Progressive Party
Founded 1912
Youth wing Young Bull Mooses
Ideology Progressivism
Social liberalism
Internal factions:
Social democracy
Green politics
Social conservatism
Civil libertarianism
Left-wing populism
Official colors Green
The Progressive Party, also commonly called the Bull Moose Party or BMP, is one of the two biggest political parties in the United States of America, the other being the Liberal Party. The party was founded by former President Theodore Roosevelt, after a split in the Republican Party between him and President William Howard Taft.

The Progressive Party encompasses a social liberal and populist platform. The Progressive Party advocate social justice, conservationism, a balanced budget, and a market economy tempered by government intervention (mixed economy). The economic policy adopted by the Progressive Party has been referred to as "Third Way".

The party traditional strongholds are the states in the West (Franklin, California, Nevada and Arizona) and the Midwest (South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois). New York is the most solid and strongest party base in the East Coast and continuing to elect majority of Progressive officeholders federally and locally. There are also several pockets in Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virgnia loyally support and elect the Progressive nominees.


T Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1929)

The Progressive Party was originated from the Progressive Movement at the end of 19th century. The main objectives of the movement were eliminating problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and corruption in government. The prominent figures of Progressive Movement in the Republican side included Theodore Roosevelt, Robert M. La Follette, Sr., and Charles Evans Hughes, while in the Liberal side included William Jennings Bryan, Burton K. Wheeler and Al Smith.

After defeated by William Howard Taft in the 1912 Republican National Convention, Theodore Roosevelt and his supporters from the progressive wing of Republican Party formed the Progressive Party. Roosevelt ran on the presidential ticket of Progressive Party with the Governor of California, Hiram Johnson, as his running mate. The new party attracted several Republican officeholders, although nearly all of them remained loyal to the Republican Party at that time.

1912 national progressive convention

First National Progressive Convention, 1912, in the Chicago Coliseum

The party called for socially progressive reforms, called “New Nationalism”. Its emphasized the priority of labor over capital interests, a need to more effectively control corporate creation and combination and proposed a ban on corporate political contributions. However, the Progressives had different outlooks on foreign policy, with pacifists like Jane Addams opposing Roosevelt's call for a naval build-up.

In 1912, Roosevelt won the presidential election albeit running as a third-party candidate and many have been expected the split between the Republicans would have assured a landslide victory for the Liberals. Most of Progressive candidates ran in Republican-Progressive fusion tickets or as “Bull Moose Republicans”. Nevertheless, the Progressive Party was unable to get most of its candidates elected. Only nine Progressives were elected to the House and none won governorships.

Despite the electoral failure in 1912, the Progressive Party did not disappear. However, the party suffered its first split following the American entry to World War I in 1917. Roosevelt’s pro-war stance alienated many pacifist and isolationist Progressives which resulted to the party split along the line of “War Progressives” and “Peace Progressives." The Progressive senators like George Norris, William Borah and Hiram Johnson later joined the Irreconcilables in the U.S. Senate in opposing the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations in 1919. Nevertheless, Roosevelt was re-elected for the fourth term in the 1916 presidential election.

Robert M. La Follette Sr. cph.3b20076

Robert M. La Follette (1855–1925)

In 1920, Robert M. La Follete run on the Progressive ticket for the presidential election. With the support of Peace Progressives, La Follete successfully challenged Roosevelt’s endorsed candidate, Charles Evans Hughes and was nominated again in 1924. However, La Follete finished third in both elections. Nevertheless, his nomination brought more agrarian and populist votes to the party as well as the progressive wing of Liberal Party as Burton K. Wheeler, a progressive Liberal, became his running mate in 1924.

In 1928, Theodore Roosevelt endorsed his fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, for the Progressive-Liberal governorship fusion ticket in the New York state election. Initially relunctant, Franklin eventually accepted the nomination and was elected to the office. After Theodore’s death in 1929, his son Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. eventually became the leading contender for presidential nomination. Franklin, however, entered the 1932 Progressive National Convention, challenging his own cousin, Theodore Jr. Franklin won the nomination with Robert M. La Follete, Jr. as his running mate after a hard-fought contest.

FDR in 1933

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945)

Before the Great Depression, the party strength remained far behind the Republicans and the Liberals. With Franklin’s election to the presidency in 1932, the progressive wing of Liberal Party shifted their supports to the Progressives and the party quickly emerged as the largest poltical party surpassing other two parties in 1930s and 1940s. Franklin came forth with the New Deal policies which established the American welfare state in continuation of Theodore’s New Nationalism. On other hand, the party was also divided bitterly between liberal, Franklin supporters, called the “Hyde Park Progressives”, and conservative, Theodore Jr.’s supporters, called the “Oyster Bay Progressives.”

The party suffered its setback when Theodore Jr. died in 1944 and followed by Franklin in 1945, just weeks into his fourth term. Franklin's successor, Thomas E. Dewey, revamped many New Deal programs for the sake of efficiency and economic growth and became the leading figure of right-wing Progressives. Henry A. Wallace, Dewey's predecessor as Vice President, led the party left-wing and vocally denounced Dewey's anti-Soviet foreign policy as warmongering. The party division deepened and allowed the Liberals to control the House in 1950 and the Congress in 1952 as well as bring Joseph P. Kennedy to the White House in 1952.

The Progressives became the minority party until 1960, although briefly controlled the House in 1956. Nelson Rockefeller, a moderate Progressive, was elected President in the 1960 and 1964 presidential elections. Rockefeller continued the existing anti-communist foreign policy with more cautious involvement regarding other nations' internal issues. He brought back the American welfare state after the Liberals completely scrapped the New Deal programs in 1955. Through the New Society programs, he expanded civil rights and increased spending on public sectors and environmental conservation.





Social Democrats