William Jennings Bryan carried on the shoulders of delegates after giving the speech
Congressman Richard P. Bland
McKinley/Hobart campaign poster
The Chicago Coliseum
Bryan's famous "cross of gold" speech gave him the presidential nomination and swung the party to the silver cause
Former Iowa Governor Horace Boies was a major contender for the Democratic nomination for president in 1896.
The National "Gold" Democratic Convention
In a 1900 engraving, former Massachusetts Governor William E. Russell is shown preceding Bryan in addressing the convention.
Palmer/Buckner campaign button
The 1896 Democratic National Convention
Conservatives said that Bryan (the Populist snake) was taking over (swallowing) the Democratic Party (the mule). Cartoon from "Judge" magazine, 1896.
Judge magazine criticized Bryan for sacrilege in his speech. He is shown with crown and cross, but trampling the Bible.
Bryan's imposing voice and height made a deep impression on many who thronged to hear him.
Bryan campaigning on stage a few months after the speech
Bryan traveled 18,000 miles in 3 months, concentrating on the critical states of the Midwest.
A "Bryan dollar" issued by his opponents to illustrate the difference between the size of a silver dollar and the amount of bullion that could be purchased with a dollar.
The National "Gold" Democratic Party undercut Bryan by dividing the Democratic vote and denouncing his platform.
Map of presidential election results by county
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Results by county, shaded according to winning candidate's percentage of the vote
Map of Republican presidential election results by county
Map of Democratic presidential election results by county
Map of "other" presidential election results by county
Cartogram of presidential election results by county
Cartogram of Republican presidential election results by county
Cartogram of Democratic presidential election results by county
Cartogram of "other" presidential election results by county
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Bryan, an attorney and former Congressman, galvanized support with his Cross of Gold speech, which called for a reform of the monetary system and attacked business leaders as the cause of ongoing economic depression.

- 1896 United States presidential election

However, he lost the general election to William McKinley, and the United States formally adopted the gold standard in 1900.

- Cross of Gold speech

6 related topics

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William Jennings Bryan

American lawyer, orator and politician.

American lawyer, orator and politician.

Bryan's birthplace in Salem, Illinois
Attorney Mary Baird Bryan, the wife of William Jennings Bryan
A young Bryan
"UNITED SNAKES OF AMERICA" "IN BRYAN WE TRUST" political satire token of 1896, known as "Bryan Money"
Bryan campaigning for president, October 1896
1896 electoral vote results
The United States and its colonial possessions after the Spanish–American War
Conservatives in 1900 ridiculed Bryan's eclectic platform.
1900 electoral vote results
William J Bryan in 1906 as Moses with new 10 commandments; Puck 19 sept 1906 by Joseph Keppler. Tablet reads: l-Thou shalt have no other leaders before me. II—Thou shalt not make unto thyself any high Protective Tariff. Ill—Eight hours, and no more, shalt thou labor and do all thy work. IV—Thou shalt not graft. V—Thou shalt not elect thy Senators save by Popular Vote. VI—Thou shalt not grant rebates unto thy neighbor. VII—Thou shalt not make combinations in restraint of trade. VIII—Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's income, but shall make him pay a tax upon it. IX—There shall be no more government by injunction. X—Remember Election Day to vote it early. P.S.— When in doubt, ask Me.
Bryan speaking at the 1908 Democratic National Convention
Presidential Campaign button for Bryan
1908 electoral vote results
Bryan attending the 1912 Democratic National Convention
Bryan served as Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson
Cartoon of Secretary of State Bryan reading war news in 1914
Villa Serena, Bryan's home built in 1913 at Miami, Florida
Charles W. and William J. Bryan
At the Scopes Trial, William Jennings Bryan (seated, left) being questioned by Clarence Darrow (standing, right).
Statue of Bryan on the lawn of the Rhea County courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee

Beginning in 1896, he emerged as a dominant force in the Democratic Party, running three times as the party's nominee for President of the United States in the 1896, 1900, and the 1908 elections.

At the 1896 Democratic National Convention, Bryan delivered his "Cross of Gold" speech which attacked the gold standard and the eastern moneyed interests and crusaded for inflationary policies built around the expanded coinage of silver coins.

Nominees Bryan and Sewall

1896 Democratic National Convention

Nominees Bryan and Sewall
The convention was held at the Chicago Coliseum
Seating arrangement for delegates at the convention
Former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska
Former Representative Richard P. Bland of Missouri
Former Governor Robert E. Pattison of Pennsylvania
Senator Joseph Blackburn of Kentucky
Governor Horace Boies of Iowa
Newspaper Publisher John R. McLean of Ohio
Governor Claude Matthews of Indiana
Former Governor Sylvester Pennoyer of Oregon
Former Governor William E. Russell of Massachusetts
Senator John W. Daniel of Virginia
Former Representative Joseph C. Sibley of Pennsylvania
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President of the Maine Central Railroad Arthur Sewall of Maine
Former Representative George F. Williams of Massachusetts
State Associate Justice Walter Clark of North Carolina
Representative Nominee J. Hamilton Lewis of Washington (Ineligible, not yet 35 years of age)
Former Representative George W. Fithian of Illinois
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<center>2nd Presidential Ballot</center>
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<center>5th Presidential Ballot</center>

The 1896 Democratic National Convention, held at the Chicago Coliseum from July 7 to July 11, was the scene of William Jennings Bryan's nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate for the 1896 U.S. presidential election.

