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The Unexpected Belle La Follette
  • Nancy Unger, Santa Clara University
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Wisconsin Historical Society

Although the New York Times eulogized Belle Case La Follette in 1931 as perhaps "the most influential of all American women who have had to do with public affairs in this country," she faded quickly from popular memory.1 And when she is recalled, it's usually in relation to her husband and sons. This minimization of her own accomplishments began with progressive reform giant Robert M. La Follette famously calling her "my wisest and best counselor." He openly deferred to his wife's judgment throughout his storied professional life: as a district attorney, three-term congressman (1885-1891), lawyer (1891—1900), three-term governor of Wisconsin (1900-1906), and, most significantly, during his nineteen years in the US Senate (1906-1925).


Copyright © 2016 Wisconsin Historical Society. Reprinted with permission.

Citation Information
Unger, N. (2015). The Unexpected Belle La Follette. Wisconsin Magazine of History 99(3), 16-27.