Political

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


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.

Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, served from 1969 to 1974. Mr. Nixon was the only president to resign from the White House.
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Jan 9, 1913 - Apr 22, 1994 1913 - 1994
Added Jul 31, 2013 by: Chris Rubio
Chris Rubio
29 favorites
A photo of Nelson Mandela, taken in 1958. He was born July 18, 1918 in Mvezo in Cape Province, now a part of South Africa. Given the name Rolihlahla ("troublemaker"), some would say that he lived up to the name in the best way. Actively working against apartheid in his native South Africa, he was jailed in 1962 and remained in jail (under very poor conditions) until February, 1990. From 1994 through 1999, Mandela was President of South Africa and presided over the move from apartheid to a multi-cultural democracy in South Africa. While retiring in "active" politics in 1999, he continued to be active for causes internationally. Certainly, the "troublemaker" hasn't caused trouble for the poor and downtrodden.
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Jul 18, 1918 - Dec 5, 2013 1918 - 2013
Added Jun 24, 2013 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
28.8k+ favorites
Shaking hands: A photo of Newsman Thomas L. Dycus Jr. - aka Charlie Brown - shaking hands with then actor Ronald Reagan.
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Sep 19, 1930 - Jun 19, 1998 1930 - 1998
Added Mar 31, 2013 by: Barbie Dycus
Barbie Dycus
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Thomas L Dycus Jr aka Charlie Brown interview Robert Kennedy.
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Sep 19, 1930 - Jun 19, 1998 1930 - 1998
Added Mar 25, 2013 by: Barbie Dycus
Barbie Dycus
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16th President of The United States of America
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Feb 12, 1809 - Apr 15, 1865 1809 - 1865
Added Jan 3, 2013 by: LaFaye Lincoln
LaFaye Lincoln
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Abraham Lincoln and His Son Tad Lincoln.
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Feb 12, 1809 - Apr 15, 1865 1809 - 1865
Added Jan 3, 2013 by: LaFaye Lincoln
LaFaye Lincoln
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The first televised United States presidential debate was held in Chicago on September 26th, 1960 between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. There were a total of four televised debates between these two candidates however the first debate gathered the most attention with upwards of 70 million viewers. Most Americans believed that Kennedy had won the first presidential debate. Nixon did not prepare well for the televised event. He had campaigned until a few hours before the debate, refused makeup, and was still recovering from a hospital stay, resulting in his appearing ill. In contrast, Kennedy was well rested, prepared and appeared confident and healthy. While the Kennedy / Nixon presidential debate was the first televised debate, there were previous political debates, most notably the 1858 Senate debates between Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen A. Douglas.
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Jan 9, 1913 - Apr 22, 1994 1913 - 1994
A photo of President William Howard Taft - his trip to Hutchinson, KS (from the Hutchinson Newspaper) in which he placed a time capsule in the cornerstone of memorial hall.
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Sep 15, 1857 - Mar 8, 1930 1857 - 1930
Added Apr 28, 2012 by: Terry Stafford
Terry Stafford
388 favorites
Michael Collins was born on October 16th 1890, and died August 22nd 1922. Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader who played various leadership roles in Irish government including Minister for Finance, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, Commander-in-chief for the National Army and President of the Irish Republic. Michael Collins was killed on 22 August 1922 during an ambush while he was still engaged to Kitty Kiernan.
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Oct 16, 1890 - Unknown 1890 - ?
Added Mar 17, 2012 by: Daniel Pinna
Daniel Pinna
6.46k+ favorites
Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd President of the United States, serving in the presidential office from March 4th, 1801 - March 4th, 1909. Thomas Jefferson was preceded by John Adams and was succeeded by James Madison. Thomas Jefferson was a founding father of the United States of America, and was a main author of the United States Declaration of Independence. This portrait of Thomas Jefferson was done by Rembrandt in 1800.
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Apr 13, 1743 - Jul 4, 1826 1743 - 1826
A photo of Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin in Yalta for the conference in which they discussed splitting up Germany after its defeat in World War Two. Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Franklin D Roosevelt was the President of the United States, and Joseph Staliin was the Premier of the Soviet Union. The Yalta Conference was held February 4–11, 1945. "The Big Three" discussed how to reorganize Europe after the end of World War Two. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
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Unknown - Unknown ? - ?
