Springfield, IL Speech 1, 1896-10-23

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Friday, October 23, 1896
Courthouse Square, Springfield, IL

Source: The Evening News, Saturday, October 24, 1896

"I am glad to come back to Illinois, for while Nebraska is the place of my residence, Illinois is the state of my birth. I became acquainted with many of the people of this capital city before I was acquainted much beyond the confines of my county. I am also glad to come to Springfield, because it was here a year ago last June that the Democrats assembled and gave notice to the Democrats of the nation that Illinois was still a Democratic state. (Applause and cheers.) They gave notice to the Democrats of the nation that no matter how other states might desert Democracy for plutocracy, the Democracy of Illinois still prayed with windows open and toward Monticello and the Hermitage. Your convention had much to do in giving hope and inspiration to the Democrats of the nation and your state played a most important part in bringing the Democratic party to the indorsement of free and unlimited coinage at 16 to 1 without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation.

Upon the action of the United States may depend—aye, my friends, I believe upon the action of the United States will depend the monetary policy of the civilized world. I believed that when this great nation shall cast its influence into the scale upon the side of bimetallism, then international bimetallism, which we pray for, will be brought to us, not by our following, but by leading European nations. Do you tell me that we shall put bimetallism further away by our efforts? I tell you that we have waited for 20 years, and petitioned and begged, but my friends, while we have been petitioning, the dollar has been rising and those before whom we laid our petitions were profiting by delay. Washington has well said in his farewell message that our nation need not expect favors from another. We have been looking for favors. We now propose to make it to the interest of the old world to join with us. Do you want to know how we can make it to their interest? Let me tell you. We shall open our mints to free coinage at 16 to 1, we shall make the silver dollar an equal legal tender with gold for all debts, public and private, and we will say to our foreign creditors: If you do not want cheap dollars you join with us to make the silver dollars good.

My time is up, and I simply want to leave a parting word with you, and that is that we cannot reform our monetary system until we can take possession of both houses of congress as well as the executive office. According to our constitution a president cannot sign a bill until after the House of Representatives and Senate have concurred in its passage. If you simply elect a president and elect a congress hostile to silver, the fulfillment of our hope will be delayed two years more. I want you, if you are in earnest to restore the money of the constitution to work from now until the polls close to give us a congress that believes in bimetallism and elect a legislature which will send a silver senator to Washington. I have been gratified to see the manner in which all of the reform elements have been able to co-operate in this state in the campaign. I am glad that silver Republicans and Democrats and Populists, instead of fighting each other, are going to combine against the common enemy. I am glad to know that you are a single unit on your electoral ticket, and nearly all your congressional and nearly all your legislative tickets, and I am glad you are united on your state tick also, and you are going to elect Altgeld governor of this state."

About this Document

  • Source: The Evening News
  • Published: Lincoln, NE
  • Citation: 2
  • Date: October 23, 1896