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Title: William Jennings Bryan - A Concise But Complete Story of His Life and Services
Author: Newbranch, Harvey Ellsworth
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A Concise But Complete Story of His Life and Services



Lincoln, Nebraska
The University Publishing Co.

Copyrighted, 1900, by Harvey E. Newbranch. All rights reserved.


Jacob North & Co., Printers
Lincoln, Neb.






                         William Jennings Bryan




The author of this little volume, in giving it to the reading public,
feels called on for a few words by way of explanation and apology.

The book is written because there seems to be a field for it. Within the
last few months hundreds of thousands of American citizens have come to
see William Jennings Bryan in a new light. As a result, while they no
longer believe him a demagogue, some still hesitate to accept him as a
statesman. While they have ceased to denounce him as an anarchist, some
are slow to realize that he stands with Andrew Jackson and Abraham
Lincoln as one of the great conservators of American institutions.

Especially for the benefit of this class of his fellow citizens this
little “life” of Mr. Bryan is published. For it is claimed no literary
merit other than a conscientious attempt at clearness, and no historical
excellence save a strict adherence to the truth in the statement of
facts. The work has had to be hurriedly done and at irregular intervals,
and the one object aimed at has been to acquaint the reader with Mr.
Bryan’s character through a narration of his life work.

It is candidly admitted that the book is written in a friendly and
sympathetic vein. To the author’s thinking Mr. Bryan’s personality is
one of the most beautiful and well-rounded in American history, and his
noble characteristics are dwelt on only because they exist and deserve
to be understood.

To many of Mr. Bryan’s old-time friends in Lincoln the author is under
obligations for valuable assistance. Among these may be especially
mentioned Mr. Harry T. Dobbins, Judge J. H. Broady, Mr. T. S. Allen, and
Mr. W. F. Schwind. Others have contributed to a greater or less degree,
and to all due thanks and acknowledgements are hereby rendered.

                                                    HARVEY E. NEWBRANCH.

 Lincoln, Neb., August 29, 1900.


                    Introductory                   5
                    Early Life                     9
                    In Congress                   19
                    The Tariff                    30
                    The Rise of the Silver Issue  40
                    The Presidential Candidate    53
                    New Issues                    68
                    Renomination                  94
                    The Indianapolis Speech      114
                    Bryan: the Man               148
                    Home Life                    164


About the life and services of William Jennings Bryan will be centered
the labors of those who, in future time, shall contribute to the pages
of history the story of American states-craft and political tendencies
of the dying days of the nineteenth century and the opening decade of
the twentieth. The historian who has to do with Bryan and his times will
deal not only with one of the most momentous and important periods of
American history, but with one of the most remarkable and interesting
characters whose name adorns its pages.

It is not generally while the battle of ideas and ideals is on, it is
but rarely during the developing period of great political and social
movements, that their relative and ultimate importance may be judged;
and it is as seldom, during the lifetime of a public man, whose name is
identified and whose services are associated with the great issues which
constitute the line of demarcation in the field of political thought,
that his true character, his strength, and his weaknesses, may be
appreciated or understood.

In the study of man and of history a proper sense of perspective is as
all-essential as in the limner’s art. The warrior who, with heart
aflame, strives on a great battlefield, can know but little of the
terrible grandeur of the whole, and still less of the import of the
movements of battalions, regiments, and corps. It remains for him who,
from an eminence of distance or of time, surveys impartially the entire
field, to comprehend its sublimities and horrors, and to appreciate the
full significance of its waging and its outcome. And even so, of
necessity, it is most difficult for us who live in the American
republic, at this century’s sunset, to be able or even willing rightly
to appreciate the full import of movements in the advancement or
retarding of which each bears howsoever humble a part. Too frequently in
politics, as in battle, men do fiercely strive with blinded eyes and
deafened ears, and they sometimes wildly strike at him who is their

And yet there are many things in the life of a public man which his
neighbors and associates can not fail of knowing, and which, when
interpreted, permit his contemporaries to estimate the quality of his
character, even though they may not know the full value of his public
services. In every man, of whatever station, there are elements and
traits which prominently stand forth. These, with such things as he has
done and the words which he has spoken, constitute the material from
which we may form our concepts of his worth.

In William Jennings Bryan are certain traits so prominent and
unmistakable that he who runs may read. They have been well revealed, in
few words, by Judge Edgar Howard, of Papillion, Neb. In a speech
delivered before the Jacksonian Club of Omaha, on July 15, 1900, Judge
Howard said:

“Reverently I say it, that while I do not worship the man, I do worship
those traits in him that, as I read the book, stand unparalleled in
politics. There is not a man of you here or anywhere to be found who has
the nerve to speak a profane or vulgar word in the presence of our
candidate for President. Nor does a man dare suggest a move on the
political chess-board that honor will not approve. He brightens and
betters all those who come in contact with him, no matter who they be.
Then why should we not go before the world and preach this man—the
personification of purity, clean in all things—as well as his

In this little volume it will be attempted to tell briefly the story of
this American’s life and the movements with which he has been
associated. The tale must be hurriedly moulded into form, and we fear
its rough lines and its crudities will be all too apparent. And yet,
withal, it will be the result of sincere endeavor to aid his
fellow-citizens to know William Jennings Bryan even as he is. It is, we
believe, a laudable design, however poorly executed. For here, on the
farther side of the brown and swift Missouri, there dwells a man of
virile and rugged qualities, typically American and truly Western, the
story of whose life is a wondrous inspiration to every citizen of the
Republic and a monument to the uplifting force of right living and high
ideals. For it tells that even in the politics of to-day, honeycombed
with cant, hypocrisy, and insincerity, absolute honesty of motive and
candor of statement is still no bar to the truest leadership and the
highest advancement. It tells further of the marvelous opportunities of
humble American citizenship, demonstrating once more, as in Abraham
Lincoln’s time, that to the man of conscience, brains, and courage, the
highest walks of life are open; to which neither poverty nor obscurity
is a bar. And finally it tells of the great potential power of the idea,
unaided and even bitterly opposed, when forcefully and sincerely stated,
to win its way to the hearts of humankind.

And so it is that to such as will honestly study William Jennings
Bryan’s career, and learn the lesson that it teaches, must come hope and
inspiration and promise of the dawn. For whether he ever hold high
political office or not; whether or not, in the crucible of time, his
political faith prove true or prove fallacious; his life still teaches
that courage and plain honesty may win for a public man such following
and support, such exalted place in the hearts of his countrymen, as has
never yet rewarded the tricks and wiles of even the most brilliant of

                               EARLY LIFE

William Bryan, the great-grandfather of the presidential nominee, the
first of the Bryans known to the present generation, lived in Culpepper
county, Va. In his family there were three children. One of these, John
Bryan, was the grandfather of William Jennings Bryan. In 1807 John
married Nancy Lillard. To this couple ten children were born. One of
these was Silas L. Bryan, the father of William Jennings Bryan.

He was born in Sperryville, Culpepper county, Va., in 1822. In 1834 he
came west, working his way through the public schools, finally entering
McKendree College, at Lebanon, Ill., and graduating with honors in 1849.
After graduating, he studied law, was admitted to the bar, and began his
practice in Salem, Marion county, Ill. In 1852 he was married to Mariah
Elizabeth Jennings. In 1860, he was elected to the circuit bench, where
he served twelve years. In 1872 he was nominated for Congress on the
Democratic ticket, receiving the endorsement of the Greenback party. He
died March 30, 1880, and was buried in the cemetery of his much beloved
town, Salem.

The union of Silas Bryan and Mariah Jennings was blessed on March 19,
1860, by the birth of William Jennings Bryan, twice the Democratic
nominee for President of the United States.

When William Jennings Bryan was six years old, his parents moved to
their farm in the vicinity of Salem. Until he was ten years of age his
parents taught him at home, hoping thus to mould his young mind to
better advantage. At ten years of age William entered the public schools
of Salem. There he attended until he was fifteen, when he entered
Whipple Academy, Jacksonville, Ill., in the fall of 1875. Two years
later he entered Illinois College, and with this step a new life began.

His parents wished him to take a classical course with its Latin, Greek,
mathematics, and geometry. This he did. He was, too, an earnest student
of political economy. During his first year at the Academy, he delivered
Patrick Henry’s masterpiece, and was ranked well down toward the “foot.”
Again in the second year, nothing daunted by his failure to be at the
“head,” he selected “The Palmetto and the Pine” as his subject. This
time he was third, with a large number following. Later in his second
year he delivered “Bernado del Carpio” and gained second prize. In his
sophomore and junior years, his essays upon “Labor” and “Individual
Powers” were each awarded first prize. The winning of the junior prize
entitled him to represent Illinois College in the intercollegiate
oratorical contest, which was held at Galesburg, Ill., in the fall of
1880. His oration was upon “Justice,” which received the second prize of
fifty dollars. At the time of graduation, he was elected class orator,
and delivered the valedictory.

It was here, in his junior year that he first met his wife, Miss Mary
Baird, of Perry, Ill., and she, speaking of her first impression, says,
“I saw him first in the parlors of the young ladies’ school which I
attended in Jacksonville. He entered the room with several other
students, was taller than the rest, and attracted my attention at once.
His face was pale and thin; a pair of keen, dark eyes looked out from
beneath heavy eyebrows; his nose was prominent—too large to look well, I
thought; a broad, thin-lipped mouth and a square chin completed the
contour of his face. I noted particularly his hair and smile. The
former, black in color, fine in quality, and parted distressingly
straight. In later years his smile has been the subject of considerable
comment. Upon one occasion a heartless observer was heard to remark,
‘That man can whisper in his own ear,’ but this was cruel exaggeration.”

The graduating exercises of Illinois College were in June, 1881. The
valedictory is given below, not because it possesses great merit, but in
order to show his style and the turn of his mind at the time.

“Beloved instructors, it is character not less than intellect that you
have striven to develop. As we stand at the end of our college course,
and turn our eyes toward the scenes forever past, as our memories linger
on the words of wisdom which have fallen from your lips, we are more and
more deeply impressed with the true conception of duty which you have
ever shown. You have sought not to trim the lamp of genius until the
light of morality is paled by its dazzling brilliance, but to encourage
and strengthen both. These days are over. No longer shall we listen to
your warning voices, no more meet you in these familiar classrooms, yet
on our hearts ‘deeply has sunk the lesson’ you have given, and it shall
not soon depart.

“We thank you for your kind and watchful care, and shall ever cherish
your teachings with that devotion which sincere gratitude inspires.

“It is fitting that we express to you also, honored trustees, our
gratitude for the privileges which you have permitted us to enjoy.

“The name of the institution whose interest you guard will ever be dear
to us as the schoolroom, to whose influence we shall trace whatever
success coming years may bring.

“Dear classmates, my lips refuse to bid you a last good-bye; we have so
long been joined together in a community of aims and interests; so often
met and mingled our thoughts in confidential friendship; so often
planned and worked together, that it seems like rending asunder the very
tissues of a heart to separate us now.

“But this long and happy association is at an end, and now as we go
forth in sorrow, as each one must, to begin alone the work which lies
before us, let us encourage each other with strengthening words.

“Success is brought by continued labor and continued watchfulness. We
must struggle on, not for one moment hesitate, nor take one backward
step; for in the language of the poet:

[Illustration: MRS. BRYAN]

               ‘The gates of hell are open night and day,
               Smooth the descent and easy is the way;
               But to return and view the cheerful skies,
               In this, the past and mighty labor lies.’

We launch our vessels upon the uncertain sea of life alone, yet not
alone, for around us are friends who anxiously and prayerfully watch our
course. They will rejoice if we arrive safely at our respective havens,
or weep with bitter tears if, one by one, our weather-beaten barks are
lost forever in the surges of the deep.

“We have esteemed each other, loved each other, and now must with each
other part. God grant that we may all so live as to meet in the better
world, where parting is unknown.

“Halls of learning, fond Alma Mater, farewell. We turn to take our
‘last, long, lingering look’ at the receding walls. We leave thee now to
be ushered out into the varied duties of an active life.

“However high our names may be inscribed upon the gilded scroll of fame,
to thee we all the honor give, to thee all the praises bring. And when,
in after years, we’re wearied by the bustle of the busy world, our
hearts will often long to turn and seek repose beneath thy sheltering

In September, 1881, William Jennings Bryan entered the Union College of
Law at Chicago. Out of school hours his time was spent in the office of
ex-Senator Lyman Trumbull, who had been a great friend of young Bryan’s
father. His vacation and summer months were spent on the farm, and it
was these years of rugged, outdoor life which gave to his manhood that
vigor, stability, and splendid physique so helpful to him in his life as
a student and in his work since he has left college.

Mr. Bryan stood well in the law school, taking an especial interest in
constitutional law. He was also connected with the debating society of
the college and took an active part in its meetings.

At the age of twenty-three Mr. Bryan finished a collegiate course and
started in life for himself, leaving the farm, robust and ambitious, to
grow in the knowledge of his profession. His parents were devout
Christians and members of the Baptist Church. So Mr. Bryan was early
taught those principles of right and wrong, justice, equality, and the
advantages of a pure life. His father’s example convinced him that the
old saying that “no honest man can become a lawyer” was a myth and a
mistake. And on July 4, 1883, William Jennings Bryan began the practice
of his profession in Jacksonville, Ill.

Stocked with a liberal education, a conscience void of offense, a
character unsullied, and an ambition to know the law, and to apply this
knowledge for the benefit of the people, he began at the very bottom of
the ladder. The drudgery and disappointments, the hardships and jokes
common to a beginner without means and alone, in competition with men of
gray hairs and wisdom that come from years of toil and practice, was the
portion of Mr. Bryan. But he was a courageous man; Napoleon-like he knew
no such word as fail, and with that force and enthusiasm so
characteristic of the man, he labored on, believing that each
disappointment contained its lesson, and that every hardship endured had
its counterpart in a triumph. His early practice was not unlike that of
other beginners, taking such cases as usually come to the young lawyer.

At the close of the first year, and during the fall of 1884, his income
was such that he could support a wife; a modest home was planned and
built, and in October, 1884, he was married. During the next three years
he lived comfortably, though economically, and laid by a small amount.
Politics lost none of its charms, and each campaign found Mr. Bryan
speaking, usually in his own county.

Three years after graduation he attended the commencement at Illinois
College, delivered the Master’s oration, and received the degree, his
subject being “American Citizenship.” From that time until he entered
Congress in 1891, his only support for himself and his wife was from his
profession. Mr. Bryan continued in a growing practice of law in
Jacksonville until October, 1887. In July of that year, while on a
western trip, he passed through Lincoln, Neb., to visit friends, and in
two days was so impressed with the city and its possibilities that he
disposed of his business in Jacksonville, and located in Lincoln.
Political ambitions did not enter into this change, as the city, county,
and state were strongly Republican. Mr. Bryan began his lot as a lawyer
in Lincoln by forming a partnership, the style of the firm being “Talbot
& Bryan.” He at once applied himself vigorously to the details of the
practice in his new field, and was soon recognized as a lawyer of
unusual strength.

In the few years of practice at the bar of Lincoln before he was elected
to Congress, Mr. Bryan became somewhat celebrated as the champion of the
anti-sugar-bounty doctrine, and as the pleader for equal rights, under
the law, for all classes of men. In the spring of 1896, the city
proposed to issue $500,000 of its refunding bonds in gold. A number of
citizens believing such a contract unjust to the tax-payers, consulted
Mr. Bryan and secured his services in their behalf. Without
compensation, he at once devoted his energies to restrain the city of
Lincoln from issuing and selling such bonds. A temporary restraining
order was issued by the court, and after a vigorous contest an
injunction against the city, preventing such contract, was granted. In
these cases was shown Mr. Bryan’s genuine interest in public matters,
and in the general welfare of the people. Aside from many of these cases
involving public interest, his work as a lawyer was the usual practice
of the profession.

Mr. Bryan is a man of great physical endurance. As a lawyer as well as a
legislator, he is a man of great deliberation. Before acting, he
believes in being fully advised as to the subject upon which he is to
act. He was never known to champion a cause, accept a case, or make a
statement to a jury or elsewhere that did not present the honest
conviction of his mind, always having a sincere belief in the
correctness of the position assumed. In explaining a proposition of law,
he seeks the reason for the law, which he is always able to present with
peculiar clearness.

In his method of argument he is never emotional, but makes strong
applications of law and fact by the statement of his case and proof,
without any effort at embellishment or oratory. His ability to crowd a
great deal in a few words and sentences is very marked. The weakness of
his opponents he easily detects, and readily points out the fallacy. Mr.
Bryan is an ardent believer in the American jury system. When in
Congress, he introduced a bill providing that a verdict agreed to by
three-fourths of the members of a jury should be a verdict of the jury
in civil cases, and he made an argument before the Congressional
Judiciary Committee in its support.

“Mr. Bryan did not distinguish himself as a lawyer.” Those who thus
complain should consider that he entered the practice at the age of
twenty-three, and left it at thirty, and in that period began twice, and
twice became more than self-supporting. He has not had the time and
opportunity in which to establish the reputation at the bar which gives
to many American jurists the illustrious positions which they occupy.
However, at the time of his election to Congress, his practice was in a
thriving condition and fully equal to that of any man of his age in the

Whatever may be said of Mr. Bryan by friend or foe, it must be conceded
that his convictions control his actions on all questions, either as a
lawyer or as a public man, and when employed in a case involving great
interests, he would, without question, acquit himself with that
distinction which has characterized him as a leader in public affairs.

                              IN CONGRESS

Mr. Bryan’s first political speech of importance was made at Seward in
the spring of 1888. At that time Lincoln was known to be as strong as
the rock of Gibraltar in the Republican faith. On this occasion of his
first public appearance as a political orator in Nebraska, he drew men
to him by the power of the orator, and held them there in subsequent
years by the virtue of the man. His extraordinary popularity with the
masses of his followers was universally acknowledged. After his first
few speeches, it did not take long for his reputation to spread over the
state, and when he was elected as a delegate from Lancaster county to
the Democratic State convention in 1888 he was in great demand. The
sources of this popularity, though less clear, were of profound
significance, being only in part personal. In fact, it seemed to be this
man’s fortune to embody a fresh democratic impulse, which in time would
make him the leader of a new democratic movement.

The reports as to Mr. Bryan’s first speech in the convention, say in
part: “Mr. Bryan, of Lancaster county, was then called. He came forward
and delivered a spirited address, in the course of which he said that if
the platform laid down by the President in his message upon the tariff
question were carried out and vigorously fought upon in the state, it
would, in the course of a short time, give Nebraska to the Democracy. He
thought if the Democrats went out to the farmers and people who lived in
Nebraska and showed them the iniquity of the tariff system, they would
rally round the cause which their noble leader, Grover Cleveland, had
championed.” This short, but pointed speech created the greatest amount
of enthusiasm, and the young orator impressed his personality upon the
public mind of his adopted state.

In the fall of 1888, Mr. Bryan made a canvass of the First Congressional
District, in behalf of Hon. J. Sterling Morton, and also visited some
thirty counties throughout the state. Mr. Morton was defeated by three
thousand four hundred, the district being normally Republican.

When the campaign of 1890 opened, a few Democrats who came to appreciate
Mr. Bryan’s real ability believed that with him as the nominee the
Republicans could be defeated. So when the Democratic convention met at
Lincoln, July 31, 1890, Mr. Bryan was selected without opposition, and
at once began a vigorous campaign. He began a thorough canvass, speaking
about eighty times, and visiting every city and village in the district.
At the close of the last debate, he presented to Mr. Connell (his
opponent) a copy of Gray’s Elegy, with the following remarks: “Mr.
Connell: We now bring to a close the series of debates which was
arranged by our committees. I am glad we have been able to conduct these
discussions in a courteous and friendly manner. If I have in any way
offended you in word or deed, I offer apology and regret; and as freely
forgive. I desire to present to you, in remembrance of these pleasant
meetings, this little volume, because it contains ‘Gray’s Elegy,’ in
perusing which I trust you will find as much pleasure and profit as I
have found. It is one of the most beautiful and touching tributes to
human life that literature contains. Grand in its sentiments and sublime
in its simplicity, we may both find in it a solace in victory or defeat.
If success crowns your efforts in this campaign, and it should be your

             ‘The applause of listening senates to command’

and I am left

               ‘A youth to fortune and to fame unknown,’

forget not us who in the common walks of life perform our part, but in
the hour of your triumph recall the verse:

              ‘Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
              Their homely joys and destiny obscure;
              Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
              The short and simple annals of the poor.’

“If on the other hand, by the verdict of my countrymen, I should be made
your successor, let it not be said of you

                ‘And melancholy marked him for her own’,

but find sweet consolation in the thought:

              ‘Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
              The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
              Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
              And waste its sweetness on the desert air.’

“But when the palm of victory is given to you or to me, let us remember
those of whom the poet says:

              ‘Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife
              Their sober wishes never learned to stray,
              Along the cool, sequestered vale of life.
              They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.’

“These are the ones most likely to be forgotten by the Government. When
the poor and weak cry out for relief, they too often hear no answer but
‘the echo of their cry,’ while the rich, the strong, the powerful are
given an attentive ear. For this reason is class legislation dangerous
and deadly; it takes from those least able to lose, and gives to those
who are least in need. The safety of our farmers and our laborers is not
in special legislation, but in equal and just laws that bear alike on
every man. The great masses of our people are interested, not in getting
their hands into other people’s pockets, but in keeping the hands of
other people out of their pockets. Let me, in parting, express the hope
that you and I may be instrumental in bringing our Government back to
better laws which will give equal treatment without regard to creed or
condition. I bid you a friendly farewell.”

Mr. Bryan closed his campaign at the city of Lincoln, and was elected by
a plurality of six thousand seven hundred in the same district which two
years before had defeated Mr. Morton by a plurality of three thousand
four hundred. He was elected in one of the fairest and most brilliant
campaigns ever fought; and became one of the most prominent members of
the lower House from the West.

The explanation of Mr. Bryan’s popularity must be sought in a cause
which lies deeper than a political issue.

When he entered Congress he gave his support in caucus to Mr. Springer,
for Speaker of the House, in whose district he had lived when at
Jacksonville. In the House, he voted for Mr. Crisp, the caucus nominee.
Mr. Springer was made chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, and
although it was unprecedented to give to a first term member a position
on the all-important Ways and Means Committee, Speaker Crisp conferred
that unprecedented honor upon Bryan of Nebraska. One of the first bills
introduced by Mr. Bryan was that providing for the election of senators
by the people, at the option of each state.

In supporting this bill Mr. Bryan said: “Mr. Speaker—I desire to call
the attention of the House to what I consider a very important question
involved in this joint resolution. I shall not consume time in
discussing the general principle of electing senators by the people. If
the people of a state have enough intelligence to choose their
representatives in the state legislature, their executive officers,
judges, and their officials in all the departments of the state and
country, they have enough intelligence to choose the men who shall
represent them in the United States Senate.

“And now, sirs, if we want to secure the election of senators by the
people, we must submit a proposition free from the Republican idea of
Federal interference, and free from the Democratic idea of
non-interference. We may just as well cease the attempt to secure this
reform if we are going to tie it to Federal election laws. I appeal to
members of both sides of the House, members who in their hearts desire
this reform, members who in their own judgment believe that the time has
come to give the people a chance to vote for the senators, Democrats,
Republicans, and Populists alike, to join in a proposition which will
eliminate the political question and leave us simply the question of
election by the people or not.”

The bill attracted much attention through the country, although it
failed of final passage.

On March 16, 1892, Mr. Bryan made his great tariff speech in the House,
which is considered in another chapter of this work. In the spring of
1892, the silver sentiment began to show itself among the leaders of the
Nebraska Democracy. The state convention to elect delegates to the
National Democratic convention was called for April 15, 1892, and found
Mr. Bryan back in Lincoln, by the consent of the House, making a
determined effort for the adoption of a plank favoring the free coinage
of silver. The fight was a hard and bitter one. In supporting this part
of the platform Mr. Bryan said in part:

“GENTLEMEN—I do not believe it is noble to dodge any issue. If, as has
been indicated, this may have an effect on my campaign, then no
bridegroom went with gladder heart to greet his bride that I shall
welcome defeat. Vote this down if you will, but do not dodge it; for
that is not democratic.” The convention went wild in a body, a vote was
called, which brought defeat to the Bryan silver plank. By this act Mr.
Bryan incurred the hatred of the Cleveland administration.

Upon the return of Mr. Bryan to Nebraska at the close of the 52d
Congress, a series of debates had been arranged with the Republican
party nominee, Allen W. Field, then judge of the district court. This
was even a more bitter contest than the first. Mr. McKinley, Mr.
Foraker, and others were called to Nebraska to aid the Republican cause.
They made desperate efforts to “down” Bryan, but in spite of all he was
reelected by a majority of one hundred fifty-two.

