Free silver was a major economic policy issue in late-19th-century America. Its advocates were in favor of an expansionary monetary policy featuring the unlimited coinage of silver into money on demand, as opposed to strict adherence to the more carefully fixed money supply implicit in the gold standard. Supporters of an important place for silver in a bimetallic money system making use of both silver and gold, called "Silverites", sought coinage of silver dollars at a fixed weight ratio of 16-to-1 against dollar coins made of gold. Because the actual price ratio of the two metals was substantially higher in favor of gold at the time, most economists warned that the less valuable silver coinage would drive the more valuable gold out of circulation.
While all agreed that an expanded money supply would inevitably raise prices, at issue was whether or not this inflationary tendency would be beneficial. The issue peaked from 1893 to 1896, when the economy was wracked by a severe depression—remembered as the Panic of 1893—characterized by falling prices (deflation), high unemployment in industrial areas, and severe distress for farmers.
The "free silver" debate pitted the pro-gold financial establishment of the Northeast, along with railroads, factories, and businessmen, who were creditors deriving benefit from deflation and repayment of loans with valuable gold dollars, against farmers who would benefit from higher prices for their crops and an easing of credit burdens. Free silver was especially popular among farmers in the Wheat Belt (the western Midwest) and the Cotton Belt (the Deep South), as well as silver miners in the West. It had little support among farmers in the Northeast and the Corn Belt (the eastern Midwest).
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. The Populists also endorsed Bryan and free silver in 1896, which marked the effective end of their independence. In major elections free silver was consistently defeated, and after 1896 the nation moved to the gold standard.
The debate over silver lasted from the passage of the Fourth Coinage Act in 1873, which demonetized silver and was called the "Crime of '73" by opponents, until 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act completely overhauled the U.S. monetary system.
Under the gold specie standard, anyone in possession of gold bullion could deposit it at a mint where it would be processed into gold coins. Less a nominal seigniorage to cover processing costs, the coins would then be paid to the depositor; this was free coinage of gold by definition. The objective of the free silver movement was that the mints should accept and process silver bullion according to the same principle, notwithstanding the fact that the market value of the silver in circulating coins of the United States was substantially less than face value.
As a result, the monetary value of silver coins was based on government fiat rather than on the commodity value of their contents, and this became especially true following the huge silver strikes in the West, which further depressed the silver price. From that time until the early 1960s the silver content in United States dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars was worth only a fraction of their face values. Free coinage of silver would have amounted to an increase in the money supply, with inflation as the result.
Many populist organizations favored an inflationary monetary policy on the grounds that it would enable debtors (often farmers who had mortgages on their land) to pay their debts off with cheaper, more readily available dollars; those who would suffer under this policy were the creditors such as banks and landlords. The most vocal and best organized supporters were the silver mine owners (such as William Randolph Hearst) and workers, and the western states and territories generally, as most U.S. silver production was based there and the region had a great number of highly indebted farmers and ranchers.
Outside the mining states of the West, the Republican Party steadfastly opposed free silver, arguing that the best road to national prosperity was "sound money", or gold, which was central to international trade. They argued that inflation meant guaranteed higher prices for everyone, and real gains chiefly for the silver interests. In 1896 Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado led many western Republicans to bolt and form a third party that supported William Jennings Bryan, the short-lived Silver Republican Party.
The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, while falling short of free silver's goals, required the U.S. government to buy millions of ounces of silver (driving up the price of the metal and pleasing silver miners) for money (pleasing farmers and many others). However, the U.S. government paid for that silver bullion in gold notes—and actually reduced their coinage of silver. The result was a "run" on the Treasury's gold reserves which was one of the many reasons for the Panic of 1893 and the onset of the 1890s Depression. Once he regained power, and after the Panic of 1893 had begun, Grover Cleveland engineered the repeal of the Act, setting the stage for the key issue of the next presidential election.
The Populist Party had a strong free-silver element. Its subsequent combination with the Democratic Party moved the latter from the support of the gold standard which had been the hallmark of the Cleveland administration to the free-silver position epitomized by 1896 presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan in his Cross of Gold speech. Bryan's 1896 candidacy was supported by Populists and "silver Republicans" as well as by most Democrats.
The issue was over what would back the US currency. The two options were: gold (wanted by the Goldbugs and William McKinley) and silver (wanted by the Silverites and Bryan). Unbacked paper (wanted by the Greenbacks) represented a third option. A fourth option, currency backed by land value, was advocated by Senator Leland Stanford through several Senate bills introduced in 1890-1892, but was always killed by the Senate Finance Committee. 
Three fraternal organizations rose to prominence during the mid-1890s and supported the silver campaign in 1896. They all disappeared after the failure of the campaign.
The city voters—especially German Americans—overwhelmingly rejected the free-silver cause out of conviction that it would lead to economic disaster, unemployment, and higher prices. The diversified farmers of the Midwest and East opposed it as well, but the cotton farmers in the South and the wheat farmers in the West were enthusiastic for free silver. Bryan tried again in 1900 to raise the issue but lost by larger margins, and when he dropped the issue it fell out of circulation. Subsequent actions to revive the issue were unsuccessful.
Free silver became increasingly associated with populism, unions, and the fight of ordinary Americans against the bankers, railroad monopolists, and the robber barons of the Gilded Age capitalism era and was referred to as the "People's Money" (as opposed to the gold-based currency, which was portrayed by the Populists as the money of "exploitation" and "oppression"). William H. Harvey's popular pamphlet Coin's Financial School, issued in the aftermath of the Panic of 1893, illustrated the "restorative" properties of silver; through devaluation of the currency, closed factories would reopen, darkened furnaces would be relit, and the like. But Henry Demarest Lloyd was much harsher, writing: "The free silver movement is a fake. Free silver is the cow-bird of the reform movement. It waited until the nest had been built by the sacrifices and labor of others, and then it lay its own eggs in it, pushing out the others which lie smashed on the ground."
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.
At age 36, Bryan was the youngest Presidential nominee in American history, only one year older than the constitutional minimum. 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. This was a repudiation of Cleveland administration's policy, but proved popular with the delegates to the convention.
Bryan secured the nomination on the fifth ballot over Richard P. Bland. Bryan declined to choose a Democratic vice presidential nominee, leaving the choice to his fellow delegates. Arthur Sewall of Maine was nominated on the fifth ballot. Bryan and Sewall ultimately lost to the Republican candidates, William McKinley and Garret Hobart.1896 New York state election
The 1896 New York state election was held on November 3, 1896, to elect the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and a judge of the New York Court of Appeals, as well as all members of the New York State Assembly. Besides, a constitutional amendment on forestry was proposed, and rejected with 321,486 votes for and 710,505 against it.1896 United States elections
The 1896 United States elections elected the 55th United States Congress. Republicans won control of the Presidency and maintained control of both houses of Congress. The election marked the end of the Third Party System and the start of the Fourth Party System, as Republicans would generally dominate politics until the 1930 elections. Political scientists such as V.O. Key, Jr. argue that this election was a realigning election, while James Reichley argues against this idea on the basis that the Republican victory in this election merely continued the party's post-Civil War dominance. The election took place in the aftermath of the Panic of 1893, and featured a fierce debate between advocates of bimetallism ("free silver") and supporters of the gold standard.In the Presidential election, Republican former Governor William McKinley of Ohio defeated Democratic former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska. McKinley took the Republican nomination on the first ballot, while Bryan took the Democratic nomination on the fifth ballot (at age 36, he became youngest presidential nominee of a major party), defeating former Missouri Representative Richard P. Bland and several other candidates. Bryan's Cross of Gold speech, in which he advocated for "free silver," helped deliver him the Democratic nomination, and also attracted the support of the Populist Party and the Silver Republican Party. Though Bryan carried most of the South and the West, McKinley won a comfortable margin in both the electoral college and the popular vote by carrying the Northeast and the Great Lakes region.
