Weird History
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10 Pairs of Historical Figures You Had No Idea Hated Each Other

Updated September 12, 2019 75.6k views10 items

There’s no shortage of news stories covering famous people who hated each other in pop culture’s recent years. Singers, models, and actors seem to have a way of creating drama with one another both on and off the stage just as easily as they breathe. But what about historical figures who hated each other? 

Believe it or not, history is full of people who straight up couldn’t stand the sight of one another. Famous enemies in history have included presidents, scientists, painters, inventors, military leaders, and authors. No profession has ever been too "proper" for a good, old-fashioned rivalry at one time on another. This list contains some of the most popular historical figures who were enemies and the ridiculous ways they tried to humiliate one another.

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  • Confederate President Jefferson Davis And General Joseph E. Johnston

    Confederate President Jefferson Davis And General Joseph E. Johnston
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The trouble between Jefferson Davis and General Joseph E. Johnston began long before they served (begrudgingly) side-by-side in the Civil War - some even say the two men fought over a girl while attending West Point. During the war, the two men couldn’t stop pointing out flaws, downplaying any successes, and flat-out blaming each other for any failures.

    Johnston accusingly said Davis was trying to “tarnish my fair fame as a soldier and a man,” after Davis effectively gave Johnston a lower military rank by promoting another officer. Davis responded that Johnston’s accusations were “as unfounded as they are unbecoming.”


    After losing Vicksburg, Mississippi to Union forces in 1863, Davis blamed Johnston for the loss, scolding for “abandonment of your duties.” In July of 1864, Davis relieved Johnston of command over the Army of Tennessee, so of course Johnson took the removal as a personal attack and accused Davis of meddling in his field strategy. Even after the war ended the two men kept at each other. They both wrote memoirs to defend their own actions and place all of the blame for the Confederate defeat on the other.

  • Gore Vidal And William Buckley

    William Buckley was once asked if there was one person he refused to share a stage with and he responded, Gore Vidal. The two writers were at odds for years, long before their legendary live debate blow up. The big explosion happened when they both appeared in televised debates during the Republican National Convention in 1968.

    When asked about the (hypothetical) response to raising a Nazi flag during the Second World War, Vidal stated he felt people should be able to express their political views however they saw fit. Buckley jumped in at this point and agreed people were free to express their views, but others were free to ostracize them for doing so.

    Buckley went on to point out that "some people were pro-Nazi and they were well-treated by those who ostracized them – and I'm for ostracizing people who egg on other people to shoot American Marines and American soldiers. I know you [Vidal] don't care because you have no sense of identification with -."

    Vidal cut in with,"the only sort of pro- or crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself."

    At this point Buckley, visibly fuming, stood up and said to Vidal, "Now, listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in your goddamn face, and you'll stay plastered."

    Buckley later apologized for using the word queer in the context that he did, but not for any of the other stuff. He totally meant all the other stuff.