Paterson, NJ Speech, 1896-09-28

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, September 28, 1896 at 6:55pm
Coates Hill, Paterson, NJ

Source: PLATFORM IS PLAIN, No Ambiguous Phrases in the Democratic Party’s Financial Plank., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Tuesday, September 29, 1896; The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896

"The paramount question of this campaign is the money. What kind of a financial policy shall we have is to be determined, for the time being at least, by this election. Upon that issue the parties are divided. The Republican party is in favor of maintaining the present financial system, until foreign nations shall join in relieving us of it. The Democratic party declares in favor of immediate abandonment of the gold standard and the substitution of free, unlimited coinage of silver. (Great applause.)

Bimetallism can only exist when two metals are admitted to the mint on equal terms and coined into money of equal legal tender quality at a ratio fixed by law. Our platform not only declares for free and unlimited coinage, but it fixes the ratio at 16 to 1, the present ratio. (Applause.) Not only do we declare in [[illegible]] but for fear somebody may de[[illegible]] to misconstrue the platform and [[illegible]]pone the advantages of bimetallism, [[illegible]] declare that this nation all open [[illegible]]s mints without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation. (Applause.)

If we are right in the position we have taken we are entitled to the support of the people. If we are wrong and our enemies are right then they are entitled to the support of the people. We are not seeking success under false colors nor are we attempting to use ambiguous phrases in order to mislead the people. I say to you now that my election means that this nation shall open its mints to the free coinage of both metals at the earliest possible moment." (Applause.)


"[[Illegible]] that, but my election means [[illegible]]ation shall treat the silver dollar [[illegible]] as it treats the gold dollar. [[Illegible]] and that we shall not issue [[illegible]]y gold in order to furnish an [[illegible]]y for those who want bonds to [[illegible]] the gold and increase the debts [[illegible]] government. If we had taken a [[illegible]]lder course, if we had adopted a platform which was meaningless or capable of double construction, we might not expect the support of those who did not agree with us in this proposition. But when we took a decided stand, when we declared for those policies which we believed were best for the American people, we arrayed against us all the influences which surround wealth and especially corporate wealth.

It is not strange that the heads of all the trusts of the country are opposed to the Chicago ticket, because it is opposed to all trusts in the country. It is not strange that the money changers are opposed to the Chicago platform, because it is opposed to the money changers' policy. It is not strange that the syndicates which grow fat while the people grow lean are opposed to the Chicago ticket, because the Chicago ticket means that these trusts shall continue to fatten on the adversity of the people.

I believe that the time has come when we must restore to the people the right to run the government and that we must restore the government to the old policy whereby it guarantees equal rights to all and special privileges to none."


"My friends, our opponents sometimes ask us how this money is going to get among the people in case we increase the volume of money. We reply that money must first be created before it has a chance to get into circulation among people. And if your laws are such that the government does not create enough money, then my friends the quality of money in circulation must be less than our people need.

...Money is a creature of law, and if the laws do not create enough money, then there will not be enough in circulation. If you want more wheat, you can go out and raise wheat; if you want more of any kind of manufactured goods, you can produce them; but if the people want more money, they cannot bring money into existence. If a man attempts to add one dollar to the volume of the nation's currency, he is called a 'counterfeiter' and imprisoned in the penitentiary.

Our opponents seem to act upon the theory that by making the total volume of currency less they can increase the amount which each individual has of it. (Laughter.) This is a new principle, unknown to the arithmetic we studied when we were young.

The government that will not let the individual bring a dollar into existence assumes the solemn duty of bringing into existence enough dollars to perform the duty that money is called upon to perform. If by legislation you make money scarce, then you make money dear; and if you make money dear, you make money hard to get. You compel the man who needs money to sell more of the products of his toil in order to get it."


"You make money dear, and the man who owns money can let that money lie idle and gain on the increase on the purchasing power of a dollar, whereas, if you have a stable currency, then idle money will do no good to anybody, and the owner of money will have to invest and employ labor and develop enterprises before he can get any profit out of it. (Applause.)

The gold standard is the standard of the miser. The gold standard is the standard which makes it more profitable to hard money than to invest it. It is bad for any country to have a financial system which raises the value of the dollar and lowers the value of all property. That is what we have been doing, and the people are so tired of a scarcity of money, and of a rising dollar, that they cannot now be terrified when they have undertaken to secure a larger amount of standard money by adding silver to gold as a money of this country. (Applause.)

Now, my friends, I have talked all the time I have, and I regret exceedingly that I am not able to discuss this question longer in your presence, but I beg you not to take somebody else's word on this money question, but make it a study and find out for yourselves what is right, and when you vote, remember your vote is your own, and use it according to your conscience and judgment, and we will abide the result." (Great applause.)

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 28, 1896