Wisconsin. Circuit Court (Bayfield County): Naturalization Records, 1859-1945

Contents List

Container Title
Audio 881A
Series: Clifford Krueger and Carl W. Thompson
Physical Description: 65 minutes 
Scope and Content Note: Interview with Republican Krueger and Democrat Thompson conducted December 9, 1980; including information on each man's youth, political influences, Progressive activity in Dane and Lincoln counties, Progressive leaders, and related topics.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:30
Krueger's introduction
Scope and Content Note: Origins of Krueger family in Germany.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   01:30
Born in St. Joseph's Hospital in Madison
Scope and Content Note: Father worked in cheese cooperative in town of Burke (Dane County), but soon moved back to Merrill.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   02:30
Education
Scope and Content Note: Attended Merrill Public Schools; two years in commercial school in Wausau and Merrill.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   03:05
Origins of Thompson family
Scope and Content Note: Norwegian immigrants to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Father was Agriculture Professor in Minnesota and South Dakota, then with Agriculture Department in Washington, D.C. After father's death moved to Stoughton and was educated in Stoughton and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   04:40
Thompson describes influences
Scope and Content Note: Courses and debating in high school important as well as father's extensive library in political science.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   05:35
Krueger describes influences
Scope and Content Note: Republican family tradition (La Follette wing) but more important was the influence of grandparents and their lives as peasants in Germany.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   07:25
Krueger grandparents' move to America
Scope and Content Note: Grandmother refused to raise her sons for the Kaiser's army and made the move to America a condition of marriage.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   08:40
Krueger's first political involvement
Scope and Content Note: Ran for Lincoln County Treasurer as Progressive in 1940 but lost. In 1941 elected Alderman in Merrill. [Interviewer's note: Krueger was elected alderman in 1946].
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   09:35
Thompson's first politcal involvement
Scope and Content Note: Active as university student in organizational meetings of Progressive Party and Young Progressive Club on campus as well as in 1934 campaign.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   12:25
Thompson works for Phil La Follette
Scope and Content Note: Originally as custodian for Governor's garage and then as clerk in the Governor's office.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   13:05
Activities of Young Progressive Club on UW Campus
Scope and Content Note: Took over independent political organization (i.e., non-fraternity) after struggle between progressives and communists. Dominated student government and newspaper for a time.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   14:25
Thompson's early candidacies
Scope and Content Note: Ran for alderman in Madison and was opposed by Wisconsin State Journal as a carpetbagging student. Later became alderman, then City Attorney in Stoughton. After returning from the Army after World War II ran for Congress as a Democrat and then for Governor. Elected to the Assembly in 1952 and to the State Senate in 1959 special election.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   17:25
Krueger describes influence of Robert M. La Follette Sr.
Scope and Content Note: Krueger joined Progressive Party largely because of the inspiration of the elder La Follette.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   18:50
Young Progressive convention in Merrill
Scope and Content Note: First time Thompson and Krueger met. Krueger presided and Thompson made a speech. Krueger pointed out that he was probably only one there without formal education.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   20:15
Rival delegations from Milwaukee at Young Progressive conventions
Scope and Content Note: Two delegations would arrive from Milwaukee, one Socialist, one Progressive, and both demand to be seated.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   20:55
End of Tape 1, Side 1
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:35
Krueger on Socialists and Progressive Coalition
Scope and Content Note: Socialism in Wisconsin due to German immigration after 1848. Progressives a coalition including farmers, laboring people and university people.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   03:30
Thompson on character of Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: Lists influences including Robert La Follette Sr., World War I, the reforms of Gov. Francis McGovern, populism, the Depression, and the milk strike. Because of the variety of influences, party attracted a variety of people. The Farmer Labor Progressive Federation represented urban wing of Party. La Follette Sr.'s support had been largely rural.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   06:40
Thompson anecdote about influence of depression
Scope and Content Note: Anecdote of Phil La Follette telling Thompson that when wallets were thick the “ins” stayed in, when wallets were thin the “ins” were out. Discontent with existing conditions was the base of Progressive support.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   08:30
Progressive Party activity in Lincoln County
Scope and Content Note: In 1937, Krueger's father elected sheriff on Progressive ticket. Practically entire courthouse turned Progressive and even in 1946 majority of county officers still Progressives.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   10:25
Spirit of Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: Krueger saw Party not just as a political party. A sense of brotherhood permeated the party, though without the ritual associated with a regular lodge.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   12:50
Dissolution of Progressive Party at Portage in 1946
Scope and Content Note: Krueger describes picture of himself and a friend sitting under Lincoln County standard at Portage convention. Lincoln County supported Robert La Follette Jr.'s decision to return to Republican Party.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   13:40
Progressive Party activity in Dane County
Scope and Content Note: Swept courthouse in 1934. Progressives very strong in Dane County.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   14:25
Problems of integrating Progressives into two old parties
Scope and Content Note: Bitterness from 1938 fusion movement on Progressive side, and fears of radicalism and La Follettism on stalwart side.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   15:55
Krueger's relations with Republicans
Scope and Content Note: First ran for Senate in 1942 as Progressive and lost to Republican. In 1946, ran as Republican and won primary over the Republican who had won in 1942. That Republican then ran as independent in general election, but Krueger won.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   19:30
Thompson's support in early Democratic campaigns
Scope and Content Note: In both his congressional and gubernatorial campaigns, Thompson owed more to Progressive support than to Democratic support.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   20:55
Formation of National Progressives of America (NPA)
Scope and Content Note: Krueger's father attended the meeting in the Stock Pavilion. Time was not right to start the movement and trappings were controversial. Thompson claims Phil's desire to distance himself from Franklin Roosevelt's foreign policy helped motivate him to start movement.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   24:00
Isolationism
Scope and Content Note: Wisconsin was isolationist until Pearl Harbor, largely because of immigrant heritage. That tradition influenced Robert La Follette Jr.'s decision to return to the Republican Party.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   26:40
End of Tape 1, Side 2
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   00:30
Thompson on Robert La Follette Jr.'s return to Republican Party
Scope and Content Note: Met Bob Jr. in Washington in summer of 1945 and discussed the situation. Bob Jr. felt Democrats were not yet strong enough and that Progressive Party almost dead. He acknowledged difficulty of running in Republican primary but overestimated his strength as incumbent. All in all a better statesman than politician.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   04:10
Thompson on Phil La Follette
Scope and Content Note: A good speaker who knew how to excite a crowd; loved to campaign. At the same time, he wanted to put through meaningful programs, and understood how to govern.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   06:10
Thompson on Robert La Follette Jr.
