Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, Sr.
Wisconsin’s Robert LaFollette championed progressivism as a congressman, governor and senator, fighting for direct election of senators, child labor laws, the minimum wage, progressive taxation and workers’ compensation, while railing against the influence of corporations in Washington and on the national economy.
Though LaFollette’s vocal opposition to US involvement in World War I led some to doubt both his loyalty and his political future, in 1924 LaFollette ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket and secured 17% of the popular vote, third after President Calvin Coolidge and the Democratic nominee, John Davis. It was a third-party showing only bested by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 (27%) and Ross Perot in 1992 (19%).
LaFollette’s address about preserving the freedom of speech during wartime earned such raucous acclaim from his colleagues that the Senate had to be gaveled back into order.
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