Dover, DE Speech, 1896-09-21

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, September 21, 1896
Outdoors, Dover, DE

Source: BISMARCK AND THE MAJOR, Two Most Eminent Authorities Quoted by Mr. Bryan as to the Situation., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Tuesday, September 22, 1896; The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896

"Aside from the fact that I have been making quite a complete tour of the country, I have an additional reason for speaking in Delaware. When the nominating speeches for the Presidency had been made and the roll was called, the first vote which I received was cast by one of the delegates from Delaware, Mr. Saulsbury, who lives here, and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to meet the people who sent him to Chicago.

I want to talk with you awhile this afternoon about our financial condition. If things are good, then there is no reason why we should make any change in legislation. If our present condition is satisfactory, then we ought to leave it alone. No one can advocate any kind of remedial legislation, except on the theory that there is something that needs remedying. Our opponents confess the condition, and when I tell you that you cannot remedy the present condition except by financial legislation, our opponents tell us that the trouble is in the tariff question, arid that if we could just have more tariff, times would be good again."


"I want to read to you an extract from a speech made on last Saturday by the Republican candidate for President. He said: 'Under the Republican protective policy we enjoyed for more than thirty years the most marvelous prosperity that has ever been given to any nation of the world. We not only had individual prosperity, but we had national prosperity.'

Now, there is a statement made within a week by the Presidential candidate who looks back for thirty years, from 1890 to 1860, and tells the people that during that period we enjoyed the most marvelous prosperity of any nation in the world, and that we had both individual prosperity and national prosperity. I want to show you how distance lends enchantment to the view. I want to show you by the same witness—the testimony was given six years ago—that after thirty years of his kind of policy the farmers of this country were not prosperous. If you will take the report filed with the McKinley bill on the 16th of April, 1890, you will find the words which I wish to quote:

'That there is widespread depression in this industry today cannot be doubted,' speaking of agriculture."


"That is what the Presidential candidate said when he deliberately wrote the report and filed it with his proposed legislation.

Again, in that same report, he said: 'One of the chief complaints now prevalent among our farmers is that they can get no price for their crops at all commensurate to the labor and capital invested in their production.' That is what he said after thirty years of the kind of policy which he now says will bring you prosperity. (Applause.)

Let me read again: 'We have not believed that our people, already suffering from low prices, can or will be satisfied with legislation which will result in lower prices. No country ever suffered when prices were fairly remunerative in every field of labor.' After thirty years of that kind of policy he tells you that the people were then suffering from low prices, and that no country ever suffered when prices were fairly remunerative in every field of labor.

Now, let me read you again what he says in this same report: 'This great industry'—speaking of agriculture—'is foremost in magnitude and importance in our country. Its success and prosperity are vital to the nation. No prosperity is possible to other industries if agriculture languishes.'"


"That is what he said in 1890—that there was depression in agriculture after thirty years of his tariff policy, and that without prosperity in agriculture there could be no prosperity among the other industries of the country.

Let me read you just one other extract: 'The depression in agriculture is not confined to the United States. The reports of the Agricultural Department indicate that this distress is general, that Great Britain, France and Germany are suffering in a larger degree than the farmers of the United States.'

There he is telling us that there is a depression in agriculture and giving the names of three prominent agricultural nations of the Old World, and telling us that that agricultural depression is even more marked over there than it is here. I want you to remember that when you read in the papers that he said that for thirty years we had such marvelous prosperity in this country. (Applause.)

Now, my friends, I have quoted you what he said about the depression in agriculture in Germany. Our opponents are in the habit of telling us that all the civilized nations are in favor of the gold standard. The Germans who live in this country point with a just pride to the illustrious Prince Bismarck."


"Read what he said in regard to bimetallism within a few weeks in regard to bimetallism and then see whether he testifies that the gold standard has been a good thing for Germany. (Applause.) In a letter written to Governor Culberson of Texas and dated August 24, 1896, Prince Bismarck said:

'Your esteemed favor of July 1 has been duly received. I have always had a predilection for bimetallism, but I would not, while in office, claim my views of the matter to be infallibly true when advanced against the views of experts. I hold to this very hour that it would be advisable to bring about between the nations chiefly engaged in the world's commerce a mutual agreement in favor of the establishment of bimetallism.

