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  • Writer's pictureMatilda Butler

Let's Celebrate All our Female Presidents on Presidents' Day

Updated: Apr 20, 2022



Beginning March 1, in celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re beginning a year of weekly blogging about Amazing CAN DO Women who inspire all of us. Some of these women you will know.

Others are just as important in what they have done, but you may never have heard of them. They are all extraordinary, even though their stories may be new to you.

Please join us a week from tomorrow for the first blog featuring the back story to Rosie the Riveter — the iconic WW2 figure who inspires us to be strong, courageous, and empowered. She wasn’t real, but her story is. We hope you’ll find new information and inspiration.

WHY TODAY'S BLOG? After all, it isn’t March 1 yet.

You’re right, of course. This is Presidents’ Day, officially still known in some states as Washington's Birthday—first celebrated in 1800, the year after George Washington died. Over the years, the two separately celebrated birthdays of Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12) were merged into a single day for celebrating both presidents. And still more recently, the name change to Presidents’ Day allows for the celebration of both Washington and Lincoln birthdays and the lives of all US presidents.

Who Are the Women Presidents We Are Celebrating Today?

I know. It is a stretch to think about Presidents’ Day and our female presidents. While many nations have had women as their political leaders, we are yet to elect a female. Since I can’t write a few paragraphs about each of our female presidents to celebrate this day, I thought I’d draw your attention to some of the women who have sought that office.

They Also Ran...

  • Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1872) - Woodhull is the first female in the US to run for President. She was active in the suffrage movement and was the candidate of the Equal Rights Party. This was 48 years before women had the right to vote.

  • Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood (1884 and 1888) - Lockwood was the second woman to run for President, also as the candidate of the Equal Rights Party. Although she did not become president — never mind that women still couldn’t vote — she did become a lawyer and was admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C. in 1873. In 1879 Lockwood drafted legislation, which was then passed by Congress, to admit women to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, she was the first female lawyer to practice before the Court.

  • Margaret Chase Smith (1964) - Eighty years passed before another woman sought to become president. You may recognize her name. In 1940, Smith had been elected to the House of Representatives to fill the vacancy brought about by her husband’s death. She served in the House for 4 terms and then was elected (and re-elected) to the US Senate for a total of 4 more terms.

Smith was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for President by a major party—Republican. Although she had 27 first ballot votes, she removed her name from consideration at that point.

  • Shirley Anita Chisholm (1972) - And eight years later, Chisholm became the first African American woman to seek a major party’s nomination for U.S. President. Although she was not successful, she did receive 151 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1983 as the first African American woman.

  • Patsy Takemoto Mink (1972) - At the same time that Shirley Chisholm ran for the presidential nomination, Patsy Mink, the first woman of color to serve in the U.S. Congress, ran as an anti-war candidate. She was a member of Congress from 1965 until 1977, leaving office when she did not win her effort to become a Senator. However, she returned to Congress in 1990 and served her Hawaiian district until her death in 2002.

  • Ellen McCormack (1976, 1980) - All previous efforts to become a presidential candidate resulted in a small percentage of votes. But McCormack entered 20 state primaries for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 as an anti-abortion candidate, and won 22 convention votes. She became the first woman to qualify for federal campaign matching funds and qualified for Secret Service protection. In 1980, she ran for president again as the candidate of the Right to Life Party, winning more than 30,000 votes from three states.

  • Sonia Johnson (1984) - There was a move among these females toward becoming the nominee of one of the major political parties. Johnson, however, ran on the ticket of the Citizens Party. She, like McCormack, received enough votes to get federal matching funds.

  • Patricia S. Schroeder (1988) - Schroeder, a Democrat, made headlines when she took preliminary steps toward making a serious run for the presidency, but dropped out before the primaries because she could not raise the necessary funds. She was an anti-Vietnam war protestor who won a seat in the House of Representatives and served 12 terms.

  • Lenora Fulani (1988, 1992) - Here is a name and a political party that you may not recognize. Lenora Fulani ran twice for president, being the nominee of the New Alliance Party. She received enough votes to qualify for U.S. federal matching funds.

A New Millennium. A New Trajectory for Women.

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Since the beginning of the new millennium, we are seeing more women run for president. Below is a list of these Amazing CAN DO Women:

  • Elizabeth Hanford Dole (2000)

  • Carol Moseley Braun (2004)

  • Cynthia McKinney (2008)

  • Michele Bachmann (2012)

  • Jill Stein (2008, 2016)

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton (2008, 2016) In July 2016 Clinton became the first woman to be a major party's nominee for president. She won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes, but lost the Electoral College vote.

  • Carly Fiorina (2016)

  • Tulsi Gabbard (2020)

  • Kirsten Gillibrand (2020)

  • Jo Jorgensen (2020)

  • Amy Klobuchar (2020)

  • Elizabeth Warren (2020)

  • Marianne Williamson (2020)

Women as Vice President

Although our Presidents' Day list honoring women who ran for president, it’s important to acknowledge Kamala Harris (2020). Harris became the first female vice president of the US as well as the first South Asian and African American woman in the position.

Be Sure to Join Us on February 23 to Discuss Women’s History Month 2022. — Get Ready. It’s Almost Here.

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