As a congressman William Jennings Bryan was a success. From the moment
he entered Congress, he was a leader. To those who knew him intimately,
it was no surprise that during the first term he sprang suddenly into
prominence. His speech on the tariff question stamped him not only as an
orator, but a man who had made a deep political study of economic

It was not until his second term that he really focussed public
attention upon himself. When Congress was convened in extraordinary
session, he went to Washington prepared to resist the repeal of the
purchasing clause of the Sherman act. He knew the feeling of his
constituents, and being thoroughly familiar with every phase of the
question, he entered upon the fight like a gladiator. His conspicuous
record as an orator in the previous session was sufficient to get him a
place in the great debate, and, when the opportunity came, Bryan was
prepared for it. For several days it was known that he was to speak, and
the galleries of the House were crowded at each session. Finally he was
recognized by the Speaker, and he began the most effective speech that
had been heard in Congress in years. Everybody was quiet and listened.
The oldest member could not remember when a man had received such marked
attention and such spontaneous applause as Bryan got that day. As he
stood there, the picture of health, a physical giant, his voice falling
in easy cadence, he impressed upon his hearers the thought that he meant
every word he was saying. He had every one in his grasp. As he
continued, the audience became worked up to a high pitch, and when he
concluded with a magnificent peroration, quiet reigned for a moment,
then suddenly every one joined in tumultuous applause. Bryan had
finished; he had made a speech that for thought, logic, and sentiment,
to say nothing of its matchless delivery, had few equals in the records
of Congress. For two hours and fifty minutes the young Nebraska orator
held the close attention of a full house and crowded galleries. Instead
of members leaving the hall as usual, they crowded in, and every man was
in his seat. This speech made him famous. Occasionally a single standard
man would interrupt, but none did it without subsequent regret. He knew
his case too well.

From that day to this, Bryan has been in the public eye everywhere. Many
who heard his tariff speech predicted that it was a flash light, and
would soon grow dim, and its author be forgotten; but after he made his
silver speech those who thought his first an accident were compelled to
admit that he possessed all the qualifications of a statesman and that
he was bound to be a leader in his party.

Besides his silver and tariff speeches, Mr. Bryan spoke briefly upon
several other questions, namely, in favor of foreclosure of Government
liens on all Pacific railways, and in favor of the anti-option bill. He
favored the application of the principle of arbitration as far as
Federal authority extends. On January 30, 1894, Mr. Bryan, in a speech
in favor of the income tax, brilliantly and successfully replied to the
speech of Bourke Cockran delivered in opposition to that measure.

His record in Congress did not consist entirely of speech-making. He was
a tireless worker for his constituents, and he secured more pensions for
old soldiers living in his district than all the Republican congressmen
who had preceded him. He personally attended to the wants of every
constituent, and no man ever wrote a letter asking his assistance that
he did not at once enlist Bryan’s active support. He was vigilant and
watchful, and never missed an opportunity to do a favor.

He was exceedingly active in Congress, dodging nothing, and often
speaking on the current questions. Yet nothing that he did or said in
Congress comes back to plague him. It was then thought, and it has since
been hoped, that in the fulness of his record something would come back
to trip him. But what he said then only makes him stronger now.

It may not be amiss at this point to quote from Mrs. Bryan, who said:
“Quoting from a eulogy which Mr. Bryan delivered upon a colleague in the
53d Congress, this extract will serve a double purpose, in that it gives
his views upon immortality, and, at the same time, presents a passage
which I think may, without impropriety, be called a finished bit of
English. Mr. Bryan said ‘I shall not believe that even now his light is
extinguished. If the Father deigns to touch with divine power the cold
and pulseless heart of the buried acorn, and make it burst forth from
its buried walls, will He leave neglected in the earth, the soul of man,
who was made in the image of his Creator? If he stoops to give to the
rosebush, whose withered blossoms float upon the breeze, the sweet
assurance of another springtime, will he withhold the words of hope from
the sons of man when the frosts of winter come? If matter, mute and
inanimate, though changed by the forces of Nature into a multitude of
forms, can never die, will the imperial spirit of man suffer
annihilation after it has paid a brief visit, like a royal guest, to
this tenement of clay? Rather let us believe that He, who, in His
apparent prodigality, makes the blade of grass or the evening’s sighing
zephyr, but makes them to carry out His eternal plan, has given
immortality to the mortal, and gathered to Himself the generous spirit
of our friend. Instead of mourning, let us look up and address him in
the words of the poet:

               “’The day has come, not gone;
               The sun has risen, not set;
               Thy life is now beyond
               The reach of death or change,
               Not ended—but begun
         O, noble soul! O, gentle heart! Hail, and farewell.’”

Mr. Bryan was singularly free from egotism, affectation, or envy of the
fame of others. That he was brilliant goes without saying, but his
brilliancy was as natural and easy as to be like Shakespeare’s
description of mercy:

             “The quality of mercy is not strained,
             It dropped as the gentle rain from heaven
             Upon the places beneath. It is twice blessed;
             It blesses him that gives and him that takes.”

                               THE TARIFF

For twenty years prior to 1896 the chief tangible point of difference
between the Democratic and Republican parties was the tariff question.
It was, in truth, a question on which the two great parties had always
differed since the days when they were known as Federalists and

The Democratic party, in true accord with the principles of Thomas
Jefferson, has always held that government to be best which interferes
least with the liberty of the individual. The purpose of government, it
has held, is to protect man in his personal rights against the unjust
encroachments of his neighbors. But, according to the Democratic idea,
government should not interfere to arbitrarily promote the interests of
any class of its citizens at the expense of any other class. All should
be left, protected against illegal encroachment, but otherwise
unmolested, to work out their own salvation. In other words, Democracy
believes that government to be best which governs least.

The Republican theory, on the other hand, has inclined toward the
exactly opposite point of view; that that government is best which
governs most. It has acted consistently on the principle that it is not
only permissible but advisable for government to be made an instrument
for advancing the pecuniary or business interests of such of its
citizens as seem most deserving or are most fortunate in winning its
ear. It was this radical difference between the two parties, involving,
as it did, a basic and fundamental principle, that lay at the root of
the controversy regarding tariff duties.

The Democratic party, adhering to the strict letter of the Constitution,
held that the tariff should be levied for one simple purpose, and that
the purpose contemplated by the Constitution—to raise revenue. With this
end in view, the party contended, tariff duties should be levied mostly
on such articles as are not produced in this country, and, in order to
equalize the burden of taxation, be imposed rather on luxuries than the
strict necessities of life.

The Republican party took a more radical position. It advocated the
levying of tariff duties, not primarily for the purpose of raising
revenue,—that was made a secondary consideration,—but to protect from
foreign competition the manufacturing and industrial enterprises of the
United States. Then, it argued, these establishments, protected by the
fostering arm of government, would grow great and strong, furnishing at
once employment for labor at high wages, and a “home market” for the
products of the American farm and mine.

Controverting this alluring argument, the Democratic party held that
government had no right to compel citizens of one class or section to
contribute involuntarily to the support of citizens of some other class
or section of the country. The only manner in which a protective tariff
could protect, it pointed out, was by enabling the home manufacturer to
charge a higher price because of the duty on foreign goods. This added
price, it showed, must be paid into the pocket of the American
manufacturer by the American consumer. Moreover, it declared, the farmer
could only share the burden without receiving any of the benefits of a
high protective tariff, the price of his products being fixed in the
world’s markets at Liverpool and London. And the same thing, it held,
was true of the laboring man, as the rate of his remuneration was fixed
mainly by “the iron law of wages.”

When Mr. Bryan was elected to Congress for his first term this question
of tariff was the all-absorbing one before the people. The Republican
party, in the zenith of its power, had enacted the McKinley tariff law,
the embodiment of its views on this question, levying tariff duties so
high as almost to exclude foreign competition. It was in this law,
undoubtedly, that most of the great trusts and monopolies since formed
read their birthright.

Mr. Bryan, naturally, as a Democrat and a firm believer in the
principles of government laid down by Thomas Jefferson, was vigorously
opposed to the theory of a high protective tariff. The Congress in which
he served his first term was Democratic, the result of the enactment of
the trust-breeding McKinley tariff law. The Ways and Means Committee, of
which Mr. Springer of Illinois was chairman, decided that relief might
best be effected by the introduction of a series of bills, transferring
certain commodities to the free list.

It was in support of one of these—a bill placing wool on the free list
and reducing the duties on woolen goods—that Mr. Bryan delivered his
maiden speech in the House. This was on Wednesday, March 16, 1892. Like
Byron, he awoke the next morning and found himself famous. The speech
had attracted the admiring attention of the whole country. The young
orator’s logic, acute reasoning, powers of broad generalization, and apt
and homely illustration, not less than his genuine eloquence, incisive
wit, and brilliant repartee, had, in one speech, won him a place at the
head of the list of American parliamentary orators.

In his speech Mr. Bryan thus effectually punctured with his ridicule the
Republican argument generally advanced that a high tariff makes low

“Now, there are two arguments which I have never heard advanced in favor
of protection; but they are the best arguments. They admit a fact and
justify it, and I think that is the best way to argue, if you have a
fact to meet. Why not say to the farmer, ‘Yes, of course you lose; but
does not the Bible say, “It is more blessed to give than to
receive”—[laughter]—and if you suffer some inconvenience, just look back
over your life and you will find that your happiest moments were enjoyed
when you were giving something to somebody, and the most unpleasant
moments were when you were receiving.’ These manufacturers are
self-sacrificing. They are willing to take the lesser part, and the more
unpleasant business of receiving, and leave to you the greater joy of
giving. [Loud laughter and applause on the Democratic side.]

“Why do they not take the other theory, which is borne out by
history—that all nations which have grown strong, powerful, and
influential, just as individuals, have done it through hardship, toil,
and sacrifice, and that after they have become wealthy they have been
enervated, they have gone to decay through the enjoyment of luxury, and
that the great advantage of the protective system is that it goes around
among the people and gathers up their surplus earnings so that they will
not be enervated or weakened, so that no legacy of evil will be left to
their children. Their surplus earnings are collected up, and the great
mass of our people are left strong, robust, and hearty. These earnings
are garnered and put into the hands of just as few people as possible,
so that the injury will be limited in extent. [Great laughter and
applause on the Democratic side.] And they say, ‘Yes, of course, of
course; it makes dudes of our sons, and it does, perhaps, compel us to
buy foreign titles for our daughters [laughter], but of course if the
great body of the people are benefited, as good, patriotic citizens we
ought not to refuse to bear the burden.’ [Laughter.]

“Why do they not do that? They simply come to you and tell you that they
want a high tariff to make low prices, so that the manufacturer will be
able to pay large wages to his employees. [Laughter.] And then, they
want a high tariff on agricultural products so that they will have to
buy what they buy at the highest possible price. They tell you that a
tariff on wool is for the benefit of the farmer, and goes into his
pocket, but that the tariff on manufactured products goes into the
farmer’s pocket, too, ‘and really hurts us, but we will stand it if we
must.’ They are much like a certain maiden lady of uncertain age, who
said, ‘This being the third time that my beau has called, he might make
some affectionate demonstration’; and, summing up all her courage, she
added, ‘I have made up my mind that if he does I will bear it with
fortitude.’” [Great laughter and applause.]

He thus pleaded for the protection of the greatest of “home
industries,”—the home-building of the common people:

“I desire to say, Mr. Chairman, that this Republican party, which is
responsible for the present system, has stolen from the vocabulary one
of its dearest words and debased its use. Its orators have prated about
home industries while they have neglected the most important of home
industries—the home of the citizen. The Democratic party, so far from
being hostile to the home industries, is the only champion, unless our
friends here, the Independents, will join with us, of the real home
industry of this country.

“When some young man selects a young woman who is willing to trust her
future to his strong right arm, and they start to build a little home,
that home which is the unit of society and upon which our Government and
our prosperity must rest—when they start to build this little home, and
the man who sells the lumber reaches out his hand to collect a tariff
upon that; the man who sells paints and oils wants a tariff upon them;
the man who furnishes the carpets, tablecloths, knives, forks, dishes,
furniture, spoons, everything that enters into the construction and
operation of that home—when all these hands, I say, are stretched out
from every direction to lay their blighting weight upon that cottage,
and the Democratic party says, ‘Hands off, and let that home industry
live,’ it is protecting the grandest home industry that this or any
other nation ever had. [Loud applause on the Democratic side.]

“And I am willing that you, our friends on the other side, shall have
what consolation you may gain from the protection of those ‘home
industries’ which have crowned with palatial residences the hills of New
England, if you will simply give us the credit of being the champions of
the homes of this land. [Applause on the Democratic side.] It would seem
that if any appeal could find a listening ear in this legislative hall
it ought to be the appeal that comes up from those co-tenants of earth’s
only paradise; but your party has neglected them; more, it has spurned
and spit upon them. When they asked for bread you gave them a stone, and
when they asked for a fish you gave them a serpent. You have laid upon
them burdens grievous to be borne. You have filled their days with toil
and their nights with anxious care, and when they cried aloud for relief
you were deaf to their entreaties.”

The conclusion of Mr. Bryan’s speech is here reproduced. It is of
greater length than would ordinarily justify its incorporation in a
volume of this size, but the objection is outweighed by the fact, that,
in most beautiful English, it outlines the idea of government which has
since been the beacon light that has guided Mr. Bryan’s career:

“We can not afford to destroy the peasantry of this country. We can not
afford to degrade the common people of this land, for they are the
people who in time of prosperity and peace produce the wealth of the
country, and they are also the people who in time of war bare their
breasts to a hostile fire in defense of the flag. Go to Arlington or to
any of the national cemeteries, see there the plain white monuments
which mark the place ‘where rest the ashes of the nation’s countless
dead,’ those of whom the poet has so beautifully written:

                   ‘On Fame’s eternal camping ground
                   Their silent tents are spread.’

Who were they? Were they the beneficiaries of special legislation? Were
they the people who are ever clamoring for privileges? No, my friends;
those who come here and obtain from Government its aid and help find in
time of war too great a chance to increase their wealth to give much
attention to military duties. A nation’s extremity is their opportunity.
They are the ones who make contracts, carefully drawn, providing for the
payment of their money in coin, while the government goes out, if
necessary, and drafts the people and makes them lay down upon the altar
of their country all they have. No; the people who fight the battles are
largely the poor, the common people of the country; those who have
little to save but their honor, and little to lose but their lives.
These are the ones, and I say to you, sir, that the country can not
afford to lose them. I quote the language of Pericles in his great
funeral oration. He says:

‘It was for such a country, then, that these men, nobly resolving not to
have it taken from them, fell fighting; and every one of their survivors
may well be willing to suffer in its behalf.’

That, Mr. Chairman, is a noble sentiment and points the direction to the
true policy for a free people. It must be by beneficent laws; it must be
by a just government which a free people can love and upon which they
can rely that the nation is to be preserved. We can not put our safety
in a great navy; we can not put our safety in expensive fortifications
along a seacoast thousands of miles in extent, nor can we put our safety
in a great standing army that would absorb in idleness the toil of the
men it protects. A free government must find its safety in happy and
contented citizens, who, protected in their rights and free from
unnecessary burdens, will be willing to die that the blessings which
they enjoy may be transmitted to their posterity.

“Thomas Jefferson, that greatest of statesmen and most successful of
politicians, tersely expressed the true purpose of government when he

“’With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy
and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens: a wise and
frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another;
shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of
industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the
bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is
necessary to close the circle of our felicities.’

“That is the inspiration of the Democratic party; that is its aim and
object. If it comes, Mr. Chairman, into power in all of the departments
of this government it will not destroy industry; it will not injure
labor; but it will save to the men who produce the wealth of the country
a larger portion of that wealth. It will bring prosperity and joy and
happiness, not to a few, but to every one without regard to station or
condition. The day will come, Mr. Chairman—the day will come when those
who annually gather about this Congress seeking to use the taxing power
for private purposes will find their occupation gone, and the members of
Congress will meet here to pass laws for the benefit of all the people.
That day will come, and in that day, to use the language of another,
‘Democracy will be king! Long live the king!’” [Prolonged applause on
the Democratic side.]

                      THE RISE OF THE SILVER ISSUE

In every national campaign since the time silver was demonetized in 1873
the demand for bimetallism has been a platform plank always of one and
frequently of both of the two great political parties. The first
unequivocal renunciation of the policy and theory of bimetallism on the
part of any important national convention occurred in June, 1900, at
Philadelphia. In 1896 the Republican party, in its platform adopted at
St. Louis, pledged itself to the promotion of bimetallism by
international agreement. The Democratic party, both in 1896 and 1900,
expressed its conviction that bimetallism could be secured by the
independent action of the United States, and to that end demanded “the
free and unlimited coinage of both gold and silver, at the present legal
ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other

Previous to 1896 each of the great political parties made quadrennial
expressions of faith in the bimetallic theory, frequently demanded its
enactment into law, and generally condemned the opposing party for
“hostility to silver.” And yet, despite the universal belief in
bimetallism on the part of the American people; despite the general
demands for bimetallism made by both political parties; despite the many
and eloquent speeches for bimetallism delivered in Congress and out of
it by party leaders of all complexions, the hope of its becoming an
actuality seemed to wither and wane in inverse ratio to the fervency of
the expressions of friendship on the part of the politicians. Sometimes
those who were most vehement in their demands were most instrumental in
the passage of that series of legislative enactments that inevitably
broadened and deepened the gulf between gold and silver.

In explanation of this phenomenon it may be said that of all the
functions of government none is more important than the power to
regulate the quality and quantity of its circulating medium; none more
freighted either with prosperity or disaster to its people; and none
more liable to make demagogues of statesmen and knaves and hypocrites of
those in authority.

The first overt act in the fight against bimetallism, which theretofore
had been insidious, was the demand of the Cleveland administration and
the powers that were behind it for the repeal of the purchasing clause
of the Sherman Act. The clause which was aimed at provided for the
purchase by the government of bar silver sufficient for the annual
coinage of $54,000,000. With its repeal would disappear from the Federal
statute books the last vestige of authority for the coinage of silver
money other than subsidiary coins.

In the fight against the administration over this measure Mr. Bryan took
a leading part. He was one of the public men whose professions and
practices in the matter of financial legislation were not at variance.
In his first campaign for Congress, in 1890, he had inserted in his
platform this plank, written by himself:

“We demand the free coinage of silver on equal terms with gold and
denounce the efforts of the Republican party to serve the interest of
Wall Street as against the rights of the people.”

In 1891 he had secured the adoption of a free silver plank in the
Nebraska Democratic platform. In 1892 he made a hard fight for a similar
plank in the state platform, but lost by a very close vote. On the day
before the national convention which nominated Mr. Cleveland for
president, Mr. Bryan was renominated for Congress on a platform in which
free coinage was made the paramount issue, and throughout the campaign
he devoted to it the major portion of his time. In this way, from free
choice and impelling conviction, Mr. Bryan had committed himself to the
doctrine of bimetallism and had declared his plan for putting it into

Mr. Bryan made his first speech in Congress against unconstitutional
repeal on February 9, 1893. In it he said:

“I call attention to the fact that there is not in this bill a single
line or sentence which is not opposed to the whole history of the
Democratic party. We have opposed the principle of the national bank on
all occasions, and yet you give them by this bill an increased currency
of $15,000,000. You have pledged the party to reduce the taxation upon
the people, and yet, before you attempt to lighten this burden, you take
off one-half million of dollars annually from the national banks of the
country; and even after declaring in your national platform that the
Sherman act was a ‘cowardly makeshift’ you attempt to take away the
‘makeshift’ before you give us the real thing for which the makeshift
was substituted.... Mr. Speaker, consider the effect of this bill. It
means that by suspending the purchase of silver we will throw fifty-four
million ounces on the market annually and reduce the price of silver
bullion. It means that we will widen the difference between the coinage
and bullion value of silver and raise a greater obstacle in the way of
bimetallism. It means to increase by billions of dollars the debts of
our people. It means a reduction in the price of our wheat and our
cotton. You have garbled the platform of the Democratic party. You have
taken up one clause of it, and refused to give us a fulfilment of the
other and more important clause, which demands that gold and silver
shall be coined on equal terms without charge for mintage.

“Mr. Speaker, this can not be done. A man who murders another shortens
by a few brief years the life of a human being; but he who votes to
increase the burden of debts upon the people of the United States
assumes a graver responsibility. If we who represent them consent to rob
our people, the cotton-growers of the South and the wheat-growers of the
West, we will be criminals whose guilt can not be measured by words, for
we will bring distress and disaster to our people.”

In thus boldly and positively aligning himself against the policy of the
dominant wing of his own party, which would soon be backed by the
incoming Cleveland administration, Mr. Bryan acted with his
characteristic devotion to principle. He could not help seeing that all
the odds were apparently against that faction of his party with which he
threw in his fortunes. Mr. Cleveland and most of the old, honored, and
powerful leaders of democracy, it was known, would join in the fight
against silver. They would have the powerful aid of the great Republican
leaders and be backed by the almost united influence of the hundreds of
daily newspapers in all the large cities. Wealth, influence, experience,
and so-called “respectability” were all to be the property of the
Cleveland wing. Many trusted leaders of the old-time fight for silver
succumbed to the temptation and identified themselves with the dominant
faction. Not so Mr. Bryan. On the failure of the bill to pass he
returned home and devoted all his time to a thorough study of finance
and of money, making the most careful and complete preparation for the
fight which he saw impending.

The great struggle, which Mr. Bryan has termed “the most important
economic discussion which ever took place in our Congress” was
precipitated by President Cleveland when he called Congress to meet in
special session on August 7, 1893. Mr. Wilson, of West Virginia,
Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, introduced in the House the
administration measure for the unconditional repeal of the purchasing
clause of the Sherman Act.

[Illustration: CHAS. A. TOWNE]

The debate that ensued was one of the most brilliantly and ably
conducted in the annals of Congress. On August 16, near the close of the
debate, Mr. Bryan delivered an extended argument against the bill. His
speech in point of profound reasoning and moving oratory stands
prominent in the list of congressional deliverances. It concluded with
the following magnificent appeal:

“To-day the Democratic party stands between two great forces, each
inviting its support. On the one side stand the corporate interests of
the nation, its moneyed institutions, its aggregations of wealth and
capital, imperious, arrogant, compassionless. They demand special
legislation, favors, privileges, and immunities. They can subscribe
magnificently to campaign funds; they can strike down opposition with
their all-pervading influence, and, to those who fawn and flatter, bring
ease and plenty. They demand that the Democratic party shall become
their agent to execute their merciless decrees.

“On the other side stands that unnumbered throng which gave a name to
the Democratic party, and for which it has assumed to speak. Work-worn
and dust-begrimed they make their sad appeal. They hear of average
wealth increased on every side and feel the inequality of its
distribution. They see an overproduction of everything desired because
of an underproduction of the ability to buy. They can not pay for
loyalty except with their suffrages, and can only punish betrayal with
their condemnation. Although the ones who most deserve the fostering
care of Government, their cries for help too often beat in vain against
the outer wall, while others less deserving find ready access to
legislative halls.

“This army, vast and daily growing, begs the party to be its champion in
the present conflict. It can not press its claims mid sounds of revelry.
Its phalanxes do not form in grand parade, nor has it gaudy banners
floating on the breeze. Its battle hymn is ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ its war
cry ‘equality before the law.’ To the Democratic party, standing between
these two irreconcilable forces, uncertain to which side to turn, and
conscious that upon its choice its fate depends, come the words of
Israel’s second law-giver: ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve.’
What will the answer be? Let me invoke the memory of him whose dust made
sacred the soil of Monticello when he joined

           ‘The dead but sceptered sovereigns who still rule
           Our spirits from their urns.’

“He was called a demagogue and his followers a mob, but the immortal
Jefferson dared to follow the best promptings of his heart. He placed
man above matter, humanity above property, and, spurning the bribes of
wealth and power, pleaded the cause of the common people. It was this
devotion to their interests which made his party invincible while he
lived, and will make his name revered while history endures.

“And what message comes to us from the Hermitage? When a crisis like the
present arose and the national bank of the day sought to control the
politics of the nation, God raised up an Andrew Jackson, who had the
courage to grapple with that great enemy, and by overthrowing it he made
himself the idol of the people and reinstated the Democratic party in
public confidence. What will the decision be to-day?

“The Democratic party has won the greatest success in its history.
Standing upon this victory-crowned summit, will it turn its face to the
rising or the setting sun? Will it choose blessings or cursings—life or
death—Which? Which?”

The bill passed the House by a considerable majority and went to the
Senate. In two months it came back with Senate amendments. So earnest
and determined was Mr. Bryan in his opposition to the measure that he
resorted to dilatory tactics, employing every legitimate parliamentary
weapon to obstruct its progress. When finally even the enemies of the
bill would no longer assist him in the fight for delay, Mr. Bryan
determined to abandon the fight in Congress to carry it before the
Democracy of the nation. In concluding his last speech on the bill he

“You may think that you have buried the cause of bimetallism; you may
congratulate yourselves that you have laid the free coinage of silver
away in a sepulchre, newly made since the election, and before the door
rolled the veto stone. But, sirs, if our cause is just, as I believe it
is, your labor has been in vain: no tomb was ever made so strong that it
could imprison a righteous cause. Silver will lay aside its grave
clothes and its shroud. It will yet rise and in its rising and its reign
will bless mankind.”

Though defeated in the first great contest, the silver advocates were
far from dismayed. They began at once a systematic fight to wrest from
the administration the control of the party organization. The factional
fight within the ranks of Democracy gave early promise of becoming
exceedingly bitter. The feeling was accentuated from the start by the
personal efforts of President Cleveland in behalf of the repeal bill. In
the Senate the silver men had what was considered a safe majority, and
it was to overcome this and secure the passage of the bill that the
President had directed his energies. His great weapon was Federal
patronage, and he used it as a club. Never before in the history of
popular government in the United States had the executive so boldly and
so openly exerted the tremendous influence of his position in an attempt
to force a coordinate branch of government into unwilling compliance
with his wishes. Mr. Cleveland’s interference, which finally
accomplished its purpose, was angrily resented by the Silver Democrats,
and the lines between administration and anti-administration were early
closely drawn.

