1865 and thereafter briefly served as Secretary of War. Later, as president, Grant was an effective civil rights executive who signed the bill that created the Justice Department and worked with Radical Republicans to protect African Americans during Reconstruction. Raised in Ohio, Grant possessed an exceptional ability with horses. Admitted to West Point, Grant graduated 21st in the class of 1843 and served with distinction in the Mexican–American War. In 1848, he married Julia Dent, and together they had four children. Grant resigned from the army in 1854 and returned to his family but lived in poverty. He joined the Union Army after the American Civil War broke out in 1861 and rose to prominence after winning several early Union victories on the Western Theater. In 1863 he led the Vicksburg campaign, which gained control of the Mississippi River, dealing a serious strategic blow to the Confederacy, splitting it in two. President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to lieutenant general after his victory at Chattanooga. For thirteen months, Grant fought Robert E. Lee during the high-casualty Overland Campaign and at Petersburg. After Lee fled Petersburg, Grant defeated him at Appomattox. On April 9, 1865, Lee formally surrendered to Grant. A week later, Lincoln was assassinated and was succeeded by President Andrew Johnson, who promoted Grant to General of the Army in 1866. Later, Grant openly broke with Johnson over Reconstruction policies; Grant used the Reconstruction Acts, which had been passed over Johnson's veto, to enforce civil rights for recently freed African Americans. A war hero, drawn in by his sense of duty, Grant was unanimously nominated by the Republican Party and was elected president in 1868. As president, Grant stabilized the post-war national economy, supported Congressional Reconstruction, ratification of the 15th Amendment, and crushed the Ku Klux Klan. Under Grant, the Union was completely restored. He appointed African Americans and Jewish Americans to prominent federal offices. In 1871, Grant created the first Civil Service Commission, advancing the civil service more than any prior president. The Liberal Republicans and Democrats united behind Grant's opponent in the presidential election of 1872, but Grant was handily reelected. Grant's Native American policy was to assimilate Indians into White culture; the Great Sioux War was fought during his term. Grant's foreign policy was mostly peaceful, without war, the Alabama Claims against Great Britain skillfully resolved. However, his prized Caribbean Dominican Republic annexation was rejected by the Senate. The Grant administration was often remembered primarily for a number of scandals, including the Gold Ring and the Whiskey Ring, but modern scholarship has better appreciated Grant's appointed reformers and prosecutions. Grant appointed John Brooks Henderson and David Dyer, who prosecuted the Whiskey Ring; Benjamin Bristow and Edwards Pierrepont, who served as Grant's anti-corruption team; and Zachariah Chandler, who cleaned up corruption in the Interior. Grant's administration prosecuted Mormon polygamists (1871), vice crimes such as pornography, and abortion (1873–1877). The Panic of 1873 plunged the nation into a severe economic depression that allowed the Democrats to win the House majority. In the intensely disputed presidential election of 1876, Grant facilitated the approval by Congress of a peaceful compromise. With the tour he took in his retirement, Grant became the first president to circumnavigate the world, dining with Queen Victoria and meeting many other prominent foreign leaders. In 1880, Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining the Republican presidential nomination for a third term. In the final year of his life, facing severe financial reversals and dying of throat cancer, he wrote his memoirs, which proved to be a major critical and financial success. They were published in two volumes in 1885 and 1886 by Mark Twain, shortly after Grant's death. Grant biographer Ronald C. White Jr. called the book "one of the finest memoirs in American letters". At the time of his death, he was memorialized as a symbol of national unity. Grant was a modern general and "a skillful leader who had a natural grasp of tactics and strategy". Historical assessments once ranked Grant as one of the worst presidents in American history. However, revisionist challenges to this narrative have received significant support in recent times. Although critical of the scandals, modern historians have emphasized his presidential administration's accomplishments, including the prosecution of the Klan, support for African American civil rights, an innovative Native American policy, the appointment of Hamilton Fish as Secretary of State, and the peaceful settlements of the Alabama Claims and the controversial 1876 presidential election.
