A list of famous politicians from the US, UK, Europe, Russia and Africa. Short life summaries and links to longer biographies
William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833) Born in Hull, Wilberforce was an MP, evangelical Christian, philanthropist and a principal figure in the movement to abolish slavery. His life’s goal was achieved shortly before his death.
Duke of Wellington (1769 – 1852) Born in Ireland, to a wealthy Anglo-Irish family. Wellington defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo (1815). He twice served as Prime Minister for the UK.
Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) Born Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. Churchill was Prime Minister 1940-45, successfully leading Great Britain against Nazi Germany. Churchill held many ministerial posts in Liberal and Conservative governments.
Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013) Born in Grantham, Thatcher was British Prime Minister from 1979-1990. She oversaw a period of rapid social and economic change in Britain. She was a conviction politician unafraid to speak her mind and pursue her ideology.
Tony Blair (1953 – ) Born Edinburgh, Scotland, Blair was British Prime Minister from 1997 – 2007. Blair was elected on a platform of great optimism after 18 years of Conservative rule. His leadership became controversial after supporting the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Boris Johnson (1964 – ) Born New York, Johnson became Mayor of London and a leading figure in the Conservative Party. A leading figure behind the campaign to leave the EU.
David Cameron (1966 – ) Born in London, Cameron was the leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister from 2010-16. Cameron led the UK into a referendum on EU membership and resigned as PM after the UK voted to leave in June 2016.
George Washington (1732–1799) Founding Father of the United States. Served as Commander in Chief of American forces during the War of Independence. Also elected the first President of the United States, serving for eight years (1789-1797).
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Founding Father and principal author of The Declaration of Independence (1776). Third President of the US, Jefferson helped to expand the territory of the US through the Louisiana Declaration(1803).
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 16th President of the US from 1861-1865. He led the Union forces during the American civil war. Lincoln led the north to victory preserving the Union and passing a bill to abolish legal slavery.
Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) US president. Wilson was President during the First World War. His idealistic 14 points formed the basis for the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919) President (1901-09) Roosevelt was a leading political figure of the Progressive Era – fighting corruption and the power of monopoly trusts. As President, he challenged corruption and monopoly power and pursued a more activist US foreign policy, building up the navy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945) – US President 1932 – 1945. The longest serving US President, Roosevelt came to power during the crisis of the 1932 recession. He expanded federal government to deal with the crisis and oversaw the US entry into the Second World War.
Lyndon Johnson (1908 – 1973) – US President 1963-69. Johnson took over from the assassinated JFK. He expanded America’s role in Vietnam. Domestically he introduced civil rights legislation.
Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004) – US President (1980 – 1988) Reagan sought to roll back the frontiers of the state and pursued an aggressive anti-Communist foreign policy.
John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963) US President. Elected in 1960, Kennedy played a role in diffusing the Cuban missile crisis and the threat of nuclear war.
Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) – American civil rights campaigner. Martin Luther King led the non-violent civil rights movement. His powerful oratory helped to lay the foundations for sweeping change and an end to the segregation in the Deep South.
Donald Trump (1946 – ) US business magnate, investor, television personality and 45th president of the US. Controversial President focusing on cutting immigration, cutting taxes for the wealthy and overturning Obama era legislation.
Barack Obama (1961- ) US President 2009-2017. Obama was the first black President to be elected. He came to office during the recession of 2009 and oversaw an economic recovery.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) The foremost political leader of the Indian independence movement. For over two decades, Gandhi strove for a peaceful overthrow of British rule. Inspired millions with his philosophy, resolve and commitment to independence and also to alleviate the plight of women and the ‘untouchable’ caste.
Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) – The first Prime Minister of an Independent India 1947. Nehru became a very well respected international statesman who steered his country through the difficult period following independence.
Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984) Prime Minister of the Republic of India for three consecutive terms from 1966 to 1977 and for a fourth term from 1980 until her assassination in 1984.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1891 – 1956) – Political activist and social reformer who campaigned for greater equality for ‘untouchable castes’ and women
Napoleon (1769–1821) A French military and political leader. He safeguarded aspects of the French revolution by assuming control of France. He launched military campaigns across Europe making France the dominant power in Europe and helping to spread certain ideas of the French revolution, such as his Napoleonic code.
Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) Leader of the Free French during WWII. De Gaulle helped maintain French pride after the surrender of France and the creation of Vichy France. Helped create the Fifth Republic and was President 1959–1969.
Willy Brandt (1913-1992) German politician and statesman. Opposed to Hitler, he fled to Norway in 1933. After the war, he became Mayor of Berlin. As Chancellor of Germany, he made a famous gesture of reconciliation to victims of Nazi Germany in Warsaw. He sought rapprochement with the East and a united Europe.
Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) West Germany’s first chancellor after the Second World War (1949-63). He played a key role in the re-integration of Germany in European and international affairs. He forged closer ties with France, US and the European Community.
Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) Nelson Mandela was an active member of the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Mandela was imprisoned for over 27 years for trying to overthrow the apartheid regime. He was released in 1990 and became the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994.
Haile Selassie (1892 – 1975) Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930. Selassie became an inspirational figure in the movement for African independence for the way he resisted the Italian invasion of Ethiopia during the 1930s.
Desmond Tutu (1931 – ) South African Nobel peace prize winner 1984. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a prominent figurehead in the campaign against apartheid. After the fall of apartheid, he took part in the Truth and Reconciliation process to heal the wounds of apartheid.
Kofi Annan (1938 – ) Secretary-General of The United Nations from 1997-2006. Born in Ghana, Kofi Annan served two terms and was widely admired for his calm and diplomatic skills.
V.Lenin (1870-1924) – Born in Ulyanovsk, Russia. Lenin was the leader of Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution in 1917. Lenin became the first leader of the Soviet Union influencing the direction of the new Communist state.
Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) Marxist revolutionary. Trotsky was a key figure in the Russian revolution and became the first leader of the Russian Red Army. After Stalin’s rise to power, Trotsky was expelled from the party and later assassinated in Mexico.
Joseph Stalin (1879 – 1953) Leader and dictator of the Soviet Union from 1924 – 1953. Stalin ruthlessly purged any opposition to his rule and created fear by having many in a position of power – arrested and executed.
Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – ) President of the Soviet Union (1985-91) Gorbachev initiated a policy of Glasnost and Perestroika. These policies of reform and openness led to the ending of Communist party rule in the Soviet Union, and the fall of the Berlin wall. In a short space of time, Eastern European countries attained freedom and democracy.
Boris Yeltsin (1931 – 2007) President of the Russian Federation. (1991 to 1999) Originally a supporter of Gorbachev’s perestroika, Yeltsin became president after Gorbachev’s resignation. Yeltsin pursued a rapid economic liberalisation, which resulted in creating many wealthy oligarchs and several economic crises, which diminished his popularity.
Vladimir Putin (1952 – ) Putin became Russian President in 2000 and has become the central figure of authority in Russia. Putin has moved Russia away from the democratic reforms of Gorbachev and closer to a one-party state.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous Politician Biographies”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net Published 3 Feb 2011. Last updated 15 February 2018.
1,000 Years of Famous People
1,000 Years of Famous People at Amazon. The movers and shakers of the last millennium in this comprehensive and detailed look at the famous, along with their achievements, and their legacies.
People who changed the world – Famous people who changed the course of history including Socrates, Newton, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Queen Victoria, Catherine the Great, Einstein and Gandhi.
Women who changed the world – Famous women who changed the world. Features female Prime Ministers, scientists, cultural figures, authors and royalty. Includes; Cleopatra, Princess Diana, Marie Curie, Queen Victoria, and Joan of Arc.
Famous Revolutionaries – People who inspired or began revolutions. Including Spartacus, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Karl Marx.