Hastings, NE Speech, 1896-11-02

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, November 2, 1896 at 1:00pm
School House Square, Hastings, NE

Source: TOUR OF NEBRASKA TOWNS, Bryan Runs the Gauntlet of Yellow Ribbons in His Home State, Nebraska State Journal, Tuesday, November 3, 1896

"Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I have been absent from the state some two months, and I have been reading in Republican papers that there were certain Republicans in Nebraska who though this state was too far west to furnish a president. (Laughter.) I have heard it stated that some Republicans out here thought that a man did not know anything about the money question unless he lived in New York, where he was surrounded by a London fog all the time. (Cheers.) I heard that there were some Republican farmers out here who thought prices were not low enough, and they were going to try to continue the gold standard so that oats would go down to 5 cents a bushel. (Cheers.) Well, I am glad to find that these Republicans did not tell the truth in their dispatches. I am very much gratified to find so many people testifying to their faith in bimetallism, by coming out today and doing what they have been doing all over this country—using their voices until their voices are hoarse. (Applause.)

Since I left Nebraska, early in September, I have been as far east as the Kennebec river, and I want to tell you that, no matter what the papers may say to you, there is a silver sentiment in Massachusetts and Maine that is as intense as it is in Nebraska. (Cheers.) When I found a man who lived upon money and whose money was increasing in value under a gold standard, I have generally found an advocate of the gold standard, whether he was in Nebraska or Massachusetts, but when I found a man who worked for his living, I generally found a man who sympathized with you in your struggles. (Cheers.)

My friends, we started out to fight this campaign on a great issue, and our opponents pretended that they were perfectly willing to meet us in the fight. But they had not gone very far until they tried to get away from the money question and get onto the tariff question, but when they tried to talk tariff they found that the people wanted to put a prohibitory tariff on foreign financial policies before they discussed the rest of schedule. (Laughter and applause.) When they wanted to talk tariff they found that the farmers thought that if the money question could be settled by international agreement, they might settle the tariff question in the same way. (Cheers.) They found that they could not bring the tariff question into this campaign until after they had settled whether or not this country has a right to attend to its own business and have a financial policy suited to its own people. (Cheers.)

You have been told by circulars issued here that I was opposed to the laboring man or had a poor opinion of him. I want you to look at my four years in congress and you will find whether I have been the friend of the laboring man or not." (Cheers.)


"After our opponents had found themselves driven from every battlefield upon which they dared to fight then in the closing days of this campaign they have attempted to resort to fraud and to forgery, and you found in this community letters purporting to be written by the chairman of the Populist committee of this state asking you to save the state ticket and sacrifice the national ticket. I am authorized to denounce the letter as a fraud and a forgery by Mr. Edminston, whose name is signed to it. But the fact that they resorted to these things shows the desperation of their cause.

In this state the reform forces have joined together. They are in earnest in the election of the state ticket, and in the election of a congressional ticket as well as the electoral ticket, and I want you to feel interested in the free coinage of silver to remember that a president cannot sign a bill until it gets to him, and that bill cannot get to him until it passes through both houses of congress, and I want you to be as anxious for the election of congressmen from Nebraska in favor of free coinage as you are for the free election of an electoral ticket that will select a free coinage president. (Cheers.) Governor Holcomb's term of office has convinced you of his worthiness and of his efficiency as an executive officer. The silver men, those who stand with us in this state and throughout the country, are seeking to administer this government the interests, not of syndicates or trusts or corporations or combines, but in the interest of the people themselves, who have a right to govern themselves and make laws to suit themselves. (Applause.)

My friends, if the Morgan syndicate favors the gold standard, it has a reason to, because the gold standard has enabled the Morgan syndicate to make several millions of dollars out of one bond issue, but I want you to know that the farmers of Nebraska did not get any of those millions when they were given to the syndicate.

Now, my friends, I want you to take this matter home with you, and make it a matter of conviction and duty. In time of crisis, the people of this nation have always proven equal to the emergency. When the question was raised as to whether this should be one nation or tow, there were enough believed it ought to be one nation, and today when the question is raised whether we shall govern ourselves or turn over legislative power to creditors in foreign nations, I believe that a majority of the American people will rise in their strength and assert our right to attend to our own business. (Applause.) Among those who are fighting today for financial independence, there are none more earnest than the soldiers who have been coming with us this year. Because having fought to make this nation, they are willing to vote to keep it an independent nation, capable of standing alone among the nations of the earth. (Great applause.)

Now, my friends, I want to say when they talk about wearing the yellow ribbon, I have wondered why our farmers out here, if they want to show that they are for gold, do not wear a bunch of yellow straw. It illustrates the condition of this gold standard. The gold standard has been a great threshing machine, and it has done its work well. It has separated the wheat from the straw and it has given the wheat to Wall street syndicates and left the straw for the farmer." (Great laughter and applause.)

About this Document

  • Source: Nebraska State Journal
  • Published: Lincoln, NE
  • Citation: 3
  • Date: November 2, 1896