Milton is one of the greatest writers in the history of world literature. His Paradise Lost is among the greatest works ever written. He was a champion of freedom, and influenced the chain of thought that led to the American revolution.
William Blake, (England), was way ahead of his time, so his brilliance went virtually unnoticed during his lifetime. His poetry spoke out against child labor, which was an epidemic during his day. He "condemned the cruel absurdity of enforced chastity and marriage without love and defended the right of women to complete self-fulfillment.” He was a champion of freedom, tolerance, and the pursuit of happiness, things we now can take for granted thanks to people like Blake.
Michael Faraday, (England), with his groundbreaking work on electromagnetism, became one of history’s most influential scientists. Faraday’s discoveries enabled the creation of electric motor and generator technology, which made electricity practical for everyday use. Faraday found that moving a magnet through a loop of wire caused an electric current to flow, which was later modelled mathematically by James Clerk Maxwell as Faraday’s law, (one of the four of Maxwell's equations).
Voltaire, (France), had a major impact on the advancement of freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and right to a fair trial. He wrote over 2,000 books and pamphlets on a wide range of subjects. Historian Will Durant equates the age of enlightment with the age of Voltaire.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, (Switzerland / France), was an epic game-changer influencing much of our modern-day culture such as: the rise of democracy and the fall of monarchy, (rule by kings), citizenship, private property, education, and literary romanticism during a time very different from ours. His Discourse on the Origin of Inequality was the Hunger Games of his day.
Eugène Delacroix, (France), was perhaps the greatest artist of the Romantic Movement. His most famous work, Liberty Leading the People, was influential in moving public opinion toward the ideals of freedom during a time when monarchies were being replaced by elected government. Delacroix pushed the envelope by showing vividly the horrors and destruction of war.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, (U.S.A.), promoted the power of the individual. Emerson can be summarized by this quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” He was a powerful influence on the American ideal of individualism.