Scope and Content Note: He spoke like a lecturer and did not like politics, though he did like Washington and working in the Senate. Sharp contrast between the brothers.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   07:25
Krueger on La Follette brothers
Scope and Content Note: Bob Jr. more sedate, probably the intellectual of the two. Phil very intelligent, but quite different from his brother.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   08:25
Krueger on Progressive leaders
Scope and Content Note: Includes Ted Dammen (Secretary of State), Sol Levitan (State Treasurer), and John Reynolds (Attorney General). Progressive Party failed to develop cadre of leadership other than the La Follettes. Loomis's election and premature death a turning point in downfall of the party; had he lived, another group of leaders might have emerged.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   14:05
Thompson names other Progressive leaders
Scope and Content Note: Andy Biemiller (former Socialist and later head of AFL-CIO's COPE), Paul Alfonsi (Speaker of the Assembly), Merlin Hull, and Barney Gehrmann (Congressmen). Vernon Thomson a leader of the Stalwarts at the time.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   16:35
End of Tape 2, Side 1. End of Interview
Audio 890A
Series: Clifford Krueger
Physical Description: 52 minutes 
Scope and Content Note: Interview conducted February 18, 1981, concerning Lincoln County politics in the 1930s-40s, political fund raising, Krueger's reasons for joining the Republican Party in 1946, and other topics.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:30
Leaders of the Progressive Party in Lincoln County
Scope and Content Note: John Schewe, a self-educated farmer, and Mrs. Angie Hildebrand, the Party Secretary and very active in community affairs in Tomahawk, most prominent leaders. The Progressive and Republican parties were well-organized at the precinct level though the Democrats were not.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   03:55
Young Progressive element
Scope and Content Note: Beginnings of Krueger's own political involvement. Young Progressives did basic organizational work: raised funds, distributed tabloids and sponsored events. One summer (1938) Young Progressives put on 3-day carnival show which raised $1200 for county and state Progressive parties.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   08:15
Progressives oust Republicans in Lincoln County courthouse
Scope and Content Note: Carry all but two offices: county clerk and register of deeds.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   08:45
Fund raising techniques
Scope and Content Note: In addition to the carnival (probably in 1938, since Young Progressives were not formally organized in 1936) the Young Progressives traveled around the county organizing card parties--essentially providing entertainment to all corners of the county on behalf of the Progressive Party.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   10:10
Relationship of Lincoln County Party to state Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: Due to the circumstances of the Progressive Party's birth, the relationship was very close. Much of the $1200 raised at the carnival in 1938 was given to the state Party.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   11:35
More fund raising
Scope and Content Note: In 1936, Lincoln County Progressives raffled off a Pontiac and made about $800. In 1938, they had the carnival.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   13:05
Father (Emil Krueger) elected sheriff in 1936
Scope and Content Note: Figures known statewide campaigned throughout the state. Tabloids were campaign documents. Young people distributed them to save postage. They distributed them near churches on Sundays, but were careful to never pass them out on church property itself.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   15:35
Father's political career
Scope and Content Note: Ran as Republican in 1934, but lost. In 1936, was elected as Progressive re-elected in 1938. Prohibited by law from running in 1940.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   16:40
Loomis and La Follette very active in 1940 campaign
Scope and Content Note: Krueger ran for Lincoln County treasurer; state speakers very active. Krueger speculates rigorous campaign activity could have led to Loomis' early death (in 1942 after election as Governor).
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   17:15
Role of state speakers in Progressive campaigns
Scope and Content Note: State speakers would draw large crowds. Other Progressives who did this type of thing: Sol Levitan (State Treasurer), Ted Dammenn (Secretary of State), and Ralph Immell (Phil La Follette's Adjutant General). Immell became a force himself. He was hard-working in solving problems throughout the state and had lots of contact with constituents. Usually more than one speaker at this type of event. Progressive congressmen participated as well--Barney Gehrmann and a “railroad man” from La Crosse [Gardner R. Withrow].
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   21:10
Impact of Amlie-Ekern 1938 primary in Lincoln County
Scope and Content Note: Memory vague but thinks Ekern probably stronger in that area. Amlie regarded as too liberal and some thought he was even a communist.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   23:20
Communist activity in Lincoln County in late 1930s
Scope and Content Note: Some communists in Lincoln County. Some claimed to be communists just to attract attention. There were Latvians, Lithuanians, and Russians in the county and Emil Krueger as sheriff had to keep an eye on them for the FBI. A lot of this the product of fear and hysteria. Never had to send anyone back to Russia.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   26:30
End of Tape 1, Side 1
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:30
1940 gubernatorial primary
Scope and Content Note: Krueger and Young Progressives supported Paul Alfonsi who was from the area and a good speaker. But in general election, Young Progressives committed themselves to Loomis.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   01:35
Loomis' rumored commitment to run as Republican in 1944
Scope and Content Note: Krueger always felt that the Republican Party should be the Progressive Party. One of the troubles with the Progressive Party was that it was viewed as the La Follette Party. Loomis' election marked the beginning of new or at least different blood into the party.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   05:55
Degree of unification among candidates
Scope and Content Note: Very unified; strong emphasis to vote straight ticket. 1936 strong effort by state party to recruit candidates and encourage competition at county level. Wanted to make strong showing in the primary.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   07:55
Krueger's role in Young Progressives as liason between County Party and Young Progressives
Scope and Content Note: Even as a candidate, Krueger remained active in Young Progressives. Affiliated with state Young Progressives, which was largely dominated by University crowd from Madison. One of the state-wide conventions was in Merrill. Young Progressives in Lincoln County remained very close over the years. They were nucleus of Krueger's beginning in politics.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   12:50
Krueger's political campaigns in 1940s
Scope and Content Note: Elected alderman in Merrill in 1946 as preparation for 1946 State Senate race. One of the reasons he ran for county treasurer in 1940 was to prepare for 1942 State Senate race. State Senate always the goal.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   14:55
Emil Krueger's impressions of 1938 National Progressives of America (NPA) convention at Madison
Scope and Content Note: No particular comment. Emil Krueger not as interested as his son in Progressive movement. Had Emil had steady employment he probably would never have run for sheriff. Tiny remembers pictures of the convention, the symbol and Republican criticism.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   16:50
Krueger's reasons for entering Republican Party rather than Democratic Party after dissolution of Progressive Party in 1946
Scope and Content Note: Real Progressive Movement was in the Republican Party and Republican Party is big enough for diversity. La Follettes were not anti-business, just against injustice. Democrats were as bitter enemies of the Progressives as the Republicans and sometimes more so. The Democrats took advantage of Progressive "limbo" after 1946. Krueger had to fight to get back into the Republican Party. Bob La Follette Sr. would turn over in his grave if he knew Progressives had joined Democratic Party.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   24:45
End of Tape 1, Side 2. End of Interview
Audio 901A
Series: Roland E.H. Kannenberg
Physical Description: 55 minutes 
Scope and Content Note: Interview conducted May 29, 1981, with information on the emergence and organization of the Progressive Party, Kannenberg's own legislative campaigns and causes, his philosophy of government, Huey Long, the Union Party, Progressive leaders, and related topics.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:30
Personal background
