Connecticut History on the Web 



Connecticut Progressives










Below is a list of the readings used with this unit. You may go directly to a document or group of documents by clicking on its name, or you may scroll down through the whole collection.

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§ "Introduction for the Role Players" (an introduction for the students playing roles, giving them brief introduction to the 1912 election)

§ 16 Role-play sheets including 13 leaders of the Progressive Party, the incumbent Governor and Democratic candidate, an urban, Democratic "boss," and the Chairman of the Republican State Central Committee

§ Selected pages from two issues of The Hartford Courant from 1912

§ "The Progressive Party" (an article from The Yale Review of 1912 in which gubernatorial candidate Herbert Knox Smith outlines his views)

§ Election Statistics from 1908 and 1912 Connecticut returns - two pages of charts.   

This site was created by Mark Williams, a history teacher at The Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut, under a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council. Some of the materials published here were originally created by Mark Williams as Connecticut Case Studies, under a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council, and printed by the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. John F. Sutherland of Manchester Community College, Ronald P. Dufour of Rhode Island College, Thomas P. Weinland of the University of Connecticut, Tracey Wilson of Conard High School, Robert K. Andrian of The Loomis Chaffee School, and State Historian Christopher Collier served as consultants. The Connecticut Humanities Council is the State Committee of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The viewpoints or recommendations expressed in the materials on this site of are not necessarily those of the Council or the Endowment. Teachers are encouraged to print and make copies of these materials for their students.


Connecticut Progressives: A ROLE PLAY


Introduction for the Role Players


You are going to be assigned to play the part of one of Connecticut's political leaders during the electoral campaign of 1912. There are a number of parts for leaders of Connecticut's new third party, the Progressive Party; and there are three parts for leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties. You will be facing members of the press, who will be interested in finding out about your views and the views of the other leaders present. You should study this brief introduction, some "recent" articles in The Hartford Courant and The Yale Review, as well as your own role-sheet, and be prepared to answer those questions as the person you are playing would have answered them shortly before the November 5, 1912 election. Be sure to prepare carefully enough so that you can give complete answers, as you will want the reporters to understand and sympathize with your positions on important issues of the day. There are few things more important than having the press on your side!


Historical Background:

The year is 1912, and "progressive reform" is the talk of the nation. For years critics of American society have assailed the problems of the cities, the corruption in municipal, state and national politics, and the domination of the economy by "the trusts." While governments at all levels have passed laws to combat these problems, many "progressive reformers" feel that these efforts have only scratched the surface.

The Republican Party itself is intensely divided between the old guard politicians and so-called reformers. This has been the case for many years as well, but while Theodore Roosevelt was President (1900-1909), he had used his personal magnetism to keep both groups together and to effect some reforms. His successor, William Howard Taft, continued to push for needed reforms: the Mann-Elkins Act to regulate railroad abuses, the eight-hour day for some laborers, mine safety legislation, and the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the Constitution. However, many within the party did not see him as being "progressive" enough, and felt he was too quick to appease the big businessmen (in spite of the fact that his administration brought more anti-trust actions than "Trust-buster" Roosevelt's).

In July, at the Republican National Convention, Taft managed to win the nomination of the party for President, even though competing first against Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, and then his own mentor, former President Theodore Roosevelt. Freshly returned from Africa and "fit as a bull moose," Roosevelt had entered the race when La Follette became ill. He and his supporters later bolted the Convention and formed their own Progressive, or "Bull Moose," party, nominating the old Rough Rider himself as their candidate for President. The Democrats have nominated New Jersey's scholarly governor, Woodrow Wilson, who promises a "New Freedom" for Americans overburdened by the monopolization of economic and political power by the few. Many of his supporters in the northern cities feel that there are many reforms needed, but they do not feel that the new Progressive Party is concerned about the plight of the workingman or newcomers to the country. If it were not for the division within the Republican Party, Wilson would probably meet with the same fate as William Jennings Bryan in 1896, but now he poses a serious threat to Republican control of the national government.

In Connecticut the state Republican party has also suffered similar divisions. There was a time (1895-1910) when the Republicans practically owned the state capital in Hartford. So strong had the party become that leaders neatly stepped up the ladder one by one to receive their promised elected positions until it was time for each to retire after his term as governor. But, by 1910, the party had a lively contingent of reformers in its midst who were eager to dislodge the party bosses who had become so powerful as to manipulate who would be in what office. There had been a great deal of division at the 1910 Republican state convention. When the ballot for governor was taken, the total count showed one more ballot than there were delegates, and numerous additional ballots were found on the floor! As a result of the bad feelings within the party, the Democrats, led by retired, seventy-year-old Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court Simeon E. Baldwin, walked away with the governor's office in the state election.

During his first term Baldwin worked with both the established Republicans and newly elected Democrats from the growing cities to enact some reforms (a corrupt practices act and regulation of public utilities), even though he styled himself a "conservative." Now, in 1912, the Republican Party is split more than ever, and stands to lose not only the governor's office again to the incumbent Baldwin, but control of the legislature as wen. Following Roosevelt's lead, reformers in Connecticut have established a third party, the Progressive Party, to support Roosevelt for President, and to put forth their own candidates for state officers, including Herbert Knox Smith for governor. Smith has recently written an article in The Yale Review detailing the aims of the new party. In the cities the Democratic machine leaders are gearing up their supporters among labor and ethnic groups for victory. They too are calling for changes and government action, but changes in favor of a different constituency than that represented by the Knox Smith progressives.

