Albany, NY Speech, 1896-08-25

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Tuesday, August 25, 1896 at 4:05pm
City Hall, Albany , NY

Source: The Evening News, Wednesday, Augst 26, 1896; DINES WITH SENATOR HILL, Mr. Bryan Entertained at the Home of New York's Foremost Democrats., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Wednesday, August 26, 1896; The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896


"Fellow Citizens: In the presence of this immense audience, it is hardly necessary to announce that the presidential campaign is open for business. (Applause.) It gives me great pleasure to be permitted to address, even for a short time, the citizens of Albany and its vicinity. I esteem it a privilege to be able to defend, in your presence, the policies which I believe will bring prosperity and happiness to the American people.

The Democratic party met in convention at Chicago, and a majority of the Democrats of the United States, speaking through their regularly chosen representatives, adopted a platform and nominated a ticket. It is not to be expected that every person will find in any platform all that he desires, and nothing that he does not like. But when a citizen is called upon to vote, he endorses that platform which gives him the best assurances of securing the most important things which he desires. It is proper, aye, more, it is necessary, that the candidate who stands upon a platform shall endorse the utterances of the platform, and I stand before you to declare in your presence that I endorse every word and every syllable of the platform adopted at Chicago. (Enthusiastic applause.) But while I do so, I expect in this campaign the support of many Democrats who are not willing to endorse all that the platform declares for." (Great applause.)


"In a campaign there is always some overshadowing issue; there is always some paramount question which, more than any other, determines the allegiance of those who support the ticket. Our opponents have at last taken a definite position upon the money question. The Republican platform adopted at St. Louis declares that the gold standard must be maintained in this nation until other nations shall consent to its abandonment. We believe that that declaration which commits us to a gold standard until other nations come to our relief is equivalent to a declaration in favor of a permanent continuation of the gold standard, because if we do not believe that other nations will take pity upon us before we take pity on our people, we have, then, to consider this question: Ought the American people submit longer to a gold standard? (Shouts from the audience of "No! No!") In this campaign we appeal with confidence to those who are opposed to a longer continuation of the gold standard policy by the United States. The Democratic party has begun a war of extermination against the gold standard. (Cheers.) We ask no quarter; we give no quarter. We shall prosecute our warfare until there is not an American citizen who dares to advocate the gold standard. (Loud applause.)

They ask, 'Why?' We reply that the gold standard is a conspiracy against the human race and that we would no more join it than we would join an army marching to despoil our homes and destroy our families. I ask you not to take my word alone as to the evils of the gold standard. I call as a witness a gentleman who has been heard in the councils of the Democratic party. I ask you—if you are inclined to accuse us of using extravagant language—to read and reflect upon the language used by John G. Carlisle in 1878. In a speech made in congress he said:

'According to my opinion, the conspiracy which seems to have been formed here and in Europe to destroy by legislation and otherwise from three-sevenths to one-half the metallic money of the world is the most gigantic crime of this or any other age. Its consummation would ultimately entail more misery upon the human race than all the wars, pestilence and famine that ever occurred in the history of the world.'

That is the language of John G. Carlisle, and I believe he spoke the truth. If it was true then, it is true today, and will be true no matter who may change his opinion or his course upon this question." (Applause.)


"Truth once utter will live, no matter what may become of those who utter those truths. Men cannot retract truths. That prophecy was spoken 18 years ago and 18 years of fulfillment has enabled us to believe words which were believed by all at the time they were spoken.

Our opponents tell us that the free coinage of silver is going to disturb business. I ask our opponents to write down the worst thing they can possibly think of as a possible consequence of the immediate restoration of the free coinage of silver, and when they have written their worst, I would place against the most dismal prophecy they can utter the words of John G. Carlisle and tell them that I would take the worst thing they could think of rather than bring a misery greater than war pestilence and famine.

Our opponents say that they are afraid that we cannot maintain the ratio of 16 to 1. We reply to them that we have waited for twenty years for other nations to help us, and if we are going to restore bimetallism we have got to restore it alone, because others don't come to our assistance. (Applause.) More than that, we believe that the assertion of American Independence to bring about bimetallism is better than servile dependence upon our enemies to bring it to us. (Applause.)

Our opponents say that all we need is a restoration of confidence. Whenever the confidence is abroad in the community, the man who has the least confidence gets off with the most money (laughter and applause), and I am very much afraid that the confidence man is abroad in this campaign preaching 'have confidence and all will be well.'

My friends, confidence must have a basis to rest upon. Our opponents say that unless we shape our financial policy to suit the pleasure of foreign nations, they will not loan us any money. (Laughter.) We reply that as long as we shape our financial policy to suit other nations, we will always be borrowers and not loaners ourselves. Confidence must rest upon a substantial basis. Suppose that a man in your community gives out his notes until everybody has them and then somebody tries to collect a note and finds that the man has no property beyond his notes, how can you restore confidence in that and how can he inspire confidence in the community? Just in one way and that is by putting property behind the notes that he has out.

My friends, how are you going to restore confidence in the United States by legislating value out of the property upon which notes are based? You have tried and you have found that bankruptcies have increased year by year, and the only people who have prospered are those who own investments payable in dollars or money they are making out of the extremities of the government. If you want to restore confidence you have got to restore prosperity to the great mass of people and talk as much about good property as they have been talking about good money. Money can be too good. It can be so good that you can long for it and pray for it and not get a dollar of it. (Laughter and applause.)

The laboring men have never found the financiers of this nation the men who have exerted themselves to improve the condition of the laboring man. As a rule, the men who have spent their time trying to break down labor organizations—the only protection that the laboring man has had—these are the men who now come to the help of the laboring man. I ask you if you ought to expect blessings from those whom you have only received cursings from in the past?

I have asserted, and I assert, that without the aid of the money owning class the gold standard would not stand for one day in any nation under the sun. I assert that behind the gold standard in this country the only potent force consists of those who hold fixed investments and those who are brokers, who provide or carry out greater bond issues.

Now, my friends, my time is up. I must leave you to greet other people."

About this Document

  • Source: The Evening News
  • Published: Lincoln, NE
  • Citation: 2
  • Date: August 25, 1896