Scope and Content Note: One of twelve children, born in Kenosha County in 1907, and his family moved to Marathon County when Kannenberg was about a year old. Educated in a rural school with one room and one teacher for the first eight grades, and then graduated from Wausau High School in 1926. Did well in school and participated on oratory and the debate team.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   02:50
Early political interests
Scope and Content Note: Developed an early interest in politics, government and the problems of farmers in conversations with his father and others working on the farm. Worked way through high school in a restaurant owned by Herman A. Marsh who had been elected a Socialist Assemblyman during World War I. The restaurant became a gathering spot for town and county political figures. Because of that, Kannenberg came into contact with the problems of farming and working people who were interested in bettering their lives through governmental action.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   04:40
First political involvement
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg was asked to respresent police and firement in their fight to avoid pay cuts during the Depression about 1929 or 1930. He was successful and became a spokesman for working people and farmers--especially the Farmer's Union and the Milk Pool. Roland Kannenberg active in his brother Ernest's Assembly campaign in 1928.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   08:00
Roland Kannenberg's own campaigns
Scope and Content Note: In 1930, ran against Henry Ellenbrecker for the Assembly as a Progressive Republican. Kannenberg lost, but ran a strong campaign. In 1932, he ran against Senator Otto Mueller in a recall election. Kannenberg felt money beat him in 1932.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   09:20
Election to the State Senate
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg declared his candidacy against Mueller immediately after his defeat, and ran an extensive two year campaign. District at that time included Lincoln and Marathon Counties.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   10:05
Origins of Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg's campaign coincided with third party rumblings in Wisconsin and the nation. Kannenberg spoke around the state with such national figures as Gerald Nye and William Lane of North Dakots, Clerence Dill of Washington, and James Reed of Missouri. Kannenberg supported the emerging Union Party with William Lemke of North Dakota as presidential nominee [Union Party only active in 1936]. Urged government support for those in farm bloc and labor that needed it.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   11:55
Organization of a Progressive Rally
Scope and Content Note: Rallies would bill a national speaker and their state and local speakers. Kannenberg spoke several times with both of the La Follettes.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   13:35
Kannenberg's role in organization of third party
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg played a major role, realizing that the two old parties were owned like a piece of beefsteak by the great money powers. In contrast, Progressives made do with small donations from working people. In 1934, Kannenberg's successful Senate campaign cost $26.10 for printed materials and newspaper ads. Instead of money his campaign stressed meeting the people and delivering a message. His biggest issue was the mortgage moratorium bill which was passed after a tough fight in the Senate.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   15:10
Other Senate issues
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg urged broadening of access to higher education promoting University extension. Supported the Wisconsin Development Authority, bringing elecrical power to rural areas and small municipalities. These issues aroused the opposition of money -- and money was very strong in elections. Supported Roosevelt when he was right and opposed him when he was wrong. Opposed plowing under of crops because distribution was the problem, not overproduction.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   18:35
Progressive support during the 1930s
Scope and Content Note: People came from miles around to attend political meetings and Kannenberg often made 3 or 4 speeches in a day. People came because they were in trouble and looking for solutions. Progressives used the powers of government to put people to work so they could feed their families and educate their children. The Progressive Party was a good party and it was too bad it could not stay together.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   20:20
Kannenberg's philosophy of government
Scope and Content Note: Worried about contemporary lack of concern for the cause of the poor. Kannenberg's social philosophy rooted in Cristian ethics -- “He who helps the least of mine helps me.” His concern as Senator was to help the poorest of poor. The alternative could lead to mindless violence of poor against wealthy [Mr. Kannenberg wants to stress he does not advocate such violence, he only sees it as a frightening possibility]. There were several examples of this type of violence during the Great Depression. The American nation needs a restoration of Christian philosophy of protecting the poor or hard times are ahead.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   26:40
End of Tape 1, Side 1
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:30
Huey Long
Scope and Content Note: Phil La Follette's national efforts did not compare well to Huey Long's efforts in regard to helping the poor. Long promised to confiscate the profits of war and not allow the rich to get richer while the poor gave their lives. Once wars were no longer profitable, they would no longer be fought. Kannenberg says that Walter Graunke of Wausau was to be Long's running mate in 1936. Kannenberg sponsered resolutions in State Senate wishing. Long a quick recovery after the shooting and then offering condolences to his family.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   04:35
Other third parties
Scope and Content Note: Farmer Labor party in Minnesota, Non-partisan League and Fusion party in New York all advocated redistribution of wealth in United States. Maldistribution of wealth continues to be major problem in country and the world today.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   07:20
Huey Long
Scope and Content Note: Long was not a fascist, but a great leader. He had great concern for poor people and was passionately opposed to war. Problems with money often lead to war.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   09:55
Union Party
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg campaigned for Lemke through the Fox River Valley. Lemke was not as strong as Long and did not advocate a redistribution of wealth to the extent Long did. People were looking for a leader, but Lemke did not impress. Some other Progressives did not have strong enough program. Kannenberg campaigned for Lemke in the hope that the Union party would develop strong party such as Huey Long's.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   12:30
Phil and Bob La Follette
Scope and Content Note: Both La Follettes truly committed to the common man. Not as dynamic as Huey Long or some of the others. When Kannenberg convinced La Follette (Phil) that a bill was a good bill, La Follette would support him. Bob La Follette was a good man, but somewhat alone in the Senate, because of the opposition of wealth.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   14:30
Walter Graunke
Scope and Content Note: A great orator who helped lots of people. He earned his money as a lawyer working hard, but he donated lots of his money as a lawyer to the cause.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   15:20
Samuel Sigman and David Sigman
Scope and Content Note: Dedicated labor people, but primarily for the organized groups that hired them.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   16:20
Tom Amlie
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg spoke several times with Amlie and remembers clearly Amlie's philosophy of production-for-use. Kannenberg spoke on behalf of Farmer Labor Progressive Federation but did not have close relations.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   18:15
Gerald Boileau
Scope and Content Note: Congressman from Wausau and Kannenberg campaigned with him during several elections. Kannenberg saw Boileau a few weeks before he died in 1981 and suggested that they get back and bring Progressive ideals.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   20:05
Tom Duncan
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg and Duncan did not always agree, but remained friends. Duncan opposed Kannenberg's University extension plan. A very able man.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   21:10
William Evjue
Scope and Content Note: Also differed on University extension. Kannenberg implies Evjue was parochial Madisonian but concludes that he was a good liberal.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   22:50
1937 special session
Scope and Content Note: Kannenberg disagrees with criticism of Progressives “ramming” program through, arguing that when legislators were only making $100 a month they did not want to waste time down in Madison, Kannenberg and other Progressives knew that enactment of Progressive program would bring out the money power of the opposition, but they did not realize how much.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   26:00