Mr. Bryan, while the repeal bill was still under discussion in the
Senate, attended the Nebraska State Democratic convention as a delegate,
on October 4, 1893. In the convention the administration wing of the
party was regnant, imperious, and arrogant. A platform endorsing the
President and his fight against silver was adopted by a large majority.
Bryan was even denied a place on the resolutions committee, although
endorsed therefor by his Congressional district, which almost alone had
sent silver delegates. His course in Congress was repudiated and himself
personally received with but scant courtesy or consideration on the part
of the great majority of the delegates. When the gold men, flushed with
victory, were about to complete their conquest, the discredited young
Congressman sprang to the platform to address the convention. His whole
person was quivering with emotion, and as he spoke he strode up and down
the platform with a mien of unconcealed anger and defiance. Never was he
more truly the orator, and never was tame beast so abject and so pitiful
under the scourge of the master as was that convention, mute and
defenseless, under his scathing excoriation. The following extract will
give an idea of the substance of the speech, though the flashing eyes of
the orator, the tense and quivering frame, the voice now ringing with
defiance, now trembling with emotion,—these may never be described.

by as important a question as ever came before the Democracy of the
state of Nebraska. It is not a personal question. It is a question that
rises above individuals. So far as I am personally concerned it matters
nothing whether you vote this amendment up or down; it matters nothing
to me whether you pass resolutions censuring my course or endorsing it.
If I am wrong in the position I have taken on this great financial
question, I shall fall though you heap your praises upon me; if I am
right, and in my heart, so help me God, I believe I am, I shall triumph
yet, although you condemn me in your convention a hundred times.
Gentlemen, you are playing in the basement of politics; there is a
higher plane. You think you can pass resolutions censuring a man, and
that you can humiliate him. I want to tell you that I still ‘more true
joy in exile feel’ than those delegates who are afraid to vote their own
sentiments or represent the wishes of the people, lest they may not get
Federal office. Gentlemen, I know not what others may do, but duty to
country is above duty to party, and if you represent your constituents
in what you have done and will do—for I do not entertain the fond hope
that you who have voted as you have to-day will change upon this vote—if
you as delegates properly represent the sentiment of the Democratic
party which sent you here; if the resolutions which have been proposed
and which you will adopt express the sentiments of the party in this
state; if the party declares in favor of a gold standard, as you will if
you pass this resolution; if you declare in favor of the impoverishment
of the people of Nebraska; if you intend to make more galling than the
slavery of the blacks the slavery of the debtors of this country; if the
Democratic party, after you go home, endorses your action and makes your
position its permanent policy, I promise you that I will go out and
serve my country and my God under some other name, even if I must go

But Mr. Bryan was not destined to be driven from the Democratic party.
He returned to Washington to persistently fight the financial policy of
the administration until the Fifty-third Congress had adjourned. The
withdrawal of the greenbacks, the granting of additional privileges to
national banks, the Rothschild-Morgan gold-bond contract—these he
opposed with the full measure of his mental and physical powers. In the
meantime the Silver Democrats began the work of organization and
propaganda in every state in the Union. In 1894 Bryan triumphed over his
enemies in Nebraska in a convention whose platform declared, “We favor
the immediate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of gold and
silver at the present ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for the aid or
consent of any other nation on earth.” The Gold Democrats bolted the
platform and the ticket. And until the last delegate was elected to the
National convention which was to meet at Chicago in July, 1896, the
Silver Democrats continued everywhere their efforts. They fought boldly
and outspokenly against the administration they had helped to elect, and
which was nominally Democratic. The result of their fight was the
instruction of almost two-thirds of the delegates for an unambiguous
free silver plank, with a certainty that the Gold Democrats, headed by
President Cleveland, Secretary of the Treasury Carlisle, and hundreds of
the leaders of the party, would bolt the action of the convention.

Thus torn and rent by dissentions, with little hope or prospect for
success, the Democracy faced that remarkable convention which was to
repudiate the administration itself had placed in power.

                       THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

In the fall of 1896, within the period of one hundred days, William J.
Bryan traveled eighteen thousand miles. He delivered over six hundred
speeches to crowds aggregating five millions of people. Reduced to
figures more readily comprehended, he averaged each day one hundred and
eighty miles of railroad travel, interrupted by the stops necessary for
the delivery of six speeches to crowds of over eight thousand each and
fifty thousand in all. This was his personal service in the “first
battle” for the restoration of bimetallism, acting as the standard
bearer of three political parties.

The great presidential campaign of 1896 was in many respects the most
remarkable in the history of the United States. It turned upon an issue
which was felt to be of transcending importance, and which aroused the
elemental passions of the people in a manner probably never before
witnessed in this country save in time of war. It was an issue forced by
the voters themselves despite the unceasing efforts of the leading
politicians of both great parties to keep it in the background. Beneath
its shadow old party war cries died into silence; old party differences
were forgotten; old party lines were obliterated. As it existed in the
hearts of men the issue had no name. Bimetallism was discussed;
monometallism was discussed; these were the themes of public speakers,
editors, and street corner gatherings when recourse was had to facts and
argument. But when one partisan called his friend the enemy an
“Anarchist!” and when the latter retorted with the cry of “Plutocrat,”
then there spoke in epithets the feelings which were stirring the
American people, and which made the campaign significant. For the terms
indicated that for the first time in the Republic founded on the
doctrine of equality, Lazarus at Dives’ gate had raised the cry of
injustice, whereat the rich man trembled.

The Republican National convention met at St. Louis on June 16. William
McKinley, of Ohio, was nominated for President and Garret A. Hobart, of
New Jersey, for Vice-President. A platform was adopted declaring for the
maintenance of “the existing gold standard” until bimetallism could be
secured by international agreement, which the party was pledged to
promote. The doctrine of a high protective tariff was strongly insisted

Against the financial plank of the platform there was waged a bitter, if
hopeless, fight by the silver men of the West, under the honored
leadership of United States Senator Henry M. Teller, of Colorado. On the
adoption of the platform Senators Teller, Dubois, of Idaho, Pettigrew,
of South Dakota, Cannon, of Utah, and Mantle, of Montana, with three
congressmen and fifteen other delegates, walked out of the convention.
They issued an address to the people declaring monetary reform to be
imperative, that the deadly curse of falling prices might be averted.
The dominant figure of this convention was Marcus A. Hanna, of Ohio, a
millionaire coal and shipping magnate with large industrial and
commercial interests in various sections of the country. In taking
charge of the campaign that resulted in McKinley’s nomination he
introduced his business methods into politics. He had conducted the
canvass throughout along commercial lines. “He has been as smooth as
olive oil and as stiff as Plymouth Rock,” said the New York _Sun_, since
recognized as President McKinley’s personal organ. “He is a manager of
men, a manipulator of events, such as you more frequently encounter in
the back offices of the headquarters of financial and commercial centers
than at district primaries or in the lobbies of convention halls. There
is no color or pretense of statesmanship in his efforts; he seems
utterly indifferent to political principles, and color-blind to
policies, except as they figure as counters in his game. He can be
extremely plausible and innocently deferential in his intercourse with
others, or can flame out on proper occasion in an outburst of
well-studied indignation. He is by turns a bluffer, a compromiser, a
conciliator, and an immovable tyrant. Such men do not enter and
revolutionize national politics for nothing. Now, what is Mark Hanna

The question was soon answered. Mark Hanna became chairman of the
National Republican committee, United States senator from Ohio, and the
most powerful, if not the all-powerful, influence behind the McKinley
administration. His rapid rise to commanding position and the unyielding
manner in which he has utilized his power have furnished much argument
to such as are inclined to be pessimistic regarding the enduring
qualities of republics.

Early in July the Democratic National convention assembled in Chicago.
Mr. Bryan, who had attended the St. Louis convention as editor-in-chief
of the Omaha _World-Herald_, was here present as a delegate-at-large
from Nebraska. Since the expiration of his second congressional term he
had been active and unwearying in the fight to capture the convention
for free silver. As editor of the _World-Herald_ he had contributed
numerous utterances that were widely quoted by the silver press, and
much of his time had been devoted to delivering speeches and lectures in
the interests of bimetallism in almost every section of the country. He
came to Chicago fresh from a Fourth of July debate at the Crete, Neb.,
Chautauqua, with Hon. John P. Irish, of California, Cleveland’s
collector of the port at San Francisco. Except a few intimate friends in
Nebraska, who knew Bryan’s capacities and ambitions, no man dreamed of
the possibility of his nomination for the presidency. There were
available, tried, and time-honored silver leaders, men who had been
fighting the white metal’s battles for a score of years, notable among
whom were Richard P. Bland, of Missouri, and Henry M. Teller, of
Colorado. One of these, it was generally believed, would be chosen to
lead the forlorn hopes of a regenerated but disrupted democracy.

Mr. Bryan’s nomination was the spontaneous tribute of the convention to
those qualities that since have made him not famous only, but
well-beloved. These qualities are honesty, courage, frankness, and
sincerity. They had veritable life in every line and paragraph of his
great speech defending the free silver plank of the platform, delivered
in reply to the crafty-wise David B. Hill, of New York. Hill, skilled
and experienced practical politician, had pleaded with the convention
that it pay the usual tribute at the shrine of Janus. He had begged that
the _ignus fatuus_ “international bimetallism” be used to lure the
friends of silver into voting the Democratic ticket. Nurtured and
trained in the same school of politics as William McKinley,—the school
whose graduates had for many years dominated all party conventions,—Hill
started back in affright from the prospect of going before the people on
a platform that was straightforward and unequivocal, with its various
planks capable of but one construction.

Mr. Bryan’s speech was as bold and ringing as the platform which he
spoke to defend, with its plank, written by himself, and twice utilized
in Nebraska, demanding “the free and unlimited coinage of both gold and
silver at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for the
aid or consent of any other nation.”

The letter and spirit of that plank were such as the great majority of
the convention were thoroughly in sympathy with. The result of the great
silver propaganda of the two years preceding had been to send to the
convention honest and sincere men with profound convictions and the
courage to express them. To do this, they knew, would be revolutionary,
even as had been the platforms on which the Pathfinder, Fremont, and the
Liberator, Lincoln, ran. But the spirit of revolution from cant and
equivoque was rife in that convention. Of that spirit William Jennings
Bryan was the prophet. In a speech that thrilled into men’s minds and
hearts his defiance and contempt of the opportunists’ policy, his own
fearless confidence in the all-conquering power of truth, he stirred
into an unrestrained tempest the long pent emotions of the delegates.
When he had finished not only was the adoption of the platform by a vote
of two to one assured, but the convention had found its leader whom it
would commission to go forth to preach the old, old gospel of democracy,
rescued from its years of sleep. The nature of Mr. Bryan’s speech may be
gained from these brief extracts:

“When you (turning to the gold delegates) come before us and tell us we
are about to disturb your business interests, we reply that you have
disturbed our business interests by your course. We say to you that you
have made the definition of a business man too limited in its
application. The man who is employed for wages is as much a business man
as his employer; the attorney in a country town is as much a business
man as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis; the merchant at a
cross-roads store is as much a business man as the merchant of New York;
the farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, who begins
in the spring and toils all summer, and who, by the application of brain
and muscle to the natural resources of the country, creates wealth, is
as much a business man as the man who goes upon the board of trade and
bets upon the price of grain: the miners who go down a thousand feet
into the earth, or climb two thousand feet upon the cliffs, and bring
forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured into the
channels of trade are as much business men as the few financial magnates
who, in a back room, corner the money of the world. We come to speak for
this broader class of business men.

“Ah, my friends, we say not one word against those who live upon the
Atlantic Coast, but the hardy pioneers who have braved all the dangers
of the wilderness, who have made the desert to blossom as the rose,—the
pioneers away out there (pointing to the west), who rear their children
near to Nature’s heart, where they can mingle their voices with the
voices of the birds, out there where they have erected schoolhouses for
the education of their young, churches where they praise their Creator,
and cemeteries where rest the ashes of their dead—these people, we say,
are as deserving of the consideration of our party as any people in this
country. It is for these that we speak. We do not come as aggressors.
Our war is not a war of conquest; we are fighting in defense of our
homes, our families, and posterity. We have petitioned, and our
petitions have been scorned; we have entreated, and our entreaties have
been disregarded; we have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity
came. We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more. We defy

“You come and tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold
standard; we reply that the great cities rest upon our broad and fertile
prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities
will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass
will grow in the streets of every city in the country....

“My friends, we declare that this nation is able to legislate for its
own people on every question, without waiting for the aid or consent of
any other nation on earth.... It is the issue of 1776 over again. Our
ancestors, when but three millions in number, had the courage to declare
their political independence of every other nation. Shall we, their
descendants, when we have grown to seventy millions, declare that we are
less independent than our forefathers? No, my friends, that will never
be the verdict of our people. Therefore, we care not upon what lines the
battle is fought. If they say bimetallism is good, but that we can not
have it until other nations help us, we reply that, instead of having a
gold standard because England has, we will restore bimetallism, and then
let England have bimetallism because the United States has it. If they
dare come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good
thing, we will fight them to the uttermost. Having behind us the
producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the
commercial interests, the laboring interest, and the toilers everywhere,
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.”

[Illustration: SENATOR J. K. JONES]

Mr. Bryan was nominated for President on the fifth ballot by a well-nigh
unanimous vote, save for the 162 eastern delegates who, while holding
their seats, sullenly refused to take any part in the proceedings. The
demonstration following the nomination was even wilder and more
prolonged than the memorable scene that marked the conclusion of his

For Vice-President Arthur Sewall, of Maine, was nominated. With this
ticket, on a platform declaring for free silver, opposing the issue of
bonds and national bank currency, denouncing “government by injunction,”
declaring for a low tariff, the Monroe doctrine, an income tax, and
election of senators by a direct vote of the people, the democracy went
before the country with a confidence and exuberance little anticipated
before the convention met, and scarcely justified, as later proven, by
the outcome.

The Populist and Silver Republican conventions met in St. Louis late in
July. The latter endorsed the nominees of the Chicago platform and made
them their own. The populists, however, while nominating Mr. Bryan,
refused to nominate Mr. Sewall, naming for vice-president Thomas E.
Watson, of Georgia.

The gold democrats met at Indianapolis on September 2, and nominated
John M. Palmer, of Illinois, and Simon Buckner, of Kentucky, adopting
the first gold standard platform ever presented to the people of the
United States for endorsement. They called themselves “National
Democrats,” but in the outcome carried but one voting precinct in the
nation, and that in Kansas. Four votes were cast in the precinct, two
for Palmer, and one each for Bryan and McKinley. In the precinct in
Illinois where Mr. Palmer himself, with his son and coachman, voted, not
a single ballot was cast for the nominee of the “National Democracy.”
The fact was that a new party alignment was the inevitable result of the
Chicago convention, the reorganized democracy gaining largely beyond the
Missouri, but losing heavily east of the Mississippi and north of the
Ohio. Hundreds of thousands of gold Democrats in the populous states,
under the leadership of Grover Cleveland and John G. Carlisle, while
pretending to support Palmer and Buckner, voted secretly for McKinley,
whose platform was a virtual endorsement of the Cleveland
administration, as Bryan’s platform repudiated and condemned it.

The campaign was remarkable not only for Bryan’s wonderful campaigning,
but for the bitter feeling that pervaded both organizations. The
Republicans particularly excelled in vituperative abuse. They began the
use of billingsgate immediately after the Chicago convention had
adjourned, applying to it such terms as “rabble,” “wild Jacobins,”
“anarchists” and “repudiators,” while Bryan was characterized as a “boy
orator” “a demagogue” and “an ass.” The Cleveland _Leader_ said:

“Bryan, with all his ignorance, his cheap demagogy, his intolerable
gabble, his utter lack of common sense, and his general incapacity in
every direction, is a typical Democrat of the new school. His weapon is
wind. His stock in trade is his mouth. Mr. McKinley’s election—and we
apologize to Mr. McKinley for printing his name in the same column with
that of Bryan—is no longer in any doubt whatever. We salute the next
President. As for Bryan, he is a candidate for the political ash-heap.”

For efficient campaigning the two party organizations were most unevenly
matched. The Republican National committee, under the directing genius
of Mark Hanna, assisted liberally by the thoroughly affrighted financial
and corporation magnates of the East, had at its disposal millions of
dollars with which to organize, pay for speakers and literature, reward
the efforts of newspapers and party workers, and debauch the electorate
in states thought to be doubtful. It had the assistance of almost the
entire metropolitan press—with the notable exception of the New York
_Journal_—and the nearly united influence of the large employers of
labor. And even further, it had the pulpit and the religious press. As
the ministers of Christ’s gospel, in 1856, denounced and vilified
Garrison and Phillips, so in 1896 they hurled anathema maranatha at
Bryan and Altgeld. Grave and reverend preachers of national fame
fulminated from their pulpits against “the accursed and treasonable
aims” of Bryan and his supporters, and denounced them as “enemies of
mankind.” Bishop John P. Newman, of the Methodist Episcopal Church,
denounced Bryan as an “anarchist,” and in the church conferences over
which he presided urged the clergy to use their influence to defeat the
Democratic nominees. The Rev. Cortland Myers, in the Baptist Temple at
Brooklyn, said that “the Chicago platform was made in hell.” Rev. Thomas
Dixon, Jr., at the Academy of Music, New York, called Bryan “a mouthing,
slobbering demagogue, whose patriotism is all in his jaw bone.”

Such were the cultured and scholarly contributions made by the noblest
of professions to the discussion of an academic question of finance in
the year of our Lord 1896.

The Democratic committee had little money. It had the support of but few
large newspapers. It was fighting the battles of a party that had been
disrupted and rent in twain at the Chicago convention. In every state
and almost every county of the Union the old local and national leaders
of the party had deserted, and the faithful but disorganized followers
of Bryan had to be moulded anew into the likeness of an army.

The one inspiration of the party was in its leader. The embodiment of
faith, hope, and courage, tireless, indomitable, undismayed by the
fearful odds against him, with the zeal of a crusader he undertook his
mission of spreading the message of democracy through the length and
breadth of the land. For three months, accompanied most of the time by
Mrs. Bryan, he sped to and fro across the American continent, an army of
newspaper correspondents in his train, resting little and sleeping less,
preaching the Chicago platform. His earnestness, his candor, his
boldness, the simplicity of his style, the homeliness of his
illustrations, the convincing power of his argument, the eloquence of
his flights of oratory, and, above all, the pure and lovable character
of the man as it impressed itself on those who met with him—these were
the sparks that fired the hearts of men and left in his wake conviction
fanned into enthusiasm all aflame.

Yet, with all his efforts, despite a record of personal campaigning such
as never before was seen in the recorded history of man, Mr. Bryan was
defeated. The tremendous influence wielded by the great corporate
interests, both by persuasion and by coercion, were such as no man and
no idea could overcome.

The popular vote stood 7,107,822 for McKinley and 6,511,073 for Bryan.
Of the electoral votes McKinley received 271 and Bryan 176, the solid
South and almost solid West going Democratic, while every state north of
the Ohio and east of the Mississippi went Republican.

Immediately after the result was assured Mr. Bryan telegraphed Mr.
McKinley as follows: “HON. WM. MCKINLEY, CANTON, OHIO—Senator Jones has
just informed me that the returns indicate your election, and I hasten
to extend my congratulations. We have submitted the issue to the
American people and their will is law.—W. J. BRYAN.”

Mr. McKinley responded: “HON. W. J. BRYAN, LINCOLN, NEB.—I acknowledge
the receipt of your courteous message of congratulation with thanks, and
beg you will receive my best wishes for your health and

While Mr. Bryan and his party accepted defeat thus gracefully, victory
seemed to have redoubled the venom of the opposition. This post-election
utterance of the New York _Tribune_, founded by Horace Greeley, and then
and now edited by ex-Vice-President Whitelaw Reid, will serve to close
this chapter in the same gentle spirit which marked the close of that
memorable campaign:

                              “GOOD RIDDANCE

    “There are some movements so base, some causes so depraved, that
    neither victory can justify them nor defeat entitle them to
    commiseration. Such a cause was that which was vanquished
    yesterday, by the favor of God and the ballots of the American
    people. While it was active and menacing, it was unsparingly
    denounced and revealed as what it was, in all its hideous
    deformity. Now that it is crushed out of the very semblance of
    being, there is no reason why such judgment of it should be
    revised. The thing was conceived in iniquity and was brought forth
    in sin. It had its origin in a malicious conspiracy against the
    honor and integrity of the nation. It gained such monstrous growth
    as it enjoyed from an assiduous culture of the basest passions of
    the least worthy members of the community. It has been defeated
    and destroyed, because right is right and God is God. Its nominal
    head was worthy of the cause. Nominal, because the wretched,
    rattle-pated boy, posing in vapid vanity and mouthing resounding
    rottenness, was not the real leader of that league of hell. He was
    only a puppet in the blood-imbued hands of Altgeld, the anarchist,
    and Debs, the revolutionist, and other desperados of that stripe.
    But he was a willing puppet, Bryan was, willing and eager. Not one
    of his masters was more apt at lies and forgeries and blasphemies
    and all the nameless iniquities of that campaign against the Ten
    Commandments. He goes down with the cause, and must abide with it
    in the history of infamy. He had less provocation than Benedict
    Arnold, less intellectual force than Aaron Burr, less manliness
    and courage than Jefferson Davis. He was the rival of them all in
    deliberate wickedness and treason to the Republic. His name
    belongs with theirs, neither the most brilliant nor the least
    hateful in the list.

    “Good riddance to it all, to conspiracy and conspirators, and to
    the foul menace of repudiation and anarchy against the honor and
    life of the Republic. The people have dismissed it with no
    uncertain tones. Hereafter let there be whatever controversies men
    may please about the tariff, about the currency, about the Monroe
    doctrine, and all the rest. But let there never again be a
    proposition to repeal the moral law, to garble the Constitution,
    and to replace the Stars and Stripes with the red rag of anarchy.
    On those other topics honest men may honestly differ, in full
    loyalty to the Republic. On these latter there is no room for two
    opinions, save in the minds of traitors, knaves, and fools.”

                               NEW ISSUES

The half decade between 1895 and 1900 may justly be considered one of
the most important in American history. It witnessed the fiercest battle
between political parties ever fought over the question of finance,—a
contest exceeding in bitterness and the general participation of the
people of the United States therein even the great struggle in which
Andrew Jackson and Nicholas Biddle were the opposing leaders. And,
further, as the outcome of the war with Spain, it saw the birth and
growth of an issue theretofore alien to American soil and portentous for
its ultimate influence over the form and structure of our government. It
was at once recognized as an issue overshadowing in its importance, and
in the face of the greater danger the mutual fears of the friends of
gold and the friends of silver were laid away in one common sepulchre.

On the part of the Democratic party the wraith of imperialism hovering
over the Republic was recognized as the hideous and supreme exhalation
from the poison swamp of plutocracy from which high tariff, trusts, and
a gold standard had already sprung. Through all these policies, asserted
the Democracy, through its recognized leader, Mr. Bryan, ran the common
purpose of exalting the dollar and debasing the man. The Republican
party hesitated long to recognize and admit the new issue, and when it
finally took up the gage of battle it was on the declaration that a
colonial policy, with alien and subject races under its dominion, had
become the “manifest destiny” of the United States.

The cruelties and severities of General Weyler, the commander of the
Spanish forces in Cuba, toward the insurrectionists who were in arms
against Spain’s authority, early in Mr. McKinley’s administration
aroused the indignation of the American people. The fact that the Cubans
were bravely fighting for liberty, that their rebellion was against the
exactions of an old world monarchy, even as ours had been, won them an
instinctive sympathy that grew stronger each day and that finally swept
like a tidal wave into the cabinet meetings at Washington, bearing the
demands of the people of the United States for the intervention of our
government in Cuba’s behalf.

On December 6, 1897, in his message to Congress, the President discussed
the Cuban question at some length, arguing against any interference by
the United States, on the ground that “a hopeful change has supervened
in the policy of Spain toward Cuba.” Speaking of the possible future
relations between this country and Cuba, the President used the words
since so widely quoted against his subsequent policy in the Philippines:
“I speak not of forcible annexation, for that is not to be thought of.
That, by our code of morality, would be criminal aggression.”

The evident reluctance of the administration to recognize Cuban
independence was shortly after forced to give way to the compelling
power of public opinion. On February 15, 1898, by the explosion of a
submarine mine, the Maine, a first-class United States battleship, was
destroyed in Havana harbor, with a loss of 248 officers and men. A
fierce hatred for Spain was thereby added to the sympathy for Cuba, and
war, or the abandonment of Cuba by Spain, became inevitable. A month
after the destruction of the Maine Congress voted the President
$50,000,000 to be used in the National defense. On April 11, President
McKinley, in a message to Congress exhaustively reviewed the Cuban
complications, disclaiming a policy of annexation and arguing for
neutral intervention to enforce peace and secure for the Cubans a stable
government. On the 20th, Congress declared Cuba to be free and
independent, demanded that Spain relinquish her claim of authority, and
authorized the President to use the land and naval forces of the United
States to enforce the demand.

