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American People You Should Know. Sally Ride First American Woman in Space. Patriots. Nathan Hale. School teacher hung as a spy by the English during the Revolutionary War. Famous words: “I regret I have but one life to give to my country.”. Betsy Ross.

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american people you should know

American People You Should Know

Sally RideFirst American Woman in Space

nathan hale
Nathan Hale

School teacher hung as a spy by the English during the Revolutionary War.

Famous words: “I regret I have but one life to give to my country.”

betsy ross
Betsy Ross

Philadelphia seamstress who supposedly sewed the original American flag.

samuel adams
Samuel Adams

Boston tax collector whose speeches and letters helped cause the American revolution. Cousin to John Adams, later president of the United States.

paul revere
Paul Revere

Boston silversmith who served as a messenger to warn American leaders of approaching English troops. His rides were immortalized in a famous poem.

paul revere s ride
Paul Revere’s Ride
  • By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Listen my children and you shall hearOf the midnight ride of Paul Revere,On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;Hardly a man is now aliveWho remembers that famous day and year.
  • He said to his friend, "If the British marchBy land or sea from the town to-night,Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry archOf the North Church tower as a signal light,--One if by land, and two if by sea;And I on the opposite shore will be,Ready to ride and spread the alarmThrough every Middlesex village and farm,For the country folk to be up and to arm."
  • Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oarSilently rowed to the Charlestown shore,Just as the moon rose over the bay,Where swinging wide at her moorings layThe Somerset, British man-of-war;A phantom ship, with each mast and sparAcross the moon like a prison bar,And a huge black hulk, that was magnifiedBy its own reflection in the tide.
native americans
Native Americans

Kicking Bull


Daughter of a chief who saved the life of Capt. John Smith. Later married planter John Rolfe and died in England.


Shoshoni Indian who led Lewis and Clark on their famed exploration of the Louisiana Purchase land in 1803.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark


Apache chief who frustrated American troops in the American Southwest for years. His name now used as a signal to start.


Cherokee Indian leader who created an entire alphabet for his tribe’s language. His name now associated with giant trees in California.

sitting bull
Sitting Bull

Chief of the Sioux who with Crazy Horse led the attack and massacre of Gen. George Custer’s troops in the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. The last victory by the Indians. Later toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Crazy Horse

john jacob astor
John Jacob Astor

First American millionaire. Made his fortune by selling fur in the late 1700s.

cornelius vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt

Known as the “commodore,” made his fortune controlling shipping in the 1800s.

andrew carnegie
Andrew Carnegie

Scottish immigrant who made a fortune in steel in the late 1800s and then devoted his life to giving away his money. America’s premier performance hall named for him.

john d rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller

Made his fortune in oil in the late 1800s. Died in Ormond Beach. His home now a museum. His name an American idiom for wealth: “as rich as Rockefeller.”

henry flagler
Henry Flagler

Once Rockefeller’s financial expert, retired and built a railroad down the East Coast to Key West. Responsible for development of St. Augustine, Ormond Beach, West Palm Beach and Miami. Railroad track replaced by bridge to the Keys. Flagler County named for him.

p t barnum
P.T. Barnum

Connecticut-born showman whose mid-1800s wild promotions created the modern circus and advertising hype. He was the first to make millions as a showman. His name remains a byword for extravagant shows. His credo: “There’s a sucker born every minute” has become part of the American lexicon.

Phineas Barnum and Tom Thumb.

helen keller
Helen Keller

Blind, deaf and dumb from the age of 19 months, she nevertheless graduated from college, lectured, wrote books and inspired the world in the 1900s. Her teacher was Annie Sullivan, who training was described in the play and movie, The Miracle Worker.


eugene debs
Eugene Debs

Outspoken Socialist leader and presidential candidate who fought for child labor laws, minimum wage and Social Security in the early 1900s.

david sarnoff
David Sarnoff

A Russian immigrant who founded NBC, and led the push for radio and then television.

rosa parks
Rosa Parks

An unknown Birmingham. Alabama seamstress, her refusal to move to the back of the bus in 1955 sparked the Civil Rights movement.

eleanor roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt

Wife of President Franklin Roosevelt and leading advocate for human rights worldwide.


Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court. His most famous case ended racial discrimination in the U.S. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman. Louis Brandeis was the first Jew. Brandeis University is named for him.

Thurgood Marshall (above) Sandra Day O’Connor (above, right)

Louis Brandeis


In the early 1800s, Horace Mann pushed for better education. He later founded Antioch College (Ohio), the first school to admit women on an equal basis with men. Noah Webster developed the first American dictionary. Booker T. Washington pushed education for African- Americans and founded the Tuskegee Institute.

From left, Noah Webster, Horace Mann, Booker T. Washington


George Washington Carver’s research into peanuts developed hundreds of edible products. Robert Oppenheimer is the father of the atomic bomb. German-born Albert Einstein’s theories set the stage for the modern world.

George Washington Carver (above left), Albert Einstein (above) and Robert Oppenheimer (left)

military heroes
Military Heroes

Sgt. Alvin York, a poor Tennessee farmer, became the most decorated soldier of World War I. Texan Audie Murphy became one of the most decorated soldiers in World War II and went on to a successful acting, writing and composing career. Gen. George Patton was considered American’s best leader in World War II, and led American troops in Africa and Europe. He pushed for mechanized equipment and was America’s first tank commander.

Sgt. Alvin York

Audie Murphy

Gen. George Patton

folk heroes
Folk Heroes

In the mid-1800s, Carrie Nation led the fight against alcoholism. A large woman, she attacked saloons with an axe, eventually leading a band of women. Her efforts helped generate the push for prohibition in the 1920s. Davy Crockett was a Tennessee farmer who became known for his hunting prowess in the early 1800s. He served in Congress and died at the Alamo, fighting the Mexicans in 1836. A harmless eccentric, Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman planted apples throughout the Midwest in the 1800s.

Carrie Nation (above left), Davy Crockett (above) and Johnny Appleseed (left)


In 1831, Nat Turner led the largest slave revolt in the U.S. His name created fear in Southerners for decades. Sojourner Truth advocated civil rights for African-Americans and women. Her speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”, stunned an 1851 women’s convention. Susan B. Anthony led the women’s movement to gain voting rights. She was arrested for voting, but refused to pay the fine. Her image appears on $1 coins.

Nat Turner (top left), Susan B. Anthony (left) and Sojourner Truth.


Jesse James led a band of outlaws in the late 1800s. A hero to Southerners still trying to fight the Civil War, he was shot in the back by a gang member. John Dillinger was a bank robber in the 1930s who gained fame for burning bank loans of poor farmers during the Depression. The FBI killed him. Charles Manson tried to start a race war in the 1970s by murdering several people. He has become the symbol of a murderous cultic leader. One follower tried to shoot President Ford. Both are still in jail.

Jesse James

John Dillinger

Charles Manson