Document:CaLiber 1974 History of the LPC: The First Two Years

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This article appeared in a 1974 issue of the California newsletter CaLiber.

In the fall of 1971, David Nolan and the Committee to Form a Libertarian Party announced that they would serve as a nucleus for the formation of a new political party, dedicated to the principles of non-coercion and laissez-faire.

Californians were quick to respond and membership in the national L.P. grew at a steady pace between that fall and the spring of 1972. During this time, several small meetings were held throughout the state to discuss the merits of forming a new party and the potential for success.

Then, on May 20, 1972, an organizing meeting was held in Long Beach, attended by about 30 L.P. members from San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. L.P. Executive committeeman John Taylor called the session, which heard a keynote address by U.S.C. Philosophy Department Head, Dr. John Hospers.

The group decided not to form a formal state organization, or elect officers, until after the National L.P. Convention in June. Instead, the California members agreed to continue small organizational meetings to build membership and encourage members to attend the national founding convention. A state convention was tentatively scheduled for late 1972.

Over a hundred national members attended the founding convention in June, 1972 at Denver. Almost a third of the delegates in attendance were from California.

The charter members adopted the L.P.'s first national platform, giving the organization a solid base for political activism.

Dr. John Hospers was nominated as the party's first Presidential candidate, and proved a credit to California L.P.ers with frequent radio, T.V. and personal appearances throughout the state, drawing a great deal of attention to the fledgling L.P.C..

William V. Susel of Los Angeles was appointed L.P.C. Chairman Pro-Tem, while also serving as Dr. Hospers' campaign manager. The intense campaign left organizational activity at a minimum, though L.P.C. membership grew to over 200 by September 1972.

A Burlingame meeting in September turned over the Pro-Tem Chairmanship to Alan Coon of Foster City, who led the formation of an efficient and effective state organization during the following seven months.

On national election night 1972, over one hundred L.P.C.ers attended a celebration at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Spirits were high as Dr. Hospers and the party's Vice-Presidential Candidate, Ms. Tonie Nathan, spoke to the jubilant crowd.

Telegrams of congratulations for a well-run and productive campaign were received from across the country, only to be surpassed by later word that the L.P. slate had received one electoral vote from a defecting Republican elector in Virginnia, Roger MacBride.

In March of 1973, the L.P.C. held its First State Convention at Del Webb's Hotel in Fresno. Over a hundred delegates elected Edward Clark of Los Angeles as the first L.P.C. Chairman. William C. White of Los Altos and Edward Crane III of Santa Monica were elected North and South Vice-Chairmen respectively.

During the following year, organizational activity was at its peak, with various local regions becoming organized and chartered by the State Executive.

Membership grew steadily to almost 500 with L.P.C.ers active on radio and T.V., complimented by wide distribution of libertarian literature and person-to-person contacts.

By the Second State Convention, in February, 1974 at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, the L.P.C. was ready to field a full slate of state-wide candidates and adopt a full state party platform.

Again, over a hundred delegates from the 20 Regions across the state attended and re-elected Edward Clark as State Chairman. Don Atkinson of Santa Cruz and William Westmiller of Lancaster were elected North and South Vice-Chairman.

A full slate of L.P.C. candidates were nominated for the first time. Dr. John Hospers became the state party's first Gubernatorial candidate and William White was nominated as the first candidate for U.S. Senate.

A platform stating the party's position on current issues was adopted within the set time limit, giving a concise statement of libertarian thinking in 15 prominent political areas.

With a strong platform, and a solid push into the political arena, delegates left Berkeley with renewed hope and enthusiasm, having come a long way in less than two years.