Sometimes to their detriment, other times to their reward, here are ten people that would not take no for an answer.
1Harry Randall Truman: The Genius Who Wasn't Scared of Volcanoes
Folk hero or suicidal putz? That all depends on how you look at life. For playing the home game of "Joe Vs. the Volcano," Harry Randall Truman wins the title of the subbornest person in the history of ever. Before the lava hit the fan in the most destructive volcanic eruption in U.S. history, every resident of Washington State's Mount St. Helens heeded the weeks of official warnings and evacuated. (Even so, 57 people were killed.)
Harry, 83, knew better. Instead, he stayed put, insisting to reporters that the smoldering mountain behind him was just a molehill and that they were all acting like wimps. "The mountain is a mile away," Harry said. "The mountain ain't gonna hurt me." And, depending on whether you feel any pain by being covered in a pyroclastic flow of 800-degree liquid rock and 1,000-lb. boulders–or are just instantly killed–Harry may even have been right.
2Hiroo Onoda: The World War II Soldier Who Wouldn't Surrender for 29 Years
Remember that kid down the street who kept playing hide-and-seek for 20 minutes after you gave up looking for him and ended the game? Hiroo Onoda is that kid, only he kept hiding in the Philippine jungle for 29 years after the end of World War II.
Despite occasional pleas from officials and his family, this Japanese solider refused to believe the war had ended until 1974, when his former commander had to be flown in to announce the reversal of his 1945 orders to stay behind and spy on American troops.
3Douglas MacArthur: The General Who Thought He Outranked the President
When your commands come from a guy called the commander-in-chief, that pretty much says right there that they're not up for debate.
Douglas MacArthur had other ideas. The stubborn general sought to bring the Korean War directly to the Chinese via a nuclear bombing campaign. Fearing World War III, President Harry Truman ordered MacArthur to keep his opinions to himself, but MacArthur wanted them in the public debate. So, he mailed a letter criticizing official U.S. policy to the House Republican Minority Leader. When it was leaked, Truman relieved him of command.
It wasn't the first time MacArthur disobeyed a president, either. In 1932, he disregarded Herbert Hoover's orders by attacking and burning to the ground a shanty town erected in Washington by unarmed World War I veterans demanding an early bonus payment.
MacArthur's stubbornness usually served him well, helping him win several key, brave and brilliant World War II and Korean War victories, and the hearts of most Americans. In fact, he received a hero's welcome after being discharged, and became the only relieved general ever to address a joint session of Congress. However, that pales next to what some historians think he would have been able to achieve by dialing down the bullheadedness a peg or two–a presidency of his own.
4Steve Jobs: The Visionary Who Never Listened to Experts
No figure in modern business refused to listen to expert advice more consistently than Steve Jobs. Beginning in 1976, when he founded Apple Computers to challenge what was considered the self-evident notion that the average Joe would never want a computer, Jobs willed his personal vision of technology's future into reality, making fools of every naysayer along the way.
Nevertheless, his obsessive nature cost him dearly. In 1985, Jobs lost the company he co-founded due to a bitter power struggle that could easily have been avoided by someone with decent people skills. His exile lasted 15 years.
It may have even cost Jobs his life in 2011. Eight years earlier, he was diagnosed with deadly pancreatic cancer, yet refused conventional treatment for nine months in favor of dietary changes and willpower. Yet, without Jobs' stubbornness, personal computing and mobile devices would probably be decades behind where they are today.
5Emmett Pearson: The American Football Fan Who Wouldn't Shave
Steve Jobs may have changed the world, but Emmett Pearson grew a beard for 38 years, which is almost as impressive when you consider that his wife didn't approve of it.
Following the Minnesota Vikings' third Super Bowl defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1975, Pearson vowed to keep his whiskers ungroomed until his team finally won the big game.
As any Vikings fan already knows, they never did. Pearson even refused necessary surgery on an artery on his neck until doctors promised not to shave him. "I made a vow, and I'm going to stick with it," Pearson told the Rochester Post-Bulletin in 2010, "but I think my wife would just as soon I give it up."
Pearson kicked off in 2013 at age 83, his stubborn ability to keep a promise outlasted by the Vikings' stubborn inability to deliver
6Robert Moses: The Overzealous City planner Who Almost Destroyed Greenwich Village
Presiding like a dictator over urban New York planning for 40 years, "master builder" Robert Moses–via his numerous commissioner appointments–relentlessly pursued the creation of a car culture that, today, makes traffic in nearby suburbs unbearable. He steamrolled bridges, tunnels and roads over the protests of honest politicians–including future president Franklin D. Roosevelt–and the thousands of poor people they rendered homeless. He parted neighborhoods like his Biblical namesake parted seas, calling it "slum clearing."
While he also built more than 600 New York City playgrounds and annexed millions of acres for the New York State park system, Moses' stubborn vision of six-lane progress destroyed dozens of historic communities forever and set the progress of public transportation back nearly 100 years. The public finally turned when it learned of Moses' plan to build an expressway right through Greenwich Village.
7Tim and Leigh McCall: The Couple Who Won't Leave a House Cars Keep Destroying
If uninvited dinner guests kept smashing through your walls, wouldn't you move? More than 11 vehicles have crashed through Tim and Leigh McCall's house in 30 years. Only the walls of the nearby Indianapolis Speedway are busier.
The problem is that the house was built less than a block away from raised railroad tracks that send speeding cars airborne, but the McCalls aren't budging. They raised a son here, and made numerous home improvements. So they are willing to die–or at least continue watching others do so from their front-row seat. (One of their dinner guests, a teenager, died of his injuries on Christmas Day 1991.)
8Eng Bunker: The Brother Who Wouldn't Remove His Dead Siamese Twin
Is that your dead brother jutting out of your abdomen or are you just happy to see me? Siamese twins and traveling freak-show attractions Chang and Eng Bunker shared a liver, which meant that surgeons of the day couldn't separate them without killing one.
When Chang died, however, surgery was certainly possible and, as Eng would discover one day in 1874, quite necessary. Refusing pleas from his wife and doctor, Eng insisted on staying with his brother until death. And he got his wish later that same day.
9Buford Pusser: The One-Man Warrior Against Organized Crime
McNairy County, Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser had no patience for prostitution, gambling, moonshining or organized crime in his jurisdiction. He also had very little help fighting it.
For his troubles in trying to do so, he was the recipient of eight shootings and seven stabbings. Yet, you don't become the subject of four "Walking Tall" movies by giving up easily. So, Pusser continued his one-man war on gangsters, even after one of them killed his wife. Pusser died in a single-car 1974 traffic accident that his supporters consider suspicious.
10William Mathias: The Guy Who Refused to Let Vehicles Use His Footpath
British resident William Mathias didn't like the march of progress, especially when it marched across the footpath leading from his house to a nearby village.
In the mid 19th century, he built a wall,preventing his neighbors from walking their horses, carts and carriages across the path. It was repeatedly knocked down, then rebuilt by Mathias, until he finally erected an archway and iron gate. A postman was ordered to crash the gate, but Mathias put up too much resistance. He even physically intimidated a woman with a baby carriage.
By the time he died in 1873, at age 92, Mathias had been jailed and bankrupted for his cause, but his gate remained in place. Pretty soon after that, it was removed.
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