Famous 18th Century Activists

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

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 1 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft
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Famous As: Novelist
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 Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed
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Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: September 26, 1774
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Leominster, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 18, 1845
Nurseryman John Chapman, better known to people as Johnny Appleseed, is remembered for introducing apple trees in areas across the American states of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, and West Virginia. His aim as a missionary of The New Church was to help local settlers make cider.

 3 Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano
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Famous As: Anti Slavery Activist
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.  

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 4 Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker
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Famous As: Compiler of Almanacs
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 Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy
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Famous As: Socio-religious Reformer
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.

 6 Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boudry, Switzerland
Died: July 13, 1793

French political theorist, scientist, and physician Jean-Paul Marat was a key figure of the French Revolution. He published his radical views in pamphlets and newspapers, such as L'Ami du people. He was held responsible for the September massacres. His assassination by a Girondin supporter made him a Jacobin martyr.

 7 Olympe de Gouges

Olympe de Gouges
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Famous As: Playwright
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.

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 8 Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
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Famous As: Founding Father of the United States
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.

 9 Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott
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Famous As: Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist, Social Reformer
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.

 10 Charles-Michel de l'Épée

Charles-Michel de l'Épée
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Famous As: Educator
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.

 11 Thomas Clarkson

Thomas Clarkson
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Famous As: Abolitionist
Birthdate: March 28, 1760
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wisbech, England
Died: September 26, 1846

 12 David Walker

David Walker
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 28, 1796
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cape Fear, United States
Died: August 6, 1830

 13 Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
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Famous As: Pedagogue
Birthdate: January 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: February 17, 1827

 14 Karađorđe

Karađorđe
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Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: November 16, 1768
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Viševac, Serbia
Died: July 26, 1817

 15 Moses Montefiore

Moses Montefiore
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Famous As: Financier
Birthdate: October 24, 1784
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Livorno, Italy
Died: July 28, 1885

 16 Granville Sharp

Granville Sharp
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Famous As: Abolitionist
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.

 17 Gabriel Prosser

Gabriel Prosser
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Famous As: Blacksmith
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.

 18 Benjamin Constant

Benjamin Constant
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Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: December 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lausanne, Switzerland
Died: December 8, 1830

Swiss-French activist and author Benjamin Constant is best remembered for penning the classic French novel Adolphe, which was one of the earliest psychological novels. Initially the chamberlain to the duke of Brunswick, he later supported the French Revolution and became a Member of the Chamber of Deputies.

 19 Madame Roland

Madame Roland
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Famous As: Revolutionary
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.

 20 James Parkinson

James Parkinson
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Famous As: Surgeon
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.

 21 James Otis, Jr.

James Otis, Jr.
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Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: February 5, 1725
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 23, 1783

 22 Levi Coffin

Levi Coffin
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Famous As: Abolitionist
Birthdate: October 28, 1798
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Guilford County, North Carolina
Died: September 16, 1877

 23 Belva Ann Lockwood

Belva Ann Lockwood
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Famous As: American lawyer
Birthdate: October 24, 1830
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Royalton, New York
Died: May 19, 1917

 24 Nathaniel Macon

Nathaniel Macon
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: December 17, 1757
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Warrenton, North Carolina, United States
Died: June 29, 1837

 25 Andreas Hofer

Andreas Hofer
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Famous As: Tirolean leader
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.

 26 Walter Savage Landor

Walter Savage Landor
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 30, 1775
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warwick, England
Died: September 17, 1864

 27 Edmund Ruffin

Edmund Ruffin
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Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: January 5, 1794
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Prince George County, Virginia, United States
Died: June 17, 1865

 28 Theroigne de Mericourt

Theroigne de Mericourt
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 13, 1762
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Marcourt, Rendeux, Belgium
Died: June 9, 1817

 29 Henri Grégoire

Henri Grégoire
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Famous As: Political leader
Birthdate: December 4, 1750
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vého, France
Died: May 28, 1831

Henri Grégoire, or Abbé Grégoire, was not just a Catholic priest but also a revolutionary. He first gained prominence with his Essay on the Regeneration of the Jews. A radical Jacobin, he was the first priest of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and also presided over the National Convention.

