A list of over 20 famous and influential figures in the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) Includes politicians, generals, soldiers, spies and social activists.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 16th President of the US from 1861-1865. Lincoln’s election caused the south to secede from the US. Lincoln led Union forces to resist the split and preserve the Union. After a long war, Union troops prevailed. The Civil War enabled Abraham Lincoln to promise the end of slavery, and in 1865 a bill to outlaw slavery was passed. Lincoln was assassinated shortly after the end of the war.
Jefferson Davis (1808 – 1889) Davis was a senator from Mississippi. During the Civil War, he was the President of the Southern Confederate States who wished to retain slavery and break away from the Union. Davis was considered an ineffective leader, often getting lost in detail and lacking popular appeal. Despite some military successes, the Confederate States slowly lost ground economically, politically and on the battlefield. After the war, he was arrested for treason though he was never tried.
Andrew J. Johnson (1808 – 1875) A Senator from Tennessee, Johnson rejected the southern secession and remained with the Union cause. He was a Union military governor of Tennessee, and in 1864, Lincoln chose him as Vice-President. Johnson as a Southern Unionist was an ideal candidate for Lincoln who wanted to unite the country. After Lincoln’s assassination, Johnson became President (1865 – 1869) He opposed the implementation of federal voting rights to Black Americans and enabled southern states to rejoin the Union while denying voting rights to former black slaves.
Salmon P. Chase (1808 – 1873) Chase was a leading opponent of slavery and supported voting rights for black Americans. He also helped to found the modern Republican party as a new party opposed to slavery. After losing the 1860 nomination, he served as US Secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War. In his tenure, Chase set up a national banking system to help fund the war effort. After the Civil War, Chase served as Chief Justice of the US.
The Progressive Era was a period in American history from 1890 to the 1920s. The Progressive Era saw a mixture of political and social change, which sought to reduce inequality, corruption and introduce reforms to make society fairer.
Key Elements of the Progressive Era
Anti-corruption. In the Nineteenth Century corruption was a major problem in American politics with local bosses controlling key positions of patronage and power. Progressives, such as Theodore Roosevelt, sought to take on corrupt political and voting practices.
Labour market reforms. Progressives sought to reform working conditions. This included health and safety, the right to unionise and higher pay.
Anti-trust. The Gilded Age, saw the development of monopolies which were highly profitable. In the Progressive Era, the government tackled many monopolies through anti-trust legislation.
Women’s suffrage. The Progressive Era saw the culmination of efforts to give all women the vote (Nineteenth Amendment)
Modernisation. Progressives generally sought the implementation of new scientific and business methods to overturn outdated customs and improve efficiency. This included Taylorism and the assembly line.
Limited civil rights. Some progressives sought to improve conditions of black Americans, but the Progressive Age failed to end decades of segregation. In fact, the 1890s to 1920s saw the implementation of many ‘Jim Crow laws’ cementing segregation between races.
Prohibition. Many progressives supported the banning of alcohol ‘prohibition’. One of the motivations was that they hoped it would reduce the economic power of salon owners who often exercised great influence.
Maria Theresa (1740–1780) The only female ruler of the Habsburg Empire. Maria Theresa succeeded to the throne after the death of her father Charles VI. With great strength of will, Maria held together the disparate empire and instituted military, financial and education reforms which strengthened the international position of the Habsburg Empire.
Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793) Born in Vienna Austria, she had an arranged marriage to the King of France (King Louis XVI) to help secure peace between the two countries. The marriage was not a great success, with Marie Antoinette often held up as a symbol of Royal decadence and profligacy, which was a factor in the French revolution. The negative portrayal was heightened by her Austrian origins. Whether fair or not, she was executed in 1793 for treason and holding principles in opposition to the French revolution.
Mozart (1756 – 1791) (Austria) Born in Salzburg, and spending much of his life in Vienna, Mozart was one of the greatest classical composers of all time. A child prodigy, Mozart began composing at the age of six, and by the time he died, aged just 35, he had completed a remarkable array of symphonies, opera, chamber music and more.
Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) Born in Vienna, Schubert was one of the great composers of the late classical and romantic period. He composed symphonies, sacred choral work, operas and a large body of piano music.
