I received a blast e-mail this morning from 2008 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root informing readers that John Hospers had passed away on Sunday. He was 93. I can’t yet find any mentions in the press, but will update this post as soon as more information is available.
For those unfamiliar with Professor Hospers, he was the first presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party in 1972. He and his running mate, Tonie Nathan, were the first (and so far only) Libertarian Party ticket to receive an electoral vote, which came after Virginia Republican elector Roger MacBride (who later became the LP’s 1976 presidential nominee) refused to support President Richard Nixon’s reelection. Tonie Nathan’s place on the ticket also resulted in her being the first woman in United States history to receive an electoral vote. She was also the first Jewish person to receive an electoral vote.
In addition to libertarian activism, Hospers was the longtime chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Southern California. He was well-known in libertarian circles as arguably the first academic philosopher to take seriously Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy. At the time of his death, Dr. Hospers was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at USC. He remained active in the liberty movement in the decades following his run for president. Professor Hospers will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Addendum: Reason‘s Managing Editor (and former CEI Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow) Jesse Walker has a post up with some more background information and links to a few of Hospers’ greatest hits. Read it here.
Addendum II: As commenter CLS notes, Professor Hospers was indeed the first openly gay man to receive an electoral vote. Another Libertarian first!