The United States Progressive Party of 1924 was a continuation of the 1912 Progressive party with few changes in leadership at the state or local levels, and keeping many of the same officers nationally. Some historians contend that it was only a national ticket created by Robert M. La Follette, Sr. to run for president in the 1924 election. Since he was supposed (according to his autobiography), to be the first party candidate, one can only imagine his relief at the departure of the Roosevelt wing of the party. The Party did not nominate many candidates for other national offices, carried only Wisconsin, and vanished somewhat after the election. By concentrating only on the Progressive Party national races, especially those running for President of the United States, it is easy to miss the work being done at the state or local level, especially in Wisconsin. Years before, La Follette had created the "Progressive" faction inside the Republican Party of Wisconsin in 1900. In 1912 he attempted to create a Progressive Party but lost control to Theodore Roosevelt, who became his bitter enemy. After many successful reforms made in Wisconsin, La Follette wanted to influence the cause of controlling trusts, and getting the vote into the hands of the people. In 1924 the party called for public ownership of railroads, and other Progressive causes. La Follette ran with Senator Burton K. Wheeler, Democratic Senator from Montana. The party represented a farmer/labor coalition and was endorsed by the Socialist Party of America, the American Federation of Labor and many railroad labor groups. La Follette's run for the presidency under this ticket garnered 17% of the popular vote, but carried only one state (his native Wisconsin). La Follette continued to serve in the Senate as a Republican until his death the following year, and was succeeded in a special election in 1925 by his son, Robert M. La Follette, Jr. The La Follette family continued his political legacy in Wisconsin, publishing, "The Progressive" and pushing for reform. The son was elected in 1925 under the Republican party banner and joined the GOP caucus in the Senate. He opposed the programs of President Herbert Hoover from the left, and campaigned for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. In 1934 his faction severed ties with the Wisconsin GOP and re-created his father's party at the state level, the Progressive Party of Wisconsin. It won a sweeping landslide in the state in 1934, including election of his brother Philip as governor. That was the highest office to which any U.S. Progressive has ever been elected while running as such. The Progressive party also had members of the House from Wisconsin during the 1930s and 40s. The party was fading by 1940 and young Bob was barely reelected that year. In 1946 the party disbanded and he entered the GOP primary, where he was defeated by Joe McCarthy.
Philip La Follette won the state GOP primary in 1930 and was elected governor, but was defeated in the GOP primary in 1932. In 1934 he ran and was elected governor on the Progressive Party of Wisconsin ticket, and reelected in 1936. In 1936 the Progressive Party of Wisconsin endorsed Roosevelt for reelection. Phil La Follette launched the National Progressive party in Madison on April 28, 1938, flanked by banners and armed guardsmen. The national party did not catch on and he was defeated for reelection as governor in 1938. Orland Steen Loomis was the last Progressive to be elected governor of Wisconsin, in 1942. However, he died before his inauguration as governor and the party vanished until 1992, when it was refounded once again as the Prodane party (Progressive Dane county).
The last politician to hold office from the Progressive Party nationally was Merlin Hull, a U.S. Representative from Wisconsin, in January 1947.
Office Holders from the United States Progressive PartyEdit
- Philip La Follette, Governor
- Thomas Ryum Amlie, U.S. Congressman, 1935-39
- Gerald J. Boileau, U.S. Congressman, 1931-39
- Bernard J. Gehrmann, U.S. Congressman, 1935-43
- Merlin Hull, U.S. Congressman, 1935-47
- Harry Sauthoff, U.S. Congressman, 1935-39, 1941-45
- George J. Schneider, U.S. Congressman, 1935-39
- Gardner Robert Withrow, U.S. Congressman, 1931-39