Robert Marion La Follette, Jr. (US, 1895-1953):

Figure 1.--This i Robert Marion La Follette, Jr. as a boy. The caption read, "Robert M. L Follete, Jr., in his g=first dark suit of clothes at the age of nine." We are not sure why the author though that younger boys did not have dark suits. Robert and his fathers were mong the liberal or progressive wing of the Republican Party. His father opposed American entry into World War I, Robert Jr. opposed even programs to strengthen national defense as World War II loomed. He helped found the America First Committee.

Robert Marion La Follette, Jr. was the son of the vennerable Robert Marion La Follette from Wisconsin. His father had been a leader in the progressive movement. He had voted against entering World War I and after the War became one of the 'irreconcilables' that opposed President Wilson's Treaty and membership in the League of Nations. Robert Jr. worked with his father and when his father died was elected to finish out his Senate term (1925). He was then relected as a Republican (1928) and subsequently in the Depression era as Progressive (1934 and 40). He became known as 'Young Bob' and a champion of organized labor and supported much New Deal legislation, a rare senator with Republican association that supported the New Deal. He received substantial naional recognition as chairman of a special Senate investigating committee, commonly called the La Follette Civil Liberties Committee (1936-40). The Committee exposed the objectionable techniques (surveillance, physical intimidation and other often illegal methods) used by corporations to prevent workers from organizing. While supporting President Roosevelt on New Deal legislation, he broke with President Roosevelt over foreign policy, particularly the President's move to stand aganst Hitler and the NAZIs. The breaking port was the 1938 naval expansion bill. (The bill which was to fund the carriers that stopped the Japanese after Pearl Harbor.) What might have thought that his commitment to civil liberties would have affected his thinking about the NAZIs, but his opposition to war was much stronger. Like his father he was adamently opposed to war and did not appreciate the national security implications. He is an exmple of how an inately good man can do great harm, in this case weakening the ability of the President to confront totalitarian powers that threatend the very existence of Western civilization. La Follette became a prominent spokesman for the isolationists. He helped found the America First Committee that attempted to prevent American aid to France and Britain under seige by the NAZIs. After the War he returned to the Republican Party. His reputation was, however, badly tarnished by his role in the Isolationist Movement. He narrowly lost the Republican primary to Joseph McCarthy (1946). He served as a foreign aid advisor during the Truman administration. He shot himself and subsequently died (1953).


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Created: 11:01 PM 3/4/2018
Last updated: 11:01 PM 3/4/2018