In 1912 a group of former Republican Party members formed the Progressive Party. Theodore Roosevelt and Hiram Johnson became the party's candidates the 1912 presidential election. His proposed program included women's suffrage, direct election of senators, anti-trust legislation and the prohibition of child labour. In winning 4,126,020 votes Roosevelt defeated William H. Taft, the official candidate of the Republican Party. However, he received less votes than the Democratic Party candidate, Woodrow Wilson.
Robert La Follette became the candidate of the Progressive Party in the 1924 presidential election. Although La Follette and his running partner, Burton K. Wheeler, gained support from trade unions, the Socialist Party and the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, La Follette only won one-sixth of the votes.
Henry Wallace was the Progressive Party candidate in the 1948 presidential election. His programme included new civil rights legislation, repeal of the Taft-Hartley Bill and increased spending on welfare, education, and public works. Wallace's foreign policy program was based on opposition to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. In the presidential election Wallace polled over 1,157,172 votes but was easily beaten by Harry Truman (24,105,812) and Thomas Dewey (21,970,065).
(1) The Progressive Party, Platform (August, 1912)
The conscience of the people, in a time of grave national problems, has called into being a new party, born of the nation's sense of justice.
We of the Progressive party here dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the duty laid upon us by our fathers to- maintain the government of the people, by the people and for the people whose foundations they laid.
THE OLD PARTIES
Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people.
From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.
To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.
The deliberate betrayal of its trust by the Republican party, the fatal incapacity of the Democratic party to deal with the new issues of the new time, have compelled the people to forge a new instrument of government through which to give effect to their will in laws and institutions.
Unhampered by tradition, uncorrupted by power, undismayed by the magnitude of the task, the new party offers itself as the instrument of the people to sweep away old abuses, to build a new and nobler commonwealth.
The Progressive party, believing that no people can justly claim to be a true democracy which denies political rights on account of sex, pledges itself to the task of securing equal suffrage to men and women alike.
We pledge our party to legislation that will compel strict limitation of all campaign contributions and expenditures, and detailed publicity of both before as well as after primaries and elections.
PUBLICITY AND PUBLIC SERVICE
We pledge our party to legislation compelling the registration of lobbyists; publicity of committee hearings except on foreign affairs, and recording of all votes in committee; and forbidding federal appointees from holding office in State or National political organizations, or taking part as officers or delegates in political conventions for the nomination of elective State or National officials.
The Progressive party demands such restriction of the power of the courts as shall leave to the people the ultimate authority to determine fundamental questions of social welfare and public policy. To secure this end, it pledges itself to provide:
1. That when an Act, passed under the police power of the State, is held unconstitutional under the State Constitution, by the courts, the people, after an ample interval for deliberation, shall have an opportunity to vote on the question whether they desire the Act to become law, notwithstanding such decision.
2. That every decision of the highest appellate court of a State declaring an Act of the Legislature unconstitutional on the ground of its violation of the Federal Constitution shall be subject to the same review by the Supreme Court of the United States as is now accorded to decisions sustaining such legislation.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
We believe that the issuance of injunctions in cases arising out of labor disputes should be prohibited when such injunctions would not apply when no labor disputes existed.
We believe also that a person cited for contempt in labor disputes, except when such contempt was committed in the actual presence of the court or so near thereto as to interfere with the proper administration of justice, should have a right to trial by jury.
SOCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL JUSTICE
The supreme duty of the Nation is the conservation of human resources through an enlightened measure of social and industrial justice. We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in State and Nation for:
Effective legislation looking to the prevention of industrial accidents, occupational diseases, overwork, involuntary unemployment, and other injurious effects incident to modern industry;
The fixing of minimum safety and health standards for the various occupations, and the exercise of the public authority of State and Nation, including the Federal Control over interstate commerce, and the taxing power, to maintain such standards;
The prohibition of child labor;
Minimum wage standards for working women, to provide a "living wage" in all industrial occupations;
The general prohibition of night work for women and the establishment of an eight-hour day for women and young persons;
One day's rest in seven for all wage workers;
The eight-hour day in continuous twentv-four-hour industries:
The abolition of the convict contract labor system; substituting a system of prison production for governmental consumption only; and the application of prisoners' earnings to the support of their dependent families;
Publicity as to wages, hours and conditions of labor; full reports upon industrial accidents and diseases; and the opening to public inspection of all tallies, weights, measures and check systems on labor products;
Standards of compensation for death by industrial accident and injury and trade disease which will transfer the burden of lost earnings from the families of working people to the industry, and thus to the community;
The protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use;
The development of the creative labor power of America by lifting the last load of illiteracy from American youth and establishing continuation schools for industrial education under public control and encouraging agricultural education and demonstration in rural schools;
We favor the organization of the workers, men and women, as a means of protecting their interests and of promoting their progress. . . .
We demand that the test of true prosperity shall be the benefit conferred thereby on all the citizens, not confined to individuals or classes.
We therefore demand a strong National regulation of inter-State corporations. The corporation is an essential part of modern business. The concentration of modern business, in some degree, is both inevitable and necessary for national and international business efficiency. But the existing concentration of vast wealth under a corporate system, unguarded
and uncontrolled by the Nation, has placed in the hands of a few men enormous, secret, irresponsible power over the daily life of the citizen - a power insufferable in a free government and certain of abuse.
We urge the establishment of a strong Federal administrative commission of high standing, which shall maintain permanent and active supervision over industrial corporations engaged in interstate commerce, or such of them as are of public importance.
Such a commission must enforce the complete publicity of those corporate transactions which are of public interest; must attack unfair competition, false capitalization and special privilege.
We favor strengthening the Sherman Law by prohibiting agreement to divide territory or limit output; refusing to sell to customers who buy from business rivals; to sell below cost in certain areas while maintaining higher prices in other places; using the power of transportation to aid or injure special business concerns; and other unfair trade practices.