Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Ten Most Influential People of the 19th Century

10. Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Marie Curie created the theory of radioactivity through her discovery of radium and also developed a process for isolating isotopes. These were huge advancements in chemical science which have been used in many applications, not the least of which are major advancements in the medical field. Unfortunately the discoveries she made would eventually claim her life, yet she left in indelible mark on modern science.

9. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)

This quiet Austrian Monk would go on to develop the foundations of genetic study. Sure genetics has come a long way since then, but Mendel was the one who started it all with his ideas on inherited traits through his experiments and the idea of genotypes. Mendel’s theories were not accepted by the scientific community during his life however. It would only be later when his work was revisited and validated.

8. Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

One of the most important scientists in history, Faraday made huge contributions to the fields of chemistry and physics with his experiments in electromagnetism and chemistry. It would be hard to list all of his accomplishments in those fields. His experiments and findings have had a profound impact upon the scientific knowledge we hold dear today.

7. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

He set out to conquer Europe and set an undying legacy for himself. Through his conquests and ambitions he spread many ideas, including the Napoleonic code, metric system, and others. He changed the face of Europe and remains a figure of legend, despite only being 200 years ago.

6. Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

In today’s modern world, communication happens instantly, even to the point where almost everyone has personal cell phones from which they can instantly call and talk to anyone they want. And it all began when Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone. Everyone once in a while an invention comes along which drastically changes the world, and the telephone is one of those inventions, shrinking the world we know through the lines of communication.

5. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Perhaps the greatest of the American presidents, Lincoln is most widely praised for his stand against slavery. Even though is almost split his country in two, Lincoln did not refrain from doing what he believed was right. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation and led America through their civil war. He remains a hero to many who value integrity and bravery.

4. Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Workers of the world unite! Marx’s ideas would end up shaking the world and would shape the political climate of the upcoming 20th century. He developed the political system of communism which many countries, notably Russia and China, would come to adopt. Whether the systems they produced faithfully represented Marx’s communal ideals remains up for debate, it was his ideas which sewed the seeds. This manifesto was revolutionary, for better or for worse, bastardized or not.

3. Thomas Edison (1894-1931)

The list of his inventions is large and his influence is wide-spreading, mostly for his invention of the light bulb, giving the world instant and lasting electric light. He also invented the phonograph, kinetoscope, and many others. He is also responsible for advancing the industrial revolution through mass production of his inventions and research.

2. Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Pasteur is really the father of microbiology whose findings have been immensely influential in the filed of medicine. Pasteur made significant contributions to the germ theory of disease, vaccine development, and food safety through his pasteurization of milk.

1. Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

There wasn’t a doubt in my mind who the number one person on this list would be. Darwin shook the world with his theory of evolution causing many to rethink everything they knew, including the origins of mankind. Darwin’s theory would grow as accepted fact in the realm of science and caused major turmoil with those of religious faith. The voyage of the Beagle to the Galapagos islands is now legend, and Darwin’s ideas now form the backbone of all biology. He is one of the most influential people in history and certainly the most influential to come from the 19th century.

54 Responses to “The Ten Most Influential People of the 19th Century”

  1. thanks.This was really a useful blog

  2. Nikola Tesla has been ignored for far too long. Limiting this list to ten and placing Edison in a position of greatness without the mention the genius that brought about the electrification of the industrial world is inexcusable. Arriving at better ways to provide artificial light may be a matter of manipulating known processes. Nikola Tesla’s system of alternating current generation and distribution (Electrical Power Grid System) was his invention and his alone. We are his benefactors and as such, owe the man just recognition. Nikola Tesla left us in January of 1943. He was Penniless.


  3. There was a lot of discussion around Tesla when formulating this list, and I assure you, it was not an easy decision to let him at #11. If it makes you feel better, we have been working on a longer list for the 19th century and may revisit these placements.

  4. I agree that Tesla was robbed by Edison and his AC invention is far greater than DC current. You need to put Tesla right up there on your list.

    • Did Tesla get robbed? In all probability yes. And it can definitely be argued that his system was better. But ultimately which had more influence? It was Edison’s electricity model which ended up changing the world.

      • Tesla invented the electric motor. a fairly important product. His work let to radio, x-ray, radar, and much much more. Tesla is, by far, the most influencial inventor, AINEC.

  5. I am just wondering where you would put good old Samuel Langhorne Clemens on this list?

    • I did begin to extend this list and try to make a top 100 list at one point. And I assure you he was on it. However, I ended up losing the list, and I can’t remember where he was. Somewhere in the 20s I think.

