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The Logical Choice

November 30, 2017

After the Republicans lost the Houses of Representatives in the 1910 election, the progressive wing of the party concluded that President Taft was not the man to lead them to victory in 1912.  They met on June 21, 1911 and formed the National Progressive Republican League.  Among those present was Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette.  His Washington home was the venue for this initial meeting.  At a Chicago conference in October he was named by this group as “the logical candidate for the presidency” in 1912.

President Taft had alienated the progressives, and former President Theodore Roosevelt had too often compromised with big business to suit La Follette.  Besides, when Roosevelt was elected in 1904, he had promised not to run again.  Not running again pertained not just to 1908 but to 1912 and beyond.  La Follette was well-known as a fighter for progressive causes.  He supported direct election of U.S. Senators, women’s suffrage, and the minimum wage.  Everything he did was aimed at giving the people a greater voice at all levels of government.  In many ways he was indeed the logical choice for President.

Things were going his way despite whispers that Roosevelt might challenge Taft in the primaries.  Then, on February 2, 1912, after a long day, La Follette gave a speech which proved disastrous to his campaign.


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