Overall impact of Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: Great service to the country. Pushed Roosevelt into many of his liberal laws and so helped prolong the life of this country. Modern liberals do not compare well.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   28:00
End of Tape 1, Side 2. End of Interview
Audio 902A
Series: Paul R. Alfonsi
Physical Description: 87 minutes 
Scope and Content Note: Interview conducted May 27, 1981, concerning politics in Iron and Vilas counties, Alfonsi's experiences as a legislator in the 1930s, Progressive meetings and leaders, other third party efforts, and related matters.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:30
Family and educational background
Scope and Content Note: Born in Pence (Iron County) on February 13, 1908, of Corsican parents. Father came in 1906 to work the iron ore mines. Mother came next year and they were married. Alfonsi educated in Pence public schools and graduated from Hurley High School. Then went to Whitewater State College, graduating in 1927.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   02:00
First employment
Scope and Content Note: Started teaching at Washburn High School (Bayfield County, Wisconsin) at age nineteen. Taught commercial subjects and coached debate and forensics.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   02:25
College debating
Scope and Content Note: Captained the debate team two of his three years there and was college orator one year. Influenced his interest in politics.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   02:55
First political involvement
Scope and Content Note: At Washburn Alfonsi met Representative Robert Nixon, progressive Republican leader in the Assembly, and became close friends. In 1932 election incumbent from Iron and Vilas counties suffered a stroke. Alfonsi won a five way Republican primary spending $44. Ran a personal door to door campaign and went on to beat the Democrat and an independent Republican.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   06:00
Formation of Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: Before 1934 election progressive Republicans decided to form their own party. In three months they had collected several hundred thousand signatures. Alfonsi felt that the new party would clarify progressive position on issues. Rallies during that first campaign were very successful because of the enthusiasm for the new party.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   08:40
Alfonsi's personal campaigns
Scope and Content Note: 1936 campaign very successful; Progressives elected governor, winning a plurality of forty-six in the Assembly and sixteen in the Senate. Alfonsi became Speaker. In 1938 Progressives hurt by Duncan incident and Phil La Follette's national ambitions. Encouraged Republicans and Democrats to form coalition against Progressives. Alfonsi himself had little trouble in his personal campaigns.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   11:45
Legislative experiences
Scope and Content Note: Owed his election to the support of labor, especially the miners in Iron County. Spent much of his first term learning rules of procedure--helped by Robert Nixon. Credits his knowledge of rules to much of his legislative success. During his first session sponsored bill compelling the mining companies to establish safety standards for the miners. Also involved in educational and conservation issues.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   14:00
Progressive floor leader
Scope and Content Note: Robert Nixon, Progressive leader in the 1933 session, sent to Washington and Alfonsi became floor for the 1935 session.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   14:45
Speaker of the Assembly
Scope and Content Note: Jorge Carow (P-Ladysmith), Speaker in the 1935 session, died after the 1936 election. Alfonsi decided to go for the Speaker's chair. Four sought the Progressive Party endorsement and Alfonsi received it on the second ballot. Although there were only 46 Progressives, Alfonsi counted on the support of four Democrats to win 50-49. He also had to use “a little bit of Corsican intuition” to trick one member to change his vote from Victor Nehs to Alfonsi. Being elected speaker one of the proud moments of Alfonsi's career.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   19:45
1937 regular session
Scope and Content Note: Progressives only had 46 votes, but Alfonsi appointed Charles Perry, R-West Allis, chairman of Judiciary Committee. Perry controlled six or seven Republican votes but even so Progressive program defeated. That required a special session in September 1937 where the program passed with the help of Perry's Republican votes. Coalition of Democrats and Republicans primarily interested in embarrassing Governor La Follette; they did not care if anything passed or not.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   24:20
End of Tape 1, Side 1
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:30
Relations with Governor Phil La Follette
Scope and Content Note: Main complaint with La Follette's office was that Assembly leadership not consulted in advance often enough. One specific fight Alfonsi had with La Follette involved a bill Alfonsi drafted on relief payments. La Follette said he supported it but would Alfonsi wait a little. Then Alfonsi found out that La Follette had given the bill to Sen. Philip Nelson, R-Superior, in an effort to get him on the Progressive side.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   04:25
Assessment of Phil La Follette as Governor
Scope and Content Note: La Follette most astute governor of the state that Alfonsi served under. But unlike his brother Bob, Phil La Follette was opinionated and somewhat egotistical. Bob was the statesman; Phil was the politician. Personalities of both La Follette and Tom Duncan hurt their relationships with legislators but both were respected for their abilities. They kept everything to themselves.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   06:10
Assessment of Phil La Follette as a campaigner
Scope and Content Note: No equal. La Follette was a master with a crowd. Made as many as five speeches a day and drew tremendous crowds. Used plain language and gestures to appeal to his audience. His speaking style differed from that of his father Robert M. La Follette Sr. in that old Bob was more of a showman.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   08:30
National Progressives of America
Scope and Content Note: Alfonsi not involved and attempted to discourage the new party. Alfonsi never understood why Phil La Follette did it, citing all the problems that face a new party, especially in Presidential years and ballot access.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   09:40
Party organization in Iron and Vilas Counties
Scope and Content Note: Organized at precinct level. Very easy in his home county, Iron County; more difficult in Vilas County, which was conservative. Cites lack of outside distractions on voters which made belonging to a party more attractive. Judge Carter from Eagle River helped organize Vilas County. Held frequent meetings and Alfonsi would come back every weekend. Kept year round headquarters in Iron County, not in Vilas.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   11:55
Keeping in touch with constituents
Scope and Content Note: Alfonsi knew that people had problems who could not get down to Madison so he invited them to see him at home. When he would get home on Fridays there would be a line of cars outside his house. He would then help resolve those problems. This helped Alfonsi keep in close contact with his constituents which paid dividends as it was a form of campaigning year round.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   13:40
Campaign tactics
Scope and Content Note: Radio out of the question during the thirties and very little newspaper. Mostly personal contact and small card. Iron County a melting pot and many could not speak English. Alfonsi would give them a small card with his name on it which they took with them into polls. Italians and Finns strong supporters because of their gratitude for Alfonsi's help.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   16:20
Characteristics of Iron County
Scope and Content Note: Primarily labor but not organized in the early thirties. Alfonsi's father did not belong to the union and refused to work for the WPA. He went out into the woods and cut wood instead.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   17:55
“Alfonsi Highway”
Scope and Content Note: When Alfonsi first came to the legislature, Highway 77 out of Hurley was not paved, just covered with slag rock, creating a large dirt problem. Highway Department refused Alfonsi's request to oil the road so he introduced a bill forcing them to do it. The bill passed and the road became known as Alfonsi Highway.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   20:40
Campaign financing
Scope and Content Note: 1932 campaign had cost $44.00 and most later campaigns cost around $1500 or $1600. Only one campaign cost more than $2000. Most contributions from friends and supporters. (This may include campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s as much as the 1930s.)
