Progressive Party (United States, 1948)

Progressive Party (United States, 1948)

Template:Infobox Historical American Political Party
party name= Progressive Party
party articletitle= Progressive Party (United States, 1948)
active= 1948 - 1955
ideology= Progressivism
New Nationalism
position= N/A
international= N/A
preceded by= Progressive Party (United States, 1924)
succeeded by=
colors = N/A
The United States Progressive Party of 1948 was a political party that ran former Vice President Henry A. Wallace of Iowa for president and U.S. Senator Glen H. Taylor of Idaho for vice president in 1948.

This incarnation of the Progressive Party (known in some states as the Independent Progressive Party) was formed with an eye toward electing Wallace as president. No connection can be found with the 1912 Progressive Party of Theodore Roosevelt or the 1924 Progressive Party of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. The Wallace/Taylor ticket was also supported by several other small parties, such as the American Labor Party (ALP) of New York. Wallace's platform advocated an end to segregation, full voting rights for blacks, and universal government health insurance. His campaign was unusual for his time in that it included African American candidates campaigning alongside white candidates in the American South, and during the campaign he refused to appear before segregated audiences or eat or stay in segregated establishments.

The Communist Party USA did not field a presidential candidate, and instead endorsed Wallace for President; given that the Cold War was beginning to gain momentum and with it the Red Scare and anti-Communist sentiment, this endorsement was to hinder Wallace far more than it would help him. Wallace had served Franklin D. Roosevelt as Secretary of Agriculture, Vice President, and Secretary of Commerce. He was fired by President Harry S. Truman because he denounced Truman's foreign policy regarding the Cold War. When Wallace refused to expel Communists working in the party during the 1948 election, his campaign was severely criticized by both the rigidly anti-Communist Truman and Dewey camps.

Running as peace candidates in the nascent Cold War era, the Wallace-Taylor ticket garnered no electoral votes and less than 3 percent of the popular vote. Nearly half of these votes were obtained in New York state, where Wallace ran on the ALP ballot line.

On September 11, 1948, for instance, the national committee of the Progressive Party passed a resolution which observed:

The totally unjustified decisions of the Illinois Electoral Board to rule the Progressive Party off the ballot is a clear violation of the most basic democratic concepts.

The decisions rob millions of the free citizens of Illinois of their right to vote for the Party and candidate of their choice. They force the war policies of the old parties down the throats of freedom and peace-loving Americans.

Free Americans cannot--and will not--tolerate stolen elections.

This reflects a growing move by states to limit ballot access by any candidate other than the Republican or Democratic party candidates.

Unlike the Democratic Party and Republican Party in 1948, the anti-war Progressive Party opposed military conscription after World War II. As the Progressive Party's national committee stated in another September 11, 1948 resolution:

The peace-time draft is the cornerstone of the bi-partisan war plans. We re-affirm our position as the only major political party which opposes the draft and actually campaigns for its repeal.

In 1948, the anti-war Progressive Party apparently supported the establishment of the state of Israel and its recognition by the U.S. government, as a means of reducing British imperialist influence in the Middle East. Another September 11, 1948, national committee resolution urged::"The United States should warn the British that they must stop arming the Arabs with ERP(Marshall Plan) funds without which they could not continue their war-provoking activities in the Middle East."

In Massachusetts, the anti-war Progressive Party was active in 1948 and also faced discrimination in this state. On May 31, 1948, for instance, the Democratic Mayor of Boston, James Curley, undemocratically denied the use of the bandstand on the Boston Common to the Progressive Party of Massachusetts. The following month, however, one of the African-American leaders of the Progressive Party, Paul Robeson, was allowed to speak in the Crystal Ballroom in Boston's Hotel Bradford on June 29, 1948.

In Virginia, in 1948, Virginia Foster Durr ran for the U.S. Senate seat on the Progressive ticket.

Ironically, one of the Kingston Trio's most popular folk songs in the 1950s, "The MTA Song", was written by supporters of the Progressive Party of Massachusetts' 1949 Boston mayoralty candidate, Walter O'Brien. After Boston's publicly-funded MTA purchased the privately owned Boston Elevated Railway's subway and trolley system for $30 per share more than each share was worth, the MTA imposed a fare increase on the citizens of Boston. Progressive Party mayoral candidate O'Brien then led unusually large protests against the MTA fare increase before the 1949 Texas elections. But although his campaign's anti-fare increase song was subsequently turned into a 1950s hit record, O'Brien failed to win the 1949 mayoral election in Boston. When the Kingston Trio decided to record "The MTA Song", it was apparently agreed to change the first name of the O'Brien referred to in the song from "Walter" to "George", because it was feared that a hit record which referred to "Walter O'Brien" would make it even more difficult than it already was for the former Progressive Party candidate to find a New England employer who was willing to hire him during the McCarthy Era.

