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    Cross of Gold speech

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    Cross of Gold speech

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    Cross of Gold speech

    William Jennings Bryan carried on the shoulders of delegates after giving the speech

    Date July 9, 1896 Time 2:00 pm

    Duration 35 minutes (scheduled)

    Venue Chicago Coliseum

    Location Chicago, Illinois, United States

    Theme Bimetallism

    Participants William Jennings Bryan

    Outcome Bryan nominated for president by the Democrats

    Occurred at 1896 Democratic National Convention, third day, party platform debate

    Website Later audio recording by Bryan

    Transcript of speech


    Audio excerpt of the speech later recorded by William Jennings Bryan

    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".[1] 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 earning 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.


    1 Background

    1.1 Monetary standards and the United States

    1.2 Early attempts toward free silver

    1.3 Bryan seeks the nomination

    1.4 Selection of delegates

    2 1896 convention

    2.1 Candidates for the nomination

    2.2 Silver advocates take control

    2.3 Bryan addresses the convention

    3 Reception and nomination

    3.1 Convention events

    3.2 Press reaction

    4 Campaign and aftermath

    5 Legacy 6 References

    6.1 References cited

    7 External links


    Monetary standards and the United States[edit]

    In January 1791, at the request of Congress, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton issued a report on the currency. At the time, there was no mint in the United States; foreign coins were used. Hamilton proposed a monetary system based on bimetallism, in which the new currency would be equal to a given amount of gold, or a larger amount of silver; at the time a given weight of gold was worth about 15 times as much as the same amount of silver. Although Hamilton understood that adjustment might be needed from time to time as precious metal prices fluctuated, he believed that if the nation's unit of value were defined only by one of the two precious metals used for coins, the other would descend to the status of mere merchandise, unusable as a store of value. He also proposed the establishment of a mint, at which citizens could present gold or silver, and receive it back, struck into money.[2] On April 2, 1792, Congress passed the Mint Act of 1792. This legislation defined a unit of value for the new nation, to be known as a dollar. The new unit of currency was defined to be equal to 24.75 grains (1.604 g) of gold, or alternatively, 371.25 grains (24.057 g) of silver, establishing a ratio of value between gold and silver of 15:1. The legislation also established the Mint of the United States.[3]

    In the early 19th century, the economic disruption caused by the Napoleonic Wars caused United States gold coins to be worth more as bullion than as money, and they vanished from circulation. Governmental response to this shortage was hampered by the fact that officials did not clearly understand what had happened.[4] In 1830, Treasury Secretary Samuel D. Ingham proposed adjusting the ratio between gold and silver in US currency to 15.8:1, which had for some time been the ratio in Europe.[5] It was not until 1834 that Congress acted, changing the gold/silver ratio to 16.002:1. This was close enough to the market value to make it uneconomic to export either US gold or silver coins.[4] When silver prices rose relative to gold as a reaction to the California Gold Rush, silver coinage was worth more than face value, and rapidly flowed overseas for melting. Despite vocal opposition led by Tennessee Representative (and future president) Andrew Johnson, the precious metal content of smaller silver coins was reduced in 1853.[6] Silver was now undervalued at the Mint; accordingly little was presented for striking into money.[7]

    Source : en.wikipedia.org

    The Populist Party Flashcards

    Start studying The Populist Party. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.

    The Populist Party

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    In his 1896 bid for president, William Jennings Bryan was supported by both the

    Click card to see definition 👆

    People's and the Democratic parties.

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    In the late 1800s, which of the following did the People's Party believe would give the people more political power?

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    Choosing senators through direct election

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    1/10 Created by Cody_Ridley

    Terms in this set (10)

    In his 1896 bid for president, William Jennings Bryan was supported by both the

    People's and the Democratic parties.

    In the late 1800s, which of the following did the People's Party believe would give the people more political power?

    Choosing senators through direct election

    The famous speech that William Jennings Bryan gave at the Democratic convention of 1896 became known as

    the "Cross of Gold" speech.

    Which of the following was an Omaha Platform proposal for labor reform?

    a work day limited to eight hours

    In the late 1800s, why did industrialists support the gold standard?

    The gold standard kept the price of gold fixed, which kept both prices and wages down.

    Any political movement that represents the interests of the "common people" is known as


    The People's Party supported fighting deflation by circulating

    more silver coins.

    Which of the following was a factor that contributed to the formation of the People's Party in 1891?

    Farmers wanted a political party that represented their interests.

    In 1892, the first national convention of the People's Party was held in

    Omaha, Nebraska.

    What did Populists set their sights on after achieving some success on a local level in the late 1800s?

    the formation of a national political party

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    Bryan's "Cross of Gold" Speech: Mesmerizing the Masses

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    Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” Speech: Mesmerizing the Masses

    The most famous speech in American political history was delivered by William Jennings Bryan on July 9, 1896, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The issue was whether to endorse the free coinage of silver at a ratio of silver to gold of 16 to 1. (This inflationary measure would have increased the amount of money in circulation and aided cash-poor and debt-burdened farmers.) After speeches on the subject by several U.S. Senators, Bryan rose to speak. The thirty-six-year-old former Congressman from Nebraska aspired to be the Democratic nominee for president, and he had been skillfully, but quietly, building support for himself among the delegates. His dramatic speaking style and rhetoric roused the crowd to a frenzy. The response, wrote one reporter, “came like one great burst of artillery.” Men and women screamed and waved their hats and canes. “Some,” wrote another reporter, “like demented things, divested themselves of their coats and flung them high in the air.” The next day the convention nominated Bryan for President on the fifth ballot. The full text of William Jenning Bryan’s famous “Cross of Gold” speech appears below. The audio portion is an excerpt. [Note on the recording: In 1896 recording technology was in its infancy, and recording a political convention would have been impossible. But in the early 20th century, the fame of Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech led him to repeat it numerous times on the Chautauqua lecture circuit where he was an enormously popular speaker. In 1921 (25 years after the original speech), he recorded portions of the speech for Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana. Although the recording does not capture the power and drama of the original address, it does allow us to hear Bryan delivering this famous speech.]

    Listen to Audio:

    I would be presumptuous, indeed, to present myself against the distinguished gentlemen to whom you have listened if this were but a measuring of ability; but this is not a contest among persons. The humblest citizen in all the land when clad in the armor of a righteous cause is stronger than all the whole hosts of error that they can bring. I come to speak to you in defense of a cause as holy as the cause of liberty—the cause of humanity. When this debate is concluded, a motion will be made to lay upon the table the resolution offered in commendation of the administration and also the resolution in condemnation of the administration. I shall object to bringing this question down to a level of persons. The individual is but an atom; he is born, he acts, he dies; but principles are eternal; and this has been a contest of principle.

    Never before in the history of this country has there been witnessed such a contest as that through which we have passed. Never before in the history of American politics has a great issue been fought out as this issue has been by the voters themselves.

    On the 4th of March, 1895, a few Democrats, most of them members of Congress, issued an address to the Democrats of the nation asserting that the money question was the paramount issue of the hour; asserting also the right of a majority of the Democratic Party to control the position of the party on this paramount issue; concluding with the request that all believers in free coinage of silver in the Democratic Party should organize and take charge of and control the policy of the Democratic Party. Three months later, at Memphis, an organization was perfected, and the silver Democrats went forth openly and boldly and courageously proclaiming their belief and declaring that if successful they would crystallize in a platform the declaration which they had made; and then began the conflict with a zeal approaching the zeal which inspired the crusaders who followed Peter the Hermit. Our silver Democrats went forth from victory unto victory, until they are assembled now, not to discuss, not to debate, but to enter up the judgment rendered by the plain people of this country.

    But in this contest, brother has been arrayed against brother, and father against son. The warmest ties of love and acquaintance and association have been disregarded. Old leaders have been cast aside when they refused to give expression to the sentiments of those whom they would lead, and new leaders have sprung up to give direction to this cause of freedom. Thus has the contest been waged, and we have assembled here under as binding and solemn instructions as were ever fastened upon the representatives of a people.

    We do not come as individuals. Why, as individuals we might have been glad to compliment the gentleman from New York [Senator Hill], but we knew that the people for whom we speak would never be willing to put him in a position where he could thwart the will of the Democratic Party. I say it was not a question of persons; it was a question of principle; and it is not with gladness, my friends, that we find ourselves brought into conflict with those who are now arrayed on the other side. The gentleman who just preceded me [Governor Russell] spoke of the old state of Massachusetts. Let me assure him that not one person in all this convention entertains the least hostility to the people of the state of Massachusetts.

    But we stand here representing people who are the equals before the law of the largest cities in the state of Massachusetts. When you come before us and tell us that we shall disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your action. We say to you that you have made too limited in its application the definition of a businessman. The man who is employed for wages is as much a businessman as his employer. The attorney in a country town is as much a businessman as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. The merchant at the crossroads store is as much a businessman as the merchant of New York. The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a businessman as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain. The miners who go 1,000 feet into the earth or climb 2,000 feet upon the cliffs and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured in the channels of trade are as much businessmen as the few financial magnates who in a backroom corner the money of the world.

    Source : historymatters.gmu.edu

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