Courage defined by Mandela, Churchill, Ali, and Angelou

Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:

“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:

“The ability to do something that frightens one.”

I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...

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This Congressman Chose To Fight


When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier. 

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Sybil Ludington: The Female Night Rider


...All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up...

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How Clara Barton (Founder of the American Red Cross) overcame her paralyzing fear of people.

Clara was terrified. She silently scanned the room full of students in front of her, wondering what to say. She was only 16 years old; some of her students were older and much larger than herself. She couldn’t do this. She just couldn’t.

You see, Clara Barton was a terribly shy girl...

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Louis Pasteur, inventor of "Pasteurization", silences haters.

Where did Pasteur’s inspiration come from? Fellow scientists and doctors sometimes laughed at him. Be it from jealousy or genuine disbelief, his peers fought him on many points for years and years. And yet Pasteur never gave up. He worked hard on his practical science until the time he died. What drove him to such a hard worked life?

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Theodore Roosevelt: It Takes More Than That To Kill A Bull Moose

During a campaign speech in 1912, Roosevelt was shot in the chest. Displaying his bloody shirt to the crowd he declared: “it takes more than that to kill a bull moose” and refused to seek medical help until he had completed his 90 minute speech.

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Deitrich Bonhoeffer: The Man Who Ran Towards Danger

What's your biggest fear? If you were given the opportunity to escape your biggest fear, would you? Most of us would probably say yes. So did Deitrich Bonhoeffer when he was given the opportunity to escape Nazi Germany before the beginning of WWII... but true courage is a journey, he'd be back...

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Alice Paul: Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.

Though few have heard her name, Alice Paul’s courage was the driving force behind women winning the right to vote in the United States.

The seed for women’s suffrage (the right to vote in political elections) was planted early in Alice’s life by her mother, who would often bring her along to her suffrage meetings.

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Alexander Hamilton: The Founding Father Blown to America by a Hurricane

Amongst the founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton was forever known as The Outsider. Why? Because the fact that he even got to the United States, let alone became a leader here, is a miracle. How did a poor boy born on an island in the West Indies end up leading the United States of America? The answer: hard work, determination, and two hurricanes...

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15 year old Claudette fights the law and wins

Most people know the story of Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus. Few people know the courage of Claudette Colvin.

Claudette Colvin was ONLY 15 when she refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat.

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Bass Reeves: Braver than a criminal, Righteous as an angel.

Bass Reeves was an African American, U.S. Deputy Marshal who helped maintain law and order in the wildest, most dangerous area of the American Wild West. He was a criminals worst nightmare and a fellow law officers dream come true. But he wasn't always this highly respected maverick. Bass was born into slavery...

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Rosenstrasse: The Women Who Beat Hitler

It was a cold February day in 1943. A multitude of German women stood outside a Jewish community center holding hands and shouting “give us our husbands back!”. Nazi police came to the scene...

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How Margaret Corbin Won America With A Cannon And Courage

On November 16, 1776, Fort Washington, in modern day Manhattan was attacked by the British. John Corbin manned his place firing a cannon with the other 600 American soldiers. Margaret Corbin watched as her husband...

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