Historians have disputed the degree to which Communists shaped the party. All agree that Wallace himself was not a Communist, but they also agree that he paid very little attention to internal party affairs. Historians Schapsmeier and Schapsmeier argue (1970 p 181)

Progressive party stood for one thing and Wallace another. Actually the party organization was controlled from the outset by those representing the radical left and not liberalism per se. This made it extremely easy for Communists and fellow travelers to infiltrate into important positions within the party machinery. Once this happened, party stands began to resemble a party line. Campaign literature, speech materials, and campaign slogans sounded strangely like echoes of what Moscow wanted to hear. As if wearing moral blinkers, Wallace increasingly became an imperceptive ideologue. Words were uttered by Wallace that did not sound like him, and his performance took on a strange Jekyll and Hyde quality—one moment he was a peace protagonist and the next a propaganda parrot for the Kremlin.
One historian (further to the left than the Schapsmeiers) explores the internal dynamic (Schmidt 258–9):

* At one pole were the extreme leftists, three closely related groups—admitted Communists, past and present; the party-liners and fellow travelers who failed to differ noticeably with the Communists as to either policy or principle; and finally those non-Communists who, in … 1944–50 failed to take issue with the Communists on policy, but whose underlying principles seemingly differed….
* In the middle were grouped an apparently large majority of Progressive Party followers—the moderates. Exemplified by both national candidates, these individuals were willing to accept Communist support, because they felt that it was inconsistent, in the light of their ideals, to oppose Redbaiting by others, yet attempt to read Communists out of the new party.
* At the right were arrayed those who, feeling that Communist support should have been disavowed in no uncertain terms, yet were unwilling to adopt the ADA tactic of violent attack on the Communists. This group would have approved making the Progressives “non-Communist” rather than “antiCommunist”, excluding but not assailing the Reds. Most persons sharing this view had, like Max Lerner, completely avoided the party, but others like Rexford Guy Tugwell joined and stayed, if reluctantly, through the campaign….
* In the period following 1948, party members were hounded by the House Unamerican Activities Committee, from job to job. Members found themselves fired from even the lowest of day labor jobs by FBI agents and others. Although historians point out that groups tended to leave the party in the order of their views from right to left, with most of the rightists departing during or shortly after the campaign, accompanied by many of the moderates. And the moderate defection, so marked following election day, 1948, becoming a nearly complete walkout in the summer of 1950, with the policy rift over Korea and Wallace's departure. Consequently, by the close of 1951 the few remaining portions of the Wallace Progressive Party were composed almost exclusively of the earlier extreme left group. These were the ones who had favored a “narrow” organization; after the Wallace break, they finally achieved this goal, with the departure of almost everyone else, this does not take into account the huge pressure to conform and stop the activism by HUAC and FBI. The fact that the member of congress defeated by Joe McCarthy was Robert La Follette Jr, as an irony not lost on these activists.

In 1952, the party ran Charlotta Bass for Vice President, making her the first African-American woman to run for national office; their presidential candidate was lawyer Vincent Hallinan. This campaign attracted little media attention and few votes; it was not even on the ballot in many states. Wallace had, at this point, made a concerted effort to distance himself from Communism, even writing a book entitled "Why I Was Wrong". The Progressive Party disbanded in 1955, as the Cold War dominated the political spectrum in the United States, and any party which had not taken an anti-Communist position was deemed to be unviable.

This Progressive Party is the only one with no provable connection to the original Progressive Party (1912-1932); however, members of the 1948 Progressive Party have joined the later state Progressive Parties, thus linking the 1948 group to the Vermont Progressive Party, the Wisconsin Prodanes, and the Progressive Party of Washington.

ee also

* Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
* Progressive Party (United States, 1924)
* Jencks v. United States


* [ Records of the Progressive Party] . Archive maintained by University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections Department. 1940 - 1969. This collection is apparently the material the MacDougall collected for writing his book Gideon's Army. Accessed May 29, 2006.

* Culver, John C. and John Hyde. "American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace" (2002)
* [ Willlam B. Hesseltine. "The Rise and Fall of Third Parties: From Anti-Masonry to Wallace" (1948)]
* [ Markowitz, Norman D. "The Rise and Fall of the People's Century: Henry A. Wallace and American Liberalism, 1941–1948" (1973)]
* C. D. MacDougall, "Gideon's Army" 3 vol. (1965).
* [ Howard P. Nash Jr. "Third Parties in American Politics" (1959)]
* [ Schapsmeier, Edward L. and Frederick H. Schapsmeier. "Prophet in Politics: Henry A. Wallace and the War Years, 1940–1965" (1970)]
* [ Schmidt, Karl M. "Henry A. Wallace, Quixotic Crusade 1948" (1960)]
* [ White, Graham, and John Maze. "Henry A. Wallace: His Search for a New World Order" (1995)]
* [ Walker, J. Samuel Walker. "Henry A. Wallace and American Foreign Policy" (1976)] Eyewitness accounts of Lyle Mercer, early Progressive Party activist, and founder of the Young Progressives on the University of Washington campus in 1948, and Bobby Mercer, his activist wife.

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