This is the situation in 1912 - a bitterly divided Republican party, manipulated by its State Central Committee, an incumbent and highly esteemed Democratic Governor supported by an increasingly strong urban machine, and an ambitious new Progressive Party calling for even greater reforms at the state level than Baldwin was able or willing to pursue.


The Roles


Willard Fisher

You are Willard Fisher. You are a politically flexible Democrat turned Progressive. You are a Wesleyan University economics professor and two term mayor of Middletown. Like your fellow Progressive leaders, you have had a good deal of formal education - six years at Cornell, the last two as a Fellow in History and Political Science. While you accept the basic premises of American life - capitalistic economy and a democratic political system, which places the source of progress in individual initiative, you are still dissatisfied and uneasy about things. There are flaws in the competitive structure: the 66 robber barons" with their political connections, the slums of the cities, the violent strikes, and the talk of Socialism. These things have got you worried.

Having spent your life in city government, you desire municipalities like your own Middletown to be more powerful and autonomous. You feel that the small rural "outposts" have a stranglehold on the state legislature. You are a firm believer in the idea that experts - nonpartisan technicians - should have the power to make political decisions. Because of that feeling, you are extremely reluctant to support such democratic political innovations as the referendum and recall. In spite of your decision to switch to the Progressive Party, though, you have a strong dislike for candidate Roosevelt.


Horace Hoadley


You are Horace Hoadley. You are a Yale graduate; you have been a Congregational minister, a social worker, and an engineer. You are credited with developing a hydraulic device used for elevating and depressing guns on warships, and you now own and manage the Waterbury Tool Company which manufactures the device. You are also a member of the American Association for Labor Relations and of the National Municipal League, along with Willard Fisher.

You have continuously denounced socialism because that system ignores the individuals free choice and initiative to get ahead and enjoy the fruits of his labors. However, even though you spent a short time in a charity bureau in Waterbury before 1895, you have never really understood urban problems. You still claim that poverty is a sign of personal inadequacy; you still only deal with highly skilled craftsmen as an employer.

Perhaps because of his aversion towards organized labor, both you and Willard Fisher intensely dislike Theodore Roosevelt. You assist organized labor in the capacity of "technical advisor," helping unions with research they need for their negotiations. However, you tend to be somewhat suspicious of the political "pros" in whom they put so much confidence (like Hartford lawyer and Democratic Senator Thomas Spellacy - an Irish political "boss" in your eyes). You don't like their brand of politics, and you suspect they use their union connections for political influence.


Herbert Knox Smith

You are Herbert Knox Smith. You are the former Commissioner of the Bureau of Corporations in Theodore Roosevelt's cabinet; you are presently running for the office of Governor in 1912. Your father is a zealous lay leader of the Congregational Church in Farmington, Connecticut.

You agree with Yandell Henderson that a "communal sense" of sorts is a prerequisite to true reform. "Selfishness, the law of the jungle, must give way to cooperation, the doctrine of civilization." And like Henderson, you believe the role of the federal government ought to be greatly expanded. After spending nine years working for the federal government, you are not particularly concerned about an expanding bureaucracy. In fact, you think developing such a bureaucracy is the only way to deal with the expanding powers of some of the large corporations. You believe that industrial consolidation is inevitable, and, as a result, big government must direct this concentrated power into socially useful channels. Government has the right to investigate and expose, but not to compel. (Perhaps this is one of the reasons that the Bureau of Corporations and U.S. Steel and Roosevelt had gotten along so well when the latter was President). The most efficient government regulatory commission is one that does "not actually attempt the regulation of business per se. It gives credit for proper business management, and imposes discredit for the reverse, but assumes no power of direction and simply leaves the public informed to apply the pressure of public opinion and the investment of the public's money." The men in charge of these commissions had to be trained experts who based decisions on economic facts and not political considerations.

You have condensed your thoughts about the goals and motivations of the Connecticut Progressives in an article recently published in The Yale Review. (Perhaps you need to review that article to recall the details of your argument!) Needless to say, your apprehensions of democratic political innovations like the referendum and recall are' well known. This would only create an opportunity for political bosses, like Democratic leader Thomas Spellacy of Hartford, to gain power by manipulating working class and immigrant votes. You are unimpressed with the "New Freedom" philosophy being espoused by Woodrow Wilson and your opponent in the gubernatorial race, Simeon Baldwin.


