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Robert Marion (Jr.) La Follette

(b. 1895)


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(b. Madison, Wisconsin, 6 Feb. 1895; d. Washington, DC, 24 Feb. 1953)

US; US Senator 1925–46 Robert La Follette Jr. was the son of ‘Battling Bob’ La Follette, who made Wisconsin synonymous with Progressive politics and whose independent bid for the presidency in 1924 gained him one-sixth of the total vote. Robert Jr. spent his early years acting as his father's secretary in the Senate and when his father died in 1925 Robert Jr. was appointed to fill the unexpired portion of Robert Sr.'s Senate term. Thereafter he was re-elected three times in his own right: as a Republican in 1928 and as a Progressive in 1934 and 1940.

Robert La Follette Jr. devoted much energy in the 1930s to civil liberties and labour issues. As chairman of the Senate Civil Liberties Committee he examined working conditions and especially the freedom of labour to organize across the United States. He was an advocate of farm relief and reform of the tax system. He was also a supporter of streamlining procedure inside the Senate and sponsored a major reorganization of the Senate which only took effect after he had left the legislature. On foreign policy La Follette's opposition to war put him in the broad isolationist tent in the 1930s.

In 1946 La Follette tried to run as a Republican but he lost the primary to Joseph McCarthy and after leaving the Senate he pursued a career in business in Washington. His defeat, together with health worries, contributed to depression and he committed suicide in February 1953.

Subjects: Politics.


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