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If you could meet any one person in history and ask that one person one question; who would you pick and what would you ask?

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: October 31, 2010 
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If you could meet any one person in history and ask that one person one question; who would you pick and what would you ask?


89 Responses to “If you could meet any one person in history and ask that one person one question; who would you pick and what would you ask?”


  1. 1
    John Dwyer says:

    Davy Crockett "Can I join you and learn as many skills as I can in the Wild West"?

  2. 2
    Mike H. says:

    Robert S. Macnamara: "What i the World made you think you were qualified to run the fiest Armed Forces on the planet, as you almost ruined this force for nearly a generation?"

  3. 3

    [...] Endless: If you could meet any one person in history and ask that one person one question; who would you pick… [...]

  4. 4
    Elijah says:

    Champ Ferguson: "What drove you to do what you did during your lifetime?"

  5. 5
    Julie says:

    Benjamin Franklin.. Is this how you envisioned the America you helped create???

  6. 6
    cmhicksusmc says:

    Thomas Paine- Is this how you envisioned the America you helped create?

  7. 7
    Jens-Martin Mehler says:

    Hannibal: Why did you not march on Rome after Cannae?

    • 7.1
      James Bruce says:

      Army wasn't sufficient to conquer such a city: needed reinforcements and siege equipment.

      • 7.1.1
        Jens says:

        1. Reinforcement could have been brought from Carthage
        2. Other cities, far better protected by walls and defensive systems than Rome, like for example Syracusae, have been taken, as the Romans showed later. Hannibal also took Sagunt before… He could have starved Rome into surrender.

    • 7.2
      oscar says:

      después de la batalla de Cannas salio muy tocado y tendria que haber marchado 100 kilometros aún

  8. 8
    Luke says:

    Charlemgne: How the heck is gavelkind an effective inheritence process?!?!

  9. 9
    James Bruce says:

    General von Paulus: Why didn't you retreat on 21st November (or earlier) from Stalingrad?

    Adolf Hitler: Why didn't you make Me 262's as fighters from the start?

    Joe Stalin: Did you care about the million's of lives lost under your leadership? Why did you ignore clear evidence of German invasion?

    • 9.1
      Dennis Gleason says:

      Uncle Joe once said, "One man's death is a tragedy. A million is just a statistic."

  10. 10
    Dennis Hammons says:

    Thomas J. Jackson- Do you have any regrets?

  11. 11
    Roger says:

    Noah, What kind of tools did you use to build the ark?

    • 11.1
      Michael says:

      I am sorry, but the question asked which person from "history".

      • 11.1.1
        Oscar says:

        Noah was a person from history. The Bible is known to be a trustworthy history book.

      • 11.1.2
        Jackson says:

        Although some parts of the bible have historic detail in it (I'm talking about the parts that mention Cyrus the Great liberating the Jews, and the LIFE of Jesus [notice how I'm not saying the miracles or resurrection of Jesus]) However, just because the bible has some historic references reflective on the times they were written, does not mean we should assume all information presented in the Bible is true especially when (approximation) 80% of the world does not believe in the message of the Bible. Some parts of the Bible are and should be used as primary/secondary evidence for historic events, however some of the more creationist/supernatural aspects of the Bible should be kept in the nice, neat, and controversial box we call religion.

        - Im a high school student.

    • 11.2
      nalle says:

      are you an idiot

  12. 12
    fleadh says:

    Éamon de Valera –

    Why on Earth did you offer condolences to the German ambassador of Ireland on the death of Adolf Hitler?

    And how much do you regret, if you regret it at all, the decision to walk from the Dáil after the ratification of the Treaty in January 1922? This inevitably led to the disastrous Irish Civil War.

    • 12.1
      Joe Valliant says:

      God alone can answer for the vagaries of the Irish, but bless 'em anyway! They have given us so much in terms of music, laughter and high spirits. They should be forgiven their politics and politicians for Guiness stout, Irish whiskey (I don't drink distilled spirits but I hear good things of it from those who do) and music, poetry and prose. I can think of few nations who, though oppresssed for generations by Church and State, who have stayed so lively and optimistic, which makes the Irish people a good example for us all.

      • 12.1.1
        sukiyhtaky says:

        You would forgive the deliberate torture, murder and extermination of 12,000,000 souls for whiskey and jokes? Really? Sounds like that figure should have been 12,000,001.

