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Woodhull represented the Equal Rights Party. Her platform included issues like an eight-hour workday, graduated income tax, liberal divorce laws, and social welfare programs. Ironically, Woodhull's main disqualification for the presidency was not her gender but her age. Presidents must be 35 years of age and Woodhull would have been only 34.
Woodhull shocked society with more than her presidential ambitions. She espoused principles including women’s equality and liberation. She insisted that women be able to marry, have children, and divorce freely, without the interference of government. She called her philosophy free love and drew large crowds when she spoke.
While some lampooned her campaign, many took her seriously. She campaigned across the country, drawing large--paying--crowds.
Lockwood adroitly pointed out that there was nothing in the Constitution that prevented her from being elected. She was a natural born citizen, over the age of 35, and a resident of the United States. “I cannot vote,” she said, “but I can be voted for.”
Lockwood claimed to have received 4,711 votes in nine states, and declared her candidacy a resounding success. "After all," she said, "equality of rights and privileges is but simple justice." She ran again in 1888, though with less acclaim. She died in 1917 . . . three years before women won the right to vote in presidential elections.
Mink’s foray into presidential politics came in 1971 at the request of Oregon liberals who recruited her to run in their state’s primary. Her vocal opposition to the Vietnam War was intended to pressure front-runner George McGovern to make the war an issue in the platform. Mink received more than 5,000 votes in the Oregon primary as well as a few hundred in Maryland and Wisconsin. She did not actively seek the nomination at the 1972 Convention.
Chisholm served in the New York State Legislature prior to her 1968 election to Congress. Her 1972 quest for the Democratic Presidential nomination was largely symbolic, undertaken to demonstrate the party’s failure to adequately represent the interests of women, African Americans, and the working class.
Chisholm appeared on the primary ballots in 12 states. She received 152 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention held in Miami, Florida, which ultimately selected George McGovern as the nominee. While never in real contention, her strategy of bringing a bloc of voters to the convention has influenced campaign strategies to the present.
McCormack appeared on the primary ballot in eighteen states. While she did not win any primaries, her vote total of 238,027 was higher than that for several male Democratic candidates including Frank Church and Hubert Humphrey. She had 22 delegates at the Democratic National Convention that nominated Jimmy Carter.
McCormack's Pro-Life Action Committee focused on securing federal election matching funds to finance a series of hard-hitting commercials. "One hundred million TV viewers will see our pro-life message," proclaimed a fund-raising appeal." She was the first female candidate to receive matching funds.
Ellen McCormack - 1976 Campaign Commercial
Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics
Passage of the ERA stalled after Indiana became the 35th state to ratify it in 1977. In 1979, Congress extended the ratification deadline to 1982. The passage of the second deadline with no more ratifications motivated Johnson’s 1984 presidential campaign. Nominated by two minor parties for President in 1984--the U.S. Citizens Party and the Peace and Freedom Party--she was the first third-party candidate to qualify for primary matching funds. She received 72,161 votes, or 0.08%.
Schroeder chaired Senator Gary Hart’s Democratic presidential campaign in 1987. The campaign fell apart after revelations of Hart’s extramarital affair emerged. Schroeder briefly entered the race, but withdrew after it became apparent that she lacked the resources to mount a serious challenge in the short window of time before the convention.
Schroeder’s withdrawal speech is best remembered for its intense emotion. Schroeder needed to secure delegates in addition to the popular vote. As a late entrant, building the delegate infrastructure proved prohibitively expensive.
"I could not figure out how to run," she said. "I could not find any way that we could really run the kind of campaign I wanted to run if we were targeting delegates and still trying to talk to people, which is what keeps me going as a human being. It's hard to do the grass roots thing and the delegate thing simultaneously. I want to find a way to break through that process, but at this moment I don't see it, today."
Bachmann announced her intention in 2011 to capture the Republican presidential nomination. She briefly enjoyed front runner status after winning the Iowa Straw Poll in August 2011. By the time of the Iowa Caucus a few months later, she had dropped to sixth place. Bachmann left the race soon after. She was re-elected to a third Congressional term in 2012 and retired after completing her term in 2014.
After graduating from Yale Law School, Hillary Rodham married Arkansas native Bill Clinton in 1975. While her husband entered Arkansas politics, she joined a private legal practice. He was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1978, but she continued to work as an attorney while also serving on several boards and commissions. Bill Clinton was elected President of the United States in 1992 and Hillary Rodham Clinton became First Lady. Rodham Clinton was highly engaged in the administration's public policy efforts, the most publicly engaged First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.
Following Bill Clinton’s presidential term, Hillary Clinton campaigned for and won the open New York Senate seat in 2000. Clinton was re-elected in 2006. In 2007 she declared her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. She lost to Illinois Senator Barack Obama who went onto win the general election. Obama appointed Clinton Secretary of State, a position she held for his first term.
On April 12, 2015, Clinton announced her second run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton secured the nomination at the July 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, becoming the first woman in history to represent a major party in a U.S. presidential election. Though she won the popular vote 48% to 47%, she lost the presidential race to her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, in the Electoral College.
National Women's History Museum
Elizabeth L. Maurer
Director of Program
Image Research and Curatorial Intern