Bryan's keynote "Cross of Gold" address, delivered prior to his nomination, lambasted Eastern monied classes for supporting the gold standard at the expense of the average worker.

Economist Edward Kellogg was an early advocate of fiat money.

People's Party (United States)

Left-wing agrarian populist late-19th-century political party in the United States.

Left-wing agrarian populist late-19th-century political party in the United States.

Economist Edward Kellogg was an early advocate of fiat money.
Charles W. Macune, one of the leaders of the Farmers' Alliance
People's Party candidate nominating convention held at Columbus, Nebraska, July 15, 1890
1892 People's Party campaign poster promoting James Weaver for President of the United States
1892 electoral vote results
In 1896, the 36-year-old William Jennings Bryan was the chosen candidate resulting from the fusion of the Democrats and the People's Party.
People's Party campaign poster from 1904 touting the candidacy of Thomas E. Watson

The Populist Party emerged in the early 1890s as an important force in the Southern and Western United States, but collapsed after it nominated Democrat William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 United States presidential election.

Meeting later in the year, the 1896 Democratic National Convention nominated William Jennings Bryan for president after Bryan's Cross of Gold speech galvanized the party behind free silver.

Former Washington, D.C. residence (center) of Richard P. Bland

Richard P. Bland

American politician, lawyer, and educator from Missouri.

American politician, lawyer, and educator from Missouri.

Former Washington, D.C. residence (center) of Richard P. Bland
Illustration from The Chicago Chronicle of the Bland campaign's convention headquarters at the Auditorium Annex

William Jennings Bryan, who also favored bimetallism, won the Democratic nomination on the fifth ballot and went on to lose to Republican William McKinley in the 1896 presidential election.

By this time, the full impact of Bryan's Cross of Gold speech began to be felt and understood by the delegates.

1884 cartoon illustrating the decline of the "Democrat Bourbonism" (represented as an empty jug) by Joseph Keppler

Bourbon Democrat

Term used in the United States in the later 19th century to refer to members of the Democratic Party who were ideologically aligned with conservatism or classical liberalism, especially those who supported presidential candidates Charles O'Conor in 1872, Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, President Grover Cleveland in 1884, 1888, and 1892 and Alton B. Parker in 1904.

Term used in the United States in the later 19th century to refer to members of the Democratic Party who were ideologically aligned with conservatism or classical liberalism, especially those who supported presidential candidates Charles O'Conor in 1872, Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, President Grover Cleveland in 1884, 1888, and 1892 and Alton B. Parker in 1904.

1884 cartoon illustrating the decline of the "Democrat Bourbonism" (represented as an empty jug) by Joseph Keppler
President Grover Cleveland (1837–1908), a conservative who denounced political corruption and fought hard for lower tariffs and the gold standard, was the exemplar of a Bourbon Democrat

Harnessing the energy of an agrarian insurgency with his famous Cross of Gold speech, Congressman Bryan soon became the Democratic nominee for president in the 1896 election.

Mark Hanna

American businessman and Republican politician who served as a United States Senator from Ohio as well as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

American businessman and Republican politician who served as a United States Senator from Ohio as well as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Hanna's birthplace
Hanna as a boy
Mark Hanna, around 1877
Before McKinley, Hanna tried to make John Sherman president.
Joseph B. Foraker
William McKinley in the 1870s
Although McKinley did not run in 1892, the Duke Tobacco Company considered him a presidential possibility that year and issued a card for him.
A photograph taken of Mark Hanna after his election as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
William Jennings Bryan, seen during the 1896 campaign.
Bryan's whistle-stop tour during the 1896 campaign was unprecedented. Here he addresses a crowd in Wellsville, Ohio.
McKinley (center) with a delegation in front of the famous front porch
An 1896 cartoon by Homer Davenport depicting McKinley as being firmly in Hanna's pocket.
In addition to giving speeches from his front porch in 1896, McKinley (lower right) gave orders for the conduct of his campaign from the library of his Canton home.
1896 Puck cover showing Hanna (left) and McKinley's Thanksgiving dinner—carving up the presidency.
A promotional button from Mark Hanna's U.S. Senate campaign.
Although the currency question was not as prominent in 1900 as in 1896 this Judge magazine cover shows it still played its part in the campaign.
Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States (1901-1909)
January 1904 political cartoon depicting Hanna hiding from presidential candidacy
A photo of Senator Hanna taken roughly a year before his death.
Statue of Mark Hanna by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, University Circle, Cleveland
"As they go to the polls" 1900 Homer Davenport cartoon suggesting a cozy relationship among Hanna, McKinley, and the trusts.

A friend and political ally of President William McKinley, Hanna used his wealth and business skills to successfully manage McKinley's presidential campaigns in 1896 and 1900.

Bryan stampeded the convention with what came to be known as the "Cross of Gold speech", decrying the gold standard, which he believed disproportionately hurt the working classes.