Newark, NJ Speech, 1896-08-13

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, September 28, 1896 at 9:00pm
Caledonia Park, Newark, NJ

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

"We are in the midst of a campaign which will be memorable in history. No matter on which side of the money question you may stand, you must admit that much depends upon its settlement. Deep feeling is aroused on both sides. We are combating a system of finance which is entrenched behind strong bulwarks and able to call to its support all those influences which have been in the habit of dominating politics. We realize what it will mean to lose this campaign and to declare—this nation has never so declared before—the inability of this nation to conduct its own business.

Year after year the two great parties have declared for bimetallism. This year, for the first time, one party has thrown its influence on the side of gold as the only standard money. We have hitherto sent representatives abroad to try to secure international bimetallism, but have always reserved for ourselves the right to act alone. I beg you to weigh well your action before you cast your vote on the side of gold. If you have been Republicans when that party was declaring in favor of bimetallism, it is not your duty to stay with that party when it deserts bimetallism. If there was a reason sufficient to lead you into the Republican party when that party endorsed bimetallism there is sufficient reason now to lead you out of that party. We, as a people, have our own welfare to consult; no nation stands in the same attitude that we do.

The Republicans tell us that we ought to have the gold standard because England has it. I reply that we cannot have the gold standard because so many nations have already adopted it that they have forced up the price of gold, and for us to join them is to commit murder upon others while we commit suicide upon ourselves.

The bimetallic system is defended by arguments which cannot be answered. You never find one who turns from bimetallism to gold except when he does so from fear. Such conversion is not conversion at all. You cannot convert a man by terrorizing over him with a rod. If you will go among your acquaintances you will not find any man who has thought his way from bimetallism over to the gold standard. You may find a few Democrats who now talk for gold, but if you do you will find them tied to some special interest.

Truth alone is invincible. I am called a dangerous man; but it is simply because any man is dangerous who plants himself upon a truth and tries to defend that truth. Whether I live or die is a matter of little consequence, but the truth will never die; it will go marching on forever.

I believe that bimetallism will succeed because it is right; I have another reason for believing that it will succeed. The gold standard makes the rich richer and the poor poorer: it decreases the number of those who are happy, and increases the number of those who are in distress, and the poor and the distressed are on our side. If we have not a majority now, it is only a question of time when we will have, if the gold standard continues. When you can prove to me that the Creator intended civilization to lapse again into the dark ages; when you can prove to me that the few should ride upon the backs of those who toil, then, and not until then, can you convince me that the gold standard will prevail. When you can prove to me that the syndicates should be permitted to run the country; that trusts should be permitted to ruin business men and then prey upon society, then, and not until then, will I admit that the gold standard will prevail.

What hope does the Republican platform hold out to the people? Only the hope that foreign nations will be more kind to the American people than the Republican convention was."

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, Illinois
  • Citation: 507-508
  • Date: August 13, 1896