History is full of fascinating people, but you wouldn't know it from your basic history class. Many of you probably had a hard time with history growing up because it's not taught or presented contextually. Instead, it's presented in a way that places more emphasis on memorization than on comprehension.

"Who are some of the most bad-ass people in history?" –– This was today's burning question from Redditor mrnutterbutter, whom we hope inspired you to learn more about the very real people––who led very real lives––and helped bring about the world we live in right now.


"He was an abolitionist politician..."

Cassius Marcellus Clay

He was an abolitionist politician and certified badass from Kentucky who freed all of his slaves upon inheriting his father's plantation, letting them stay and paying them a fair wage. He was the OG progressive and did not take sh!t from anyone. It's no wonder Muhammad Ali was named after him.

What is written below isn't even 10% of the absolute badassery this man accomplished in his life. If you want the full story, check out the dollop episode in the comments.

"Clay had a reputation as a rebel and a fighter. Due to threats on his life, he had become accustomed to carrying two pistols and a knife for protection. He installed a cannon to protect his home and office."

"In 1845, Clay began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper, True American, in Lexington, Kentucky. Within a month he received death threats, had to arm himself, and regularly barricaded the armored doors of his newspaper office for protection, besides setting up two four-pounder cannons inside."

"During a political debate in 1843, he survived an assassination attempt by Sam Brown, a hired gun. The scabbard of Clay's Bowie knife was tipped with silver, and in jerking the Bowie knife out in retaliation pulled this scabbard up so that it was just over his heart. Sam Brown's bullet struck the scabbard, and embedded itself in the silver. Despite being shot in the chest, Clay drew his Bowie knife, tackled Brown, cut out his eyes, and finally threw him over an embankment." This "embankment" was actually the top of the Russell Cave (for which Russell Cave Rd is named after), trivia for any of you native Lexingtonians. It's on Mt. Brilliant farm just south of Elkhorn Creek, where the event was hosted.

"Clay served in the Mexican–American War as a captain with the 1st Kentucky Cavalry from 1846 to 1847. He opposed the annexation of Texas and expansion of slavery into the Southwest. While making a speech for abolition in 1849, Clay was attacked by the six Turner brothers, who beat, stabbed and tried to shoot him. In the ensuing fight, Clay fought off all six and, using his Bowie knife, killed Cyrus Turner."

He was instrumental in the institution of the Emancipation Proclamation: "Recalled to the United States in 1862 to accept a commission from Lincoln as a major general with the Union Army, Clay publicly refused to accept it unless Lincoln would agree to emancipate slaves under Confederate control. Lincoln sent Clay to Kentucky to assess the mood for emancipation there and in the other border states. Following Clay's return to Washington, DC, Lincoln issued the proclamation in late 1862, to take effect in January 1863."

He was also appointed minister to Russia and was present for the Tsar's emancipation of the serfs. And his house has (it's still standing) an extremely early form of indoor plumbing and central heating that was revolutionary for the time. He donated 10 acres of the land to form Berea College, the first integrated coeducational college in the South. Dude led an extremely interesting life and is, in my opinion, one of the most important unknown and undiscussed figures in American history.

johnbrownsbody89

"I'm sure most of us would have thought..."

Welles Crowther, aka The Man In The Red Bandana. I'm sure most of us have thought about what it must have been like in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and it must have been debilitatingly petrifying. He was 24 years old working on the 104th floor as an equities trader. Made his way down to the sky lobby of the South Tower and found a badly burned woman, carried her down 17 floors, then went back upstairs to help guide others to the only passable stairwell. Stayed up there helping others and working with the fire department until the towers collapsed. He's responsible for saving around 20 lives and died a damn hero.

FrankSkapopolous

"This lady lost her husband..."

Giphy

Olga of Kiev

This lady lost her husband and when it was proposed she marry his murderer, she was like 'sure, send a delegation over so we can talk this out' and they came. She had them dropped in a pit and buried them alive. Then she had another party of men sent to talk about the marriage, and they came. She said, 'hey, it was a long journey, why not come relax in this bathhouse' and they did. She set the bathhouse on fire when they were in it. Then Olga went and sent the Drevilians another message, 'hey bring out the booze i'm coming to mourn my husband's death in your city'. She came, she mourned, she got the Drevilians drunk, and she had them killed by her followers while they were drunk off.

Olga went and got her army, laid siege to the place where her husband was killed for a year, then told them 'I'm willing to forgive and forget if you guys give me a bunch of birds' and the Drevilians did. They turned the birds into mini matches by attaching sulphur to their legs, and then released them. Set the city on fire. Freaking savage.

honorableglove

"Went undercover..."

Nellie Bly. Went undercover and endured abuse to cover neglect and abuse in Blackwell's asylum, went to Mexico and called out the dictator for going after the press and oppressing his people and then fled/was exiled out of Mexico because of that, traveled the world in 70-something days to prove you could travel the world in 80 days or less (based off the the Jules Verne novel) , also did reporting on the Eastern European front in World War One and also was arrested after she was mistaken for a British Spy, and she did so much more ! Such a bad ass and one of my historical heroes.

Cheshire_Cat8888

"As the war dragged on..."

Witold Pilecki, a man so badass that he voluntarily and secretly went into Auschwitz as a prisoner and spy to gather information; while there he regularly made reports on conditions and also organised resistance. As the the war dragged on and conditions became worse, he then successfully broke out of Auschwitz so that he could personally convince his superiors of the truth, as they found his reports too ghastly to be real.

democritusparadise

"A movie about him would be called too unrealistic..."

Léo Major

Dude turned down his first Distinguished Combat Medal because he didn't like the general who was supposed to give it to him. All good though, he earned two more. A movie about him would be called too unrealistic if they made one.

pm-me-racecars

"...and when he was corrected..."

Michael Collins. Showed up 7 minutes late to negotiations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922, and when he was corrected said "You've had 700 years, I'll take my 7 minutes."

pocajohntas

"Eventually he accompanied them..."

Janusz Korczak.

He was a military doctor during WW1, a completely committed amazing pedagogue and the headmaster of a Jewish children's home during WW2 in the Warsaw Ghetto.

He was given several chances to flee to Palestine. Instead electing to stay with the children.

Eventually he accompanied them all the way into the gas chamber, to make sure they didn't have to die alone and scared.

It's one level of bad-assery to kill for your cause.

It's a whole different level of bad-assery to walk towards certain death for several years, endure hardship and starvation. Not for some grand cause. Not even to trade your life for someone else's.

But only because you feel so much love towards your fellow man, to think it's your duty to make sure they won't have to die alone.

PetrifiedGoose

"I always felt..."

I always felt Jonas Salk was pretty bad-ass. The dude created the first successful polio vaccine and gave away the cure for free.

Supernormal92

"When she finally started losing fights..."

Chinese pirate queen Ching Shih

Led a huge pirate fleet of up to 400 ships and basically robbed and murdered whatever and whoever she wanted. Her word was law if you were on her crew any disobedience got you beheaded on the spot.

She murdered Chinese navy, she whooped Bristish and Portugese bounty hunters. Terrorized villages killing the men and selling the women and children into slavery when their ransoms weren't paid.

When she finally started losing fights to a technologically superior Portugese Navy she cashed out. Took her loyal bloodthirsty pirate army to the Chinese government and suggested that they pardon her and her crew of all crimes and not try to confiscate any of their loot or they were gonna do one more big bloody crime starting right here.

She ran a brothel/gambling house into her old age and lived in luxury and power.

Whatawaist

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