Congress expressly declared: “The United States hereby disclaims any
disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or
control over said island, except for the pacification thereof, and
asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the
government and control of the island to its people.”

From such a lofty plane the United States entered into that brief but
glorious combat with Spain that has rightly been called “the war for
humanity.” On April 23, the President called for 125,000 volunteers. One
of the first who offered the President his services in the war for
“_Cuba libre_” was William J. Bryan. Long before, Mr. Bryan had declared
for intervention, saying, “Humanity demands that we shall act. Cuba lies
within sight of our shores and the sufferings of her people can not be
ignored unless we, as a nation, have become so engrossed in money-making
as to be indifferent to distress.” Mr. Bryan’s proffer was ignored by
the President. He was later commissioned by Governor Holcomb, of
Nebraska, to raise the Third Nebraska regiment of volunteers. This he
did, becoming the colonel of the regiment. General Victor Vifquain, of
Lincoln, a gallant and distinguished veteran of the Civil war was made

In the meantime Admiral George Dewey commanding the United States
Asiatic fleet, had set forth from Hong Kong, engaged the Spanish fleet
in Manila bay on May 1, and completely demolished it. Manila was the
capital of the entire Philippine archipelago, with its eight to ten
million inhabitants, then nominally under Spanish sovereignty. The
Filipinos themselves, of whom Admiral Dewey said, “these people are far
superior in their intelligence and more capable of self-government than
the natives of Cuba,” were already in successful revolt against Spain,
battling bravely for their independence. Under the leadership of General
Aguinaldo, and at the invitation of Dewey and the representatives of the
United States state department, the insurgents cooperated as allies with
the American forces from the time of Dewey’s victory until the surrender
of Manila. They were furnished arms and ammunition by Dewey, and were
led to believe that their own independence would be assured on the
expulsion of Spain from the archipelago. During this time they
established a successful and orderly civil government throughout the
greater part of the islands. But at home the United States government
was already beginning to indicate its intention not to grant to the
Filipinos, at the conclusion of the war, the same liberty and
self-government as had been promised the Cubans. Rather, it was becoming
evident it was the purpose of Mr. McKinley and his advisers to hold the
islands as tributary territory, subject to United States’ jurisdiction,
while, at the same time, the inhabitants should be denied the
“inalienable rights” proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence and
guaranteed by our Constitution.

The American people were at a loss what to make of the situation. Their
eyes dazzled by the glories of war and conquest, their cupidity appealed
to by the vaunted richness of the “new possessions,” there still was
latent in their hearts the love for liberty as “the heritage of all men
in all lands everywhere,” and an unspoken fear of incorporating the
government of alien and subject races as an integral portion of the
scheme of American democracy.

Such was the situation when, at Omaha, Neb., on June 14, 1898, Colonel
W. J. Bryan, shortly before the muster-in of his regiment into the
service of the government, sounded the first note of warning against the
insidious dangers of imperialism; the first ringing appeal to the
Republic to remain true to its principles, its traditions, and its high
ideals. In taking his stand on this great question Mr. Bryan acted with
the boldness that has ever characterized him when matters of principle
were at stake. He spoke against the earnest advice of numerous political
friends, who warned him he was taking the unpopular side, and that his
mistake would cost him his political life. Mr. Bryan, because he
believed the policy of the administration to be radically wrong, paid no
heed to all the well-meant protestations, but earnestly warned the
people against the abandonment of the doctrines of the fathers of the
Republic. These were his words:

“History will vindicate the position taken by the United States in the
war with Spain. In saying this I assume that the principles which were
invoked in the inauguration of the war will be observed in its
prosecution and conclusion. If a war undertaken for the sake of humanity
degenerates into a war of conquest we shall find it difficult to meet
the charge of having added hypocrisy to greed. Is our national character
so weak that we can not withstand the temptation to appropriate the
first piece of land that comes within our reach?

“To inflict upon the enemy all possible harm is legitimate warfare, but
shall we contemplate a scheme for the colonization of the Orient merely
because our fleet won a remarkable victory in the harbor at Manila?

“Our guns destroyed a Spanish fleet, but can they destroy that
self-evident truth that governments derive their just powers—not from
force—but from the consent of the governed?

“Shall we abandon a just resistance to European encroachment upon the
western hemisphere, in order to mingle in the controversies of Europe
and Asia?

“Nebraska, standing midway between the oceans, will contribute her full
share toward the protection of our sea coast; her sons will support the
flag at home and abroad, wherever the honor and the interests of the
nation may require. Nebraska will hold up the hands of the government
while the battle rages, and when the war clouds roll away her voice will
be heard pleading for the maintenance of those ideas which inspired the
founders of our government and gave the nation its proud eminence among
the nations of the earth.

“If others turn to thoughts of aggrandizement, and yield allegiance to
those who clothe land covetousness in the attractive garb of ‘national
destiny,’ the people of Nebraska will, if I mistake not their
sentiments, plant themselves upon the disclaimer entered by Congress,
and expect that good faith shall characterize the making of peace as it
did the beginning of war.

“Goldsmith calls upon statesmen:

                 ‘To judge how wide the limits stand
                 Betwixt a splendid and a happy land.’

If some dream of the splendors of a heterogeneous empire encircling the
globe, we shall be content to aid in bringing enduring happiness to a
homogeneous people, consecrated to the purpose of maintaining ‘a
government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’”

Shortly after this speech Colonel Bryan left Nebraska with his regiment
to go into camp at Tampa, Florida, awaiting orders to Cuba or Porto
Rico. Like most of the other regiments called out by President McKinley,
Colonel Bryan’s was not destined ever to come in sight of a battlefield.
The amazing fact is that while the enormous number of 274,717 soldiers
were mustered into service, only 54,000 ever left American soil up to
the time the protocol was signed, August 12, 1898. The 220,000 were left
through the sweltering summer months in unsanitary camps to broil under
a southern sun. From May 1 to September 30, but 280 American soldiers
were killed in battle, while 2,565 died in fever-stricken camps pitched
in malarial swamps. The entire nation was aroused to the highest pitch
of indignation, and the press, without regard to party, joined in
denouncing the careless, cruel, and incompetent treatment of the
volunteer soldier.

The New York _Herald_ voiced the general feeling when it said:
“’Infamous’ is the only word to describe the treatment that has been
inflicted upon our patriotic soldiers, and under which, despite the
indignant outbursts of a horror-stricken people, thousands of them are
still suffering to-day.” The _Herald_ further declared the soldiers to
be “the victims of job-and-rob politicians and contractors, and of
criminally incompetent and heartlessly indifferent officials.”

For almost six months Colonel Bryan remained with his regiment in camp.
The quarters, the sanitative conditions, and the general arrangements of
the “Third Nebraska” were the pride of the army. Colonel Bryan was at
once “guide, counselor, and friend” to his men, winning the almost
idolatrous love of each and all of them. He gave lavishly of his meager
funds to secure the comfort of the sick and maintain the health of the
strong. His days and nights were devoted to the service of the regiment,
and more than one poor boy, dying of fever far from the wind-swept
Nebraska prairies, passed away holding his Colonel’s hand and breathing
into his Colonel’s ear the last faltering message of farewell to loved
ones at home.


               POYNTER       MISS POYNTER       C. A. TOWNE
                       J. BRYAN       GOV. POYNTER


In joining the volunteer army, as when he delivered the first
anti-imperialist speech, Colonel Bryan had acted against the advice of
many of his closest personal and political friends. Despite his decisive
defeat for the presidency in 1896, he had not only maintained but even
strengthened his position as the recognized leader of the Democratic
party and its allies. Undaunted by the result of the campaign, he had
almost immediately resumed the fight for bimetallism. He had published a
book reviewing the contest under the suggestive and defiant title “The
First Battle.” He had taken to the lecture platform and to the political
hustings, vigorously, hopefully, and earnestly propagating the
principles of democracy, unwavering, unwearying, and undisturbed by the
general depression of his followers and as general exultation of his
opponents. He was the incarnation of the spirit of conservative reform,
and all parties had come to regard him as the prophet and supreme leader
of the new movement back to Jeffersonian principles. His friends feared
to have him accept a commission, not only on the ground that his doing
so might later compel his silence at a time when his voice ought to be
heard, but more largely because they dreaded the possibility of having
his motive impugned. It was evident to them, as to Colonel Bryan
himself, that by taking up the role of colonel of a volunteer regiment,
he had much to risk and lose, and little, if anything, to gain. But the
Democratic leader was not to be dissuaded. Content in his own knowledge
that his motive was worthy and patriotic, he assumed and bore
unostentatiously and yet with dignity the office of military leader of
1,300 of his Nebraska friends and neighbors. He remained faithfully with
his regiment, living the slow and tedious life of the camp, until the
treaty of peace was signed with Spain in December, 1898. That treaty
provided not only for the cession of Porto Rico to the United States and
Spanish relinquishment of all claim to sovereignty over Cuba, but
further for the turning over of the Philippine Islands to the United
States on the payment of $20,000,000. This last concession was wrung
from Spain by the insistent and uncompromising demand of the American
Peace Commissioners, under instructions from the state department at

Shortly after the treaty was signed, President McKinley blasted the fond
hopes for independence that had been planted in the Filipinos’ breasts
by issuing this proclamation:

“With the signature of the treaty of peace between the United States and
Spain by their respective plenipotentiaries at Paris on the tenth
instant, and as the result of the victories of American arms, the future
control, disposition, and government of the Philippine Islands are ceded
to the United States. In fulfilment of the rights of sovereignty thus
acquired, and the responsible obligations of government thus assumed,
the actual occupation and administration of the entire group of the
Philippine Islands become immediately necessary, and the military
government heretofore maintained by the United States in the city,
harbor, and bay of Manila is to be extended with all possible dispatch
to the whole of the ceded territory.”

Prior to this time, and later, the President explained his position on
the Philippine question, and we quote from him at some length.

At Chicago, in October, 1898, he said: “My countrymen, the currents of
destiny flow through the hearts of the people. Who will check them? Who
will divert them? Who will stop them? And the movements of men, planned
and designed by the Master of men, will never be interrupted by the
American people.”

At the Atlanta (Ga.) Peace Jubilee in December of the same year, he
said: “That [the American] flag has been planted in two hemispheres, and
there it remains, the symbol of liberty and law, of peace and progress.
Who will withhold it from the people over whom it floats its protecting
folds? Who will haul it down?”

At Savannah, a day or two later he said: “If, following the clear
precepts of duty, territory falls to us, and the welfare of an alien
people requires our guidance and protection, who will shrink from the
responsibility, grave though it may be? Can we leave these people who,
by the fortunes of war and our own acts, are helpless and without
government, to chaos and anarchy after we have destroyed the only
government that they had?”

At the Home Market Club, in Boston, on February 16, 1899, he explained
himself more fully, saying: “Our concern was not for territory or trade
or empire, but for the people whose interests and destiny, without our
willing it, had been put in our hands. It was with this feeling that
from the first day to the last not one word or line went from the
Executive in Washington to our military and naval commanders at Manila
or to our Peace Commissioners at Paris that did not put as the sole
purpose to be kept in mind, first, after the success of our arms and the
maintenance of our own honor, the welfare and happiness and the rights
of the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands. Did we need their consent
to perform a great act for humanity? If we can benefit these remote
peoples, who will object? If, in the years of the future, they are
established in government under law and liberty, who will regret our
perils and sacrifices? Who will not rejoice in our heroism and

One more quotation. At Minneapolis, October 12, 1899, President McKinley
delivered himself of this utterance: “That Congress will provide for
them [the Filipinos] a government which will bring them blessings, which
will promote their material interests, as well as advance their people
in the paths of civilization and intelligence, I confidently believe.”

With such phrase-making as this, concealing in sonorous periods the most
un-American of sentiments, Colonel Bryan’s utterance, delivered
immediately after he had resigned his commission, stands out in bold and
pleasing relief: “I may be in error, but in my judgment our nation is in
greater danger just now than Cuba. Our people defended Cuba against
foreign arms; now they must defend themselves and their country against
a foreign idea—the colonial idea of European nations. Heretofore greed
has perverted the government and used its instrumentalities for private
gains, but now the very foundation principles of our government are
assaulted. Our nation must give up any intention of entering upon a
colonial policy, such as is now pursued by European countries, or it
must abandon the doctrine that governments derive their just powers from
the consent of the governed. To borrow a Bible quotation ‘A house
divided against itself can not stand.’ Paraphrasing Lincoln’s
declaration, I may add that this nation can not endure half republic and
half colony, half free and half vassal. Our form of government, our
traditions, our present interests, and our future welfare, all forbid
our entering upon a career of conquest....

“Some think the fight should be made against ratification of the treaty,
but I would prefer another plan. If the treaty is rejected, negotiations
must be renewed, and instead of settling the question according to our
ideas we must settle it by diplomacy, with the possibility of
international complications. It will be easier, I think, to end the war
at once by ratifying the treaty and then deal with the subject in our
own way. The issue can be presented directly by a resolution of Congress
declaring the policy of the nation upon this subject. The President in
his message says that our only purpose in taking possession of Cuba is
to establish a stable government and then turn that government over to
the people of Cuba. Congress could reaffirm this purpose in regard to
Cuba, and assert the same purpose in regard to the Philippines and Porto
Rico. Such a resolution would make a clear-cut issue between the
doctrine of self-government and the doctrine of imperialism. We should
reserve a harbor and coaling station in Porto Rico and the Philippines
in return for services rendered, and I think we would be justified in
asking the same concession from Cuba.

“In the case of Porto Rico, where the people have as yet expressed no
desire for independent government, we might with propriety declare our
willingness to annex the island, if the citizens desire annexation, but
the Philippines are too far away and their people too different from
ours to be annexed to the United States, even if they desired it.”

In making this statement, and in his subsequent active support of the
treaty, Mr. Bryan’s course was again opposed to the wishes and advice of
many of his close political friends. In fact, before Mr. Bryan took his
firm stand probably the majority of Democratic leaders in and out of
Congress were opposed to the ratification of the treaty because of its
Philippine clause. But Mr. Bryan, while as strongly opposed to this
clause as anyone, was anxious to see the war finally ended. He knew that
for the Senate to reject the treaty would prolong the war perhaps a year
or more, and, further, that it might lead to endless and unpleasant
complications. Once the war was ended, he held, the American people
themselves could dispose of the Philippine question.

Largely owing to the aid extended the administration by Mr. Bryan, the
treaty was ratified by the Senate. Those senators who were opposed to
the imperial policy of President McKinley supported the “Bacon
resolution” as a declaration of this nation’s purpose toward the
Philippines and Filipinos. This resolution declared:

“The United States hereby disclaim any disposition or intention to
exercise permanent sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said
islands, and assert their determination, when a stable and independent
government shall have been erected therein, entitled in the judgment of
the government of the United States to recognition as such, to transfer
to said government, upon terms which shall be reasonable and just, all
rights secured under the cession by Spain, and to thereupon leave the
government and control of the islands to their people.”

The Democratic policy, as outlined by Mr. Bryan, was the support of the
treaty and of the foregoing resolution. The treaty was ratified, but the
resolution, though supported by practically the solid Democratic,
Populist, and Silver Republican strength in the Senate, and by a number
of Republican senators who were opposed to the imperial policy, was
defeated by the deciding vote of Vice-President Hobart. Had the
resolution been adopted, and the Philippines been given the same promise
of independence and self-government as had already been given Cuba, it
is believed that the long, bloody, and costly war in the Philippine
Islands might have been averted, and the abandoned old-world heresy of
the right of one man to rule another without that other’s consent would
not now have regained a footing on the soil of the great American

In the meantime the President’s proclamation of December 21, 1898, to
the Filipinos, asserting the sovereignty of the United States over them
and theirs had provoked a veritable hurricane of indignation among that

The characteristic that distinguishes the Filipinos from all other
Asiatic races is their fierce, inherent love for liberty. For three
hundred years they had been intermittently battling with the Spaniard to
regain what they had lost, and the palm of victory was within their
eager reach on the day that Dewey’s guns first thundered across Manila
bay. Knowing as they did that the United States had gone to war to
secure liberty for the Cubans, why should they doubt the securing of
their own liberty as well?

The President’s proclamation came like a thunder clap. General Otis, who
was commander-in-chief of the American forces in the Philippines,
reported its effect as follows:

“Aguinaldo met the proclamation by a counter one in which he indignantly
protested against the claim of sovereignty by the United States in the
islands, which really had been conquered from the Spaniards through the
blood and treasure of his countrymen, and abused me for my assumption of
the title of military governor. Even the women of Cavite province, in a
document numerously signed by them, gave me to understand that after all
the men are killed off they are prepared to shed their patriotic blood
for the liberty and independence of their country.”

The revulsion was complete. Before the proclamation was issued, it is
true, there had been growing among the Filipinos a feeling of distrust
of the Americans, and of doubt whether, after all, they were to be
conceded their independence. For, at the surrender of Manila, although
its capture had been impossible without the aid of the insurgents, they
were studiously excluded from any share of the honor, and thus given the
first intimation of the final treachery of the administration. Later the
Filipinos were refused a hearing at Washington, and again before the
Peace Commission which was to dispose of them like chattels.

Actual hostilities broke out February 4, 1899, and are thus referred to
by President McKinley in his message to Congress December 4, 1899: “The
aggression of the Filipinos continually increased, until finally, just
before the time set by the Senate of the United States for a vote upon
the treaty, an attack, evidently prepared in advance, was made all along
the American lines, which resulted in a terribly destructive and
sanguinary repulse of the insurgents.”

The report of General Otis, reads as follows (page 96): “The battle of
Manila commenced at half past eight o’clock, on the evening of February
4 (1899), and continued until five o’clock the next evening. The
engagement was strictly defensive on the part of the insurgents, and one
of vigorous attack by our forces.”

Senator Hoar, of Massachusetts, in a letter to the Springfield (Mass.)
_Republican_, January 11, 1900, is responsible for this statement
regarding the first battle: “The outbreak of hostilities was not their
fault, but ours. We fired upon them first. The fire was returned from
their lines. Thereupon it was returned again from us, and several
Filipinos were killed. As soon as Aguinaldo heard of it he sent a
message to General Otis saying that the firing was without his knowledge
and against his will; that he deplored it, and that he desired
hostilities to cease, and would withdraw his troops to any distance
General Otis should desire. To which the American general replied that,
as the firing had begun, it must go on.”

Thus began the War in the Philippine Islands. It has cost thousands of
lives and millions of treasure. It has burned the homes and uprooted the
fields of a frugal, intelligent, and industrious people in whose minds
and hearts have been seared the ringing words of Patrick Henry: “Give me
liberty or give me death!” It has not brought to the United States
either riches or glory, but, on the contrary, lost to us much in taxes
on our people, more in the death of our youth, and most of all in the
sullying of the noble and lofty ideals which animated the Fathers of the
Republic and made their lives sublime. An American soldier writing to
the Minneapolis _Times_, in describing a captured city, thus simply sets
forth the enormity of our national offense:

“Every inhabitant had left Norzagaray, and no article of value remained
behind. The place had probably been the home of fifteen hundred or two
thousand people, and was pleasantly situated on a clear mountain stream
in which a bath was most refreshing. It was not a city of apparent
wealth, but in many houses were found evidences of education. In a
building which probably had been used as a schoolhouse were found a
number of books, and a variety of exercises written by childish hands.
Pinned to a crucifix was a paper upon which was written the following in
Spanish: ‘American soldiers—How can you hope mercy from Him when you are
slaughtering a people fighting for their liberty, and driving us from
the homes which are justly ours?’ On a table was a large globe which did
not give Minneapolis, but had San Pablo (St. Paul) as the capital of
Minnesota. On a rude blackboard were a number of sentences, which
indicated that the teacher had recently been giving lessons in the
history of the American revolution.”

The demoralizing effect of this war against liberty on the American
conscience became early apparent. If it were permissible to make war on
the Filipinos because they would not yield to our government, it was no
far cry to withhold from the Porto Ricans the protecting aegis of the
Constitution, to levy a discriminating tariff against them, and to tax
them without their consent. And it of course became impossible for the
United States to express sympathy for the Boers in their war against
British aggression, or even to maintain neutrality between the two. As a
consequence horses, mules, arms, and ammunition were permitted to be
freely shipped from our ports for the use of British soldiers, while
British ships were permitted to intercept and capture American ships
laden with American breadstuffs, when consigned to the Boers. In fact,
an “Anglo-Saxon alliance” was more than hinted at by John Hay, then
United States Ambassador to Great Britain, and later Secretary of State,
when he said at London, on April 20, 1898, speaking of England and the
United States:

“The good understanding between us is based on something deeper than
mere expediency. All who think can not but see that there is a sanction
like that of religion which binds us in partnership in the serious work
of the world. We are bound by ties we did not forge, and that we can not
break. We are joint ministers in the sacred work of freedom and
progress, charged with duties we can not evade by the imposition of
irresistible hands.”

To this sentiment Joseph Chamberlain, the British Secretary of the
Colonies, replied in kind on May 13, at Birmingham, saying:

“I would go so far as to say that, terrible as war may be, even war
itself would be cheaply purchased if, in a great and noble cause, the
Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack should wave together over an
Anglo-Saxon alliance. At the present time these two great nations
understand each other better than they ever have done, since, over a
century ago, they were separated by the blunder of a British

So we come to the close of the recital of the most salient events which
gave rise to the greatest issue save that of independence, and later, of
slavery, with which the American people have ever stood face to face.

Contemporaneous with the growth of the question of imperialism, and
allied to it, another great issue arose,—the problem of the trusts.

A “trust” may be defined as an industrial combination of such huge
proportions as to enable it not only arbitrarily to fix the price of the
finished product in which it deals, through the stifling of competition,
but frequently to determine alone the price of the raw material it uses
and to fix the rate of wages of those whom it employs. Of these great
and dangerous combinations there were formed, during the years 1897 to
1900, a number exceeding all those already in existence. That this was
permitted to be done with the Sherman anti-trust law on the Federal
statute books has puzzled many. Its explanation may be found in the
following candid admission made by Dr. Albert Shaw in the _Review of
Reviews_ for February, 1897:

“The great sound-money campaign of 1896 was carried on by money
contributed by corporations—money voted by the directors out of the
funds held by them in trust for the stockholders. Nobody, probably,
would even care to deny that this is literally the truth.”

When the “great sound money campaign” was concluded, it was but fair, of
course, that those who had given so lavishly should be allowed to
replenish their depleted coffers. And so neither anti-trust laws,
supreme court decisions, nor the cry of protest rising from the people
was allowed to stand in the way of those generous corporations to whom
President McKinley owed so much.

In the last six months of 1898 the movement toward centralization that
meant monopoly was most alarmingly pronounced. During this time there
were filed articles of incorporation by more than one hundred companies
of abnormal capitalization. The most important trusts were:

                 Gas trusts              $  432,771,000
                 Steel and iron             347,650,000
                 Coal combines              161,000,000
                 Oil trusts                 153,000,000
                 Flour trust                150,000,000
                 Electrical combinations    139,327,000
                 Sugar                      115,000,000
                 Cigarettes and tobacco     108,500,000
                 Alcoholic                   67,300,000
                 Telephone                   56,700,000
                 Miscellaneous            1,349,250,000

Among those classed as “miscellaneous” were trusts in leather, starch,
lumber, rubber, dressed beef, lead, knit goods, window glass, crockery,
furniture, crackers, sheet copper, paper, acids and chemicals, wall
paper, typewriters, axes, bolts and nuts, salt, saws, rope, twine,
thread, stock yards, matches, refrigerators, potteries, marbles, packing
and provisions.

After the formation of each trust the first step was almost invariably
to limit production by shutting down a portion of the mills controlled
by the combination, thus reducing the number of wage earners. And almost
as invariably the next step was to increase prices. By thus reducing
expenses and increasing receipts the result was, though much of the
trust property had been put in at an enormously inflated valuation, the
watered stock yet earned exceedingly large dividends. The evil was not
only that these unnatural dividends were earned at the expense of the
laborer and the consumer, but that concentration of profits was leading
to congestion of capital in certain sections of the country at the
expense of other sections.

The great friend and helper of the trust-promoter was, of course, the
high protective tariff. Without the tariff, to shut out competition from
abroad, it would be impossible for the domestic concerns to form a close
corporation and arbitrarily to fix prices. But Congress, instead of
attempting to remedy the evil by lowering the tariff, deliberately
raised it, being particularly careful to see that the percentage on
trust-controlled goods was made sufficiently high to render foreign
competition impossible. This led the Philadelphia _Ledger_, a Republican
newspaper, to remark:

“If Congress had any genuine regard for the interests of the people, or
if it were sincere of purpose respecting their common welfare, or in
regard to the proper protection of labor, it would promptly transfer to
the free list every product controlled by a conscienceless and predatory
trust which reduces production, cuts off working people from work and
wages, and increases prices to the tens of millions of consumers.” The
correctness of this view was testified to, before the United States
Industrial Commission, in June, 1899, by no less a personage than Henry
O. Havemeyer, president of the sugar trust, who said:

“The existing [tariff] bill and the preceding one have been the occasion
of the formation of all the large trusts with very few exceptions,
inasmuch as they provide for an inordinate protection to all the
interests of the country—sugar refining excepted. All this agitation
against trusts is against merely the business machinery employed to take
from the public what the government in its tariff laws says it is proper
and suitable they should have. It is the government, through its tariff
laws, which plunders the people, and the trusts, etc., are merely the
machinery for doing it.”