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   22:10
Large Progressive meetings
Scope and Content Note: 1938 meeting at Pence with Bob La Follette. Had arranged for parking for about 1000 people but 3000 came. People were parking a mile away and walking. In 1936 Phil La Follette spoke to about 700 people in Pence. Ralph Immell, Barney Gehrmann also spoke. Local candidates would also be introduced at these meetings and they could speak if they wanted. Meetings mainly speeches though sometimes there would be beer.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   26:00
End of Tape 1, Side 2
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   00:30
Governor's race in 1940
Scope and Content Note: Progressive Party at low ebb in 1940. Republican Julius Heil running for a second term. Former Attorney General Orland Loomis considered frontrunner. Former Lt. Governor Henry Gunderson (P-Portage), a man from Eau Claire [whose name Alfonsi could not recall], Alfonsi, and Sen. Philip Nelson from Superior also in the race. Alfonsi supporters felt Nelson was in the race to divide Northern vote. Alfonsi spent $2400 which was not enough for a gubernatorial race. Alfonsi also hurt by Italy joining the Axis and the image of Mussolini. Heil defeated Loomis in 1940 but Loomis won election in 1942. Alfonsi supported him and was slated to become his executive secretary but Loomis died of a heart attack before taking office.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   06:10
Farmer Labor Progressive Federation
Scope and Content Note: Alfonsi felt they were big help to the Party but was not active in the Federation. Was close to Amlie and supported him in the 1938 U.S. Senate primary.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   08:00
AFL and CIO organizing in Iron County
Scope and Content Note: Basically occurred in the years after Alfonsi left the area and led to Democratic Party inroads in Iron County.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   10:10
The Madison Ring
Scope and Content Note: Alfonsi did not associate with the group, feeling that some of them would be of no help to his people. As a whole they did not do the prestige of the party any good.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   11:25
William Evjue
Scope and Content Note: Evjue always said he wanted to keep the party honest. Alfonsi found him inconsistent; was not one of the men he admired.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   13:00
Theodore Damman
Scope and Content Note: A warhorse who did not get the credit he deserved.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   13:35
Sol Levitan
Scope and Content Note: A nice old man.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   14:00
The Young Progressives
Scope and Content Note: Did outstanding job for the party and many of them later elected to office. Many times crucial to the success of the party.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   15:00
The decline of the Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: The need for the Progressive Party declined because the conservative wing of the Republican Party became more liberal and closer to the Progressives. Right now Wisconsin is a moderate Republican state and the differences between parties much less than in 1934 when the Progressive Party was formed.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   17:00
Assessment of Progressive Party experience
Scope and Content Note: No regrets. Progressives firmly committed to fiscal responsibility. La Follette would submit three budget proposals, A, B, and C reflecting differing levels of expenditures, but he would not sign an unbalanced budget. Progressives stood for what Alfonsi still believes in. He is a fiscal conservative, but his heart bleeds for those who need help through no fault of their own.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   20:10
Reflections of his later career as a Republican
Scope and Content Note: Miles McMillan criticized him for not running as Democrat, but Alfonsi has no regrets returning to Republican Party.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   21:20
National third party movements in the thirties
Scope and Content Note: Alfonsi had no interest in any of them and disapproved of them. Endorses two party system. Third and fourth parties weaken the issues and confuse the voters.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   23:40
Justification for joining State Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: Joining the Progressive Party did not deprive one of acting as Democrat or Republican in Presidential contests. Also the conservative wing of the Republican Party had become so haughty it practically forced the progressive Republicans out. Alfonsi did not want to be a mugwump anymore.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   25:20
Support for Franklin Roosevelt
Scope and Content Note: Alfonsi supported Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936 but supported Wilkie in 1940.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   26:15
End of Tape 2, Side 1
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   00:30
Party competition in the 1930s
Scope and Content Note: The 1934 elections reflected the split in the Republican party while time allowed the Republicans to recover their strength. In the 1950s the Republicans abused the rules of fair play and paid for it in the 1970s.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   04:50
Costello and Hones
Scope and Content Note: Emil Costello of the CIO and Kenneth Hones of the Farmer's Union both personal friends of Alfonsi. They may have attended Communist meetings but they were fine gentlemen and spoke for their constituencies. The issue was used against Alfonsi by Evjue and McMillan.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   08:05
Lemke's 1936 Union Party campaign
Scope and Content Note: No effect at all in the state. Walter Graunke from Wausau supported their ticket. Graunke “sometimes went off the deep end but was a good warhorse.”
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   10:25
End of Tape 2, Side 2. End of Interview
Audio 903A
Series: Gordon Sinykin
Physical Description: 98 minutes 
Scope and Content Note: Interview with lawyer Sinykin conducted June 3, 1981, concerning his close association with Phil La Follette, party origins, political campaigns and tactics, William Evjue, Thomas Duncan, Ralph Immell, and other Progressive leaders, the National Progressives of America, and the demise of the party.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:30
Family and educational background
Scope and Content Note: Born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1910, youngest of four children. Father was a peddler. Sinykin educated in Madison schools and University of Wisconsin through law school. Always interested in politics and the La Follettes. Parents strongly supported the elder La Follettes' opposition to World War I.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   03:10
First contact with Phil La Follette
Scope and Content Note: Attended meetings of the Progressive Club on the University campus and Phil spoke there. Phil also taught a course in criminal law at the Law School, and then when he became governer, Glenn Roberts took over the course. Sinykin attended campaign meetings in Watertown in 1932, where Phil spoke, and decided he wanted to help on the La Follette campaign. Sinykin had been working for Ralph Immell in Adjutant General's office but volunteered to help La Follette. He became Phil La Follette's driver for the 1932 campaign. After that defeat, Sinykin finished up law school and worked at Phil's law firm: La Follette, Rogers, and Roberts.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   09:30
Origins of Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: By 1933, Sinykin was practicing law and became involved in political meetings. Discussions centered around whether to remain in Republican Party, found new party, or go into Democratic Party. Conference held in Madison in March 1934, and sentiment was strong for new party Phil and Sinykin began legal action on how to do this by asking Supreme Court for original jurisdiction. Court handed down decision outlining procedures to start a new party. Conference held in Fond du Lac and decision made to go ahead with new party, although there was debate over whether the name should be Progressive or Farmer Labor. Progressives then went out and filed petitions on June 18, the anniversary of the death of the elder La Follette (also Sinykin's birthday).
