Famous 19th Century Political Activists

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Political Activists, including Annie Besant, Emmeline Pankhurst, Jane Addams, Emma Goldman and Kasturba Gandhi.

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 Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman
Famous As: Abolitionist and Political activist
Birthdate: February 29, 1822
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dorchester County, Maryland, United States
Died: March 10, 1913

Born to parents who were bonded slaves, Harriet Tubman life was a difficult one from the very beginning. Yet with her remarkable courage and determination, she not only escaped slavery herself, but also led other enslaved people to freedom. The prominent political activist and abolitionist was also the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the American Civil War.

 2 George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: July 26, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Portobello, Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 2, 1950

Nobel Prize-winning playwright and author George Bernard Shaw was best known for his realism and his support for women’s rights and socialism. His ideas gave rise to the word “Shavian.” His drama Pygmalion inspired the musical My Fair Lady. His other notable works include Candida and Man and Superman.

 3 Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst
Famous As: Leader of the British Suffragette Movement
Birthdate: July 4, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moss Side, Manchester
Died: June 14, 1928
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist best remembered for helping women earn the right to vote in elections by organizing the UK suffragette movement. For playing a major role in achieving women's suffrage in the UK, Pankhurst was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century list in 1999.
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 4 Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman
Famous As: Political activist
Birthdate: June 7, 1869
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kaunas, Lithuania
Died: May 4, 1940

Emma Goldman was a writer and anarchist political activist. She played an important role in popularizing the anarchist political philosophy in Europe and North America in the early and mid-20th century. Her lectures and writing spanned a wide variety of subjects, such as atheism, militarism, freedom of speech, homosexuality, capitalism, and free love.

 5 Annie Besant

Annie Besant
Famous As: Member of the London School Board
Birthdate: October 1, 1847
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Clapham
Died: September 20, 1933

Annie Besant was a British theosophist, socialist, writer, orator, educationist, women's rights activist, and philanthropist. Despite being British, Besant supported India's freedom movement and even joined the Indian National Congress. She is also credited with co-founding Banaras Hindu University. Besant also helped launch the Indian Home Rule movement to campaign for democracy in the country.

 6 Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Famous As: Independence Activist, Reformer
Birthdate: May 28, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bhagur
Died: February 26, 1966

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.

 7 Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: September 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, USA
Died: July 12, 1944
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 8 Jane Addams

Jane Addams
Birthdate: September 6, 1860
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cedarville, Illinois, U.S.
Died: May 21, 1935

Jane Addams was an American social worker, reformer, settlement activist, public administrator, sociologist, and author. Addams was a prominent leader in the history of women's suffrage and social work in the USA. She is credited with co-founding one of America's most popular settlement houses, the Hull House in Chicago. Addams is also credited with co-founding the American Civil Liberties Union.

 9 Maxim Gorky

Maxim Gorky
Famous As: Writer, Political Activist
Birthdate: March 28, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Died: June 18, 1936

Maxim Gorky was a writer and political activist. He is best remembered for founding the socialist realism literary method. Gorky, who was nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature on five occasions, published several novels that were later adapted into plays, films, and operas. In 1938, Valery Zhelobinsky adapted Gorky's novel Mother into an opera.

 10 Prescott Bush

Prescott Bush
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: May 15, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Died: October 8, 1972

 11 Zitkala-Sa

Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 22, 1876
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Yankton Reservation, South Dakota, United States
Died: January 26, 1938

 12 Kasturba Gandhi

Kasturba Gandhi
Famous As: Wife of Mahatama Gandhi
Birthdate: April 11, 1869
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Porbandar
Died: February 22, 1944

Kasturba Gandhi was an Indian freedom fighter and political activist. Best remembered as the wife of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Kasturba took part in Indian independence movements along with her husband. Her life and career inspired a play titled Kasturba which was written by Narayan Desai and directed by Aditi Desai. The play was staged several times in India.

