Most Virtuous People In History
Despite being the 15th of 17 children and the child of a candlemaker with only two years of formal schooling, Benjamin Franklin achieved much in his life. He organized his life around hard work, ambition, and thrift to be as productive as possible.
“Father of the Maratha nation” Shivaji Bhonsle, born in 1630 AD, initiated taxation revisions and conquered rebel lands. He freed his people from cruel autocrats, and is a historical hero to the people of India today.
Hated by Republicans and respected by Democrats, MSNBC host and political commentator Rachel Maddow aims to be a voice of reason and intelligence on cable news. Behind the scenes, she deals with cyclical depression.
Gail Collins was the first female editorial page editor for The New York Times. She has written several books, including “America’s Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines,” and is considered a great and steadfast leader as well as a successful writer.
The Director of the National Institute of Health freely shares his belief in a higher power despite his scientific background. Dr. Francis Collins is also responsible for the discovery of many disease genes, and leader of the Human Genome Project.
President Jimmy Carter
Former President Jimmy Carter is not just a politician: he is also a humanitarian. His extensive world travels have made him a vocal human rights advocate. Despite the presidency largely regarded as unimpressive, Carter is now involved in Habitat for Humanity and founded the Carter Center at Emory University to study democracy and human rights.
Stevie Wonder is known for his singing and songwriting prowess, and for being born blind. However, he is also on the roster of the United Nations Messengers of Peace and advocates for people with disabilities.
Along with raising millions of dollars, Eva Longoria also donated her time. She supports numerous organizations, including UNICEF and Feeding America, and has started a few charities of her own.
Efren Peñaflorida Jr.
Efren’s Dynamic Teen Company teaches literary skills to children living in the slums of the Philippines. He was named the 2009 Hero of the Year by CNN for giving young Filipino men and women education, giving them an option besides gang membership.
Zach Bronner is a very young philanthropist who has already founded a non-profit: The Little Red Wagon Foundation. His dedication to helping homeless children led him to walk 1,200 miles to raise money for the housing of homeless youth.
This bartender raises money for providing clean water in developing countries through wine tasting events.
Betty Makoni founded the Girl Child Network to protect Zimbabwean children who had been sexually abused. The haven has rescued over 35,000 girls since it began in 2001.
Budi Soehardi founded an orphanage with his wife in 2002 in West Timor after seeing a news report about the plight of the refugees there.
Derrick Tabb is the founder of The Roots of Music. This organization provides access to music education and instruments to New Orleans children for free.
He raised over $400,000 for the Jordan Thomas Foundation with bracelets, cookouts, and charity golf tournaments. The foundation uses its funds to help children with traumatic injuries.
A terrible car accident seemed like it would end normal life for Brian Boyle. However, he has journeyed to recovery, become a triathlete, and competed in the Ironman World Championship.
Quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars David Gerrard fundraises for the disease he and many others suffer from: Crohn’s. One of his fundraising methods has been $10,000 goes to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America every time he makes a touchdown.
Over the 26 years of the Newman’s Own Foundation, Paul Newman’s organization has distributed over $280 million to charities.
Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery in 1838 and became a strong abolitionist force. Besides his speeches and published writings, he also involved himself in political affairs and was the first African-American to receive a vote for presidential nomination.
Clarence Thomas started at Yale and moved up through the ranks of the government until he finally reached the Supreme Court in 1991, becoming the second black man in history to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.
The inventor and business owner of Hershey’s chocolate has a legacy of charitable outreach. Besides believing that employees that did more should be paid more, he also established the M.S. Hershey Foundation and started a school for orphaned children. Upon his death, he gifted the school with the Hershey Trust.
The first African-American to be elected to presidential office also has an extensive law background. He went to Harvard after three years as a Chicago community organizer, was the first African-American to be elected to the presidential seat of the Harvard Law Review, and taught law for 12 years at the University of Chicago Law School. Barack Obama rose from the Illinois State Senate in 1996 into the US Senate in 2004, then the presidency.
CBS’s chief of foreign affairs and a respected journalist and war correspondent is also known for her bravery. She was the victim of a mass sexual assault in Egypt in 2011 and spent four days in the hospital. Despite this, she has returned to journalism and remained in the public eye.
Anthony Atala is one of the pioneers of organ and tissue regeneration and stem cell research. His work attempts to resolve the problem of organ and tissue donor shortages and has given multiple TED talks about the subject. In 2007, his work made it to TIME’s list of the Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs of the Year.