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   14:45
Amlie and Farmer Laborites as Stalking Horse
Scope and Content Note: Who would be gubernatorial candidate? La Follette family, including Bob, felt Phil should not run in 1934 because Bob was up that year. Amlie and Evjue both mentioned, but Amlie wanted to run for Congress. Evjue liked being asked, but did not want to give up role as crusading editor of the Capital Times. Amlie, while active nationally, and in his district for third party, did not go around the state as Phil did.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   18:45
1934 campaign
Scope and Content Note: Uphill fight in 1934. In 1932, Sinykin was on the go with Phil every day (they took a few Sundays off to come back to Madison and rest) from July to mid-September. They made every county in the state. Phil would make five speeches a day and often had a leadership meeting too. Bob also out making about three speeches a day. In 1934, Sinykin stayed in Madison. Sinykin wrote releases for the locals and AP. Sinykin ran personal campaigns of Phil and Bob, doing scheduling, press and fund raising. A lot of volunteer enthusiasm.
A.W. Zaretsky
Scope and Content Note: Developed expertise in direct mail. State organized in precincts with precinct captains. Immell and Zaretsky organized letters to different groups. Also brought in Wheeler, Norris, and La Guardia. Farley's machine against Progressives. Democrats in Wisconsin just as conservative as the Republicans. FDR praised Bob and Schmedeman. He said he didn't want to win if Phil didn't, and that it was more important for Phil to win than himself. But all the Progressives worked hard.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   27:50
End of Side 1
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:30
1934 campaign
Scope and Content Note: Enthusiam of Progressives around the state very inspiring. Wondered about impact of Schmedeman's last-minute accident. Bob's victory was clear immediately but Phil's was not known until next day and the margin was very close. Sinykin remembers telegrams arriving in bushel baskets from all over the country and around the world. Did not raise much money and it did not take much money to run the type of campaigns the La Follettes ran. No television and did not use much radio or fancy literature.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   04:10
1936 campaign
Scope and Content Note: Phil ran for re-election and Sinykin ran his campaign from the Governor's office. Mich easier to run when in office. Progressives riding a crest and Phil won easily.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   05:20
Progressive campaign tactics
Scope and Content Note: Each county had a Progressive committee or club and Sinykin would write ahead to the officers to say that Phil or Bob would be available at a time on a day and local officers would pick the place to meet. Easier to draw a crowd in those days, since there weren't distractions such as television, bingo and that sort of thing. The meeting would become a social event for the community. Local officers responsible for getting publicity, a band, etc. Madison would send out brochures. Phil would arrive at 10:00AM; his driver would find local Progressive officer, local editor, leave release, hand out literature. Phil would speak, then shake hands but often on such a tight schedule he would have to leave right away. Also would send out other speakers: Sol Levitan, Spike Loomis, Ted Dammenn. Often the others would want to appear with a La Follette and Sinykin would argue that that was a waste. If they all went out separately they would multiply their effort. Sol Levitan especially would contrive to get on with Phil or Bob. At night they'd hold leadership meetings with 50-100 leaders to discuss strategy. In larger cities speeches were longer. This type of campaign enabled you to reach a lot of voters without having to rely on media.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   13:40
Phil as campaigner
Scope and Content Note: Phil very quiet between speeches and had a thing about drinking orange juice. In 1932 Sinykin would have to make sure that the thermos was always full which proved difficult in some of the smaller towns. Phil would try to nap between stops and Sinykin would spend days without talking to him. Phil was a light eater and would eat very fast and Sinykin had a hard time finishing his food.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   16:25
Bob's campaign style
Scope and Content Note: More relaxed than Phil and more talkative and outgoing. Get to bed as soon as possible. Driver's responsibility to end night meetings early since they had to get up at 6:00 the next morning. Bob started his campaigning a couple of weeks after Phil and did not like it as much. But after he got into it he was okay. Phil was a fiery eloquent orator who got wound up while Bob was much more quiet. Bob was like a ballet dancer with his gestures.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   19:40
Old Bob
Scope and Content Note: Only time Sinykin saw old man was when he was lying in state. Mother took him up to the Capitol to see him and the crowd stretched all the way around the square.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   20:45
William Evjue
Scope and Content Note: Sinykin did not have much to do with Evjue. Before Phil had become governor, Phil and Evjue were close personal friends. Evjue best as a critical editor and their roles hurt their friendship. Very effective as editor of the Capital Times and as a spokesman of progressive or liberal causes. Became quite a supporter of Roosevelt in large part due to Phil, who in 1936 suggested FDR call Evjue and the call overwhelmed Evjue. Final break came over special session, National Progressives.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   26:05
Effect of special session
Scope and Content Note: Bad effect even though it accomplished several things. Together with the recession, the NPA and simple things had a bad effect on 1938 election.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   26:50
End of Tape 1, Side 2
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   00:30
Thomas M. Duncan
Scope and Content Note: An only child from Milwaukee. Duncan worked at the First Wisconsin National Bank in Milwaukee, resigning to become secretary to socialist mayor Dan Hoan. He was later elected to the senate when Phil La Follette was elected governor, and became executive secretary in La Follette's first term. He knew a lot about legislative parliamentary procedure and state finances. He was a socialist who thought that the Progressive movement could accomplish much good. He was responsible for enlisting the support of the Milwaukee socialists for the Progressives.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   03:40
Duncan ran Milwaukee Leader
Scope and Content Note: Leader was a financially ailing socialist newspaper published by Victor Berger, a socialist congressman. Later, Sinykin assisted Duncan. The paper's business manager was Elmer Krahm. Krahm was very important in Progressive movement for his political leadership, managerial skills and adeptness at politicking. Things did not go well for Duncan after he killed someone in an auto accident. He worked for American Federation of Labor in Washington. He helped Andrew J. Biemiller get a job there.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   06:05
Duncan “ran the show” in the legislature
Scope and Content Note: He was Phil La Follette's liason with the Progressives in the legislature as well as with sympathetic Democrats during the special session. He got idea of literally stopping the clock in one house so that Progressive legislation could be enacted despite the fact that the session's fixed adjournment date had passed. Drew a lot of criticism.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   08:45