The showing regarding trusts made in the “Commercial Year Book” for 1899
was startling. Its salient features may be thus tabulated:

                                   1899           1898
             Number of trusts            353            200
             Stock            $5,118,494,181 $3,283,521,452
             Bonded debt         714,388,661    378,720,091
             Stock and bonds   5,832,882,842  3,662,241,543

This shows an increase for the year of 76 per cent. in the number of
institutions and of 60 per cent. in stock and bonded debt. But it shows
more than this. According to the census of 1890 the entire capital
employed in manufacturing and mechanical industries was $6,525,000,000.
A comparison of this figure with the stock and bonds of trusts for 1899
shows that the capitalization of these gigantic combines was equal to 90
per cent. of the entire manufacturing investments of 1890.

It was such significant figures as these that woke the country to a
realization of the imminence and great importance of the trust problem.
It was felt that the most stupendous industrial revolution in the
history of the world was on, because it was realized how closely our
industrial system had approached to complete absorption under
monopolistic control. Industry at large was becoming organized into a
system of feudalized corporations. Each was stifling competition,
discouraging enterprise, and padlocking the gates of opportunity.
Together they were in absolute mastery of the industrial field.

The menacing danger of the situation was early realized, and the
“anti-trust” movement progressed side by side with the opposition to
imperialism. The fight was to be one of individualism against a gigantic
and arrogant plutocracy, the forces of individualism contending for the
doctrines of liberty and equal opportunity as against the reactionary
tendencies of which trusts and imperialism were the supremest
manifestations. In this Titanic struggle it was but fitting that the
Jeffersonian hosts should be marshaled under the leadership of the
brave, aggressive, eloquent, and inspired evangel of the doctrines of
the Fathers—William J. Bryan.

[Illustration: DAVID B. HILL]


When the result of the great presidential contest of 1896 was made
known, Mr. Bryan’s political enemies, both in and out of the Democratic
party, loudly proclaimed that “Bryanism”—or “Bryanarchy,” as a
green-eyed relict of Mr. Cleveland’s second cabinet terms it—was dead
and buried. Some said it was “too dead to bury.” And Bryan himself, they
gleefully asserted, had died with the death of ideas to which he was
wedded. Doubtless many of them believed this. The fierce and determined
onslaught of the silver men in that memorable campaign had so wrought
upon the fears of the class of Americans of whom Marcus A. Hanna and
Pierpont Morgan are representative, that, in their nervous hysteria
after their narrow escape, they were in a frame of mind where but little
evidence was required to induce great faith. And, moreover, the decisive
defeat which Bryan had suffered, considered in its probable effect on
his disorganized following, was such as naturally gave birth to the hope
that to the outstretched palms of the repudiated and disowned leaders of
the party, such as Mr. Cleveland, might soon be restored in contrition
the insignia of power and authority.

But even those who most sincerely believed and uproariously heralded the
death of Bryanism and of Bryan continued their flagellations of both as
earnestly as of yore. To them the good old Latin rule “_De mortuis nihil
nisi bonum_” was obsolete and cobwebby.

And so, for almost three years succeeding Mr. McKinley’s election, the
funeral notices of Democracy’s leader were daily published and his
requiems daily sung. But, through all this time, the faith of the allied
forces of reform that their leader was still of the living abode with
them, and, firm in the belief, they were neither faltered nor dismayed,
and never a man broke ranks.

And it was not long before faith that was of the spirit gave way to that
certainty which comes of knowledge that is of the brain and senses. The
first evidence was the remarkable sale and popularity of “The First
Battle.” Another was the increasing demand for Mr. Bryan’s services as
lecturer and public speaker, and the rapturous enthusiasm with which he
was received, excelling, if possible that which greeted the Presidential
candidate. Then, when he fearlessly took a stand against imperialism,
which seemed to be sweeping the country like a great forest fire, and at
once, in response to his appeal, the great Democratic party lined up
against that policy, it became clearly evident that the powers of the
great popular leader had not waned; neither had his influence over the
minds and hearts of the people been lost. Finally, just as he was the
first great public man of the United States to raise his voice in
protest against the abandonment of the Republic, so he was the first to
propose a definite and coherent remedy for the overshadowing evil of the
trusts. This again demonstrated his natural fitness for leadership. Mr.
Bryan first outlined his views at the Anti-Trust Conference held in
Chicago in 1899. Because of its importance, as well as because it was
the first tangible remedy proposed, it is here reproduced:

“I believe we ought to have remedies in both state and nation, and that
they should be concurrent remedies. In the first place, every state has,
or should have, the right to create any private corporation, which, in
the judgment of the people of the state, is conducive to the welfare of
the people of that state. I believe we can safely entrust to the people
of a state the settlement of a question which concerns them. If they
create a corporation, and it becomes destructive of their best
interests, they can destroy that corporation, and we can safely trust
them both to create and annihilate, if conditions make annihilation
necessary. In the second place, the state has, or should have, the right
to prohibit any foreign corporation from doing business in the state,
and it has, or should have, the right to impose such restrictions and
limitations as the people of the state may think necessary upon foreign
corporations doing business in the state. In other words, the people of
the state not only should have a right to create the corporations they
want, but they should be permitted to protect themselves against any
outside corporation.

“But I do not think this is sufficient. I believe, in addition to a
state remedy, there must be a Federal remedy, and I believe Congress
has, or should have, the power to place restrictions and limitations,
even to the point of prohibition, upon any corporation organized in any
state that wants to do business outside of the state. I say that
Congress has, or should have, power to place upon the corporation such
limitations and restrictions, even to the point of prohibition, as may
to Congress seem necessary for the protection of the public.

“Now, I believe that these concurrent remedies will prove effective. To
repeat, the people of every state shall first decide whether they want
to create a corporation. They shall also decide whether they want any
outside corporation to do business in the state; and, if so, upon what
conditions; and then Congress shall exercise the right to place upon
every corporation doing business outside of the state in which it is
organized such limitations and restrictions as may be necessary for the
protection of the public.”

The legislation to be enacted by Congress Mr. Bryan roughly outlined as

“Suppose that Congress should say that whenever a corporation wants to
do business outside of the state, it must apply to and receive from some
body, created by Congress for the purpose, a license to do business.
Suppose the law should provide three conditions upon which the license
could be issued:

“1. That the evidence should show that there was no water in the stock.

“2. That the evidence should show that the corporation has not attempted
in the past and is not now attempting, to monopolize any branch of
industry or any article of merchandise; and

“3. Providing for that publicity which everybody has spoken of and about
which everybody agrees.”

This plan of Mr. Bryan’s for the suppression of monopolistic trusts is
given here, not especially because of the intrinsic merit it may
possess, but as illustrating one of the important phases of his

When the tariff question was under discussion, Mr. Bryan was an
outspoken advocate of a tariff for revenue only. When the silver
question arose Mr. Bryan wrote and stood squarely upon the first
platform that declared for the “free and unlimited coinage of both gold
and silver at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for
the aid or consent of any other nation on earth.” When the dark cloud of
imperialism rose on the horizon his was the first voice to point out the
danger, and he took an unequivocal position in favor of granting
independence to the Filipinos. And now, at the Trust Conference, while
many joined with him in denunciation of the evil, he alone proposed and
ably defended a definite and explicit remedy. So it has been with every
other question with which Mr. Bryan has had to deal, in his career as a
public man; he has never failed to state his exact position and to take
the American people fully and freely into his confidence. And his
frankness and honesty have been appreciated. Of the thousand delegates
chosen during the first six months of the year 1900 to attend the great
Democratic National convention at Kansas City, those from every state
but two were instructed for Bryan for President. When it is remembered
that this was done in spite of the earnest desire of a number of
well-known Democrats who wished it otherwise, but absolutely dared not
make a fight, the full significance of this great popular tribute to the
defeated candidate of four years before may be understood. It was this
unanimity as regarded the candidate, together with the unanimity
regarding the issue, the feeling of enthusiasm aroused by the one, and
of patriotic fervor excited by the other, that made the Kansas City
convention one destined to be memorable in American history. And while
the name on the lips of every Democrat was the same name as was
pronounced at Chicago four years before, the issue which aroused them by
the compelling force of events was entirely different. Then the question
was: What kind of money shall this nation have, and who shall issue it
and control its volume? Now the question was: What form of government
shall this nation have; shall it remain a Republic, as contemplated by
the fathers,—the world’s beacon light of liberty,—or shall it turn its
face to the past, extinguish its light, and on the dark sea of empire,
littered with the flotsam and jetsam of nations that once were great and
free, set forth toward the orient? The issue was worthy of the man, and
the man, with a reunited and virile Democracy behind him, was prepared
to meet it.

No man who was so fortunate as to be present at the Kansas City
convention can live long enough to forget it. It was epoch-marking not
only for its outward appearance, but for its inward significance. To the
onlooker, stirred by its emotional enthusiasm, by the wildness and
frenzy of its patriotic manifestations, these were its memorable and
significant features. But to him who looked beneath the surface, who
knew and saw the strange combat being waged between one man and many
hundreds of men,—a combat one of the strangest in nature and most
remarkable in its outcome ever waged in a parliamentary body,—it was
this that held him entranced to the end, and sent him home marveling at
that one man’s strength and greatness. It came about in this wise: Of
the hundreds of thousands of Gold Democrats who left the Democratic
party in 1896 because of the silver question, ninety per cent. or more
were anxious to come back and aid in Mr. Bryan’s nomination and
election, now that they believed they saw the Republic itself in danger
at the hand of President McKinley and his advisers. They saw, as did the
Silver Democrats, as did Mr. Bryan himself, that imperialism was to be
the dominating, all-important issue of the campaign. In the shadow of
the great danger of the conversion of the Republic into an empire they
were willing to subordinate all minor differences and join to defeat the
President they had themselves helped to elect four years before. It is
true that to these men “free silver” was still a bugaboo. At the same
time they were convinced that, because of the complexion of the Senate,
with its heavy Republican majority, even should Mr. Bryan and a
Democratic House of Representatives be elected on a free silver
platform, it would be impossible for them, in four years, to enact any
legislation along that line. But nevertheless, after the manner of many
a returning prodigal, they demanded a concession. It was a very modest
and moderate concession they wanted. They asked the party only to
reaffirm instead of reiterating the free silver plank of the Chicago

It can hardly be denied that to reaffirm is, in effect, to reiterate.
The difference is only in seeming,—and, possibly, that it gives
opportunity for “interpretation” and “construction.” At all events, the
Gold Democrats had early gone to work to secure this concession. They
had been successful in enlisting in their behalf scores and hundreds of
sincere friends of bimetallism in the Democratic party. And when the
delegates were gathered at Kansas City it became evident that a large
majority of them were favorable to the policy of a general reaffirmation
of the Chicago platform without a specific repetition of the demand for
free silver at the ratio of sixteen to one. Not only were the most of
the delegates inclined to this course, but it was advocated, before the
convention met, by a large majority of the influential party leaders. It
was, on the part of the leaders, as of most of the delegates, a sincere
and honest advocacy, by men whose fealty to the doctrine of bimetallism
was undoubted. It was their intent, not to abandon the demand for free
silver,—far from it,—for the platform would reaffirm the demand made in
1896,—but to subordinate it in such a way as would do least damage in
the fight for the preservation of the Republic. Such was their honest

But here the trouble arose. The Gold Democrats, by their very
insistence, had made “free silver” the only issue, so far as the
convention was concerned. There was no difference among Democrats as to
any other plank of the platform. This very fact, and the fact that in
every newspaper in the country the one question of discussion and of
speculation concerning the convention was whether it would “reaffirm” or
“reiterate” had brought the old issue so prominently to the fore-ground
that not to reiterate would mean practically to abandon the position,
while under fire. Had the issue never been raised, had the fight thereon
never been precipitated, it is conceivable, even probable, that there
had come from no source any objection to the policy of reaffirming the
Chicago platform so far as the old issues were concerned, and making
specific declarations on the new ones. But the issue had been raised,
and the objection came,—came from William J. Bryan, at his home in

On July 1, R. L. Metcalfe, a delegate at large from Nebraska, after a
long consultation with Mr. Bryan gave out an authorized interview in
which he declared that there must be a specific declaration on the money
question. This was taken as a statement of Mr. Bryan’s position, and
David B. Hill, the leader of the Gold Democrats, at once hastened from
Kansas City to Lincoln on a futile mission. He wished to induce Mr.
Bryan to recede from his position. It became at once evident that there
was to be a contest over the money plank of the platform.

On July 3, the day before the convention met, A. S. Tibbets of Lincoln,
another delegate-at-large from Nebraska, threw this bomb-shell: “Bryan
will not run on any platform which does not contain a specific
declaration in favor of free coinage at the ratio of sixteen to one. If
this convention does not put that declaration in the platform it will
have to nominate another candidate for president.”

This authorized statement was a bugle call to Democrats, reminding them
that parties are founded on the bed-rock of principle, and that
platforms are made unequivocally to express convictions. Many of the
leaders of the party, assembled at Kansas City, took their stand by
Bryan’s side, and the fight for sturdy, honest, and manly candor waged
fiercely to the end.

Ex-Governor Hill, who had returned from Lincoln, alone among the leaders
who had fought for a specific silver plank, boldly and openly continued
his fight. He is a hard and stubborn fighter, and he centered his
efforts on the organization of the committee on resolutions. He sent for
heads of delegations known to be favorable to his plan, and urged upon
them the necessity of selecting “careful, conservative, long-headed
men,” as members of that important committee. He argued vehemently for
the necessity of such action as would “reorganize the party” and make
victory assured. “Good God, gentlemen,” the famous New Yorker exclaimed
to one delegation with which he was closeted, “we must not lose this
election. It means fifty years of republican rule. And if we are wise,”
he said, wagging his head solemnly, “we will not lose it. The people
want to be with us. Shall we be so generous”—with an oratorical flourish
and Frenchified shrug of his expressive shoulders—“as to refuse to allow
them to fight our battles?”

Here a Kansan spoke up. “I am not a delegate, senator,” he said, “but I
want a conservative platform. If we don’t get it I’ll go home and quit,
and I’ve voted the Democratic ticket for fifty years.”

“Wait, wait, my friend,” came the quick response; “don’t, don’t, I pray
you, say that. Whether the platform pleases us or not, we must fight,
fight to win, fight to the death.” The eyes of the shrewd and wily
politician flashed. In quick, nervous staccato he continued: “Mark my
words, mark my words. If McKinley and a Republican Congress are elected
inside the year a force bill will be fastened upon us. Why? Kentucky;
that will be the excuse. And the next move—do you know what it will be?
On the pretext that the negro vote is not cast nor counted, the
representation of the southern states in Congress will be reduced. Their
vote in the electoral college will be diminished, and they’ll have the
Democratic party by the throat, bound hand and foot. We must not permit
it. We must not.”

The second day before the convention met, the writer of this chapter, in
a dispatch to the Omaha _World-Herald_, said:

“There are many Democrats in Kansas City to-night who profess to deplore
what they term William J. Bryan’s lack of skill as a “practical
politician,” who murmur their complaints that the leader of their party
does not understand the gentle art of constructing a platform that will
“catch ‘em acomin’ and catch ‘em a gwine,” who complain that Mr. Bryan
does not understand that the end and aim of a political party is to get
into power—to hold offices and control the patronage of the
administration. These men, crafty, cunning diplomats, though not always
successful withal, are, it may frankly be admitted, grieved and
disappointed at Mr. Bryan’s insistence that the Democratic platform
should clearly and explicitly set forth the conviction and the purpose
of Democracy’s heart and brain.

“But in all Kansas City, among all the sweltering and noisy crowds that
throng the lobbies and march up and down the streets, there can not be
found a single man—Democrat, Populist, or Republican—but will confess
his admiration of Mr. Bryan’s honesty and courage.

“To the leaders and manipulators of parties, to the men taught and
accustomed to play to the pit, Mr. Bryan is a source of ever-increasing
wonder and surprise. It is hard for the politician to understand the

“It it not to be doubted that Mr. Bryan’s wishes are to prevail in the
great convention of American patriotism which is to convene to-morrow on
the anniversary of the Republic’s birth, to proclaim anew the unchanged
and never-changing truths to perpetuate which the blood of heroes and of
martyrs was shed on a hundred battlefields.

“The platform will be an honest platform, it will be an easily
understood platform, it will conceal nothing, and it will evade nothing.
It will there declare, in explicit terms, for independent bimetallism by
this country alone, at the present legal ratio of sixteen to one. This
prediction may be safely hazarded.

“All day long the leaven has been working, all day long the gospel of
candor and righteousness has been preached, and to-night there is not a
delegate but knows that Mr. Bryan demands that the Democratic party deal
in unequivocal good faith with the people of this country.”

In truth the bold and manly position taken by Mr. Bryan had won him the
admiration and respect of the whole country. It demonstrated anew those
noble qualities which he possesses in such an unusual degree. The
strength of his position was well outlined in an interview given to the
New York _Herald_ by Mr. Metcalfe, who led the fight for a specific
declaration. Mr. Metcalfe said:

“When the American people know Mr. Bryan better, they will learn that he
is not a politician in the popular acceptation of that term, but that he
is honestly devoted to his views of fundamental principles, and that,
while not an obstinate man, on this question of principle he is as firm
as a rock. Men who know him best know him to be a man of iron. He stands
to-day determined that the platform on which he is to be a candidate
shall contain a plank explicitly pledging independent bimetallism at the
ratio of sixteen to one. Those men of the East who do not know the man,
and who may be inclined to regard his position on this question as an
obstinate one, should know that the same firmness of purpose, the same
indifference to appeal even by men known to be friendly to him that
characterizes his adherence to the principle in which some of the men of
the East believe him to be wrong, will sustain him in the White House on
the many great questions on which they believe him to be right.

“The situation is an unusual one as political situations have gone in
this country, but the man who is to be the nominee of this convention is
an exceptional man. As the prospective nominee of this convention he
will not surrender his convictions. As the nominee of the Democratic
party in the coming campaign he will not be a dodger. In the White House
he will not be a wabbler. When he shall be elected, men who may be
saddened by the thought that they have a President who believes in
bimetallism at the ratio of sixteen to one may find consolation in the
demonstration of the fact that they also have an American president who
adheres to the policies and traditions of a republic in preference to
the habits of an empire; who draws his inspiration from the great mass
of the people, rather than from a coterie of trust agents; whose purpose
it is to discharge his duties so that the result shall be the greatest
good to the greatest number, rather than to surrender to a handful of
men the privilege of administering the government to the end that the
many shall bear all the burdens and the few shall enjoy all the

The fight in the resolutions committee was a hard and long one. So
closely was the committee divided that it was evident that neither side
had more than two or three majority. It seemed almost inevitable that a
minority and majority report, differing only as to the wording in which
the party’s allegiance to silver should be expressed, would go before
the convention. And in this event hard feeling would in all probability
be engendered, harsh words be spoken, and factionalism and disunion
might result. In this crisis, one of the members of the resolutions
committee was seized with an inspiration. In a half hour the whole
difficulty was solved. The committee unanimously agreed to a specific
demand for free silver coupled with the declaration that imperialism was
the paramount issue of the campaign.

On July 5 the platform was read and adopted by the convention, and Bryan
nominated for president of the United States.

Again the writer incorporates a portion of a dispatch sent by him to the
_World-Herald_ descriptive of this memorable session of the convention:

“Never in the history of popular government has there been held a
national convention of a great political party that can be likened to
that which at Kansas City to-day promulgated its declaration of
principles and nominated its candidate for the chief magistracy of the
great commonwealth of sovereign American states.

[Illustration: ADLAI STEVENSON]

“To-day’s session witnessed scenes of turbulent enthusiasm, of intense
patriotic ardor such as have never before been witnessed and such as
promise a victory at once glorious and complete for William J. Bryan at
the polls next November. It has been a day marked by loftiest patriotism
and noblest purposes, a day that for centuries to come will stand clear
and distinct as marking an epoch in the cause of human liberty.

“To-day was fired the first gun of that great war which is to be waged
during the next four months for the preservation of the Republic and the
perpetuation of American institutions. And to-day, on a Democratic
platform, addressing a Democratic convention, Webster Davis, Republican
orator, statesman, and publicist, denounced in words of burning
eloquence Republican abandonment of republican principles, and pledged
his loyal and unswerving support to William J. Bryan. And on that same
platform David B. Hill, Gold Democrat, stood before wildly cheering
thousands, and announced a reunited Democracy.

“’Save the Republic,’ is to be the battle cry, the Declaration of
Independence the party creed, ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ the
battle hymn, and the American flag the party emblem. And the leader,
honest, unswerving, and undaunted, is to be the same gallant chieftain
who breathed anew the breath of life into Democracy four years ago and
marched it to glorious battle. Such, while the fire of patriotism burned
fiercely in its heart, was the unanimous decision reached to-day by the
Democratic National convention.

“As has been daily predicted in these dispatches, the Democratic party
took no backward step on the question of finance.

“There is no attempt at quibbling, at subterfuge, or equivocation.
Honesty and candor of the highest order live in this plank of the
platform as they have their being in every other plank. There is not a
line, a word, or a syllable capable of more than the one meaning; there
are no omissions, no half statements, no dodgings of any question. The
platform is in every sense worthy of the man—candid, bold, honest, and
sincere even as he is candid, bold, honest, and sincere. Most wondrously
were the schemes and machinations of the enemies of the Democratic party
confounded. For on the single question on which the delegates were
divided, as to whether there should be a specific demand for the free
coinage of silver at the ratio of sixteen to one by this nation alone,
the committee on resolutions brought in a unanimous report and the
demand was boldly and specifically made. And the platform in which that
demand was incorporated was adopted by the convention, not only with
absolute unanimity, but amid the wildest, the most general, and most
prolonged enthusiasm.

“In this unanimity spoke the love of every delegate for the Republic. It
came because of a realizing sense that popular government and free
institutions are in danger. And with that danger threatening, not a man
in the convention but felt that all other differences must be buried
while the party that founded and builded the Republic rallies to guard
the sacred edifice from the vandal hands that are outstretched for its
destruction. And thus it was that the great Democratic party reunited,
north, south, east, and west clasping hands, love of country in every
man’s heart and ‘save the Republic’ on each man’s lip, gave its platform
and its candidate to the country.”

So Mr. Bryan won his greatest fight. It was a fight not only for
principle and honesty, but for absolute candor and sincerity in dealing
with any question before the American people. And, having won it, he was
again the candidate for President of three political parties. For at
Kansas City, at a convention held at the same time as the Democratic,
the Silver Republican party, under the leadership of that pure and
disinterested patriot, Charles A. Towne, had made Bryan and Stevenson,
the Democratic nominees, its own nominees. And the Peoples’ party, at
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, early in May had, in a spirit of noble
self-sacrifice, gone outside its own party in its search for candidates,
naming Mr. Bryan for President and Mr. Towne for Vice-President. Mr.
Towne, believing that by so doing he could better further Mr. Bryan’s
election, later withdrew from the ticket.

The Republican party met at Philadelphia in June, and renominated
President McKinley, choosing as its Vice-Presidential candidate Governor
Theodore Roosevelt of New York. The platform declared for the permanent
retention of the Philippine Islands as property of the United States.

President McKinley, in his speech of acceptance, thus outlined his
Philippine policy:

“There must be no scuttle policy. We will fulfil in the Philippines the
obligations imposed by the triumph of our arms, by the treaty of peace,
and by international law, by the nation’s sense of honor, and, more than
all, by the rights, interests, and conditions of the Filipinos
themselves.... The Philippines are ours, and American authority must be
supreme throughout the archipelago.”

Those who find this declaration vague and unsatisfactory may well turn
to Mr. Bryan’s great speech of acceptance delivered at Indianapolis on
August 8, in which he makes this distinct pledge:

“If elected, I shall convene Congress in extraordinary session as soon
as I am inaugurated and recommend an immediate declaration of the
nation’s purpose, first, to establish a stable form of government in the
Philippine Islands, just as we are now establishing a stable form of
government in Cuba; second, to give independence to the Filipinos, just
as we have promised to give independence to the Cubans; third, to
protect the Filipinos from outside interference while they work out
their destiny, just as we have protected the republics of Central and
South America and are, by the Monroe Doctrine, pledged to protect Cuba.
A European protectorate often results in the exploitation of the ward by
the guardian. An American protectorate gives to the nation protected the
advantage of our strength without making it the victim of our greed. For
three-quarters of a century the Monroe Doctrine has been a shield to
neighboring republics, and yet it has imposed no pecuniary burden upon

So is the issue drawn in the important campaign in which, for a second
time, William J. Bryan and William McKinley are the opposing candidates
for the highest elective office in the world. For weal or for woe, who
can doubt that the outcome will be of serious and far-reaching import to
the people of the United States and to their children and children’s
children who shall live after them?