G. Warren Davis

You are G. Warren Davis. You are a Norwich dairy farmer, well-to-do, and very active in Connecticut's Progressive party. Indeed, you are the candidate of the Party for the U.S. Congress from the second district. You are a member of the Connecticut Grange and president of the Connecticut Dairymen's Association. Like other successful dairymen and members of the Grange, you became interested in what these "reformers" had to offer when you heard that they had been opposing President Taft's efforts to raise the tariff, and to establish tariff reciprocity with Canada. Canadian tariffs on your dairy products do not bode well with you or your presently profitable business. Even more upsetting to you, however, is the fact that you have to depend on the railroad service in this state to transport your goods. You are very suspicious of the railroad's inexplicably close connections with the state legislature in Hartford; moreover, you look to the new party to attack and condemn the railroad's evil influence over the legislature. In particular, you are both dismayed and angered by the alleged dealings between the Republican State Chairman, J. Henry Roraback and the New Haven Railroad.

You have a lot of confidence in the new party. You feel there will be a surprise in November, and are encouraged by F. E. Duffy, a farmer acquaintance of West Hartford, who has said that the farmers of Connecticut were not going to support Taft and on a clear progressive platform they would support Roosevelt.


Simeon Eben Baldwin

You are Simeon Eben Baldwin, Governor of Connecticut, running for your second two-year term on the Democratic ticket. In 1910, shortly after you retired as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut at the age of 70, you were elected Connecticut's first Democratic Governor in almost two decades. The Democratic Party was so ineffective at that time that they controlled only 47 of the 255 seats in the General Assembly and 4 of the 35 seats in the state Senate. Even though you were once a Republican yourself, the Democrats nominated you because they needed an experienced and highly respected leader who could stand as a true alternative to the boss-ridden Republican Party.

There was no doubt about your credentials. Your reputation as an individual who cared a great deal about the state and your native city of New Haven was without question. Educated at Yale and Harvard, you had been a lawyer, a professor of law at Yale University, and author of a great many studies of history, law and government, and had served in advisory capacity on many important government studies. Your most famous scholarly publication was a two-volume digest of Connecticut court cases. You had also been a leader in numerous scholarly societies and organizations, including the American Social Science Association, and the International Law Association.

You also benefited from great division within the Republican Party, and, indeed, your reputation stood in sharp contrast to the sorry scene at the 1910 Republican state convention where ballots outnumbered delegates present! In your campaign you stressed the problems caused by the monopoly of the Republican Party and offered new ideas on perennial issues. Among these ideas were plans to regulate the public utilities rates, which were soaring out of control, a tough proposal to fine and imprison those who engaged in dishonest election practices, and reform of the Connecticut Employer's Liability Act so that employees would be more secure in their working conditions, and better cared for in the event of disability.

While the Republicans tried to present themselves as offering the same ideas, you reminded voters repeatedly that they had "had every opportunity to pass all these measures but didn't do it." To Republican charges of paternalism you replied that you believed in states rights, but that meant that the state would have to act where the federal government had no business acting. Your attitude was best expressed in your inaugural speech in 1911-:

The Connecticut of today is, no doubt, a commonwealth of far more diversified activities .... It does far more and ought to do far more for the general welfare and uplift of the people. But whatever is thus done, must be done with due economy as well as efficiency, and I am satisfied that our people are of the opinion that due economy has not always been secured.

As governor, even though your party did not win control of the legislature, you worked hard to get these proposals into law. While a Workman's Compensation Act eluded you, you got the legislature to pass a Public Utilities Act to regulate the utilities. You also lobbied successfully for stiffer penalties for corrupt political practices.

With these successes you now approach the Connecticut voter, confident that he will see the need both to reelect you, and to return a Democratic majority to the legislature to help you with unfinished business. Your campaign has been low-key, to match the reserved nature of the Connecticut electorate. You know they do not want extensive changes, but you know, too, that they will not continue to stand for the inactivity of the Republicans on major issues. So far you have been successful in getting this message across, and with the new Progressive Party cementing the divisions that helped you in 1910, you look forward to success on November 5. An article in the Courant back in July confirmed for you the trend you see for the election:


 The Hartford Dailey Courant, Wednesday, July 17, 1912 (Page 7)

Judge Mathewson Out for Wilson


New Havener Gets After "Bob" Eaton and Roraback


Deplores the Influence of the Lobby in State Legislation


Wanted Offices He Couldn't Get, Republicans Say


Judge A. McC. Mathewson of New Haven came out yesterday in a long statement saying that he will vote for Woodrow Wilson next November though a republican hitherto. He does so, he says, because the party needs a housecleaning and is boss-ridden and lobby-ridden. New Haven republicans said yesterday afternoon that his remarks are those of a disappointed office seeker and that he begged and threatened ex-Governor Woodruff and the late Governor George L. Lilley in his efforts to get a place on the superior bench.

Judge Mathewson, who failed of reappointment at the last session of the General Assembly says -

"However much we may admire President Taft as a man, he has failed as an executive. Two years ago the people indicated their disapproval by changing a strong republican House into an equally strong democratic House, and reducing the republican majority in the Senate, and he has not been successful since that time in changing the current. Fortunately, this year, we have had many primaries, not only in the West but in the East, and the issue of these primaries cannot be explained away.

"Notwithstanding the vast power of the federal administration working in President Taft's behalf, only one of the state primaries declared in his favor. The work which was done by national officials was seen right here at home in the activity of Robert O. Eaton, internal revenue collector, and Frederick L. Gaylord, postmaster of Ansonia, but when criticism was offered, advices came from Washington that Eaton was sustained by President Taft.

