George Washington (1732-99) – 45 per cent of the vote in the final round
Guided the American rebels to victory over the British in the War of Independence. Often outmanoeuvred by British generals with larger armies, his leadership enabled him to hold together an army of secessionists from 13 different states and keep it in the field – and ultimately prevail – during the protracted struggle.
Stephen Brumwell, author and specialist on eighteenth century North America, said: “Washington scores highly as an enemy of Britain on three key grounds: the immense scale of damage he inflicts upon Britain’s Army and Empire – the most jarring defeat that either endured; his ability to not only provide inspirational battlefield leadership but to work with civilians who were crucial to sustain the war-effort; and the kind of man he was. As British officers conceded, he was a worthy opponent.”