Libertarianism Wiki

Nolan in a 2010 campaign photo during his Senate run. Photo by Jay Christopher Walsh. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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

He is also known as the inventor and popularizer as the inventor of the Nolan chart.[4] The Chart 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. As of 2012, the Chart continues to be popular, distributed as the "World's Smallest Political Quiz".


Youth 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 1965.[5] He was a Unitarian Universalist.[6]

Early political activism[]

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]

David Nolan with a version of the Nolan Chart in 1996. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Formation of the Libertarian Party[]

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.[5]

Later political activities[]

Nolan 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, just 2 days shy of his 67th birthday, while driving.[10]

See also[]


  1. "Libertarian co-founder David Nolan died in Tucson". 22 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  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. 5.0 5.1 Brian Doherty (journalist) Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, PublicAffairs, 2007, 389-394.
  6. Template:Dead link
  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,, November 21, 2010.

External links[]

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