"In Connecticut we have not only the national but state issues, and I regret to say that the conditions in this state absolutely demand a thorough overhauling. Personally I have always been a faithful believer in organization, but I believe we have men enough in this state who are willing to devote sufficient time and energy to the good of the two parties, so that it is not necessary to turn the management over to the professional lobbyist, who has no interest in the party except to make it self-serving to his selfish purposes and purposes of his clients.

"It is bad enough to have J. Henry Roraback (an ex-postmaster and a private citizen) holding up legislation, as king of the lobby and when necessary calling upon Robert O. Eaton and Frederick L. Gaylord for the votes which they could control; and Jacob D. Walter with his immense power over liquor and contracting interest, and their lieutenant Charles W. Comstock for the democratic strength which he could deliver as chairman of the democratic state central committee.

"It was bad enough to have Roraback as a private citizen wielding his pernicious and disgraceful power over legislation, but now the republican party has disgraced itself by placing him at the head of the machine, and with Comstock at the head of the other machine it is hard to see how the people can expect much beneficial legislation. Of course, it is to be hoped that the democrats at their next state convention will put a man in charge who has the interests of the people at heart. The fight must be made in this state to purify our legislation, and it is certainly a disgrace to see such men as Roraback, Eaton and Walter in the positions of trust and responsibility which they now occupy. When we come down to the final analysis, it is the rotten borough system of our state that offers the opportunity for these men to succeed."

In commenting on Judge Mathewson's statement yesterday in New Haven, County Commissioner J.D.Walter said:

"Did you know that Judge Mathewson issued more certificates while he was on the bench than any other judge in New Haven? He was having a great time till the Rev. Frederick Brown got after them and then maybe he didn't cringe and crawl.

"And the judge certainly tried hard to get the superior court judgeship. I remember well his threat to have the party. He was after the scalps of both Judge Wolf and Judge Williams. He wasn't going to have either one of them appointed if he could he it."

Colonel Eaton said:

"This is more of a reflection on Colonel Ullman than on any of the rest of us. And why doesn't he bring the state's attorney into this There's the man he ought to get after. He doesn't dare.

"Judge Mathewson is after the 'loaves and fishes' the same as the rest of them," continued Colonel Eaton. "I wonder what he expects from the democratic party out of all this - a superior court judgeship?"




Gutzon Borglum


You are Gutzon Borglum, a noted and highly praised sculptor, from Stamford. You are known as one of the most dynamic leaders of the Progressive Party. You are blunt, confident, and aggressive, and known for your love of political battle. Although you are of humble origins (your father was a Danish immigrant and itinerant physician), you certainly have done well for yourself Marrying Mary Montgomery, a Ph.D. from the University of Berlin, didn't hurt much either.

As a Republican, you were known for your independence, and thus, a third party movement has been natural for you. You are a believer in federal government support for farmers and for promotion of the arts, and are critical of public education as not providing for the needs of the masses. Hardly democratic in political principles, you are deeply suspicious of city politics and its dependence on vote getting and demagoguery. You feel more comfortable in a rural setting, where everyone knows everyone and true leaders are recognized. The other two parties, you feel, have lost their interest in creating effective government, and are concerned only with the getting of power.


Joseph Alsop


You are Joseph Alsop. You manage a large tobacco and dairy farm; you are also a tobacco wholesaler and an insurance company executive. Provincial is not the word to describe you. You have studied in Germany and have been a ranch hand in Colorado. You are the chairman of the Progressive Party in Connecticut. Your marriage to Theodore Roosevelt's favorite niece has done much to enhance your prestige. You are a firm believer in the Puritan work ethic, and like most Progressives, you are very much suspicious of credit and speculation in business practice, especially in big corporations. You once warned your sister, "Never buy a thing unless at the time you have the money in the bank to pay for it."

You have established tobacco and dairy cooperatives in Connecticut, because you believe that such business organizations benefit the entire population. In your mind, only a certain kind of individual can be labeled a reformer. Along with Flavell Luther, you have argued incessantly about the responsibility of men of talent, integrity and high moral principle to guide an ignorant and disorganized public. This belief helps you to admire the sturdy character of Theodore Roosevelt. It also helps you to remain suspicious of J. Henry Roraback and the Republican machine; despite Roraback's professional capabilities as a politician, he has been rumored to have intimate political connections with the New Haven Railroad. Furthermore, you have no use at all for the Democratic machine, which is riddled with corrupt Irish and Italian influence, and attached to the interests of labor unions.

You sense, like most Progressives, that manifest destiny, science - that is the appearance on the scene of technical specialists, - and proper education would make for a better life.

