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Roger McBride, in memorium

4 Mar

Most Libertarians don’t realize that the LP’s first two presidential candidates were both gay (in addition to its first vice presidential candidate being a Jewish woman).  John Hospers, the 1972 candidate, a philosophy professor in southern California, was actually kind of out by early 70s standards, as academia somewhat allowed.  (Among gays in the libertarian movement who knew him, the late Hospers was snarkily called behind his back (in the 80s), “Hot-spurs.”  I don’t actually know why.)

Roger McBride, the 1976 LP candidate, was not out.  But among his many historical firsts and other accomplishments he is the first gay member of the Electoral College to vote for an openly gay presidential candidate.

Roger MacBride

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Roger MacBride
Personal details
Born Roger Lea MacBride
August 6, 1929
New Rochelle, New York
Died March 5, 1995 (aged 65)
Miami Beach, Florida
Political party Republican Party
Libertarian Party
Profession Attorney, writer, television producer
Roger Lea MacBride (August 6, 1929 – March 5, 1995) was an American lawyer, political figure, writer and television producer. He was the presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party in the 1976 election. MacBride became the first presidential elector in U.S. history to cast a vote for a woman when, in the presidential election of 1972, he voted for the Libertarian Party candidates John Hospers for president and Theodora “Tonie” Nathan for vice president.[1][2]
He was co-creator and co-producer of the television series Little House on the Prairie.


MacBride was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1929.[3] He called himself “the adopted grandson” of a family friend, writer and political theorist Rose Wilder Lane,[4] whom he met for the first time when he was 14 years of age.[5][6] Lane — the daughter of writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was noted for writing the Little House series of books – designated MacBride as a “political disciple”, as well as her executor and sole heir.[3]
MacBride was a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.[3]

Law career[edit]

MacBride worked for the Wall Street-based law firm White & Case for several years before opening a small practice in Vermont.[3] By the mid-1970s, MacBride had relocated toVirginia and was no longer practicing law full-time.[2]

Writing and television producing career[edit]

MacBride inherited Lane’s estate including rights to the substantial Ingalls-Wilder literary estate, including the “Little House on the Prairie” franchise.[3] He is the author of record of three additional “Little House” books, and began the “Rocky Ridge Years” series of children’s novels, describing Lane’s Ozark childhood.[3][4] He published two books onconstitutional law – The American Electoral College and Treaties versus the Constitution,[7] as well as a Libertarian Party manifesto – A New Dawn for America: The Libertarian Challenge.[3]
In the 1970s, MacBride co-created the television series Little House on the Prairie and served as a co-producer for the show.[2][4]

Political career[edit]

Vermont politics[edit]

MacBride was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1962 and served one term.[8] Running as a Goldwater Republican,[9] he made an unsuccessful bid for theRepublican Party nomination for Governor of Vermont in 1964.[7][8][10]

1972 electoral vote[edit]

MacBride was the treasurer of the Republican Party of Virginia in 1972 and one of the party’s electors when Richard Nixon won the popular vote for his second term as President of the United States.[11] MacBride, however, as a “faithless elector“, voted for the nominees of the Libertarian Party – presidential candidate John Hospers and vice-presidential candidate Tonie Nathan. In so doing, MacBride made Nathan the first woman in U.S. history to receive an electoral vote.[7][11] Political pundit David Boaz later commented inLiberty magazine that MacBride was “faithless to Nixon and Agnew, anyway, but faithful to the constitutional principles Rose Wilder Lane had instilled in him.”[12]

1976 presidential campaign[edit]

After casting his historical electoral vote in 1972,[7] MacBride instantly gained favor within the fledgling Libertarian Party, which had only begun the previous year.[13] As the Libertarian presidential nominee in 1976,[2] he achieved ballot access in 32 states;[3] he and his running mateDavid Bergland,[14] received 172,553 (0.21%) popular votes by official count, and no electoral votes. His best performance was in Alaska, where he received 6,785 votes, or nearly 5.5%.[7][15]

Republican Liberty Caucus[edit]

MacBride rejoined the Republican Party in the 1980s and helped establish the Republican Liberty Caucus, a group promoting libertarian principles within the Republican Party.[4][16] He chaired this group from 1992 until his death in 1995.[17]


MacBride died of heart failure on March 5, 1995.[3] A controversy ensued upon his death when the local library in Mansfield, Missouri, contended that Wilder’s original will gave her daughter ownership of the literary estate for her lifetime only, and that all rights were to revert to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Library after her death.[18] The ensuing court case was settled in an undisclosed manner, but MacBride’s heirs retained the rights.[19]
In an obituary for MacBride, David Boaz wrote, “In some ways he was the last living link to the best of the Old Right, the rugged-individualist, anti-New Deal, anti-interventionistspirit of Rep. Howard BuffettAlbert Jay NockH. L. MenckenIsabel Paterson, and Lane.”[12]