New York, NY Speech 1, 1896-09-29

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Tuesday, September 29, 1896 at 8:00pm
Tammany Hall, New York, NY

Source: GREETS THE LEADER, Tammany Is Enthusiastic in Its Approval of Democracy’s Foremost Leader., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Wednesday, September 30, 1896; The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896

"Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I acknowledge my gratitude to the Tammany Society for the privilege which it has afforded me of speaking to the people here assembled. I appreciate the value of an organization like this, trained and compact, ready to do effective service at a moment's notice, and I am glad to carry back to the West—although it is not news to any one who reads the papers or knows the history of the organization—that the Tammany Society is in earnest in its efforts to give effective support, not only to the Chicago ticket, but to the Chicago platform upon which the ticket stands. (Applause.) The Tammany Society is required, by its constitution, to celebrate each recurring Fourth of July, and upon that day it is directed by its organic laws to have read, in the presence of those assembled, the Declaration of Independence. It was once my privilege (in 1892) to take part in one of those celebrations, and I am not surprised to learn that the organization which every year celebrates the adoption of the declaration of our political independence gives enthusiastic support to the platform which declares for financial independence.

...Before addressing myself to the paramount issue of the campaign I desire to read the language used here in this city by the ex-president of the United States, Hon. Benjamin Harrison. (Hisses.) I quote his words, because words coming from so high a Republican source ought to be considered, even if you cannot agree with them. Let mea read you what he says 'In my opinion there is no issue presented by the Chicago convention more important and vital than the question they have raised of protecting the power and duty of the national courts and national executive. The defense of the constitution and of the liberty of the Supreme Court of the United States, and of the president's power to send troops of the United States into any state without the call or consent of the governor, is an important and leading issue in this campaign."


"My friends, I call your attention to the fact that ex-President Harrison asserts that our platform raises a question which puts our constitutional government in danger. If that were true we might well turn from a discussion of any other question to that which menaces the continuation of constitutional government. There is nothing in the Chicago platform that would make the executive of the United States feeble in enforcing all the laws of the nation, and there is nothing in that platform that assails the integrity or questions the honesty of the supreme court of the United States. I challenge you to read that platform and find in that platform a single sentence that justifies the language used by the ex-president. Our criticism of the supreme court is not one bit stronger than that contained in the platform upon which Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, and anything that I have said has not been any stronger than the language used by Abraham Lincoln, both before and after his election. I shall go further. [[Illegible]] Harrison wants to raise the question [[illegible]] the survival of the government, [[illegible]] willing to meet him upon that prop[[illegible]].(Applause.)

[[Illegible]] friends, so far as Republicans [[illegible]]r Democrats have criticized [[illegible]] as a menace to law and [[illegible]]nt to say to you that their [[illegible]]at, as an executive, I might [[illegible]] agreement. Their fear is [[illegible]] executive, I would not re[[illegible]]. (Applause.)

[[Illegible]] is afraid the law will not be enforced? Those who are most fearful that there would be a lax enforcement of the law are the very persons who would suffer most if law was enforced. (Applause.)

Mr. Harrison was to debate the question of the survival of our institutions. I will tell him that the great trusts which are supporting the Republican ticket are a greater menace to our government than anything else we have ever had. (Cheers.) The various trusts of this country by their representatives, are collecting tribute from the public and when we protest against it they call us disturbers of the peace and anarchists. (Applause.) I am opposed to the trusts. (Cheers.) As an executive I shall use what power I have to drive every trust out of existence. (Loud cheering.)

We are engaged in a great contest, which is to determine whether a few men banded together are more powerful than all the rest of the people.

While I do not want to array one class against another, I am willing to array all the people who suffer from the operation of trusts against the few people who operate the trusts.

If our opponents are afraid to discuss the money question and risk a verdict on that alone, we are willing to meet them on broader grounds, and let the public decide whether the administration of the Government can be more safely entrusted to those who oppose the Chicago platform than to those who stand upon it—whether the Government is safer in the hands of syndicates, stock exchanges and representatives of the trusts than in the hands of those who are opposed to these elements.

I understand that a distinguished citizen of this State (groans and hisses), Hon. Chauncey M. Depew, thinks that my election would be dangerous to the country. There is one advantage in having Mr. Depew against me. And that is, that if I am elected, he will not come to Washington, tell me that he helped elect me, and urge me to use my influence against the arbitration of differences between railroads and their employees. (Great cheering.) There is another advantage which I shall derive from his opposition. If I am elected, he will not be in a position to ask me to use executive influence against the Senate bill to protect the people from government by injunction.

There is one great consolation that I find in the opposition of many who have arrayed themselves against me, and that is that, not having their aid in the campaign, I shall not be under their domination after the campaign is over. (Yells.)

It seems to me that the position taken by the Republican party ought to awaken the people to the dangers before them. We find that a few financiers are able to control the amount of gold, and by sending it out of the country are able to run stocks down and reap a rich profit, and then, by bringing it back again, are able to raise stocks and make another rich profit. We find that our financial system has been turned over to the stock gambler. As long as our Government receives its financial inspiration from railroad wreckers and stock jobbers legislation will be such as to make it more profitable to be a non-producer than to be a producer. In time of peace you cannot trust the financial wisdom of those who manipulate your stock markets, nor can you trust their patriotism in time of war."

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 29, 1896