Chicago, IL Speech, 1896-08-08

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Saturday, August 8, 1896 at 9:00pm
Clifton House, Chicago , IL

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896; HONOR THE LEADER, Five Times Ten Thousand People Greet the Democratic Nominee at Chicago., Omaha World-Herald (Sunday Edition), Sunday, August 9, 1896

"Ladies and Gentlemen: You can hear if you will only be still. I have no language that will express the motions that have been excited by the most remarkable demonstration I have witnessed. In no other country is such a scene possible. In no other country can the people take up a private citizen and make him their instrument to accomplish their will.

When I see this assemblage tonight and then remember what the newspapers of this city say (loud and continued hissing), I am reminded of an expression recently made by one of our friends: 'There is nobody on our side but the people.' And as I look into the faces of these people and remember that our enemies call them a mob, and say they are a menace to free government, I ask: Who shall save the people from themselves? I am proud to have in this campaign the support of those who call themselves the common people. If I had behind me the great trusts and combinations, I know that I would no sooner take my seat than they would demand that I use my power to rob the people in their behalf. But having rather the support of the great toiling masses, I know that when they give me their ballots they unite in saying, 'Do your duty and we will be repaid.' These are the people who ask no favors of government; these are the people who simply ask for equality before the law; they demand equal rights to all and special privileges to none." (Long applause.)


"I am glad to have the support of these people, because I know that when the nation is in peril, every able-bodied man among them is willing to shoulder his musket to save his country; and I believe that those who are good enough to offer their blood upon the alter of their country in time of danger are good enough to trust in the hour of peace and quiet.

I am simply on my way from my western home to the great metropolis of the nation to accept the nomination given me in this city a few weeks ago. I am glad to take to them your greetings. I can tell them you are their friends and will help them to overthrow the European bondage from which they have been suffering.

...I gratefully accept your greetings and in the words of Abraham Lincoln say: 'The people of the south and north are ready to join the people of the east in saying that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.'

I thank you for your attention."

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: 303-304
  • Date: August 8, 1896