Jane Addams seconds Theodore Roosevelt's nomination for the Progressive Party

At the first national convention of the Progressive Party, in Chicago in August of 1912, all observers noted the prominence of women, women delegates, women leaders.

The Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White recalled: "We were, of course, for woman suffrage, and we invited women delegates and had plenty of them. They were our own kind, too-- women doctors, women lawyers, women teachers, college professors, middle-aged leaders of civic movements, or rich young girls who had gone in for settlement work." "Settlement work" refers to the settlement houses in the cities, places where the poor could obtain basic social services, not then available from government. Many social workers, male and female, supported the Progressive Party in 1912. Indeed, the most famous settlement house leader and social worker in American history, the beloved Jane Addams of Hull House in Chicago, was at the convention, and seconded Theodore Roosevelt's nomination for President. This was said to be the first time that a woman had addressed the national convention of a major party. The rules of the Bull Moose Party, adopted at the Chicago convention, mandated that four women were to be members-at-large on the Progressive National Committee. This was to insure female representation at the highest levels of party leadership.

In November 1912 Theodore Roosevelt carried two states with women's suffrage, Washington and California (he won six states in all); and in the State of Washington, Helen J. Scott was a Progressive elector. It was said in the press at the time that she was the first woman to cast a vote in the electoral college-- and therefore in a real constitutional sense Helen Scott may be said to be the first woman who voted for President! However, some reports list women among the Progressive electors in California, and the matter has not been resolved by historians as yet.

In 1913 the prominent social worker Frances Kellor became the director of the "Progressive Service," which was a division of the national party, housed at party headquarters in New York City, that researched issues, drafted bills for Progressive legislators (state and national), issued publications, and provided witnesses for legislative hearings. It was unprecedented for a woman to have such a prominent role in a national political organization. Jane Addams at this time was serving on the executive committee of the Progressive National Committee. Mrs. Kellogg Fairbank of Illinois, later a member of the Democratic Party's national committee, was a member of the finance committee of the Progressive Party's national organization. The national party also employed Alice Carpenter as a worker for women suffrage and labor issues.

Roosevelt, along with key allies such as Pinchot and Beveridge created the Progressive Party structuring it as a permanent organization that would field complete tickets at the presidential and state level. It was popularly known as the "Bull Moose Party." At his Chicago convention Roosevelt cried out, "We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord." The crusading rhetoric resonated well with the delegates, many of them long-time reformers, crusaders, activists and opponents of politics as usual. Included in the ranks were Jane Addams and many other feminists and peace activists. The platform echoed Roosevelt's 1907-08 proposals, calling for vigorous government intervention to protect the people from the selfish interests.

The great majority of Republican governors, congressmen, editors and local leaders refused to join the new party, even if they had supported Roosevelt before. Only five of the 15 most prominent progressive Republicans in the Senate endorsed the new party; three came out for Wilson. Many of Roosevelt's closest political allies supported Taft, including his son-in-law, Nicholas Longworth. Roosevelt's daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth stuck with her father, causing a permanent chill in her marriage. For men like Longworth, expecting a future in politics, bolting the Republican party ticket was simply too radical a step; for others, it was safer to go with Woodrow Wilson, and quite a few supporters of progressivism had doubts about the reliability of Roosevelt's beliefs.