William Jennings Bryan was a populist and the Populist and Democratic Party candidate for the 1896 presidency. At the 1896 Democratic National Convention Bryan spoke on behalf of those in the Democratic Party who favored the free coinage of silver. His rousing speech helped him to win the party’s nomination. However, he lost the election to Republican William McKinley who favored maintaining the gold standard.
After the Panic of 1893, the country was in a severe economic problem. Farmers wanted the free coinage of silver, which there was a lot of, would cause inflation but made it easier for them to pay their debts and expenses because more paper currency would be backed by silver rather than just gold. They would have more money available to pay their debts and expenses. For those whom didn’t want it, wanted to keep the country on the gold standard for a more stable economy preventing inflation.
Click HERE for the Cross of Gold speech!
William Jennings Bryan made his “Cross of Gold” speech at the Democratic Convention. He was basically saying that the masses of the nation were being sacrifice for the commercial interests of business by maintaining the gold standard instead of allowing the currency to be backed by the more silver. In my interpretation of the message is that if America relied completely on gold, the economy would suffer.
The first question to Mr. Bryan is, how did it feel to make one of the most famous speeches in America’s history? Second question is, what were your reactions after your lost for presidency to McKinley?