John Hospers, first Libertarian presidential nominee, dies at 93

Press release from the Libertarian Party on the passing of their first candidate for president:

John Hospers, first Libertarian presidential nominee, dies at 93

WASHINGTON – John Hospers, the Libertarian Party’s first presidential nominee in 1972, died on June 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 93.

Hospers became the Libertarian Party’s first nominee for U.S. President at its first national convention in Colorado on June 18, 1972. Hospers and his running mate, Tonie Nathan, each received one electoral vote in the 1972 election from Roger MacBride, a renegade elector in Virginia.

Hospers was a professor of philosophy at several universities, including the University of Southern California.

A brief biography is available at his website.

In 1971, he wrote the book Libertarianism – A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow, which described the libertarian political and economic philosophy.

Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle said, “I’ve been involved with the Libertarian Party since voting for John Hospers for president in 1972. Dr. Hospers was very influential in the formative days of our party, and we will miss him.”

  • Fred Groh

    Following Dr. John Hospers’ death at age 93, I read several memorials which emphasized the importance of his being the first Libertarian candidate for President in the 1972 Presidential Election. To me, Dr. Hosper’s legacy lies elsewhere. He was an excellent teacher and a patient, tireless advocate of Libertarian ideas. I know because I am one of his former students.

    I was an undergraduate student at USC from 1971-1975. When I arrived at USC as a freshman, I knew nothing about philosophy. However, I had a strong interest in understanding the world and learning the right way to live. In my introductory philosophy course at USC, we used Dr. Hospers’ text book “An Introduction To Philosophical Analysis.” The course and his book had a profound influence on me. Dr. Hospers’ book opened my eyes to a whole new world. Later, I took courses taught by Dr. Hospers in “Introductory Ethics,” “Social and Political Philosophy” and “Aesthetics.” Dr. Hospers taught these courses primarily from his books “Human Conduct,” “Libertarianism,” “Meaning and Truth in the Arts.” To this day, I fondly remember Dr. Hospers comments, in “Social and Political Philosophy,” about the inefficiency of the United States Postal Service. I also took a course at USC in “Normative Ethics” from another philosophy professor where we used Dr. Hospers’ text “Readings In Ethical Theory” co-authored by Wilfred Sellars.

    In Dr. Hospers course on Social and Political Philosophy, he introduced me to Libertarian thought. I recall the excitement I felt coming to meet with him in his office and buying a copy of his book “Libertarianism.” I think I paid $5.00 for it. I recall his office being filled with books, copies of articles he used in his classes, and copies of the “Personalist” of which he was the editor.

    I also recall attending lunch seminars with Dr. Hospers where we discussed Libertarian ideas. He always had time for his students. He wrote letters of recommendation for me for law school and graduate school. And he gave me wise counsel about where I would be happiest pursuing my graduate education.

    Since my days as an undergraduate, I have been a strong, principled advocate of limited government. Dr. Hospers’ teachings are the origin of my Libertarian ideas. It is one of the high points of my formal education that I was privileged to have him as my teacher. He made a significant difference in my life.

    I will miss him.

    Brandon K. Tady
    BA, JD, MA.