Bryan's Two Challenges

Bryan challenges Thurston to a debate.


Anxious to Test Lances with Mr. Thurston and Governor McKinley.


Mr. Thurston Not Disposed to Comply with the Condition that He Positively Announce Himself as a Senatorial Candidate—His Reasons Therefore.

After being endorsed by the democratic state convention as a candidate for the United States senate, Congressman Bryan was somewhat expeditious in sending out two challenges for joint debates, one to Hon. John M. Thurston and one to Hon. William McKinley. The challenges came through Chairman C. J. Smyth of the democratic state central committee, and the one addressed to Mr. Thurston reads as follows:

OMAHA, Sept. 27—Hon. John M. Thurston: Dear Sir—The democratic state convention has adopted a platform and nominated Hon. W. J. Bryan for the United States senate. He expects to make a thorough canvass of the state. While you have made no open announcement of your candidacy, it is generally understood among your friends that you are a candidate for the senate and that your canvass is being made with that end in view. It is conceded that you will be the republican candidate for the senate if your party controls the next legislature. If you are a candidate and will announce that platform by which you will be guided, if elected, I shall be glad to arrange a series of six debates between yourself and Mr. Bryan. The debates to be arranged upon a basis of fairness. You have been represented as saying that you are in favor of a public discussion, and you understand that you and our candidate cannot meet on even terms unless you publicly announce your candidacy and declare your platform. I shall be glad to meet you, or any person whom you may select to represent you, and arrange details, if you agree to the debate. Awaiting your reply, I am very truly yours, C. J. Smyth, Chairman Democratic State Central Committee.


Mr. Thurston had not last night received a copy of this letter, but it was read to him, and he was then asked what his reply would be. He said that his answer would probably be simply that he stood ready as a republican at all times to defend the principles of the party and that he would be willing to meet Mr. Bryan or any other democrat in the state in a join debate on state or national political issues.

This means as Mr. Thurston himself explained, that he will not accept the challenge as an avowed candidate of the republican party for the United States senate. On this point Mr. Thurston said: "I am willing to trust to the republican party in Nebraska to elect a republican to the senate. I do not anticipate that I will announce that I am a candidate. I propose to leave the party entirely free to elect whom it will. I have not asked and shall not ask the support of any man or any organization in the party for the position. Neither shall I say that I am not a candidate. Leaving the party entirely free, I would accept an election to the senate at its hands. I am not willing in the hope of gratifying any individual ambition, to in any degree influence the action of the party by personally announcing myself as a candidate, but, as a republican, who shall work for republican success, I am ready to receive and accept a challenge to a joint debate from Mr. Bryan or any other democrat."

Whether an acceptance of his challenge on terms thus modified would be satisfactory to Mr. Bryan could not be learned last night, for Mr. Bryan was out of the city.


The challenge to Governor McKinley is as follows:

OMAHA. Sept. 27—Hon. C. H. Morrel, Chairmen Republican State Committee, Lincoln, Neb.: Dear Sir—You have invited Governor McKinley of Ohio to address the people of Nebraska on the afternoon and evening of October 4 next. Governor McKinley is the author of the McKinley law and the most distinguished advocate of protection's sake. Hon. W. J. Bryan has been nominated for United States senator by the democratic state convention, on a platform which endorses the tariff reform measures passed by the Fifty-third congress. The democratic state central committee respectfully invites you to arrange for a debate between Governor McKinley and Mr. Bryan, either upon the issues of the campaign generally or upon the tariff question alone. One can open and close the debate in the afternoon and the other in the evening. If you agree to the discussion I am authorized by the committee to meet with you and arrange details. Awaiting your reply, I remain, Yours very truly, C. J. Smyth Chairmen Democratic State Central Committee.

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha Daily Bee
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 28, 1894