David Nolan (libertarian)

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David Nolan
David Nolan.jpg
David Nolan during his 2010 political campaign
Born (1943-06-17)June 17, 1943
Washington, D.C.
Died November 21, 2010(2010-11-21) (aged 66)
Tucson, Arizona
Occupation Writer, politician
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Nolan

David Fraser Nolan (/ˈnlən/; November 23, 1943 – November 21, 2010[1]) was an American activist and politician. He was one of the founders of the Libertarian Party of the United States, having hosted the meeting in 1971 at which the Party was founded.[2][3] Nolan subsequently served the party in a number of roles including National Chair, editor of the party newsletter, chairman of the By-laws Committee, chairman of the Judicial Committee, and Chairman of the Platform Committee.

He is also known as the popularizer and[4] as the inventor of the Nolan Chart which attempts to improve on the simplistic left versus right political taxonomy by separating the issues of economic freedom and social freedom and presenting them on a two-dimensional plane instead of the traditional line. As of 2012, it continues to be popular, distributed as "The World's Smallest Political Quiz".

Early life and education

Nolan was born on November 23, 1943, in Washington, D. C., and grew up in Maryland.[5] During high school, he was influenced by Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein and their libertarianism. He enrolled at MIT, graduating with a BS in political science in 1965.[6]


While the traditional political "left-right" spectrum is a line, the Nolan Chart, created by David Nolan, is a plane, situating libertarianism in a wider gamut of political thought.

Nolan was a member of Young Americans for Freedom in 1969 when more than 300 libertarians organized to take control of the organization from conservatives. Many walked out after a physical confrontation sparked by the burning of a draft card in protest to a conservative proposal against draft resistance. While sympathizing with the radicals, Nolan remained with the organization.[7]

Nolan at the 2008 Libertarian Party national convention

President Richard Nixon's 1971 imposition of wage and price controls, as well as his closing of the foreign gold window, were the final straws for Nolan and his group that had initiated a Committee the previous July Committee to Form a Libertarian Party and joined forces with a previous demonstration Libertarian Party project and non-partisan political efforts of the now International Society for Individual Liberty. The group organized among a number of libertarians, including The Society for Individual Liberty, which had been formed by dissident members of Young Americans for Freedom and European libertarians. They officially founded the Libertarian Party on December 11, 1971.[6]

He ran unsuccessfully as a Libertarian for the United States House of Representatives in Arizona's 8th congressional district election, 2006 and received 1.9% of the vote. He also ran as the Libertarian candidate in the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Arizona, and received 63,000 votes,[8] 4.7% of the total.

In 2009, Nolan publicly endorsed the Free State Project,[9] an attempt to move 20,000 Libertarians to New Hampshire to experience "Liberty in their Lifetimes".

Nolan died of a stroke in Tucson, Arizona on November 21, 2010.[10][11]

See also


  1. "Libertarian co-founder David Nolan died in Tucson". fox11az.com. November 22, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Douglas Martin, David Nolan, 66, Is Dead; Started Libertarian Party. New York Times, November 22, 2010.
  3. Bill Winter, "1971–2001: The Libertarian Party's 30th Anniversary Year: Remembering the first three decades of America's 'Party of Principle'" LP News
  4. Doherty, Brian. "Radicals for Capitalism" p. 32. PublicAffairs.
  5. Emma Brown (November 24, 2010). "Co-founder of national Libertarian Party." The Washington Post. Washingtonpost Newsweek Interactive. Retrieved January 13, 2013 from HighBeam Research
  6. 6.0 6.1 Brian Doherty (journalist) Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, PublicAffairs, 2007, 389–394.
  7. Rebecca E. Klatch, A Generation Divided: The New Left, the New Right, and the 1960s, University of California Press, 1999 ISBN 0-520-21714-4, 215–237.
  8. Clayton R. Norman David Nolan, a founder of Libertarian Party, dies, Arizona Daily Star, November 22, 2010.
  9. David Nolan endorsement of the Free State Project
  10. Dylan Smith, David Nolan, Libertarian founder, dies at 66, TucsonSentinel.com, November 21, 2010.
  11. "OUR VIEW: Great defender of freedom passes on (poll)." The Gazette. Colorado Springs, CO. November 23, 2010. Newswire by the Orange County Register. Retrieved January 13, 2013 from HighBeam Research

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
U.S. Libertarian Party Steering Committee Chair
1971 – 1972
Succeeded by
Susan Nolan