Johann Strauss, Sr., composer (1804 – 1849) Austrian composer. He was famous for his waltzes and marches. His most famous work was the Radetsky March. The work became an unofficial anthem of Austria and was used to celebrate Austrian military victories.
Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886) Hungarian born composer and virtuoso pianist. Liszt was a prominent member of the “New German School” of musicians. Significant compositions include: Piano Sonata in B minor (1853), “Liebesträume No. 3”. He also transcribed for the piano great works by other composers, such as Schubert. Also developed new musical ideas, such as the symphonic poem.Read On…
It means that a person feels the importance of sticking to certain values, beliefs and actions – regardless of outer consequences.
For example, if we believe it is wrong to discriminate on the grounds of religious faith, a man of principle will be willing to oppose this discrimination even if it costs his job.
Men and women of Principle
Socrates (469 BC–399 BC) – Greek philosopher. During a time of war, Socrates was critical of his own Athenian government. Socrates said in matters of war and peace principles of justice should trump the view of the majority. For his criticisms and unorthodox views, Socrates was condemned to death – something he willingly undertook.
William Tyndale (1494 – 1536) – Tyndale believed that everyone should be able to read the Bible in their native tongue. At the time, that was strictly prohibited, but clandestinely, Tyndale translated and printed the Bible in English. Tyndale was burnt at the stake for his ‘heresy’, but soon after English Bibles became widely distributed.
Thomas Paine(1737-1809) English-American writer and political activist. He was a free thinker – criticising many political and religious orthodoxies of the day. He narrowly avoided execution in Paris, after falling foul of Robespierre. He fled to America, though even in America he became shunned by society for advocating non-Christian ideas. Read On…
Carl Lewis (1961 – ) USA, Athletics. Nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Carl Lewis won gold over three Olympics and was the great star of 1980s track and field. Lewis won gold in the 100m, 100m relay and long jump.
Jesse Owens (1913-1980) USA, Athletics. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was the star of the Berlin Olympics, much to the chagrin of Hitler. Despite suffering racial discrimination in his own country, he remained a great ambassador for the sport.
Usain Bolt (1986 –) Jamaica, Athletics. Usain Bolt won triple Olympic gold at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Bolt won gold in the events 100m, 200m and 100m relay gold. He set an amazing world record time of 9.58 for the 100m, and 19.19 for the 200m. By 2016, he had also won 11 world championship golds.
Al Oerter (1936 – 2007) USA, Athletics. Four time Olympic champion in the discus throw. Winning Olympic gold from 1956 to 1968. Oerter was the first to break 200 feet for the discus.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962-) USA, Athletics. One of the most successful female track and field athletes. Kersee won Olympic medals in four Olympics between 1984 and 1996. Her best year was 1988, where she won Olympic gold in Heptathlon and Long Jump. In 1992, she returned to win gold in the heptathlon. In 1996, she managed bronze in the long jump.
Edwin Moses (1955 – ) USA, Athletics. Moses was a champion 400m hurdler. He won Olympic gold in 1976 and 1984. He set the world record four times in his chosen event. Moses was also instrumental in changing rules on allowing Olympic athletes funding and also promoting drug testing.
Sergei Bubka (1963 –) Soviet Union/Ukraine, Athletics. Bubka broke the world record for the pole vault on 35 occasions. His outdoor record was increased from 5.85m in 1984 to 6.14m in 1994. Olympic gold medallist 1988.
Jim Thorpe (1888 – 1953) USA, Athletics, American Football, Baseball and Basketball. One of the greatest all-round sportsmen, Thorpe won Olympic gold in the decathlon and pentathlon (1912). He also had a successful career in the NFL.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956) USA, Athletics, Golf. Ground-breaking female athlete who achieved success in basketball, track and field, and golf. At the 1932 Olympics, she won gold in the 80m hurdles, javelin and achieved silver in the high jump.
Bob Beamon (1946 –) USA, Athletics. Olympic gold in Long jump set in 1968, Mexico. Famous for his record breaking jump of 1968 – 8.90m – which broke the existing record by 55cm and stood for 22 years.
Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce (1986 – ) Jamaica, Athletics. Won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 in 100m. Also 7 times world champion with golds in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
Jessica Ennis (1986 – ) Great Britain, Heptathlon. Olympic gold in heptathlon 2012. Ennis missed the 2008 Olympics due to injury. For the 2012 Olympics, she was featured as the ‘face’ of the games. Despite the pressure of the home games, she was a convincing Olympic champion in the Heptathlon event.
Fanny Blankers-Koen (1918-2004) Netherlands, Athletics. In the 1948 London Olympics she won four gold medals at 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay. Her performances earned her the nickname ‘The flying housewife’ and helped to change perceptions of female athletics. She won five European Championship gold medals.
Hicham El Guerrouj (1972 – ) Morocco, Athletics. Double Olympic gold medallist in 2004 in 1500m and 5000m. Set World Record for mile at 3.43.13 and 1500m of 3.26.00.
David Rudisha (1988 -) Kenya, middle distance running. Rudisha provided one of the greatest performances in the 2012 London Olympics, winning the 800m in a new world record – 1.40.91. He is also double world champion at the 800m, his favourite event.
Kenenisa Bekele (1982 – ) Ethiopia, Athletics. Triple Olympic gold medallist at 5000m and 1000m. Set new World Record for 5000 metres: 12:37.35. 10,000 metres: 26:17.53.
Paavo Nurmi (1897 – 1973) Finland, Athletics. Dominated middle distance running in 1920s, winning nine Olympic gold medals and setting 22 new world records from 1500m to 20km.
Haile Gebreselassie (1973 – ) Ethiopia, Athletics. Two-time winner of the Olympic gold in 10000m. Held world record for marathon for 3 years with 2.03.59.
Cathy Freeman (1973 – ) Australia, Athletics. Freeman was the first Aboriginal athlete to win Commonwealth Games. She won Olympic gold in 2000, when Sydney hosted the games.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. Famous Olympic Track and Field, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 28th July, 2016.
Female athletes – Over 50 famous female athletes who have made contributions to tennis, football, cycling, athletics, gymnastics, golf and swimming.
Muhammad Ali was a truly great individual. All around the world people have identified with the positive energy, courage, dynamism and principles of Ali.
Ali was an Olympic and world champion boxer, but he would also display courage in many fields of life, not just the boxing ring. During the Vietnam war he was a conscientious objector, seeing the war as unjust. He endured much hate and scorn for his refusal to fight in that war, but Ali was a fighter for social justice and fairness at home. His position on the war was very unpopular at the time, but in retrospect many see it as a principled stand.
Ali was no angel and his response to the racial injustices of society was often strong, especially in his early years. But over the years his stance became more nuanced and understanding. He started out as an activist for Muslims and African Americans, but by the end of his life, it would be fair to say that Ali stood for the rights of all humanity. As Ali himself said:
“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
Before boxing matches, Ali could express an unmatched self-confidence, a self-confidence that was well founded. But that is only one side of Ali; there is also the spiritual side, the humble side.
“Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths”
― Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times
“Truly great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do good for others and be close to God.”
― Muhammad Ali, The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections of Life’s Journey
When struggling with Parkinson’s disease, Ali retained his wit and humility, seeing it as an opportunity to make a different kind of progress:
“Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important. It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk. Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.”
“I always liked to chase the girls. Parkinson’s stops all that. Now I might have a chance to go to heaven.”
Asked how he would like to be remembered, Ali said:
“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times. Who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him. And who helped as many people as he could. As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that’s too much then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”
Population of Scotland: 5,313,600 (9% of UK population 64m)
Area: 33% of UK landmass including 790 islands. (660 uninhabited)
Patron Saint: Saint Andrew
Scotland’s major cities
Glasgow – 592,820
Edinburgh – 486,120
Aberdeen – 217,120
Dundee – 144,290
Inverness – 56,660
Stirling – 89,850
Mountains: Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the UK at 1,346m.
There are 600 square miles of freshwater lakes, including Loch Ness
Loch Ness Monster is a famous and enduring myth of an ancient sea creature still inhabiting the deep loch of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It became world famous in 1934 after a hoax photograph was widely circulated.