With an HPI of 83.98, Franklin D. Roosevelt is the 5th most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 164 different languages.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (; ROH-zə-velt, -vəlt; January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician and attorney who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. As the leader of the Democratic Party, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. He built the New Deal Coalition, which defined modern liberalism in the United States throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II, which ended in victory shortly after he died in office. Born into the prominent Roosevelt family in Hyde Park, New York, he graduated from both Groton School and Harvard College, and attended Columbia Law School, which he left after passing the bar exam to practice law in New York City. In 1905, he married his fifth cousin once removed, Eleanor Roosevelt. They had six children, of whom five survived into adulthood. He won election to the New York State Senate in 1910, and then served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Roosevelt was James M. Cox's running mate on the Democratic Party's 1920 national ticket, but Cox was defeated by Republican Warren G. Harding. In 1921, Roosevelt contracted a paralytic illness diagnosed as polio and his legs became permanently paralyzed. While attempting to recover from his condition, Roosevelt founded a polio rehabilitation center in Warm Springs, Georgia. Although unable to walk unaided, Roosevelt returned to public office after his election as governor of New York in 1928. He served as governor from 1929 to 1933, promoting programs to combat the economic crisis besetting the United States. In the 1932 presidential election, Roosevelt defeated Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover and began his presidency in the midst of the Great Depression. During the first 100 days of the 73rd U.S. Congress, he spearheaded unprecedented federal legislative productivity. Roosevelt called for the creation of programs designed to produce relief, recovery, and reform. Within his first year, he began implementing these policies through a series of executive orders and federal legislation collectively called the New Deal. Many New Deal programs provided relief to the unemployed such as the National Recovery Administration. Several New Deal programs and federal laws such as the Agricultural Adjustment Act provided relief to farmers. Roosevelt also instituted major regulatory reforms related to finance, communications, and labor. In addition to the economy, Roosevelt sought to find a compromise on Prohibition with the urban and rural wings of the Democratic Party. After campaigning on a platform to repeal it, Roosevelt implemented the Beer Permit Act of 1933 and enforced the 21st amendment. Tax revenue collected from alcohol sales would go to public works as part of the New Deal. Roosevelt frequently used radio to speak directly to the American people, giving 30 "fireside chat" radio addresses during his presidency and became the first American president to be televised. The economy improved rapidly during Roosevelt's first term and he won re-election in 1936, in one of the most lopsided victories in American history. Despite the popularity of the New Deal among supporters of Roosevelt, from 1936 onwards, New Deal legislation was frequently struck down by the US Supreme Court, which maintained a conservative bent. The dispute between Roosevelt and the Court resulted in Roosevelt lobbying for the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 (or "court packing plan"), which would have expanded the size of the Supreme Court. The bill was blocked by the newly formed bipartisan Conservative Coalition, which also sought to prevent further New Deal legislation. During the recession of 1937–1938, Roosevelt launched a rhetorical campaign against big business and monopoly power in the United States. Other major 1930s legislation and agencies implemented under Roosevelt include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Roosevelt was re-elected in 1940 for his third term, making him the only U.S. president to serve for more than two terms. By 1939 another World War was on the horizon which prompted the United States to respond by passing a series of laws affirming neutrality and rejecting intervention. Despite this, President Roosevelt gave strong diplomatic and financial support to China, the United Kingdom, and eventually the Soviet Union. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, an event he called "a date which will live in infamy", Roosevelt obtained a congressional declaration of war against Japan. On December 11 Japan's allies, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States. In response, the US formally joined the Allies and entered the European theater of war. Assisted by his top aide Harry Hopkins and with very strong national support, he worked closely with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Soviet General Secretary Joseph Stalin, and Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in leading the Allied Powers against the Axis Powers. Roosevelt supervised the mobilization of the U.S. economy to support the war effort and implemented a Europe first strategy, initiating the Lend-Lease program and making the defeat of Germany first a priority over that of Japan. Domestically, his administration co-ordinated massive wartime efforts such as the construction of the Pentagon and the Manhattan Project, which saw the creation of the atomic bomb. His foreign policy mirrored Wilsonian ideals which prompted Roosevelt to make his highest postwar priority being the establishment of the United Nations. Roosevelt expected the United Nations to replace the now defunct League of Nations and to be led by Washington, Moscow, London, and Nanjing. These states collectively called the Big Four would work to resolve all major world problems. It was under his wartime leadership that the United States became a superpower on the world stage.Roosevelt won re-election in the 1944 presidential election on his post-war recovery platform. His physical health began declining during the later war years, and less than three months into his fourth term, Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. Vice President Harry S. Truman assumed office as president and oversaw the acceptance of surrender by the Axis powers. Since his death, several of Roosevelt's actions have come under substantial criticism, such as the relocation and internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps. Nevertheless, he is consistently ranked by scholars, political scientists and historians as one of the greatest presidents in American history.
