Weird History
253 voters

Historical Figures Who Were Accomplishing Feats Of Greatness A Lot Younger Than You Thought

Updated November 19, 2020 2.0k votes 253 voters 17.9k views19 items

List RulesVote up the historical figures whose youthful successes are most surprising.

Some of history's most notable individuals were high achievers at a surprisingly young age. Many of the men and women on this list - ranging from emperors to film stars and chess players - began their careers as children; others boasted significant accomplishments in young adulthood. All of them did something noteworthy before the age of 25.

Want to feel old? Read on to find out just how young some of history's biggest talents were when they started to accomplish great things.

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  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    Louis Braille Invented The Braille Language For The Blind At 15

    Born in France in 1809, Louis Braille was blinded at the age of just 3 years old. Braille didn't let his condition limit what he could do, however.

    While a student at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in 1824, Braille met Charles Barbier, an officer who had developed "sonography," a system of written communication based on raised dots.

    Though Barbier had developed his system with the French Army in mind, 15-year-old Braille believed a similar method could be used by people who were blind - and so he went to work creating what is now known as "braille."

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  • One of the most legendary conquerors got his start as a teenager. Alexander - not yet "the Great" - was born in 356 BC into the Macedonian royal family. 

    When Alexander was 16, his father, Philip II, went away on a military campaign and put the kingdom in Alexander's hands. Alexander marked the occasion by leading the Macedonians to victory against the Thracians and acquiring the first part of what would become a vast empire.

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  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Born in Ohio in 1860, Annie Oakley - perhaps the most mythologized sharpshooters in American history - saw sidearms as a way to support her family. According to Oakley, she first took up a pistol to feed her family. The target was a squirrel. "I was 8 years old when I made my first shot, and I still consider it one of the best shots I ever made," she said.

    That first shot would inaugurate a legendary career. Oakley's hunting not only fed her family but also generated an income. She sold some of the game from hunts to area shops for a profit. She made so much money that by the age of 15, Oakley paid off her mother's mortgage.

    Oakley's shooting was so good that she entered - and won - competitions as a teenager, and went on to enjoy international fame.

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  • Photo: John Trumbull / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Alexander Hamilton was one of the youngest Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in the British West Indies in 1755 or 1757, he arrived in New York as a teenager and quickly made a name for himself. 

    In 1777, Hamilton received a plum post as one of General George Washington's aides-de-camp. This means that the young Hamilton lived and worked in close proximity to one of the most important leaders of the American Revolution. 

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