In a recent speech you said, "One reason why the people of the state should be interested, the reason why I am interested [in a Progressive Party], is the simple proposition on which Roosevelt has started, whether the people of the country and state have got the right to rule themselves as they please, or not. Both of the great parties are manipulated by certain men to carry out their wishes." You doubt, in fact, that there is an honest man in the Legislature who wouldn't say that this was true. "The conditions in this state are thrown at you and it is thrown at you, additional that we like it. Now you have great confidence that the new third party will succeed because people are fed up. In spite of the fact that the party has not received good press, you, yourself, have received hundreds of favorable letters, many of which contained offers to help or contribute money for the campaign. On election day, you think, the other two parties will be in for a surprise.


John Henry Roraback


You are J. Henry Roraback, chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, lawyer, businessman, and infamous "boss" of Connecticut politics. In actuality, you are not the stereotypical machine politician that critics make you out to be. You see yourself as a 66 small-town" man, of humble origins, interested in creating efficient government and promoting economic growth for Connecticut (and the nation). You were born to a farm family, and grew up in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Your parents were prominent in their community, but certainly not to the extent you have become in this state. They did instill in you the ethic that whatever was worth doing was worth doing well and by, hard labor and honest dealing. From ages fourteen until eighteen you walked three miles to school in winter and worked on the farm in the summer. You attended public schools in Sheffield and Great Barrington, Massachusetts, learning a love for good literature (such as Scott and Dickens), and graduated in 1888.

After leaving high school you taught school in Salisbury, Connecticut, briefly, and then began to study law with your distinguished brother Judge A. T. Roraback of Canaan. You also worked for The Connecticut Western News and acted as principal of the Canaan High School. In 1892 you were admitted to the bar and began to practice law in Canaan.

You have always been a loyal member of the Republican Party, and secured a seat on the Central Committee in 1898. You have also been town clerk, town treasurer, and postmaster of Canaan. In all of these capacities you are known for your executive skill and integrity. just this year you were chosen as Chairman of the State Central Committee, and are working diligently for Taft for President and Judge John P. Studley for Governor. You feel the policies of the Taft administration are just what the nation needs, particularly where the Tariff is concerned. In the last gubernatorial election your party was surprised when the Democrats won by nominating Judge Simeon Baldwin, a venerable and immensely popular man in the state. While Governor Baldwin has made every effort to work cooperatively with the Republican dominated legislature, you would prefer that your party be in control of both branches so things would run a lot more smoothly. Baldwin has some ideas that you think could, one day, bankrupt the state treasury (workman's compensation, for one.), and also drive big business away from the state by favoring labor groups. You also deeply distrust Baldwin's supporters in the Democratic machines of Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport.

In the business world you have also made your mark. You are president of the Berkshire Power Company, which owns and operates the Norfolk Electric Light and Power Company, and the Sharon Electric Light Company. In these efforts at consolidation you could use all the good will you can get from the state government. You are also president of the Canaan Printing Company, publishers of The Connecticut Western News and The Sharon News. Finally, you are president and director of the American Carlsonite Company of Hartford and a director in the Canaan National Bank and in the Eastern Machine Screw Company of New Haven. You have been married for sixteen years and have two children.

There has been a lot of talk about the "illicit ties" between you and your party and the New Haven Railroad, as though the party were putting the interests of the Railroad ahead of the public's. Further criticism has been leveled at your connections with the utilities. You realize that men who wield great power, like yourself, will always be suspected of reaching their achievements through deception and corruption, but you see things differently. Indeed, you feel that the interests of the Railroad and the electric companies are no different than the interests of the state. Your friends on the board of the Railroad (who, in fact, have paid you to act as their agent from time to time) have explained things fully to you, and you are convinced that wild ideas about extensive regulation of rates will do no good for anyone particularly the farmers. It is important to have a railroad that reaches out to all communities, but people need to understand that there are costs involved which the customer must bear. Besides, any criticism about "boss politics" leveled at you could also be said equally of the Democratic machine once owned and operated by Charlie Comstock (now under indictment for bribery), and locked tight to the Irish and union vote by Thomas Spellacy, "boss" of Hartford.

Certainly the federal government should not get involved in business regulation to a great extent. The Hepburn Act was a necessity, - even the roads admitted that, - but beyond that, the Congress had only the power to regulate interstate commerce, and should not interfere in what are essentially state and private affairs. In fact, the economy of Connecticut could not be better, thanks to the moderate policies of the Taft administration, to say nothing of the tariff that has all but eliminated unemployment in manufacturing areas such as Bridgeport. You are confident that both "thinking men" as well as working men will realize that this prosperity is a result of level-headed leaders who know that the greatness of the American system lies in unfettered ambition and diligent toil. Reelecting Taft, and ignoring the exaggerated and irresponsible fulminations of the sour grapes Bull Moosers is the best thing for the nation, and the state; and putting the Republicans firmly in control of the state government is the best way to see that Connecticut continues on its route to leadership in a modern, industrial nation. "Let well enough alone!"


Flavel Sweeten Luther


You are Flavel Luther, Episcopal minister, Professor of Mathematics, and college president. You are probably the most widely known and most generally respected of all Connecticut Progressives. You graduated from Trinity College in 1870, studied theology, and were ordained to the ministry. Later you turned to mathematics and teaching at Racine College in Wisconsin and later at Kenyon College in Ohio before joining the Trinity College faculty in 1883. You were chosen President of the College in 1904. You are a superlative orator and consequently are much in demand as a speaker. You have served two terms in the legislature, and you delivered a rousing keynote speech at the Republican state convention in 1908.