Paul R. Alfonsi
Scope and Content Note: Speaker of the Assembly. Very sharp, aggressive, energetic, highly respected.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   09:20
Ralph M. Immell
Scope and Content Note: Came from Trempeleau County. Went to law school in Madison. He was a large man, 6'4" tall. Sinykin worked for him. Immell entered executive office when John J. Blaine was governor and was appointed adjutant general. He had extraordinary administrative ability, a strong personality, and was outgoing. He was undisciplined in personal habits and worked at all hours. He was a demanding administrator. Immell became chairperson of the Conservation Commission, predecessor of the Department of Natural Resources; greatly reformed its inefficient and corrupt management. He later made director of Works Project Administration. He was politically liberal and an excellent administrator. Served in World War II. In 1946, he resigned as adjutant general and ran for governor. He, among many others, advised Phil La Follette on the National Progressives of America movement. He was a good friend of A.W. Zeratsky and Gordon Sinykin.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   15:25
The National Progressives of America
Scope and Content Note: The initiative for the National Progressives movement came largely from Phil La Follette. The Progressives and even Bob La Follette Sr. had long thought that what was needed was a new political alignment in America. Phil La Follette called in Progressive leaders to discuss this possibility, first from Wisconsin and then from outside the state.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   17:55
Problems with the NPA movement
Scope and Content Note: In 1938, Sinykin left executive office and returned to his law practice. He was asked to go to New York to raise money for the movement. He did, but it difficult to raise even small amount. La Follette believed that productivity was key to economic well-being. He chose an "X" in a circle as symbol of the movement. He thought he could use this as symbol for good as the Nazis had used swastika for evil purposes. Sinykin and others against the idea, but La Follette adamant and encouraged by Isabel, his Wife. Sinykin believed that use of symbol, labeled a circumscribed swastika by some critics, torpedoed the National Progressive movement.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   20:45
1938 NPA rally in Madison, Wisconsin
Scope and Content Note: Sinykin denies that the [April 1938] NPA rally “smacked of fascism,” aside from the use of the symbol. He says only one big banner used and extra police were there because crowd so large. NPA groups formed in California, but were ephemeral. Phil La Follette traveled to several places, including Iowa, to promote NPA.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   24:20
Effect of Thomas Duncan accident on NPA
Scope and Content Note: Sinykin disagrees with Paul Alfonsi that the Thomas Duncan manslaughter conviction played a large role in the demise of the NPA. After Duncan had served two years of his sentence, the D.A. reopened the case in order to extend Duncan's sentence because Duncan had been tried under wrong statute. Sinykin defended Duncan. Phil La Follette pardoned Duncan before leaving office.
Tape/Side   2/1
Time   26:30
Factors in the 1938 election
Scope and Content Note: Important factors in the 1938 election loss were the NPA movement, the special session, and the economic recession. Frank Murphy, the governor of Michigan sympathetic to Progressive goals, also lost his bid for reelection in 1938.
End of Tape 2, Side 1
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   00:35
Political climate in the pre-war years
Scope and Content Note: In the late 1930s economy got worse and unemployment rose, causing dissatisfaction. Then war changed everything. Bob was more against war than Phil. Orland Loomis won gubernatorial primary in 1940. Phil played some role in the campaign. Loomis was defeated in the general election, but then was elected in 1942. Died before he could take office.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   02:35
Demise of the Progressives
Scope and Content Note: It difficult to develop opposition to Democrats while country at war. Progressives failed in that they did not develop a new echelon of leadership to replace the La Follettes. Harold Stafford of Chippewa Falls was a possible leader as were “labor people” of Milwaukee. Milwaukee labor leaders, particularly in CIO, supported the Democrats. The CIO strongly supported the war and alliance with Soviet Union. Thomas R. Amlie ran as Democrat in 1941. Paul Alfonsi ran as a Republican in 1942. State Senator Allen J. Busby ran as a Republican and a Progressive.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   04:14
1946 election
Scope and Content Note: Bob La Follette was up for re-election in 1946. He was very discouraged after World War II; he thought that the Soviet Union had come out of the war in better shape than the United States. He made speeches which disturbed the CIO leadership, which had Communist leanings. Bob was working on a government reorganization bill with Nagorsne in Washington. The outlook for his re-election in Wisconsin not good. Progressive Party weak, so seemed advantageous to run as either Republican or Democrat. Bob not enthusiastic about either Party, and vacillated in his decision to run. He did not return to Wisconsin much, because, he said, he had to stay in Washington to get the Government Reorganization Bill passed. He finally returned about two weeks before election. Despite his minimal campaigning he lost by less than 6,000 votes.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   07:25
Choosing a new party (the Portage convention)
Scope and Content Note: Phil opposed running as a Republican; he wanted to try to continue the Progressive Party. Many Progressive leaders met in the armory in Portage to discuss which Party best suited their needs. After much debate Bob decided to run as a Republican. He vehemently opposed the Democrats' war and peace policies, among them, bowing to Soviet demands. If Bob had entered the Democratic Party he would have gotten much support. Former Progressives Jim Doyle and Carl Thompson rebuilt the Democratic Party in Wisconsin. Phil La Follette did not attend the Portage convention. Bob had Sinykin called Phil in Madison and told him not to come to the convention. Phil did not like this. Much debate at convention over philosophical and political ramifications of joining the Democrats or Republicans or remaining Progressives. One argument for joining the Republicans was that it was very important to have a full slate of officers running at the county level. This was impossible on the Progressive ticket. Some at convention thought former Progressives could be most easily elected as Republicans. Others thought that Progressives should take over Democratic Party and build through that organization. Some supported continuing as Progressives. At the time, the Republicans were experiencing a growth of power. This was a factor in the final decision, but it was Bob's influence which decided the issue. Phil did not plan to run again as Progressive. His only active political involvement subsequent to the decision to go Republican was his support of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and then of Earl Warren in the 1952 primary.
Tape/Side   2/2
Time   14:10
Overall assessment of the Progressives
Scope and Content Note: People in Progressive movement had a crusading spirit and were eager to bring about social and economic reforms through new political channels. Many Progressives made sacrifices for the cause. As World War II began, many Progressives felt discouraged and disappointed. The lack of post-La Follette leadership was also a problem. The Progressives would have done better to enter the Democratic Party in 1946.
