Buffalo, NY Speech 1, 1896-08-27

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Thursday, August 27, 1896
Music Hall, Buffalo , NY

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896; HE FINDS NO SECTIONALISM, In Every Eastern City Is Mr. Bryan Greeted as Never Was Man Before., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Friday, August 28, 1896


"I shall carry back to the people of the West the news that the Chicago platform is supported and indorsed not by the West and South alone, but by all the thinking millions of the East as well. (Cheers.) I am aware that in the making of a platform it is impossible to please all. I recognize that people who think will differ, and that a platform often contains declarations which the voter does not like and omits things which he would like to have included. But platforms are not written by all of the party; they are written by a majority of the party. And when the majority writes a platform the other members of the party must either accept it or get out of the party. (Cheers.) Either the majority must rule or the minority, and it is better for the minority to be alienated than for the voice of the majority to be suppressed.

While a platform covers a great many questions, necessarily there must be one supreme issue in it; and in this campaign there is a supreme issue. The issue is made between those who believe in a gold standard and those who oppose a gold standard. There is no place between the lines for people to stand. The Republican platform does not say that a gold standard is a good thing."


"There are those who are supporting the Republican party who believe that a gold standard is good thing, but they have not the courage to risk the issue before the people who have suffered from a gold standard for twenty years. We must judge people not by their words, but by their acts. Our opponents tell us that they will try to secure an international agreement, and that they simply desire to maintain the gold standard until other nations will help us to let go. (Laughter.) Can you expect the restoration of bimetallism from those who wrote the St. Louis platform? Never, until you can gather grapes from thorns and figs from thistles. Those who are responsible for the gold standard are not the ones to whom we must look for deliverance. As well might Pharaoh have been expected to lead the children of Israel out of bondage, as to expect the Republican party to break the shackles of the gold standard.

The Democratic party is opposed to a gold standard, not only opposed to it, but unalterably opposed to it. It is so much opposed to it that it will not permit the American people to be bound by it though every nation on earth shall demand it. (Applause.) We did not achieve independence for the purpose of bowing to the yoke of any foreign power. (Cheers.) The arguments in favor of bimetallism are directed toward the intelligence of a man who thinks and the heart of a man who feels."


"If some man living in a foreign land were to ask his nation to surrender the power and right of self-government and vest legislative power in the United States, what would we think of that man's patriotism? If we would despise the foreigner who let the United States control the nation, what contempt must a foreigner feel for those Americans who are willing to surrender the right to govern themselves? (Applause.)

Our opponents tell us in their platform—and the one authority to construe the platform emphasizes the declaration—that his nation cannot undertake to open its mints to silver without the concurrent aid of other nations. It does not say that we are not able to do so for a month or a year or only for a presidential term. According to statements, the nation will never be able to do it until other nations join us in the act. That is the doctrine—we must keep the gold standard not for a few months but for an indefinite duration of time."

(Mr. Bryan quotes from Mr. Carlisle's speech on bimetallism in 1878.)


"Who are the anarchists? Are they the ones who are to restore the gold and silver coinage of the constitution? Are they the ones who want to reinstate the financial system which had the indorsement of the statesmen from Washington through Jefferson and Jackson down to Lincoln? Or shall we find the anarchists among those who want a financial policy that would do more than destroy half the houses, sink half the ships and tear up half of the railroads of the world? (Applause.) We propose a financial policy. Our opponents propose nothing. Without daring to defend the gold standard they preach the doctrine of 'grin and bear it,' and they offer no hope to the human race. (Applause.) We ask for unlimited coinage at 16 to 1. We have had it in the past. And we ask that the American people shall do their own legislating for themselves, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation; and we have done it in the past." (Cheers.)


"Under the free and unlimited coinage of silver the United States stands ready to bring silver bullion from any place in the world and convert it into $1.29 of American money. If you say that it is not fair to take away a part of the purchasing power of an ounce of gold, I tell you that it was not fair to have put in that gold that part which law has placed in it. The remonetization of silver will not take out of gold any more than the demonetization of silver put into gold. They tell us that because Mexico has failed to maintain the parity between gold and silver, therefore we must fail. There is just one kind of a man who can think that and that is a man who knows so little of geography or history as to think that Mexico is as large as the United States. When they argue the failure of Mexico proves that we must fail they simply argue that the United States cannot do anything that Mexico has not succeeded in doing. Not only that, but they argue that the United States and Mexico together can do nothing which Mexico has been unable to do alone."


"My friends, there is only one way of taking the government out of the clutches of those who have been bleeding it. It is for the government to resume its legal rights and use its silver and its gold whenever it pleases, whenever it has a dollar to pay. I do not want to be called extreme, but I want to state my position with such emphasis that it will not be mistaken. I believe that the American people have a right to have the treasury department administered in behalf of syndicates, foreign or domestic. Instead of permitting the financiers of Wall street to call before them the officials of the government and tell them what they must do, I believe that the time ahs come when the officials of the government must call the financiers before them and tell them what they must do and make them do it. (Cheers.)

When the Creator made man he did not use any superior kind of mud when he made financiers." (Applause and laughter.)

About this Document

  • Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896
  • Author: William Jennings Bryan
  • Publisher: W.B. Conkey Company
  • Published: Chicago, Illinois
  • Citation: 353
  • Date: August 27, 1896