There have been many people throughout the years whose stories have lined the pages of our history books and become famous for their achievements, their bravery, and even their infamy. Because of their incredible accolades, here is a list of the 8 most badass people from history who will-and rightfully so-be remembered for years to come.
8. Hedy Lamarr
A stunningly gorgeous Austrian actress and inventor born in 1914, Hedy Lamarr joined forces with co-inventor George Antheil, where together they laid the foundation for today’s Wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth wireless communications. While other famous actors and actresses of the time were abusing substances and lounging around in their leisurely time, Lamarr worked tirelessly and refused to let her intelligence go to waste. This frequency hopping technique invented by Lamarr and Antheil was so vital to national defense during WWII that its’ details were forbidden to the public.
7. Jonas Salk
Salk was known for inventing the first successful polio vaccine. He graduated from high school at the tender age of 15 and started attending college at City College of New York, where he quickly switched his course of study from law to medicine. After studying the effects of polio and trying to come up with a vaccine for this frightening epidemic, he theorized that it was safest to use a dead version of the polio virus; his colleagues had tried using different versions of the live virus, and the vaccines left many people either disabled or killed. During initial testing of his vaccine, Salk was so confident in its success that he tested it on himself, his wife and his three sons. Invented in 1952, the last reported case of polio was in 1979.
6. Nikola Tesla
Arguably one of the most intelligent men of the 20th century, Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and physicist, who was best known for his work with electricity and alternating currents (AC). He had a photographic memory and spoke eight languages. A student and employee of Thomas Edison, the two began an infamous rivalry. Being an immigrant, Edison treated him cruelly. Tesla challenged him to a $50,000 bet that he could improve Edison’s prototypes, and bugged him until Edison agreed to the challenge. When he showed his evidence and proved he had won, Edison replied by saying the bet was a joke, saying “when you become a full-fledged American, you will appreciate an American joke.” Edison instead offered him a raise of $10/hour but Tesla quit, not willing to damage his pride. He went on to found the Tesla Electric Light Company, and developed many successful patents involving AC power.
5. William Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin
In 1822, Alexis St. Martin got shot at close range by a musket in his stomach. William Beaumont, a U.S. army surgeon stationed nearby, treated St. Martin’s wounds, but the young man was not expected to survive. After a little more than two weeks, St. Martin’s wounds started to heal, but the hole in his stomach and the hole in his skin didn’t heal properly and created a very large fistula in his abdomen. Not much was know about digestion during this time, so Beaumont saw an incredible opportunity. St. Martin was illiterate, so Beaumont tricked him into signing a contract which forced St. Martin to become his servant. The surgeon would place sacks of food into the hole in St. Martin’s stomach and observe the process of digestion. The experiments continued periodically until 1833, when the two men parted ways peacefully. These experiments taught the scientific community that digestion is a chemical process and not a physical one. Beaumont died in 1858 when he slipped on ice covered steps.
4. Molly Pitcher
There are several theories about this woman by historians, one being that Molly Pitcher wasn’t a real person, but rather the image of different women and their actions during the Revolutionary War. Others believe it was simply the nickname given to women who carried water to the men on the battlefield. Regardless of these theories, many believe that Molly Pitcher’s real name was Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley. She was part of a group of women, led by Martha Washington, who would wash clothes and take care of sick and dying soldiers at the winter camp at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. During the battle of Monmouth in June of 1778, Mary’s husband, a soldier by the name of William Hays, collapsed in the intense heat. After being carried off the battlefield, Mary Hays took over her husband’s canon and continued to fight in his place. At one point, as different sources have reported, a British cannonball flew between her legs and damaged nothing other than the bottom of her dress. Mary supposedly said, “Well, that could have been worse”, and continued to load the cannon. After the battle, George Washington made her a non-commissioned officer for her heroism, and was given the nickname “Sergeant Molly”, which she used for the rest of her life.
3. Harriet Tubman
Born somewhere around 1820, Tubman is known as the Moses of her people. During adolescence, Tubman endured brutal physical punishments; at the age of 13, she was hit in the head with a two-pound weight for disobeying her master and going into the village without permission. For the rest of her life, she suffered epileptic seizures, narcoleptic episodes, and experienced what she believed were prophetic visions from God. She escaped in 1849 to the free state of Pennsylvania, but, determined to rescue her family, she returned several times and managed to rescue hundreds of slaves. She took them through an elaborate connection of safe-houses, also known as the Underground Railroad, and brought them into the free states of the northern US and Canada. Tubman risked her life and her freedom to save other slaves and became a leader of the abolitionist movement. Later she would become a spy for the Union during the Civil War.
2. Theodore Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States and is well-known for his extreme personality. An incredibly brilliant man, Roosevelt suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and extreme nearsightedness. He spoke fluent French and German, and went to Harvard University on a full scholarship. While there, he got in a heated argument with one of his professors and threw a chair through the window and punched his teacher in the mouth. However, what took place on October 14th, 1912 is what earned him his spot at number 2 on this list. Roosevelt was getting ready to give a campaign speech in Milwaukee where he was suddenly shot in the chest. The bullet hit him over his heart where his speech manuscript and glasses case rested in his breast pocket. He decided to make his speech and refused to go to the hospital. While he spoke, he pulled out his bloody manuscript and said “you see, it takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose”. He spoke for over an hour where he was then rushed to the hospital. X-rays determined that it was safest to leave the bullet where it lay in his chest muscle, and he lived with it until his death in 1919.
1. Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler was a German member of the Nazi Party. He also belonged to a group by the name of Abwher, which was the intelligence service of the Nazi Party. During WWII, he gained responsibility for two formerly owned Jewish businesses and started up his own enamel ware company. Over 1,000 employees were Jewish, but his connections with Abwher kept them safe from being deported to the many death camps during the Holocaust. After witnessing the extreme brutality to the Jewish people, he took it upon himself to save his workers and received permission to move his company to the town of Brunnlitz in Czechoslovakia. Schindler took all of his Jewish employees with him-1,200 people in all. During the transportation to the new factory, there was a huge mistake made; 300 Jewish-Schindler women were mistakenly brought to Auschwitz, where they quickly realized their lives would soon come to an end. Schindler realized these women were missing and rushed to Auschwitz. He arrived just hours before they met their fate in the gas chambers. He risked his own life as well as every one of the workers at his factory and demanded that his employees be returned to him. He rescued all 300 women and brought them back to safety. Through many bribes and a lot of money, he managed to keep his workers safe until the end of the war. Because of him, over 6,000 Jewish people and their descendants were alive in the 1990’s to tell his story, which sparked the making of the famous movie, Schindler’s List, in 1993.
There are certainly many other people throughout history who could be placed on this list, but these amazing people deserve special mention for their incredible acts of bravery, intelligence, and unrelenting will to better the world. Although everyone on this list has since passed, they are all hero’s in their own right, and their outstanding legacies should forever be acknowledged.