Progressive Party

The Progressive Party was the first prominent national political party to endorse woman suffrage and to include its advocacy in an official platform. The Progressives did so with the following words regarding "Equal Suffrage:" "The Progressive party, believing that no people can justly proclaim to be a true democracy which denies political rights on account of sex, pledges itself to the task of securing equal suffrage to men and women alike."

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       Progressive candidate Theodore Roosevelt campaigned on this plank even though it did not represent his feelings as recently as February 1912 when he equivocated "I believe in woman suffrage wherever the women wish it." Roosevelt advocated statewide referenda of women to determine whether or not they should gain suffrage. However, he noted, "Most of the women whom I know best are against woman suffrage, and strongly criticize me for aiding in, as they term it, 'forcing' it upon them." (From Theodore Roosevelt, "Women's Rights: And the Duties of Both Men and Women," The Outlook, Feb. 3, 1912, 264.)

        According to historian John Milton Cooper, author of The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt and the Progressive Party advocated woman suffrage later in the year for practical, as oppossed to ideological, reasons. Cooper contends that Roosevelt and his party simply needed a way to attract the support of women reformers, particularly Jane Addams.