Greensboro, NC Speech, 1896-09-17

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Thursday, September 17, 1896 at 12:45pm
Blandwood, Greensboro, NC

Source: GREENSBORO CROWDS., One of the Most Enthusiastic Receptions of the Campaign., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Friday, September 18, 1896

"I have talked until my throat is sore and shaken hands until my hands are sore and you yell until my ears are sore (laughter) and the campaign, instead of being ended, has only fairly commenced. (Cheers.)

Sometimes opposition papers say people gather together from idle curiosity. A man has to have more than idle curiosity to stand out in the sun in such a crowd as this to listen to a speech. I was here two years ago and had a chance to see a great many of you, so it was not necessary for you to come for the purpose of seeing me. But I am glad to speak to you about the paramount issues of this campaign. The Democratic party has taken a position which is also the position of the Populists and the Free Silver Republicans, against the issue of bonds in time of peace and against the trafficking with syndicates which save the nation at so much per save from the extremities in which they themselves have placed the government, for the purpose of saving it again at a high price. (Laughter.) Our opponents go upon the theory these syndicates are able to bleed the people without the people knowing it."


"...They tell us it is necessary to make these contracts. If our treasury department were run in the interest of all the people instead of being managed for Wall street financiers in their interests, it would not be necessary to make these humiliating contracts. (Cheers.)

Our opponents are afraid if the Chicago ticket succeeds law will not be enforced and order will not be preserved. That is what they say, but that is not what they fear. They know if the Chicago ticket is elected that the laws will not only be enforced against the little people, but against the big ones who conspired against the nation. (Cheers.) They say they are afraid our property will not be secure. Our property will be more secure under our system of finance than when men are licensed to prey upon their property and eat up the bread earned by the sweat of your brows. (Cheers.)

We not only desire to use the silver dollar we now have, but we want more dollars to use. All those who have so much money, they are afraid to have any more, will vote for my opponents. I want the votes of all who are not afraid of being overwhelmed in a flood of money. (Applause.)

I understand some of your merchants have brought Mexican dollars into your community to teach the evil of free silver. (A voice: "That's right.") No, it's wrong. (Laughter.) It is a peculiar campaign upon which we are entering. Heretofore the merchant has been satisfied to act as the merchant and sell his wares to anybody who would buy, but in this campaign the merchant has turned school teacher and is attempting to use his business to teach object lessons in finance and insult the intelligence and patriotism of those who pay money for his goods." (Cheers.)


"They tell you if we have free silver we will go to the Mexican standard and our dollar there will be worth no more than the Mexican dollar. When a man tells you that, ask him whether the Mexican dollar is good to pay taxes. He will tell you no. You tell him our silver dollar is good enough to pay taxes now and will be good enough to pay taxes under the free coinage of silver. (Cheers.) Ask him whether the Mexican dollar is good enough to pay debts with and he will say no. You tell him our silver dollar is now good enough to pay debts within the United States unless it is contracted against and under free coinage it will be as good as it is now. And better, because we expect to prevent the making of contracts hereafter that will demonetize by contract what the government does not demonetize by law. (Cheers.)

And let me pause to say that while it seems a great many bankers deem it their duty to support the gold standard, there is no reason why the western and southern bankers should be in favor of it. If our bankers in the west and south would think for themselves instead of taking their opinions ready made from bankers in New York who import them from London, we would have more free silver bankers. (Cheers.) If the bankers would stop to think for a moment they would know that if the farmers could get better prices for their produce they would have more money to deposit in the banks, and the money of this country would not be delivered year after year into the laps of those abroad who hold our notes, while we pay them in depreciated products." (Cheers.)


"I am reminded of something I heard this morning. A gentleman in a town not far from here was reading to an audience a statement made in a goldbug catechism. It said the farmers of this county were never more prosperous than they are today, and the speaker said to the audience: 'Any farmer who believes farmers are as well off as they ever were in the United States let him hold up his hand.' And there were two hands in the audience went up. He, supposing that they were persons who had inherited their wealth, said: 'Perhaps you got your wealth from the parents?' and they said: 'We are kept by the state,' and it turned out they were two harmless persons from an insane asylum. (Laughter.)

Our opponents tell us we have plenty of money in this country, and yet they are the people who rejoice whenever any money comes from abroad. If we have money enough in this country now, why do we want any money to come from abroad? When our opponents say it is good to have money from abroad, then we have not enough now. And if we have not enough now in this country to do business with, is it not right to bring that money out of our own mountains and put it into circulation and let it be our money instead of going abroad and borrowing money to use, which we have to pay back and pay interest on it while we use it."

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 2
  • Date: September 17, 1896