Not Just Hillary: Women Who Ran

1466168919_ea68520c21_oWhat do the following women have in common:

  • A self-proclaimed clairvoyant who advocated for free love.
  • A republican from Maine and a Republican from North Carolina.
  • A Mormon who was excommunicated because of her support for the ERA.
  • Two comedians.
  • A founder of the Right-to-Life movement.

Answer: they are among the 40 or so women who have run for president of the U.S. since Victoria Woodhull became the first female candidate in 1872  Woodhull was a fascinating woman who helped support her family by working as a spiritualist. She advocated for an eight-hour workday, graduated income tax, new divorce laws, abolition of the death penalty, and women’s suffrage. She also ran despite the fact that she was too young to serve and women could not yet vote.

Here are a few other women who have aspired to the highest office in the nation:

  • Belva Lockwood ran twice as the candidate for the National Equal Rights Party in 1884 and again in 1888. She graduated from law school in 1873 but it took an appeal to President Grant to get her degree granted. She later became the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court.
  • Margaret Chase Smith was unsuccessful in her bid for the Republican nomination in 1964, but made history as the first woman to appear on the ballot at a major party convention. She represented Maine in both the US House and the Senate for more than 30 years.
  • Shirley Chisholm ran in 1972. She was the first African American woman to run for the Democratic party’s nominee for president, just four years after becoming the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives. She was a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and advocated for minority rights and against the Vietnam War.
  • Patsy Mink, the first woman of color to serve in Congress, ran in the Oregon Democratic primary in 1972. She received 2% of the vote. An Hawaiian of Japanese descent, her family was put under surveillance after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was the second person elected to represent Hawaii in the US House after Hawaii became a state in 1959.
  • Ellen McCormick ran for President in 1976, just three years after the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Her only platform was the “right to life” including opposition to abortion, the death penalty, and the Vietnam War. After she lost the nomination she led the formation of the Right to Life Party with the goal of a constitutional amendment banning abortion.
  • Lenora Fulani ran in 1988 on the New Alliance Party ticket. She was the first woman to be on the ballot in all 50 states. Her platform included racial equality, gay rights, and political reform. She got 217,000 votes, more votes than any other woman had gotten to date. She ran again in 1992.
  • Roseanne Barr (of Roseanne fame) was one of two comedians who ran, joining Gracie Allen, who ran in 1940 as a publicity stunt. Barr lost her bid to be the candidate of the Green Party (to another woman candidate, Jill Stein),  but ran on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket in 2012 and placed sixth overall (with less than .1% of the popular vote).

Whether or not we see a woman candidate during the next election cycle, almost 3/4 of Americans expect to see a woman president in their life-time, according to a Pew Research poll. That poll also found that most Americans don’t distinguish between women and men in the characteristics that apply to political leadership. There are some exceptions, however. Statistically, women are seen as excelling at compromise and are perceived as having an edge when it comes to being honest and ethical.

For more information on women who’ve run for president, check out this site.

FullSizeRender (1)Janet Colm is the founder and former CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina. She was arrested as part of the Moral Monday protests in July 2013 and lives in Chatham County, NC.




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