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Religion in the 1896 Campaign

Republicans and the Bible Religion, Bryan, and the Silver Question

Republicans and the Bible

In the 1890, the majority of Americans were familiar with stories from the Old and New Testament, upon which many cartoonists drew. William Jennings Bryan was famous for his use of Christian religious imagery, including the "cross of gold" metaphor used in his famous convention speech. But Biblical images and stories--such as that of Sampson and Delilah--were equally prominent among Republicans. Many Eastern ministers exhorted their congregations to vote for McKinley; throughout the campaign, Bryan supporters argued that such ministers were violating the division of church and state set down in the U.S. Constitution.

REV. I. HALDEMAN. A nation or a people can no more set aside a law of the country and of responsibility in the affirs of the world than an individual can set aside the laws of society.
New York World, 20 September, 1896

Among the ministers who spoke for McKinley was Reverend Thomas Dixon, a North Carolinian who had become pastor of the Twenty-third Street Baptist Church in New York. The Raleigh News and Observer commented on his Republican stance. On September 6, Dixon preached on "The Political Crisis," denouncing Bryan and the Chicago platform. According to the New York Times report on September 7, Dixon said 'that it was the duty of every patriotic citizen to support the Republican ticket, .... and that the election of Mr. Bryan would bring about civil war and 3,000,000 men would be thrown out of employment.' Some members of the congregation reportedly hissed or walked out, while many others applauded.

Dixon went on to become the author of The Clansman, a bestseller celebrating the Ku Klux Klan as a force for order and honor during Reconstruction. (This text, and more information about Dixon, are available online at the University of North Carolina website Documenting the American South.) In 1915, D. W. Griffith turned The Clansman into the famous (and notorious) film Birth of a Nation, whose depiction of heroic Klansman and brutal blacks prompted nationwide protests by civil rights groups, including the NAACP.

—Thanks to Pam Epstein, Vassar '99, for her help with this page.

Opening Prayer of the GOP Convention

All merciful and most gracious Father, fountain of light and life. We seek Thy presence and implore Thy guidance in the toils and tasks of our earthly being. . . . Hearken unto Thy servants, the bondmen of freedom, and pour out on them who have come to do Thy bidding in the service of truth and honor, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. Make righteousness the girdle of their loins and faithfullness the girdle of their hips, so that they may manfully discharge the sacred duties of their gathering, to further the well being of the people, and to safeguard the honor and integrity of the nation. O, kindle anew in the hearts of our generation the altar flam of devotion to the high aims that inspired the minds of the founders of our republic, and above all illumined and immortalized the life of the Father of his Country. . . . Prosper Thou the work of this council, convened in the cause of the people, and when its message goes forth over the land, may its golden ring bring to them the glad assurance that prosperity will brighten out homes, and the immediate jewel of our soul, the good name of our people, and the credit of our government shall remain untarnished forvere. May Thy grace, O God, come upon usm and do thou establish the work of our hands! Amen! --Rabbi Samuel Sale of St. Louis, from Official Proceedings of the Republican National Convention of 1896


The Sound Money Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, of this city, has received the following from a permanent cotton firm in Pine Bluff, Ark.:

"The nomination of Mr. Bryan fell flat among silver men in this part of the State: Mr. Bland was their ideal, and they looked upon his nomination as the crowning glory of their anticipations. Some speak of Mr. Bryan as the boy orator of Nebraska, while others say that he is undoubtedly the Moses to lead them out of this sin-cursed land of goldbugs through the Red Sea of trouble, across the wilderness of trains, over the Jordan of depression and into the land of free silver, unlimited, unrestricted, 16 to 1. This sounds pleasing to the ear, but history tells of only two of the first great crowds that started from Egypt to Canaan who reached there, and Moses was not among them."

—New York Tribune, July 18, 1896


Ministers Agree that This is a Contest for Supremacy of the Eighth Amendment.


It was a great day, a red-hot day, for politics in the pulpit. A score of religious teachers took up the theme of Bryan and his platform and scored them in most unmeasured language.

