Rhinebeck, NY Speech, 1896-08-19

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Wednesday, August 19, 1896 at 6:00pm
Outside Rhinebeck Hotel, Rhinebeck, NY

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896; ALL ARE ALIKE INTERESTED, Mr. Bryan Shows How the Money Question Affects Rich and Poor Equally., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Thursday, August 20, 1896

"Mr. Chairman, ladies and Gentlemen: I think I can go further even than the chairman of this impromptu meeting. He says that to be the President of the Untied States is to be greater than to be a Roman, or a king. But few can be president, and I rejoice that I live n a land where to be a citizen is greater than to be a king. I rejoice that I live in a land where those who exercise authority derive that authority from the consent of the governed and do not rule by the right divine.

In this land, whether we live along the Hudson, or on the Western prairies, we stand upon a common plane and we participate in a government which represents us all. We may belong to different parties, but I trust I may be able to express the desire of each of you, as well as of myself, when I say that we ought to belong at all times to that party which, in our judgment, will enable us best to serve our country.

Parties are instruments, not ends. They are the means we use to secure that which we believe to be best for us, for our families, and for our fellows. Issues arise from time to time, and it is the duty of every citizen who loves his country, and who appreciates the responsibilities which rest upon him, to study each issue as it arises."


"I am not here tonight to make you a political speech. I am in your midst to rest. But I cannot withstand the temptation at this time to beg that you will study, if you have not done so before, that issue which in this campaign is paramount. I know that among our neighbors in the East there are many who have regarded our position upon the money question as entirely wrong, and they speak of the silver sentiment as a sort of disease.

I want to beg of you, my friends, to believe that we, who advocate the restoration of the money of the Constitution, are not seeking that policy because we believe that it is going to give us an advantage over somebody else. We have studied the question as best we could, and we honestly believe that there can be no permanent, no general prosperity in this country until we stop the conspiracy of those who would make gold the only standard of the world and make all other things depend upon that alone. We believe that while the struggle for gold goes on, other things must become cheap; that as we increase the demand for that one thingógoldówe must decrease the price of all those things which are exchanged for gold, and we believe that this falling of prices, compelled by legislation, is destructive of the energies, the industries and the hope of the toiling masses of the United States and of the world. I beg of you, when you are considering this question, to remember that this is a great nation, and that it is made up of 70,000,000 people, each the equal of the other."


"I have visited some of your beautiful villas along the Hudson. I have been charmed with their beauty, but when you study this question, remember that those who, instead of occupying these magnificent places, must toil all day under the summer sun have just as much interest in the money question as anybody else. Remember, that this question cannot be viewed from the standpoint of any class of people.

It reaches every man, woman and child in the land, and you should make your view broad enough to comprehend them all, because I believe I speak the truth when I say that the prosperity of the well-to-do rests upon the prosperity of those who toil, and that you cannot have a financial policy which brings distress to those who create wealth without, in the end, reaching those who rest upon these toilers. And, more than that, you cannot have a policy which brings prosperity to the masses without the prosperity proving of benefit to all mankind.

I beg that in your consideration of this question, you will study the interests of all, and not merely the interests of those who may be permanently benefited by the rise in the value of the dollar, and, when you have made up your mind, I desire each of you to feel that you have the right to express your own view. The ballot was not given in order that one man should vote for many, or that one man should compel others to vote with him, or purchase their votes.

It was given in order that each man might make his ballot represent a free man's will, and, when each one, studying as he will and voting as he likes, expresses himself we take a majority, and then we all support the one who is elected and hold up his hands while he administers for us the government, whether we agree with his views or not."

About this Document

  • Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896
  • Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896
  • Author: William Jennings Bryan
  • Author: William Jennings Bryan
  • Publisher: W.B. Conkey Company
  • Publisher: W.B. Conkey Company
  • Published: Chicago, Illinois
  • Published: Chicago, Illinois
  • Citation: 340-342, 340-342
  • Date: August 19, 1896