With an HPI of 83.59, Martin Van Buren is the 6th most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 128 different languages.
Martin Van Buren ( van BYURE-ən; Dutch: Maarten van Buren; Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmaːrtə(n) vɑn ˈbyːrə(n)] ; December 5, 1782 – July 24, 1862) was an American lawyer and statesman who served as the eighth president of the United States from 1837 to 1841. A primary founder of the Democratic Party, he served as New York's attorney general, U.S. senator, then briefly as the ninth governor of New York before joining Andrew Jackson's administration as the tenth United States secretary of state, minister to the United Kingdom, and ultimately the eighth vice president of the United States when named Jackson's running mate for the 1832 election. Van Buren won the presidency in 1836, lost re-election in 1840, and failed to win the Democratic nomination in 1844. Later in his life, Van Buren emerged as an elder statesman and an important anti-slavery leader who led the Free Soil Party ticket in the 1848 presidential election. Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York, where most residents were of Dutch descent and spoke Dutch as their primary language. He was the first president to have been born after the American Revolution — in which his father served as a patriot — and is the only president to have spoken English as a second language. Trained as a lawyer, he entered politics as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, won a seat in the New York State Senate, and was elected to the United States Senate in 1821. As the leader of the Bucktails faction, Van Buren emerged as the most influential politician from New York in the 1820s and established a political machine known as the Albany Regency. Following the 1824 presidential election, Van Buren sought to re-establish a two-party system with partisan differences based on ideology rather than personalities or sectional differences; he supported Andrew Jackson's candidacy in the 1828 presidential election with this goal in mind. He ran successfully for governor of New York to support Jackson's campaign but resigned shortly after Jackson was inaugurated so he could accept appointment as Jackson's secretary of state. In the cabinet, Van Buren was a key Jackson advisor and built the organizational structure for the coalescing Democratic Party. He ultimately resigned to help resolve the Petticoat affair and briefly served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. At Jackson's behest, the 1832 Democratic National Convention nominated Van Buren for vice president, and he took office after the Democratic ticket won the 1832 presidential election. With Jackson's strong support and the organizational strength of the Democratic Party, Van Buren successfully ran for president in the 1836 presidential election, defeating several Whig opponents. However, his popularity soon eroded because of his response to the Panic of 1837, which centered on his Independent Treasury system, a plan under which the federal government of the United States would store its funds in vaults rather than in banks; more conservative Democrats and Whigs in Congress ultimately delayed his plan from being implemented until 1840. His presidency was further marred by the costly Second Seminole War (a result of continuing Jackson's Indian removal policy); and his refusal to admit Texas to the Union as a slave state as an attempt to avoid heightened sectional tensions. In 1840, Van Buren lost his re-election bid to William Henry Harrison, the nominee of the anti-Jacksonian Whig Party. Van Buren was initially the leading candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination again in 1844, but his continued opposition to the annexation of Texas angered Southern Democrats, leading to the nomination of James K. Polk. Van Buren was the newly formed Free Soil Party's presidential nominee in 1848, and his candidacy helped Whig nominee Zachary Taylor defeat Democrat Lewis Cass. Van Buren returned to the Democratic Party after 1848, but grew increasingly opposed to slavery, and became one of the party's outspoken abolitionists. He supported the policies of President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, during the American Civil War. He died of asthma at his home in Kinderhook, New York, on Thursday, July 24, 1862, aged 79. In historical rankings, historians and political scientists often rank Van Buren as an average or below-average U.S. president, due to his handling of the Panic of 1837.
With an HPI of 83.56, Benjamin Franklin is the 7th most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 125 different languages.
Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was an American polymath who was active as a writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, printer, publisher, and political philosopher. Among the leading intellectuals of his time, Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, a drafter and signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, and the first United States Postmaster General. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his studies of electricity, and for charting and naming the current still known as the Gulf Stream. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among others. He founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department, and the University of Pennsylvania. Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, and as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first United States ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, "In Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." Franklin has been called "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at age 23. He became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard's Almanack, which he wrote under the pseudonym "Richard Saunders". After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of the policies of the British Parliament and the Crown.He pioneered and was the first president of the Academy and College of Philadelphia, which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania. He organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769. Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco–American relations. His efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing French aid. He was promoted to deputy postmaster-general for the British colonies on August 10, 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, and this enabled him to set up the first national communications network. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the late 1750s, he began arguing against slavery, became an abolitionist, and promoted education and the integration of African Americans into U.S. society. His life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored more than two centuries after his death on the $100 bill, warships, and the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, and corporations, as well as numerous cultural references and with a portrait in the Oval Office. Over his lifetime, Franklin wrote or received more than 30,000 letters and other documents, known as The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, published by the American Philosophical Society and Yale University.