 13 Dietrich Eckart

Dietrich Eckart
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 23, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz, Germany
Died: December 26, 1923

German anti-Semitic völkisch poet, playwright, journalist, publicist, and political activist Dietrich Eckart, one of Adolf Hitler's earliest mentors who Hitler acknowledged as the spiritual co-founder of Nazism, founded German Workers' Party, the precursor of Nazi Party. Eckart was the original publisher of the Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, and lyricist of Sturmlied, the de facto anthem of the Sturmabteilung.

 14 Adam Mickiewicz

Adam Mickiewicz
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 24, 1798
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zavosse, Belarus
Died: November 26, 1855

 15 Mahadev Govind Ranade

Mahadev Govind Ranade
Famous As: Judge, Social Reformer
Birthdate: January 18, 1842
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Niphad
Died: January 16, 1901

Mahadev Govind Ranade was an Indian social reformer, scholar, author, and judge. Ranade is credited with co-founding the Indian National Congress as well as founding several organizations like the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Widow Marriage Association, and Vaktruttvottejak Sabha. He also contributed as an editor of a nationalist publication named Induprakash.

 16 Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst

Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst
Famous As: Militant
Birthdate: September 22, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Died: February 13, 1958

Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst was a British suffragette who co-founded the Women's Social and Political Union. From 1912 to 1913, Pankhurst directed the organization's militant actions from France. After the war, Christabel Pankhurst settled down in the United States of America where she served as an evangelist for the Second Coming movement.

 17 David Walker

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

 18 Aleksandr Ulyanov

Aleksandr Ulyanov
Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: April 12, 1866
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Died: May 20, 1887

Russian revolutionary Aleksandr Ulyanov was the elder brother of Vladimir Lenin, who founded the Soviet Union. Though initially not interested in politics, he later became involved in St. Petersburg student politics and was part of a plot to kill Alexander III. He was hanged along with four of his comrades.

 19 Edith Cowan

Edith Cowan
Famous As: Social Campaigner
Birthdate: August 2, 1861
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Geraldton, Australia
Died: June 9, 1932

Edith Cowan was an Australian social reformer best remembered for serving as a member of parliament; she was the first Australian woman to do so. She is also remembered for working for the welfare and rights of children and women. In recognition of her contribution, Cowan has been depicted on Australia's fifty-dollar note since 1995.

 20 Angelina Grimke

Angelina Grimke
Famous As: Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist
Birthdate: February 20, 1805
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Died: October 26, 1879

 21 Earl Browder

Earl Browder
Famous As: Political leader
Birthdate: May 20, 1891
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Died: June 27, 1973

 22 Alexander Berkman

Alexander Berkman
Famous As: Editor
Birthdate: November 21, 1870
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vilnius
Died: June 28, 1936

Alexander Berkman was a Russian-American anarchist and author. He was famous for both his political activism and his writing and was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century. He served as the editor of fellow anarchist Emma Goldman's anarchist journal, Mother Earth. He suffered from ill-health in his later years and died by suicide. 

 23 Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
Famous As: Political and Spiritual Leader
Birthdate: February 6, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Utmanzai, Charsadda
Died: January 20, 1988

Abdul Ghaffar Khan was a Pashtun independence activist who opposed the British rule in India. A spiritual and political leader, Khan called for Hindu-Muslim unity in India and opposed the partition of India. Khan is still revered by many in India and Pakistan for his pacifist ideology. Many places in India are named in his honor.

 24 Tina Modotti

Tina Modotti
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: August 17, 1896
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Udine, Italy
Died: January 5, 1942

Italian-American photographer Tina Modotti was the daughter of migrant laborers in Austria. She later worked in a textile factory in Italy, before moving to the U.S., where she acted in Italian theater. Initially excelling in still lifes and portraits, she later gained fame for her signature close-ups of Mexican workers.

 25 Moses Montefiore

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

 26 Eoin O'Duffy

Eoin O'Duffy
Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: January 28, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lough Egish, County Monaghan, Ireland
Died: November 30, 1944

 27 Alexander Herzen

Alexander Herzen
Famous As: Father of Russian socialism
Birthdate: April 6, 1812
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: January 21, 1870

Alexander Herzen was a Russian thinker and writer. Regarded as the father of Russian socialism, Herzen played an influential role in the political set up of the 19th and 20th century. He also influenced personalities like Isaiah Berlin, who regarded Herzen as his hero. Herzen's book My Past and Thoughts is considered one of the best autobiographies in Russian literature.