End of Tape 2. Side 2. End of Interview
Audio 993A
Series: Carl W. Thompson
Physical Description: 38 minutes 
Scope and Content Note: Interview with State Senator Thompson conducted September 22, 1981, concerning Phil La Follette, his gubernatorial staff, and family and friends; the Progressive Club at the University of Wisconsin; the 1937 split in the party; and events after the party dissolved in 1946.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   00:30
Organization and workings of Phil La Follette's office
Scope and Content Note: Mabel E. Griswold handled the correspondence. Charles M. Dow greeted and interviewed all visitors. A.W. Zeratsky, from La Crosse, handled mailings and was the first to apply the retail mail order technique of mass mailings to select groups, such as teachers or businessmen, to politics. Phil La Follette went to Washington to see Roosevelt, and told him about this strategy. The person to whom FDR delegated the task of composing a letter suitable for Roosevelt's purposes used virtually the same letter which La Follette had shown to Roosevelt. Thomas M. Duncan was another secretary. He was a former state senator, a former socialist, and very bright and able. Gordon Sinykin was La Follette's executive counsel.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   03:25
Tommy Duncan
Scope and Content Note: Duncan planned how to get programs through the legislature. He was contact with the legislature. Duncan and Phil La Follette, driving in Milwaukee, hit and killed a man. Thompson did not know Duncan very well in the late 1930s because Thompson was working as a file clerk along with Cliff Pulvermacher, now in upper Michigan, and Pete Morrisey, who later became judge in Walworth County. Duncan extremely intelligent and excelled at legislative maneuvering. Once, the opposition was boycotting the legislature. Duncan proposed that all the bills be put together so that they could be passed on one motion before the opposition returned. That idea was never used.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   06:05
Phil and Isen La Follette
Scope and Content Note: Thompson usually drove Isen, Phil's wife, to speaking engagements. Phil had a professional chauffeur. John Gaus, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, and Max Otto, professor of philosophy, were La Follette's two most frequent visitors. Elizabeth Brandeis Raushenbush, daughter of Justice Brandeis, and her husband, Paul A. Raushenbush, both professors of political science at the university, were also friends of the La Follettes.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   07:45
The Progressive Club at the UW
Scope and Content Note: The Club was involved in state and university politics. Speakers, for example Bob and Phil La Follette and Tom Amlie, would address the monthly club meetings. The Progressives formed an independent group on campus and elected Jim Doyle and Ruth Doyle to board of The Daily Cardinal. They installed a new editor. After the next elections, that editor was fired. A strike edition of the paper was published for quite a while. Bob Gregeson was elected to the Union board on the platform that six cent hamburgers would cost five cents. The Progressives met regularly at a few tables in the Union. One regular was a farmer from Walworth county whose farm was foreclosed upon who was trying to go to law school. Other regulars were two brothers from Milwaukee and a man named Sonnenberg.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   11:25
Motivation to join the Progressive Club
Scope and Content Note: Thompson, like many people, felt strongly about political issues and strongly supported the Progressive Party, FDR, and Phil La Follette. The Club was a close-knit group, much like a fraternity.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   13:00
1934 campaign
Scope and Content Note: Thompson circulated petitions to put the Progressive Party on the ballot before the primary and immediately after the convention at which the party was formed. At the urging of Phil La Follette, Thompson went to see William T. Evjue and Charles Holmberg of the Capital Times to see about starting a Progressive Party paper in Dane County. He sold $15 ads to Progressive Party candidates and wrote the editorial. Charlie Holmberg wrote many of the stories.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   15:10
Support for Progressives in Stoughton area
Scope and Content Note: Stoughton was overwhelmingly pro-La Follette. Lines were strongly drawn: people were either Progressive Republicans or Stalwart Republicans; there were few Democrats.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   17:05
The late 1930s
Scope and Content Note: Thompson ran for city council, a non-partisan office, in 1939. Norman and Analise Clapp managed the campaign. The Capital Times endorsed Thompson and the Wisconsin State Journal opposed him. Thompson became chairperson of the Progressive Party in Dane County. The Party controlled the courthouse and was supported by labor, farmers, and university people.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   19:35
1937 split in Progressive Party
Scope and Content Note: Phil La Follette never joined the Farmer-Labor-Progressive Federation because he did not want to appear radical. Andy Biemiller, labor, former socialists, and maybe some Farmer Union members were the backbone of the Farmer-Labor-Progressive Federation. Organized labor tried to organize a truckers coop at the Richland Center Creamery. This created such an uproar that the farm organizations divided into the more liberal Wisconsin Federation of Coops and the Wisconsin Council of Agriculture. For many years afterwards the Wisconsin Federation of Coops was identified with the Democrats, and the Wisconsin Council of Agriculture was identified with the Republicans.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   22:45
Harold Groves
Scope and Content Note: Groves was a state senator and professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin in the 1930s. Considered the “godfather of Progressive taxation theory.”
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   23:30
Thomas R. Amlie
Scope and Content Note: Very popular with young Progressives. He used to give speeches at the university in favor of “production for use and not for profit.” He was by far the most liberal person elected to Congress from Wisconsin in that era. Amlie was very popular on campus in the 1938 senate election. His opponent, Herman L. Ekern was an older, more traditional, and well-entrenched Progressive.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   25:10
1940 gubernatorial race
Scope and Content Note: Paul Alfonsi had strong support among Progressive students. Thompson was the assistant manager of Orland Loomis' campaign. He worked with Maurice B. Pasch, Harold E. Stafford, and Philip E. Nelson from Superior, a Republican until 1936. Nelson and Arthur Zimney, a Milwaukee Democrat, were wooed to the Progressive camp.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   26:10
1946 and after
Scope and Content Note: Thompson was in the army from September 1942 until 1946. He was told in 1946 that his services were not needed for the campaign because Bob La Follette would easily win the election. La Follette did not campaign and lost. Thompson did not have contact with La Follette after that. La Follette was critical of Thompson's and others' work in the Democratic Party. He never helped Thompson when Thompson ran for governor and congress.
Tape/Side   1/1
Time   28:25
End of Tape 1, Side 1
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:00
Introduction
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   00:30
Glenn D. Roberts
Scope and Content Note: Very close to the La Follettes. He was Phil La Follette's law partner.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   01:00
Thompson became Democrat after 1946 primary
Scope and Content Note: Thompson voted in the Republican primary in 1946. When La Follette was defeated, Thompson thought no one else in the Republican Party was interesting so he agreed to manage Democrat William G. Rice's Congressional campaign when asked by Andy Biemiller. Rice was a law professor at the university. Bob Henry defeated Rice and died shortly thereafter. A special election was held in which Thompson ran against Glenn R. Davis. Thompson lost by a small margin because, he says, he was unknown, not because he was unpopular. The same situation resulted in his loss of the gubernatorial race in 1948.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   04:50
Campaign style in the 1930s
Scope and Content Note: In the 1930s, the Progressives spent little on campaigning, but spoke often throughout the state. Phil La Follette would speak to 600-1500 people at a time. This type of campaigning ended with the advent of television. In 1948 and 1950 Thompson spoke from platform trucks to very small crowds, although the newspaper coverage of the event was usually good.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   06:25
La Follette's decision on which Party to join in 1946
Scope and Content Note: The Progressives were divided on which ticket to run on in 1946. One point of contention was foreign policy. La Follette did not think that the time was right to run on the Democratic ticket. He discussed alternatives with Thompson in 1945 or 1946; Thompson advised him to run as a Democrat.
Tape/Side   1/2
Time   09:10
End of Tape 1, Side 2
End of Interview