Philip La Follette

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Philip La Follette
Philip Fox La Follette 1925.jpg
Philip La Follette just after his father's death in 1925.
27th and 29th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 7, 1935 – January 2, 1939
Lieutenant Thomas J. O'Malley
Henry A. Gunderson
Herman L. Ekern
Preceded by Albert G. Schmedeman
Succeeded by Julius P. Heil
In office
January 5, 1931 – January 2, 1933
Lieutenant Henry A. Huber
Preceded by Walter J. Kohler, Sr.
Succeeded by Albert G. Schmedeman
Personal details
Born Philip Fox La Follette
(1897-05-08)May 8, 1897
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died August 18, 1965(1965-08-18) (aged 68)
Madison, Wisconsin
Political party Republican,
Wisconsin Progressive Party
Spouse(s) Isabel Bacon
Profession Lawyer

Philip Fox La Follette (May 8, 1897 – August 18, 1965) was an American politician from the US state of Wisconsin. He served three terms as the Governor of Wisconsin and helped create the Wisconsin Progressive Party.

Early life and family[edit]

La Follette was born in Madison, Wisconsin, a member of the politically prominent La Follette family, the son of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. and Belle Case La Follette, brother of Robert M. La Follette, Jr., brother of Fola La Follette, whose husband was the playwright George Middleton, and uncle of Bronson La Follette.

La Follette served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Infantry in 1918, during World War I. In 1919 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Wisconsin and in 1922 a Bachelor of Laws degree. He married Isabel Bacon (1898-1973) in 1923. They had three children. Son Robert (c. 1927), and daughters Judith (c. 1929) and Sherry (1936).

Political career[edit]

He was the District attorney for Dane County, Wisconsin from 1925 to 1927. La Follette was the 27th and 29th Governor of Wisconsin from 1931 to 1933 and 1935 to 1939. He was first elected as a progressive member of the Republican Party in the 1930 election.

After a defeat in the 1932 Republican Primary, however, La Follette along with his brother, Robert M. La Follette, Jr. created the Wisconsin Progressive Party and both ran successfully under its ticket in 1934. The gregarious governor was known as "Phil" on the streets of Madison during his governorship, much as his father had been known as simply "Bob." His governorship saw the implementation of many of the progressive measures of the New Deal, with La Follette being responsible for the implementation of some of them on the state level before the Roosevelt Administration could do so on the national level.

La Follette was defeated seeking reelection as governor in 1938. That spring he had attempted to launch the National Progressive Party of America in an attempt to create a national third party (as the La Follettes had helped create in Wisconsin) in anticipation of Franklin D. Roosevelt not seeking a third term for President. The plan for a new national Progressive Party never materialized at the time, and Roosevelt soon decided to defy convention and precedent and seek a third term; La Follette never again sought public office for himself.

Later life and career[edit]

Much as his father opposed US entry into World War I, Phil La Follette strongly opposed, like most other Americans, US entry into World War II. Once war was declared, he abandoned his opposition and joined the U.S. Army, serving on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur. He would later spearhead a slate of delegates supporting MacArthur in the 1948 presidential campaign.

From 1955 to 1959, La Follette served as president of Hazeltine Electronics, and made his home in Douglaston, New York. He later returned to Wisconsin, wrote his autobiography, and was active in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

He died in Madison, Wisconsin.


Published works[edit]

  • La Follette, Philip Fox, Adventure in politics: the memoirs of Philip La Follette edited by Donald Young, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Walter J. Kohler, Sr.
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Albert G. Schmedeman
Preceded by
Albert G. Schmedeman
Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Julius P. Heil
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Harry F. Byrd
Cover of Time magazine
22 October 1928
Succeeded by
Lord Melchett