  13. 13
    Fred says:

    FDR Did you or did you not have any previous warning about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

    • 13.1
      Shooter1001 says:

      I didn't need a warning! What do you think the Japs would do after I cut off their oil and put the entire Pacific fleet sitting there at Pearl Harbor. The Japs had millions of troops in China and needed oil. They had not as yet taken any European colonies in SE Asia for oil. If they were to take these colonies they could not tolerate interference from the US fleet. It had to be neutralized.
      I also had a depression on my hands for almost a decade and nothing I tried brought us back economically. The US needed a war but the country was deeply isolationist. How could I get us into this war?
      My administration was rancid with leftists and communists and Stalin was in deep trouble. I believed in Socialism, I wanted to help the USSR.
      I also despised the British Empire and made its dissolution the price that Churchill had to pay for US entry into the war.
      I got lucky when Hitler declared war on us. Everything fell into place better than if I had planned it. Stalin made the mistake of insisting on a 'Western Front'. He underestimated the speed which he was able to take Eastern Europe. Without a 'Normandy', he could have swept across Europe to the English Channel. He could never be removed and we'd have a glorious one world Socialist Utopia now!

      • 13.1.1
        Guillermo Horruitiner says:

        Brilliant !!!
        What a good answer. You know history.

  14. 14
    Chuck says:

    Nathan Hale…Did you really say "I regret I have but one life to lose for my country?" If you did you are truly a great patriot.
    Chuck in Montana

  15. 15
    Mrs Stone says:

    eve, why did you have to bite the apple? This is where is started to go down hill for all of humanity.

    • 15.1
      Joe Valliant says:

      Dear Ms. Stone, it was no apple; it was the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and what human being,(woman or man0 would forego that oppirtunity just on her/his spouse's say-so?

      • 15.1.1
        Michael says:

        Dear Joe Valliant, it is irrelevant as Eve was not a historical figure.

      • 15.1.2
        sukiyhtaky says:

        Michael don't be so pompous as to think you are the end all and know all to judge who and/or what was historical. Joe's beliefs are just as valid as yours.

      • 15.1.3
        Michael says:

        I realize that a random history forum is not the correct setting for this kind of argument but out of boredom, I will respond. I don't claim that I am the end all and know all, but you have to admit that there is a clear distinction between historical theory and belief. In order for something for be even considered somewhat historically accurate there has to be adequate evidence. There is no evidence outside of the bible for the story of Adam and Eve and more importantly, it flies in the face of logic and overwhelming scientific evidence.

      • 15.1.4
        sukiyhtaky says:

        When you make such a blanket statement though Michael you open yourself up to that criticism though. I have lived long enough to have some really really strange phenom happen to me. Things that unnerved my sense of rationality so much that I went to a shrink to see if I was nuts. As it happens, while being a man of science, he collects and documents these kinds of things because he said too many of his patients who were not delusional were having them. Is there a God, is the Bible a collection of creative short stories or a literal history? Did Eve partake of the knowledge of good and evil? All I can say about Eve is that if anyone was going to do it it would be a woman since we are much smarter and more inquisitive than men (<—blanket statement :) and more likely the one to push the envelope. Again, I have seen too much personally to not know there is something more—another dimension or reality? a God? I still don't know the answer to that, but I do know we need to extend deference and respect to other beliefs and life experiences because we just can't be sure. Besides there is just enough in the Bible that is verifiable to throw the monkey wrench of doubt in.

    • 15.2
      Michael says:

      Well lets be clear, I am not saying that none of these things definitely do not exist. I am saying that there is no reason to believe that any of these things exist. There is no definitive proof for the existence of any of the gods or any supernatural phenomenon for that matter. If I told you that I believed in the tooth fairy just because my parents never told me they took my teeth, I would not expect you to respect my views. In fact, I would judge you if you didn't try to correct my illogical claims.

      • 15.2.1
        sukiyhtaky says:

        Michael…when I was in high school I went to bed early one night and fell into a deep sleep, the result of battling a bad flu for about a week. At 2:35, I woke up and sat upright in bed. At the end of my bed stood a man in regular clothes, bathed in a very bright light from head to toe. He did not speak, I did not speak, we just locked eyes. I knew by some inner instinct that this person was my mother's brother, George, a master sergeant in the Army, and a person I had never met or seen a picture of due to a rift in the family before I was even born. I was not afraid, I just looked at him. After a minute or so, my thought was to look at my clock—2:35—and I went back to sleep just as easily as I had woken up. At 6:30 the phone rang in our living room (those were the days of one phone and no cells) and as was my way I ran to get it so my parents wouldn't be disturbed. As I past my parent's bedroom, I saw my mother getting up and I told her I would get it and I said…"I think it is about your brother." I answered and it was my mother's sister with the message that George had been killed in a car accident at…what time? you got it…2:35 which is the time his watch had been stopped at. Had I not said to my mother the call was about her brother, I would have had no proof of my dream/vision/whatever. You can call it what you will, I lived it and I know what happened. I have had many incidents like that all involving people dying since then. I don't fear death because I know it is a transition to another life/realm. If you believe me or not, I don't care as I am not a missionary for any religious doctrine, but I know there are things unseen with no proof.

