Clarksburg, WV Speech 2, 1896-10-01

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Thursday, October 1, 1896
Fair Grounds, Clarksburg, WV

Source: The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896, 1896; VAST CROWDS CHE[ER], Swarms of Humanity Pack t[he] Streets of Wheeling to Greet the Great Leader., Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Friday, October 2, 1896

"I desire to quote to you, not from Democratic authority but from Republican authority. I shall quote to you, not from the lesser Republicans but from the greatest Republican; not from the rank and file of the party but from the leader, the Republican candidate for the Presidency. I desire to quote what he said this year and by the side of it I desire to place what he said six years ago in regard to the necessity of increasing the circulation. You will find in his letter of acceptance this year the following words:

'It is not more money that we want. What we want is to put the money we already have at work.'

Now remember, my friends, that these words were uttered at a time when the money in actual circulation had fallen off $150,000,000 within two years. Remember that he says that we do not want more money but simply need to put what we have in circulation. Let me compare that statement with his utterance of six years ago, when, instead of having a decreasing volume of currency, we had an increase of about $24,000,000 a year. At that time the Republicans were trying to substitute the Sherman law for the Bland-Allison act. The Bland-Allison act put into circulation about $24,000,000 per year, so that the circulation, instead of decreasing as it is now, was increasing. Mr. McKinley was then a member of Congress, and speaking in support of the Sherman bill, he said:

'I will not vote against this bill and thus deprive the people of my country and the laborers and the producers and the Industries of my country of $30,000,000 annually of additional circulating medium.' (A voice: "He didn't know Mark Hanna then." Laughter and applause.)

At that time he declared that he would not vote to withhold from the people, the laborers, the producers and the industries of the country, the advantages of an increasing circulation. And yet now, when the circulation is actually decreasing, he tells you that it is not more money that we need, but that we simply need to put the money we have in circulation." (Great applause.)


"My friends, what change has taken place in the last six years? Then he desired to increase the amount of money in circulation; now he believes that all we have to do is to have confidence: that you have enough and you will never notice the loss. (Cheers.)

My friends, the Republican platform upon which the candidate stands declares in favor of the maintenance of the gold standard until the leading commercial nations of the world join us in abandoning it. Let me read you what the Republican candidate said on this subject six years ago in the discussion of this Sherman bill:

'I am for the largest use of silver in the currency of the country. I would not dishonor it. I would give it equal credit with gold. I would make no discrimination. I would utilize both metals as money and discredit neither. I want the double standard.'

He wanted the double standard then; he wants the gold standard now. What a change has taken place. (Cheers.)

If the double standard was good six years ago, it is good now. (Cries of "Good" and applause.) The principles which underlie the double standard have not changed in six years; the laws of finance have not changed in six years; the needs of this country have not changed in six years. The rules which governed then govern now, and yet we find some Republicans who were openly, earnestly, enthusiastically championing the double standard then but who, for reasons known or unknown, have turned completely about and are opposing today what they advocated then.

One of the arguments now made against our position is that we are trying to furnish a market for silver bullion. Our opponents say that our cause is simply the cause of the bullion owner. We deny it; we insist that we want silver for money and that we want it, not because we produce silver in this country, but because we need silver for money to carry on the commerce of this country. And yet the very people who now accuse us of working in the Interests of the mine owners are supporting the Republican candidate for the Presidency who six years ago advocated the Sherman law and gave as one of his reasons that it would furnish a market for all the silver produced in the United States. Let me read you what he said:

'So I say, Mr. Speaker, this bill is just to the silver producers of the United States, for it does what the present law, as administered by every administration for ten years, has not done. It takes every dollar of silver bullion produced in the United States and places it at the disposal of the people as money.'

And yet the man who used that language six years ago is standing upon a platform which refuses to take a single ounce of silver produced in this country and put it at the disposal of the people as money.

I call your attention to these extracts from the speech made by Mr. McKinley in Congress and compare his utterances then with his utterances now, not because I deny to a man the right to change his mind, but because I insist that when a man changes his mind he ought to have reasons for the change which he is willing to give to the American people." (Applause. "Give it to Grover," came a voice from the crowd. Laughter and cheers.)


"No, my friends, I am not going to say one word against the President. I am going to leave history to record that the man who went into the Presidency with an overwhelming majority went out of office supporting a ticket which did not carry a single county in the United States. The ticket which has the support of the administration will not even have the credit of having died an honorable death, because it was put into the field by those who did not intend to vote for it and was only placed before the people for the purpose of deceiving them and to furnish a ticket for those few Democrats who object to the Chicago platform and are not yet quite ready to enter the Republican party." (Great cheering.)

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: 512-514
  • Date: October 1, 1896