Pittsburgh, PA Speech 1, 1896-08-10

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, August 10, 1896 at 6:45pm
Grand Opera House, Pittsburgh, PA

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896; Gage County Democrat, August 14, 1896; IN THE SMOKY CITY, Mr. Bryan Is Given a Rousing Reception by the People of Pittsburg., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Tuesday, August 11, 1896


"I thought it might be necessary in coming so far towards the East to bring with me a few of our people to keep up the enthusiasm while I defended the principles set forth in the Chicago platform. But after seeing a few audiences like this I am wondering whether I should not take a few of you back with me to set an example of enthusiasm to the people of the West. It is no longer 'the wild West,' it is the wild East now.

I am not expected to enter into a discussion of the issues of the campaign because it is not considerate to discuss the campaign—at least for a candidate to do so—until he has been formally notified of the nomination. Therefore I am going to leave to those who come after me the discussion of such questions as may be pertinent at this time, and I shall simply thank you for this extraordinary and unexpected manifestation of interest."


"I read the other day in a little pamphlet sent out by some of the advocates of the gold standard, who call themselves advocates of sound money, this paragraph: 'That all of the financiers and capitalists, the only people who are competent to express an opinion on the subject, are in favor of the gold standard.' (Laughter and applause.) That is the language. It first appeared in an article in the Forum written by a distinguished Frenchman and was then reproduced and scattered over this country as literature by advocates of the gold standard. Therefore, we must suppose it exhausts their ideas—that only capitalists and financiers are competent to express an opinion on this subject. My friends, I believe in each man whether he be high or low, rich or poor, as the best judge of the effect of any proposition upon himself (applause) and that he alone has the right to say how his vote shall be cast and on what side his influence shall be thrown. (Applause.) I stand upon the principles of the broadest democracy when I assert that these questions can be settled by the common people, and that this government has never created a particular class to legislate for other classes." (Applause.)


"An issue has arisen. It was forced upon the people. For twenty years it has been growing and during the last three years its growth has been more rapid than in any three years before. This issue is presented to the American people. The Republican party met in convention and it had its opportunity. When Abraham Lincoln was the ideal of the Republican party it was willing to meet the issues of the day (Applause). The Republican party at St. Louis was not willing to meet the great issue of the day. (Applause.) The people were suffering from a gold standard and the leaders of that party knew it; not only knew it, but said so. In their platform they said they wanted to get rid of it as soon as they could. (Applause.) The Republican platform pledges the Republican party to substitute the bimetallism principle for gold monometallism whenever some other nation takes it up. (Applause.) I have said and I expect to keep saying that there are two positions that will drive the Republican party from this campaign. The first question is: 'If the gold standard is a good thing why not keep it?' The second is: 'If it is a bad thing why shall we keep it?' (Applause.) If it is a good thing why try to get other nations to help us deny our people the benefits of it?"


"Under free coinage 112 ˝ grams of standard silver would be worth a dollar to anyone, because he could take it to the mint and get it coined into a dollar and when it is minted it is for the advantage of the whole people, because it furnishes the means of buying the things which the people want."

About this Document

  • Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896
  • Author: William Jennings Bryan
  • Publisher: W.B. Conkey Company
  • Published: Chicago, Illinois
  • Citation: 306
  • Date: August 10, 1896