Political leaders are those who lead a tribe, state, region, or nation. Throughout history, there have been many political leaders who could be considered as the most famous person in the world. The following leaders are all responsible for creating today’s world, whether they were elected into office, given the privilege through birth right, or a declaration from themselves or their followers.

Most Famous Person in the World—Political Leaders


George Washington

Living years: 1732-1799

Nationality: American

Before becoming the first president of the United States, Washington grew up on Ferry Farm and owned over 300 slaves. Washington completed his schooling through private schools and tutors before he became the commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He quickly became a national hero through his ability to keep moral. In 1789, he became the first president of the U.S., during which time he named the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, established the first national bank, and set up the first presidential cabinet. Washington played a key role in developing the government style used in the U.S. today.


Abraham Lincoln

Living years: 1809-1865

Nationality: American

Lincoln was a determined, ambitious man who excelled both in manual labor and his studies. Before becoming president, he was a lawyer in circuit courts. In 1854, he was elected into the House of Representatives and pushed to get nominated for the Senate; even though he failed at the latter, he did not let it discourage him. Because of his great speaking skills, he was elected president in 1861. Shortly after his election, the American Revolution began when the South attempted to succeed from the North because of Lincoln’s stand against slavery. In 1863, his Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery, and in 1865 he was assassinated.


Mahatma Gandhi

Living years: 1869-1948

Nationality: Indian

Mohandas Gandhi studied law in England where he invested time to learn the philosophy of nonviolence based upon Hindu sacred scripture and Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. He moved to South Africa to assist on a lawsuit where he became involved in ending discrimination against the Indian minority. Over the years, he became more devout to his practice of non-violent practices and helping others understand peace. He continued to spread his knowledge of non-violence as he helped India to struggle free from Great Britain. Indian gained Partition and shortly after Gandhi was assassinated.


Winston Churchill

Living years: 1874-1965

Nationality: British

Churchill spent many years as active military for the British Army and earning an income as a war correspondent. After his time as MP, he switched from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Party and became known as a “class traitor.” Churchill’s political presence grew until he became Prime Minister and stubbornly stood against Hitler during WWII. He also helped shape the war settlement between Stalin and Roosevelt. After the war, he went back to the Conservative Party where he was able to gain the votes once again to become Prime Minister for yet another term. 


Mao Zedong

Living years: 1893-1976

Nationality: Chinese

Zedong grew up as a peasant with classic Chinese training and later had a modern education. He grew up observing oppression, which led him to be one of the original members of the Chinese Communist Party. He helped organize peasant movements against the government and establish rural soviets, along with helping build the Red Army. Later on October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the foundation of the People's Republica of China (PRC) which is a single-party nation controlled by the Communist Party of China (CPC)


Joseph Stalin

Living years: 1878-1953

Nationality: Russian/Soviet

Before playing a memorable role in our history, he had a varied background in crime and politics. Stalin was first appointed by Lenin to serve on the first Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party before they founded the Soviet Union. Stalin became the dictator of the Soviet Union after Lenin’s death. Stalin then played a major role in converting the Soviet Union from a peasant society into an industrial superpower. He also stood up to Hitler and defeated Hitler’s Germany in WWII. He did not stop there and began the Nuclear age and gave North Korea permission to invade South Korea, which launched the Korean War.


Franklin D. Roosevelt

Living years: 1882-1945

Nationality: American

FDR was the thirty-second president of the United States. He was president through the Great Depression and WWII. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was very influential in politics around the world. He introduced the legislation that protects worker’s rights and helped create the “New Deal,” which created more employment opportunities and helped kick-start the economy. Along with national improvement, Roosevelt played a role in WWII when he declared war on Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He also launched war against Germany. FDR is known for his ability to build confidence in the American people throughout the Great Depression and WWII.


John F Kennedy

Living years: 1917-1963

Nationality: American

John F. Kennedy grew up in a privileged home with private schooling, servants, and sailboats. John was known as “Jack” during his childhood and suffered many illnesses. However, he was still able to write a best-selling book while at Harvard where he volunteered for hazardous combat during WWII. As a hero of war, Kennedy became a journalist for a short time before entering into the U.S. House of Representatives and then into the U.S. Senate. In 1960 he became the second youngest president full of youthful idealism. Near the end of his third year, he was assassinated and his death shocked the world.


Nelson Mandela

Living years: 1918-2013

Nationality: South African

Mandela strongly opposed the apartheid regime in South Africa. He spent over 20 years in prison as a South African political activist. In 1990, after the world came together and persuaded the apartheid regime, Mandela was released from prison. He played a key role in ending racial segregation in South Africa and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. In 1994 he became the first leader of the democratic South Africa. He is remembered for his ability to bring a nation together.


Margaret Thatcher

Living years: 1925-2013

Nationality: British

Even after being dubbed, “The milk snatcher” during her reign as education minister, she was still elected Prime Minister in 1979. Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, served three terms. In 1976, she gave a speech that gave her the name “Iron Lady,” which she proudly owned. She was most known for her economic and social philosophy (Thatcherism). Thatcherism is very similar to Reaganomics and a part of the neoliberal movement of the 1980’s. She continued to make great economic strides for Britain and was pushed out of office in 1990 due to her declining popularity.


Martin Luther King Jr.

Living years: 1929-1968

Nationality: African American

King began his early adult life as a minister in the Baptist Church. Martin Luther King Jr. later became the predominant leader during the Civil Rights movement. He helped end segregation and racial discrimination with his nonviolent methods. He is one of the most famous people in the world known for his leadership in the 382 day boycott of Montgomery’s bus system. In 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. His determination and his ability to speak against segregation made him a prime target for conservative segregationists; not only was he arrested more than 20 times, his home was bombed.


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