Ripley, NY Speech, 1896-08-31

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, August 31, 1896
Hall, Ripley, NY

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896

"As this is my farewell meeting in the State for the present, I desire to submit just a word to the Democrats of New York. I have been gratified to find that so few—few relatively—of the members of the Democratic party are going to oppose the platform and ticket nominated at Chicago.

I desire to say a word to the Democrats of this State who believe that the State convention ought to indorse not only the candidates of the Chicago convention, but the platform on which the candidates stand. If there is any person here who thinks that the Democratic party of the State ought not to indorse the candidates and platform, what I shall say is not addressed to such person, but to those who believe that the convention to be held in this State in about two weeks should indorse both platform and candidates I desire to offer one suggestion. We have had a great fight in the Democratic party, one of the most memorable contests ever waged in the United States, and those who advocate the free coinage of silver have won by carrying their cause, not to conventions, but to the people themselves, the source of all political power. If we had waited until the convention assembled at Chicago and then made our appeal to delegates who had been sent there uninstructed and without regard to the money question we would have been defeated, but we saw that the strength of bimetallism was in the rank and file of the party.

Recognizing the Democratic idea that power comes up to the machinery of the party from the people themselves and not down from the machinery to the people, we commenced with the sovereigns, and instructed the delegates from the primaries to the precincts, and from the precincts to the county, and from the counties to the States, and from the States to the national convention.

That is the way this contest has been fought, and it is the only hope of those who are trying to secure justice for the masses of people.

If you want the State convention to support the Chicago platform and ticket there is only one way to be sure of it, and that is to let no man go to any convention, small or great, until you know where he stands on this question and that he stands by you. No man who wants to do what is right will refuse to let the people know what he will do when he gets to the convention. And when you find a man who refuses to tell you what he is going to do, when you find a man who will not take you into his confidence, tell him that you will not take him into your confidence.

The men who attend conventions do not go there as individuals; they go as representatives. They do not go to act for themselves; they go to act for those who send them. You not only have a right to know what a man is going to do when he gets there, but you have a right to tell him what to do."

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: 357-358
  • Date: August 31, 1896