Image of Governor Simon Bradstreet, born March 18th 1603, and died March 27th 1697, was a powerful businessman and magistrate, in addition to being the last governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
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c. Mar 18, 1602 - Mar 27, 1697 1602 - 1697
A photo of a socialist group at the White House, 1920
Added Jan 11, 2012 by: Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces
450 favorites
Iroquois Indians in Buffalo New York in 1914. This was a panoramic photo, put together in two parts, so I split the photo back into two parts. While it is difficult to see the faces, the photo gives a wonderful sense of what life was like for these people. It looks to be the dead of winter. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, William A Drennan
A photo of John Sidney McCain III - son and grandson of 4 star admirals in the U.S. Navy. He attended the United States Naval Academy (graduating, as he joked, 5th from the bottom in his class in 1958 - he was a bit of a rebel) and after graduation became a naval aviator. In 1967, he requested combat duty and was assigned to an aircraft carrier in the Gulf in Tonkin. On October 26, 1967 his plane was shot down and he became a prisoner of war. After 5 and a half years as a prisoner of war and being severely tortured, John was released. The physical effects of his torture lasted the rest of his life. In the early 1980s, he entered politics in the state of Arizona, eventually becoming a U.S. Senator. While he was nominated for President by the Republican Party in 2008, he lost the race to Democrat Barack Obama. He remained the senior Senator from Arizona until his death from brain cancer in 2018.
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Aug 29, 1936 - Aug 25, 2018 1936 - 2018
Added Aug 25, 2018 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
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Thanksgiving maskers were children who dressed up on the last Thursday of November and begged for fruit and money. (This was before Halloween was celebrated.) There was a large uproar about this practice - newspapers denounced parents who allowed their children to follow this "hooligan" practice. These children look like they were having fun! Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain News Service
A photo of the Abraham Lincoln-Hannibel Hamlin campaign button for the 1860 presidential election. Born in 1809, he was about 51 years of age at the time this photo was taken. While we remember him as having a beard, he only grew the beard shortly before he was elected. On slavery, he said "Whenever I hear anyone arguing over slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."
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Feb 12, 1809 - Apr 15, 1865 1809 - 1865
A photo of Ross Perot in 1949 when he was President of his class at Texarkana Junior College. Henry Ray Perot was born to Lula May and Gabriel Ross Perot (a commodity broker) in Texarkana TX in 1930. (He later changed his middle name to Ross to honor his father.) He went to Patty Hill (a private school), Texas High School, and Texarkana Junior College (where this picture was taken). An Eagle Scout, he then graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1956, he married his wife, Margot. (They had 5 children.) After 5 years as a salesman for IBM, Perot founded his own company - Electronic Data Systems, EDS - in Dallas. A large contract was the computerizing of Medicare records for the government. In 1984, he sold controlling interest of the company to General Motors for $2.4 billion. In 1988, he founded Perot Systems Corporation, Inc. and later sold it to Dell for $3.9 billion. Perot is best known for his 3rd party Presidential runs in 1992 and 1996. While not winning any electoral votes in his 1992 run, he received almost 20 million votes - the largest share of votes by any 3rd party candidate (a record which still stands). His policies: "balancing the federal budget, [in] opposition to gun control, ending the outsourcing of jobs and enacting electronic direct democracy via electronic town halls". He was also "pro-choice, supported gay rights, stricter gun controls such as an assault rifle ban and increased research in AIDS" as well as a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood. In 2019, Perot was named the 167th richest person in America by Forbes and was worth an estimated $4.1 billion. He died on July 9th, 2019 of leukemia and is survived by his wife, 5 children, and 16 grandchildren.
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Jun 27, 1930 - Jul 9, 2019 1930 - 2019
Added Jul 9, 2019 by: Kathy Pinna
Kathy Pinna
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Elizabeth Keckley- dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln. She was born into slavery and became a successful seamstress, civil activist, author and dressmaker to the First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
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February 1818 - May 26, 1907 1818 - 1907
Senator Robert Kennedy discusses school with young Ricky Taggart of 733 Gates Ave. / World Telegram & Sun photo by Dick DeMarsico.
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Nov 20, 1925 - Jun 6, 1968 1925 - 1968
Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring and his wife with their children Cooper Coolidge, Marcus, and Melissa. The children are opening presents on Christmas Eve, 1937. Is it me, or does the oldest boy have more interesting presents than his sister? He has a whole train set with buildings - she has a . . . book?? Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Harris and Ewing.
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May 31, 1890 - September 1967 1890 - 1967
Husband and wife Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King taken in 1964. Coretta Scott King was born on April 27, 1927, and died on January 30, 2006. Coretta was a leader in promoting civil rights and racial equality before and after the death of her husband.
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Apr 28, 1927 - Jan 30, 2006 1927 - 2006
Cherokee Miss Ruth Muskrat presenting a survey or census of the Native American peoples entitled "The Red Man" to President Coolidge.
