Lincoln, NE Speech 1, 1896-09-08

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Tuesday, September 8, 1896 at 4:00pm
State Capitol Building, Lincoln, NE

Source: AFTERNOON ADDRESS., Bryan Speaks From Capital Building to an Immense Crowd., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Wednesday, September 9, 1896


"Ladies and Gentlemen: I am only going to talk to you a little while. There are others here who are prepared to discuss the issues of the campaign in your presence and I am trying to do as little work as possible. I think I have been doing my share so far as time is concerned. (Cries: "You are right.") It is now just about one month since I left Nebraska and turned eastward. It has been an interesting trip. I want to assure you that the sentiment in favor of the free coinage of silver is a growing sentiment. (Applause.) It far surpassed my expectations and I found among those people, the producers of wealth, the farmers and laborers, who are joining with you to free themselves from the domination of those financial influences which have controlled our legislation and our financial policies. (Applause.) You will find in the very shadow of Wall street as bitter hatred to the influences from which you have suffered as you will find among the farmers of Nebraska. (Applause.) And all through the east I found farmers who had been republicans who were openly supporting the free coinage of silver and were as certain that they had as much right to attend to their business as the New York banker had to attend to his business." (Applause.)


"As against the maintenance of a gold standard, either for one day or forever, the Democratic party has declared for the immediate restoration of the money of the constitution. (Applause.) Not only the Democratic party, but the Silver party and the Populist party, both of these have joined with the Democratic party in making this the paramount issue of the campaign. Our opponents began the campaign by asserting that the American people were not able to establish bimetallism and then when they found there was a revolt among the American people against such a policy they commenced a system of coercion and terrorizing, insisting that the masses of the people even have not the right to determine what kind of policy they want. (Applause.) This terrorizing and coercion is manifested in two ways. In the first place the heads of many great corporations are undertaking to compel their employees to support the gold standard. My friends, if the hands of those corporations assert the right to control the voice of those who vote for them we have presented to the American people even a greater question than the silver question. (Applause.) If a corporation has the right to control the vote of an employee on one question it has the right to control it on every other question." (Cries: "Right you are.")


"My friends, do you think you are under a government of the people? I want to ask you what you think will be the result if we get to be a government by banks. (Applause.) If we could trust our affairs to a New York banker we might endure it for a time, but when you remember that the New York banker is in control of the London bank I ask you to reflect before you submit the destinies of a free people to a few financiers. (Applause.) We had a failure in this city last winter, a failure which in my judgment was largely due to the sale of bonds and to the fact that the eastern bank was drawing in money from circulation, from business, from the channels of trade to invest in government bonds. If, my friends, you have a financial policy which permits a few financiers to close your banks at will, and swallow up your deposits and impoverish your people, I want to ask you if it is not time to consider whether this cannot be stopped. (Cheers.) We have been told we cannot borrow money from abroad unless we have a financial system that is satisfactory to the people abroad. My friends, you let them control your financial system and you will never see a time when you can get out of the clutches of those who are dominating your financial policy." (Great cheering.)


"Talk about arraying one class against another. I want to ask you why it is that every Democrat that is interested in a trust or has a salary from a railroad corporation that is more than his other property, I want to ask you why they are all arrayed against the Democratic party. Why is it? It is because the Democratic party has declared against the issue of bonds in time of peace and the trafficking with syndicates. ("That's right," from the crowd.) The Democratic party is opposed to the trusts and the prices which the trusts have instituted. It is because the Democratic party believes in the control, the regulation and the restriction of all corporations so that they will serve the purpose for which they were allowed to exist. (Great cheering.) If those connected with trusts are flocking together to the Republican party, may we not appeal to all the smaller business men who have felt the effect of the trust, and who have been driven out of business by its unlawful competition. (Cheers.)

If we are to lose all the attorneys of the these great trusts (a cry of "let them go") may we not appeal with confidence to the support of the people who have been plundered by these trusts while their attorneys have received a part of the plunder." (Cheers and shouts of "Yes.")


"We are not responsible for arraying one class against another. These people have defined the business to be done by a few of not the producers of wealth but the exchangers of wealth, or those who try to corner wealth, and they are trying to array them against the rest of the people. The Republican platform in the state of New York said that we ought to have a business administration conducted by business men in behalf of the business interests of the country. What do they mean by that? Do they call the farmers business men? (Cries of "No.") Oh no, simply producers of wealth. But if a man goes on the board of trade and makes more in an hour betting on the price of what you raise than you make in a year, he becomes a business man. These people who have attempted to array a few of the people against the rest of the people and who have insisted that the affairs of this government should be put in the hands of a few, when we have complained, what euphonious names they have given to us. They have been calling us disturbers of the public peace and they have called us anarchists, my friends. (Great applause.) My friends, these terms simply express the contempt they have for the great mass of the people of this country." (Cries of "They've been doing it for twenty-five years.")


"These names they call us simply prove that they are not willing to trust the destines of this republic in the hands of the people who have created its wealth in times of peace and who have fought its battles in times of war. (Applause.) Show me those people who now call us anarchists and I will show you a class of people who, if we had a war, would never go to the front, but they are the very people who slander those who would fight the battles to save their own property.

...My friends, gentlemen in New York called attention to the fact that sentiment was all on our side in this campaign, and one man said that a man could not write a poem in favor of syndicates running the business of this city. (Applause.) Do you know of any hymn with the word 'syndicate' in it? It is 'hate.' You cannot sing a song of the syndicates controlling the financial policy of this nation, for while their policy applies to hate, and while the man who thinks of the financial policy that has been forced upon this country, which they want to continue until foreign nations come to our aid and assistance, it is a sentiment that appeals to the pocketbook and overshadows the appeal to he best feeling of man. (Applause.)

Now I must stop, or I will make a speech. (Cries of "Go on, we haven't half enough.") You that I would hate to have the New York papers say that I had driven an audience away in my own town." (Prolonged cheering.)

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 8, 1896