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Before Hillary Clinton Faced Donald Trump

10 women who ran for U.S. president and made political history

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    Victoria Woodhull

    En español | A colorful character from Ohio, Woodhull was the first woman to run for president. In 1872, nearly 50 years before women could even vote, she ran as a member of the Equal Rights Party and declared abolitionist Frederick Douglass her vice-presidential running mate, apparently without his consent.

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    Belva Lockwood

    Lockwood, a fiercely independent women’s suffragist from New York state, ran for the top job in 1884 and 1888. Working as a lawyer in Washington, she had successfully fought for women to be able to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court — then became the first to do so in 1880.

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    Gracie Allen

    The popular comedienne, who was married to fellow comedian George Burns, ran a tongue-in-cheek campaign on the Surprise Party ticket in 1940. She quipped, “I realize that the president of today is merely the postage stamp of tomorrow.”

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    Margaret Chase Smith

    A respected U.S. congresswoman from Maine who served in the House of Representatives from 1940-48  and the Senate from 1948-73, Smith ran for the Republican candidacy in 1964. She said of her ill-fated bid, "When people keep telling you you can't do a thing, you kind of like to try." Barry Goldwater was nominated instead.

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    Charlene Mitchell

    A civil rights activist from Chicago, Mitchell became the first black woman to run for president, campaigning on the Communist Party ticket in 1968 at age 38. She once said Martin Luther King Jr. was “a tremendous human being,” but “I do not accept nonviolence as a principle.”

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    Shirley Chisholm

    The first black woman to serve in Congress (1969-83) also became the first to campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1972. A New Yorker, she called herself “unbought and unbossed,” and she wrote in her memoir that she ran “despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.”

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  • Robert Deutschman

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    Patsy Takemoto Mink

    In 1972, the Japanese American lawyer from Hawaii became the first Asian woman to declare a bid for the presidency — seven years after becoming the first Asian congresswoman. A Democrat, she sponsored the seminal Title IX law, a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972  that requires equal federal funding for males and females in school sports and programs.

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    Isabell Masters

    Looking Back Party candidate  Masters was an educator and evangelist from Oklahoma and California. She ran for president five times, more than any other female candidate in U.S. history. In three of the elections, her children were her running mates: son Walter in 1992, daughter Shirley in 1996 and daughter Alfreda in 2000.

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    Lenora Fulani

    A psychologist and activist, Fulani ran as a New Alliance Party candidate in 1988 — becoming the first woman to have her name appear on ballots in all 50 states — and again in 1992. Lately she has been praised for her work bridging the divide between cops and inner-city kids.

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    Gloria La Riva

    An antiwar activist dedicated to human rights and fighting capitalism, La Riva was a presidential candidate for the Party of Socialism and Liberation in 2008 and 2016. She was among those arrested while protesting police brutality in Baton Rouge, La., in 2016.

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