Age doesn’t seem to matter much when history shows how young people can accomplish so many great things. Here are just seven of them who accomplished great works when only 25 years old or younger:
Alexander the Great was 18 when his father, King Philip II of Macedonia, died and turned over the crown and an army of 3,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry to him. Persia was the military powerhouse of those times, and young Alexander followed in his father’s footsteps determined to wipe them out.
He was precocious as a child and brilliant as an adult. He read Homer learned from the intellects of the day — Aristotle, Diogenes and others who greatly influenced his thinking.
He united the Greek city states, learned to fight, ride and shoot, and handle the people he conquered.
His conquests took him from Macedonia across Southeastern Europe, the Middle East as far as India, and south to Egypt. There he built Alexandria with Greek influence.
He shared their Greek culture in those lands but didn’t impose it on the people.
His full name was Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. History books remember him simply as Lafayette, a French military man who was orphaned at age 12, and trained by the French Royal Army.
At 16, he married Marie Adrienne Francoise de Noailles from one of the wealthiest families in France.
At age 19, he decided to come to America to join the revolution against the British. He became an aide to George Washington, who soon made a major general.
He served nobly and was wounded in battle.
For the rest of his life, he supported building relationships between the U.S. and France — both countries considering him a true hero.
Sacagawea was only about 16 and pregnant when she and her husband, French-Canadian trapper, hunter and guide Toussaint Charbonneau were hired by the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition (1804-06).
The mission was to explore and map the Pacific Northwest under orders from President Jefferson following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803; learn all they could about everything and look for a practical route across the Northwest linking the rest of America with the Pacific Ocean.
They needed Sacagawea because she was a Lemhi Shoshone Indian from Idaho and could speak the Shoshone dialect when they’d meet them.
She’d been kidnapped by Hidatsa Indians when she was only 12, and then sold to Charbonneau to be his wife, or he won her gambling, according to another story.
Shortly after the expedition began, she gave birth to a son they named Jean-Baptiste. William Clark nicknamed him Pomp, whom he would later adopt and educate.
The expedition did meet with Sacagawea’s tribe and happily learned that her brother Cameahwait had become chief. Her brother was a big help in preparing the expedition for the next leg of their journey.
The expedition made it all the way to the Pacific and wintered near today’s Astoria, before returning to Missouri.
Jefferson received a map, full report and artifacts — and Sacagawea became a major figure in the history of America.
Joan of Arc was born about 1412 into a peasant family at Domrémy in northeast France.
She began her journey to martyrdom and sainthood at age 13, when she claimed to have visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine of Alexandria telling her to go see Charles VII and help him reconquer his kingdom, under siege from England and Burgundy late in the Hundred Years War.
She was captured in battle and after a sham trial was condemned to death for heresy, witchcraft and idolatry.
On May 30, 1431, at the age of 19, she was burned at the stake in Rouen, France.
Thirty years later, her case was retried, and she was exonerated. In 1920, Pope Benedict XV canonized her.
She’s now St. Joan, the patron saint of soldiers and France.
William Pitt the Younger was born in Kent, England, into a noble family, was tutored at home and entered Cambridge University at age 14. He graduated at 17 and was elected to Parliament at age 21.
A year later in 1782, he became Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Those were turbulent times — especially for a young man inexperienced in politics — bright though he was.
King George III still reigned, and the American colonies were fighting for independence and Britain was losing.
The Irish were also up in arms against British rule.
And across the Channel, heads were rolling during the French Revolution, followed by Napoleon’s rampage in Europe.
In December 1783, King George dismissed Parliament and called on the 24-year-old Pitt to form a new government.
For 20 years, Pitt would deal with the headaches of imposing new taxes — including Britain’s first income tax — reforming the custom’s operation, and mourn the loss of England’s great naval hero Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Pitt left office in 1801, but served again as Prime Minister from 1804 until his death in 1806 at age 46.
Popular with the public, he was remembered as “Honest Billy.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child musical prodigy born in Salzburg in 1756, with the good luck of his father Leopold Mozart musically gifted. By age 5, the boy could play the harpsichord and violin — and compose music.
His musical genius was soon recognized and the youngster performed in recitations across Europe — including for royalty.
Sadly, financial woes and ill health dogged Mozart most of his life, but he created a legacy of great works such as his operas “The Magic Flute,” “Don Giovanni,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” as well as the “Symphony No. 40” in G minor, and “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”
He was married and had two sons when he died of causes still unknown at his home in Vienna at the age of 35.
Under gloomy skies, only five friends standing under umbrellas in the rain attended his burial in a common grave.
In his short life, Mozart wrote more than 600 quality musical works — the most of any classical composer. The works include symphonies, church music, songs and operas.
One biographer said Mozart was “one of the most talented and prodigious musical composers of all time.” And his composer friend Joseph Haydn wrote, “Posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”
Co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs was a loner. Born in 1955 in San Francisco and adopted, he loved tinkering with electronics, and helping his adoptive dad to build things.
During his teen years, his expanding interests included pranks, girls, calligraphy, music and literature — especially Bob Dylan and Shakespeare.
Steve found school boring and didn’t like sports, but did like his summer job at Hewlett-Packard assembling electronics.
Meeting Steve Wozniak, the two invented and illegally sold a “blue box” that allowed making free phone calls.
Jobs joined the hippie movement of the 1960s and ’70s that was sweeping traditional American culture aside — pot, LSD, “seeking enlightenment” in India and enjoying free meals at Hare Krishna temples.
In 1976 when Steve was 21, he and Woz were joined by newcomer Ron Wayne and incorporated Apple Computers Inc. From the Jobs family garage, the trio started making and selling computers.
The world of electronics was about to make a big change in how we live.
About that same time, Jobs and another friend, Robert “Toxic Bob” Friedland, operated an apple farm near Portland, Ore., owned by Friedland’s rich uncle, and planned to create a “a spiritual utopian community, a place for countercultural post-hippie freaks and seekers to explore new psychic dimensions and push the limits of consciousness.”
Hippies, Hare Krishna devotees and nut cases soon swarmed in. It didn’t last.
In the years that followed, Steve’s life was a blur of corporate names, big business deals, big money, new electronic gadgetry and corporate board battles.
After one such board battle, Jobs was kicked out — only to return as boss several years later.
Then his liver transplant failed.?On Oct. 5, 2011, Steve Jobs died at home, surrounded by family — leaving the world a very different place than when he found it.
Those Magnificent Seven made a difference — and wisely they started young.
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Contact Syd Albright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Road to the top…
“Before Apple, Steve Jobs was an acid-gobbling, horticulturalist commune dweller.”
— Meagan Day, Timeline
Staying in power…
William Pitt the Younger served as U.K. Prime Minster for 18 years and 343 days — the second-longest time served among Prime Ministers.
“Although Alexander’s army was outnumbered, he used his flair for military strategy to create formations that defeated the Persians again and caused Darius to flee. In November of 333, Alexander declared himself the king of Persia after capturing Darius and making him a fugitive.”
— A&E Television Network
“When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.”
— Marquis de Lafayette
Get off your rusty dusty…
“I always advise people – Don’t wait! Do something when you are young, when you have nothing to lose, and keep that in mind. That’s why we started Apple. We said you know, we have absolutely nothing to lose. I was 20 years old at the time.”
— Steve Jobs
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