With an HPI of 83.22, John F. Kennedy is the 8th most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 160 different languages.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK and the nickname Jack, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until his assassination near the end of his third year in office. Kennedy was the youngest person to assume the presidency by election. He was also the youngest president at the end of his tenure. Kennedy served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his work as president concerned relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba. A Democrat, he represented Massachusetts in both houses of the U.S. Congress prior to his presidency. Born into the prominent Kennedy family in Brookline, Massachusetts, Kennedy graduated from Harvard University in 1940 before joining the U.S. Naval Reserve the following year. During World War II, he commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater. Kennedy's survival of the sinking of PT-109 and rescue of his fellow sailors made him a war hero for which he earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, but left him with serious injuries. After a brief stint in journalism, Kennedy represented a working-class Boston district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953. He was subsequently elected to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior senator for Massachusetts from 1953 to 1960. While in the Senate, Kennedy published his book, Profiles in Courage, which won a Pulitzer Prize. In the 1960 presidential election, he narrowly defeated Republican opponent Richard Nixon, who was the incumbent vice president. Kennedy's humor, charm, and youth in addition to his father's money and contacts were great assets in his campaign. Kennedy's campaign gained momentum after the first televised presidential debates in American history. He was the first Catholic elected president. Kennedy's administration included high tensions with communist states in the Cold War. As a result, he increased the number of American military advisers in South Vietnam. The Strategic Hamlet Program began in Vietnam during his presidency. In April 1961, he authorized an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. In November 1961, he authorized the Operation Mongoose, also aimed at removing the communists from power in Cuba. He rejected Operation Northwoods in March 1962, but his administration continued to plan for an invasion of Cuba in the summer of 1962. The following October, U.S. spy planes discovered Soviet missile bases had been deployed in Cuba; the resulting period of tensions, termed the Cuban Missile Crisis, nearly resulted in the breakout of a global thermonuclear conflict. He also signed the first nuclear weapons treaty in October 1963. Kennedy presided over the establishment of the Peace Corps, Alliance for Progress with Latin America, and the continuation of the Apollo program with the goal of landing a man on the Moon before 1970. He also supported the civil rights movement but was only somewhat successful in passing his New Frontier domestic policies. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. His vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, assumed the presidency upon Kennedy's death. Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested for the assassination, but he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby two days later. The FBI and the Warren Commission both concluded Oswald had acted alone. After Kennedy's death, Congress enacted many of his proposals, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Revenue Act of 1964. Despite his truncated presidency, Kennedy ranks highly in polls of U.S. presidents with historians and the general public. His personal life has also been the focus of considerable sustained interest following public revelations in the 1970s of his chronic health ailments and extramarital affairs. Kennedy is the most recent U.S. president to have died in office.
With an HPI of 83.04, James K. Polk is the 9th most famous American Politician. His biography has been translated into 124 different languages.
