David Nolan (libertarian)

David Nolan (libertarian)
Nolan in a 2010 campaign photo during his Senate run

David Fraser Nolan (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 simple left versus right political taxonomy by separating the issues of economic freedom and social freedom and presenting them in the format of a plane.


Early life and education

Nolan was born on November 23, 1943, in Washington, D. C., and grew up in Maryland. During high school, he read science fiction and became a fan of Robert Heinlein, whose libertarianism shaped his own ideology, as did the works of Ayn Rand. He enrolled at MIT, graduating with a B.S. in political science in 1966.[5] He was a Unitarian Universalist.[6]

Early political activism

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]

Formation of the Libertarian Party

Nolan at the 2008 Libertarian Party national convention in Denver

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 he initiated the Committee to Form a Libertarian Party. 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. They officially founded the Libertarian Party on December 11, 1971.[5]

Later political activities

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, while driving.[10]

See also


External links

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