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Women Who Ran for President

Women Who Have Run for United States President

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Who were the early women candidates for president? Hillary Clinton in her 2008 run for the Democratic nomination for US President came the closest so far that any woman has come to winning the nomination of a major political party in the United States. But Clinton is not the first woman to run for United States President, and not even the first to run for a major party's nomination. Here's a list of the female presidential candidates, arranged chronologically by each woman's first campaign for the office.

Who was the first woman to run for president?

What woman ran for US president first? And which women have run since?

Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Equal Rights Party: 1872
Humanitarian Party: 1892

Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president in the United States. Frederick Douglass was nominated as Vice President, but there's no record that he accepted. Woodhull was also known for her radicalism as a woman suffrage activist and her role in a sex scandal involving noted preacher of the time, Henry Ward Beecher.

Belva Lockwood

Belva Lockwood
Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Modifications © 2003 Jone Johnson Lewis.
National Equal Rights Party: 1884, 1888

Belva Lockwood, an activist for voting rights for women and for African Americans, was also one of the earliest women lawyers in the United States. Her campaign for president in 1884 was the first full-scale national campaign of a woman running for president.

Laura Clay

Democratic Party, 1920

Laura Clay, a Southern women's rights advocate who supported state suffrage amendments so that the Southern states could limit suffrage to white women, had her name placed in nomination at the 1920 Democratic National Convention, to which she was a delegate.

Grace Allen

Surprise Party: 1940

Comedian and actress, partner with husband George Burns on the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Grace Allen ran for president in 1940 as a publicity stunt. She was not on the ballot -- it was, after all, a stunt -- but she did get write-in votes.

Margaret Chase Smith

Republican Party: 1964

She was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for president at a major political party's convention. She was also the first woman elected to serve in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Charlene Mitchell

Communist Party: 1968

Nominated by the (tiny) Communist Party in 1968, Charlene Mitchell was the first African American woman nominated for president in the United States. She was on the ballot in two states in the general election, and received less than 1,100 votes nationally.

Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm
Courtesy Library of Congress
Democratic Party: 1972

A civil rights and women's rights advocate, Shirley Chisholm ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972 with the slogan, "Unbought and Unbossed." Her name was placed in nomination at the 1972 convention, and she won 152 delegates.

Patsy Takemoto Mink

Democratic Party: 1972

She was the first Asian American to seek nomination as president by a major political party. She was on the Oregon primary ballot in 1972. She was at that time a member of the U.S. Congress, elected from Hawaii.

Bella Abzug

Bella Abzug
Courtesy Library of Congress
Democratic Party: 1972

One of three women to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1972, Abzug was at the time a member of Congress from the West Side of Manhattan.

Linda Osteen Jenness

Socialist Workers Party: 1972

Underage for the Constitution's requirements for the presidency, Linda Jenness ran against Nixon in 1972 and was on the ballot in 25 states. In three states where Jenness was not accepted for the ballot because of her age, Evelyn Reed was in the presidential slot. Their vote total was less than 70,000 nationally.

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