Council Bluffs, IA Speech, 1896-07-22

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Wednesday, July 22, 1896 at 3:00pm
Grand Hotel Balcony, Council Bluffs , IA

Source: EVENTS IN COUNCIL BLUFFS, Business is Suspended While Friends of Bryan Attend the Reception., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Thursday, July 23, 1896

Ladies and Gentlemen: I have been refraining from making anything that may be considered a political speech, as far as possible, because I have not been notified of my nominationóbut I have heard a well-defined rumor that I have been nominated for president (laughter and applause), though there has been no formal notification. And then when I come before you on an occasion like this, where a reception is tendered by persons without regard to party, I feel that would not be entirely proper to speak about political issues. But I assure you that I appreciate the kindly expressions which I have heard from my fellow citizens, from those whom I have met before, and from those whom I am now meeting here for the first time.

Council Bluffs is not a new place to me. It is just across the river from my own state, and I feel that I am almost acquainted with your people. I also have a kindly remembrance of the good words spoken by the delegates from your state in Chicago. When they found that they could not get their own choice I considered it honor enough to be regarded as second choice to so great a man as Horace Boies." (Loud applause.)

OPEN EASTERNER'S EYES.

"There is one thing which I think this nomination will do. It will turn the eyes of some of our eastern friends to our western country, and the more they see of this country, and the more they know of our people, the better will their opinion be of both of them. I think we people of the west have an advantage over some of our eastern friends in our knowledge of this country. We come, many of us, from the east, and coming from the east and having our friends and relatives back there, as we go back and visit them we become acquainted with that part of the country, as well as this part; while a great many of our eastern friends who have never been out here have a very inadequate idea of the character of our people and of the character of the country which we inhabit. This nomination may have the effect of making all of the people of this country better acquainted with each other and with the broad and fertile prairies of the west.

We who have come here and we who live here and know the natural resources of this country know that it is a veritable Garden of Eden with no flaming sword to keep the people out (applause); and it is not strange when, as visitors, these people have come from the east that they have decided to cast their lot in with us and grow up in this splendid country."

DEMAND AN EQUITY.

"We desire always to impress this on every man that the people of the Mississippi and Missouri valleys are not seeking to use the instrumentalities of government to take advantage over anyone. All that we ask is that this, the most beautiful country on the globe shall simply have a standing 'equal before the law' with those who dwell in any other part of the country (prolonged applause), and that the laws of the nation, without showing us partiality, shall also not discriminate against us. I only speak a truth proclaimed by history when I say that in every nation which has existed since the world began among the agricultural people has been found the most steadfast, the most loyal and the most useful of all the citizens of the government. (Cheers.)

I can quote what Major McKinley said six years ago when I say that there can be no permanent prosperity in this nation unless that prosperity is broad enough to take within its embrace those who are tillers of the soil. (Great applause.) Our prosperity rests upon these farms. The wealth that goes from us to the east is first produced, is first brought out of the ground, and when we appeal to our eastern brethren to give us an equal chance in the race for life we simply ask them to give us a prosperity which we must first have before they can share it with us. (Cheers and prolonged applause.) We are not asking for anything beyond an equal chance in the race for life. We believe that our people are defenders of our system of government, and when they call us harsh names we point to the record of the past and tell them that there has never been a time when we have been appealed to for aid for our country that we have not responded with a fidelity that has never been surpassed by people anywhere. (Cheers and cries of "You are right.") I thank you, my friends. (Cries of "Go on.") I am glad to have the opportunity to appear before you to speak, if but for a moment, to those who, in peace and war, can always be relied upon to stand by the government whose form they worshipóa government which they intend by the help of God to transmit to posterity." (Great cheering.)

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 3
  • Date: July 22, 1896