John Quincy Adams
John is the lesser-remembered member of his esteemed political family, being the son of founding father John Adams. He served as the sixth President of the United States from 1817 to 1825, and historians have described his term as racked with feelings of personal inadequacy, as he sought to live up to his legacy.
Darwin is remembered as one of the most famous and influential scientific figures. His acute observational mind revolutionized natural biology and also rewrote our entire understanding of humanity. Evolution was a controversial idea, but his hypothesis in 1858 is tested and proven every single day. It’s why some birds rule and some birds suck.
He Wants You! And He Was A Real Guy! Well, to some extent, this is the only known photograph of Samuel Wilson, born 1766. He worked as a meat packer in New York, and shipped barrels of meat marked US, which troops buying would often say stood for Uncle Sam.
Daniel F. Bakeman
Bakeman fought in the American Revolutionary War and would become the oldest living veteran at the age of 109. He and several of his fellow soldiers were granted a $ 500-a-year pension from Congress, after a lengthy legal process over damaged certifications and draft lists. The image shows him in 1968, a year before his death.
Douglass is one of America’s true heroes, having been a key figurehead of the abolition movement. His steely expression was very much intentional, as he cared greatly about his public image and wanted to maintain an air of authority and intensity. His writing and oration skills were key in shaping the momentum of the movement.
After the unfortunate and untimely passing of William Henry Harrison, the US presidency passed to John Tyler, he’s not remembered super fondly, being a big proponent of “States Rights” and we all know what that means by now. This photo from 1855 is from Tyler’s later years, during which he led pro-slavery and state succession campaigns, which failed miserably.
Like many great artists, Dickinson’s work was greatly under-appreciated in its inspired time. She wrote over 1,800 poems in her life, though very few ever gained recognition while she was alive. Her life was not particularly well documented, this photograph from 1847 is one of the only known examples from her life post-childhood.
Billy The Kid
Born Henry McCarty in 1859, Mr The Kid would go on to become one of America’s most famous outlaws. That’s despite the fact he only lived to be 21 years old! He allegedly killed 21 men between his days as a gunslinger and a soldier fighting on the New Mexico frontier. Tales of his life (and death) have been the inspiration for many Old West stories.
This is the earliest known photograph of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States. Born in 1809, he would later lead the union to victory in the Civil War, acting as a voice of reason between the many disparate factions. He is remembered as one of, if not the most important political leaders in American history.
Pierce served as the 14th president of the United States and is nowhere near as fondly remembered as his contemporaries. He was fiercely opposed to Lincoln throughout his legal and political career, calling abolition a national threat and signing the Kansas-Nebraska, a treaty for the capture of runaway slaves.
Tubman was a key figure in the development and operation of the Underground Railroad, a network of secret tunnels that helped transport slaves to freedom. She was born in 1822 and experienced the brutality of slavery first-hand, leading to a severe head injury. She became devoutly religious, and dedicated to her abolitionist cause.
Robert E. Lee
Lee is still the source of much unnecessary controversy. He is touted among the very best of the best Confederate Generals, and his military career was indeed exceptional. He also held irreconcilable opinions on slavery, opposing it on some level but believing it to be a matter of religion that God would eventually fix.
George Armstrong Custer
Custer is a pretty tragic figure, not many are remembered for being so spectacularly bad at their job. His life was defined by failure, graduating bottom of his military class, and the only battle of note he fought in was his last, The Battle of Little Bighorn. This image is from before he grew his iconic moustache, something he definitely did right.
Martha Jane Cannary is another Wild West frontier figure shrouded in myth and legend. It’s not entirely clear which parts are true, She’s known for being a sharpshooter and story-teller, who despite being a cowboy-clad badass would always help the sick and needy. By 1876, it’s clear that men feared the name ‘Calamity’.
Curie’s pioneering work in the fields of physics and chemistry made her the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and the first person to win it twice. Born in Warsaw, Poland, she emigrated to Paris and, along with her husband, unlocked the secrets of radiation and discovered several new elements.
The likeness of Ichabod found in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow bears little resemblance to the actual man, photographed here in 1848. The historical figure, Colonel Ichabod Crane, had a military career that lasted 50 years. He died on active duty in 1857 and was buried in his home of Staten Island.
Pictured here in 1864, Chief Seattle was a leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish people native to Washington State. He was a proponent of peace and collaboration between his people and the white settlers. He is remembered for his bittersweet speeches, pleading for his people and the environment’s fair treatment.
Tolstoy is one of the most recognizable names in literature. The famed Russian author wrote War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich. He was nominated for a Nobel prize in literature every year from 1902 to 1906, though controversially never won. This image of him is from 1908.
Vincent Van Gough
Though many are familiar with the visage of van Gough from various painted works, few have seen this 1872 photograph of his face. It was taken at 19 years old, and he would die at 37 in almost complete obscurity. It wasn’t until his sister donated his work to galleries that his fame began to grow.
Heyer is the earliest-born American ever to have his soul stolen by a witchbox (camera). He may be the earliest-born person in the world to be photographed, but that’s a difficult title to verify. He fought under George Washington and is seen here at the age of 103.
