William Jennings Bryan Is Born
William Jennings Bryan, gifted orator and three-time presidential candidate was born on March 19, 1860, in Salem, Illinois.
Trained as a lawyer, Bryan represented the state of Nebraska in the United States Congress, 1891-95. He was known for his deeply held religious beliefs and his popular touch, which earned him the moniker "the Great Commoner."
After serving two terms in the House of Representatives, Bryan reached the pinnacle of his political career. In 1896, he defeated incumbent President Grover Cleveland to win the Democratic party nomination for president. Just thirty-six, Bryan managed to attract the support of mainstream Democrats as well as third party Populists. His historic "Cross of Gold" speech, delivered prior to his nomination, criticized supporters of the gold standard for U.S. currency, which he believed benefited the wealthy at the expense of the average worker. Bryan's eloquent support of the alternative silver standard, united splintered Democrats and won the "Boy Orator of the Platte" the nomination.
William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States in 1896, 1900 and 1908, a lawyer, and the 41st United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. One of the most popular speakers in American history, he was noted for a deep, commanding voice. Bryan was a devout Presbyterian, a supporter of popular democracy, a critic of banks and railroads, a leader of the silverite movement in the 1890s, a leading figure in the Democratic Party, a peace advocate, a prohibitionist, an opponent of Darwinism, and one of the most prominent leaders of populism in the late 19th - and early 20th century. Because of his faith in the goodness and rightness of the common people, he was called "The Great Commoner."
In the intensely fought 1896 and 1900 elections, he was defeated by William McKinley but retained control of the Democratic Party. For presidential candidates, Bryan invented the national stumping tour. In his three presidential bids, he promoted Free Silver in 1896, anti-imperialism in 1900, and trust-busting in 1908, calling on Democrats, in cases where corporations are protected, to abandon states' rights, to fight the trusts and big banks, and embrace populist ideas. President Woodrow Wilson appointed him Secretary of State in 1913, but Wilson's handling of the Lusitania crisis in 1915 caused Bryan to resign in protest.
He was a strong supporter of Prohibition in the 1920s, and energetically attacked Darwinism and evolution, most famously at the Scopes Trial in 1925. Five days after winning the case but getting bad press, he died in his sleep.
…we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”— Library of Gold
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