(35.) ROBERT M. La FOLLETTE (1855-1925)
“He was a Statesman”
Progressive La Follette/Burton Wheeler
Defeated by Republican Calvin Coolidge/Charles Dawes, 1924
La Follette was a representative in Congress, elected governor of Wisconsin and reelected twice, resigning in 1905 to take a seat in the U. S. Senate, to which he was reelected three times. He ran for president as a “Progressive.”
La Follette was a man with a program known as the “Wisconsin Idea,” a model of progressive government, opposed to political bosses, and for taking the issues directly to the people. He believed in employing technical experts for government jobs.
His county was largely Democrat and as he was opposing the bosses, he aligned himself with the Republicans, but soon broke with them for the same reason. He early advocated primary election laws, control of railroads, and tax reform. While in the senate, he sponsored many reform measures and in preventing the Armed Merchant Ship Bill from passing, he was classed by President Wilson as one of a “Group of Willful Men.” He also opposed the World Court and the League of Nations and was a leader in the investigation of the Teapot Dome scandal.
La Follette’s sons also entered politics, Robert M. La Follette, Jr. in the senate and Philip F. La Follette as governor of the state.