Like other Progressive leaders, by 1912 you had financial security and a solid professional reputation. Trinity College was and still is growing steadily under your leadership. Like other Progressive leaders you believe that the crucial challenge of reform was to reconcile a necessary increase in the power of government with the continued independence of the individual. Perhaps somewhat selfishly, you believed the role of government should be greatly expanded as far as public education was concerned. Extensive state control over schools is a definite first step toward a national public school system. Finally, like other Progressives, you are a great admirer of Theodore Roosevelt and are thus a "flag waver." Four years ago, you told Trinity graduates, "We of the United States are appointed by God." As far as Progressives are concerned, this is a fundamental truth.

In some of your speeches, you have attacked targets of Progressive reform: child labor, long working hours for women, the "political, business, and industrial slums" in the nation. On other occasions you have attacked water pollution, describing the Connecticut River as an open sewer which drags its slimy length from Northampton to Saybrook. And on other occasions the sincerity of your cries for social justice have been seriously called into question. When Roosevelt decided to keep the Progressive Party in the South "lily-white," you took pains to assure him that the right thing was done. Your elitist nature and belief in a stratified society cannot be hidden entirely.

Recently you were impressed by the comments of a friend of yours from Hartford (Mr. Floyd), on William Howard Taft. The Hartford Courant reported those comments as follows:

He was a believer in progress, the square deal, and "thou shalt not steal." He had perfect confidence in the integrity and judgment of Colonel Roosevelt, whose power of analysis was so quick that he sometimes did things which made people start. "The Republican newspapers endorsed him [Taft] at the close of [Roosevelt's] Administration and what has he done since?" was the query of Mr. Floyd and nobody tried to tell. He [Roosevelt] had given to Mr. Taft a "blue print" of the policy he hoped he would carry out. "Has he done it?" asked Mr. Floyd, who answered that, if he had, those present would not be there. [Mr. Floyd] had never knowingly belonged to a failure and he was going to throw his coat besides Teddy's hat, a declaration which brought out the greatest applause of the meeting.

Your attachment to the Progressive Party does not mean that you cannot recognize how valuable big businessmen are in public affairs. Recently you spoke in glowing tribute regarding J.P. Morgan, the New York financier. You were preaching to Trinity students on the text Psalms XV:5 - "He that sweareth unto his neighbor, and disappointeth him not, though it were to his own hindrance." The general subject was the value of integrity as a fundamental in progress and in civilization.

It has been my happy fortune first and last, to meet a considerable number of those who are called great. I have been permitted to converse with men distinguished in literature, in art, in science, in business, in politics, and in warfare. Of all such men whom I have met, two stand out conspicuous as seeming to radiate power. In their society one thinks not of what they have done, but of the man himself, of his tremendous potentialities. One of these two men was Mr. Morgan, for twenty-seven years, a member of our board of trustees, our steadfast friend, our generous benefactor, a man to whom we owe very much indeed of such prosperity as has come to the college. I say he seemed to me to radiate power. One felt X-rays passing through him when in this man's vicinity. He was a very great man indeed. I suppose that like most strong men, he was fond of conflict, that there was a certain joy of battle that made up a large part of his life. But I am sure that he always "fought fair;" that he rejoiced in triumph as you rejoice in athletic victory; but that no opponent could complain that the victory was not honorable.


E. Campion Acheson

You are E. Campion Acheson. You are the Episcopal Rector of a church in Middletown. You attended the first meeting in Hartford of the Progressive Party and have been active ever since in the creation of that organization in Middletown. You offered the prayer at the July convention of the Progressives in New Haven. Your main function has been to lend a bit of "evangelical fervor" to various rallies being held all over the state.

A sizable portion of the Progressive message has been composed of exhortations to practice virtue. You, as well as several other Progressive leaders, maintain a deep commitment to formal Christianity. Your friends Horace Hoadley and Flavell Luther are ordained Congregational and Episcopal ministers respectively. You are using the Church as a vehicle to work for reforms that will respect the importance of moral values. The Puritan ethic, the simple, industrious, frugal life, is the model by which you live. You detest waste, extravagance, extreme wealth, and the irresponsible use of power by big business and big labor. Your close friend, Frank Butterworth expressed your own sentiments when he said, "Life without religion ... would not be worthwhile."

You are enthusiastic about the prospects for the new party. Your friend Rev. Charles K. Woodson of Meriden said that the work there on establishing the new party was somewhat chaotic. There has been considerable sentiment in Meriden for Roosevelt. He feels the Italian people will vote as a unit and could be moved to vote Progressive. The businessmen, Mr. Woodson felt, were handicapped. "When organized and under way there will be a strong following for any movement which has Theodore Roosevelt at the head of it," he said. A telegram with about fifty signers had been sent from Meriden to Roosevelt at Chicago, saying, "We want you to go ahead, [that is, decide to bolt the Republican National Convention and form the Progressive or Bull Moose Party], whether you win or lose." Rev. Woodson is no politician, but a Methodist preacher who had been criticized for presiding at a political meeting in Meriden. He replied that he, like many others, simply wanted to see Roosevelt President again.