Jackson is one of the most reviled and detested American Presidents, and that’s saying something. He fired a huge portion of federal employees replaced them with loyal (pre-Southern Switch) democrats, and signed the Indian Removal Act into effect, which led to the inhumane displacement of Native populations.
James K. Polk
Polk was the kind of president everybody loved but nobody remembers. He was born in 1795 and served between 1845 and 1849, with some highlights of his service being a huge territorial expansion through war with New Mexico and treaties with the English. He also signed the only presidential order that personally freed two slaves.
Born in 1769, Wellesley was a British army commander during the Napoleonic Wars. He was the victor of the famous Battle of Waterloo, which made him one of the most decorated war heroes across Europe. He also served a two-year term as British Prime Minister. This photo was taken in 1844.
Goyahkla, more famously known as Geronimo, was an Apache leader born in 1829. He was imprisoned for the last 20 years of his life, as he was the final Native American leader to formally surrender to the US Military. He’s remembered as a legend of the wild west days, leading his armies to many tactical victories.
Born John Chapman in Massachusetts in 1774, he gained his nickname after introducing apple trees to several states. He was also a pioneer nurseryman, known for his incredible kindness and considerate nature. Despite his grumpy old man appearance, he was a shining example of positive masculinity.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Stowe was an anti-abolition activist and writer at a time when women were vehemently discouraged from either path. Her 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was a scathing indictment of the state of the country, and she was often unable to speak publicly about it. Her brother and father delivered many of her speeches.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
The spectacularly named Brunel was a British engineer responsible for a huge amount of the country’s railway infrastructure. He’s honored in engineering, architecture, and railway museums across the nation, having built over 100 bridges and eight piers and docks. This image from 1857 shows a ship of his design.
Davis took the pretty standard career path of Mississippi senator to president of a Confederacy fighting a war of succession. He lost, clearly, but the events of the Civil War were a defining moment in US history. This picture is from 1861, a few years before his surrender.
There aren’t too many true polymaths around these days, certainly none to the extent of Sir John Hershel. He excelled at mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, and, ironically enough, photography. He lived from 1792 to 1871, and this picture was taken in 1876.
The oldest known photograph
While we knew that light could affect objects before the ADs, it wasn’t until 1826 that the first photo plate was captured. Joseph Nicephore Niecpe used water and Judea on a pewter plate to capture this image of his estate. The exposure took two days but is considered the birth of photography.
Cassidy is one of the most legendary outlaws of the American Frontier days. Train robberies, cattle rustling, shoot-outs at high noon with a rival gang of hardened criminals, he does it all. He has been practically immortalized in pop culture, with this image dating back to 1900.
Born Grigori Rasputin in 1869, the Russian mystic lived a life that baffles historians. Despite his rugged appearance, he was known to be almost supernaturally persuasive, talking his way into the upper echelons of Russia’s political class. This 1916 photo was taken only shortly before his death.
Another legendary sharpshooter, James led the ‘bushwhackers’, a pro-confederacy militia group. He led a few criminal gangs beforehand, which formed the foundation of his guerilla war tactics. This image was taken in 1882, the same year he was murdered by Rob and Charlie Ford.
In October 1959, Brown led an unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. He was a militant abolitionist and was executed for his crimes a few months after being captured. This image is either from 1846 or 1847, the records aren’t entirely clear, and it was taken by pioneering black photographer Augustus Washington.
Martin Van Buren
Though he’s often left out of presidential rankings, Van Buren was the first head of state to be born American and not British. Historians are conflicted about his record, noting that he made many influential reforms and contributions to the legal system. The image was taken from 1849 to 1850.
Hannah Stilley Gorby
Gorby isn’t a household name like many on this list, but that doesn’t make her photograph any less impactful. She is likely the oldest person ever photographed, born in approximately 1746, and pictured here roughly 94 years later in 1840. She was only in her 30s when the American Revolutionary War began.
Milliner is remembered as one of the Last Men of the Revolution, surviving to reach 104 in 1865. His life is surprisingly well documented, as his military service began at just 12 years old as a drummer in the 1st New York Division. This photograph shows him towards the end of his life (obviously) and was taken in the heart of the Civil War.
This unnamed veteran was a survivor of the Napoleonic Wars. The image was taken sometime in the 1890s, around 80 years after the end of the war which essentially shaped the future of the Western world. The total estimated death count of the Napoleonic war era is estimated to be between 2-3 million people.
Phoebe Anne Moses was born in 1860 to a poor family in Western Ohio. She would hunt for food as a young girl with her father and received little in the way of education or support. Despite this, she would defeat famed sharpshooter Frank E. Butler when she was only 15 years old, and tour with Buffalo Bill to become a truly legendary markswoman.
Few monarchs are given an entire age named after their reign. She was born Alexandria Victoria, Last of House Hanover (whatever the hell that means), and would become ruler of The United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland. Despite notoriously hating children and babies, she would have nine children and create the country’s current lineage of Royalty.