The Ten Most Influential People of the 18th Century
10. Peter the Great
Peter I’s rule as Czar saw many changes in Russia in the early 1700′s which would extend over the next couple hundred years. Russia was brought into the modern realm under Peter’s hand and went through much reformation to do so. Peter the Great expanded Russia greatly and strengthened their presence in Europe. Because of Peter, Russia was able to grow into the superpower it would eventually become, a superpower which would shape the fabric of world politics greatly.
9. Edward Jenner
Edward Jenner is the father of immunology and has had a major influence on medical advancements. During his time, small pox was ravaging the population. Jenner developed the vaccine which would hold the bugs at bay and set a whole new path for vaccination and medicine and would also lead to the eradication of small pox worldwide.
8. Maximilien Robespierre
One of the major events of the twentieth century was the bloody and violent French Revolution, a turning point from the feudal times of old to the fulfillment of the Enlightenment movement. One of the most influential figures in this great revolution was Maximilien Robespierre. Robespierre was unyielding in leading the fight against the monarchy, and his Reign of Terror left an indelible mark upon history.
7. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart is one of the most popular musicians in world history. He was the very definition of a child savant and made huge leaps and bounds in terms of classical music. He was an eccentric character and a celebrity of his time. His impact upon music, one of the great threads of any cultural fabric, is almost incalculable.
6. Leonhard Euler
Mathematicians have had a huge impact on the evolution of science and technology all throughout history. Some of these mathematicians are so important that their names are heard over and over again’ their thoeries and formulas used everywhere in math. Euler is one of those mathematicians. His discoveries in math are far-reaching; from calculus to geometry to graph theory. He is one of the greatest mathematicians in recent centuries.
5. George Washington
I stated previously that the 18th century is marked by two major events, one of which being the aforementioned French Revolution. The other of course is the American Revolution of the 1770′s where the United States separated from the British Empire. George Washington is the man who commanded the American forces against the British troops and would become the first president of the United States of America. America’s significance would only grow out of the Revolutionary War more and more each decade, and Washington was the man who first and foremost founded this nation which would grow into one of the greatest super powers the world has ever seen.
4. Immanuel Kant
Kant’s ideas in the 18th century are still some of the most powerful and influential ideas today. Kant was a leader of the Enlightenment movement through his ideas on reason and ethics. His ideas would be the basis for the two major revolutions of that time and he created a shift in philosophical thinking, influencing almost all who came after.
3. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson is considered the driving force behind the USA’s Declaration of Independence and one of the fathers of democracy. The United States have become perhaps the most powerful and influential superpowers in history and its ideas of a free society have permeated throughout the world. Jefferson’s legacy, and the legacy of the other founding fathers of America, is still felt every day all around the world, whether it is through the democratic realms of other nations or through opposition of that great ideal.
2. James Watt
Watt’s invention f the steam engine is one of those inventions which, quite simply put, change the world. This invention kicked off the Industrial Revolution, which would grow throughout the next century and would dominate the entire world, creating all sorts of population, industry and technological growth at an exponential scale. It could also be argued that the steam engine kicked off the greater accessibility of transportation, leading to the ‘shrinking’ of the world which we know today.
1. Adam Smith
Adam Smith is the father of modern economics. His book The Wealth of Nations has become a road map for economics throughout the industrial revolution all the up until present day. Smith’s ideas about money and how it is used and distributed within our societies are vastly influential as money is usually behind almost everything that we do. For his massive contribution to helping us understand the driving force behind the progress of society, namely the economy, Smith is the most influential person of the 18th century.