Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Progressive Party (United States)
The first Progressive Party
The first was formed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. Roosevelt ran against President Taft in the Republican primary, spurred by bitter resentment of the policies of Taft, who had been Roosevelt's hand-picked successor. After Roosevelt was defeated in the primary, reporters suggested that he was no longer fit for the office. Retorting that he was "fit as a bull moose" (giving the party a nickname), Roosevelt ran on the Progressive Party ticket in the 1912 Presidential election. Roosevelt had the satisfaction of defeating Taft in the popular vote, and by a large margin of 88-8 in the electoral vote, but the split engendered in the Republican vote allowed Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency.
The second Progressive Party
The second was formed under the leadership of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. of Wisconsin, another erstwhile Republican, in 1924. La Follette's politics ran toward the socialist end of the spectrum; he favored public ownership of railroads, etc. His run for the presidency under this ticket garnered 17% of the popular vote, but carried only one state (his native Wisconsin). The Republican ticket, headed by incumbent president Calvin Coolidge, won the election.
The third Progressive Party
In 1948, another Progressive Party (known in some states as the Independent Progressive Party) was formed with an eye toward electing Henry A. Wallace president. Wallace was also supported by several other small parties, such as the American Labor Party of New York. The Communist Party USA did not field a presidential candidate, and instead endorsed Wallace for president. Wallace was yet another former Republican, who had nevertheless supported Alfred E. Smith in 1928 and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932, and then served under Roosevelt as Secretary of Agriculture, Vice President, and Secretary of Commerce under both presidents Roosevelt and Truman. When Wallace refused to expel Communists working in the party during the 1948 election, his campaign was severely criticized by both the Truman and Dewey camps. Running as a peace candidate in the nascent cold war era, he garnered no electoral votes and less than 3% of the popular vote.
In 1952, the party ran Charlotta Bass for vice president, making her the first African-American woman to run for national office; their presidential candidate was lawyer Vincent Hallinan. The Progressive Party disbanded in 1955, as the Cold War began to dominate the political spectrum in the United States.
Current and minor progressive parties
Currently active in the states of Vermont and Washington, the Vermont Progressive Party and the Washington Progressive Party intends to spread New Progress to the rest of the United States. The parties' mascot is also the Bull Moose.
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