                        THE INDIANAPOLIS SPEECH

Mr. Bryan was notified of his second nomination for the Presidency by
the Democratic party at Indianapolis, Ind., on August 8, 1900. The
ceremonies took place in the presence of an immense multitude of people,
the number being conservatively estimated at fifty thousand, among whom
were included many of the most distinguished members of the party. In
formally accepting the nomination Mr. Bryan delivered a speech which
will not only rank as incomparably the best of his numerous public
utterances, but which is destined to immortality in the brief list of
the world’s great orations.

For purity and simplicity of style, and beauty and strength of
structure, as well as for its masterful logic and sublimity of
sentiment, this speech has never been excelled. While it has not the
stately sweep of Demosthenes’ Philippics, the incisiveness of Cicero’s
invectives, or the grandeur of Burke’s sonorous periods, in its every
sentence lives such honesty, sincerity, ardent patriotism, and lofty
purpose that it thrills the hearts and stirs the consciences of men as
no other speech, save only Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, has
ever done before.

This speech, not only because of its wondrous effect on the American
people and its direct bearing on the great issue with which Mr. Bryan’s
life has become wedded, but as much because of the glowing light it
sheds upon the character of the man, his ideals, and his motives, is
here reproduced in full:

early day, and in a more formal manner accept the nomination which you
tender, and I shall at that time discuss the various questions covered
by the Democratic platform. It may not be out of place, however, to
submit a few observations at this time upon the general character of the
contest before us and upon the question which is declared to be of
paramount importance in this campaign.

When I say that the contest of 1900 is a contest between democracy on
the one hand and plutocracy on the other, I do not mean to say that all
our opponents have deliberately chosen to give to organized wealth a
predominating influence in the affairs of the government, but I do
assert that, on the important issues of the day, the Republican party is
dominated by those influences which constantly tend to substitute the
worship of mammon for the protection of the rights of man.

In 1859 Lincoln said that the Republican party believed in the man and
the dollar, but that in case of conflict it believed in the man before
the dollar. This is the proper relation which should exist between the
two. Man, the handiwork of God, comes first; money, the handiwork of
man, is of inferior importance. Man is the master, money the servant,
but upon all important questions to-day Republican legislation tends to
make money the master and man the servant.

The maxim of Jefferson, “Equal rights to all and special privileges to
none,” and the doctrine of Lincoln that this should be a government “of
the people, by the people, and for the people,” are being disregarded
and the instrumentalities of government are being used to advance the
interests of those who are in a position to secure favors from the

The Democratic party is not making war upon the honest acquisition of
wealth; it has no desire to discourage industry, economy, and thrift. On
the contrary, it gives to every citizen the greatest possible stimulus
to honest toil when it promises him protection in the enjoyment of the
proceeds of his labor. Property rights are most secure when human rights
are most respected. Democracy strives for a civilization in which every
member of society will share according to his merits.

No one has a right to expect from society more than a fair compensation
for the service which he renders to society. If he secures more it is at
the expense of someone else. It is no injustice to him to prevent his
doing injustice to another. To him who would, either through class
legislation or in the absence of necessary legislation, trespass upon
the rights of another the Democratic party says, “Thou shalt not.”

Against us are arrayed a comparatively small but politically and
financially powerful number who really profit by Republican policies;
but with them are associated a large number who, because of their
attachment to their party name, are giving their support to doctrines
antagonistic to the former teachings of their own party. Republicans who
used to advocate bimetallism now try to convince themselves that the
gold standard is good; Republicans who were formerly attached to the
greenback are now seeking an excuse for giving national banks control of
the nation’s paper money; Republicans who used to boast that the
Republican party was paying off the national debt are now looking for
reasons to support a perpetual and increasing debt; Republicans who
formerly abhorred a trust now beguile themselves with the delusion that
there are good trusts and bad trusts, while, in their minds, the line
between the two is becoming more and more obscure; Republicans who, in
times past, congratulated the country upon the small expense of our
standing army are now making light of the objections which are urged
against a large increase in the permanent military establishment;
Republicans who gloried in our independence when the nation was less
powerful now look with favor upon a foreign alliance; Republicans who
three years ago condemned “forcible annexation” as immoral and even
criminal are now sure that it is both immoral and criminal to oppose
forcible annexation. That partisanship has already blinded many to
present dangers is certain; how large a portion of the Republican party
can be drawn over to the new policies remains to be seen.

For a time Republican leaders were inclined to deny to opponents the
right to criticise the Philippine policy of the administration, but upon
investigation they found that both Lincoln and Clay asserted and
exercised the right to criticise a president during the progress of the
Mexican war.

Instead of meeting the issue boldly and submitting a clear and positive
plan for dealing with the Philippine question, the Republican convention
adopted a platform, the larger part of which was devoted to boasting and

In attempting to press economic questions upon the country to the
exclusion of those which involve the very structure of our government,
the Republican leaders give new evidence of their abandonment of the
earlier ideals of the party and of their complete subserviency to
pecuniary considerations.

But they shall not be permitted to evade the stupendous and far-reaching
issue which they have deliberately brought into the arena of politics.
When the president, supported by a practically unanimous vote of the
House and Senate, entered upon a war with Spain for the purpose of
aiding the struggling patriots of Cuba, the country, without regard to
party, applauded. Although the Democrats recognized that the
administration would necessarily gain a political advantage from the
conduct of a war which in the very nature of the case must soon end in a
complete victory, they vied with the Republicans in the support which
they gave to the President. When the war was over and the Republican
leaders began to suggest the propriety of a colonial policy, opposition
at once manifested itself. When the President finally laid before the
Senate a treaty which recognized the independence of Cuba, but provided
for the cession of the Philippine islands to the United States, the
menace of imperialism became so apparent that many preferred to reject
the treaty and risk the ills that might follow rather than take the
chance of correcting the errors of the treaty by the independent action
of this country.

I was among the number of those who believed it better to ratify the
treaty and end the war, release the volunteers, remove the excuse for
war expenditures, and then give to the Filipinos the independence which
might be forced from Spain by a new treaty.

In view of the criticism which my action aroused in some quarters, I
take this occasion to restate the reasons given at that time. I thought
it safer to trust the American people to give independence to the
Filipinos than to trust the accomplishment of that purpose to diplomacy
with an unfriendly nation. Lincoln embodied an argument in the question
when he asked, “Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make
laws?” I believe that we are now in a better position to wage a
successful contest against imperialism than we would have been had the
treaty been rejected. With the treaty ratified, a clean-cut issue is
presented between a government by consent and a government by force, and
imperialists must bear the responsibility for all that happens until the
question is settled. If the treaty had been rejected, the opponents of
imperialism would have been held responsible for any international
complications which might have arisen before the ratification of another
treaty. But, whatever differences of opinion may have existed as to the
best method of opposing a colonial policy, there never was any
difference as to the importance of the course to be pursued.

The title of Spain being extinguished, we were at liberty to deal with
the Filipinos according to American principles. The Bacon resolution,
introduced a month before hostilities broke out at Manila, promised
independence to the Filipinos on the same terms that it was promised to
the Cubans. I supported this resolution and believe that its adoption
prior to the breaking out of hostilities would have prevented bloodshed,
and that its adoption at any subsequent time would have ended

If the treaty had been rejected considerable time would have necessarily
elapsed before a new treaty could have been agreed upon and ratified,
and during that time the question would have been agitating the public
mind. If the Bacon resolution had been adopted by the Senate and carried
out by the President, either at the time of the ratification of the
treaty or at any time afterwards, it would have taken the question of
imperialism out of politics and left the American people free to deal
with their domestic problems. But the resolution was defeated by the
vote of the Republican Vice-President, and from that time to this a
Republican Congress has refused to take any action whatever in the

When hostilities broke out at Manila Republican speakers and Republican
editors at once sought to lay the blame upon those who had delayed the
ratification of the treaty, and, during the progress of the war, the
same Republicans have accused the opponents of imperialism of giving
encouragement to the Filipinos. This is a cowardly evasion of

If it is right for the United States to hold the Philippine islands
permanently and imitate European empires in the government of colonies,
the Republican party ought to state its position and defend it, but it
must expect the subject races to protest against such a policy and to
resist to the extent of their ability. The Filipinos do not need any
encouragement from Americans now living. Our whole history has been an
encouragement, not only to the Filipinos, but to all who are denied a
voice in their own government. If the Republicans are prepared to
censure all who have used language calculated to make the Filipinos hate
foreign domination let them condemn the speech of Patrick Henry. When he
uttered that passionate appeal, “Give me liberty or give me death,” he
expressed a sentiment which still echoes in the hearts of men. Let them
censure Jefferson; of all the statesmen of history none have used words
so offensive to those who would hold their fellows in political bondage.
Let them censure Washington, who declared that the colonists must choose
between liberty and slavery. Or, if the statute of limitations has run
against the sins of Henry and Jefferson and Washington, let them censure
Lincoln, whose Gettysburg speech will be quoted in defense of popular
government when the present advocates of force and conquest are

Some one has said that a truth once spoken can never be recalled. It
goes on and on, and no one can set a limit to its ever-widening
influence. But if it were possible to obliterate every word written or
spoken in defense of the principles set forth in the Declaration of
Independence, a war of conquest would still leave its legacy of
perpetual hatred, for it was God Himself who placed in every human heart
the love of liberty. He never made a race of people so low in the scale
of civilization or intelligence that it would welcome a foreign master.

Those who would have this nation enter upon a career of empire must
consider not only the effect of imperialism on the Filipinos, but they
must also calculate its effects upon our own nation. We can not
repudiate the principle of self-government in the Philippines without
weakening that principle here.

Lincoln said that the safety of this nation was not in its fleets, its
armies, its forts, but in the spirit which prizes liberty as the
heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere, and he warned his
countrymen that they could not destroy this spirit without planting the
seeds of despotism at their own doors.

Even now we are beginning to see the paralyzing influence of
imperialism. Heretofore, this nation has been prompt to express its
sympathy with those who were fighting for civil liberty. While our
sphere of activity has been limited to the western hemisphere, our
sympathies have not been bounded by the seas. We have felt it due to
ourselves and to the world, as well as to those who were struggling for
the right to govern themselves, to proclaim the interest which our
people have, from the date of their own independence, felt in every
contest between human rights and arbitrary power. Three-quarters of a
century ago, when our nation was small, the struggles of Greece aroused
our people, and Webster and Clay gave eloquent expression to the
universal desire for Grecian independence. In 1896, all parties
manifested a lively interest in the success of the Cubans, but now when
a war is in progress in South Africa, which must result in the extension
of the monarchial idea, or in the triumph of a republic, the advocates
of imperialism in this country dare not say a word in behalf of the
Boers. Sympathy for the Boers does not arise from any unfriendliness
towards England; the American people are not unfriendly toward the
people of any nation. This sympathy is due to the fact that, as stated
in our platform, we believe in the principles of self-government, and
reject, as did our forefathers, the claims of monarchy. If this nation
surrenders its belief in the universal application of the principles set
forth in the Declaration of Independence, it will lose the prestige and
influence which it has enjoyed among the nations as an exponent of
popular government.

Our opponents, conscious of the weakness of their cause, seek to confuse
imperialism with expansion, and have even dared to claim Jefferson as a
supporter of their policy. Jefferson spoke so freely and used language
with such precision that no one can be ignorant of his views. On one
occasion he declared: “If there be one principle more deeply rooted than
any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have
nothing to do with conquest.” And again he said: “Conquest is not in our
principles; it is inconsistent with our government.”

The forcible annexation of territory to be governed by arbitrary power
differs as much from the acquisition of territory to be built up into
states as a monarchy differs from a democracy. The Democratic party does
not oppose expansion, when expansion enlarges the area of the Republic
and incorporates land which can be settled by American citizens, or adds
to our population people who are willing to become citizens and are
capable of discharging their duties as such. The acquisition of the
Louisiana territory, Florida, Texas, and other tracts which have been
secured from time to time enlarged the Republic, and the Constitution
followed the flag into the new territory. It is now proposed to seize
upon distant territory, already more densely populated than our own
country, and to force upon the people a government for which there is no
warrant in our Constitution or our laws. Even the argument that this
earth belongs to those who desire to cultivate it and who have the
physical power to acquire it can not be invoked to justify the
appropriation of the Philippine islands by the United States. If the
islands were uninhabited American citizens would not be willing to go
there and till the soil. The white race will not live so near the
equator. Other nations have tried to colonize in the same latitude. The
Netherlands have controlled Java for 300 years, and yet to-day there are
less than 60,000 people of European birth scattered among the 25,000,000
natives. After a century and a half of English domination in India, less
than one-twentieth of one per cent of the people of India are of English
birth, and it requires an army of 70,000 British soldiers to take care
of the tax collectors. Spain had asserted title to the Philippine
islands for three centuries and yet, when our fleet entered Manila bay,
there were less than 10,000 Spaniards residing in the Philippines.

A colonial policy means that we shall send to the Philippine islands a
few traders, a few taskmasters, and a few office holders, and an army
large enough to support the authority of a small fraction of the people
while they rule the natives.

If we have an imperial policy we must have a great standing army as its
natural and necessary complement. The spirit which will justify the
forcible annexation of the Philippine islands will justify the seizure
of other islands and the domination of other people, and with wars of
conquest we can expect a certain, if not rapid, growth of our military
establishment. That a large permanent increase in our regular army is
intended by Republican leaders is not a matter of conjecture, but a
matter of fact. In his message of December 5, 1898, the President asked
for authority to increase the standing army to 100,000. In 1896 the army
contained about 25,000. Within two years the President asked for four
times that many, and a Republican House of Representatives complied with
the request after the Spanish treaty had been signed, and when no
country was at war with the United States. If such an army is demanded
when an imperial policy is contemplated, but not openly avowed, what may
be expected if the people encourage the Republican party by endorsing
its policy at the polls? A large standing army is not only a pecuniary
burden to the people and, if accompanied by compulsory service, a
constant source of irritation, but it is ever a menace to a Republican
form of government. The army is the personification of force, and
militarism will inevitably change the ideals of the people and turn the
thoughts of our young men from the arts of peace to the science of war.
The government which relies for its defense upon its citizens is more
likely to be just than one which has at call a large body of
professional soldiers. A small standing army and a well equipped and
well disciplined state militia are sufficient at ordinary times, and in
an emergency the nation should, in the future as in the past, place its
dependence upon the volunteers who come from all occupations at their
country’s call and return to productive labor when their services are no
longer required—men who fight when the country needs fighters and work
when the country needs workers.

The Republican platform assumes that the Philippine islands will be
retained under American sovereignty, and we have a right to demand of
the Republican leaders a discussion of the future status of the
Filipino. Is he to be a citizen or a subject? Are we to bring into the
body politic eight or ten million Asiatics, so different from us in race
and history that amalgamation is impossible? Are they to share with us
in making the laws and shaping the destiny of this nation? No Republican
of prominence has been bold enough to advocate such a proposition. The
McEnery resolution, adopted by the Senate immediately after the
ratification of the treaty, expressly negatives this idea. The
Democratic platform describes the situation when it says that the
Filipinos can not be citizens without endangering our civilization. Who
will dispute it? And what is the alternative? If the Filipino is not to
be a citizen, shall we make him a subject? On that question the
Democratic platform speaks with equal emphasis. It declares that the
Filipino can not be a subject without endangering our form of
government. A republic can have no subjects. A subject is possible only
in a government resting upon force; he is unknown in a government
deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.

The Republican platform says that “the largest measure of
self-government consistent with their welfare and our duties shall be
secured to them [the Filipinos] by law.” This is a strange doctrine for
a government which owes its very existence to the men who offered their
lives as a protest against government without consent and taxation
without representation. In what respect does the position of the
Republican party differ from the position taken by the English
government in 1776? Did not the English government promise a good
government to the colonists? What king ever promised a bad government to
his people? Did not the English government promise that the colonists
should have the largest measure of self-government consistent with their
welfare and English duties? Did not the Spanish government promise to
give to the Cubans the largest measure of self-government consistent
with their welfare and Spanish duties? The whole difference between a
monarchy and a republic may be summed up in one sentence. In a monarchy,
the king gives to the people what he believes to be a good government;
in a republic the people secure for themselves what they believe to be a
good government. The Republican party has accepted the European idea and
planted itself upon the ground taken by George III., and by every ruler
who distrusts the capacity of the people for self-government or denies
them a voice in their own affairs.

The Republican platform promises that some measure of self-government is
to be given the Filipinos by law; but even this pledge is not fulfilled.
Nearly sixteen months elapsed after the ratification of the treaty
before the adjournment of Congress last June, and yet no law was passed
dealing with the Philippine situation. The will of the President has
been the only law in the Philippine Islands wherever the American
authority extends. Why does the Republican party hesitate to legislate
upon the Philippine question? Because a law would disclose the radical
departure from history and precedent contemplated by those who control
the Republican party. The storm of protest which greeted the Porto Rican
bill was an indication of what may be expected when the American people
are brought face to face with legislation upon this subject. If the
Porto Ricans, who welcomed annexation, are to be denied the guarantees
of our Constitution, what is to be the lot of the Filipinos, who
resisted our authority? If secret influences could compel a disregard of
our plain duty toward friendly people, living near our shores, what
treatment will those same influences provide for unfriendly people 7,000
miles away? If, in this country where the people have the right to vote,
Republican leaders dare not take the side of the people against the
great monopolies which have grown up within the last few years, how can
they be trusted to protect the Filipinos from the corporations which are
waiting to exploit the islands?

Is the sunlight of full citizenship to be enjoyed by the people of the
United States, and the twilight of semi-citizenship endured by the
people of Porto Rico, while the thick darkness of perpetual vassalage
covers the Philippines? The Porto Rico tariff law asserts the doctrine
that the operation of the Constitution is confined to the forty-five
states. The Democratic party disputes this doctrine and denounces it as
repugnant to both the letter and spirit of our organic law. There is no
place in our system of government for the deposit of arbitrary and
irresponsible power. That the leaders of a great party should claim for
any president or congress the right to treat millions of people as mere
“possessions” and deal with them unrestrained by the Constitution or the
bill of rights shows how far we have already departed from the ancient
land marks, and indicates what may be expected if this nation
deliberately enters upon a career of empire. The territorial form of
government is temporary and preparatory, and the chief security a
citizen of a territory has is found in the fact that he enjoys the same
constitutional guarantees and is subject to the same general laws as the
citizen of a state. Take away this security and his rights will be
violated and his interests sacrificed at the demand of those who have
political influence. This is the evil of the colonial system, no matter
by what nation it is applied.

What is our title to the Philippine Islands? Do we hold them by treaty
or by conquest? Did we buy them or did we take them? Did we purchase the
people? If not, how did we secure title to them? Were they thrown in
with the land? Will the Republicans say that inanimate earth has value,
but that when that earth is molded by the Divine hand and stamped with
the likeness of the Creator it becomes a fixture and passes with the
soil? If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the
governed, it is impossible to secure title to people, either by force or
by purchase. We could extinguish Spain’s title by treaty, but if we hold
title we must hold it by some method consistent with our ideas of
government. When we made allies of the Filipinos and armed them to fight
against Spain, we disputed Spain’s title. If we buy Spain’s title we are
not innocent purchasers. But even if we had not disputed Spain’s title,
she could transfer no greater title than she had, and her title was
based on force alone. We can not defend such a title, but as Spain gave
us a quit-claim deed, we can honorably turn the property over to the
party in possession. Whether any American official gave to the Filipinos
formal assurance of independence is not material. There can be no doubt
that we accepted and utilized the services of the Filipinos, and that
when we did so we had full knowledge that they were fighting for their
own independence, and I submit that history furnishes no example of
turpitude baser than ours if we now substitute our yoke for the Spanish

Let us consider briefly the reasons which have been given in support of
an imperialistic policy. Some say that it is our duty to hold the
Philippine Islands. But duty is not an argument; it is a conclusion. To
ascertain what our duty is in any emergency, we must apply well settled
and generally accepted principles. It is our duty to avoid stealing, no
matter whether the thing to be stolen is of great or little value. It is
our duty to avoid killing a human being, no matter where the human being
lives or to what race or class he belongs. Everyone recognizes the
obligation imposed upon individuals to observe both the human and moral
law, but as some deny the application of those laws to nations, it may
not be out of place to quote the opinions of others.

Jefferson, than whom there is no higher political authority, said:

“I know of but one code of morality for men, whether acting singly or

Franklin, whose learning, wisdom, and virtue are a part of the priceless
legacy bequeathed to us from the Revolutionary days, expressed the same
idea in even stronger language when he said:

“Justice is as strictly due between neighbor nations as between neighbor
citizens. A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as
when single; and the nation that makes an unjust war is only a great

Men may dare to do in crowds what they would not dare to do as
individuals, but the moral character of an act is not determined by the
number of those who join it. Force can defend a right, but force has
never yet created a right. If it were true, as declared in the
resolutions of intervention, that the Cubans “are and of right ought to
be free and independent” (language taken from the Declaration of
Independence), it is equally true that the Filipinos “are and of right
ought to be free and independent.” The right of the Cubans to freedom
was not based upon their proximity to the United States, nor upon the
language which they spoke, nor yet upon the race or races to which they
belonged. Congress by a practically unanimous vote declared that the
principles enunciated at Philadelphia in 1776 were still alive and
applicable to the Cubans. Who will draw a line between the natural
rights of the Cuban and the Filipino? Who will say that the former has a
right to liberty and the latter has no rights which we are bound to
respect? And, if the Filipinos “are and of right ought to be free and
independent,” what right have we to force our government upon them
without their consent? Before our duty can be ascertained, their rights
must be determined, and when their rights are once determined, it is as
much our duty to respect those rights as it was the duty of Spain to
respect the rights of the people of Cuba or the duty of England to
respect the rights of the American colonists. Rights never conflict;
duties never clash. Can it be our duty to usurp political rights which
belong to others? Can it be our duty to kill those who, following the
example of our forefathers, love liberty well enough to fight for it?

Some poet has described the terror which overcame a soldier who in the
midst of battle discovered that he had slain his brother. It is written
“All ye are brethren.” Let us hope for the coming of the day when human
life—which when once destroyed can not be restored—will be so sacred
that it will never be taken except when necessary to punish a crime
already committed, or to prevent a crime about to be committed!

If it is said that we have assumed before the world obligations which
make it necessary for us to permanently maintain a government in the
Philippine Islands, I reply, first, that the highest obligation of this
nation is to be true to itself. No obligation to any particular nation,
or to all the nations combined, can require the abandonment of our
theory of government and the substitution of doctrines against which our
whole national life has been a protest. And, second, that our obligation
to the Filipinos, who inhabit the islands, is greater than any
obligation which we can owe to foreigners who have a temporary residence
in the Philippines or desire to trade there.

It is argued by some that the Filipinos are incapable of self-government
and that, therefore, we owe it to the world to take control of them.
Admiral Dewey, in an official report to the navy department, declared
the Filipinos more capable of self-government than the Cubans and said
that he based his opinion upon a knowledge of both races. But I will not
rest the case upon the relative advancement of the Filipinos. Henry
Clay, in defending the right of the people of South America to
self-government, said:

“It is the doctrine of thrones that man is too ignorant to govern
himself. Their partisans assert his incapacity in reference to all
nations; if they can not command universal assent to the proposition, it
is then demanded to particular nations; and our pride and our
presumption too often make converts of us. I contend that it is to
arraign the disposition of Providence Himself to suppose that He has
created beings incapable of governing themselves, and to be trampled on
by kings. Self-government is the natural government of man.”

Clay was right. There are degrees of proficiency in the art of
self-government, but it is a reflection upon the Creator to say that He
denied to any people the capacity for self-government. Once admit that
some people are capable of self-government and that others are not and
that the capable people have a right to seize upon and govern the
incapable, and you make force—brute force—the only foundation of
government and invite the reign of a despot. I am not willing to believe
that an all-wise and an all-loving God created the Filipinos and then
left them thousands of years helpless until the islands attracted the
attention of European nations.

Republicans ask, “Shall we haul down the flag that floats over our dead
in the Philippines?” The same question might have been asked when the
American flag floated over Chapultepec and waved over the dead who fell
there; but the tourist who visits the City of Mexico finds there a
national cemetery owned by the United States and cared for by an
American citizen. Our flag still floats over our dead, but when the
treaty with Mexico was signed, American authority withdrew to the Rio
Grande, and I venture the opinion that during the last fifty years the
people of Mexico have made more progress under the stimulus of
independence and self-government than they would have made under a
carpet bag government held in place by bayonets. The United States and
Mexico, friendly republics, are each stronger and happier than they
would have been had the former been cursed and the latter crushed by an
imperialistic policy, disguised as “benevolent assimilation.”

“Can we not govern colonies?” we are asked. The question is not what we
can do, but what we ought to do. This nation can do whatever it desires
to do, but it must accept responsibility for what it does. If the
Constitution stands in the way, the people can amend the Constitution. I
repeat, the nation can do whatever it desires to do, but it can not
avoid the natural and legitimate results of its own conduct. The young
man upon reaching his majority can do what he pleases. He can disregard
the teachings of his parents; he can trample upon all that he has been
taught to consider sacred; he can disobey the laws of the state, the
laws of society, and the laws of God. He can stamp failure upon his life
and make his very existence a curse to his fellow men, and he can bring
his father and mother in sorrow to the grave; but he can not annul the
sentence, “The wages of sin is death.” And so with the nation. It is of
age, and it can do what it pleases; it can spurn the traditions of the
past; it can repudiate the principles upon which the nation rests; it
can employ force instead of reason; it can substitute might for right;
it can conquer weaker people; it can exploit their lands, appropriate
their property, and kill their people; but it can not repeal the moral
law or escape the punishment decreed for the violation of human rights.

