When we decided to rank the importance of historical figures, we decided not to approach the task as historians might by making a principled assessment of their individual accomplishments. Instead, we assessed each individual by combining millions of traces of opinions into a computational data-centric analysis. We ranked historical figures in the same way that Google ranks web pages by combining a variety of metrics about their reputation into a single consensus value.
Abraham Lincoln, also known as Honest Abe, the Rail-Splitter, or the Great Emancipator, was the 16th President of the United States (1861–65), who preserved the Union during the American Civil War and oversaw the abolition of slavery in the United States. Among American heroes, Lincoln retains a unique appeal for both his fellow citizens and people from other countries. This allure stems from his remarkable life story, the rise from humble beginnings, the dramatic death, his distinctively human and humane personality, and his historical role as Union savior and emancipator of enslaved people.
His importance endures and grows, owing to his eloquence as a spokesman for democracy. In his opinion, the Union was worth preserving not only for its own sake but also because it represented an ideal of self-government. The political side of Lincoln's character, particularly his racial views, has come under close scrutiny in recent years as scholars continue to find him a rich subject for study. On May 30, 1922, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated to him.
Adolf Hitler, also known as Der Führer (German for "The Leader"), was the leader of the Nazi Party as well as the chancellor and Führer of Germany. During his dictatorship, he launched World War II in Europe on September 1, 1939, by invading Poland. Throughout the war, he was intimately involved in military operations and was central to the Holocaust, the genocide of approximately six million Jews and millions of other victims.
Ian Kershaw, a known biographer, called Hitler "the embodiment of modern political evil." The Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of approximately six million Jews and millions of other victims under Hitler's leadership and racially motivated ideology, whom he and his followers deemed Untermenschen (subhumans) or socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the deaths of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and POWs. Furthermore, 28.7 million soldiers and civilians were killed due to military action in Europe. The number of civilians killed during World War II was unprecedented in warfare, and the casualties made the conflict the deadliest in history.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-reigning British monarch in history, reigning as Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth realms. She ascended to the throne in 1952 as the first child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Despite media criticism of the royal family, she remained a popular figure in the United Kingdom.