... At the First Baptist Church, Boulevard and Seventy ninth street, the Rev. I. M. Haldeman preached yesterday on subjects suggested by the present political situation:

... "As gold is the world's standard, as it is the symbol in the word of God of the divine character and the standard for that which is good and pure and clean universally: as it is the medium in which we have pledged our commercial obligations to one another and to other nations; then for the nation to set aside the supremacy of the better metal, to attempt to raise all silver into equality when God Himself has drawn the line--would be to dilute virtue, minimize honesty, and lacerate every hope of righteousness for which this country might stand."

... Rev. John L. Campbell, in the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church last night took as his text, "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight." Proverbs, xi., 1

... Rev. Dr. William Lloyd, of the Central Congregational Church, Fifty-seventh street, near Eighth avenue, preached last night on "National Righteousness Essential to National Prosperity."

"The Bible," said Dr. Lloyd, "contains the soundest principle of political economy which has ever been written. The Ten Commandments are at the root of all national greatness.... Mr. Bryan is very fond of quoting Scripture; so was Richard III. He is not always fortunate, however, in his choice of Scriptural illustrations.

When he compares all who favor the maintenance of a gold standard of value to Demetrius crying 'Great is Diana of the Ephesians' he forgets that Demetrius was a silverite and raised the mob because he feared that the metal in which he was dealing would cease to pass muster....

Mr. Bryan says that between Dives and Lazarus, he will cast his lot with Lazarus. But if Lazarus had tried to better his condition by robbing Dives of 50 per cent of his property I question if any angel would have carried him into Abraham's bosom. This present issue is not a partisan issue. It is an issue of patriotism versus demagogism, of Americanism versus Socialism and Anarchism, and honor versus dishonor. Can we leap into prosperity by unrighteousness? Not if there is any truth in the Bible."

—New York World, 21 September 1896

Cartoons on the Bible

  • 12 September, Ram’s Horn
  • 20 September, L.A. Times
  • 25 September, Inter-Ocean
  • 4 October, Raleigh News and Observer
  • 20 October, L.A. Times
  • 22 October, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Biblical Cartoon References

Jonah and the Whale

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
. . . .And they said to one another, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
. . . . Then they said to him, "What she we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?" For the sea grew more and more tempetuous. He said to them, "Take me up and throw me into the sea, then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you."
. . . . And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was inthe belly of the fish three days and three nights.
—Jonah 1:4-17

Sampson and Delilah

After this [Samson] loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, "Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, and we may bind him to subdue hum; and we will give you eleven hindred pieces of silver." And Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me wherein your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you."

. . . . And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day and urged hum, his souls was vexed to death. And he told her all his mind, and said to her, "A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I be shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man."

When Delilah saw that he had told her all his mind, she sent and called the lords of the Phillistines, saying, "Come up this once, for he has told me all his mind." . . . . She made him sleep upon her knees; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. . . . And this philistines siezed him and gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with bronze fetters; and he ground at the mill in the prison.

—Judges 16:4-21


The Rev. "Dr." M'Chesney Makes Some Important Suggestions

To the Editor of the Tribune: ...It is to be feared that some of the preachers of our country have been caught in the meshes of Socialism. There has been altogether too muhc incoherent talk about "Christian Socialism," and in one way or another too much currency has been given to the notion that our existing social and political institutions are justly chargeable with the poverty and ignorance and crime that burden society. Far greater anxiety is shown by some to regenerate society in some wholesale manner than to regenerate the individuals who compose society. It should not surprise any one to find preachers of that kind taking up the silver fad. Its sham pretensions to being a movement of the masses against the moneyed class, and its utter failure to show how it will be able to fulfil its foggy promises of great prosperity for the people, make this the very fad for such preachers.

But well might they stop and inspect their company. They are keeping step with fanatics and Anarchists and the dangerous classes of society generally. It is to be believed that such preachers are not numerous. Probably the fact that this question was precipitated upon the country at the beginning of the vacation season, when large numbers of the preachers are absent from their pulpits, fully explains why many of them are still to be heard from. The only thing that should be expected is that they preachers of this country generally should utter the voice of the Church against this stupendous folly and proposed wrong. But this silver craze should be hit as soon and as hard as possible. We should keep on hitting it till it has disappeared forever. This preaching of honesty should not be left chiefly to the secular newspapers.

