Camden, NJ Speech, 1896-09-22

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Tuesday, September 22, 1896
Washington Park, Camden, NJ

Source: SLEEPY CITY WAKES, Metropolis of Quakerdom Turns Out Thousands to Greet Mr. Bryan, Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Wednesday, September 23, 1896

"I met a prominent man yesterday who said that until the Chicago convention acted on the subject he had never investigated the money question and never supposed there was anything in it: that the papers did not seem to consider it worth thinking about. They regarded it as a craze and he did not have time as a business man to pay any attention to crazes. But when a great national party adopted a platform making the money question the paramount issue he began to think about it. That was only a few weeks ago. He got to be a crank. He said to me: 'If we don't win this fight it is going on until we do win, and I don't care how many years it takes.'" (Applause.)


"I can appreciate the feeling of that man. I went through the same experience myself. Until six years ago I thought that any man who talked about money as a harmless crank. I did not listen to his arguments. They had no weight with me. I studied the question. I read books on both sides and compared them, and the more I read the deeper became my conviction until I became so firmly of the opinion that there could not be prosperity in this country until free silver was restored that I was willing to risk all I had to expected to have on the correctness of that conclusion. (Great applause.)

We have gone through in Nebraska the same process that people have gone through in other states. We began the fight in Nebraska. It is the pioneer. The platform adopted at Chicago on the silver question was first adopted in Nebraska by the democrats there. (Applause.) When we did it we had bolters then as they have had since. We had men who claimed to be Democrats who would not agree to our platform. They called themselves better democrats than we were and voted the Republican ticket to prove it. (Great laughter.)

We believed the Democratic party which owed its success to the toiling masses must still stand by them in their fight against the few if it deserves to continue its existence. We organized in Nebraska a democratic free silver league. The members of that league made an open fight. They did not go around in the dark wearing a mask. They said to the democracy of the state: 'We are going to take possession of the machinery of the party if we can; we are going to submit the question to voters.'"


"We went out and presented the questions. When our state convention met we had three to one and we adopted that platform which has been readopted by the national democratic convention. (Applause.) There was never a fairer contest waged. Then we organized a bimetallic national league which went out to do in the nation what the free silver democrats of Nebraska had done in that state. We carried the question to the primaries and the voters instructed the delegates to the county convention and from there to the state convention and from there to the national convention. When they got down there some people came from New York to instruct the delegates who had already been instructed. (Laughter.)

A distinguished man who used to call himself a Democrat (a voice, 'Hill.') No. Mr. Whitney went down and said as soon as the people of the west found out how the people of the east felt about this subject he did not think there would be any trouble carrying the convention against silver. He came back home and found out that he did not know how the people of the east felt about it. The democratic party in his own state has declared that it unreservedly endorses the free silver plank of the national platform and that it is the best platform ever adopted in this country." Applause.)


"We never had a convention in this country which more correctly represented the sentiment of the people who sent the delegates than that convention which met at Chicago. It is honor enough to be the nominee of a convention for President, but it is a higher honor yet to be the nominee of the most democratic convention ever held in this country. (Applause.) It is sufficient honor to be nominated by the machinery of a party, but it is a higher honor still to be nominated by the people of a party regardless of the machinery. (Applause.)

Since that platform was adopted the people have commenced to study the money question. What do they find? They find that the people of the west and south, who have been asking for the restoration of bimetallism, instead of trying to ruin the country, are trying to save it. (Great applause.) Your people are producing manufactured products here largely. Where do you get your consumers? Wipe out the farming population, and where will you sell the goods you produce? How are you going to increase your markets? By increasing the number of people able to buy what you produce. Will you do that by making dollars dearer? No. Dollars do not eat. They devour a great deal, but they do not eat. (Laughter.) How are you going to create markets? By increasing dollars in the hands of a few? No. You have got to restore prosperity by stopping the falloff prices, so men will sell what they produce to get money to buy what you produce." (Applause.)



"The gold standard newspapers think we won't be able to get silver into circulation if we have free coinage. I want to tell you that they will be mighty glad to have subscriptions paid, even in silver dollars, if these people whom they have been trying to destroy in the interests of foreign capitalists will continue to receive their papers into their houses. (Great applause.) Our opponents who are so confident that money can beat argument in a campaign are glad to use silver dollars for a campaign fund." (Applause.)


"Against this waiting policy, with the twenty years of adverse experience behind it, we offer an aggressive policy, by which the United States will lead the nations of the world to the restoration of silver and gold as money. You say it is American to brag about what we can do. I reply that it is English, you know to think we can't do anything. (Laughter). We have reached a great crisis, and the question presented to the American people is, shall the United States have a financial policy of its own, or shall the people receive their finances ready-made from some foreign land. (Cries of "No, never.") It is a question upon which much will depend. I beg you, when you vote, to consider the responsibility which rests upon you, and so vote that you may tell your children without a blush for which policy you voted in 1896." (Applause.)

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 22, 1896