If the gold standard has been a blessing to Germany, why would he not say that it was better to keep the gold standard instead of getting rid of the gold standard and substituting the double standard by international agreement? He continues:

'Considered from a commercial and industrial standpoint the United States are freer by far than any nation in Europe and hence if the people of the United States should find it compatible with their interests to take independent action in the direction of bimetallism I cannot but believe that such action would exert a most salutary influence upon the consummation of an international agreement and the coming into this league of every European nation.'"


"We have those among us who have said that the other nations must take the lead. Prince Bismarck says that the people of the United States are freer by far in their movements than the nations of Europe. Can it be that this great German statesman has a higher conception of the ability of the people of the United States than the Tories who are not willing to do anything until they ask the consent of other nations? (Great applause and cheering.)

Not only does Prince Bismarck say that we are freer to take action than other nations, but he says that if we act it will exert a most salutary influence upon the consummation of international agreement. Prince Bismarck testifies, first, that the gold standard is the policy in Germany, and that he wants bimetallism restored. He testifies, second, that the United States is in the best position of all the nations to take the lead. He testifies, third, that if this nation takes the lead, it will have a salutary influence, not in preventing bimetallism, but in bringing other nations of Europe into an international agreement. I desire that you shall remember this testimony, coming from so distinguished an authority in Germany."


"Let me call your attention to another thing which Prince Bismarck said. Our opponents tell us that we are arraying one class against another. Let me tell you what Prince Bismarck said in regard to classes on the question which concerns agricultural depression. A little more that a year ago he was quoted as saying before a farmer audience in Germany that the farmers must stand together and protect themselves from the drones of society who produce nothing but laws. Remember the significance of those words—that the farmers must stand together and protect themselves from the drones of society who produce nothing but laws. (Great applause.)

Divide society into two classes; on the one side put the non-producers, and on the other side put the producers of wealth, and you will find that in this country the majority of the laws are made by the non-producers instead of the producers of wealth. Bismarck tried to arouse the farmers of Germany to throw out these drones and take charge of legislation themselves. I suppose they will call Bismarck an agitator. (Laughter and applause.)

I suppose they will say that he ought not to array one class of society against another. Of course, I do not know how drones feel in a beehive, but if drones could make speeches, I will venture the assertion that you could not tell one of their speeches from the speeches of gold standard advocates. I will venture to say that if the drones could make speeches you could not distinguish their speeches from the speeches made by the heads of these great trusts, who call all who do not believe with them anarchists. (Applause.) I will venture that if a drone could talk and express his ideas in language, there is not a member of a syndicate that has been beating this Government but could take the drone's speech and use it as his own, and without being accused of plagiarism. (Great applause.)

My friends, that is the only class that we raise; and if to say the people who fight the nation's battles in time of war have a right to do the legislating in time of peace is raising class against class, then I am willing to he called an agitator. (Great applause and cheers.)

If to tell the people who produce wealth that they have a right to make the laws so as to secure to themselves a just portion of the wealth they produce, instead of allowing the drones to make the laws and eat the honey, is anarchistic, then I plead guilty to the change of stirring up discontent.

I will venture to assert that if the drone was in politics, party lines would not amount to very much with him if he had a business interest on the other side. Show me the head of a syndicate or trust, and I will show you a man who, whenever his business interests are involved, becomes suddenly patriotic and tells you that he loves his country too much to let anybody make more money out of legislation than he does.

You see in the gold standard papers how they parade the news in great big headlines every time a Democrat leaves the Democratic party, but there is not one of them telling the real reason why he leaves. The reason why these men are willing to contribute enormously to the campaign fund is because they know that if the Chicago ticket succeeds, the laws will be enforced against them as well as against everybody else.

I will venture the assertion that there is not half of the men who are in favor of a gold standard who can tell what sixteen to one means. They do not understand even the terms which are used in the discussion of the money question. I would be willing to place the average farmer against the average banker and turn them loose to discuss monetary science and financial history, and the banker could not hold his own with the farmer. Why? Because the financier thinks that he knows so much that it is not necessary for him to study, while the farmer realizes that he must study in order to know anything about the question. The financier has been getting along so well that he thinks it is not necessary for him to worry, while the farmer has been suffering so much that he is trying to find what is the matter. The farmer knows that by making money scarce he makes money dear and property cheap.

My friends, we have had our financial legislation run by those people who have made more in an hour gambling in stocks and bonds, and gambling in what the farmers produce, than all the farmers of the Union could make producing their crops."

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 21, 1896