In The Wake Of Hillary Clinton Making History, We Pay Homage To Other Female Presidential Candidates


By Katie McBeth

With the primary elections coming to a close, the people of America are looking at a historic Presidential race. Based on the current projections from the media, it looks as if Hillary Rodham Clinton will be America’s first female majority party nominee.

For women across the board, the image of a female in this position of power – the most powerful seat in the world – shows that there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

Luckily, others are beginning to catch on to the need for women to join conversations and high-level positions. Companies like Alibaba (the Amazon of China) have referred to women in upper-executive positions as their “secret sauce,” and according to the University of Alabama’s School of Business including women in the conversation is beneficial for business.

Although women are still lacking in the political sphere (only about 20% of seats in Congress are occupied by women), Hillary Clinton is not the first female to run for President. Her path has been paved for over 100 years by inspirational women who went against the groove and fought tirelessly for the rights of girls and women in our country. Let’s look at some of the other female presidential nominees that made “firsts” in American history:


Victoria Woodhull (née Claflin, 1838-1927) was an activist, writer, and successful business woman from Ohio. Victoria was passionate about the movement for “free love” among women: the ability to marry, divorce, and bear children without government interference. Alongside her sister, she became the first female to run a brokerage firm on Wall Street and the first women to found and operate a newspaper, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly.

In 1872 she also became the first ever woman to run for the office of president through the Equal Rights Party. Unfortunately her run was cut short just days before the election, when she was arrested over obscenity charges for a story of an affair published in her paper. Nevertheless, her courage sparked a more intense focus on gender equality during the first wave suffragette movement of the early 1900’s.


Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995) was a member of the Republican Party and a strong opponent to the 1950’s “witch-hunt” known as McCarthyism. Born and raised in Maine, she became the first women to achieve a seat in both the House (1940-1949) and the Senate (1949-1973) during her time representing her home state.

Known for being outspoken about prior presidential nominees in the Republican Party, Margaret surprised her party members when she announced she would run for the Republican Party presidential nominee in January 1964. She stated on the issue: “I have few illusions and no money, but I’m staying for the finish. When people keep telling you, you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try.”

She was eventually beat out by her colleague, Barry Goldwater, at the Republican National Convention. Yet she fared better than many people expected, winning 25% of the vote in the Illinois primary, and a total of 27 delegates by the time of the Convention. Her run – though unsuccessful – is noted as a “symbolic achievement” in her House of Representatives biography.


Shirley Chisholm (née St. Hill, 1924-2005) was the first African American female elected to the House of Representatives. She was also an author and teacher in the lower Manhattan and Brooklyn area. A daycare she ran in Brooklyn sparked her interest in politics, and after a few years in the New York State Legislature she made the leap to run for New York State Representative. She succeeded in achieving a seat in the House in 1969 with the slogan “Unbought and Unbossed” and held a seat until 1983.

Chisholm made history, yet again, when she became the first black major-party candidate and first Democratic female candidate in 1972. Through rigorous campaigning, she managed to get her name listed on 12 primary ballots across the country and received a total of 152 delegates (10% of the vote) by the time of the Convention. Throughout her life she was an advocate for the rights and fair treatment of inner-city poor, women, and African Americans. She is noted as paving the way for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during their respective 2008 campaigns.


Lenora Fulani (née Branch, 1950-present) is a psychologist and youth program developer in New York minority areas. She has run for the presidency twice with the New Alliance Party; the first time in 1988 and again in 1992. What makes Lenora a true “first” among presidential female nominees was her ability to achieve ballot access in all fifty states. She was also the first African American nominee to achieve that access.

Until Jill Stein’s run in 2012, she received the most votes for presidency than any other woman during the general election. She is an advocate for gay-rights, racial equality, and dismantling of the two party system. She has gone to court multiple times in an attempt to challenge state regulations on third parties. On the issue, Lenora has said: “I identify very strongly with the outsiders. I am a leader who has chosen to be outside corporate American and inside the real mainstream—with my people and other outsiders.


Carol Moseley-Braun (1947-present) was the first African American women elected to a Senate seat. During her one term from 1993-1999 as a Representative of Illinois, she was the only African American on the Senate floor. Following her term as Senator, she later served under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as the Ambassador for New Zealand and Samoa (1999-2001).

In 2000 and again in 2004, she unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination; becoming the second ever African American female to run for the Democratic ticket.


Jill Stein (1950-present) is the current Green Party candidate. She first ran in 2012 and achieved the most votes for any women in a general election (0.36% of total votes). Her party principals mainly focus on the dismantling of the two party system to support grassroots movements, renewable energy, and a universal health care system.

Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947-present) will be the first woman to win the presumptive nominee of any majority party. Her initial run in 2008 was the most successful major party run for any female nominee to that date, but she ultimately lost to Obama during the final stretch of the primaries.

Now, Hillary will be able to campaign for the most powerful seat in the world with the support of the Democratic nomination. We are closer than ever to seeing a female President, and it is through the trials and tribulations of those brave women before her that Clinton has gained this victory.


Katie McBeth is a Freelance writer and former bookseller based out of Boise, ID. She enjoys reading teen novels, eating mac ‘n cheese, attending indie concerts in small bars, and long walks on the beach. Her love for reading is only trumped by her love for cats, of which she has three. She also has a dog, and he helps keep her grounded. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth.