Cross of Gold speech

William Jennings Bryan carried on the shoulders of delegates after giving the speech
Congressman Richard P. Bland
The Chicago Coliseum
Former Iowa Governor Horace Boies was a major contender for the Democratic nomination for president in 1896.
In a 1900 engraving, former Massachusetts Governor William E. Russell is shown preceding Bryan in addressing the convention.
The 1896 Democratic National Convention
Judge magazine criticized Bryan for sacrilege in his speech. He is shown with crown and cross, but trampling the Bible.
Bryan campaigning on stage a few months after the speech
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.

Delivered by William Jennings Bryan, a former United States Representative from Nebraska, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on July 9, 1896.

- Cross of Gold speech

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Free silver

Major economic policy issue in the United States in the late 19th-century.

Republican campaign poster of 1896 attacking free silver
"The free silver highwayman at it again" in 1896
Cartoon from Puck showing a silverite farmer and a Democratic donkey whose wagon has been destroyed by the locomotive of sound money
1896 editorial cartoon equating the free silver movement with Frankenstein's monster.
Entitled, "A down-hill movement" by C.J. Taylor in 1896

Free silver was the central issue for Democrats in the presidential elections of 1896 and 1900, under the leadership of William Jennings Bryan, famed for his Cross of Gold speech in favor of free silver.

1896 United States presidential election

The 28th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1896.

McKinley/Hobart campaign poster
Bryan's famous "cross of gold" speech gave him the presidential nomination and swung the party to the silver cause
The National "Gold" Democratic Convention
Palmer/Buckner campaign button
Conservatives said that Bryan (the Populist snake) was taking over (swallowing) the Democratic Party (the mule). Cartoon from "Judge" magazine, 1896.
Bryan's imposing voice and height made a deep impression on many who thronged to hear him.
Bryan traveled 18,000 miles in 3 months, concentrating on the critical states of the Midwest.
The National "Gold" Democratic Party undercut Bryan by dividing the Democratic vote and denouncing his platform.
Map of presidential election results by county
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

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.

Dark horse

Previously less known person or thing that emerges to prominence in a situation, especially in a competition involving multiple rivals, or a contestant that on paper should be unlikely to succeed but yet still might.

Horse racing at Golden Gate Fields, 2017

Perhaps the two most famous unsuccessful dark horse presidential candidates in American history are Democrat William Jennings Bryan, a three-term congressman from Nebraska nominated on the fifth ballot after impressing the 1896 Democratic National Convention with his famous Cross of Gold speech (Bryan would go on to receive the Democratic presidential nomination twice more and serve as United States Secretary of State), and Republican businessman Wendell Willkie, who was nominated on the sixth ballot at the 1940 Republican National Convention despite never having previously held government office and having only joined the party in 1939.


Monetary standard in which the value of the monetary unit is defined as equivalent to certain quantities of two metals, typically gold and silver, creating a fixed rate of exchange between them.

Croeseid bimetallic equivalence: 1 gold Croeseid of 8.1 grams was equivalent in value to 10 silver Croeseids of 10.8 grams.
Achaemenid bimetallic equivalence: 1 gold Daric was equivalent in value to 20 silver Sigloi. Under the Achaemenids the exchange rate in weight between gold and silver was 1 to 13.
1896 Republican poster warns against free silver.

Bryan, the eloquent champion of the cause, gave the famous "Cross of Gold" speech at the National Democratic Convention on July 9, 1896, asserting that "The gold standard has slain tens of thousands."

William Jennings Bryan

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

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.

1896 Democratic National Convention

The scene of William Jennings Bryan's nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate for the 1896 U.S. presidential election.

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>
<center>3rd Presidential Ballot</center>
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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.

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.

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.

People's Party (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

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.

William McKinley

The 25th president of the United States, serving from 1897 until his assassination in 1901.

McKinley, aged 15
Rutherford B. Hayes was McKinley's mentor during and after the Civil War.
McKinley in 1865, just after the war, photograph by Mathew Brady
Ida Saxton McKinley
Katherine McKinley
Representative McKinley
'Judge' magazine cover from September 1890, showing McKinley (left) having helped dispatch Speaker Reed's opponent in early-voting Maine, hurrying off with the victor to McKinley's "jerrymandered" Ohio district
Even after his final run for president in 1884, James G. Blaine was still seen as a possible candidate for the Republican nomination. In this 1890 Puck cartoon, he is startling Reed and McKinley (right) as they make their plans for 1892.
McKinley's close friend and adviser, Mark Hanna
Louis Dalrymple cartoon from Puck magazine, June 24, 1896, showing McKinley about to crown himself with the Republican nomination. The "priests" are Hanna (in green) and Representative Charles H. Grosvenor (red); H. H. Kohlsaat is the page holding the robe.
Before the 1896 convention, McKinley tried to avoid coming down on one side or the other of the currency question. William Allen Rogers's cartoon from Harper's Weekly, June 1896, showing McKinley riding the rail of the currency question.
William and Ida McKinley (to her husband's left) pose with members of the "Flower Delegation" from Oil City, Pennsylvania, before the McKinley home. Although women could not vote in most states, they might influence male relatives and were encouraged to visit Canton.
A Man of Mark 1896 Homer Davenport cartoon of McKinley as Hanna's creature, from William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal
1896 Electoral vote results
Editorial cartoon intervention in Cuba. Columbia (the American people) reaches out to help oppressed Cuba in 1897 while Uncle Sam (the U.S. government) is blind to the crisis and will not use its powerful guns to help. Judge magazine, February 6, 1897.
Signing of the Treaty of Paris
Annexation of the Republic of Hawaii in 1898
American soldiers scale the walls of Beijing to relieve the siege of the International Legations, August 1900
1900 reelection poster with the theme that McKinley has returned prosperity to America
McKinley, (right of center) flanked by Georgia Governor Allen D. Candler (front row to McKinley's right) and Gen. William Rufus Shafter, reviewing the Atlanta Peace Jubilee parade, December 15, 1898
McKinley ran on his record of prosperity and victory in 1900, winning easy re-election over William Jennings Bryan.
McKinley entering the Temple of Music on September 6, 1901, shortly before the shots were fired
Artist's conception of the shooting of McKinley
The official Presidential portrait of William McKinley, by Harriet Anderson Stubbs Murphy
Chief Justice Melville Fuller swears in William McKinley as president; outgoing President Grover Cleveland at right
McKinley's tomb in Canton, Ohio
William McKinley Monument by Hermon MacNeil in front of the Ohio Statehouse, Columbus
McKinley Monument by Alexander Phimister Proctor in front of Buffalo City Hall, Buffalo
McKinley on the $500 bill
Louisiana Purchase Exposition stamp (1904) honoring McKinley, who had signed a bill authorizing a subsidy for that upcoming event
McKinley Monument in front of Lucas County Courthouse, Toledo

The silverites took control of the 1896 Democratic National Convention and chose William Jennings Bryan for president; he had electrified the delegates with his Cross of Gold speech.

Chicago Coliseum

The name applied to three large indoor arenas in Chicago, Illinois, which stood successively from the 1860s to 1982; they served as venues for sports events, large conventions and as exhibition halls.

Exterior of the third Chicago Coliseum
The third Chicago Coliseum during the 1904 RNC
The second Coliseum
1896 Democratic National Convention

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show opened the facility, and in July 1896, it hosted the Democratic Party's national convention, which nominated for the presidency William Jennings Bryan; he famously electrified the crowd with his historic "Cross of Gold" speech.