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Politics › Articles

Original photos of the politicians and political events throughout the past few centuries.

Democracies, republics, monarchies, communism, fascism, dictatorships . . . there are, and have been, all forms of governments in the world - and all sorts of men and women who have been a part of those governments. "Politics" is defined as "the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power." Wherever there are governments, then, there are politics. And whether it was a primitive village or clan or a modern country, there are people who have been involved in the political process. Those not in power always have an opposition, comprised of those who want that power.

This has lead to a lot of interesting personalities in world history. Some "good" and some "bad" (depending on your point of view), all fascinating because of their principles and ideas - or lack thereof.

Some interesting - and often fun - facts about politics and politicians:

  • The word “politics” - the title of a book by Aristotle, translated around 1460 - was the first known time that the word appeared in English.
  • Aristotle - in the same book "Politics" - suggested that those in government “have their friends for a great number of eyes, ears, hands and legs,” because one man cannot "see and hear everything or be everywhere".
  • Bolivia may have the highest rate of political turnover of any country - around 200 governments since 1825.
  • Plato wrote that "one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”.
  • The world "politician" originally meant “a schemer or plotter; a shrewd, sagacious or crafty person”. Many people believe that this is still the meaning!
  • P.J. O'Rourke wrote that “since problems are the only excuse for government, solving them is out of the question." Cynical?
  • Theodore Roosevelt read at least one book a day.
  • The world’s largest democracy, with around 700 million registered voters, is India.
  • Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) was the first woman to run for office of US President - in 1872 at age 34. Not that she could have won - she was too young (the Constitution says that you have to be 35), women couldn't vote, and she was in jail at the time - on obscenity charges for publishing a story about the alleged adulterous affair between minister Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Tilton.
  • The youngest active government type is communism, introduced in 1848 by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.
  • U.S. President William Henry Harrison served the shortest term of office as president. He served for 32 days, from 4 March to 4 April 1841, dying of pneumonia.

These are the pictures of those who participated in many forms of government and politics over the last several centuries.