What quality are common among the toughest men in American history? Even though the answer to this question might vary depending on the location, era, and society’s perceptions at the time, most of us will agree that traditional
qualities of being brave and strong help separate real men from the rest (though bravery and strength do not equate with “good”, bad men can be brave and strong as well). Throughout the centuries, an alpha male’s ability and passion to take care of those who depend on him has been central to his masculinity. Men will work, fight, and do anything necessary to create a safe and happy environment for himself and those they love (usually their family). This has been the most acceptable role for a man for thousands of years and American society is no different. Of course, this is not saying that women are not as brave, strong, and courageous as any man. Not at all! However, on this list, we are going to focus on the toughest men in American history. Those men who have managed to stand above the rest via their actions and their sacrifice (whether good or bad). To avoid confusion, we’re not equating toughness with morality. Some of the toughest men in American history have been arguably quite immoral.



10. Abraham Lincoln
We all know that Lincoln carried on a no-holds-barred war against the South that eventually crushed its spirit. Of course, that’s enough for any man to gain badass status. But when it comes to Lincoln not many know that he was an incredibly tough wrestler. In fact, it’s rumored that he never lost a match. It’s a sage bet that if the Olympics or the WWE existed during his lifetime, he could have made a comfortable living using his wrestling skills, even if he never got elected.
9. Mike Tyson
During the mid-’80s Mike Tyson was considered the “baddest man on the planet.” He was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world and like no boxer before him, destroyed every challenger in the ring in minutes (even seconds in some cases). His name is synonymous with destruction, though nowadays Iron Mike is one of the calmest and most friendly celebrities you could meet.
8. Muhammad Ali
Arguably the most famous boxer who ever lived, Ali’s fame expanded beyond the boxing ring and his name became bigger than the sport itself. He’s considered one of the most important African Americans ever and the man who gave voice to many black people around the world to stand up and fight for their rights. He was outspoken and never afraid to speak his mind even though he grew up in a tough and racist era.
7. George Washington
As we all know (or should know) George Washington was the first president of the United States, the commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the country. He presided over the convention that drafted the Constitution and during his lifetime was called the “father of his country.”


6. Pat Tillman
Pat Tillman is a rare kind of man that you meet once in a generation. Why? Well, the man left a successful football career with the Arizona Cardinals (and a contract for millions of dollars) to enlist in the army in June 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. The official story was that he was shot by enemy forces during an ambush, but it was later revealed that he may have been killed by friendly fire.
5. Audie Murphy
Probably the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II, Murphy received every military combat award for valor available from the US Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. At nineteen Murphy received the Medal of Honor after single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.
4. Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux Indian chief who fought against removal to an Indian reservation during the nineteenth century. As conflicts escalated between his people and the US military, Crazy Horse was at the center of many key battles. In one of the most important and famous victories for his people, Crazy Horse led an attack on Captain William J. Fetterman and his brigade of eighty men. The Fetterman Massacre, as it came to be known, proved to be a huge embarrassment for the military. Shortly after, Crazy Horse teamed up with Sitting Bull to decimate Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and his esteemed Seventh Cavalry in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, perhaps the greatest victory ever by Native Americans over US troops, which gave Crazy Horse (and Sitting Bull) the legendary status as a warrior he has to this day.
3. Lawrence Patrick
Lawrence Patrick is considered one of the fathers of the crash test dummy and he’s probably the toughest scientist you’ve ever heard about. Between 1960 and 1975, while a biomechanics professor at Detroit’s Wayne State University, Patrick described his work by saying that he ”was a human crash-test dummy,” and trust us when we say he literally meant what he said. Patrick allowed himself to be subject to rocket sled rides, crushing blows to the head and body, and other forms of physical abuse in an effort to develop a body of data on how the human body responded in a vehicular accident.


2. Hugh Glass
Leonardo DiCaprio brings a legendary American figure to life in the most anticipated film of 2016, The Revenant, in which he portrays one of the toughest American men in history, Hugh Glass. His story is one for the ages. In 1823, when Glass was scouting for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, he was attacked by a grizzly bear. His throat was torn, his scalp hanging by a thread, and his back shredded. He was most certainly going to die, and the crew of scouts put him in a mini-grave. Well, it turned out that Glass wasn’t going to die after all. He regained consciousness to find that he had been left for dead with no food, weapons, or equipment. After he reset his broken leg, climbed out of his shallow grave, and cleaned his infected wounds, he headed for the nearest trace of civilization. If the 12 Oscar nominations are any indicator, the Revenant is a must see movie.
1. Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt was a walking repository of overflowing testosterone. During his life he was a rancher, deputy sheriff, explorer, police commissioner, assistant secretary of the navy, New York governor, war hero, vice president, and of course, president of the United States. Because of a sickly, asthma-ridden childhood, Roosevelt built himself up into the picture of the manly man. Teddy could box, was an ace at jujitsu, and walked around the White House with a gun like a boss. The outdoors was his love and he hiked, rode horseback, hunted, and roughed it whenever he could. Not to mention his numerous political and war achievements.

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