               “Would we tread in the paths of tyranny,
                 Nor reckon the tyrant’s cost?
               Who taketh another’s liberty
                 His freedom is also lost.
               Would we win as the strong have ever won,
                 Make ready to pay the debt,
               For the God who reigned over Babylon
                 Is the God who is reigning yet.”

Some argue that American rule in the Philippine Islands will result in
the better education of the Filipinos. Be not deceived. If we expect to
maintain a colonial policy, we shall not find it to our advantage to
educate the people. The educated Filipinos are now in revolt against us,
and the most ignorant ones have made the least resistance to our
domination. If we are to govern them without their consent and give them
no voice in determining the taxes which they must pay, we dare not
educate them, lest they learn to read the Declaration of Independence
and the Constitution of the United States and mock us for our

The principal arguments, however, advanced by those who enter upon a
defense of imperialism, are:

First—That we must improve the present opportunity to become a world
power and enter into international politics.

Second—That our commercial interests in the Philippine Islands and in
the orient make it necessary for us to hold the islands permanently.

Third—That the spread of the Christian religion will be facilitated by a
colonial policy.

Fourth—That there is no honorable retreat from the position which the
nation has taken.

The first argument is addressed to the nation’s pride and the second to
the nation’s pocket-book. The third is intended for the church member
and the fourth for the partisan.

It is a sufficient answer to the first argument to say that for more
than a century this nation has been a world power. For ten decades it
has been the most potent influence in the world. Not only has it been a
world power, but it has done more to affect the politics of the human
race than all the other nations of the world combined. Because our
Declaration of Independence was promulgated, others have been
promulgated. Because the patriots of 1776 fought for liberty, others
have fought for it; because our constitution was adopted, other
constitutions have been adopted. The growth of the principle of self
government, planted on American soil, has been the overshadowing
political fact of the nineteenth century. It has made this nation
conspicuous among the nations and given it a place in history such as no
other nation has ever enjoyed. Nothing has been able to check the onward
march of this idea. I am not willing that this nation shall cast aside
the omnipotent weapon of truth to seize again the weapons of physical
warfare. I would not exchange the glory of this republic for the glory
of all the empires that have risen and fallen since time began.

The permanent chairman of the last Republican National convention
presented the pecuniary argument in all its baldness, when he said:

“We make no hypocritical pretense of being interested in the Philippines
solely on account of others. While we regard the welfare of those people
as a sacred trust, we regard the welfare of the American people first.
We see our duty to ourselves as well as to others. We believe in trade
expansion. By every legitimate means within the province of government
and constitution, we mean to stimulate the expansion of our trade and
open new markets.”

This is the commercial argument. It is based upon the theory that war
can be rightly waged for pecuniary advantage, and that it is profitable
to purchase trade by force and violence. Franklin denied both of these
propositions. When Lord Howe asserted that the acts of parliament, which
brought on the Revolution, were necessary to prevent American trade from
passing into foreign channels, Franklin replied:

“To me it seems that neither the obtaining nor retaining of any trade,
how valuable soever, is an object for which men may justly spill each
other’s blood; that the true and sure means of extending and securing
commerce are the goodness and cheapness of commodities, and that the
profits of no trade can ever be equal to the expense of compelling it
and holding it by fleets and armies. I consider this war against us,
therefore, as both unjust and unwise.”

I place the philosophy of Franklin against the sordid doctrine of those
who would put a price upon the head of an American soldier and justify a
war of conquest upon the ground that it will pay. The Democratic party
is in favor of the expansion of trade. It would extend our trade by
every legitimate and peaceful means; but it is not willing to make
merchandise of human blood.

But a war of conquest is as unwise as it is unrighteous. A harbor and
coaling station in the Philippines would answer every trade and military
necessity, and such a concession could have been secured at any time
without difficulty.

It is not necessary to own people in order to trade with them. We carry
on trade to-day with every part of the world, and our commerce has
expanded more rapidly than the commerce of any European empire. We do
not own Japan or China, but we trade with their people. We have not
absorbed the republics of Central and South America, but we trade with
them. It has not been necessary to have any political connection with
Canada or the nations of Europe, in order to trade with them. Trade can
not be permanently profitable unless it is voluntary. When trade is
secured by force, the cost of securing it and retaining it must be taken
out of the profits, and the profits are never large enough to cover the
expense. Such a system would never be defended but for the fact that the
expense is borne by all the people, while the profits are enjoyed by a

Imperialism would be profitable to the army contractors; it would be
profitable to the ship owners, who would carry live soldiers to the
Philippines and bring dead soldiers back; it-would be profitable to
those who would seize upon the franchises, and it would be profitable to
the officials whose salaries would be fixed here and paid over there;
but to the farmer, to the laboring man, and to the vast majority of
those engaged in other occupations, it would bring expenditure without
return and risk without reward.

Farmers and laboring men have, as a rule, small incomes, and, under
systems which place the tax upon consumption, pay more than their fair
share of the expenses of government. Thus the very people who receive
least benefit from imperialism will be injured most by the military
burdens which accompany it.

[Illustration: THE BRYAN FARM]

In addition to the evils which he and the farmer share in common, the
laboring man will be the first to suffer if oriental subjects seek work
in the United States; the first to suffer if American capital leaves our
shores to employ oriental labor in the Philippines to supply the trade
of China and Japan; the first to suffer from the violence which the
military spirit arouses, and the first to suffer when the methods of
imperialism are applied to our own government.

It is not strange, therefore, that the labor organizations have been
quick to note the approach of these dangers and prompt to protest
against both militarism and imperialism.

The pecuniary argument, though more effective with certain classes, is
not likely to be used so often or presented with so much emphasis as the
religious argument. If what has been termed the “gun-powder gospel” were
urged against the Filipinos only, it would be a sufficient answer to say
that a majority of the Filipinos are now members of one branch of the
Christian church; but the principle involved is one of much wider
application and challenges serious consideration.

The religious argument varies in positiveness from a passive belief that
Providence delivered the Filipinos into our hands for their good and our
glory, to the exultation of the minister who said that we ought to
“thrash the natives (Filipinos) until they understand who we are,” and
that “every bullet sent, every cannon shot, and every flag waved means

We can not approve of this doctrine in one place unless we are willing
to apply it everywhere. If there is poison in the blood of the hand it
will ultimately reach the heart. It is equally true that forcible
Christianity, if planted under the American flag in the faraway orient,
will sooner or later be transplanted upon American soil. If true
Christianity consists in carrying out in our daily lives the teachings
of Christ, who will say that we are commanded to civilize with dynamite
and proselyte with the sword? He who would declare the divine will must
prove his authority either by Holy Writ or by evidence of a special
dispensation. Imperialism finds no warrant in the Bible. The command “go
ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” has no
gatling gun attachment. When Jesus visited a village of Samaria and the
people refused to receive Him, some of the disciples suggested that fire
should be called down from Heaven to avenge the insult, but the Master
rebuked them and said: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; for
the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”
Suppose He had said: “We will thrash them until they understand who we
are,” how different would have been the history of Christianity!
Compare, if you will, the swaggering, bullying, brutal doctrine of
imperialism with the golden rule and the commandment “Thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself.”

Love, not force, was the weapon of the Nazarene; sacrifice for others,
not the exploitation of them, was His method of reaching the human
heart. A missionary recently told me that the stars and stripes once
saved his life because his assailant recognized our flag as a flag that
had no blood upon it. Let it be known that our missionaries are seeking
souls instead of sovereignty; let it be known that instead of being the
advance guard of conquering armies, they are going forth to help and to
uplift, having their loins girt about with truth and their feet shod
with the preparation of the gospel of peace, wearing the breastplate of
righteousness and carrying the sword of the spirit; let it be known that
they are citizens of a nation which respects the rights of the citizens
of other nations as carefully as it protects the rights of its own
citizens, and the welcome given to our missionaries will be more cordial
than the welcome extended to the missionaries of any other nation.

The argument made, by some, that it was unfortunate for the nation that
it had anything to do with the Philippine islands, but that the naval
victory at Manila made the permanent acquisition of those islands
necessary is also unsound. We won a naval victory at Santiago, but that
did not compel us to hold Cuba. The shedding of American blood in the
Philippine Islands does not make it imperative that we should retain
possession forever; American blood was shed at San Juan hill and El
Caney, and yet the President has promised the Cubans independence. The
fact that the American flag floats over Manila does not compel us to
exercise perpetual sovereignty over the islands; the American flag waves
over Havana to-day, but the President has promised to haul it down when
the flag of the Cuban republic is ready to rise in its place. Better a
thousand times that our flag in the orient give way to a flag
representing the idea of self government than that the flag of this
republic should become the flag of an empire.

There is an easy, honest, honorable solution of the Philippine question.
It is set forth in the Democratic platform and it is submitted with
confidence to the American people. This plan I unreservedly endorse. If
elected, I will convene Congress in extraordinary session as soon as
inaugurated and recommend an immediate declaration of the nation’s
purpose, first, to establish a stable form of government in the
Philippine Islands, just as we are now establishing a stable form of
government in Cuba; second, to give independence to the Filipinos just
as we have promised to give independence to the Cubans; third, to
protect the Filipinos from outside interference while they work out
their destiny, just as we have protected the republics of Central and
South America and are, by the Monroe Doctrine, pledged to protect Cuba.
A European protectorate often results in the plundering of the ward by
the guardian. An American protectorate gives to the nation protected the
advantage of our strength, without making it the victim of our greed.
For three-quarters of a century the Monroe Doctrine has been a shield to
neighboring republics, and yet it has imposed no pecuniary burden upon
us. After the Filipinos had aided us in the war against Spain, we could
not honorably turn them over to their former masters; we could not leave
them to be the victims of the ambitions designs of European nations, and
since we do not desire to make them a part of us or to hold them as
subjects, we propose the only alternative, namely, to give them
independence and guard them against molestation from without.

When our opponents are unable to defend their position by argument they
fall back upon the assertion that it is destiny, and insist that we must
submit to it, no matter how much it violates moral precepts and our
principles of government. This is a complacent philosophy. It
obliterates the distinction between right and wrong and makes
individuals and nations the helpless victims of circumstance.

Destiny is the subterfuge of the invertebrate, who, lacking the courage
to oppose error, seeks some plausible excuse for supporting it.
Washington said that the destiny of the Republican form of government
was deeply, if not finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the
American people. How different Washington’s definition of destiny from
the Republican definition! The Republicans say that this nation is in
the hands of destiny; Washington believed that not only the destiny of
our own nation but the destiny of the Republican form of government
throughout the world was entrusted to American hands. Immeasurable
responsibility! The destiny of this Republic is in the hands of its own
people, and upon the success of the experiment here rests the hope of
humanity. No exterior force can disturb this Republic, and no foreign
influence should be permitted to change its course. What the future has
in store for this nation no one has authority to declare, but each
individual has his own idea of the nation’s mission, and he owes it to
his country as well as to himself to contribute as best he may to the
fulfilment of that mission.

Mr. Chairman, and Gentlemen of the Committee: I can never fully
discharge the debt of gratitude which I owe to my countrymen for the
honors which they have so generously bestowed upon me; but, sirs,
whether it be my lot to occupy the high office for which the convention
has named me, or to spend the remainder of my days in private life, it
shall be my constant ambition and my controlling purpose to aid in
realizing the high ideals of those whose wisdom and courage and
sacrifices brought this Republic into existence.

I can conceive of a national destiny surpassing the glories of the
present and the past—a destiny which meets the responsibilities of
to-day and measures up to the possibilities of the future. Behold a
republic, resting securely upon the foundation stones quarried by
Revolutionary patriots from the mountain of eternal truth—a republic
applying in practice and proclaiming to the world the self-evident
proposition, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed with
inalienable rights; that governments are instituted among men to secure
these rights; and that governments derive their just powers from the
consent of the governed. Behold a republic in which civil and religious
liberty stimulate all to earnest endeavor, and in which the law
restrains every hand uplifted for a neighbor’s injury—a republic in
which every citizen is a sovereign but in which no one cares to wear a
crown. Behold a republic standing erect while empires all around are
bowed beneath the weight of their own armaments—a republic whose flag is
loved while other flags are only feared. Behold a republic increasing in
population, in wealth, in strength and in influence, solving the
problems of civilization and hastening the coming of an universal
brotherhood—a republic which shakes thrones and dissolves aristocracies
by its silent example and gives light and inspiration to those who sit
in darkness. Behold a republic gradually but surely becoming the supreme
moral factor in the world’s progress and the accepted arbiter of the
world’s disputes—a republic whose history, like the path of the just,
“is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect

                             BRYAN: THE MAN

The firm hold which Mr. Bryan has over the confidence, esteem, and love
of his followers was strikingly proven in the dark days that followed
November, 1896. It is certain that no other public man of his time could
have been the candidate of the Democratic party on the Chicago platform,
suffered that severe reversal, and yet retained, undisputed and
undisturbed, the acknowledged leadership of the party. Whoso learns why
it was that Mr. Bryan stood stronger in defeat then he was before has
found the key to the man’s greatness. Certainly it was not that he was a
great and eloquent orator. For the orator, while always assured a
hearing and a place under the lime-light, is still far from the actual
leadership of his party. It was not because of the views which he
entertained on public questions, for they were those of scores of other
well known and able men. It was not because of his honesty and sincerity
alone, any more than of his undoubted courage or his clean and upright
personality and blameless home life. These, while all real
qualifications, were not essentials. Each and all of them were marked
characteristics of other notable public men, although it is doubtful if
any possessed them all alike in the same degree as Bryan. But there were
other and rarer qualities, the most important, his cheerful and
contagious optimism and his intensity of character, which spoke in his
every act and utterance. His optimism is an unwavering faith in the ways
and ends of the Creator; a firm and abiding belief that “He doeth all
things well.” The verse from Ella Wheeler Wilcox with which Mr. Bryan
closes his “First Battle” well illustrates this phase of his character:

            “Let those who have failed take courage;
            Tho’ the enemy seems to have won,
            Tho’ his ranks are strong, if he be in the wrong
            The battle is not yet done;
            For sure as the morning follows
            The darkest hour of the night,
            No question is ever settled
            Until it is settled right.”

It is this inspiring belief, planted on a foundation so deep and so
secure that no storm can shake it, that leaves Mr. Bryan as hopeful,
confident, and serene in the darkest hour of defeat as his opponent can
possibly be with the paeans of victory ringing in his ears. It is a rare
trait, this superb optimism. It wins, instinctively, the hearts and
affections of men, only to inspire them to heroic effort under the most
adverse surroundings. But its strongest feature is its effect on the
possessor. For when that discouragement which comes from failure, and
the inertia which discouragement brings in its train, is eliminated from
a strong man’s composition he becomes a god, with the power and
greatness of the immortals. The scope of his vision is broadened, his
mental horizon enlarges, fear and weakness are banished from his heart,
and his might becomes irresistible as he battles for the right as he
sees the right. So Mr. Bryan’s optimism has made him a strong,
self-poised, cheerful, happy man, whose confidence and good spirits are
contagious and whose following increases as his reverses multiply.

His second marked characteristic, his intensity, is one even rarer than
the first. The extent to which it is his it is most difficult to make
clear. It may, perhaps, be best done by illustration drawn from the
writer’s personal experience.

One Saturday, toward the end of the 1899 campaign, Mr. Bryan was
speeding across southern Nebraska from east to west on a special train.
Every half or quarter hour stops were made at stations along the route,
and Mr. Bryan would hastily emerge from his car, make his way, generally
unassisted, to a nearby platform, and speak for from ten minutes to an
hour to the crowds assembled to hear him. It was most fatiguing work and
done by a thoroughly worn-out man. For Mr. Bryan had for two weeks been
constantly traveling by train and carriage, speaking from two to a dozen
times daily, eating at irregular intervals, and sleeping not more than
four or five hours out of each twenty-four. As a natural result his face
was drawn and haggard, his muscles frequently twitching, and under his
eyes were great black hollows. Yet at every stopping point, when he rose
to face his fellow Nebraskans, the worn look would give way, the
deep-set eyes would lighten with the fires of a holy zeal, and, in a
voice that rang out clear and strong and passionate he pleaded for the
preservation of the Republic and its ideals, inviolate and intact. The
train was running on schedule time, of course, and at each stopping
point it was necessary for the engineer to toot his whistle and ring his
bell, not once, but continuously, in order to tear Mr. Bryan away from
his audience when the alloted time had expired. Then the indefatigable
campaigner, shaking scores of outstretched hands as he ran, would hasten
to his car, and the train would speed along to the next stopping place.
Mr. Bryan would no sooner enter his car than he dropped his head on a
pillow and slept until a tap on the shoulder awoke him, and he rushed
out to make another speech, generally differing in form from any made
that day or any previous day, though the substance of all was, of
course, largely the same. Once, as the train was screaming along between
stations Mr. Bryan called the writer to his state-room, where he lay at
rest. He raised his head from the pillow as I entered, and started to
speak. What words of suggestion or advice were on his tongue I shall
never know, for, in the middle of his first sentence the tired head fell
back, the lustrous eyes were closed, and his heavy breathing alone told
that life remained in the man’s worn and exhausted frame as he lay there
fast asleep.

Late in the afternoon of that same day Mr. Bryan’s dinner was brought
him on the train, and he ate—as he slept—between stations. His traveling
companions, it may be observed, had eaten hearty meals at a town long
passed, dining in leisure while Mr. Bryan, standing with bared head on a
wind-swept platform, with a scorching sun beating down upon him,
addressed five thousand or more wildly cheering people. As he sat in his
little compartment, hastily munching his food, there were with him Mr.
Joseph A. Altsheler, of the New York _World_, and the writer,
representing the Omaha _World-Herald_. One of us chanced to mention some
interruption made at the last meeting, where a shrewd Republican
partisan had raised a point which Mr. Bryan’s ready repartee had
quickly, if not efficiently, disposed of. As soon as the matter was
mentioned Mr. Bryan turned from the tray on which were his fried
chicken, cold slaw, and coffee. And there, his eyes glowing like lakes
of molten metal, his expressive features all in play, in the voice of
one who addressed a multitude, he took up that Republican’s sophism and
analyzed it for the benefit of us twain. Such was the concentrated and
awful intensity of the man that it thrilled me to the core, and, under
that burning gaze and vibrant, moving voice, in such an unusual
entourage, I trembled with an emotion I could not name.

It was near midnight of that day when the train reached Benkelman, in
far western Nebraska, where the last speech was to be delivered. The
warm day had been succeeded by a night that was almost bitter cold, and,
as we alighted from the train, tired, sleepy, and hungry, the cold,
fierce wind from the mountains swooped down on us, and pierced us
through and through. At that late hour, and in that semi-arid, scantily
populated country, there were patiently waiting, wrapped in their great
coats, nearly fifteen hundred people, most of whom had driven from
twenty to one hundred miles “to hear Bryan speak.”

In the course of that day Mr. Bryan had already spoken sixteen times. To
do this he had risen before five o’clock in the morning and had traveled
over two hundred miles. At Benkelman, it was agreed, he should speak not
longer than fifteen minutes, and go to bed.

The speaker’s stand was at the principal street intersection of the
village. It was gaily decorated with flags and bunting, and lighted by
flaring gas jets. The piercing mountain wind swooped down on it like a
wolf on the fold. Up on this eminence the worn and wearied campaigner,
half dead from want of sleep and his constant exertions, was hurried.
Shrill volleys of cheers and yells rose to the heavens. There was a
moment’s silence. Then, on the cold air, there fell the deep, melodious,
serene voice of the orator, in words of earnest protest and warning, in
a magnificent plea for the Republic. For ten or twelve minutes we, who
were his traveling companions, remained; and though our eyes were heavy
and our senses dulled, though we shivered from the cold even as we
trembled with exhaustion, the splendid enthusiasm of that hardy little
band of frontiersmen warmed our hearts, and we cheered with them. But,
in a few minutes, tired nature called loud to us, and we plodded to the
hotel, a block and a half away. We sat for a half hour about the blazing
fire, absorbing the grateful warmth. Through the closed doors and
windows there came to us, ever and anon, the rich and powerful voice of
the orator down the street, punctuated by the wild yells of applause
that came from the delighted men of the sand-hills. Again we
retreated,—this time to our bed chambers. My teeth chattered like
castanets as I disrobed. And now I could plainly hear the orator’s
voice,—sometimes his very words,—words that thrilled and pulsated with
the life of an animate thing. I pulled the blankets and comforters close
about me, and fell into the sleep of utter exhaustion. The next morning
we learned that, for just one hour and three quarters Mr. Bryan had
stood in that bitter, piercing wind, under the inscrutable stars of
midnight on the prairie, and preached the gospel of democracy. Do you
gather, now, what I mean in saying that Mr. Bryan’s intensity is
something most difficult to describe? It is something that knows not
fear, nor hunger, nor exhaustion; that keeps him moving on,—ever and
steadily on toward the goal, unswerved and unhindered by those
hardships, trials, and obstacles that check the course of other men, or
cause them to turn into broader and easier paths.

It is this intensity of character and purpose that makes heroes and
martyrs. It also makes fanatics. But Mr. Bryan is no fanatic; his
stubborn determination and unyielding purpose is tempered with mental
equipoise, good judgment, and common sense.

The first impression one receives of Bryan as a man, and the last one to
fade, is that of his reckless sincerity. Right or wrong, he is honest;
he is of such a nature that he can not be otherwise; and all things for
good or evil, for success or defeat, must subordinate themselves to his
personal conception of duty. He possesses all those qualities common to
all great men, and some that but very few great men can claim. He has
few friends among the rich men of the nation, and is a stranger to
fashionable “society;” but he is loved and trusted by the millions who
follow him with a devotion such as no other American has won. At his
home or abroad, among his children or with his neighbors, or on his
well-kept farm, may be found a kindly, upright, debt-paying, unassuming
citizen, full of a gentle rollicking humor, a man without an impure
thought or act, a profoundly religious Presbyterian, a man who does not
smoke, yet who does not hesitate, on occasion, to offer cigars to his
friends; who will sit hour after hour in tobacco-laden air, sharing in
the conversation of those whose mouths are chimneys for the time. He
never drinks wine or liquor, yet he never flaunted a phylactery, or
called names when the clink of glasses was heard. In all things a
temperate and abstemious man, yet, such is his toleration that there is
nothing oppressive about his being better than most of us.

In personal appearance as well as mental gifts, Mr. Bryan is highly
favored. Before uttering a word, his magnetic influence wins for him the
favor of his audience. Simple is his delivery and bearing. “As he stands
before his listeners,” said Mr. R. L. Metcalfe, in a book published four
years ago: “he presents a bold and striking picture; intelligence is
stamped on every feature; he commences in the soft, pleasant tone,
instantly riveting your attention upon him. Your eyes are fastened upon
the orator. As he moves, you in spirit move with him; as he advances to
his climax his audience advances with him. In perfect harmony orator and
audience travel over the path of thought, until the climax is reached,
and then, as the last tone of the deep, rich, melodious voice of the
orator is uttered with a dramatic force, there breaks forth the full,
earnest applause that marks the approval of those who listen. The hand
of the orator is raised; instantly perfect silence follows. The sweet
tones of the marvelous voice are again heard within the enclosure, no
matter how vast.

“There is much in Mr. Bryan’s oratory that recalls to us many of our
noted speakers of long ago. Search his speeches through, whether in
Congress, before the convention, or on the stump, and you will find them
absolutely free from personalities. No audience ever sat within the
sound of his voice and caught a word that would appeal to the lower
passions of anger, hate, or revenge. He is always the master of

The directness, simplicity, and purity of Mr. Bryan’s style as an orator
and the loftiness and beauty of his sentiment are well shown in the
appended excerpt from one of his Congressional speeches on “Money,” in
which occurs his famous apostrophe to Thomas Jefferson:

“There are wrongs to be righted; there are evils to be eradicated; there
is injustice to be removed; there is good to be secured for those who
toil and wait. In this fight for equal laws we can not fail, for right
is mighty and will in time triumph over all obstacles. Even if our eyes
do not behold success, we know that our labor is not in vain, and we can
lay down our weapons, happy in the promise given by Bryant to the

                ‘Yea, though thou lie upon the dust,
                When they who help thee flee in fear
                Die full of hope and manly trust
                Like those who fall in battle here.
                Another hand by sword shall yield;
                Another hand the standard wave;
                Till from the trumpet’s mouth is pealed
                The blast of triumph o’er the grave.’

“Let us, then, with the courage of Andrew Jackson, apply to present
conditions the principles taught by Thomas Jefferson—Thomas Jefferson,
the greatest constructive statesman whom the world has ever known; the
greatest warrior who ever battled for human liberty. He quarried from
the mountain of eternal truth the four pillars upon whose strength all
popular government must rest. In the Declaration of American
Independence, he proclaimed the principles with which there is, without
which there can not be, ‘a government of the people, by the people, and
for the people.’ When he declared that ‘all men are created equal; that
they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to
secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their
just powers from the consent of the governed,’ he declared all that lies
between the alpha and omega of the Democracy.

