If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party nominee for President, she will be the first woman to be on the ballot from a major U.S. political party.
But she’s won’t be the first woman to be nominated for President. Many other women have received the presidential nomination from third parties long before Clinton was ever born. In fact, thirty women have been nominated and ran for President.
Victoria Woodhull, a prominent suffragette, was the first. In 1872, she was nominated for president by the Equal Rights Party. Her running mate was Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist and author. (Douglass had no knowledge that he had been nominated and never campaigned)
Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee Claflin were well-known and controversial figures in their time.They were the first female stockbrokers, and Victoria was the first female editor of a newspaper. Hers was the first newspaper to publish Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. She was a tireless advocate of women’s rights and promoted “free love” – including the right to divorce. The brokerage business was backed by Commodore Vanderbilt, Prior to their business efforts, the sisters were spiritual mediums and “healers.” There is no official count of how many votes she received.
Belva Ann Lockwood was the second woman to run for President, as the nominee of the National Equal rights Party in 1884 and 1888. Lockwood was an extraordinary champion of women’s and minority rights. She was a teacher and one of the first female lawyers in the U.S. She graduated from the law school that later became George Washington University Law School, but was denied her diploma because she was a woman. Lockwood appealed to President Ulysses S.Grant and was finally given her diploma.
Lockwood was the first woman admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and the first woman to argue a case there. She was a pioneer in women’s rights – in 1872, she advocated a bill that would require equal pay for government employees. And she successfully litigated unpopular claims. In one notable case, she won a $5,000,000 settlement against the federal government on behalf of the Cherokee tribe.
Of course, neither Woodhull nor Lockwood had the benefit of the female vote, since the first election after the ratification of the 19th amendment was not until 1920.
The next female candidate wasn’t so serious. Gracie Burns, the popular comedian wife and partner of George Burns, ran for President as a candidate for the Surprise Party in 1940. Running against Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Wendle Wilkie was tough. But she campaigned aggressively – hiring Averill Harriman;s private rail car for a whistle stop tour of 30 cities. In the end, she did get 42,000 write-in votes.
Gracie had one very interesting proposal: She advocated paying Congress on a commission basis, based on how well they reformed. If they didn’t perform well, they got nothing. Sounds like an idea whose time has come.
In 1980, Linda Jenness was the Socialist Workers Party candidate and was on the ballot in 25 states, receiving over 83,000 votes. Unfortunately, she had not reached the constitutionally qualified age of 35, and was disqualified in several states.
Ellen McCormack was the nominee of the Right To Life Party in 1976, Her platform was limited to opposition to abortion. She was on the ballot in 18 states and received over 32,000 votes. She also campaigned for the nominated for the Democratic Party position in 1976, but received only 22 votes at the convention. She was the first woman to receive federal matching funds and to qualify for Secret Service protection.
In 1976, Margaret Wright was nominated by the People’s Party. Benjamin Spock was her vice-presidential candidate. Wright had worked in a shipyard in World War II and was one of the women who was featured in the film Rosie The Riviter.
In 2008, the Green Party nominated controversial Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who garnered 161, 000 votes.
Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate in 2012 received almost a half million votes. Actress Roseanne Barr was the candidate for the ePeace and Freedom Party in 2012, She received about 67,000 votes.
In addition to Hillary Clinton, a number of women ran unsuccessfully for the nomination of the Democratic and Republican parties. In 1964, Margaret Chase Smith ran for the Republican nomination, as did Elizabeth Dole in 2000. Patsy Mink ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972, as did Shirley Chisholm in 1976, Pat Schroeder in 1988, Carol Mosely Brown in 2004, and Hillary Clinton in 2008.