Greatest benefactor of humanity among all world leaders of history

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,740
Athens, Greece
I would nominate FDR as a leader with a significant overall positive contribution to mankind; he was instrumental in defeating the Axis in WWII, and also promoted social and economic policies that improved the lives of millions, in America and in Europe. The post-war welfare state and the regulated model of capitalism that lasted for several decades (until the 70's-'80's), perhaps the most successful period of western capitalism, was to a large extent his creation and an offspring of the New Deal. He showed that capitalism with a human, social face is completely possible, even in its heartland, the USA.

@Willempie: Not Churchill, for heaven's sake, the man was too controversial to even consider his inclusion in such a list.
 

Solidaire

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,740
Athens, Greece
I would also nominate Cyrus the Great and Pericles of Athens, both of whom had a lasting legacy. Cyrus influenced civilisation in a multitude of positve ways, an influence that reached across the centuries, East and West. Pericles was the man that orchestrated the Golden Age of Athens, many of the cultural achievements that ancient Greece is known and important for come from this Athenian period.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,030
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao did things which greatly benefited mankind by dying.
 
Feb 2019
671
Thrace
Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao did things which greatly benefited mankind by dying.
Professor Jack Weatherford tries to exclude Ghenghis from the category of overall unproductive genocidal rulers such as Hitler or Tamerlane in his book, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

I haven't gotten my hands on a copy yet and only read its wiki page but the book has received generally positive reviews. I can hardly imagine a serious academic nowadays making a similar work regarding the former two.

Summary of Genghis Khan's contributions according to him (taken from wikipedia):

  • Unprecedented religious tolerance
  • Low level of discrimination toward other races
  • Low level of meddling with local customs and culture
  • The idea of rule by consensus within Mongol tribes
  • Culture of meritocracy
  • Culture that believed in the rule of law
  • Strong sponsorship of Eurasian trade
  • Building of roads to support trade
  • First culture to promote universal literacy
  • First international postal system
  • First widespread use of paper money
  • Reduction of the use of torture in the penal system
  • Belief in diplomatic immunity for ambassadors/envoys
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,744
Las Vegas, NV USA
Two nominees: Abe Lincoln for ending slavery and preserving the Union which played a generally positive role in the world until the Vietnam War.

Pericles who oversaw the Golden Age of Athens which informed democratic values in later times. It's true he was granted sweeping powers to deal with the Peloponnesian War but he did not abuse them AFAIK.
 
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May 2019
385
Earth
I would nominate FDR as a leader with a significant overall positive contribution to mankind; he was instrumental in defeating the Axis in WWII, and also promoted social and economic policies that improved the lives of millions, in America and in Europe. The post-war welfare state and the regulated model of capitalism that lasted for several decades (until the 70's-'80's), perhaps the most successful period of western capitalism, was to a large extent his creation and an offspring of the New Deal. He showed that capitalism with a human, social face is completely possible, even in its heartland, the USA.
While I can agree with a lot of what you're saying, I'd just like to point out that FDR's Indian Reorganization Act was something that quite a few indigenous people these days still don't look on with the fondest of memories. It was essentially another step in breaking down tribal traditions by imposing 'anglo' style constitutional government in place of traditional councils or constitutions wholly developed by the tribes. Under the IRA, the actions of the new tribal governments were made subject to the review of the Department of the Interior, which quite a few tribes did not view as an improvement of their sovereignty. It's true that technically all tribes were allowed to vote on whether to implement IRA style constitutions, but this voting was sometimes done in such a way that did not reflect the true will of the people. For example, in Lakota culture, abstaining votes were usually considered a negative vote, but under the IRA's voting rules abstentions were counted as positive votes. The IRA was a blanket policy that did not take into consideration individual cultural or political traditions of different tribes. Additionally, the IRA treated reservations as single units under IRA constitutions, despite the fact that on many reservations there were multiple tribes living who traditionally had their own councils and interactions with the BIA. In some cases it basically took power away from experienced chiefs or councilors and gave them to new governments that were not adequately prepared for this new style of Indian-USA political interaction. The IRA was, imo, essentially a non-Indian's view of what was best for Indians, without much consideration for traditional Indian forms of government or the differences between tribes. I believe it had some good intentions, but the reality was not the best.

I just wanted to mention this because I believe that, in the USA, the retrospective view of FDR and his policies does not always include the Indian view, and imo it's one that's worth considering when evaluating him as a president.
 
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Oct 2018
2,090
Sydney
I sympathize with the selection of Augustus. His reforms to the army, grain supply, administration, etc brought much-needed stability, and he replaced a long disordered republic with a system of rule which, while autocratic, gave the Roman Empire a political modus operandi that kept going for one and a half more millennia. As for what everyday people thought of this development, we can't really know since the surviving testimony is heavily laced with Augustan propaganda. But scholars have suggested that the stability of his rule vis-a-vis the civil wars that preceded it, in combination with the extraordinary longevity of his rule and his presentation of an ongoing Republic, ensured that the power arrangement that he created came to be accepted as the norm. That said, he did play a leading role in the very civil wars to which he was the remedy, and he did forcibly take autocratic power. There are more modern names (e.g. Woodrow Wilson, FDR) who better suit the thread moniker.
 
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