The Progressive Party Is Born

On the evening of June 22, 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt asked his supporters to leave the floor of the Republican National Convention in Chicago.

Republican progressives reconvened in Chicago's Orchestra Hall and endorsed the formation of a national progressive party. When formally launched later that summer, the new Progressive Party chose Roosevelt as its presidential nominee. Questioned by reporters, Roosevelt said he felt as strong as a "bull moose." Thenceforth known as the "Bull Moose Party," the Progressives promised to increase federal regulation and protect the welfare of ordinary people.

Roosevelt maintained that President William Howard Taft had allowed fraudulent seating of delegates in order to capture the presidential nomination from progressive forces within the party. However, the rift between the progressive and conservative wings of the Republican Party was apparent even before Roosevelt left office. Roosevelt's support of government regulation, his groundbreaking efforts in conservation and consumer protection, and his willingness to work with organized labor alienated pro-business party members. When Roosevelt tapped Taft as his successor in 1908, he had assumed that Taft would continue to support his agenda. Although Taft's record suggested a leader sympathetic to reform, the former jurist's quiet demeanor and attention to the letter of the law irritated Roosevelt and disappointed Republican progressives.

Progressivism is a political and social term that refers to ideologies and movements favoring or advocating changes or reform, usually in a statist or egalitarian direction for economic policies (government management) and liberal direction for social policies (personal choice). Progressivism is often viewed in opposition to conservative ideologies.

In the United States, the term progressivism emerged in the late 19th century into the 20th century in reference to a more general response to the vast changes brought by industrialization: an alternative to both the traditional conservative response to social and economic issues and to the various more radical streams of socialism and anarchism which opposed them. Political parties, such as the Progressive Party, organized at the start of the 20th century, and progressivism made great strides under American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Despite being associated with left-wing politics, the term "progressive" has also been used by groups not particularly left-wing. The Progressive Democrats of Ireland have taken the name "progressivism" despite being considered right-wing. The European Progressive Democrats was a mainly heterogeneous political group in the European Union.