Pre-Hillary Women Candidates for POTUS

Pre-Hillary Women Candidates for POTUS

By Tiana Putric

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton has made U.S. history by becoming America’s first female presidential candidate to gain enough delegates to win the nomination of a major U.S. political party.

But Secretary Clinton certainly wasn’t the first woman to make a run for the White House. Dozens of women prior to Clinton have run for the U.S. Presidency, mostly not serious contenders but rather working to break barriers for women, seeking the public platform to advance themselves, their ideas and their beliefs.

Meet Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to be nominated for President of the United States, and five female Presidential candidates whose names appeared on official voters’ ballots – from vintage Belva to once-chart-topping Linda to rare Lenora. Then check out the long, but not exhaustive, list of other women who ran for America’s highest office.

Victoria California Claflin Woodhull – Candidate in 1872, Equal Rights Party

Even though historians debate whether or not Victoria Woodhull’s name actually appeared on the ballot, she was the first female ever nominated for U.S. President. Woodhull advocated for women’s suffrage and equal rights and also, together with her sister, Tennessee Celeste Claflin, aka Tennie C., launched the first ever female-run stock brokerage firm on Wall Street. Woodhull had two children: Byron and Zulu ‘ZulaMaud(e).The Roman goddess of victory, Victoria joins other popular Roman goddess names Diana, Flora, Luna, and Juno. Also a saint and a British royal appellation, Victoria has ranked on the U.S. Top 1000 every year since at least 1880 and is currently Number 19 in the U.S. and ranks within the Top 50 in Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Mexico, and Norway. Nicknames for the timeless Victoria include the tried and true Vicki and Tori and the less common Ria, Toria, Vika, Vivi, and Plum via the fruit Victoria plum.

Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood – Candidate in 1884 and 1888, National Equal Rights Prty

Belva Lockwood’s bid for the presidency was long before women gained the right to vote. She was passionate about equality for women, including their right to equal pay. But obviously those who voted for Lockwood must have been men since women did not yet have the franchise.

Belva is an old-world appellation that originated from the Italian ‘belvedere’, meaning ‘beautiful view’. Belva, last seen on the U.S. Top 1000 in 1953, may appeal to those who fancy names that contain the trendy letter ‘v’ and a more distinctive alternative to Belle and Bella.

Linda Osteen Jenness – Candidate in 1972, Socialist Workers Party

Although constitutionally too young to be President, Linda Jenness won her party’s nomination and used her candidacy to bring attention to the women’s liberation movement and to oppose the Vietnam War.

Onetime chart-topping Linda has ranked on the U.S. Top 1000 every year since it first appeared on the list in 1880, hitting first place in 1941. Related to the sacred and magical linden tree, Linda means ‘soft and tender’ in German and ‘beautiful’ in Portuguese and Spanish. Currently trending in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland, Linda has many nicknames: Lin or Lynne, Linnie, and Lynna, Modern takes could include the surname Lind, the spunky Lindy, and the rare Linza.

Gavrielle Gemma Holmes – Candidate in 1984, Workers World Party

Gavrielle Holmes ran for VP in 1980 and in 1984 was a Presidential candidate in two states, but was a placeholder for her husband Larry Holmes who was running for President.

A Hebrew variation of Gabriela/Gabrielle, Gavrielle and Gavriella are lovely female appellations rich with nickname possibilities: Ava, Ella, Elle, Ellie, and Gavi and more boyish diminutives Avi and Gav. The versatile Gavrielle embraces the trendy ‘av’ and ‘elle’ sounds so prominent in today’s U.S. Top 100. The rarely heard Rielle, a usable name in itself, could make for a newer version of Gavrielle.

Sonia Ann Johnson – Candidate in 1984, Citizens Party

Devoted to feminism and environmentalism, Sonia Johnson was an outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment

Sonia, meaning ‘wisdom’ in Greek and ‘golden’ in Sanskrit, is a variation of one of today’s most popular names – Sophia. This elegant appellation reached a high of Number 165 in 1976 in the US and is a much-loved name in Russia, France, Poland, and the U.K. Sonia embodies the trendy minimalist name Nia, which has ranked in the Top 1000 for 24 consecutive years, and has the unisex nickname name Sonny. Sonia has many spelling variations: Sonea, Sonja, and Sonya.

Lenora Branch Fulani – Candidate in 1988 & 1992, New Alliance Party

Lenora Fulani not only won her party’s nomination, but she was the first female and first African-American to appear on the ballot in all 50 states. Fulani fought against America’s two-party political system.

The pretty name Lenora, meaning ‘bright and shining one’, is derived from the vintage classics Eleanor, Eleanora, and Leonora and joins other female appellations with bright meanings like Aurora, Clara, Lux, and Phaedra. While Lenora was an extremely popular name in the past – appearing on the Top 1000 every year from 1880 to 1975 – only 134 girls were given the name in 2014. Elanor, Elnora, and Lorena are anagrams of Lenora and nicknames include Lena and Nora, the rising-in-popularity Leni, and the short and simple vintage Ora.

And now here are the names of some other women who ran for the White House – Democrats, some Republicans, and some third-party candidates.

Carol Moseley Braun—first African-American US Senator, 2004 Democratic candidate for the nomination

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm—first African-American woman elected to Congress; in 1972 the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination

Marsha Feinland—third-party candidate (Peace and Freedom Party) in 1996

Cara Carleton Fiorina (Carly)—ran for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination

Deirdre Griswold—a third-party candidate in 1980, representing the communist Workers World Party

Willa Kenoyer—Socialist Party candidate in 1988

Gloria LaRiva—Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate in 2008 and 2016

Isabell Masters—Looking Back Party candidate in 1984, 1992, 1996, 2004—most presidential campaigns for any woman in US history

Ellen McCormack—a Democratic candidate in 1976, running on a pro-life platform

Cynthia McKinney—2008 Green Party nominee

Patsy Mink—first Asian American to seek the presidential nomination in 1972

Evelyn Reed—nominated as a candidate in 1972, Socialist Workers Party

Tennie Rogers—ran in Republican primaries three times in the 1990s

Margaret Chase Smith—Republican, first woman to be placed in nomination at a major party’s convention in 1964

About the Author

Tiana Putric

Tiana Putric

Tiana Putric has written articles for Nameberry on topics including terms of endearment, daredevil names, and the names of international female leaders.