Famous 19th Century Political Activists

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Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Political Activists, including Annie Besant, Emmeline Pankhurst, Jane Addams, Emma Goldman and Kasturba Gandhi.
Vote for Your Favourite 19th Century Political Activists
 1 
Harriet Tubman
(Activist and Abolitionist Known for Her Efforts in Rescuing Slaves and Abolition of Slavery)
Harriet Tubman
5
Birthdate: 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 
Sarojini Naidu
(Indian Political Activist, Poet and 1st Governor of United Provinces)
Sarojini Naidu
4
Birthdate: February 13, 1879
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hyderabad, India
Died: March 2, 1949

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poet and political activist. An important figure in the Indian Independence Movement, she was a proponent of anti-imperialistic ideas, women's rights, and civil rights. Her illustrious career as a poet earned her the nickname Nightingale of India. After India became independent, she became the first woman to hold the office of Governor in the Dominion of India.

 3 
Emma Goldman
(American Anarchist Political Activist and Writer)
Emma Goldman
5
Birthdate: June 27, 1869
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kaunas, Lithuania
Died: May 14, 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.

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 4 
Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
(Military Leader)
Theodore Roosevelt Jr.
3
Birthdate: September 13, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, USA
Died: July 12, 1944
 5 
Jane Addams
(Reformer and Social Activist Who Became the First American Woman to be Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize)
Jane Addams
4
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.

 6 
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
(Independence Activist, Reformer)
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
3
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 
Patrick Pearse
(Barrister and a Leader of the Easter Rising in 1916)
Patrick Pearse
3
Birthdate: November 10, 1879
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: May 3, 1916

Patrick Pearse was an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, and revolutionary. He was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916. Opinionated with radical views, he decided as a boy that he would dedicate his life to Irish freedom. A relentless idealist, he was executed after the Easter Rising and was immortalized as a symbol of the rebellion.

 8 
Lala Lajpat Rai
(Indian Author, Freedom Fighter, Politician and One of the Three Members of the ‘Lal Bal Pal’ Trimurti)
Lala Lajpat Rai
3
Birthdate: January 28, 1865
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Punjab, India
Died: November 17, 1928

Lala Lajpat Rai was an Indian politician who played a major role in the Indian Independence movement. He is credited with inspiring many young men, including Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad, to join the freedom struggle through journalistic writings and activism. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari

 9 
Kasturba Gandhi
(Wife of Mahatama Gandhi)
Kasturba Gandhi
3
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.

 10 
Zitkala-Sa
(Writer)
Zitkala-Sa
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1876
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Yankton Reservation, South Dakota, United States
Died: January 26, 1938
 11 
Dietrich Eckart
3
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.

 12 
Alexander Berkman
2
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. 

 13 
Edith Cowan
(Social Campaigner)
Edith Cowan
2
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.

 14 
Daniel O'Connell
(Former Irish Member of Parliament for Clare (1828 - 1830))
Daniel O'Connell
3
Birthdate: August 6, 1775
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cahersiveen, County Kerry, Ireland
Died: May 15, 1847

Daniel O'Connell, also known as The Liberator, was an Irish lawyer who later became a leader of Irish Catholics and was eventually elected to the UK Parliament. He was one of the first Catholics to become Lord Mayor of Dublin and one of the first great nationalist leaders of Ireland.

 15 
Angelina Grimke
(American Political Activist, Abolitionist, and Women's Rights Advocate)
Angelina Grimke
2
Birthdate: February 20, 1805
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Died: October 26, 1879

Angelina Grimke was an American political activist, abolitionist, women's rights advocate, and promoter of the women's suffrage movement. She is best remembered for the anti-slavery speech which she gave outside Pennsylvania Hall in May 1838. One of her letters regarding anti-slavery was published by William Lloyd Garrison in his newspaper The Liberator in 1835.

 16 
Mahadev Govind Ranade
(Judge, Social Reformer)
Mahadev Govind Ranade
2
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.

 17 
David Walker
(Writer)
David Walker
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1796
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cape Fear, United States
Died: August 6, 1830
 18 
Benjamin Constant
(Swiss-French Statesmen, Political Thinker and Activist )
Benjamin Constant
2
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 
Earl Browder
(Political leader)
Earl Browder
2
Birthdate: May 20, 1891
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Died: June 27, 1973
 20 
An Jung-geun
(Political activist)
An Jung-geun
0
Birthdate: September 2, 1879
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Haeju, North Korea
Died: March 26, 1910
 21 
Thomas MacDonagh
2
Birthdate: February 1, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cloughjordan, Ireland
Died: May 3, 1916

Born to schoolteacher parents, Thomas MacDonagh initially aspired to be a missionary. However, he later taught English and French, and then focused on writing. The author of plays such as When the Dawn Is Come, MacDonagh later joined the Irish Volunteers and led the Easter Rising before being executed by shooting.

 22 
Edward Bellamy
(Journalist)
Edward Bellamy
2
Birthdate: March 26, 1850
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicopee, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 22, 1898
 23 
Moses Montefiore
(Financier)
Moses Montefiore
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1784
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Livorno, Italy
Died: July 28, 1885
 24 
Louis Auguste Blanqui
(French Revolutionary and Political Activist Known for His Revolutionary Theory of 'Blanquism')
Louis Auguste Blanqui
2
Birthdate: February 8, 1805
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Puget-Theniers, France
Died: January 1, 1881

Louis Auguste Blanqui was a French socialist who gave rise to Blanquism, a form of radicalism. While he initially studied both medicine and law, he later stepped into politics. He had been imprisoned for more than three decades and died of a stroke after a political speech at age 75.

 25 
Alexander Parvus
(Marxist Theoretician, Publicist and Controversial Activist in the Social Democratic Party of Germany)
Alexander Parvus
3
Birthdate: September 8, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berazino, Belarus
Died: December 12, 1924

Initially inspired by Marxist ideals, Alexander Israel Helphand later got involved in revolutionary activities and was arrested. He escaped to Germany, where he later negotiated Lenin’s re-entry into Russia in a sealed train through Germany from Switzerland, where Lenin was exiled. Nevertheless, Helphand wasn’t allowed by Lenin to re-enter Russia.

 26 
Chittaranjan Das
(Leader of the Swaraj Party in Bengal Under British Rule)
Chittaranjan Das
2
Birthdate: November 5, 1870
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kolkata, India
Died: June 16, 1925
 27 
Max Eastman
(Novelist)
Max Eastman
2
Birthdate: January 4, 1883
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Canandaigua, New York, United States
Died: March 25, 1969
 28 
Charles W. Chesnutt
2
Birthdate: June 20, 1858
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Died: November 17, 1932
 29 
Anna Howard Shaw
(Leader of the women's suffrage movement in the United States.)
Anna Howard Shaw
2
Birthdate: February 14, 1847
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
Died: July 2, 1919
 30 
Bipin Chandra Pal
(Indian Independence Movement Freedom Fighter)
Bipin Chandra Pal
3
Birthdate: November 7, 1858
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Habiganj District, Bangladesh
Died: May 20, 1932

Bipin Chandra Pal was an Indian nationalist, social reformer, writer, orator, and freedom fighter. Along with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal was part of the famous Lal Bal Pal triumvirate. Pal played a key role in the establishment of the Swadeshi movement. He also worked for popular publications and promoted his brand of nationalism.

 31 
Ivan Franko
2
Birthdate: August 27, 1856
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nahuievychi, Ukraine
Died: May 28, 1916
 32 
John Mercer Langston
2
Birthdate: December 14, 1829
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Louisa, Virginia, United States
Died: November 15, 1897
 33 
Michael Davitt
(Political leader)
Michael Davitt
2
Birthdate: March 25, 1846
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Straide, Ireland
Died: May 30, 1906
 34 
Phan Boi Chau
(Political Figure)
Phan Boi Chau
2
Birthdate: December 26, 1867
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nghe An, Vietnam
Died: October 29, 1940
 35 
Kunwar Singh
(Revolutionary)
Kunwar Singh
0
Birthdate: November 13, 1777
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jagdishpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: April 26, 1858
 36 
Theodore Dwight Weld
(Abolitionist)
Theodore Dwight Weld
2
Birthdate: November 23, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hampton, Connecticut, United States
Died: February 3, 1895
Wilfrid Scawen Blunt
2
Birthdate: August 17, 1840
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Petworth, England
Died: September 10, 1922
Alice Dunbar Nelson
2
Birthdate: July 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: September 18, 1935
 39 
Mary Burns
(Political Activist)
Mary Burns
2
Birthdate: September 29, 1821
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manchester, England
Died: January 7, 1863

Born to working-class parents in Ireland, Mary Burns is remembered as the lifelong companion of German philosopher, political theorist, and socialist Friedrich Engels. Burns and Engels didn’t believe in the institution of marriage and thus co-habited without marrying. Following her death, Engels began living with her sister.

 40 
Henk Sneevliet
(Politician)
Henk Sneevliet
2
Birthdate: May 13, 1883
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: April 13, 1942
 41 
Edmund Ruffin
(Soldier)
Edmund Ruffin
2
Birthdate: January 5, 1794
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Prince George County, Virginia, United States
Died: June 17, 1865
Jessie Benton Frémont
2
Birthdate: May 31, 1824
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lexington, Virginia, United States
Died: December 27, 1902
 43 
Catherine Helen Spence
(Author, Journalist & Politician)
Catherine Helen Spence
1
Birthdate: October 31, 1825
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Melrose, Scotland
Died: April 3, 1910

Catherine Helen Spence was a 19th-century Scottish-born Australian author, teacher, journalist, and politician. One of the leading suffragists of her era, she was also a minister of religion and social worker. She supported electoral proportional representation. Australian writer and feminist Miles Franklin called her the "Greatest Australian Woman". 

Charlotte Forten Grimké
1
Birthdate: August 17, 1837
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: July 23, 1914
 45 
Henrietta Szold
(Zionist leader)
Henrietta Szold
1
Birthdate: December 21, 1860
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: February 13, 1945
 46 
Thomas Mooney
(Political leader)
Thomas Mooney
1
Birthdate: December 8, 1882
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: March 6, 1942
 47 
Mirabehn
(Political Activist)
Mirabehn
2
Birthdate: November 22, 1892
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: England, United Kingdom
Died: July 20, 1982
 48 
Johannes Zukertort
(Journalist, Chess player)
Johannes Zukertort
0
Birthdate: September 7, 1842
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lublin, Poland
Died: June 20, 1888

Johannes Zukertort was a Polish chess player who dominated the international chess scene during the 1870s and 1880s. The Réti Opening was originally called Zukertort's Opening as he often used Nf3 as his opening move. A multi-talented personality, Johannes Zukertort also achieved success as a musician, soldier, journalist, political activist, and linguist.

 49 
Vasudev Balwant Phadke
(Revolutionary, Activist)
Vasudev Balwant Phadke
0
Birthdate: November 4, 1845
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shirdhon, Maharashtra, India
Died: February 17, 1883
 50 
Tara Singh
(Sikh leader)
Tara Singh
2
Birthdate: June 24, 1885
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rawalpindi, Punjab, British India
Died: November 22, 1967