New Haven, CT Speech 2, 1896-09-24

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Thursday, September 24, 1896
Center Church Green, New Haven, CT

Source: GREAT CROWD AT NEW HAVEN, Fifteen Thousand Gather in the College Town to Hear the Candidate, Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Friday, September 25, 1896; The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896

"I am glad that there are students here, because I want to say a word to students. Your college has helped to add fame to your city, and those who assemble here are supposed to come in order that they may better equip themselves for the duties of life. I am glad to talk to students, because, my friends, we have a cause which appeals to students. If the syndicates and corporations rule this country, then no young man has a fair show unless he is the favorite of a corporation. (Applause—and yells for McKinley by a cordon of the students.) If the people have a right to govern themselves and exercise that right, then every citizen has an equal chance and every man may achieve what he desires. We wish to leave all the avenues open so that the son of the humblest citizen may aspire to the highest position within the gift of the people. (Applause and yells repeated.)

I am not speaking now to the sons who are sent to college on the proceeds of ill-gotten gains. (Enthusiastic applause.) I will wait until these sons have exhausted what their fathers have left them and then appeal to their children who will have to commence life where their grandfathers commenced." (Great applause.)


"My friends, a just government is best for the great masses of the people. Equal laws and equal opportunities are best for nine out of every ten of us. (Yells again repeated.) Therefore, our cause appeals to every young man who wants to make this Government so good as to deserve the love, confidence and the support of every citizen in this land.

We appeal not only to the students; we appeal to business men who have been terrorized by the financial—what may I call it? (Applause.) People have been tyrannized over by financial institutions until in some instances it is more dangerous to raise your voice against the ruling power than it is in an absolute monarchy. (Great applause and yells.) If there is anybody who loves this sort of thing then I shall offend him by speaking of it, but I shall not offend any man who loves liberty and the right of free speech in this country. (Great applause.)

The business men have been told that the free coinage of silver would ruin them. If it can ruin them with more rapidity than the gold standard has ruined them, then, my friends, it will be bad, indeed, because the gold standard has increased the number of failures among business men, and every step that has been taken has been followed—(Yells from the students.) I have been so used to talking to young men who earn their own living that I do not know—"(Great applause and cheering.)


"I say, I have been so used to talking to young men who earn their own living that I hardly know what language to use to address myself to those who desire to be known, not as creators of wealth, but as the distributors of wealth which somebody else created. (Great applause and cheering.) If you will show me a young man who has been taught to believe— (More yells and cries of "McKinley.")

In all my travels I have not found a crowd that needed talking to so much as this crowd does. (Cries of "That's right.") I came to this city something more than a year ago, and I then learned something of the domination of your financial classes. I have seen it elsewhere, but, my friends, the great mass of the people even of this city, will be better off under bimetallism that permits the nation to grow, than under a gold standard which starves everybody except the money changer and the money owner.

We sometimes out West are instructed by your insurance companies. I carry insurance in old line companies and in what are known as the mutual or assessment companies. I carry insurance in fraternal organizations like the United Workmen and the Modern Woodmen, as well as in the old line companies, and I am glad that my assessment companies are satisfied to take my money and give me insurance without attempting to tell me how I must vote. Your old line companies have seen fit to insult the intelligence of the people by attempting to exercise a guardian care, notwithstanding the fact that we are able to look after ourselves without their instructions."


"You have laboring men also in large numbers in this city. I do not know whether the advocates of the gold standard here who employ men in the shops insist upon telling their employees how to vote. I have in other places found employers who would put in envelopes the pay for the day's work or week's work, and then print on the outside of the envelopes some instructions to the employees. If the manufacturer, employer, or railroad president feels that there must be something on the outside of the envelope as well as upon the inside, let him write on the outside: 'You will find within your wages. They are to cover your work. They are not to pay for your vote.' (Cries of "Good, good.") We recognize that the men who have sense enough to do the work we want done have sense enough to vote right, without our telling them how to vote. (Applause.)

I notice that in some places they have been organizing sound money clubs, and they have the applicant sign a statement, saying that the free coinage of silver would hurt him in his business as a wage earner. I have wondered why our great financial magnates do not put in their application a statement similar to that. Why don't the heads of these syndicates which have been bleeding the Government make application to sound money clubs and write in the application that the free coinage of silver would hurt them in their business as heads of syndicates? They want people to believe that they are entirely benevolent, that they are philanthropists, and that what they do is done merely because they believe that the people will be benefited by having them run the Government, and they submit to the inconvenience of running the Government in order to help the people, who, they say, will be benefited. (More confusion and applause by the students.)

Why is it that the broker or the bond buyer does not write in his application that he has a personal interest in the gold standard? Why is it that these men want to throw upon, the wage earners whatever odium there may be in using his vote to protect his personal interests? I believe the wage earner, and the farmer, and the business man, and the professional man, all of these will be benefited by a volume of money sufficient to do business with."


"If you make money scarce you make money dear. If you make money dear you drive down the value of everything, and when you have falling prices you have hard times. And who prosper by hard times? There are but few, and those few are not willing to admit that they get any benefit from hard times. No party ever declared in its platform that it was in favor of hard times, and yet the party that declares for a gold standard in substance declares for a continuation of hard times. It is hard to talk when all the conditions are favorable, and I must ask you to excuse me from talking any further in the presence of the noises against which we have to contend today."

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 24, 1896