John C. Brinsmade


You are John Brinsmade. You are a graduate of Harvard University and the distinguished Headmaster of the Gunnery School in the town of Washington, Connecticut. As a Republican, you have served two terms in the state House of Representatives, and you were a member of the state Constitutional Convention in 1902. One of the organizers of the Connecticut Civil Service League, you introduced a bill in the legislature in 1909 to reform the civil service, in effect, to create a merit system. The bill did not pass, however. In 1910 you were elected to the state Senate. Your frustration with working with the system led you to join the Progressive Party in 1912 and become its candidate to succeed yourself in the Senate.

You are devoted to a broad view of education. You feel that an educational institution must mold the character as well as provide the skills required for survival in the modern world. Indeed, you have always propagated the ideal of the Gunnery School, that being to "shape subtly the total character of future leaders." The success of reformers in Connecticut depends on the direction the schools take - hopefully one which will educate the masses and instill in them a sense of social responsibility to choose the right leaders to deal with the ills of society.



Frank S. Butterworth

You are Frank Butterworth. You are the candidate of the Progressive Party for the office of Lieutenant Governor of the State of Connecticut. You have had considerable political experience. Son of an Ohio Congressman, graduate of Yale, ex-football star, and member of Skull and Bones (a Yale "secret society"), you have been engaged in the brokerage business and later the real estate business in New Haven. You have always liked Yale as a school because 66 of the men it turns out with capacity and character for utilizing their university education for the public good." Obviously you see yourself as one of these men. In 1906 you received the Republican nomination and were elected to the state Senate from a New Haven district. While in office, your apparent arrogance and political ambition caused you to refuse to accept the orders of the Republican "bosses." Quite probably this refusal brought about your failure to be renominated for the Senate. In 1910, you attempted to secure the party's nomination for the congressional seat being vacated by the retirement of Nehemiah Sperry, but were defeated by a close margin in the convention.

You have been characterized by Republican Party leaders as "a politically self-centered young man, and one whose ambition led him to indulge in star end runs rather than in team play." On the other hand, you are a great admirer of Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Knox Smith (your running mate for governor) and Joe Alsop (Progressive Party chairman), and you believe in everything these distinguished citizens stand for. You were an early organizer of the Progressive Party movement in New Haven, and are responsible for the publication of Progressive News, a very propagandistic instrument.

The Hartford Courant recently contained the following report:

At a meeting of the Progressive Party leadership], Mr. Butterworth was the first one called upon and he reported his findings as to the city of old elms and new ideas. New Haven, he said was not the best territory for the third party movement. It was not the most progressive, as there the wishes and desires of the people had not found expression. He believed, however, that the vote there was several to one against Taft and for Roosevelt, and that the third ticket would win over both Taft and Wilson in New Haven.

Your friend, A. H. Towne of Bridgeport, recently told you of a meeting in his city, which was attended by 150, where the enthusiasm proved that Bridgeport was ripe for the Progressive Party. He believed, he said, that the factories of Bridgeport were almost a unit for the movement. The committee on permanent organization there had held two meetings, but it had been thought advisable to go slow until after the meeting in Hartford. Many were out for Roosevelt and there were others who hadn't declared themselves.


Yandell Henderson


You are Yandell Henderson. You are Professor of Physiology at the Yale University Medical School. You are a classmate of Frank Butterworth, and you are a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Your prestigious family tree (like Joe Alsop's) and your money have made you personally and financially secure. You are keenly aware of some of the problems society is experiencing and of the need for more orderly and efficient ways of exercising political power. However, you disagree with some of your fellow reformers as to how this ought to be done. Voluntary associations like the AAUP (American Association of University Professors), to which you belong, are fine. But only you and Herbert Knox Smith are believers in greatly expanded federal power. Ideally you advocate the State Socialism of Germany - a totally centralized nation requiring the elimination of the states as anything but administrative units, thus bringing the government in Washington closer to the people. However, even you have second thoughts about the specter of government regimentation of your scientific research.


Thomas J. Spellacy

You are Thomas J. Spellacy, a Hartford lawyer finishing out a term in the State Senate where you have been the Democratic floor leader during the administration of Governor Simeon E. Baldwin. In 1910 Baldwin was the first Democrat to win the governor's office in almost two decades. You supported him and were elected with him, along with other Democrats. The party did not win a majority in either chamber, but it went from 4 senators to 14 (out of 35 seats), and from 47 representatives to 99 (out of 258). Being a seasoned party leader, you feel that this was an important achievement and hope the trend will continue this year.