A drawing by Samuel Erhart of Santa Claus on Wall Street, for Puck Magazine,1913. The caption says "Chorus of Bankers and Brokers: Just say Christmas to us this year, that's all! We dare you!" The drawing shows a mob of bankers, brokers, and financiers yelling at Santa Claus. Santa is hanging off of a statue of George Washington which is standing outside of Federal Hall in Manhattan, New York. Here we are, 100 years later, and this satirical drawing could have been done today. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Samuel D. Erhart, artist. A little history: In the Spring of 1913, the 16th Amendment had been passed, establishing a permanent Federal Income Tax. In the Fall, the push for a Federal Reserve began in earnest. Wall Street and banks said that a Federal Reserve would be bad, but several Congress members pointed out that this was a position that was publicly taken to get the Reserve established: "You allowed the special interests by pretended dissatisfaction with the measure to bring about a sham battle, and the sham battle was for the purpose of diverting you people from the real remedy, and they diverted you. The Wall Street bluff has worked." Here is how Puck - a political magazine of the time - showed the battle. Wall Street won and the Reserve became law after the President signed a bill from Congress on December 23rd, 1913. Wall Street and bankers got their Christmas gift from Santa.
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c. 300 - Unknown 300 - ?
Newly discovered photo of a Young Abraham Lincoln.
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Feb 12, 1809 - Apr 15, 1865 1809 - 1865
Added Sep 28, 2011 by: Ivan Cruz
Ivan Cruz
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General Emiliano Zapata was a leader of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century (1910 - 1920). He commanded the Liberation Army of the South while Pancho Villa commanded the Liberation Division of the North. In 1919, Col. Jesus Guajardo invited Zapata to a meeting, under the guise of Guajardo's (erroneous) desire to defect to Zapata's army where Guajardo and his soldiers shot and killed Zapata. The photo here shows Zapata and his staff during the early part of the Mexican Revolution. (Zapata is seated at the desk, on the right.) Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain News Service
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Aug 8, 1879 - c. Apr 10, 1919 1879 - 1919
Portrait of Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley - the dressmaker to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. Born into slavery in 1818, in November 1855 she purchased her and her son's freedom in St. Louis Missouri. She later moved to Washington D.C. where she began a dressmaking business employing 20 seamstresses who provided fashion to the wives of elite politicians including Varina Davis (wife of Jefferson Davis), Mary Anna Custis Lee (wife of Robert E. Lee) and of course the First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
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February 1818 - May 26, 1907 1818 - 1907
Added Jun 17, 2020 by: Daniel Pinna
Daniel Pinna
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This is a photo of Warren G. Harding, half-length portrait, seated, at Elks' National Home, Bedford, Va. added by Ancient Faces on January 10, 2012. Elected the 29th President of the United States in 1920, Harding was successor to Woodrow Wilson who had spent the last part of his Presidency extremely ill. Harding therefore ran against Wilson (who was not up for re-election) with the slogan "return to normalcy". However, Harding's Presidency was cut short (about 2.5 yrs) by his own illness. He died in August of 1923 and was succeeded by his Vice-President, Calvin Coolidge. After Harding's death, the Teapot Dome scandal and his extra-marital affairs came to light.
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Nov 2, 1865 - Aug 2, 1923 1865 - 1923
A Japanese-American boy waiting on a San Francisco street to be "evacuated" to a detention camp. This boy was one of 664 San Francisco residents of Japanese ancestry sent "to be housed in a war relocation authority center for the duration". This was in June of 1942, 7 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. There are many other pictures of Manzanar, a relocation camp, on AncientFaces. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Dorothea Lange, photographer
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson was the second wife of President Woodrow Wilson and First Lady of the United States. Some referred to her as "the first woman to run the government" for the role she played when her husband suffered prolonged and disabling illness after a stroke in October 1919. She was born Edith Bolling (seen here at age 15) and married a jeweler, Norman Galt, in 1896. In 1908, her first husband died. She married President Woodrow Wilson (he was President when they met) in 1915. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
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Oct 15, 1872 - Dec 28, 1961 1872 - 1961
If you don't know about General Douglas MacArthur, you should read about him. "I shall return", a phrase he uttered after the U.S. Army was driven out Baatan, Superindent of West Point, Commander of U.S. Army Forces of the Far East during WW2, fired by Truman for insubordination - a long, decorated, and colorful career. He was an American legend when I was growing up. The caption says that the photo was taken between 1905 and 1945, I'm estimating around 1920 because of how old he looks. Someone with knowledge of medals (look at his chest!) could probably narrow it down. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing
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Jan 26, 1880 - April 1964 1880 - 1964
A photo of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944. You can see in this photo the toll the war was taking on the President. I'm not sure what speech this was or the exact date. This is an unpublished photo by Henry T. Garrett.
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Jan 30, 1882 - Apr 12, 1945 1882 - 1945
Presidential Scandals - 1776 through early 1900's
We all have our favorite Presidents, based on how we feel about them and their politics. Who historians rate as the "best"...
Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Prohibition
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Visual History of Voting in the United States
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The Suffering Suffragettes - When Women Couldn’t Vote
"Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less." - Susan B. Anthony Throughout the late 1800...
Martin Luther King Jr. Last Speech
Martin Luther King Jr. was born January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia to a Baptist minister and his wife, Alberta. Both f...
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