Kenton, OH Speech, 1896-09-02

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Wednesday, September 2, 1896
Courthouse Square, Kenton, OH

Source: The Evening News, Thursday, September 3, 1896

"I am willing that each man shall have whatever influence his neighbors are willing to give him, but I object to any man using his official position to coerce other people who have opinions of their own. I have had my attention called in this state to an interview given out by the president of a great railroad to the employees of that road, furnished when they received their pay. I want to say to you that if the object of the managers of the road was merely to instruct the employees upon the money question, we have entered upon a new era when the employer becomes school teacher, setting up a school of political economy and being instructor to all those who work for him. But if the object of that circular was to intimate to the employee that if he wanted to hold his position he must make his views conform to the views of the employees, then it is not a new idea, but merely a revival of the old idea that might makes right and power, if used without regard to conscience or public good.

I want to remind employees that in this state they have the Australian ballot, whose blessings they did not secure through the aid of the presidents of the railroads. (Applause.) I have had men tell me they were compelled to join Republicans clubs and wear the insignia of Republicans. I shall not complain if they do. I appreciate the condition of the man who feels his wife and children tugging at his garments and who knows that want may stare in the face of those whom he loves if he dares to assert the sovereign right of an American citizen. (Great applause.) I recognize the embarrassment of his position. I will not ask him to do anything which may endanger that position. Let him wear the opposition button if he will; let him put his name on their club list if he must; let him contribute to the campaign fund if he will, but let him remember there is one day in the year when he is his own master and can use a pencil as he pleases." (Tremendous applause and cheers.)

About this Document

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