There are many people in Connecticut, however, who wish that you and your supporters would simply take leave of the state. The old "Yankee" stock, that is people whose families have deep roots in the Puritan colonial settlements, resent the positions of power to which Irish Americans like yourself have risen in state and municipal politics. Some label your activities "boss politics,'9 as if there were something wrong with providing the people of the cities with what they need. For years you have agitated for changes in the apportionment system of representation in the state legislature so that people of the growing cities, like Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Waterbury, would have the clout they deserved in the state (the present system allows a city like Hartford no more seats in the House of Representatives than a small town like Simsbury!). But the "rural interest in Connecticut, represented by J. Henry Roraback and his Republican machine, continues its stranglehold on the state government. 12% of the state can elect a majority to the House! Only by nominating a respected "Yankee" for governor in 1910 did your party, "the party of the outs, the immigrants, the Catholics and the poor," manage to make some progress in balancing the power structure.

Your concerns as a politician are to use government to provide for the less fortunate, to promote more equitable taxation policies, to keep "morality laws" out of the legislature, and to promote legislation that will improve the lot of ordinary workers, immigrants, women and children. In the Senate you have introduced bills to provide workmen's compensation, to prohibit hiring children and women workers in hazardous occupations, to require lobbyists to register as such before working for legislation, to reapportion the state Congressional and legislative districts, to establish a comprehensive office of labor commissioners to replace the presently ineffective factory inspection system, to allow for recreational activities on Sunday (much to the horror of the Puritan "blues"), to outlaw the practice of businessmen blacklisting union organizers, to legalize picketing and boycotting in labor disputes, and to impeach a judge whose obnoxious attitudes toward labor unions was hard even for many of the state's businessmen to accept. You also support the ratification of the Income Tax amendment to the U.S. Constitution (although here the governor disagrees with you). In all of these efforts the Roraback Republicans have steadfastly resisted you at every step, even prohibiting many of the bills to leave committee.

Nevertheless, you and your colleagues among the Democratic leadership, Davey Fitzgerald of New Haven, Bryan Mahan of New London, Herman Koppleman, a Russian-born Jew, and Tony Zazzaro, an Italian, are still determined to break the Yankee grip on the state. You have the candidate to lead the ticket, Simeon Baldwin, an individual highly respected in many circles in the state, and he is sympathetic to many of your concerns. He is convinced that certainly workman's compensation can pass next session, and he has already pushed through a public utilities and corrupt practices act (somewhat watered down from your version) You will support him wholeheartedly, and your organizational skills among the immigrant stock in Hartford, who appreciate your personal concern for their welfare, will assure him such a huge majority in the city that he will not fail to carry the whole of Hartford County.

As for the new Progressive Party, you find them somewhat laughable. For one thing, they can do nothing but help your party, since many of them were leaders of the reform wing of the Republican party (Willard Fisher, a former Democrat is a notable exception). Their defection will simply split the Republican vote and allow your candidates to win. For another thing, they are largely stuffy intellectuals and businessmen who haven't the faintest idea how to win the hearts of common people. You have to do something for people if you expect them to give you their vote! You need to bail them out of jail, go to their mother's funeral, find them a job, see that their children are cared for while mother works, represent their union in court, and let them into the power structure so they feel that they have a say. Writing convoluted articles about political philosophy, and then turning around and passing laws that say a man cannot go out and have a drink with a friend on Sunday just won't appeal to the people you know. These "reformers" will soon rind out about political reality, and be back in the fold. In the meantime, Connecticut will go Democratic and some "real" reforms will get on the books.

Samuel E. Vincent

You are Samuel Vincent, a wealthy merchant and businessman from Bridgeport. You are the Progressive Party is nominee for Congressman from your district. Born into a poor farm family in Litchfield County, you are, perhaps, one of the few members of the Progressive Party leadership of humble origins. However, you have certainly made up for that since, having employed many novel marketing techniques to lead your coal business to prosperity. You are quick to note, that this success has also been the result of many traditional values as well. You are known as one who refuses to extend credit or accept a loan, even to purchase a house.

You were a Republican in the past, but only nominally, unwilling to be told what to do by the party bosses. You are quiet, dignified, and reserved, but, at the same time, have not hesitated to be openly critical of your society and the problems that abound in it. Particularly, you are concerned about the state of public education, which you feel needs serious reform. The schools have all but neglected technical and manual training which you feel is needed by "the masses 99 more than instruction in literature and history.


Edward M. Rozelle

You are E.M. Rozelle of Hartford, a cigar maker and a member of the Cigarmakers' Union. You have been active in local Republican affairs; the Mayor of Hartford has appointed you and Flavell Luther to a special commission to investigate prostitution in the city. For the past eighteen years, you have been appearing, in the interests of labor, at legislative hearings and have "gotten nowhere with either Republican or Democrats."

There has been a cry of boss rule ever since you can remember. Men have been driven from the Republican Party into the Socialist and Democratic parties. You have been a Republican all of your life, but now you're not sure what you are. You really are at a loss as to how to deal with the lack of action on important issues in the last Legislature. The Republican Party of Connecticut has done nothing in the way of remedial legislation for the workingman in the nine sessions of the Legislature at which you had represented labor interests. Senator Thomas Spellacy of Hartford, a Democrat, seems to have the interests of the workingman in mind, but you see him and his party as much boss-ridden and reliant on patronage and favors as the Roraback Republican machine. The new party seems to be the answer.

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Selected pages from two issues of The Hartford Courant from 1912


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Herbert Knox Smith





October, 1912



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