Famous 18th Century Activists

Right IconThis ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 18th Century Activists
 1 
Mary Wollstonecraft
8
Birthdate: April 27, 1759
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 10, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, advocate of women's rights, and philosopher. Wollstonecraft, who attracted a lot of attention for her unconventional personal relationships, is widely considered a founding feminist philosopher. Although her unorthodoxy initially attracted criticisms, her advocacy of women's equality became increasingly important during the 20th century. Modern-day feminists cite her works and her life as important influences.

 2 
Olaudah Equiano
(Anti Slavery Activist)
Olaudah Equiano
5
Birthdate: 1745 AD
Birthplace: Igboland
Died: March 31, 1797

Olaudah Equiano was a writer and abolitionist who was part of the abolitionist group, Sons of Africa, composed of Africans living in Britain in the 18th century. Enslaved as a child and sold to different “masters,” he eventually purchased his freedom and became one of the leaders of the anti-slave trade movement in the 1780s.  

 3 
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
(Socio-religious Reformer)
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
5
Birthdate: May 22, 1772
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Radhanagore, West Bengal, India
Died: September 27, 1833

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian social and religious reformer. He is credited with co-founding the Brahmo Sabha, a social-religious reform movement. Often referred to as the Father of the Bengal Renaissance, Roy has had an influential role in fields like politics, education, and religion. In 2004, he was ranked 10th in BBC's Greatest Bengali of all time poll.

Recommended Lists:
 4 
Benjamin Banneker
(Compiler of Almanacs)
Benjamin Banneker
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1731
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Baltimore County
Died: October 9, 1806

Benjamin Banneker was born to a free African-American mother and a former slave father, and was largely self-educated. While he showed immense talent in both mathematics and astronomy, having predicted a solar eclipse with precision, he also wrote essays on civil rights and rallied against slavery.

 5 
Olympe de Gouges
(French Playwright, Political Activist, and Advocate for Women's Rights)
Olympe de Gouges
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1748
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montauban, France
Died: November 3, 1793

Olympe de Gouges was an 18th-century French playwright and political activist. Her writings on women's rights and abolitionism were popular in various countries. She was an outspoken advocate against the slave trade in the French colonies. She demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men. She was executed during the Reign of Terror.

 6 
Thomas Paine
(Founding Father of the United States)
Thomas Paine
0
Birthdate: January 29, 1737
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Thetford, England
Died: June 8, 1809

English-born American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Thomas Paine, is credited to have penned some of the most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution. His works inspired the common people of America and motivated them to fight for independence from British rule. He was ostracized for criticizing Christianity and died a lonely man.

 7 
Lucretia Mott
(Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist, Social Reformer)
Lucretia Mott
3
Birthdate: January 3, 1793
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nantucket, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: November 11, 1880

Lucretia Mott was an American women's rights activist, abolitionist, and social reformer. Mott played a major role in the events leading up to the Seneca Falls Convention, the first gathering supporting women's rights in the USA. Lucretia Mott's work influenced Elizabeth Cady Stanton whom she mentored. In 1983, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Charles-Michel de l'Épée
4
Birthdate: November 24, 1712
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Versailles, Yvelines, France
Died: December 23, 1789

Eighteenth-century philanthropic educator Charles-Michel de l'Épée is regarded as the Father of the Deaf for pioneering the education of the deaf and dumb. He laid down the Signed French system, which enabled the deaf to participate in legal proceedings. His French Sign Language laid the path to the American Sign Language.

 9 
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
(Swiss Educational Reformer and Pedagogue Who Exemplified Romanticism in His Approach)
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
3
Birthdate: January 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: February 17, 1827

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi was a Swiss educational reformer and pedagogue. He is credited with establishing several educational institutions in French- and German-speaking regions of Switzerland. He also came up with many works explaining his modern principles of education. Thanks to Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, Switzerland was able to overcome illiteracy as early as 1830.

 10 
Thomas Clarkson
(Abolitionist)
Thomas Clarkson
3
Birthdate: March 28, 1760
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wisbech, England
Died: September 26, 1846
 11 
Karađorđe
(Serbian Revolutionary and Freedom Fighter)
Karađorđe
2
Birthdate: November 16, 1768
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Viševac, Serbia
Died: July 26, 1817

Karađorđe was a Serbian revolutionary and freedom fighter. An important figure during the First Serbian Uprising, Karađorđe is best remembered for leading Serbia's fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire in the early 1800s. He is also credited with founding the Karađorđević dynasty. 