 28 Benjamin Constant

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

 29 Thomas MacDonagh

Thomas MacDonagh
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 1, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cloughjordan, Ireland
Died: May 3, 1916

 30 Edward Bellamy

Edward Bellamy
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: March 26, 1850
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicopee, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 22, 1898

 31 Max Eastman

Max Eastman
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 4, 1883
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Canandaigua, New York, United States
Died: March 25, 1969

 32 Charles Joseph Bonaparte

Charles Joseph Bonaparte
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: June 9, 1851
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: June 28, 1921

The grandnephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Joseph Bonaparte was a French-American lawyer and political activist, born and raised in Baltimore. Founder of Baltimore Reform League, his works attracted Theodore Roosevelt’s admiration and serving as U.S. Secretary of the Navy and Attorney General during the latter’s tenure as President, he established Bureau of Investigation, later Day FBI, prosecuting many antitrust suits.

 33 An Jung-geun

An Jung-geun
Famous As: Political activist
Birthdate: September 2, 1879
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Haeju, North Korea
Died: March 26, 1910

 34 Charles W. Chesnutt

Charles W. Chesnutt
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 20, 1858
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Died: November 17, 1932

 35 Kunwar Singh

Kunwar Singh
Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: November 13, 1777
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jagdishpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: April 26, 1858

 36 Compton Mackenzie

Compton Mackenzie
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 17, 1883
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: West Hartlepool, County Durham, England
Died: November 30, 1972

Though born into a famous family of theater actors and managers, Compton Mackenzie turned to writing in his 20s. Known for works such as Greek Memories, he also gained fame as a Scottish nationalist and played a major role in the formation of the Scottish National Party.

 37 Anna Howard Shaw

Anna Howard Shaw
Famous As: Leader of the women's suffrage movement in the United States.
Birthdate: February 14, 1847
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
Died: July 2, 1919

 38 Ricardo Flores Magón

Ricardo Flores Magón
Famous As: Political figure
Birthdate: September 16, 1873
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Mexico
Died: November 21, 1922

 39 John Mercer Langston

John Mercer Langston
Famous As: Attorney
Birthdate: December 14, 1829
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Louisa, Virginia, United States
Died: November 15, 1897

 40 Michael Davitt

Michael Davitt
Famous As: Political leader
Birthdate: March 25, 1846
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Straide, Ireland
Died: May 30, 1906

 41 Phan Boi Chau

Phan Boi Chau
Famous As: Political Figure
Birthdate: December 26, 1867
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nghe An, Vietnam
Died: October 29, 1940

 42 Theodore Dwight Weld

Theodore Dwight Weld
Famous As: Abolitionist
Birthdate: November 23, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hampton, Connecticut, United States
Died: February 3, 1895

 43 Vasudev Balwant Phadke

Vasudev Balwant Phadke
Famous As: Revolutionary, Activist
Birthdate: November 4, 1845
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shirdhon, Maharashtra, India
Died: February 17, 1883

 44 Whina Cooper

Whina Cooper
Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: December 9, 1895
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Te Karaka, New Zealand
Died: March 26, 1994

 45 Namık Kemal

Namık Kemal
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 21, 1840
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tekirdağ, Turkey
Died: December 2, 1888

 46 Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 17, 1840
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Petworth, England
Died: September 10, 1922

 47 Mirabehn

Famous As: Political Activist
Birthdate: November 22, 1892
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: England, United Kingdom
Died: July 20, 1982

 48 Jessie Benton Frémont

Jessie Benton Frémont
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 31, 1824
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lexington, Virginia, United States
Died: December 27, 1902

 49 Alice Dunbar Nelson

Alice Dunbar Nelson
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: September 18, 1935

 50 A. J. Muste

A. J. Muste
Famous As: Clergyman & Political Activist
Birthdate: January 8, 1885
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zierikzee
Died: February 11, 1967