William Jennings Bryan and the Railroad

1896 Campaign




About the Terminology

Each speech transcript is designated as a full speech, an excerpt, or a paraphrase. Full speeches have no designation by the city name and are considered complete representations of Bryan's oration on that particular occasion. Excerpts are selections or parts of a speech, reprinted in either a newspaper or in Bryan's account of the campaign, The First Battle. Often, several sources document different parts of a single speech; these are noted in the bibliographic information below the speech location. Paraphrases are taken from newspapers and are a reporter's summation of Bryan's speech. All paraphrased speeches were taken from newspapers during 1896 and were not written by the author.

About the Project

Nathan became interested in William Jennings Bryan and railroads through his work as Project Manager on Railroads and the Roots of Modern America digital project, under the direction of Dr. William Thomas. The Railroads project uses interpretive representations called "views" to understand and document the development of the United States. Each "view" considers different aspects of the transformation of space and time that the railroads and other developments brought. Bryan's extensive use of the railroad both as a means of transportation and as a metaphor for the country seemed a model example of this mobility. Following Bryan's travel route and documenting his speeches during the 1896 campaign became a way to further understand the role of the railroad and the development of the United States.

About the Author

Nathan was born and raised in South Dakota. He received a B.S in Agriculture Education from South Dakota State University, a M.A. in History from the University of Indianapolis, and is currently working on his Ph.D. in American History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He specializes in American West history, Environmental history, and Digital history. He lives in Lincoln with his wife, Tiffany and son, Carter.

Contact Information

Nathan Sanderson
612 Oldfather Hall
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE 68588



The author would like to thank Dan Larsen for his excellent work on this project. Dan helped locate many of William Jennings Bryan's speeches in various Nebraska newspapers and transcribed them from microfilm. He was integral in creating the database of Bryan's travel route, especially the information concerning speech times and crowd sizes.

Thanks also to the staff of the Nebraska State Historical Society for loaning the microfilm that made this project possible.

© Nathan Sanderson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2008