 12 
Gabriel Prosser
(Blacksmith)
Gabriel Prosser
6
Birthdate: 1776 AD
Birthplace: Henrico County, Virginia, United States
Died: October 10, 1800

One of the rare literate slaves of the colonial era, Gabriel Prosser was born into slavery at a tobacco plantation in Virginia. He led one of the first great slave revolutions of the U.S., aspiring to create an all-Black state, with himself as the king. He was eventually hanged.

 13 
Granville Sharp
(Abolitionist)
Granville Sharp
2
Birthdate: November 10, 1735
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Durham, England
Died: July 6, 1813

Granville Sharp was an activist who became one of the first English campaigners to support abolitionism in the UK. Sharp devised a plan to settle people in slavery and black people in Sierra Leone. He also established the St George's Bay Company and is thus considered a founding father of Sierra Leone. Sharp also worked towards correcting other social injustices.

 14 
David Walker
(Writer)
David Walker
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1796
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cape Fear, United States
Died: August 6, 1830
 15 
Madame Roland
(French Revolutionary, Salonnière and Writer)
Madame Roland
2
Birthdate: March 17, 1754
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 8, 1793

The wife of Jean-Marie Roland, Madame Roland was a leading French revolutionary and often hosted significant political meets at her salon. She often directed her husband’s political actions and was responsible for creating a rift between the Jacobin and Girondin factions. She was later arrested and guillotined.

 16 
James Parkinson
2
Birthdate: April 11, 1755
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shoreditch
Died: December 21, 1824

The man who lent his name to Parkinson’s disease, which he described as paralysis agitans in Essay on the Shaking Palsy, James Parkinson was a leading English surgeon. An avid paleontologist and geologist too, he often collected specimens and fossils. He and his son also offered the first description of appendicitis.

 17 
Moses Montefiore
(Financier)
Moses Montefiore
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1784
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Livorno, Italy
Died: July 28, 1885
 18 
James Otis, Jr.
2
Birthdate: February 5, 1725
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 23, 1783
 19 
Levi Coffin
(Abolitionist)
Levi Coffin
2
Birthdate: October 28, 1798
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Guilford County, North Carolina
Died: September 16, 1877
 20 
Belva Ann Lockwood
(American lawyer)
Belva Ann Lockwood
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1830
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Royalton, New York
Died: May 19, 1917
 21 
Nathaniel Macon
(Politician)
Nathaniel Macon
2
Birthdate: December 17, 1757
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Warrenton, North Carolina, United States
Died: June 29, 1837
 22 
Andreas Hofer
(Tirolean leader)
Andreas Hofer
2
Birthdate: November 22, 1767
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: near Sankt Leonhard, Italy
Died: February 20, 1810
Andreas Hofer, a Tyrolean innkeeper and drover, became Tyrolean Rebellion leader against the revolutionary Napoleonic invasion during the War of the Fifth Coalition. Still venerated as a folk hero, freedom fighter, and Austrian patriot, Hofer was captured near his home and executed by a firing squad in 1810. His biopic, Andreas Hofer, a German silent film, was made in 1929.
 23 
Edmund Ruffin
(Soldier)
Edmund Ruffin
2
Birthdate: January 5, 1794
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Prince George County, Virginia, United States
Died: June 17, 1865
 24 
Walter Savage Landor
2
Birthdate: January 30, 1775
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warwick, England
Died: September 17, 1864
 25 
Ottobah Cugoano
(Abolitionist, Political Activist)
Ottobah Cugoano
0
Birthdate: 1757 AD
Birthplace: Ajumako, Ghana
Died: 1791 AD
 26 
Adolf Brand
(Writer)
Adolf Brand
2
Birthdate: November 14, 1874
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: February 2, 1945
Theroigne de Mericourt
2
Birthdate: August 13, 1762
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Marcourt, Rendeux, Belgium
Died: June 9, 1817
 28 
Fabre d'Églantine
1
Birthdate: July 28, 1750
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Carcassonne, France
Died: April 5, 1794
 29 
Thomas Spence
(Radical)
Thomas Spence
1
Birthdate: June 21, 1750
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died: September 8, 1814
 30 
Arthur Tappan
(Businessman)
Arthur Tappan
1
Birthdate: May 22, 1786
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Northampton, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 23, 1865
Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud
2
Birthdate: May 31, 1753
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Limoges, France
Died: October 31, 1793
 32 
Conrad Beissel
(Religious leader)
Conrad Beissel
1
Birthdate: March 1, 1691
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Eberbach, Germany
Died: July 6, 1768