“Alexander ‘wept for other worlds to conquer,’ after he had carried his
victorious banner throughout the then known world. Napoleon ‘rearranged
the map of Europe with his sword’ amid the lamentations of those by
whose blood he was exalted; but when these and other military heroes are
forgotten and their achievements disappear in the cycle’s sweep of
years, children will still lisp the name of Jefferson, and freedom will
ascribe due praise to him who filled the kneeling subject’s heart with
hope and bade him stand erect—a sovereign among his peers.”

In all of his rapid utterances and unpremeditated sentences one would
fail to detect the slightest lapse from good English; not only good, but
admirable. His talk is not that of a pedant,—far from it; but he does
speak like a cultivated, well-read man; like a polished man of letters,
but not so polished as to leave nothing but the gloss apparent. You may
search his numerous speeches, lectures, and addresses without finding
the slightest “_lapsus linguae_,” and all without sterility or banality.
In his speeches he shows a very remarkable versatility. “He will talk
along in a colloquial manner,” says Mr. Metcalfe, “making you laugh or
stirring your heartstrings with his pathos as he wills, and suddenly he
will throw forth his periods in language that makes one involuntarily
suspect of plagiarism from Milton or the prophets. Simplest words are
chosen, and they are formed in short, pithy sentences. No word is used
solely for its sound; the mere jingle of words has no place in the
mental workshop of our orator. To him words are the servants of thought,
and take their real beauty from the thought that blazes through them.
His style is as pure and captivating as that of Irving or Addison, and
not dissimilar to either. But style with him, as with those two great
masters, is valued not for itself, but because it conveys in the most
pleasing manner the thoughts which he would have others know.

“Mr. Bryan is not averse to the employment of the thoughts of others
wherever they add force and attractiveness to the argument in hand.
Accordingly, we find his speeches interspersed with quotations from some
of the best writers in both prose and poetry, but in each instance the
quotation has a natural fitness for the place in which it is found.
There are some productions which pass for oratory that are mere
mechanisms—the offspring of minds cold and plodding without a ray of
genius to illumine their path. The work of genius springs spontaneously
from the depths of the heart ruled by purity.”

In the preparation of his deliverances Mr. Bryan reads widely and
extensively, exhausting all the available sources of information. By
carefully and thoroughly acquainting himself with every possible phase
of his subject, by viewing it in all lights, he prepares himself not
only to prove the correctness of his own position, but to meet every
objection that may be offered against him.

In the diction of his speech the most acceptable language is chosen, and
so clear and simple do the most profound thoughts appear when they come
fresh-coined from his brain, that men have no difficulty in
comprehending them in all their force.

But it takes more than good English to make a great public man, though
good language is one of the most essential features of the part. An
instance that is told will illustrate one of his other qualifications.
On his arrival in a large city in the East, he had been taken for a
drive, and a number of people were waiting for him when he alighted on
his return. All the American people seem to consider it a duty to shake
hands with a public man, and these were there for that purpose. Among
them was a faded woman, apparently having worked out her hopes and
ambitions; while her face showed refinement and intellectuality, her
hands were gnarled by years of labor. As the candidate stepped from the
gay carriage, he was at once encircled by a throng of local dignitaries,
who successfully monopolized his attention, to the hopeless exclusion of
the woman, who was thoughtlessly jostled aside.

Mr. Bryan, glancing quickly about, saw her turning away, her
disappointment shown in her worn face, and, maneuvering about, he
delicately managed to bring himself in front of her, and, as he saw her
face light with pleasure, he extended his hands and murmured a few words
of pleasant meaning to her and passed on.

It is extremely doubtful if, among the public men of all time, there has
lived one more abounding in a superb vitality, or possessing so
magnificent a physique as Mr. Bryan. In his case, as in that of most men
of profound mentality, the powerful mind is found with powerful muscles
and a strong constitution to back it in its contests. His massively
moulded frame, capable of enduring the severest hardships and
nerve-racking strains, is the result of a clean, strong ancestry and
pure and temperate living in the life-giving atmosphere of the great

Altogether Mr. Bryan is a good specimen of an American. He is, for
example, neat in his dress, but his apparel is the least obtrusive part
of him. He is frank, companionable, courteous without subserviency,
aggressive without boorish insistence, well poised, witty and yet
cleanly minded, learned without conceit. And he loves his family above
all else on earth. At one place a hasty departure from a hotel had to be
made to catch a train, and one of the party took Mr. Bryan’s coat by
mistake. The discovery was made as soon as the garment was put on, and
to ascertain to whom it belonged the wearer put his hands in the pocket
to see if any article might be found that would serve for
identification. There were only two things found, and those were
photographs of Mr. Bryan’s family. He had evidently put them where he
could find them most readily.

One can not help but remember the marvelous campaign Bryan made four
years ago. A terrible campaign for mind and body; no one who traveled
with him will ever forget it. As for Bryan himself—though, needless to
say, he worked harder, thought more, and shouldered an infinitely
heavier responsibility than all the newspaper reporters who kept
constantly in his wake—he was least fatigued of all. Hoarse and husky he
certainly did become toward the end—speaking from the rear end of a
train to open air crowds of thousands, a dozen times a day, and at the
top of his voice. But Bryan, upon a physique of the most vigorous and
massive kind, inspired by a stupendous vitality, which should keep him
in good condition for sixty years to come, had superimposed a brain of
the healthiest, keenest, and most capable sort. In addition he had a
colossal firmness, and an unmitigable will; he had thorough belief in
the goodness of his cause, and in himself as its champion; and finally
he understood the people, loved them, was in touch with them, and won
their confidence to an extent and to a degree of enthusiasm that can not
be paralleled in modern times. Had some of the qualities above named
been less in him, or more, he might have been a broader statesman; but
he would not have been so mighty and formidable a leader of men.

Other men are admired or feared, or can spend money, or swing a machine;
but Bryan is personally trusted as no other man is, and as he deserves
to be. “Bryan is a man standing plumb on his own feet, other candidates
have been propped on their feet by other persons. Which will last the
longer? No man can count on the ultimate triumph of his cause, or even
know how strong or how weak it is, unless he comes out flat-footed and
tells the people exactly what it contemplates and requires. He must show
the seamy side as well as the smooth one; else, when the seamy side
shows itself (as it is certain to do) the people will leap to the
conclusion that the fabric is seamy on both sides, and the reaction will
sweep it out of existence. McKinley, in laboring to make the people
believe that his policy is all sweetness, honor, and virtue, is
preventing himself from discovering how abhorrent it really is to the
desires and wishes of the people.”

Bryan’s method is just the opposite of President McKinley’s. The only
criticism to be passed on him is that he is too uncompromisingly
outspoken and sincere. He says things that make his own party friends
and managers shudder. He never strives for popularity except in so far
as it may be consistent with truth and right. He does not want to please
any one who can not be pleased with facts and realities. Bryan, in
short, from the standpoint of mere policy, always puts his ugly foot
forward, always turns his seamy side, always says “If you don’t have me
this way, I am not to be had at all.”

                               HOME LIFE

A very wholesome theory that a man’s home is his castle and that the
sanctuary of private life is one that must be respected has no
application in America to a public man. The fact that few public men
quarrel with the general idea upon this subject proves that it has its
basis in sound judgment and honest desire for greater intimacy rather
than in impertinent curiosity.

In the case of Mr. Bryan he has never quarreled with this widely held
theory. For ten years he has been in the glare of publicity. From the
night, a decade ago, when he discomfited the champion of Republican
politics in the opening debate of his first congressional campaign, a
light has been constantly turned upon him and from him to his home life.
That he has come out from under this strong scrutiny a more commanding
figure, viewed either from the standpoint of the wise statesman or the
typical head of an American family, is a statement that will meet with
no attempt at refutation.

[Illustration: THE BRYAN HOME]

On the first day of October next Mr. Bryan will have been married
sixteen years. The ceremony was the culmination of a courtship extending
over a period of four years, a wooing that had its inspiration in the
atmosphere of school life, and which was continued during the years when
he was a diligent student of the law and a struggling young attorney
with the unblighted courage and the indomitable energy that have come to
be such marked characteristics of the man. They first met at a reception
given in the parlors of the Presbyterian Academy at Jacksonville, Ill.,
to the young men of Illinois College. Mrs. Bryan, then Mary Baird, was a
student at the Academy, and Mr. Bryan was in attendance at the College.
There was little of romance attached to either their meeting or their
courtship. Both were young, he twenty, she nineteen. Some sentimentalist
has told that she was first attracted to him by hearing him recite some
school book classics. The fact is that some friend pointed her out to
Mr. Bryan as a girl he “ought to meet.” And mutual friends introduced

Miss Baird was born at Perry, Ill., on the seventeenth day of June,
1861. Her father was a merchant, one of a firm that conducted a general
store in that town. His employment gave Mr. Baird, naturally a studious
man, much leisure, and this he improved by reading. His daughter
inherited his taste for literature and it has abided with her. The
invalidism of her mother prevented her from finishing the course she had
begun at Monticello Seminary, at Godfrey, Ill., but later she was able
to attend the academy at Jacksonville, from which she graduated with
first honors of her class.

The young couple began their married life in a little home of their own
in Jacksonville. With the prudent care that has always distinguished
both of them, they postponed their happiness until he had secured a
practice sufficient to support them and until they were able to have a
roof-tree of their own. Three years after their marriage Mr. Bryan came
west on a business trip for a client. At Lincoln he met an old friend
and classmate, A. R. Talbot. Talbot had made an excellent beginning in
the West, and he suggested to Bryan that he locate at Lincoln and join
his law firm. Mr. Bryan said little at the time. A few months after his
return, however, he wrote to Mr. Talbot and asked him if he was in
earnest in making the proposition. Mr. Talbot replied that he was, and
outlined the prospects in the West, then the center of a vast
speculation in lands and town lots. Mr. Bryan had been enchanted with
the city of Lincoln when he first saw it, and he had simply waited until
he could talk it over with his wife.

In this sentiment lies the keynote of the perfect sympathy that has been
so marked a characteristic of their wedded life. Mr. Bryan came first,
his wife and his young daughter remaining in Jacksonville until he had
become settled. They then joined him. They immediately began the
erection of a modest home in Lincoln, buying a building lot on D street,
and upon it erected the home he now occupies, at No. 1625. The money was
furnished by Mr. Baird, but has long since been paid. Three children
have been born to them, Ruth, now nearly fifteen, William, aged eleven,
and Grace, aged nine. The first named is now a registered student at the
seminary at Godfrey, where the mother first began her college career.

Even the most casual visitor to the Bryan residence is impressed with
the distinctive home atmosphere of the place. Mrs. Bryan, as its
presiding genius, has stamped upon it the impress of her individuality,
no less marked in that sphere than her husband’s in his. The house
itself is little more than a cottage, although it boasts of a second
story and a cupola. Outwardly its lines are a little more impressive
than when it was first built. This can be traced to the addition within
the past year of a many-columned porch, stretching across its entire
front and bending in a graceful curve to a point midway of the rear.
With its paneled roof and the electric lights, its cosy corners and
inviting arm chairs, it is an enticing retreat, and here the Bryan
family spend most of their waking hours in the summer months.

There is no ostentation displayed in the furnishings of the Bryan
residence. The parlor is the parlor of the well-to-do middle class. The
sitting room is simply furnished, but home-like and inviting. The
library is the workshop and no unnecessary tools are lying about. On the
walls hang large portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and
Lincoln, and steel engravings of Benton, Webster, and Calhoun. They are
inexpensive pictures, but typical of the ideals of the occupants of the
room. Another picture shows Henry Clay, addressing his colleagues in the
United States Senate. The artist’s perspective was sadly at fault, but
it was not the art, but the subject, that attracted Mr. Bryan. The
library is an extensive one, but unique in its character. Fiction and
the classics find very little room. In their places are histories,
orations, works on political economy, lives and speeches of famous men,
who have helped build the nation of the past, dissertations and
addresses upon the hundred and one questions that have vexed and still
perplex the modern school of statesmanship. Upon few of these has any
dust accumulated, and upon all of them are the unmistakable signs of
frequent usage.

The characteristic that strikes the visitor most is the _bon homme_, the
_camaraderie_, of the household. A wholesome sympathy seems to be the
bond that unites all members. Neither the father nor the mother is a
strict disciplinarian. They do not believe in tyrannizing over their
children. They believe in encouraging their respective bents, and in
guiding them in the right channels, rather than in forcing in the ways
hallowed by tradition. Mrs. Bryan is essentially a home body; her
husband and children are her chiefest, but not her only cares. She is a
mentor to them all. Miss Ruth is much like her father in temperament.
She is quick and impulsive, warm-hearted and generous. Her popularity
among her girl friends is attested by the number that throng her lawn
every evening. William is a sturdy youth in build, and, boy-like, more
self assertive than his sisters. As his father is a typical American
man, so is the youth a typical American boy, fun-loving and possessed of
a harmless mischievousness that often disturbs the young girls who are
his older sister’s confidantes. Grace, the youngest, is delicate in
health, and her father’s favorite. It is to him she goes with her
childish troubles, sure of the sympathy that never fails her.

Mr. Bryan takes great pride in his household, and he bends every energy
to the end that the bonds of mutual confidence and love, the elements so
essential in a perfect home, may be strengthened and cemented. Every
hour that he can give to them he gladly spares. For four years he has
had no other office, no other working place, than in this home. After
the campaign of 1896 he gave up, to all intents and purposes, his down
town office, and has spent his time at home. His office is now in his
library, an inviting room opening off the parlor on one side, and the
sitting room on the other. His work is performed on a big flat-topped
desk that occupies a goodly share of the floor space. Here he is
surrounded by book-cases and statuettes, by curious mementoes, ink
stands, canes, a hundred and one articles that admirers in all sections
and climes of the country have sent him. Most of these have been
gathered together in a glass-covered compartment that separates the two
big book-cases.

Mr. Bryan finds that his best work is done with his wife as his
counselor and guide. She has a place on one side of the big desk, he on
the other. She is no less indefatigable as a worker than he. She finds
time between her consultations with him, when an important work is on
hand, to care for her household, and to direct the work of the one
domestic employed. Mrs. Bryan’s thorough understanding and appreciation
of every detail of his labors make her companionship and aid almost
indispensable. Together they have gone over the details of his campaigns
in the past years, and with him she still plans for the future. What he
writes, she either passes upon or assists in its production. Her
self-poise, marred by no self-consciousness, but marked by a quiet
dignity, is one of her remarkable possessions. Perhaps the best
delineation of the characteristics of this woman, remarkable in many
ways, is furnished by the eminent novelist, Julian Hawthorne, who spent
some time at the Bryan home during the past summer. Of her he said,
“Mrs. Bryan is as unusual a woman as her husband is a man, but she is so
unobtrusive that few people have much idea of her true character. I had
the opportunity to learn something of her during the campaign of ‘96,
and I well recollect her admirable bearing at the great meeting in
Madison Square Garden, when she was recognized and greeted on entering
her box by more than ten thousand people. It was a tremendous ordeal for
a woman to undergo. But she sustained herself with steadiness and
self-possession, remarkable in any woman, but more than remarkable in
her, who had always lived in quiet domestic ways, occupied with her
husband, her children, and her household duties. She is a woman of great
courage and unshakable faith, of exceptional intellect, also, nourished
with adequate education. She possesses the coolness of judgment which
must often have served him well in times of doubt. She is not led away
by imagination or hope, but sees things as they are, and resolutely
faces facts. Should the decrees of Providence see fit to place her in a
position of the first lady of the land, I should have no fear that she
would discharge her duties irreproachably. A true American woman, she is
such as you may always be glad to match against the great dames of the
old world. The dominant expression of her face is penetration, combined
with a gentle composure. But there is the sparkle of demure humor in her
eyes, and she can use speech as the most delicate of rapiers when she
chooses. It is easy to know her as an acquaintance, but I surmise that
no one really knows her except her husband, and probably she will be
able continually to discover new resources and depths even to him. She
is a good woman, with strong religious convictions, and she regards
Bryan’s political aspirations from that point of view. If it is the will
of God that he shall reach the highest place among his countrymen she
will accept the mission with good will and confidence. But should he be
defeated she will welcome the life of obscurity with unshaken
equanimity, believing that the councils of the Almighty are
unsearchable, but faithful. If she be destined to higher things, the
example to the nation, irrespective of party, of such a wife and such a
mother as she is, can not but be beneficial. If not, ‘Those also serve
who only stand and wait.’”

Sociability is one of the graces that attach to her naturally. The
number of visitors to her husband is so large and his amiability so
great, that if Mrs. Bryan did not maintain a watchfulness over them they
would consume all of his hours. This guardianship of his time has imbued
her with a little more sternness than is her nature, but at the same
time has endowed her with shrewdness of discernment that enables her to
gauge every one’s errand with astonishing accuracy. The true democracy
of the man is shown in his earnest desire that even the lowest of his
callers shall be received with the same consideration bestowed upon the
great ones, and no visitor ever leaves the Bryan home, even though he
may not have gained his wish, without the consciousness of the gentle
courtesy and a full-souled welcome.

But Mrs. Bryan is in no sense a society woman. She is of a turn of mind
too serious and too well poised to enable her to find enjoyment in the
frivolities and vanities that go to make up so much of the life of the
society woman. She likes to meet with her friends and talk with them,
and she misses no opportunity to indulge in this pleasure. Club and
church work take up much of her leisure. She has been active for years
in the work of the Nebraska state federation of women’s clubs. She can
write, and frequently does, for newspapers and periodicals. She can also
speak and speak well, but this she does rarely. Her range of information
is as varied as that of her husband, and she knows the ins and outs of
politics as well as she does the theories of good government, and the
vagaries of the different schools of political economy. For years Mrs.
Bryan’s father has resided with them. Now he is sightless and infirm,
but his hours are cheered and his burden lightened by the loving care of
his daughter.

The passing years have dealt very gently with Mrs. Bryan. She is above
the average in height, but her figure is matronly. Her face is pale, but
there is no pallor, the graceful curves of youth have softened in
outline, but in manner she has gained the dignity that does not hint of
reserve. Mrs. Bryan is always well dressed, the unobtrusiveness and
appropriateness of her garments marking the taste of the wearer. Her
gowns are usually of one color, relieved here and there by the bright
tints women love.

“Mrs. Bryan’s whole life has been one of study,” says Miss Wright, of
Lincoln, a friend of the family. “Long before she could read she knew
the names of all the bugs her little hoe turned up in the garden. In her
early life the doctor said she must be kept out of doors. Luckily she
did not like indoor life. All day long she tagged her father, and they
played together in the garden. By the time she was old enough for books
she was kin to everything they told about. She idealized the earth and
its generating and regenerating character. From a weak child she has
grown to be a strong woman with rare power of endurance and
concentration. She and her father would sit on the porch at night and
study the skies, and the Greek and Norse stories of the stars were
repeated until she had committed all of them to memory. He told her how
far away they were and what a speck the world would look if it could be
seen from Venus. The idea of the immensity of the Universe and the
relation of the world to the solar system seldom enters the mind of a
child, but with Mary Baird, it was the most interesting story that could
be told. Early star-gazing and her father’s influence trained her to
think of things abstractly, nakedly, and without the impediments of
custom and fashion. During her first days in school, her text-books were
distasteful, as they were new, but she studied them nevertheless, and
soon was at the head of her class. This habit of study has clung to her
ever since.”

Social dissipation is unknown in the Bryan household. Since Miss Ruth
has grown to the dignity of young womanhood, and has gathered about her
a bevy of young friends, an added gaiety has been given. She has had her
little parties, but her parents receive rarely, and then but informally.
The Bryans have several carriages and horses, and in these they find
their chief amusement. Once in a while Mr. and Mrs. Bryan are seen at
the theatres, but only at the best plays. Mr. Bryan has grown much
stouter in late years, and has taken to frequent horseback rides as both
an exercise and a pleasure. His favorite animal is a Kentucky bred
saddle horse. It was presented him by ex-Governor W. J. Stone, of
Missouri, and in compliment to its donor, Mr. Bryan has named it

The figure of W. J. Bryan on horseback is a familiar one in the city of
Lincoln, a city where horseback riding has never been in vogue. Governor
is a coal-black, high-spirited animal, and prances and pirouettes with
nervousness at every halt. Mr. Bryan’s favorite ride is to his farm,
four miles east of the city. Here, on a thirty-acre tract, he has for
several years been making experiments in farming, or rather in
endeavoring to discover whether he has forgotten the lessons instilled
into his mind by his agricultural experiences in youth. Mr. Bryan
insists that he is not a farmer, but an agriculturalist, and defines the
difference tersely in this wise: “You see, a farmer is a man who makes
his money in the country, and spends it in the town. The agriculturalist
makes his money in town and spends it in the country.”

Mr. Bryan has no intention of taking up the life of a farmer. Ten years
ago, in the boom days of Lincoln, he purchased a five-acre tract close
to the suburb of Normal. He had driven out east of the city one day, and
at the top of a hill stopped to rest his horse. As he sat in his
carriage the splendid panorama of field and house and tree unrolled
before him. He was enchanted. Then and there he resolved to build a
permanent home upon that spot some day. The original five acres cost him
a good round sum, but his later purchases, made now and then, have been
at greatly reduced figures. The buildings upon the farm are largely
temporary in character. The house is a small one of five rooms, and
shelters the man who does the real work on the place. Mr. Bryan has
found much pleasure and recreation during the summer at the farm. During
the planting season and in the weeks that followed, he made a visit
daily and spent several hours “puttering” about, directing things here
and bearing a hand there himself, at the harder tasks. In the rural
atmosphere, away from the conventions of the city, he threw aside every
care and every burden. His ordinary clothing was cast aside for the
habiliments that distinguish the farmer at work. Mr. Bryan confesses to
a weakness for high-top boots, in which his trouser ends can be
hidden,—and then to work.

The one singular thing about everything that this man does is that he is
at all times able to preserve his dignity. There is nothing
selfconscious about that dignity. In the West, that sort is dangerous to
attempt. Simplicity is the dominant note in his character, his manners,
his talk, his walk. His amiability is inexhaustible, his patience
unending. If a delegation of Democrats passing through Lincoln do not
have time to go out and see Mr. Bryan, Mr. Bryan finds time to ride down
to the depot and see them. He has, since his nomination, made several
speeches from horseback, to boisterous but zealous delegations, and
always with the old charm and effect.

As to his patience, no better witnesses to its enduring qualities need
be asked than the newspaper correspondents who form a corps of watchful
guardians upon his footsteps. Many are the questions, some of them
impertinent, that are asked him, and during a campaign, the presence of
the press representatives, unobtrusive as they are, really destroys
whatever privacy remained to him. And yet through it all, his courtesy
is ever gentle, his good nature unfailing, his temper always under such
control as to seem to be an absent quantity in his make-up.

Lincoln, the city of his residence, has always been dominated by the
Republican party, and so great has been the preponderance of that
political organization that Mr. Bryan has never been able to carry it in
any of his campaigns. Mr. Bryan came to Lincoln a young man, and entered
into a very brisk competition with a number of other young lawyers, most
of them Republicans. None of these have risen above the political level
of county leaders, nor have they found fame or other reward at the bar.
The rapid flight of Mr. Bryan and his pre-eminence has engendered in
their breasts a bitterness of partisanship, accentuated and multiplied
by their personal jealousies, that has found its vent in mean and
malicious assaults upon his political integrity and attempted
belittlings of his abilities. This influence has in the past over-ridden
a local pride that would have justified an endorsement at least of his
Presidential candidacy, and added flame to the fires of partisanship
that particularly distinguishes the city. These two facts form the
solution to a mystery that has seemingly vexed a great many good people
in America, who do not understand the local conditions. Mr. Bryan seems,
too, to have pitched his tent in the most rabidly Republican section of
the city, as evidenced by the elaborate display of McKinley pictures in
the front windows of the houses of his neighbors, who are as lacking in
good taste as in civic pride.

None of these elaborate attempts at incivility have ever ruffled his
temper, nor have they caused him to retaliate with the weapons he so
well knows how to use. The fact is, he has many warm friends among the
Republicans of the city. His old law partner has long been a Republican
leader, and is now president of the State Senate. This year he has
espoused Mr. Bryan’s cause.

It has been said that the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bryan is a typical one.
It is more than a type; it is an ideal. The simplicity of the life his
family leads, the wholesomeness of the atmosphere, the absence of
affectation, the presence of a democracy that includes courtesy,
gentleness, amiability, and cordiality invariably impresses one. The
home life of a man is the mirror of his character; and in its limpid
depths one sees the secret springs of thought and reads the heart
aright. That that of Mr. Bryan reflects with truthful fidelity is a fact
within the knowledge of all who know the man and revere the woman. The
words he himself used in describing the beautiful home life of a friend
who had been called across the river apply with equal fitness to his

“He found his inspiration at his fireside, and approached his ideal of
the domestic life. He and his faithful wife, who was both his help-mate
and companion, inhabited as tenants in common that sacred spot called
home, and needed no court to define their relative rights and duties.
The invisible walls which shut in that home and shut out all else had
their foundation upon the earth and their battlements in the skies. No
force could break them down, no poisoned arrows could cross their top,
and at the gates thereof love and confidence stood ever upon guard.”

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

 1. Silently corrected typographical errors.

 2. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.

 3. One instance of unpaired double quotation marks could not be

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