First Woman

Sarah Palin may be the first woman to serve as vice president, and she would now have to be considered the most likely candidate to be America’s first woman president. But she won’t be the first woman to receive an electoral vote. That title goes to — anyone, anyone? That’s right — everyone knows that the first woman to receive an electoral vote was Geraldine Ferraro, running mate of Walter Mondale in 1984.

But no. Everyone is wrong. The actual first woman to receive an electoral vote was Tonie Nathan, the Libertarian vice presidential nominee in 1976. Nathan was a radio/television producer in Eugene, Oregon, when she attended the first presidential nominating convention of the Libertarian Party in 1972. She was selected to run for vice president with presidential candidate John Hospers, chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Southern California.  Although the ticket received only 3,671 official votes, Virginia elector Roger L. MacBride chose to vote for Hospers and Nathan rather than Nixon and Agnew.

Find out more about Tonie Nathan — and the man she ran with and the man who cast his electoral vote for her — in the comprehensive new Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, which will be unveiled at Cato.org next week.