Lexington, KY Speech, 1896-09-15

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Tuesday, September 15, 1896 at 2:00pm
Fair Grounds, Lexington, KY

Source: TWENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE., They Stand Ankle Deep in Mud to Hear Mr. Bryan, Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Wednesday, September 16, 1896; The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896; The Evening News, Wednesday, September 16, 1896

(After the rain stopped.)

"Well, my friends, let me say that the majority did rule at Chicago and wrote the platform that was Democratic. For [[illegible]] strong, open [[illegible]] convention [[illegible]] unequivocal grounds in favor of the immediate restoration of free coinage at the ratio of 16 to 1. And what was the result? Why, my friends, four months ago the Republicans thought that all they had to do was to nominate their candidate and election was sure, but just as soon as the Chicago platform was written, as soon as the Democratic party appealed to the hearts and consciences of the people, then the hope of the Republican party was changed to despondency and despair." (Tremendous applause.)

(Procession interrupts speech for 25 minutes.)

"I have been interrupted in the midst of speeches before, but I want to say to you that, of all the interruptions, this is the most pleasant of which I have any recollection. I shall remember this as the speech which was cut in two by the most remarkable horseback parade which it has ever been my good fortune to witness. (Applause.)

They bore banners and presented mottoes which make any further speaking unnecessary. If I were to talk to you from now until night, I could not more than emphasize the mottoes which have passed in procession before you. (Applause.) I noticed one motto, which, though written in letter not altogether according to the latest pattern, presented a truth which ought to find a lodgment in the memories of all. It was 'High moneyŚLow times.'

I challenge you to find in any of the speeches that will be made this year by the opponents of free silver, a single sentence which contains as much of political economy and common sense as is contained in that phrase, 'High moneyŚLow times.'

I saw another motto: 'Our barns are full, but our pockets are empty.' (Applause.) In that sentence is epitomized twenty years of farming history in the United States. Nature smiles upon your husbandry; your soil gives forth in rich abundance, but, according to the experience of the farmer, with all his industry, economy, and patient toil, he finds that the lot of the American farmer grows harder every year. (Great applause.)

In the olden times under the rule of those who wielded the scepter, as they said, by right divine, complaint was answered with the lash, but now the just complaint of the toiling millions of the United States is answered by the charge that they are anarchists. (Great applause.)

My friends, there is one unfortunate thing in connection with the use of the word anarchy as applied to those who are bended together to restore the money of the constitution. Anarchy is a thing not to be considered in a land like this; anarchy can have no home among the people who have the ballot to right their wrongs. And the unfortunate thing about this campaign is that when the name anarchist is applied to the bone and muscle of this country by men who are doing more to overthrow our government than any anarchist who every carried a red flag. I say that when this word anarchist is applied to the toiling millions by men who seek without toil to usurp the fruits and reap the rewards of those who toil, the danger is that it will make the name respectable because of its association. (Uproarious applause and loud cheering.)

I protest against the use of that name for a purpose which deprives it of all its terrors. Those who are opposed to us cannot afford to place the farmers and laborers of this country in the position of enemies of the government, because they are the only friends the government has ever had. (Applause.) My friends, these very men who are abused and despised by those who doubt [[illegible]] the masses for self-government [[illegible]] people who in time of [[illegible]] protect their calumniators from themselves and their associates. My friends, there is not a syndicate that has preyed upon the public which would not rather try its case against another syndicate before the common people of this country than before a jury made up from another syndicate. (Great applause.)

There is another motto that impressed me deeply. It is a short motto, and reads: 'We mean business.' The humble business men scattered all over our land have as much right to the use of the name 'business men' as those who, having large business in the great centers, assume the right to be considered the only business men of this country. I want you to prove my statement true by showing that you are not only business men, but that you understand that election day is the most important business day in all the year."

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: September 15, 1896