The first recording of the Loch Ness monster was 565 AD where a follower of St. Columba related being attacked by a ‘water beast’ Scottish dogs.
There are over 2,000 castles recorded being built in Scotland, most of which are still standing. Famous castles include Stirling Castle (above) Balmoral and Edinburgh Castle. Usually these were built as defensive mechanisms. Read On…
A list of famous and influential composers throughout history, including the greatest composers Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Franz Schubert.
Composers of the Medieval period
Hildegard von Bingen (1097 – 1179) German writer, mystic, composer and polymath. Hildegard wrote many liturgal songs, which pushed the boundaries of traditional Gergorian Chant. Her greatest work was Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues) – a morality play.
Composers of the Renaissance period
John Dunstable (1390 – 1453) English composer of polyphonic music. Dunstable had a big influence on the development of music through his creation of chords with triads, which became known as the Burgundian School: la contenance angloise or “the English countenance” e.g Quam pulchra es.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 1594) Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music. Palestrina was a prolific composer of masses, mottets, madrigals and offertories. An influential work was Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass)
William Byrd (1543 – 1623) English composer of the Renaissance. He wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony. He helped the development of Anglican church music, and also secular vocal music with his use of Tudor consort and keyboard fantasia.
Composers of the Baroque Period
Henry Purcell (1659-1695) English composer of the baroque period. Purcell wrote some early baroque classics such as Te Deum and Jubilate Deo. He also wrote for theatre and England’s first opera.
Bach (1685 – 1750) German composer of the Baroque period. One of the most prolific composers of all time. Bach brought Baroque music to its pinnacle of musical maturity. Famous works of Bach include: Brandenburg Concertos, the Mass in B minor, St Matthew’s Passion, St John’s Passion; Bach also wrote organ pieces and over 300 sacred cantatas. Read On…
A list of famous firsts throughout human history. Including famous firsts in exploration, science, transport, politics, sport, culture and the arts.
First in Exploration
1492 – Christopher Colombus becomes the first European from a major power to land in the Americas (now Bahamas). Columbus was probably preceded by others, such as the Viking Leif Erikson in the 10th Century.
The Cold War was a period of military and political tensions between the Soviet Union (and Warsaw Pact members) and the US (and NATO allies). The Cold War lasted roughly from 1947-1991.
After the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the two wartime allies – Soviet Union and the US became increasingly split on ideological and political grounds. This led to the division of Europe into Eastern (Communist) block and Western Europe (democracy)
Throughout the ‘Cold War’ the two main protagonists the Soviet Union and the US, avoided direct confrontation, but there was a confrontational build up in nuclear weapons and during the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ of 1961, the two sides came close to war. Also, throughout the period, minor conflicts, such as Korean war and Vietnam war, were played out in proxy between the major powers and their allies.
Key events in the Cold War include
Berlin Blockade (1948-49) Soviet Union trying to gain control of the whole of Berlin
Korean War (1950-53) US fighting Communist North Korea.
Berlin Crisis (1961) – Building of Berlin Wall to stop people leaving the East
Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) – Closest to nuclear war as Soviet Union moved nuclear missiles towards Cuba.
Vietnam War (1955-75) US involved in fighting Vietcong Communist forces
1970s – Strategic Arms limitations talks leading to period of détente.
1979 – Soviet invasion of Afghanistan restoring tensions.
1980 – Olympic boycott. First by US in Moscow then by Soviet Union in US 1984.
1989. Gorbachev allows Eastern European countries to break away from Warsaw Pact and overthrow Communist one-party state.
1991 – Formal dissolution of the USSR.
Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) After leading Great Britain in the Second World War, he was one of the first leaders to raise the spectre of an ‘Iron Curtain’ descending across Europe.
Dwight Eisenhower (1890 – 1969) Eisenhower was supreme military commander of Allied forces in Western Europe. When President of the US 1953-61, he articulated a domino theory – arguing Communism should be stopped before allowing it to spread. He ended the Korean War in 1953, but sent the first US troops to Vietnam and prepared to intervene in Cuba. He made some attempts to limit nuclear weapon proliferation, but this was generally unsuccessful and nuclear stockpiles increased on both sides.
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