The roots of libertarianism began with Locke and Cato's Letters in Britain. Locke and his concepts of property are considered the foundation of libertarianism and he is considered by many to be THE "proto-libertarian".
The torch was passed to the founding of America. Rothbard said the founding was the greatest experiment in Liberty that has ever occurred.
The next milemarker is the Old Right of the early twentieth century epitomized by Robert Taft. Rothbard founded the Taft Club.
Post WW2 the extremes of the libertarian movement were bounded at one end by Goldwater and shortly after. the other polarity by Rothbard, who started out Old Right, was fully gelling his spanking new "anarcho-capitalism". Rothbard is a relative newcomer in the grand scheme and anarchists are a decided minority of those considered libertarian. Estimates found on LRC.com and mises.org range from 10-15%.
Ayn Rand said she was not a libertarian and said she hated libertarians. Ayn PARTICULARLY hated Rothbard with a passion. Ayn hated lots of people.. except herself. :p
And that concludes my presentation of "The History of Libertarianism for Those On the Go".... *bows*
~wobbles but doesn't fall down~