Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, Sr. - 20th Governor of Wisconsin, U.S. Senator, Congressman, Progressive Politician; born Robert Marion La Follette in a log cabin on June 14, 1855 in Primrose, Wisconsin just outside New Glarus. La Follette represented
Wisconsin in both chambers of Congress and served as the Governor of Wisconsin. A Republican for most of his career, he unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States as the nominee of his own Progressive Party in 1924.
La Follette attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison where he was deeply influenced by University president John Bascom on issues of morality, ethics and social justice. La Follette studied oratory and, during his senior year, won a major Midwestern oratorical competition. He graduated in 1879.
La Follette served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district between 1885-1891.
La Follette became Wisconsin's first native-born governor, and served from 1901 until 1906. As governor, La Follette championed numerous progressive reforms, including the first workers' compensation system, railroad rate reform, direct legislation, municipal home rule, open government, the minimum wage, non-partisan elections, the open primary system, direct election of U.S. Senators, women's suffrage, and progressive taxation. He created an atmosphere of close collaboration between the state government and the University of Wisconsin in the development of progressive policy, which became known as the Wisconsin Idea.
La Follette served in the U.S. Senator for the state of Wisconsin between 1906–1925.
He became a national leader of the progressive movement and a vocal opponent of railroad trusts, bossism (political bosses), World War I, and the League of Nations. He sought the Republican nomination for president in the 1912 election, but lost the nomination to Theodore Roosevelt. He later ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States as the nominee of his own independent Progressive Party in 1924.
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Robert Marion La Follette, Sr.
Above: Progressive Party Presidential candidate Robert M. La Follette with AFL chief Samuel Gompers in September 1924.
Above: Robetr La Follette (center) with his wife and women's suffrage leader, Belle Case La Follette (left), and daughter, Fola La Follette (right) in 1924.
Above: Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette Sr. making a radio speech shortly before his death.