 30 Ottobah Cugoano

Ottobah Cugoano
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Famous As: Abolitionist, Political Activist
Birthdate: 1757 AD
Birthplace: Ajumako, Ghana
Died: 1791 AD

 31 Adolf Brand

Adolf Brand
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 14, 1874
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: February 2, 1945

 32 Anacharsis Cloots

Anacharsis Cloots
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 24, 1755
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kleve, Germany
Died: March 24, 1794

Anacharsis Cloots was a Prussian nobleman who played a significant role in the French Revolution. Born into a wealthy family, he spent his youth traveling across the world preaching his revolutionary ideas. He was a world federalist and is believed to be the first person to advocate a world parliament. He was nicknamed "a personal enemy of God." 

 33 Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud

Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud
2
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: May 31, 1753
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Limoges, France
Died: October 31, 1793

 34 Hugo Kołłątaj

Hugo Kołłątaj
1
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 1, 1750
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Volhynian Voivodeship, Dutchy of Lithuania
Died: February 28, 1812

Hugo Kołłątaj was a Polish educationalist and constitutional reformer who played a major role during the Polish Enlightenment. An influential social and political activist, Kołłątaj was one of the authors of the Constitution of 3 May 1791, which aimed at implementing a constitutional monarchy. Hugo Kołłątaj's work also influenced many subsequent reformers.

 35 James Napper Tandy

James Napper Tandy
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Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: February 16, 1739
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: St. Audoen's Church, Dublin, Ireland
Died: August 24, 1803

Irish revolutionary hero James Napper Tandy, who finds mention in the Irish ballad The Wearing of the Green, was associated with the Society of United Irishmen. Together with the French, he attempted to drive the British out of Ireland. He was eventually captured and sentenced to death but later released and exiled.

 36 Fabre d'Églantine

Fabre d'Églantine
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 28, 1750
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Carcassonne, France
Died: April 5, 1794

 37 Pierre Gaspard Chaumette

Pierre Gaspard Chaumette
1
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 24, 1763
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nevers, France
Died: April 13, 1794

Pierre Gaspard Chaumette was a French politician who played a prominent role during the French Revolution. Chaumette played a key role in the inception of the Reign of Terror during which he was serving as the president of the Paris Commune. A vehement critic of Christianity, Chaumette led the dechristianization of France during the revolution.

 38 Thomas Spence

Thomas Spence
1
Famous As: Radical
Birthdate: June 21, 1750
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died: September 8, 1814

 39 Arthur Tappan

Arthur Tappan
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Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: May 22, 1786
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Northampton, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 23, 1865

 40 Francis Place

Francis Place
1
Famous As: Social Reformer
Birthdate: November 3, 1771
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 1, 1854

Initially a leather breeches manufacturer, social reformer Francis Place participated in various working-class movements, before launching his tailoring shop. His socialist streak pushed him into politics, and he successfully campaigned against the Combination Acts that prohibited trade unions. He also became a Malthusian at one point.

 41 Benjamin Lundy

Benjamin Lundy
1
Famous As: Abolitionist
Birthdate: January 4, 1789
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hardwick Township, New Jersey, United States
Died: August 22, 1839

Born into a Quaker household, Benjamin Lundy had developed anti-slavery sentiments quite early in life. He grew up to become one of the leading abolitionists of the 19th century. He also launched papers such as The National Enquirer and the anti-slavery association Union Humane Society.

 42 William Hone

William Hone
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 3, 1780
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bath, England
Died: November 8, 1842

 43 Richard Carlile

Richard Carlile
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Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: December 8, 1790
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ashburton, England
Died: February 10, 1843

 44 Anna Jameson

Anna Jameson
1
Famous As: Writer, Women Rights Activist
Birthdate: May 19, 1794
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin
Died: March 17, 1860

 45 Joseph Sturge

Joseph Sturge
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Famous As: Philanthropist
Birthdate: 1793 AD
Birthplace: Elberton, England
Died: May 14, 1859

 46 Thomas Bray

Thomas Bray
1
Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: 1658 AD
Birthplace: Marton, England
Died: February 15, 1730

Thomas Bray was an English abolitionist and clergyman who helped found the Church of England in Maryland. He is also remembered for his role in the establishment of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (USPG) and the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK).

 47 Jayi Rajaguru

Jayi Rajaguru
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Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: October 29, 1739
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Puri, Odisha, India
Died: December 6, 1806

 48 Dun Mikiel Xerri

Dun Mikiel Xerri
1
Famous As: Patriot
Birthdate: September 29, 1737
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace:  Zebbug, Malta
Died: January 17, 1799

 49 Benjamin Edes

Benjamin Edes
1
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: October 14, 1732
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Charlestown, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: December 11, 1803

 50 Ivan Kotliarevsky

Ivan Kotliarevsky
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 9, 1769
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Poltava, Ukraine
Died: November 10, 1838