That the silver crusade in many parts of the country has attempted to invest itself with the sanctity of religion is one of the most serious symptoms of the times.

That the "Boy Orator" should be hailed as "a new Messiah" that it should be declared, with reference to this popular madness, that "this country has witnessed a new Pentecost and received a new baptism of fire," is enough to shock all who have any vestige of true reverence. But it should also awaken reflection. We must have in what is called Christianity in this country less emotionalism and sensationalism, and more of intelligence and true conscientiousness. The Church papers, as well as the pulpits, have a work set before them. To do the work that is now so urgent may give some offence and cost some subscriptions. But we must not be permitted to fancy that for any such reason the utterances that are needed will be postponed....

Ensign M'Chesney, White Plains, N.Y. [New York Tribune, August 28, 1896]

Bryan, Religion, and the Silver Question

The prevailing issue of the 1896 campaign between Bryan and McKinley was, without a doubt, the question of the gold standard versus free silver. Both the Republican and the Democratic platforms were based on their respective views of how currency should be managed in the future. The Republicans stood by the gold standard; they were for the "honest dollar." Democrats, however, breaking away from the platform of the Democratic president Grover Cleveland, began to stand for free coinage of silver, and their poster boy for free silver became William Jennings Bryan. While this hotly contested issue was without question an entirely economic one, both Republicans and Democrats turned free silver into a moral and religious crusade as well.

In many of his speeches, most notably the famous "Cross of Gold Speech" from the Democratic National Convention, Bryan used very strong religious imagery and analogy to push bimetallism. This can be attributed to more than just the simple fact that Bryan himself was an extremely religious man, who had originally planned to become a minister. The Democratic campaign rested on his ability to rouse small farmers and laborers alike to rally to their platform. Counting on the continuing religious revivalism that was sweeping the country, Bryan turned free silver into a moral issue, and suggested himself to be the savior of the common people. He likened himself to Moses, Jesus, Solomon and David; where he left off, his followers took up, describing "his eyes burning like coals of fire and his head and his powerful priest-like face radiant with hope and courage" (1). Although on the surface, "Bryan's speeches covered a multitude of topics -- silver and gold, money and prices, banking, [and] coercion...[a]t the deeper level...his speeches were all the same, his words were all about good and evil, the righteous and the wicked, the common people and their oppressors, salvation and damnation" (2).

At the same time, supporters of the gold standard reacted to free silver with equal religious fervor. Though Bryan had the following of many ministers and preachers, many religious leaders considered his religious analogies to be blasphemous. At the same time, they considered the idea of free silver to be evil, morally repugnant, and inspired in hell. The main problem for them came from the idea that lowering the value of the dollar was stealing; more than one minister quoted the commandment "Thou shalt not steal" as a reason why the gold standard must be maintained. If bimetallism was instituted, all the money that was owed to Americans and to foreign countries would be depreciated in value, and those lenders would be cheated when their debt was repaid. So for these men, the issue was more about honesty and integrity than economics.

Though Bryan's speeches were said to have induced "conversions" reminiscent of early conversion to Christianity, his religious ploy obviously failed in the end. While whipping up a storm among the "common people," he offended many religious leaders who took a stand against him in their pulpits. Moreover, the free silverites were never able to fully prove exactly what their platform would do for the country, especially as the Republicans had proof that the economy was functioning perfectly well under the gold standard. Arguments for good versus evil were very rousing, but they were not concrete, as many of his opponenets were quick to point out.

by Pam Epstein, Vassar '99


Private letter from cartoonist Watson Heston to Ignatius Donnelly, editor of The Representative, concerning the cartoon "History Repeats Itself"

July 12 1896, Morristown, Tenn.

My dear friend:

Yours of the 9th received. I understood you and the situation also with you in regard to the cartoon referred to. I suspected at once that a large portion of your readers were Catholics and their religious ideas obscured their vision so that they misunderstood my motives and the real spirit of the cartoon. When I made that picture I had no thought that it would be seen by many Catholics or I might have modified it a little, but I hope in their sober second thought they will recover their normal condition and see that they were rather hasty in scoring you or stopping a paper which is doing more for their real freedom than all the religions papers on earth. As I said before I do not believe in mixing up politics and religion and did not mean to hurt the feelings of any sincere Christian, for I know how dangerous it is to touch that which religionists hold sacred. While I believe in none of their creeds, yet I would protect all men whether Catholic, Protestant, Jew or pagan in the right to worship or not worship--to believe or not believe as their consciences dictates. After years of investigation, I am convinced that Jesus Christ is absolutely a mythical character, but of course that idea is shocking to the average man.

