Time Capsule: People’s Party Picks Dr. Spock for President

Dr. Benjamin Spock, the famous pediatrician and antiwar activist, was formally nominated for the presidency by the People’s Party forty years ago this weekend.

Organized around opposition to the Vietnam War and originally co-chaired by novelist Gore Vidal and Spock himself, the People’s Party was a loose coalition of state and local parties, including California’s Peace & Freedom Party and Zolton Ferency’s Human Rights Party in Michigan, a party that enjoyed considerable electoral success in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

The 69-year-old Spock, who had been actively campaigning for more than eight months, acknowledged that he had no chance of winning the presidency.  “But that’s not our purpose,” he told the more than 100 delegates attending the party’s national convention at the Gateway Hotel in St. Louis.   “We’re out to build a grassroots movement.”

Spock, who had been chosen as the left-wing party’s “provisional” candidate for president at an organizing convention in Dallas the previous November, was joined on the People’s Party ticket by 50-year-old Julius Hobson, a civil rights activist and former member of the Washington, D.C., Board of Education.

Spock’s nomination — or ratification, to be more precise — was briefly covered that Sunday night on the CBS Evening News.

Waging a particularly frugal campaign that included carrying his own luggage at airports and staying at the homes of supporters, the wealthy baby doctor was provided Secret Service protection during the autumn campaign.  Working in shifts, some 25 agents watched over him day and night.

Maintaining throughout the campaign that he was more interested in building a radical independent political movement at the local level than in winning votes, Spock conceded that he wasn’t going to poll any significant number of votes against President Nixon and Democratic challenger George McGovern.  “They’re just trying to win office,” the dissident candidate said of his major-party rivals.  “We’re trying to save the country.”

Spock, who campaigned in 36 states and the District of Columbia during his long-shot quest for the Oval Office, appeared on the ballot in ten states that autumn.  He and his running mate polled nearly 79,000 votes nationally, including 55,167 votes on the Peace & Freedom line in California.


  1. I am Mary Morgan, Dr. Spock’s wife. I remember the People’s Party days when Ben ran for president. He was very concerned about the war and wanted to have an alternative for voters, other than what the Democrats and Republicans were offering. The need for free good quality medical care for everyone, bringing home troops from Vietnam, and high standard child care for working mothers, were some of the issues he ran on.
    We still have many of those today, 40 years later.
    People are beginning to wake up to what is happening in this country, and now we may be able to save ourselves, if enough are willing to see what we are doing to destroy the earth, and are willing to make the necessary changes. Mary Morgan

  2. C. T. Weber says:

    As state chair of Peace and Freedom Party of California in 1972, I traveled with Ben and the woman he was married to, Jane on a three week tour of California. The Secrete Service sent a team, the day before we arrived to check for bombs or any possible threats. At my home in Long Beach, he said “we are more committed to the next generation than the next election”. There was the smell of a lot of pot in the air, but the secrete service just turned their head and looked up. The caravan was three limos. Ben, Jane and I were in the middle limo and the agents would talk with each other with wakie talkies. I think I am the only person I know who had secrete service protection and Black Panther party protection. Ben moved to San Diego with the woman he later married, Mary where he registered with Peace and Freedom Party. He died there and had a New Orleans funeral where Mary danced on the herst as the jazz band followed along. Presente Dr. Ben!

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  4. Kathleen Engblom says:

    I remember hitch-hiking from Minneapolis to Dallas for the “organizing convention” in ’77. It was the beginning of my interest in politics as well as the first election in which I was old enough to vote.

  5. Unfortunately, the C.T. Weber post above is utter nonsense. Weber was only the state chair of California’s Peace and Freedom Party for only the last two and a half months (from August 1972 until November’s general election) of the Benjamin Spock for President, Julius Hobson for Vice President campaign of the national Peoples Party.
    Weber became California state chair accidentally when the expected front runner Lew MxCammon withdrew from contention when his partner Kay McGlocklin had become Los Angles county chair of PFP. Weber has rewritten and exaggerated his own role and importance within Peace and Freedom numerous times. C.T. “Charles Thomas” Weber was once caught posting on that he had gotten over 5000 votes as a write-in candidate for Congress in 1968. He was forced to delete this spurious claim when caught. Weber also falsified the founding date of California PFP as June 1967 when the record clearly shows Peace and Freedom Party in the Golden State began no later than February 1967. Weber once posed for a photograph dressed in a Nazi Party uniform complete with a Hitler style mustache and when confronted with this fascist posturing, claimed that it was done tor a “costume party”.

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