Erie, PA Speech, 1896-08-27

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Thursday, August 27, 1896
Reed House Balcony, Erie, PA

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896; GREAT PRINCIPLE AT STAKE, Mr. Bryan Makes One More Speech at Erie, Pa., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Friday, August 28, 1896


"This is a peculiar campaign. The people are engaged in this fight because they believe that the triumph of the principles represented by the Chicago platform is absolutely essential to the welfare of our nation. This is not merely an attempt to secure the Presidency in order to divide the offices among a few of the people. Offices cut no figure in this campaign. (Cheers.) I believe my experience has been rather an unusual one. The people who have come to me have come with suggestions as to what can be done to help the cause and no one has come to ask me for the promise of an office in case of my election. I have not discussed patronage with anybody. I shall not discuss patronage with anybody during this campaign. (Cheers.) A man who in the midst of a great battle stops to negotiate as to what official position he is to occupy when this battle is over is unworthy to hold any position. (A voice in the crowd: "Peace on earth and good will to men.")

Nor are we satisfied with securing the Presidency. The President alone is powerless to secure legislation. He does not express his approval until the Senate and House have joined in a measure, and I appeal to you, if you are interested in the success of our cause, to use your efforts to secure a Senate and a House, as well as a President, favorable to these reforms. (Cheers.) The Senate is practically secure.

We have reason to believe that the Senate which convenes on the fourth of March next year will be in favor of the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation. But it is necessary that we should have the House also. The House today is in the hands of the enemy and we must take possession of the House in order to put any good measure into operation, and I beg you in every Congressional district in this nation to see to it that no man shall receive a majority of the votes, if you can help it, unless he goes there to fight for the money of the Constitution from the day that he takes his seat until the last day he occupies a place in the House. (Cheers.) You have in this district a man who has been tried and not found wanting. You have in this district one of the ablest, one of the most fearless, one of the most eloquent advocates of this great cause. His voice has been heard all over this land and you will be guilty of a desertion of this cause unless you make Joseph C. Sibley your member of Congress at this election.

Now, remember that this cause rests on you. The candidates can do but little. They cannot see all the people. They have no time to address their arguments to every voter. But we commission each of you as aides in this great fight to go out and spread this gospel from now until election day. We have faith not only in the intelligence of the people, and in the patriotism of the people, but we have faith in the zeal among the people which enkindles an enthusiasm which all the contributions of all the trusts and all the syndicates cannot extinguish in this campaign."

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: 352
  • Date: August 27, 1896