Born in Eberbach, Conrad Beissel had initially worked as a baker in Heidelberg and later moved to America. Part of the Schwarzenau Brethren, or the German Baptists, he later led his own group of people who formed the German Seventh Day Baptists and observed the Sabbath as a holy day.

 33 
William Hone
(Writer)
William Hone
1
Birthdate: June 3, 1780
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bath, England
Died: November 8, 1842
 34 
Richard Carlile
(Journalist)
Richard Carlile
1
Birthdate: December 8, 1790
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ashburton, England
Died: February 10, 1843
 35 
Joseph Sturge
(Philanthropist)
Joseph Sturge
1
Birthdate: 1793 AD
Birthplace: Elberton, England
Died: May 14, 1859
 36 
Anna Jameson
(Anglo-Irish Art Historian and Feminist Author, Who Wrote on A Wide Variety of Subjects)
Anna Jameson
1
Birthdate: May 19, 1794
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin
Died: March 17, 1860

Born to miniaturist D.B. Murphy, Anna Jameson initially worked as a governess. After a failed marriage, she gained fame as an art historian and critic and also became a champion for women’s rights. She wrote on a wide range of subjects, including travel, art, culture, and poetry.

 37 
Jayi Rajaguru
(Activist)
Jayi Rajaguru
0
Birthdate: October 29, 1739
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Puri, Odisha, India
Died: December 6, 1806
 38 
Dun Mikiel Xerri
1
Birthdate: September 29, 1737
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace:  Zebbug, Malta
Died: January 17, 1799
 39 
Ivan Kotliarevsky
1
Birthdate: September 9, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Poltava, Ukraine
Died: November 10, 1838
 40 
Benjamin Edes
(Journalist)
Benjamin Edes
1
Birthdate: October 14, 1732
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Charlestown, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: December 11, 1803
 41 
Barthélemy-Prosper Enfantin
1
Birthdate: February 8, 1796
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 1, 1864
 42 
Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht
(Swedish Feminist and Poet Known for Her Sensitive Love Poems)
Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht
1
Birthdate: November 28, 1718
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: June 29, 1763
Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht was a Swedish poet, salon hostess, and feminist. Such was her popularity that she was the only female member of a popular literary fellowship called Tankebyggarorden, which was active in the 1750s and early 1760s. Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht was also popular in Germany and one of her poems was appreciated by Empress Elizabeth of Russia.
 43 
Anna Maria Lenngren
(Swedish Poet and Women’s Rights Activist)
Anna Maria Lenngren
1
Birthdate: June 18, 1754
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Uppsala, Sweden
Died: March 8, 1817
Anna Maria Lenngren was a Swedish poet best remembered for her 1794 poem, Advice to my dear daughter, if I had one. One of the most popular poets in Swedish history, Lenngren enjoyed great success and her works are widely read even today! She is also remembered for her fight against male double standards prevalent during her time.
 44 
Albertine Necker de Saussure
(Genevan Educationist Known for Her Work 'l'Education Progressive')
Albertine Necker de Saussure
1
Birthdate: April 9, 1766
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: April 13, 1841

The daughter of renowned Genevan scientist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, Albertine Necker de Saussure conducted experiments and maintained journals in her childhood. Following her marriage to a university lecturer, she remained a strong supporter of women’s education and even penned notes for her husband’s lectures. She is remembered for her iconic work l'Education Progressive.

 45 
Sarah Pierce
(Teacher)
Sarah Pierce
1
Birthdate: June 26, 1767
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Litchfield, Connecticut, United States
Died: January 19, 1852
 46 
Isaac Goldsmid
(British political activist)
Isaac Goldsmid
0
Birthdate: January 13, 1778
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 27, 1859
 47 
Julia Evelina Smith
0
Birthdate: May 27, 1792
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Glastonbury, Connecticut, United States
Died: March 6, 1886