These People Changed American History But You Might Not Know Their Names

( – The US is a young country, but it already has an impressive list of heroes. Should that list be even longer, though? There are many Americans who helped shape our nation and perhaps deserve more recognition than they get. Here are some remarkable people who contributed to the modern US that you’ve probably never heard of.

Commodore Uriah Levy, USN

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 22, 1792, Uriah Phillips Levy went to sea as a cabin boy in 1806, then joined the US Navy. In the War of 1812, his ship raided British shipping in the English Channel until it was captured by HMS Pelican in August 1813. Released after the war, he went on to overcome antisemitism and become the first Jewish Commodore in the US Navy — the force’s highest rank at the time. He also succeeded in getting the brutal punishment of flogging with the cat o’ nine tails banned. Alongside his naval service, he made a fortune in the New York real estate market. Later, he bought Thomas Jefferson’s ruined home at Monticello, restored it, then gifted it to the nation.

Captain Joseph Rochefort, USN

Not long after the US entered WWII, naval intelligence knew Japan was planning to seize a US base in the Pacific, but they didn’t know where. The only clue was the objective’s codename: the letters AF. Captain Joseph Rochefort sent a fake message saying Midway Island’s water desalination plant had failed. Hours later, the Japanese HQ sent a message to their invasion force warning them to take extra desalination gear. AF was Midway Island, and the Navy crushed the Japanese carrier force as it approached, making Allied victory in the Pacific possible.

Perry Spencer

Perry Spencer’s career began as a radar engineer at Raytheon. But when a chocolate bar melted in his pocket as he stood in front of a prototype scanner, he started to get other ideas. Before long, he was using the secret military device to pop corn. In 1945, Raytheon took his work and patented the microwave oven, which uses radar-frequency energy to cook food. Spencer’s only reward for revolutionizing cooking was a $2 bonus.

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