Sincerely your friend, Watson Heston

Reprinted courtesy Minnesota Historical Society, from the Ignatius Donnelly Papers


Rev. Park A. Bradford Resigns His Charge at Tyngsboro, Mass.

Lowell, Mass., Sept. 4-- One of the most notable features of the silver movement in this city is the leadership of Rev. Park A. Braford, a Congregational minister, who has just resigned his pastorate in Tyngsboro, Mass., owing to pressure brought against him on account of his advocacy of free silver.

Mr. Bradford was quite popular with his congregation until he began to advocate free silver and to assail the gold standard. Had he not come out openly upon the public platform he might have continued to minister to his flock, but to speak at a Democratic rally in favor of Bryan and Sewall and to accept the presidency of the Lowell Non-Partisan Silver League was too much for his congregation to bear.

He soon learned that his action had aroused the indignation of his flock, and, feeling that he was not quite justified in holding the position of pastor while following a course so despicable in the eyes of his church, he decided to get out.

—New York Journal, 5 September 1896

A Populist Preacher's Opinion

The Rev. Myron W. Reed, of Denver, Colo., delivered a sermon from the church standpoint last Sunday. That Mr. Reed is a thinker as well as a preacher is attested by the following extract from his sermon:

"I want you to read what an American prophet said soon after the revolutionary war:

'The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest and our cities united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill... The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off on the conclusion of this war will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.'

That was written by Thomas Jefferson. Is it not true of the days since the war we remember? The war was over and we went about our business. And money changers went about their business. Now we are getting awake and are braiding a whip. We are in interesting days for rascals and the enemies of rascals.

I am very grateful to God that a Democratic convention has been inspired to give to the people of these States a Democratic platform. I have read it carefully and it sounds like Jefferson and Jackson and Lincoln. I want everything there is in that platform and more, but I remember there is more to follow. As a first course for 1896 it will do. It will leave me with an appetite. There are other years and other things.

The platform is not built for "the god of things as they are" to stand upon. "The god of things as they ought to be" stands on this platform.

The man fits the platform. He is older than the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence.... He is older than the preacher of the sermon on the mount.

—Arkansas Gazette, July 15

Why should the Democratic managers demand of us a complete and unconditional surrender? They say we must fuse, but their idea of fusion is that we play minnow while they play trout; we play June bug while they play duck; we play Jonah while they play the whale.

—Tom Watson, New York World, 5 August 1896

To the Ladies:

from Bryan's Speech in Grand Rapids

We can support bimetallism, I say, by appealing to authority and I could continue quotations until morning from the highest authorities in this land. But if it is not sufficient to prove our case by reason, by logic and by authorities, we can prove it by analogies. I have been taught to believe that He who was infinite in power, was also infinite in love. He never gave to mankind a need without giving the means of satisfying it. When He made food necessary to human existence, He gave the earth with its bounties, and there has always been enough to satisfy the hunger of man; when He made water necessary to human existence He filled the earth with veins and planted the springs along the hillsides; when He allowed weariness to creep over the limbs of the toilers He sent sleep, tired nature's sweet restorer, to renew their strength; when he gave to mankind a mind capable of development and a thirst for knowledge He filled the universe with His wonders which may well occupy the thoughts of man; and when he fitted man for society, placed him among his fellows and fashioned the channels of trade, he stored away in the secret places of the mountains the gold and silver suitable for money. Mankind found these precious metals, dragged them from their hiding places and for six thousand years they have come down to us side by side, ministering unto the wants of man. I may be in error; if I am, I hope I may be led into the better way, but in my humble judgement, the man who would rob mankind of his food and leave his appetite; who would corrupt the springs from which he drinks and yet leave the necessity of water; who would rob him of his needed rest and yet allow his weariness to come again; or condemn his mind to ignorance and gloom or superstitiion, is no more an enemy of his race than the man who, knowing what he does, but deaf to the entreaties of the poor and blind to the suffereing he would cause, would strike out of existence one of the precious metals given by the Almighty Himself to meet the needs of man.

