Some of the most inspiring individuals in history come from very humble beginnings. Take Benjamin Franklin, for example. Here’s a man who was the son of a candlemaker and the 15th of 17 children. He had only two years of formal education. At the age of 17, Franklin left home and traveled to Philadelphia where he created an enormously successful printing business. He went on to publish Poor Richard’s Almanac—a book filled with proverbs preaching industry and prudence. It was publish continuously for 25 years and became one of the most popular publications in colonial America, selling an average of 10,000 copies a year. Add inventor, thinker, scientist and statesman to Franklin’s resume as well.

Born in Grantham, a small market town in Eastern England, Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a grocer. Her family’s social life was rooted in the principles of self-help, charitable work and personal truthfulness. Thatcher went on to become Prime Minister, and she successfully revived the economy, reformed outdated institutions, and reinvigorated foreign policy. Not bad for the daughter of a grocer.

Former President Bill Clinton was the son of a salesman—his father died in a car crash several months before he was born. He lived with his grandparents as a young child while his mother was away at nursing school. Clinton was reading by the age of three and quickly threw himself into the political scene at Georgetown University. He became one of the youngest governors in American history and went on to become the 42nd President of the United States.

The granddaughter of slaves, Rosa Parks attended a small, segregated school in Pine Level, AL. She dropped out of high school to care for her mother and granddaughter. In 1943, she joined the NAACP and served as secretary to NAACP President until 1957. Parks is most famously known for her refusal to surrender her bus seat, sparking a 381 day long bus boycott in Montgomery, AL. She helped launch a nationwide effort to end segregation of public facilities.

To learn more details about each of these leaders with humble beginnings, check out this infographic from

Leaders From Humble Beginnings

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