  6. y only 1 girl

  7. Where’s Otto von Bismarck?

  8. You put EDISON on here and forget about Nikola Tesla?! Tesla has been ignored for far too long. Jay beat me to what I was going to say, but honestly, Edison was an arrogant, snobbish, driven-by-jealousy, idiot. Nikola Tesla made neon lights, alternating currents and so, so much more, and nobody believed him, so he died penniless and alone.
    ~Kate Freelander

  9. It blows my mind that James Clerk Maxwell was not #1, or even on this list. He really laid the foundation for… basically every physics and engineering development of the 20th century. Theory of electromagnetism? Maxwell’s Equations? Not to mention, his departure from the “mechanical” notion of physics to the concept of fields truly makes him a revolutionary comparable to Newton in stature. Without Maxwell? No TV, no radio, no Einstein, no a lot of modern conveniences. Unless, of course, someone else were to discover it later : )

    “From a long view of the history of mankind – seen from, say, ten thousand years from now – there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics” Richard P Feynman

  10. Great list – Darwin is one of the most influential figures in the history of well… history itself.

  11. What about Andrew Carnegie who revolutionized management, as well as manufacture steel that went into nearly every single railroad and metropolis

  12. Looking at this top ten I would put him around number 6

  13. Dickens? Maxwell?…Those two should be on any list of influential 19th century figures

  14. I am surprised that no one got pissed because of Darwin and religion and stuff…

  15. Thomas Edison makes this list, yet James Maxwell doesn’t??

  16. Haha…this list is a joke. No Tesla, no Maxwell, no Twain. Sorry man, this is a fail.

  17. Most influential in history (1-65) Whatcha think?
    Johannes Gutenberg
    C. Columbus
    Apostle Paul
    Cai Lun
    Thomas Edison
    Louis Pasteur
    Isaac Newton
    Shihuangdi/Li Si
    James Watt
    Ed. Jenner
    James C. Maxwell
    Fritz Haber
    A. Einstein
    Alex. Fleming
    Abel Wolman/Enslow
    Charles Darwin
    Michael Faraday
    Galileo Galilei
    G. Washington
    Charles Goodyear
    Martin Luther
    Napoleon B.
    Karl Landsteiner
    Carl Bosch
    John Smeaton
    John Snow
    Leo. Fibonacci
    John Harrington
    Matt. Boulton
    Nikolaus Otto
    Alessandro di Spina
    Wright bros.
    Norm. Borlaug
    Francisco Pizarro
    Eli Whitney
    Alex. G. Bell
    Tim Berners-Lee
    A. Hitler
    Mary Wollstonecraft
    J. Aspdin
    Rob./George Stephenson
    Ebenezer C. Morley
    Simon Bolivar
    Otto Hahn/Strassmann
    Nicolas Appert
    Abraham Darby I
    Pierre de Coubertin
    Alfonso X of Castile
    Badarayana (B S only)
    Will. Shockley/Brittain/Bardeen
    Cyrus II
    Gabriel Mouton
    Ozdemir Pasha
    P. Farnsworth
    James Duke/Bonsack
    Adolf Lande

  18. Thanks. As per your list, I would suggest Josiah Wedgewood as he was a pioneer of marketing things that people don’t need and getting people to buy it via showrooms & using the queen as a celebritiy endorsement.

  19. What about the major influences of finance! Ever heard of the Rothschilds and rockefellers! They knew power and influence like no one mentioned on this list.

  20. How come the dates for Thomas Edison is 1894-1931?

  21. To Ian, I posted my list of the most influential people in history in this comments section (it’s a couple of posts above this one). I saw that you had a list of the most influential people in western history and was wondering on how many people on my list is on yours?

  22. Where is emperor Meiji on here?
    Very western focus

  23. Laghable list. Tesla is easily #1. Who is this bozo writer? Do you have a GED?

  24. What about ROBERT KOCH???

  25. You lost me when you put a devil like mohammed ahead of God. Jesus Christ was the most influential by far.

    • chill bro

    • Wtf do you mean “a devil like Mohammed ahead of God “???? That’s nasty and irrelevant. Don’t go around insulting people if you have no clear understanding or idea of what they did and what they were about. I’m not saying Jesus is any less important , hell no , I’m just saying Mohammed did a lot for the Muslim community and is highly respected for it. Don’t insult him or ( by saying that) insulting any Muslim brother or sister. If you have something negative to say, keep it to yourself. Thank you. 👌🏾👌🏾👌🏾👌🏾

  26. So, a century dominated by scientists. Well, Otto van Bismarck? His famous ‘blood and iron’ policy unified perhaps the most powerful nation-state (alongside USA) of that time. The German Empire had profound influence on politics, science and industry. It was a torchbearer of the Second Industrial Revolution in which USA, Germany and Japan progressed to challenge British dominance in world affairs. Its scientists won more Nobel prizes than those of USA, Britain, Russia and Japan combined! Kudos to your insightful list though.

  27. Tesla also. He defeated ‘the’ Thomas Edison in the AC-DC war.

  28. sport

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  30. Fun fact Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day 12 feb 1809

  31. Napoleone is 1st

  32. The most influential person in the world ever ever 19 and 20 th century is MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATÜRK, founder of Republic of Turkey

  33. best thing since sliced bread

  34. no Tesla? Like most of these lists, lots of love for the grossly over-rated Thomas Edison, and not a lick of acknowledgement for Nikola Tesla, the man who invented pretty much everything. FAIL!!

  35. Also, seems to me that there ought to be a Rothchild in there somewhere.

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