Lima, OH Speech, 1896-10-19

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, October 19, 1896
Depot, Lima, OH

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896; BRYAN [[illegible]] , Renewed Enthusiasm Greets the Nominee in His Latest Sally., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Tuesday, October 20, 1896

"I want to call your attention to something that appeared in yesterday morning's paper. I find that the chairman of the Republican National Committee has issued a letter to the American people in which he says:

'The American flag has been in the present campaign the emblem or insignia of national honor. Its influence has been great for good in the cause of a good people. Its display in many places has been potent in the advancement of the country's battle for the maintenance of its honor at home and abroad. I therefore suggest that on Saturday, October 31, all who intend to vote on November 3 for the preservation of our nation's honor, for sound money and the advancement of our people's interests and general prosperity, display the national colors at their homes, their places of business, or wherever they may be seen, in order that voters, whose hearts are for their country, may be strengthened in their purpose, and those who are undetermined may the more patriotically and intelligently conclude how best to perform their duty as citizens.'

My friends, it is the first time, I believe, that I have ever agreed with the chairman of the Republican National Committee, but I want to sign my name to his letter and ask all those who believe in ideas set forth there to display the flag on the 31st of October, because there is not a thing in that letter that the advocates of free silver cannot indorse. (Cheers.)

Now, note what he says—that he wants the flag displayed by all those who on the 3d of November intend to vote for the preservation of our national honor. We advocates of free silver believe that only by having a financial policy made by the American people for the American people can we support the honor of the United States. (Great cheering.) He wants those to display the flag who are for sound money. We who believe in the money of the Constitution are for a sounder money than those who want to change our currency into pounds, shillings and pence. (Cheers.) We who believe in a basis for our financial transactions sufficiently broad for those transactions to rest upon, believe in a sounder financial system than those who advocate a gold standard and a financial system based upon gold alone, when they cannot find the gold to furnish the foundation.

We not only believe in sounder money, but we tell you what we mean by sound money, and do not play the hypocrite by talking about sound money and then refusing to explain what the term means.

He wants those who are going to vote for the advancement of our people's interests and general prosperity to display the flag. My friends, we believe that free coinage of silver, the opening of the mints to the free and unlimited coinage of silver at 16 to 1, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation, means the advancement of the interests of the people and general prosperity, and therefore we can join in displaying the American flag. Let it be known to the country that we are standing by the flag, and that we are not asking foreign nations what that flag shall mean.

I join, therefore, in the request for three reasons: First, because we believe in everything he advocates in that letter, and therefore have as much right to display the flag on that day as any Republican has, and we believe that we have a good deal more moral right to do so in this campaign.

I join in the request for another reason. I do not want them to mark the advocates of free silver for slaughter on that day. I do not want the employers to go about over your town and throughout the country and find out who has a bag in his window and then threaten to discharge the man who does not say that he is going to vote the Republican ticket. My friends, if coercion is going to be attempted, for heaven's sake let it not be attempted by using the flag as a means of pointing out the men to be threatened. If they want to find out who should be slaughtered, let them take some other emblem than the nation's flag under which to do their nefarious work.

There is another reason why I join in that request. I want some flags to float on that day which do not mean a government by syndicates and for syndicates. I want some flags to float on that day which do not stand for the right of a coal trust to send a representative to every fireside and collect tribute from every family in this land. I want some flags to float on that day that do not stand for the opinions of those who say that if the majority of the people win in this campaign they do not know whether they will submit to the decision or not. I want some flags to float on that day which have behind them the honest sentiment of the American people; of people who expect to attend to their own business, and do not intend to be bought or driven in to the support of foreign financial policies.

So, my friends, I want to ask all advocates of silver to bring out the flag on that day. I want them to display it in their homes and places of business and, if need be, carry it upon the streets. Let our opponents know that we do not intend to surrender that emblem into the hands of the enemies of the people of this country."

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: 566-567
  • Date: October 19, 1896