      • 15.2.2
        No Secrets says:

        To sukiyhtaky… really cool how those things happen in our lives. Some to lesser degrees and forgotten/ignored. Sorry about the family problem. I had a couple of instances like answering a phone awakened out of a deep sleep and before anyone spoke, I said Hello, are you calling about the windows? Never knew why I said that, but the other person was silent for a moment and said how on earth did you know that? He was calling from Colorado, and wanted to buy some beveled glass windows I had shown him for sale nearly a year before his call. I had not heard from him after showing him the windows. He traveled through lots of States buying antiques as architectural supplies for builders. Scared me that I said that, as well as the caller. (This was before Caller ID on phones was even heard of.) He drove from Colorado to buy the windows and we both were in awe about the event when he arrived a couple of days later. How do those things happen? Someday we will all know everything perfectly clear, and understand. No one will have dibs on smarts or knowing more than anyone else, no matter how many educational degrees or experiences anyone has. Perfect knowledge, perfect bodies, perfect love, Heaven.

    • 15.3
      NotKidOfCain says:

      There are only 3 types of females in the world. Eve, Mary, and those deciding which way to go. Eve wanted to be like God and Adam… she was jealous and greedy. She brought us Death, pain and suffering. Mary brought us Jesus and salvation and access to eternal heaven. Adam originally had both sex organs and popped kids who traveled around, some living in the Land of Nod (in scripture). God put him in deep sleep and took the organs that contained what we call female organs, out of him and put them in "woman" later called Eve. Evidence was left on Adam… why does he have breasts with nipples when he does not have the milk producing ability… why when we start out in our mom's womb, are we all one sex then either remain that sex or develop to the opposite? Why in scripture when Adam & Eve produced daughters and the daughters were introduced to the Giants (so called because larger with both sex organs) did the Giants look at the females and "take them as wives" — what did they do with their own wives — uh oh, there weren't any… Better realize some mysteries are being opened to many now. Maybe this is one for you to think about… in doing so, why isn't there ANY name in any language that does not give the "opposite sex" a name without connecting to male… Not considering "titles" like Miss etc, but rather identity names.

  16. 16
    Francile Manuel Cook says:

    Calvin Warnell Polk. I would want to know why he enjoyed being a child cowboy so much. He was in on the first chase from the Texas Panhandle, age 17, to which they were after the cattle, not the man
    Billy the Kid. LX ranch was where he hung his hat.

  17. 17
    slarmer says:

    Robert E. Lee
    Looking back, what would you do differently?

    • 17.1
      Shooter1001 says:

      I'd rescind the order to George Pickett to charge. It would have been better to leave the field than to lose so many men.

    • 17.2
      Alan says:

      I would ask him Why the Confederacy? I do not think we can understand that decision in the context of todays US.

  18. 18
    Richard says:

    Hitler… why didn't you equip your soldiers with winter clothing in 1941?

  19. 19
    andrew nelson says:

    Woodrow Wilson- Why didn't you see Ho Chi Minh in 1919, thus potentially stopping the Vietnam war ever happening?

  20. 20
    No Secrets says:

    To 15.1.3, Michael, (were you named after the ArchAngel?) don't worry about logic or scientific evidence when you cannot understand or explain the veins in your hands even. Onward… there are three I would like to question. First, Eve. What did that Devil tell you and what did he do to you. Next, Torry Hansen. Why did you send that 7 yr old back to Russia. Last, Terri Horman. To whom did you sell Kyron. I guess history to me can be yesterday's events… but events that answers could resolve a lot of problems and misery in the world today.

    • 20.1
      Michael says:

      I don't understand the veins in my hands even? What are you talking about? Of course I am worried about logic, that's what every single person should be worried about at all times. All beliefs and actions should be logical (ie. they should make sense).

  21. 21
    Jeff says:

    To Allen Dulles: why did you reject Lenin's visa request, without even meeting with him? In retrospect, did you think otherwise at some future point in time?

  22. 22
    Ted says:

    easy…jesus christ….Whos your daddy?

  23. 23
    No Secrets says:

    Hi Ted. Well, read what was said about him… God said This is my son in whom I am well pleased. Also, God sent his "only begotten son" into the world… "begotten" means taken out of human flesh, physical. It's all extremely fantastic, our being, our living one life and how and why this is all happening.

