Elkhart, IN Speech, 1896-09-03

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Thursday, September 3, 1896 at 2:40pm
Outdoor Stage, Elkhart, IN

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896

"I feel complimented that the distinguished executive of this great State is present to extend a welcome in person. We in the West have always looked upon Indiana as friendly ground and to her people as a people of congenial spirit. I am glad to be permitted to discuss even briefly in your presence the issues of this campaign. We are entering upon a campaign which stirs men's hearts, a campaign which is drawing out the interest of all the people. I have not in all my journey from Nebraska to the sea found a single lukewarm person. I have found some against us, but everybody was for or against us—no idlers anywhere. It shows how the American people are realizing their responsibility, and preparing to exercise with intelligence and patriotism the right of suffrage when election day arrives. Each one must decide this question for himself. As we crossed the bridge I noticed a sign up, 'No Driving Allowed.' Remember that. There will be more attempts to drive in this campaign than any in recent years, more attempts to coerce and intimidate. I want you to have that phrase printed on a card and carry it wherever you go: 'No driving allowed in this campaign.'

I find here a little slip printed on paper of an appropriate color, yellow. It says: 'I, the undersigned — —, in the employ of — —.' That is a very appropriate blank, because the man who issued this considered the employee a blank. 'I, — —, in the employ of the — — Railroad Company, hereby make application for membership in the Railway Men's Sound Money Club.' Why don't they say gold club? Why do they attempt to conceal the word gold under the euphonious name of sound money? (A voice, "They are ashamed of it.") Yes, I believe that is the reason. 'Do hereby pledge myself to use my vote and influence.' There is one good thing in this slip. If they attempt to tell you how to vote point to this and say: 'It is my vote and not yours.' 'And do hereby pledge myself to use my vote and influence for the defeat of free coinage at the forthcoming election'—pay attention to this—'believing that such free coinage of silver would be injurious to my personal interests as an earner of wages, as well as disastrous to the United States as a nation.'

If the wage-earner ought to sign a statement declaring the free coinage of silver injurious to his personal interests, I want to ask you why the advocates of the gold standard who are engaged in other kinds of business do not make some statement in regard to their business? Why do not the members of the syndicates which have been bleeding the United States Treasury make application for membership in a club and declare that the free coinage of silver is injurious to their personal interests? Why do not the bondholding classes in their applications state that it would be injurious to their personal interests? Why don't the money changers and the attorneys of the great trusts and corporations write in their applications that the success of the Chicago ticket would be injurious to their personal interest? They want it understood that the laboring man is influenced by his personal interests, but that the great leaders of the gold standard are simply interested in the public weal."

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, IL
  • Citation: 362-365
  • Date: September 3, 1896