He joined O'Donnell and Espartero in 1854 against a revolutionary cabinet, and shortly afterwards turned against O'Donnell to assist the Democrats and Progressists under Prim, Rivero, Castelar, and Sagasta in the unsuccessful movements of 1866, and was obliged to go abroad.
In 1856 he was elected deputy, and soon attracted notice among the most advanced Progressists and Democrats.
He seconded the Progressist and revolutionary campaign of Prim and the Progressists against the throne of Queen Isabella, conspiring and going into exile with them.
He displayed such radical and reforming inclinations that he laid the foundations of his popularity among the lower and middle classes, which lasted more than a quarter of a century, during which time the Progressists, Democrats and advanced Liberals ever looked to him as a leader and adviser.
The advanced Progressists coalesced with the partisans of the ex-regent Christina to promote pronunciamientos in Barcelona and many cities.
The old marshal vainly endeavoured to keep his own, Progressists within bounds in the Cortes of 1854-1856, and in the great towns, but their excessive demands for reforms and liberties played into the hands of a clerical and reactionary court and of the equally retrograde governing classes.
In order to emerge victorious in such a struggle the Liberal party had need of all their strength, but a split took place between the sections known as the doctrinaires and the progressists, on the question of an extension of the franchise, and at the election of 1884 the Catholics carried all before them at the polls.
In consequence of Czech aggressiveness, the German parties (the German Progressists, the German Populists, the Constitutional Landed Proprietors and the Christian Socialists, created a joint executive committee and a supreme committee of four members to watch over German racial interests.
The elections for the first Philippine Assembly were held on the 30th of July 1907, and 31 Nationalists, 16 Progressists, 33 Independents and others were elected.
The brother of Ferdinand, Don Carlos, the first pretender, fought seven years, during the minority of Isabella, to dispute her title, and her rights were only maintained through the gallant support of the army, the Cortes and the Liberals and Progressists, who at the same time established constitutional and parliamentary government, dissolved the religious orders, confiscated the property of the orders and of the Jesuits, disestablished the Church property, and attempted to restore order in finances.
Queen Isabella reigned from 1843 to 1868, and that period was one long succession of palace intrigues, back-stairs and antechamber influences, barrack conspiracies, military pronunciamientos to further the ends of the political parties - Moderados, who ruled from 1846 to 1854, Progressists from 1854 to 1856, Union Liberal from 1856 to 1863; Moderados and Union Liberal quickly succeeding each other and keeping out the Progressists so steadily that the seeds were sown which budded into the revolution of 1868.