  24. 24
    John says:

    Wow!!! 22 posts to finally get to Jesus. 22 chapters in Revelation. Jus sayin…

    Woodrow effing Wilson and Allen Dulles and Robert McNamara????

    What are you people smoking?

  25. 25
    Scott W says:

    Thomas Jefferson-
    How do you reconcile owning slaves with writing "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."?

    • 25.1
      Alan says:

      Agreed, but you have to understand that Blacks where not considerd propery not people. Just imagine how different the US and the world would be if we started off on the right foot.

      • 25.1.1
        Shooter1001 says:

        Slavery had always been with mankind and exists now! I don't think secession would have occurred over slavery alone. Other factors such as tariffs were more economically critical issues to North and South. Slavery among large nations was becoming less practical. Great Britain had freed its slaves even before secession. I'm sure that France, Holland, Spain and Portugal had all freed theirs as well during that period.
        Slavery had become economically infeasible. Caring for them, chasing escapees and the fear of rebellion and murder were always concerns. Much better for large landowners would be a system of share cropping. The landowners held the land and no longer had to care for the freed ex-slaves. Now there was an incentive for blacks to produce! Where would most of them go anyway? Northern factories? Fine, but most would stay on the plantation just like before.
        Slavery alone seemed hardly worth fighting for.

  26. 26
    Connie Jones says:

    Betsy Ross; How did you come up with the idea for the American flag?

    • 26.1
      Stephanie says:

      Connie – hate to burst your bubble but there is no credible evidence that Betsy Ross made the first American flag.

    • 26.2
      jenny says:

      She was the seamstress for the flag not the designer.

  27. 27
    Jennifer from Down-Under says:

    Can I have a couple of goes?
    1) To Abraham Lincoln one of the few leaders of nations at war who was motivated not by greed, really, but by what was right. Abraham, How did you stay sane through-out the horrors of the Civil War?
    2) To Jackie Kennedy. Can you tell your story of the events on 22nd Nov 1963? What is your understanding of who killed and why your husband assassinated?

  28. 28
    Santayana says:

    "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

  29. 29
    Kevin says:

    The idiots that voted for Obama. LMAO Obama should make history behind Carter as the two that screwed us out of billions. Has this dude ever told the truth?

    • 29.1
      Jenny says:

      Apparently Obama was truthful when he worked in South Chicago for 3 years on $10,000 per year to help the people improve their lives. Have you tried that?
      And the Nobel Prize committee seemed to believe them both. Jimmy Carter won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, and Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. What year did you win? I do remember President Clinton left office with a surplus in the budget. And the goal of 9/11 in flying planes into the World Trade Towers was to ruin the economy of the U.S. The goal was achieved by the 20 year war in Iraq & Afganistan under President Bush's command.
      Now, why exactly are you picking on an 88 year old man who left office 32 years ago, and has devoted his time to helping build houses with Habitat for Humanity (do you?), helping to eradicate diseases in Africa with the use of pesticide sprayed mosquito nets over beds, helping to promote peaceful causes around the world,…instead of playing golf.
      Also, Carter was very proud that all of the Tehran hostages came home alive. Even if Iran demanded it be on Reagan's watch.

    • 29.2
      shawn says:

      no

    • 29.3
      michael deauchamp says:

      OBAMA, THE MALE JULIA GILLARD. JULIA GILLARD THE FEMALE
      OBAMA.

  30. 30
    Guillermo Horruitiner says:

    To Amir Timur also called Tamerlane
    I would ask – If your spirit really returns to take vengeance over the russians who open your tomb in 1941.

  31. 31
    The Meta says:

    William Wallace
    I would ask him about how it felt to lead your countrymen almost 600 years before the Americans fought the British and die knowing your countrymen would win their freedom even after he was dead

  32. 32
    Shooter1001 says:

    Julius Caesar : How did you manage to build a bridge over the Rhine in ten days? Please respond with plans and drawings.

  33. 33
    Glenn says:

    J.E.B. Stuart, how could you allow persomal glory out weigh duty to country on the 2nd Confederate invasion of the North (Just prior to Gettysburgh)

  34. 34
    lyndon says:

    general mark Clark.
    Who succedeed you as supreme commander united nations forces Tokyo in 1953

  35. 35
    Jenny says:

    I would like to talk to General John J. Pershing, leader of the American Forces in World War I. He was promoted to the title "General of the Armies" which is the highest command possible in the military. And the only one to achieve it. Until 1976, When Congress awarded it to General George Washington.
    General Pershing also realized the U.S. needed to prepare a supply route for military men, and supplies and sent small convoys of troops around the country testing routes & road conditions. He created what was called the Pershing Highway Map. One soldier leading his men was Dwight Eisenhower, who created the Interstate Highway system, based a great deal on the Pershing Map.
    I would like to know what other ideas he had, and if he met one other platoon leader named Harry Truman, who brought all of his group home alive form WWI.

