History of the Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party was founded in David Nolan's Westminster, Colorado living room in December 11, 1971. The party had 85 members in 1972. Its presidential ticket that year was on just three state ballots and received less than 3,000 votes.

The Free Libertarian Party of New York's 1974 gubernatorial candidate, Jerome Tuccille, garnered publicity by sending a blonde in a body suit riding through Central Park on a horse named Taxpayer.

David Bergland related this anecdote regarding the 1975 convention, which nominated Roger MacBride as the party's presidential candidate and Bergland as the VP candidate: "Roger brought political savvy, but a somewhat limited understanding of the radical libertarian personality of the delegates. This came to a head with the Vice Presidential nomination. Two candidates for the position were not what Roger wanted. One, the late (and great, in my view) John Vernon, was gay. The other, Jim Trotter, was a gold smuggler. Well, that's all the delegates needed to go into an uproar (rejecting MacBride's preference) and deadlock the convention because no one of several candidates could get a majority. I was not then at the convention, but was telephoned by friends, flew red-eye from L.A. to New York and was nominated. Perhaps my most important qualification was being over 35. Not many delegates attending were that old in 1975."

The 1976 presidential ticket was on 32 ballots and received 172,000 votes, establishing the Libertarian Party as the third-largest party in the United States.

In 1978, Dick Randolph became the first Libertarian elected to office when he won a seat in the Alaska House of Representatives. Randolph became instrumental in organizing the repeal of Alaska's personal income tax.

The 1980 presidential ticket was on all 51 ballots and received nearly a million votes. The 1984 elections were not so kind after the major parties tightened ballot access restrictions. The party made a comeback in 1988 with the candidacy of former (and later) Republican Congressman Ron Paul getting half a million votes.

Libertarian campaigns and elections in the 1990s and 2000s were strong. The party surged to new records, in officeholders, candidates, appointments, membership and other areas.