Democrats won major gains in the House, but Republicans continued to command a large majority in the chamber. The Populists also won several seats, holding more seats in the House than any third party since the Civil War.In the Senate, the Republicans maintained their plurality, keeping control of the same number of seats. The Democrats lost several seats, while the Silver Republicans established themselves for the first time with five seats. Republican William P. Frye won election as President pro tempore.1908 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1908 was the 31st quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1908. Secretary of War and Republican Party nominee William Howard Taft defeated three-time Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan.
Popular incumbent President Theodore Roosevelt honored his promise not to seek a third term, and persuaded his close friend, Taft, to become his successor. With Roosevelt's support, Taft won the presidential nomination of the 1908 Republican National Convention on the first ballot. Having lost the 1904 election badly, the Democratic Party re-nominated Bryan, who had been defeated in 1896 and 1900 by Republican William McKinley. Despite his two previous defeats and the waning of the Free Silver issue, Bryan remained extremely popular among the more liberal and populist elements of the Democratic Party.
Bryan ran a vigorous campaign against the nation's business elite, but the Democrat suffered the worst loss of his three presidential campaigns. Taft won 51.6% of the popular vote and carried most states outside of the Solid South. Taft's triumph gave Republicans their fourth straight presidential election victory. Two third party candidates, Eugene V. Debs of the Socialist Party and Eugene W. Chafin of the Prohibition Party, each took over 1% of the popular vote.1908 United States presidential election in Arkansas
The 1908 United States presidential election in Arkansas took place on November 3, 1908. All contemporary 46 states were part of the 1908 United States presidential election. Arkansas voters chose nine electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.
Since 1890, Arkansas had been a classic Jim Crow Southern state in which most blacks and poor whites had been disfranchised by poll taxes. This would confine significant Republican Party politics to the two Unionist Ozark counties of Newton and Searcy that remained controlled by the GOP at a local level throughout the “Solid South” era. Because the coinage of silver had been the dominant political issue apart from black disfranchisement ever since the poll tax was passed, the state would powerfully back “free silver” Democrat William Jennings Bryan in 1896. However, in the following elections disfranchisement affected poor whites more than blacks, with the result that the Republican Party became somewhat more competitive despite being still associated with Reconstruction. The GOP was helped in the earlier 1900s elections by the view that 1904 Democratic nominee Alton B. Parker had betrayed Bryan with his support for the gold standard.By October polls made it clear that Arkansas would stay firmly with the “Solid South”, and this is what was observed: indeed Bryan improved on Parker’s 1904 margin by almost five percentage points despite dislike of Bryan’s retreat from free silver.Adlai Stevenson I
Adlai Ewing Stevenson (; October 23, 1835 – June 14, 1914) served as the 23rd vice president of the United States from 1893 to 1897. Previously, he served as a representative from Illinois in the late 1870s and early 1880s. After his subsequent appointment as assistant postmaster general of the United States during Grover Cleveland's first administration (1885–89), he fired many Republican postal workers and replaced them with Southern Democrats. This earned him the enmity of the Republican-controlled Congress, but made him a favorite as Grover Cleveland's running mate in 1892, and he duly became vice president of the United States.
In office, he supported the free-silver lobby against the gold-standard men like Cleveland, but was praised for ruling in a dignified, non-partisan manner.
In 1900, he ran for vice president with William Jennings Bryan. In doing so, he became the fourth vice president or former vice president to run for that post with two different presidential candidates (after George Clinton, John C. Calhoun and Thomas A. Hendricks). Stevenson was the grandfather of Adlai Stevenson II, a Governor of Illinois and the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate in both 1952 and 1956.Bimetallism
Bimetallism is the economic term for a 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.For scholarly purposes, "proper" bimetallism is sometimes distinguished as permitting that both gold and silver money are legal tender in unlimited amounts and that gold and silver may be taken to be coined by the government mints in unlimited quantities. This distinguishes it from "limping standard" bimetallism, where both gold and silver are legal tender but only one is freely coined (e.g. the moneys of France, Germany, and the United States after 1873), and from "trade" bimetallism, where both metals are freely coined but only one is legal tender and the other is used as "trade money" (e.g. most moneys in western Europe from the 13th to 18th centuries). Economists also distinguish legal bimetallism, where the law guarantees these conditions, and de facto bimetallism, where gold and silver coins circulate at a fixed rate.
In the 19th century, there was a great deal of scholarly debate and political controversy regarding the use of bimetallism in place of a gold or silver standard (monometallism). Bimetallism was intended to increase the supply of money, stabilize prices, and facilitate setting exchange rates. Some scholars argued that bimetallism was inherently unstable owing to Gresham's law, and that its replacement by a monometallic standard was inevitable. Other scholars claimed that in practice bimetallism had a stabilizing effect on economies. The controversy became largely moot after technological progress and the South African and Klondike Gold Rushes increased the supply of gold in circulation at the end of the century, ending most of the political pressure for greater use of silver. It became completely academic after the 1971 Nixon shock, since when all of the world's currencies have operated as more or less freely floating fiat money, unconnected to the value of silver or gold. Nonetheless, academics continue to inconclusively debate the relative use of the metallic standards.Bland–Allison Act
The Bland–Allison Act, also referred to as the Grand Bland Plan of 1878, was an act of United States Congress requiring the U.S. Treasury to buy a certain amount of silver and put it into circulation as silver dollars. Though the bill was vetoed by President Rutherford B. Hayes, the Congress overrode Hayes's veto on February 28, 1878 to enact the law.Cross of Gold speech
The Cross of Gold speech was delivered by William Jennings Bryan, a former United States Representative from Nebraska, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on July 9, 1896. In the address, Bryan supported bimetallism or "free silver", which he believed would bring the nation prosperity. He decried the gold standard, concluding the speech, "you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold". Bryan's address helped catapult him to the Democratic Party's presidential nomination; it is considered one of the greatest political speeches in American history.
For twenty years, Americans had been bitterly divided over the nation's monetary standard. The gold standard, which the United States had effectively been on since 1873, limited the money supply but eased trade with other nations, such as the United Kingdom, whose currency was also based on gold. Many Americans, however, believed that bimetallism (making both gold and silver legal tender) was necessary for the nation's economic health. The financial Panic of 1893 intensified the debates, and when Democratic President Grover Cleveland continued to support the gold standard against the will of much of his party, activists became determined to take over the Democratic Party organization and nominate a silver-supporting candidate in 1896.
Bryan had been a dark horse candidate with little support in the convention. His speech, delivered at the close of the debate on the party platform, electrified the convention and is generally credited with getting him the nomination for president. However, he lost the general election to William McKinley and the United States formally adopted the gold standard in 1900.Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837 – June 24, 1908) was an American politician and lawyer who was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office (1885–1889 and 1893–1897). He won the popular vote for three presidential elections—in 1884, 1888, and 1892—and was one of two Democrats (with Woodrow Wilson) to be elected president during the era of Republican political domination dating from 1861 to 1933.
Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism, and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans. His crusade for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era. Cleveland won praise for his honesty, self-reliance, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. He fought political corruption, patronage, and bossism. As a reformer, Cleveland had such prestige that the like-minded wing of the Republican Party, called "Mugwumps", largely bolted the GOP presidential ticket and swung to his support in the 1884 election.As his second administration began, disaster hit the nation when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression, which Cleveland was unable to reverse. It ruined his Democratic Party, opening the way for a Republican landslide in 1894 and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of the Democratic Party in 1896. The result was a political realignment that ended the Third Party System and launched the Fourth Party System and the Progressive Era.Cleveland was a formidable policymaker, and he also drew corresponding criticism. His intervention in the Pullman Strike of 1894 to keep the railroads moving angered labor unions nationwide in addition to the party in Illinois; his support of the gold standard and opposition to Free Silver alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party. Critics complained that Cleveland had little imagination and seemed overwhelmed by the nation's economic disasters—depressions and strikes—in his second term. Even so, his reputation for probity and good character survived the troubles of his second term. Biographer Allan Nevins wrote, "[I]n Grover Cleveland, the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities. He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have. He possessed honesty, courage, firmness, independence, and common sense. But he possessed them to a degree other men do not." By the end of his second term, public perception showed him to be one of the most unpopular U.S. presidents, and he was by then rejected even by most Democrats. Today, Cleveland is considered by most historians to have been a successful leader, generally ranked among the upper-mid tier of American presidents.James Yancy Callahan
James Yancy Callahan (December 19, 1852 – May 3, 1935) was an American politician, and a Delegate to the United States House of Representatives from 1887 to 1899, representing the Oklahoma Territory He was a member of the Free Silver party, and is (as of 2015) the only third party politician to represent Oklahoma at the federal level.Morgan dollar
The Morgan dollar was a United States dollar coin minted from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921. It was the first standard silver dollar minted since production of the previous design, the Seated Liberty dollar, ceased due to the passage of the Coinage Act of 1873, which also ended the free coining of silver. The coin is named after its designer, United States Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan. The obverse depicts a profile portrait representing Liberty, while the reverse depicts an eagle with wings outstretched. The mint mark, if any, appears on the reverse above the "o" in "Dollar".
The dollar was authorized by the Bland–Allison Act. Following the passage of the 1873 act, mining interests lobbied to restore free silver, which would require the Mint to accept all silver presented to it and return it, struck into coin. Instead, the Bland–Allison Act was passed, which required the Treasury to purchase between two and four million dollars' worth of silver at market value to be coined into dollars each month. In 1890, the Bland–Allison Act was repealed by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the Treasury to purchase 4,500,000 troy ounces (140,000 kg) of silver each month, but only required further silver dollar production for one year. This act, once again, was repealed in 1893.
In 1898, Congress approved a bill that required all remaining bullion purchased under the Sherman Silver Purchase Act to be coined into silver dollars. When those silver reserves were depleted in 1904, the Mint ceased to strike the Morgan dollar. The Pittman Act, passed in 1918, authorized the melting and recoining of millions of silver dollars. Pursuant to the act, Morgan dollars resumed mintage for one year in 1921. The design was replaced by the Peace dollar later the same year.
In the early 1960s, a large quantity of uncirculated Morgan dollars in their original bags were discovered in the Treasury vaults, including issues once thought rare. Individuals began purchasing large quantities of the pieces at face value and then removed them from circulation through hoarding, and eventually the Treasury ceased exchanging silver certificates for silver coin. Beginning in the 1970s, the Treasury conducted a sale of silver dollars minted at the Carson City Mint through the General Services Administration. In 2006, Morgan's reverse design was used on a silver dollar issued to commemorate the old San Francisco Mint building.National Democratic Party (United States)
The National Democratic Party, also known as Gold Democrats, was a short-lived political party of Bourbon Democrats who opposed the regular party nominee William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election.
Most members were admirers of Grover Cleveland as they considered Bryan a dangerous man and charged that his "free silver" proposals would devastate the economy. They nominated the Democratic politicians John M. Palmer, a former Republican Governor of Illinois and Union General; and Simon Bolivar Buckner, a former Governor of Kentucky and Confederate General, for President and Vice President, respectively.
They also ran a few candidates for Congress and other offices, including William Campbell Preston Breckinridge in Kentucky.Silver Party
The Silver Party was a political party in the United States active from 1892 until 1911 and most successful in Nevada which supported a platform of bimetallism and free silver.In 1892, several Silver Party candidates were elected to Nevada public offices. The party's success continued throughout the decade, culminating in the election of Governors John E. Jones and Reinhold Sadler. Nevada was the only state to elect both Senators and Congressional representatives from the Silver Party.Nationally, the Silver Party aligned with the Populist Party and to a lesser extent with the Silver Republican Party. By 1902, most pro-silver factions in Nevada had been absorbed by the state Democratic Party organization.Silver Republican Party
The Silver Republican Party was a United States political party in the 1890s. It was so named because it split from the Republican Party over the issues of free silver (effectively, expansionary monetary policy) and bimetallism. The main Republican Party supported the gold standard. Silver Republican strength was concentrated in the Western states where mining, particularly silver mining, was an important industry. Silver Republicans were elected to the Congress from several Western states. In 1896, Silver Republicans supported Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan over William McKinley. After 1900, the Silver Republican Party was on the decline and most of its members rejoined the Republican Party. However, some such as Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho and former Secretary of the Interior Henry M. Teller of Colorado joined the Democratic Party.William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was an American orator and politician from Nebraska. Beginning in 1896, he emerged as a dominant force in the Democratic Party, standing three times as the party's nominee for President of the United States. He also served in the United States House of Representatives and as the United States Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. Just before his death he gained national attention for attacking the teaching of evolution in the Scopes Trial. Because of his faith in the wisdom of the common people, he was often called "The Great Commoner".Born and raised in Illinois, Bryan moved to Nebraska in the 1880s. He won election to the House of Representatives in the 1890 elections, serving two terms before making an unsuccessful run for the Senate in 1894. 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. In a repudiation of incumbent President Grover Cleveland and his conservative Bourbon Democrats, the Democratic convention nominated Bryan for president, making Bryan the youngest major party presidential nominee in U.S. history. Subsequently, Bryan was also nominated for president by the left-wing Populist Party, and many Populists would eventually follow Bryan into the Democratic Party. In the intensely fought 1896 presidential election, Republican nominee William McKinley emerged triumphant. Bryan gained fame as an orator as he invented the national stumping tour when he reached an audience of 5 million people in 27 states in 1896.
Bryan retained control of the Democratic Party and won the presidential nomination again in 1900. In the aftermath of the Spanish–American War, Bryan became a fierce opponent of American imperialism, and much of the campaign centered on that issue. In the election, McKinley again defeated Bryan, winning several Western states that Bryan had won in 1896. Bryan's influence in the party weakened after the 1900 election, and the Democrats nominated the conservative Alton B. Parker in the 1904 presidential election. Bryan regained his stature in the party after Parker's resounding defeat by Theodore Roosevelt, and voters from both parties increasingly embraced the progressive reforms that had long been championed by Bryan. Bryan won his party's nomination in the 1908 presidential election, but he was defeated by Roosevelt's chosen successor, William Howard Taft. Along with Henry Clay, Bryan is one of the two individuals who never won a presidential election despite receiving electoral votes in three separate presidential elections held after the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment.
After the Democrats won the presidency in the 1912 election, Woodrow Wilson rewarded Bryan's support with the important cabinet position of Secretary of State. Bryan helped Wilson pass several progressive reforms through Congress, but he and Wilson clashed over U.S. neutrality in World War I. Bryan resigned from his post in 1915 after Wilson sent Germany a note of protest in response to the sinking of Lusitania by a German U-boat. After leaving office, Bryan retained some of his influence within the Democratic Party, but he increasingly devoted himself to religious matters and anti-evolution activism. He opposed Darwinism on religious and humanitarian grounds, most famously in the 1925 Scopes Trial. Since his death in 1925, Bryan has elicited mixed reactions from various commentators, but he is widely considered to have been one of the most influential figures of the Progressive Era.William Jennings Bryan 1896 presidential campaign
In 1896, William Jennings Bryan ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States. Bryan, a former Democratic congressman from Nebraska, gained his party's presidential nomination in July of that year after electrifying the Democratic National Convention with his Cross of Gold speech. He was defeated in the general election by the Republican candidate, former Ohio governor William McKinley.
Born in 1860, Bryan grew up in rural Illinois and in 1887 moved to Nebraska, where he practiced law and entered politics. He won election to the House of Representatives in 1890, and was re-elected in 1892, before mounting an unsuccessful US Senate run. He set his sights on higher office, believing he could be elected president in 1896 even though he remained a relatively minor figure in the Democratic Party. In anticipation of a presidential campaign, he spent much of 1895 and early 1896 making speeches across the United States; his compelling oratory increased his popularity in his party.