  36. 36
    Hsiegel says:

    To Steve jobs- what would be your next invention (please explain in detail) and how would it impact our future?

    I would also ask jane Austen or f Scott Fitzgerald to review my essays.

  37. 37
    Tina says:

    Leonardo Da Vinci, Where did the inspiration come from? You were into everything.

  38. 38
    J.T.Lawson says:

    I would like to ask the Captain of the Titanic, John Smith why didn't he take heed to the warnings of the ice berg ahead of time to try to avoid it's demise in April 10,1912????

  39. 39
    Joe says:

    Oswald: did you really shoot JFK from the TSBD ?

  40. 40
    Les says:

    You are grossly under informed, and your reply to Kevin is juvenile. How old are u?

  41. 41
    Katy says:

    this is weird but i would meet a young man who was killed in the civil war at the battle of Malvern hill. Edwin Jemison. he was acually born about an hour away from me. he has (mysteriously) been in aot of my dreams. i would ask him,"how was your life? please give me the details. i know everything about this headless 17 year old haha. he lived in milledgville then moved to louisiana and joined the infantry and lied about his age then went to virginia and was killed at malvern hill and that he was sick shortly before. like i said i know everything! EASE REPLY IF YOU KNOW HE IS PLEASE!!!!!!

    or id loooove to meet another two civil war soldiers who i also know everything about! Eli Landers and Sam Watkins. But please respond if you know these 3 incredible young men who helped change history!

  42. 42
    Katy says:

    or my great grandpa who was amazing! he saw the flag being raised twice (the first one was not pictured) at end of the battle of Iwo Jima! id ask him what it wa like or my (possibly) my great great great great uncle, Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson and ask him about the civil war! im only 13 but i luv learning about the civil war i love learning about war and wanna be in the air force! reply if u agree!

  43. 43
    Santiago says:

    Jenny, Obama hasn't been truthful about much of his life so, it's little note that he says he made $10,000 as a community organizer. We know more about presidential candidates, e.g., Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin than we do the 44th President. No college transcripts, no college friends, colleagues, roommates, classmates, etc. to interview. Just one fellow at Occidental College, a Pakistani who said he wanted to be called, Barry. Nobel Peace Prize, indeed; even supporters at the time were embarrassed at this award…even Obama expressed surprised at doing nothing to deserve it. Clinton had a surplus after he signed on to the Republicans Contract with America and brought the spending into line…read some history, please. As for Jimmy Carter…the man who gave away the Panama Canal, bumbled for a year while our hostages languished in Tehran (sure, he was proud when they were released…he was also mightily embarrassed at how he bumbled the whole affair) and he continues making stupid statements around the world, embarrassing even fellow democratic office holders. Oh, the Habitat for Humanity…yes, a noble gesture, but given his background, how serious is he about it. This is a man who used to carry his own luggage from the Presidential helicopter (later we find from insider sources they were empty) to appear to be a man of the people. He also made anti-Semitic statements, but was given a bye by liberal media types when anyone else would have been pilloried for such blatant anti-Semitism. Bottom line, he was arguably the worst Chief Executive we ever had.

  44. 44
    Sonia Hussain says:

    My Grandmother..
    Becuz she is died & i miss her alot

  45. 45
    Brad says:

    I'd ask Harvey Milk what his favorite cookie was.

  46. 46
    Falconbridge says:

    I'd like to go back in time and just have a conversation with any British loyalist still living in the colonies during the American Revolution; not one motivated by profit, just an average person loyal to the King while the world around him was changing so drastically.

  47. 47
    Muhammad Imran says:

    Eve and Adam… that why did you eat the forbidden fruit and as a result were banished from Eden. If there was not such a thing, there would be no human beings on the earth and no sufferings, no violence, no greed, no killings and all the evil things one can or cannot expect.

  48. 48
    Csg says:

    MARGARET BEAUFORT.I would like to tell her I'm sorry and that I think she was a strong woman and that I look up to her as a person, for the woman she became, for the pain she went to, for the strenght she had, for her faith and influence.

  49. 49
    jose says:

    Saint Paul: who invented the christianism?

  50. 50
    Boomer says:

    Jesus: Ok whats the real story from the horses mouth. No offense intended.



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