Louisville, KY Speech 1, 1896-08-14

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, September 14, 1896 at 9:00pm
Phoenix Hill Park, Louisville, KY

Source: DOWN IN KENTUCKY, The Democratic Nominee Greeted at Louisville in True Southern Style., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Tuesday, September 15, 1896; The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896

"Ladies and Gentlemen: We are entering upon a campaign, and as we have nothing to conceal I tell you frankly that I have come to Kentucky because I want the electoral vote of Kentucky in November. (Applause and shouts, "You will get it.") As the regular nominee of the Democratic party I might appeal to you on the ground of the regularity of my nomination. I might call your attention to the fact that the Chicago convention was regularly called by the regular authority; that all over this Union Democrats assembled in the regular way to select their delegates to that convention. I might call your attention to the fact that no convention ever held in this country more accurately reflected the sentiment of the party which elected the delegates than did the Chicago convention. In no convention within this generation have the voters themselves taken so active and so influential a part as the voters of the Democratic party took in the Chicago convention. If you have regard for the will of the majority of the party, regularly expressed, then, my friends, I can appeal to you on the ground that I am the regular nominee of the Democratic party.

But I shall appeal for your support on higher grounds than party regularity. (Cheers.) I expressly release, so far as I am concerned, from the support of the Chicago ticket every Democrat who believes that the success of that ticket will imperil the country. (Cheers and cries of "Good, good.") I shall ask no man to violate his judgment or be deaf to the voice of his conscience. I shall ask no one to place fealty to party above love of country. (Applause.) I would not do so myself; I shall ask no one to do what I would not be willing to do." (Applause and cheering.)


"I believe, my friends, that the Chicago platform resents the policies which will be best for the people of this country; I believe that these policies, crystallized into law, will bring blessings to the American people, and I call your attention to the fact that in this campaign the lines are drawn between Plutocracy and Democracy. (Great applause.) In such a fight there is no middle ground; those who are not for us are against us. (Cheers and applause.)

More than that, I beg you to remember that the ballot is not given to the individual as a matter of personal compliment. It is given to him as a sacred trust to be used as he thinks best, for the protection of himself, for the advancement of the welfare of his fellows, and for the good of his country; and no man has a right to throw that ballot away in time of danger. The Bible tells us of the man who hid his talents in the earth, and we read that, he was condemned. Why? Because he neglected to improve his opportunities.

I say to you, my friends, that in a campaign like this, where the syndicates, the trusts, and the 'combinations of money grabbers in this country and Europe' are on one side, and the 'struggling masses' on the other, no man has a right to throw away his ballot. (Applause.) If you think that the success of the Chicago ticket would be an injury to this country, you ought to vote the Republican ticket and save your country from distress. If you think that the election of the Republican ticket would be a bad thing for the country, then you ought to vote for the Chicago ticket and save your country from distress.

The Chicago platform does not present new doctrines; it presents to the American people the principles and policies which have received the support of the leaders of the Democratic party from the beginning down to this time. Now living Republicans seem to have more influence with some of our Democratic leaders than do the dead Democrats of the past.

Our platform declares against the issue of bonds in time of peace, and against trafficking with the syndicates, which, for the last few years, have been saving our country, at so much per save. (Cheers.) Let me quote to you what a citizen of your own State once said upon this subject. Hon. John G. Carlisle, (hisses and applause), in 1878, used the words which I am about to read to you. (Hisses and applause.) He said:

'The struggle now going on cannot cease, and ought not to cease until all the industrial interests of this country are fully and finally emancipated from the heartless domination of syndicates, stock exchanges, and other great combinations of money grabbers in this country and Europe.'" (Applause.)


"That, my friends, is the language used by Mr. Carlisle in 1878. I repeat that language now, and if I am wrong I have seven years to find out my mistake before I am as old as he was when he used the words. Has that heartless domination ceased? No. Instead of having ceased, it has grown more heartless every year. Have the industrial classes been fully and finally emancipated? No. In this campaign they intend to rivet permanently upon the industrial classes the shackles which they have been preparing for twenty years. This speech from which I read denounced the syndicates. The Democratic party denounces those syndicates today, and I thank God that the party has driven out of its ranks the representatives of those syndicates. (Great cheering.) Mr. Carlisle's speech denounced the stock exchanges, and I rejoice that the stock exchanges are against us in the fight which we are making, because their opposition gives assurance that we are doing our duty to our country. That speech denounced the great combinations of money grabbers in this country and Europe. I denounce the Rothschild contract entered into by the present administration as the most infamous contract ever entered into by the United States with a private individual. (Great cheering.) I call it infamous, not so much because of the amount of money made by the syndicate, but because the Government in that contract bought the good will of two banking firms. Has it come to this, that seventy millions of people must purchase their right to exist from 'the combinations of money grabbers in this country and Europe?' (Cheers.)

We are opposed to the gold standard because it makes money dear. Dear money makes cheap property and cheap property makes hard times. Hard times make every producer of wealth taste of distress, and out of those who would be employed it makes idle men. And out of idle men it makes destitute men, and out of destitute men it makes criminal men. The gold standard means more of crime and a larger army to keep the criminal in subjection." (Great applause.)


"We do not have all the newspapers with us in this fight. (A voice: "Give it to the Courier-Journal." Another voice: "We have got the people.") We do not have all the newspapers with us in this fight, but an editor only votes once (laughter and cheers), and I have known some editors who have had so little influence that they could not even control the one vote which the law gave them. (Great cheering and laughter.) We would be glad to have the newspapers with us, but while we would like to have the newspapers with us, we would far rather have the people with us at the polls than to have the support of all the newspapers. (Cheers.) We would like to have the newspapers with us because we hate to have our people get mad every morning when they read them. (Great laughter.) I do not know of any one thing which causes so many people to forget their resolution not to swear again as the gold standard editorials which appear from day to day. (Loud cheers.) Our opponents say that the advocates of free coinage do not think; that is too bad. I am sure that if the Creator had had the same opinion of the majority of the people that the average advocate of the gold standard has, lie would not have wasted time giving brains to the people in general, lie would have given a larger share to those who were predestined to write gold standard editorials, and then He would have given to all of the rest of the people backs strong enough to bear the increasing load which the gold standard editors would place upon them. They say that the advocates of free coinage do not think. I affirm that the advocates of free coinage are the only people who, in this campaign, apply natural laws to the money question and carry into the discussion of finance the same intelligence which is used in ordinary business. Our opponents refuse to apply the law of supply and demand to money. We affirm that a decrease in the number of dollars increases the purchasing power of the dollar. We affirm that the only way to stop the rise in the value of dollars is to make more dollars. Our opponents do not apply the law of supply and demand to silver. We assert that the opening of our mints to the free coinage of silver will create a new demand for silver, and that that new demand will raise the price. Our opponents dispute this, and, ignoring the effect of increased demand, talk about a fifty-three cent dollar, because the bullion in a dollar, when it cannot find its way to the mint, is worth less than the coinage price. We assert that when every man who holds silver bullion can find a place to coin that bullion into dollar at $1.29 an ounce, he will not sell the bullion to any one else for less than $1.29 an ounce. We believe that seventy millions of people are able to use every ounce of silver that will be brought to our mints. We state out position and are able to give a reason for our belief."

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 14, 1896