IPR, LP Remember David F Nolan; Personal Papers Acquired By Library of Congress

Unknown potential voter with LP founder David F. Nolan

Eleven years ago yesterday (21 November 2010), David Frasier Nolan, principal founder of the Libertarian Party US, passed away at the age of 66,

David was born 23 November 1943.  Tomorrow would have been his 78th birthday.

As Libertarians across the United States prepare to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Party in Colorado Springs, CO, 11 December 1971, several paused to share memories of David with IPR, expressing a common wish that he could have lived long enough to join in the various celebrations which will occur over the coming weeks, throughout next year, and in to early January 2023:

the first press conference, first convention, first platform, first presidential nominee, first presidential campaign, first electoral college vote – both for the Party and for an American woman – and, on 06 January 2023, the 50th anniversary of the tallying of that vote, by then Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew, in the chamber of the United States House.

Friends are left to imagine what David might have had to say as each of these 50-year milestones are reached, celebrated, and passed.

As one IPR reader, longtime friend, and early Colorado Libertarian shared, “David knew how to put the party in the Party.”

Earlier this year Elizabeth Nolan, following a detailed assessment by the acquisitions librarian for domestic political manuscripts, donated David’s personal papers and party ephemera to the Library of Congress (watch for a follow-up IPR article).

That gift agreement reads, in part:

Elizabeth Nolan hereby donates to the United States of America
for the benefit of the American people and inclusion in the
Library of Congress
The David F. Nolan Papers
documenting the establishment and expansion of the
National Libertarian Party

In emails received by IPR over the past few days, readers shared memories in comments such as: “the most effective leader I’ve ever met” (D. Frank Robinson), “intelligent, kind, and generous with his time” (Mark Rutherford), “I don’t know what David’s favorite things were, other than liberty. That’s how I will always remember him!” (Dr. Mary Ruwart), “David Nolan changed political history and changed the way millions look at the world of politics. It is impossible to overstate the importance of his legacy to liberty” (Sharron Harris, Advocates for Self Government (ASG)).

Norm Olsen wrote, “David Nolan died the day before my first LNC meeting, at which we would be both serving together. Hard to believe that is eleven years ago.”

Whitney Bilyeu, Bill Redpath, Sam Goldstein, Willy Marshall, Carla Howell, and other current and former party officials offered sentiments similar to those above.

Bob Poole of Reason Magazine shared this memory of David from their time together as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) undergraduates:

“Here is a brief story of how I met Dave, during my freshman year at MIT. (Dave was one year ahead of me.) He arranged for the student-run Lecture Series Committee to invite as a speaker Willis Stone, who headed an organization called the Liberty Amendment Committee, whose aim was to amend the Constitution to abolish the personal income tax. At that point, I thought of myself as a conservative, not evolving to be a libertarian until several years later. Stone’s talk (or perhaps the Q&A) addressed how the federal government might cope if the income tax disappeared. His answer was to sell off all government property to fund the adjustment period.

“That was the first time I’d ever heard of what became known as “privatization” of government assets and functions, and it eventually became a focus of my public policy research and writing. I introduced myself to Dave, and we became friends and fellow political activists, organizing the MIT Students for Goldwater in 1963-64 — the largest campus Goldwater group in all of New England.”

D. Frank Robinson wrote:

“In 1972 at the founding convention, David disapproved of my proposal that the LP Statement of Principles (SoP) could only be amended by a three-fourths vote of the next convention (to be held) in 1974, and instead wanted the one-time-only rule for the vote to be by two-thirds. I accepted his judgment. His judgment was vindicated in Dallas in 1974. We did amend the original SoP (but) by less than a three-fourths vote. If my rule proposal had stood many libertarians may have stayed away from a party that sounded too ‘objectivist’ or Randian.

“I can’t recall any other disagreements between us and I never doubted he would tell me if there were. David F. Nolan was the most effective leader I have ever experienced.”

Ruth Bennett:

“David’s favorite holiday was May 23 (5/23) – Mushroom Day. He really liked Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminati books. Don’t know his favorite foods, but I never went to a restaurant with him when he did not insist on a different table than the one he was shown. He clearly told me on several occasions that “It is Dave Nolan or David F. Nolan. Never David Nolan or Dave F. Nolan.”

Elizabeth replied:

“Other than Mushroom Day, which we didn’t celebrate after we left Denver, Dave’s favorite holidays were Halloween and the 4th of July. Ruth is right about the restaurants; the hostess would take a look at us and guide us to the worst table! It was amazing. Same with hotel rooms, finally we always looked at our room first before carrying our luggage to the room. Dave did, however, have great parking luck and occasionally it would rub off on me. ”

Elizabeth also shared that David’s favorite movie was PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE,  his favorite Saturday Night Life sketch was MORE COW BELL and his favorite Spaghetti Sauce recipe is COLORADO BOOMER (his own creation; published in 1987’s classic “LIBERATED COOKING: Rabble-Rousing Recipes from Assorted Libertarian Luminaries” by Marty Zupan and Lou Villadsen).

Recently Jan Prince, the founding Chair of the LP CO (and role model for both the President of the Confederacy and Chair of the Propertarian Party in L. Neil Smith’s classic Libertarian Utopian novel THE PROBABILITY BROACH) shared with IPR a card David sent her in October 1975.

Sharron Harris of ASG shared the same message that is in that card with IPR earlier today. A few years ago she included it in the following ASG letter.

Sharron wrote:

“Today is David F. Nolan’s birthday, and I’m pleased to bring you some unpublished inspiring words from him!

“Dave is one of the most famous people of the modern libertarian movement. He is known as the father of the Libertarian Party, and the inventor of the ingenious Nolan Chart. . . .

“In honor of his birthday, I’d like to share with you some of Dave’s words of wisdom that you haven’t seen before.

“His wife, Elizabeth, was kind enough to send me a card that she found among Dave’s notes – a card inscribed with great words to live by, which he wrote in October of 1975.

Here’s what he wrote:

Sometimes it seems there is so much cruelty and indifference in the world that
the attainment of true happiness is impossible.
Yet all of us seek it nonetheless.

And how best to do this?

The answer is different for each person . . .
for each of us is unique. And therein lies the key to fulfillment.

Go your own way.

Do not be afraid to hold your own views or pursue your own goals . . .
so long as you bring no harm to others.

Make no unearned demand on any person,
and accept no false claims on your own life.
But do not hesitate to share that life freely
with someone who will give you joy in return.

And above all,
never stop believing in yourself.

For only you can realize your dreams.
DFN, October 1975



10 thoughts on “IPR, LP Remember David F Nolan; Personal Papers Acquired By Library of Congress

  1. Joseph Buchman Post author

    D. Frank Robinson @ November 23, 2021 at 14:36


    “His courage still reverberates across the years.”

    and he was 27 years old for the first two meetings 17 July and 15 August 1971. TWENTY SEVEN.

    On 11 December 1971 he was 28 years and 19 days old. Who forms a political party that has proved lasting, influential, thought-provoking for 50 years at . . . the . . . age . . . of barely 28?

    (I don’t remember; perhaps that was the approximate average age of the founders of this nation (if you ignore Ben Franklin and a few others).


    I knew Dave Nolan from 1967 onward, shared more than a few drinks with him, and even roomed with him at the National Convention in 1991. He was all the things others remember in this post not to mention being an optimist, if sometimes well off the mark. I have before me a note he wrote me on Aug.8, 1992: “I think Marrou/Lord will go well over the million mark, and expect candidates for lower offices to do even better. I’m more concerned about a ‘letdown’ in ’94 and ’96 after big gains in ’92. I’m still projecting 2004 as the year everything pivots.” This while Perot was polling about 20% at the time. In the end, Marrou only got 290,000, down significantly from Paul’s 432,000 in 1988.
    I don’t expect he would have “burned out” if he had lived, but surely he would have acknowledged this uphill climb has been, and will be, a lot harder than predicted in 1972.

  3. Andy

    I did not know him well, but the few times I interacted with David F. Nolan he always seemed like a really good guy. It is too bad that he is no longer with us.

  4. Andy

    “Tony From Long Island
    December 3, 2021 at 00:46
    Wait . . . . I thought Andy was banned from IPR . . . . uh oh . .”

    Maybe the old IPR, and for a BOGUS reason which does not stand up to intellectual scrutiny, but this is the new IPR.

  5. Austin Cassidy

    Yeah… I don’t know any of the history and I’m not all that interested in relitigating any old fights about who can and can’t comment on articles here. At this time no one is blocked from commenting until there is a reason to block someone.

    Also — we might switch to a service like Disqus at some point that will allow people to post threaded comments and to “hide” comments that upset them.

  6. Andy

    “Austin Cassidy
    December 3, 2021 at 01:21
    Yeah… I don’t know any of the history and I’m not all that interested in relitigating any old fights about who can and can’t comment on articles here. At this time no one is blocked from commenting until there is a reason to block someone.”


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