Letter: Ferraro not the first woman to run for VP

Published 11:42 pm Saturday, April 28, 2018

I would like to offer a small but important correction to your article “Barbara Bush thrived on her own, un-dyed terms” (April 26).

The article described Geraldine Ferraro as “the first female vice presidential nominee.”

This is not accurate. Ms. Ferraro was the first woman nominated for vice-president by the Democrats or Republicans, a significant milestone to be sure.

But there were female candidates on the U.S. ballot for both president and vice president long before her 1984 run, and there have been several since as well.

To my knowledge, the first woman to run for vice president in America was Marietta Lizzie Bell Stow of the Equal Rights party, in 1884 — a full century before Ms. Ferraro’s celebrated run. Following this, there were several female presidential candidates, and almost two dozen female vice presidential campaigns, on U.S. ballots prior to Ms. Ferraro’s 1984 race.

Ms. Ferraro was not even the first woman in U.S. history to get an Electoral College vote. That honor went to the first Libertarian Party vice-presidential candidate, Tonie Nathan, who received one Electoral College vote in 1972.

This is no trivial point. Third parties have played a major part in introducing new ideas and new concepts into the American political debate — including the idea of women being worthy of voting, holding elected office and playing other major roles in American politics.

I am sure Ms. Ferraro would have been the first to honor and acknowledge the pioneering races of the many female candidates for president and vice-president who preceded her, who fought great odds and who, arguably, set the stage for her own nomination. I hope you’ll do so, too.

— James W. Harris

Rydal, Georgia