This year in the 2020 US presidential election alone 1,214 aspirants are participating against heavy-weight candidates like Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Although they do not usually appear on enough ballots to secure the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, they do have the potential to impact who wins the election.
In the latest election in 2016, more than 7.6 million Americans cast their votes for someone other than Republican nominee Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. This certainly gives a good projection on how US people consider other prominent independent candidates to run their country.
And why shouldn't they? History speaks for them as they had one of the most successful presidents in the history of the US and one of the founding fathers through a nonpartisan candidacy.
You guessed correctly, George Washington - the first and two times US president was the only independent candidate till date to win the US Presidency with massive votes.
George Washington opposed the development of political parties, which had begun to solidify as the Federalist faction centered on Vice President John Adams and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton and the Democratic-Republican faction centered on Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Washington feared that partisanship would eventually destroy the country, and famously warned against in his 1796 Farewell Address.
"Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally."
-George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
George Washington was the commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). After the US winning the Revolutionary War and helping to set up the new government for his country at the Constitutional Convention, Washington's thoughts turned away from the issues of national service completely. He preferred a more quiet and soothing life "living and dying as a private citizen on my own farm," at his home in Mount Vernon estate.
Yet, his dreams of a tranquil retirement were at odds with his peers and the American people at large. The first presidential election was held on January 7, 1789, and Washington won handily. John Adams, who received the second-largest number of votes, became the nation's first vice president.
In both the election of 1789 and 1792 Washington received all votes from the Electoral College. During the first election, Washington won the electors of all ten eligible states. In 1792, Washington received all 132 electoral votes, winning each of the fifteen states, without belonging in any of the major political parties.
George Washington left one of the most enduring legacies of any American in history. Known as the "Father of His Country," his face appears on the US dollar bill and quarter, and dozens of US schools, towns and counties, as well as the state of Washington and the nation's capital city, are named for him.