Cartoons Dealing with Bryan and Religion

(including references to the ‘Cross of Gold’ speech)

  • 20 August, Sound Money
  • 5 September, Harper’s Weekly
  • 19 September, Judge
  • 10 October, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • 20 October, L.A. Times
  • 22 October, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Campaign Song

No crown of thorms to its brow shall press, Never again, say we, no cross of gold mankind distress; Never again say we. We'll loosen all the cords that bind; Give equal chance to all mankind, and here a new Redeemer find, Leading to victory.

Labor and the Church.

I have been looking up history, and am compelled to say, in all candor and truth, I fail to find anything recorded in history that the church has done for the workingman that would in any way entitle her to his confidence or respect. During labor's long struggle for justice and liberty the church has made no effort in his behalf.... When four millions of workingmen were held in cruel slavery in the United States the church not only failed to do anything for their freedom, but gave her sanction to the damnable custom.

—Rev. J. A. Bradic, Caseyville, Indiana, in The Coming Nation, July 25, 1896.


(see also the "Cross of Gold" address)

from Bryan's Chicago Speech, Second Reception

The Bible tells us that when the children of Israel were in bondage and asked for a lightening of their burdens, the Pharoah of their time said that they were idle and recommended more work. He compelled them to make bricks without straw. Pharoah has been the same in all ages. No matter to what race he belongs, no matter when or where he lives, Pharoah lives on the toil of others and always wants to silence complaint by making the load heavier.

In presenting this badge my Hebrew friends have referred to David and Goliath. Whenever we have a great contest in which right is arrayed against might, the contest between David and Goliath is always cited to give inspiration to those who fight for the truth. David conquered, not because he was stronger, but because he was on the right side; and if in this contest I am likened to David, let me reply that as David triumphed because he was right, so my only hope of victory is in the righteousness of my cause.

from the Madalin Speech

Let me read one of the planks of [the Chicago] platform: We are opposed to the issuing of interest bearing bonds of the United States in time of peace, and condemn the trafficking with banking syndicates which, in exchange for bonds, and at an enormous profit to themselves, supply the Federal Treasury with gold to maintain the policy of gold monmetallism.

That is one of the planks. That was not put in there to attract the love of those who have grown rich out of the Government’s extremities. We did not expect those who have a passage way from the Federal Treasury to their offices to join with us in closing up the passage way. We did not expect those who are making a profit out of a gold standard and out of the embarrassment which it brings to the Treasury to join with us in putting an end to the gold standard. Why, if we had expected it, we would have expected it in the face of all the history of the past.

Do you remember the Good Book tells us that some 1800 years ago a man named Demetrius complained of the preaching of the Gospel. Why? He said, "It destroys the business in which we are engaged. We are making images for the worship of Diana, and these people say that they be not gods that are made with hands."

But Demetrius was much like men who have lived since his day. When he had made up his mind that the preaching of the Gospel interfered with his business he didn't go out and say to the world, "Our business is being injured and we are mad." What did he say? He said, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."

We have some today who are very much like Demetrius. They know that the restoration of bimetallism destroys the business in which they have been engaged.

But when they make public speeches they don't say that the Democratic party is wrong because it interferes with their business. What do they say? They say, "Great is sound money; great is an honest dollar."

from the Buffalo Speech

Our opponents tell us that they will try to secure an international agreement, and that they simply desire to maintain the gold standard until other nations will help us to let go. Can you expect the restoration of bimetallism from those who wrote the St. Louis platform? Never, until you can gather grapes from thorns and figs from thistles. Those who are responsible for the gold standard are not the ones to whom we must look for deliverance. As well might Pharoah have been expected to lead the children of Israel out of bondage, as to expect the Republican party to break the shackles of the gold standard.

from the Labor Day Speech

Let me now read to you the language used by one whose words have won for him the title of the wisest of men -- Solomon. He said:

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full, and deny Thee and say, who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal and take the name of my God in vain.