Bryan often spoke on the issue of the currency. The economic Panic of 1893 had left the nation in a deep recession, which still persisted in early 1896. Bryan and many other Democrats believed the economic malaise could be remedied through a return to bimetallism, or free silver—a policy they believed would inflate the currency and make it easier for debtors to repay loans. Bryan went to the Democratic convention in Chicago as an undeclared candidate, whom the press had given only a small chance of becoming the Democratic nominee. His 'Cross of Gold' speech, given to conclude the debate on the party platform, immediately transformed him into a favorite for the nomination, and he won it the next day. The Democrats nominated Arthur Sewall, a wealthy Maine banker and shipbuilder, for vice president. The left-wing Populist Party (which had hoped to nominate the only silver-supporting candidate) endorsed Bryan for president, but found Sewall unacceptable, substituting Thomas E. Watson of Georgia.
Abandoned by many gold-supporting party leaders and newspapers after the Chicago convention, Bryan undertook an extensive tour by rail to bring his campaign to the people. He spoke some 600 times, to an estimated 5,000,000 listeners. His campaign focused on silver, an issue that failed to appeal to the urban voter, and he was defeated.
The 1896 race is generally seen as a realigning election. The coalition of wealthy, middle-class and urban voters that defeated Bryan kept the Republicans in power for most of the time until 1932. Although defeated in the election, Bryan's campaign made him a national figure, which he remained until his death in 1925.William Jennings Bryan 1900 presidential campaign
The 1900 United States presidential election took place after an economic recovery from the Panic of 1893 as well as after the Spanish–American War, with the economy, foreign policy, and imperialism being the main issues of the campaign. Ultimately, the incumbent U.S. President William McKinley ended up defeating the anti-imperialist William Jennings Bryan and thus won a second four-year term in office.William McKinley
William McKinley Jr. (January 29, 1843 – September 14, 1901) was the 25th president of the United States, serving from March 4, 1897, until his assassination six months into his second term. During his presidency, McKinley led the nation to victory in the Spanish–American War, raised protective tariffs to promote American industry and kept the nation on the gold standard in a rejection of free silver (effectively, expansionary monetary policy).
McKinley was the last president to have served in the American Civil War and the only one to have started the war as an enlisted soldier, beginning as a private in the Union Army and ending as a brevet major. After the war, he settled in Canton, Ohio, where he practiced law and married Ida Saxton. In 1876, he was elected to Congress, where he became the Republican Party's expert on the protective tariff, which he promised would bring prosperity. His 1890 McKinley Tariff was highly controversial, which together with a Democratic redistricting aimed at gerrymandering him out of office led to his defeat in the Democratic landslide of 1890. He was elected governor of Ohio in 1891 and 1893, steering a moderate course between capital and labor interests. With the aid of his close adviser Mark Hanna, he secured the Republican nomination for president in 1896 amid a deep economic depression. He defeated his Democratic rival William Jennings Bryan after a front porch campaign in which he advocated "sound money" (the gold standard unless altered by international agreement) and promised that high tariffs would restore prosperity.
Rapid economic growth marked McKinley's presidency. He promoted the 1897 Dingley Tariff to protect manufacturers and factory workers from foreign competition and in 1900 secured the passage of the Gold Standard Act. McKinley hoped to persuade Spain to grant independence to rebellious Cuba without conflict, but when negotiation failed he led the nation into the Spanish-American War of 1898. The United States victory was quick and decisive. As part of the peace settlement, Spain turned over to the United States its main overseas colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines while Cuba was promised independence, but at that time remained under the control of the United States Army. The United States annexed the independent Republic of Hawaii in 1898 and it became a United States territory.
Historians regard McKinley's 1896 victory as a realigning election in which the political stalemate of the post-Civil War era gave way to the Republican-dominated Fourth Party System, which began with the Progressive Era. McKinley defeated Bryan again in the 1900 presidential election in a campaign focused on imperialism, protectionism and free silver. His legacy was suddenly cut short when he was shot on September 6, 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, a second-generation Polish-American with anarchist leanings. McKinley died eight days later and was succeeded by his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. As an innovator of American interventionism and pro-business sentiment, McKinley's presidency is generally considered above average, though his highly positive public perception was soon overshadowed by Roosevelt.