Champaign, IL Speech, 1896-07-13

Speech by William Jennings Bryan.

Speech by William Jennings Bryan
Monday, July 13, 1896
Depot, Champaign, IL

Source: HIS FIRST CAMPAIGN TALK, Nominee Bryan Makes His Initial Speech Before Citizens of Champaign, Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition), Tuesday, July 14, 1896

"I have not been in your city since 1879. In that year I was a student at the Illinois college, and I attended an intercollegiate contest at this place.

I am not going to make a political speech this eveningó(small boy cheers; laughter).

I have just been talking some in Chicago and am sort of between speeches. This is an important campaign. In my judgment, it is the most important campaign this country has passed through in a time of peace. The issues are those which affect every man, woman, and child in the nation, and I beg of you that you shall appreciate the important part you bear in this campaign. This is the greatest nation on earth. It is in advance of all other nations. Its advancement is because our form of government is the best on earth; because, being in the hands of the people, it can be made as good as the people desire. If our laws are good, if our laws are just, it is because our people have force to make them just. I believe there is more justice in the people than is expressed through their representatives. If laws are bad it is the fault of the representatives of the people, and so must be remedied by the people.

There are those who have the idea that patriotism can only be manifested in time of war. I was too young to go to war, but in every campaign such as this you and I have a chance to show our patriotism. Our government is the most perfect form of government because it is the best that the people can offer for a display of patriotism. Every great economic question is a moral question. When you come to a settlement of a question like that of the present campaign, morality is involved. The financial question is the most important issue in this campaign, and I wish that you would study it so that you may understand the way it affects you and your interests. There is no class to which the question can be committed because no one class can be trusted to take care of it.

Before the campaign is over the discussion will turn to one question: 'Is this nation great enough to legislate for itself?' We believe we are strong enough to determine our own financial policy without waiting for any other nation on earth. (Cheers.) It is not a complicated question. Every great economic question is at least a great moral question, and when it comes to be settled it can only be done by the great common people of the nation. The politicians, too, have tried to settle the money question; the people have tried to settle the money question, but it will be unsettled until the people have a chance to express their opinions, and it will not be settled until then. From that there is no appeal."

About this Document

  • Source: Omaha World-Herald (Morning Edition)
  • Published: Omaha, NE
  • Citation: 1
  • Date: July 13, 1896