Famous American People

America saw some of its most iconic leaders, military generals, presidents and inventors in the 19th century.

This was the century that was monumental in American history. And it also created many monumental individuals that affected the fate of the country and its destiny.

Following are some of the most notable famous people from 19th century America.

Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett was an American militiaman, politician, revolutionary fighter and frontiersman Read more about the Davy Crockett >>

John Henry

John Henry, the steel-driving man was an African American railroad worker who became a folk hero Read more about the John Henry >>

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark the Famous 'American West' explorers and Pioneers Read more about the Lewis and Clark >>

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was a famous American inventor and business entrepreneur with over 1000 patents to his name Read more about the Thomas Edison >>


Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson served as the 3rd President of the United States from 1801 onwards. He served for two consecutive terms and left the office in 1805. Jefferson was one of the Founding Fathers and famously known as the main author of the Declaration of Independence.

As a politician, Jefferson supported the rights of the states. The Louisiana Purchase was made during his presidency, immediately doubling the size of the United States. Jefferson remains one of the most popular presidents in American history.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln remains one of the most famous Americans, not just of the 19th century but of all time. Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States. He was elected to the office in 1861. His Presidency also marked the beginning of the American Civil War.

Lincoln led the Union forces during the conflict and waged a successful war against the Confederate states of the South. His strategy and vision were instrumental in securing a victory for the Union and ending slavery in the United States. Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, shortly after the end of the Civil War.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant rose to prominence during the American Civil War. After other generals failed to check the power of the Confederate forces, Lincoln put Grant at the helm of the Union forces. Lincoln famously remarked about Grant that ‘I can’t spare this man; he fights’.

Grant led the Union forces to a number of decisive victories. In the end, it was the army under his leadership that surrounded the Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee and brought about the end of the war. After the Civil War, Grant remained immensely popular and also served as the 18th President of the United States.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt served as the 26th President of the United States. He rose to prominence during the Spanish-American War when he led a band of volunteer cavalry popularly known as Rough Riders. He became President at the age of 42 in 1901, becoming the youngest person to have served in this position.

Roosevelt remained immensely popular during his presidency. He played a vital role in conserving natural landscapes of USA by creating several forests, monuments and national parks. Roosevelt remains one of the most popular American presidents of all time.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was the most notable inventor in 19th century America. In fact, he remains one of the most important inventors of all time. Edison developed a number of devices and inventions which had a lasting impact on the modern world.

These included iconic inventions such as the motion picture camera, the light bulb and the phonograph. Edison was a prolific inventor and had more than a 1000 patents to his name in U.S. alone. He also developed an industrial process of developing inventions, working with other team members.

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee served as the Supreme Commander of the Confederate forces during the American Civil War. Before the Civil War, Lee gained prominence through his valor in the Mexican-American War. When Civil War broke out, Lee decided to side with his home state of Virginia and join the Confederate cause.

He led major Confederate armies to significant victories against the Union forces. By 1865, he was the Supreme Commander of the Confederate armies. In April, 1865, Lee surrendered the main Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant. This effectively marked the end of the Civil War.

Clara Barton

Clara Barton was the founder of the American Red Cross. Barton helped the wounded soldiers during the American Civil War. She also played a very important role in connecting missing soldiers with their families during and after the war. Barton would later go on to partake in humanitarian work around the globe. She also lectured across United States. In 1881, American Red Cross was established largely thanks to the rigorous efforts of Clara Barton.

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull was one of the most iconic and well-known Native American leaders in the 19th century. He was the chief who led Lakota and allied warriors to their famous victory in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Sitting Bull had a vision before the battle in which he saw grasshoppers falling down thick as rain.

He saw this as an omen of victory and in the battle that followed, he and his warriors annihilated Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s men. Sitting Bull remained an icon of Indian resistance for many years but returned to US and surrendered in 1881. When the Ghost Dance movement sought a revival among Indians, the Indian police tried to arrest Sitting Bull. In the ensuing scuffle, Sitting Bull was shot and killed. He died in 1890.

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis was the President of the Confederate States during the American Civil War. He served in this position from 1861 to 1865, being the main leader of the Southern states. Before the war, Davis had fought in the Mexican-American War and also served in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

When Civil War broke out, he was chosen as the leader of the Confederate cause. However, Davis didn’t prove as effective a leader as his opponent, the leader of the Union cause – Abraham Lincoln. Once the Union had won the war, Davis was tried for treason and imprisoned for nearly two years. He was released afterwards and came to support a unified United States.

Black Hawk

Black Hawk was a Sauk warrior and chief. Hawk’s group of warriors was known as the British Band, as they had fought alongside British forces in the War of 1812. He famously led the Native American warriors in the Black Hawk War fought against United States. After the war, he surrendered to the U.S. forces. His name and legacy endures to this day and he has been honored by many places, ships and other objects named after him.

The famous Americans cited above changed the course of American history – they played instrumental roles in making America what it is and what it would become. For this reason, these individuals remain relevant and important even today.