Philadelphia, PA Speech 1, 1896-09-22

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Tuesday, September 22, 1896 at 8:45pm
Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA

Source: SLEEPY CITY WAKES, Metropolis of Quakerdom Turns Out Thousands to Greet Mr. Bryan, Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Wednesday, September 23, 1896

"The gold standard papers ask why I come to Pennsylvania. I have nothing to conceal. I come to secure, if possible, the electoral vote of the state of Pennsylvania. If you withhold that vote, I [[illegible]] me another mission. That is, to [[illegible]] the people of Pennsylvania that the agitation for free coinage will never cease until the gold standard is driven back to England. You say the craze is dying out. You may apply to it such epithets as you will, but the silver cause will not die, because truth never dies.

You ask why I know this cause is true. I could give many reasons, but one is sufficient, that every enemy of good government is against it. You know a cause as you know an individual, by the company it keeps. Our cause appeals to the masses, because they are interested in effectual laws. Our cause is opposed by those who want to use the government for private gain, because we are opposed to government instituted for such purposes.

Your city is called the City of Brotherly Love. I come to preach the doctrine proclaimed by the name of your city. Yet you say you will give a majority of 100,000 against it. (A voice: 'Never.') I come to proclaim independence to a city which declared national independence more than 100 years ago. The issue raised now was raised then. People said [[illegible]] not get along unless some [[illegible]] looked after us. Some to- [[illegible]] the same position."

[[Illegible]]TED LONG ENOUGH

"[[Several lines of illegible text...]] The gold standard plank was intended to deceive the voters, but is it dignified to deceive voters? (Laughter.) No political party ever went before the country on a gold standard platform."


"The record is clear. The Democratic party has never declared for a gold standard, and no man in office ever advocated a gold standard after he was elected until he had betrayed the people who elected him. (Great applause.)

I deny the right of any public servant to secure office upon a platform and then abandon it after he is elected. I was reared in a different school of democracy. When I find my conscience will not permit me to carry out a platform on which I am elected I will reassign and let some other man hold the office."


"That is the record of the democratic party, and I stand here not only as the regular nominee, but as representing principles which have been democratic from the time there was a democratic party. Our opponents tell us I am radical. I am conservative. The goldbugs, who think I am radical, have joined with the Populists of Texas, who think I am not radical enough. I believe in law and order. I do not believe any man, small or great, should be permitted to defy the law. If I would stop half way, many of these people would like me. If I would say, I am in favor of enforcing the law against the small offender I would be a good man. When I say I am in favor of enforcing the law against the great I become a dangerous man. Dangerous to whom? Dangerous to the people who are eating bread they earn? NO! Dangerous to the people who are eating the bread somebody else earns.

You can find men who were talking for free coinage three months ago who will tell you they are in a position where they cannot say anything. They have a note at the bank and cannot pay it just now, and they are not at liberty to advocate what they believe, for fear the note will be called in and they sheriff will close down upon them."


"This government has either to be run in the interests of the people or else has got to be robbed in the interests of a few syndicates. Anybody who enjoys being robbed ought to fall desperately in love with the Republican party, because it means to continue the same sort of thing which it has had more than four years. I feel it my duty to defend the administration to this extent—that it is simply carrying out the policy of the preceding Republican administration and applying that policy to a little more aggravated condition. We are not going to change the size of the silver dollar or the gold dollar, but we propose that any man who owes a debt shall be able to pay it in either gold or silver. We are not going to say that contracts already made under the present law, which permits contracting against silver shall be changed, but we are going to say that hereafter no man shall be permitted by contract to demonetize what the government makes legal tender. We are going to say that hereafter no man can call a debtor into his office and tell him if he does not strike out 'coin' and write 'gold' he will foreclose the mortgage and take his property. If he tells us he will not loan money in this country under such laws, we will tell him to loan his money somewhere else, and if he does not like the laws the people make for their protection, we will tell him to go to some other country where the laws suit him."


"The time has come when the people should refuse to be held up and sandbagged by a few men who assume money is more precious than commodities. We have usury laws saying a man cannot collect more than a certain rate of interest. In these transactions men do not always stand upon an equal footing, and, therefore, the government steps in to protect the weaker from having his rights trespassed upon. If it is right to say no man shall be permitted to collect more than a certain rate of interest, it is right for the government to say when it has declared a certain kind of money is legal tender that no man shall write a contract saying that that law is a lie.

They talk about gold as if it was divine. It is matter. Instead of being a real god and a thing to be worshiped, we are told that when the children of Israel made it into a calf and began to worship it, it displeased God, and he ground it into powder."

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: August 22, 1896