For an essay i am writing in Social Studies class, i have to explain how great individuals have shaped history and why we have to learn them. I can't think of anything to write here!! Can someone help me, we are writing this based on people of the Renaissance, Reformation, Black Plague, French Enlightenment etc.
Focusing on more recent events in the United States I would consider figures who were monumental in the Civil Rights Movement. For example, you could discuss Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. There are many more notable figures during this time period including women that you could focus on. They all certainly changed history in numerous ways.
Please do not forget the champion of personal rights in the Enlightenment, Voltaire, who along with Kant, advocated rationality as a means to establish an authoritative system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. His famous line exemplifies how strongly Voltaire felt about freedom of expression:
I may disapprove of what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.
In the United States, certainly Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine figure as great thinkers of their time. In a recently published book, Glen Beck's Common Sense, Beck calls upon many of the precepts of Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Many feel that no one ever did more than Paine to foster the spirit of equality on which all modern democracy is based. (He was in France for its Revolution after America's) His Rights of Man remains one of the most powerful tracts of all time.
Rather than Machiavelli, I think that I would take Locke or Montesquieu as people who have affected our philosophy. These two men's ideas basically formed the foundation for our system of government. They gave us the idea of separation of powers and of a government whose purpose is to protect the rights of the citizens...
I would consider writing about a great individual from each era or time period listed in your question.
Renaissance: Leanardo Da Vinci would be a great individual who contributed to multiple areas of science and art. Pick out some of his achievements and write why they are important.
Reformation: Martin Luther fathered the Protestant Church community by writing the 95 theses and demonstrating to the Catholic Church's ruling officials that there is more to a faith or religion than rules, there is grace and a personal relationship that God longs for from man. He was also a composer.
Black Plague: I do not know an individual off the top of my head but would recommend you look up famous alchemists who may have presented possible solutions to keep it from spreading.
The French Enlightenment: I would think Machavelli would be an appropriate choice for a great individual because he affected philosophy of much of the modern world.
If you write about a character for each body paragraph and then in your conclusion and intro figure out what ties them together, you should have a well constructed essay.