James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849) was the 11th president of the United States, serving from 1845 to 1849. He previously was the 13th speaker of the House of Representatives (1835–1839) and ninth governor of Tennessee (1839–1841). A protégé of Andrew Jackson, he was a member of the Democratic Party and an advocate of Jacksonian democracy. Polk is chiefly known for extending the territory of the United States through the Mexican–American War; during his presidency, the United States expanded significantly with the annexation of the Republic of Texas, the Oregon Territory, and the Mexican Cession following American victory in the Mexican–American War. After building a successful law practice in Tennessee, Polk was elected to its state legislature in 1823 and then to the United States House of Representatives in 1825, becoming a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson. After serving as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he became Speaker of the House in 1835, the only person to have served both as Speaker and U.S. president. Polk left Congress to run for governor of Tennessee, winning in 1839 but losing in 1841 and 1843. He was a dark horse candidate in the 1844 presidential election as the Democratic Party nominee; he entered his party's convention as a potential nominee for vice president but emerged as a compromise to head the ticket when no presidential candidate could secure the necessary two-thirds majority. In the general election, Polk defeated Henry Clay of the rival Whig Party. After a negotiation fraught with the risk of war, he reached a settlement with Great Britain over the disputed Oregon Country, the territory, for the most part, being divided along the 49th parallel. Polk achieved victory in the Mexican–American War, which resulted in Mexico's cession of the entire American Southwest. He secured a substantial reduction of tariff rates with the Walker tariff of 1846. The same year, he achieved his other major goal, re-establishment of the Independent Treasury system. True to his campaign pledge to serve only one term, Polk left office in 1849 and returned to Tennessee, where he died three months after leaving the White House. Though he is relatively obscure today, scholars have ranked Polk favorably for his ability to promote and achieve the major items on his presidential agenda in his single term. He has also been criticized for leading the country into a war with Mexico that exacerbated sectional divides. A property owner who used slave labor, he kept a plantation in Mississippi and increased his slave ownership during his presidency. Polk's policy of territorial expansion saw the nation reach the Pacific coast and reach almost all its contiguous borders. He made the United States a nation poised to become a world power, but with divisions between free and slave states gravely exacerbated, setting the stage for the Civil War.
With an HPI of 82.95, Hillary Clinton is the 10th most famous American Politician. Her biography has been translated into 134 different languages.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (née Rodham; born October 26, 1947) is an American politician, diplomat, and former lawyer who served as the 67th United States Secretary of State for President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013, as a United States senator representing New York from 2001 to 2009, and as First Lady of the United States as the wife of President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the party's nominee for president in the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first woman to win a presidential nomination by a major U.S. political party; Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College vote, thereby losing the election to Donald Trump. Raised in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Rodham graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 and earned a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School in 1973. After serving as a congressional legal counsel, she moved to Arkansas and married future president Bill Clinton in 1975; the two had met at Yale. In 1977, Clinton co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. She was appointed the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978 and became the first female partner at Little Rock's Rose Law Firm the following year. The National Law Journal twice listed her as one of the hundred most influential lawyers in America. Clinton was the first lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 1992. As the first lady of the United States, Clinton advocated for healthcare reform. In 1994, her major initiative—the Clinton health care plan—failed to gain approval from Congress. In 1997 and 1999, Clinton played a leading role in advocating the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act. Clinton advocated for gender equality at the 1995 UN conference on women. Her marital relationship came under public scrutiny during the Lewinsky scandal, which led her to issue a statement that reaffirmed her commitment to the marriage. In 2000, Clinton was elected as the first female senator from New York and became the first First lady to simultaneously hold elected office, and then the first former First lady to serve in the Senate. She was re-elected in 2006 and chaired the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee from 2003 to 2007. During her Senate tenure, Clinton advocated for medical benefits for first responders whose health was impacted in the September 11 attacks. She supported the resolution authorizing the Iraq War in 2002, but opposed the surge of U.S. troops in 2007. In 2008, Clinton ran for president but was defeated by eventual winner Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. Clinton was U.S. Secretary of State in the first term of the Obama administration from 2009 to 2013. During her tenure, Clinton established the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. She responded to the Arab Spring by advocating military intervention in Libya but was harshly criticized by Republicans for the failure to prevent or adequately respond to the 2012 Benghazi attack. Clinton helped to organize a diplomatic isolation and a regime of international sanctions against Iran in an effort to force it to curtail its nuclear program; this effort eventually led to the multinational JCPOA nuclear agreement in 2015. Her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State was the subject of intense scrutiny; while no charges were filed against Clinton, the email controversy was the single most covered topic during the 2016 presidential election. Clinton made a second presidential run in 2016, winning the Democratic nomination, and ran in the general election with Virginia senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. Clinton lost the presidential election to Republican opponent Donald Trump in the Electoral College, despite winning the popular vote. Following her loss, she wrote her third memoir, What Happened, and launched Onward Together, a political action organization dedicated to fundraising for progressive political groups.
Pantheon has 1,478 people classified as politicians born between 1639 and 2021. Of these 1,478, 759 (51.35%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump. The most famous deceased politicians include Thomas Jefferson, Jimmy Carter, and Abraham Lincoln. As of April 2022, 272 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Chief Seattle, Antony Blinken, and Lloyd Austin.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.