Solomon desired neither poverty nor riches. He rightly estimated the dangers which lie at either extreme and preferred the -- I was about to say, golden, but I will call it the -- golden and silver mean. Neither great wealth nor abject poverty furnishes the soil in which the best civilization grows. Those who are hard pressed by poverty lose the ambition, the inspiration and the high purpose which lead men to the greatest achievements; while those who possesss too great riches lack the necessity for that labor which is absolutely essential to the development of all that is useful. Solomon was right, therefore, when he praised the intermediate condition, for the great middle classes are the bulwark of society, and from them has come almost all the good that has blessed the human race.

The highest compliment ever paid to any class of people was paid to those who are called the common people. When we use that term there are some who say that we are appealing to the passions of the amsses; there are some who say that we are appealing to the passions of the masses; there are some who apply the name demagogue to anybody who speaks of the common people. When the meek and lowly Nazarene came to preach "peace of earth, good will toward men," he was no welcomed by those who "devour widow's houses and for a pretense make long prayers." By whom was he welcomed? The Scriptures tell us that when he gave that great commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as theyself," the common people heard him gladly. This, I repeat, is the highest compliment that has ever been paid to any class of people, and the common people are the only people who have ever received gladly the doctrines of humanity and equality.

from the Philadelphia Speech

That is what they call financiering on Wall Street. I believe that the only thing in the Bible which some of those financiers ever read is the passage which says that about 1800 years ago certain wise men came from the East. They seem to think that the wise men have been coming from that direction ever since...

...We have usury laws saying that a man cannot collect more than a certain rate of interest. The theory underlying the usury laws is found in the Book of Proverbs – that the borrower is a servant to the lender. In these transactions men do not always stand upon an equal footing, and, therefore, the Government steps in to protect the weaker from having his rights trespassed upon.

If it right to say that no man shall be permitted to collect more than a certain rate of interest, it is right for the Government to say when it has declared a certain kind of money to be legal tender, that no man shall write a contract saying that the law is a lie.

They talk about gold as if it were divine. It is, in the sense that it is their god. But it is not divine; it is matter. Instead of being a real god, and a thing to be worshiped, we are told that, when the children of Israel made it into a calf, and began to worship it, it displeased God, and he ground the calf into powder.

from the Minneapolis Speech

There is an important difference between those who espouse the cause of bimetallism and those who desert bimetallism. The man who comes to us is always willing to rise before any audience and describe the road by which he came and the arguments which converted him, but the Democrat who goes from us never states the real cause which dragged him out of the Democratic party. I think it was Senator Morgan who stated that their are two kinds of conversion. He mentioned Saul of Tarsus as illustrating one kind. Saul at first persecuted the Christians and afterwards became a preacher of the Christian faith. Aaron was cited as an illustration of the second kind of conversion. He started out as a worshiper of the true God and afterward set up a golden calf. Now, if you will remember, Saul, when he became Paul the apostle, gloried in relating his experience. He told how he was stricken with blindness and how at last the scales fell from his eyes and he saw, but Aaron was always ashamed of that calf business. And so, my friends, with those who come to us they have nothing to conceal; they are perfectly willing to tell where they stand and why they stand there; they are among the most zealous of our recruits. I used to think it might be well to have a mourners' bench for those who were coming to us, but they do not come mourning; they come rejoicing. They are not sorry at all, they are happy. They come with the enthusiasm of missionaries who go forth to preach the gospel to others, while those who go from us are only able to say in explanation of their conduct that if we had the free coinage of silver, it would be awful. Some of them are so under the control of the financiers that we have reason to doubt whether their change is found in the head or is merely a device for extending their notes at the bank.

There are reasons for bimetallism, and those reasons are so plain and simple that they can be easily understood, and when we preach bimetallism we are able to give a reason for our faith.

We are told that all we need is confidence. This confidence idea, my friends, is not a new one; it is at least eighteen hundred years old. I find in the Bible a rebuke of the same kind of confidence which is being preached today. I read there these words, "If a brother or sister be naked or destitute and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and fed, notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body, what does it profit?" If you tell our opponents that laborers, who are idle in the streets because the gold standard has made it more profitable to hoard money than to employ labor in the development of the resources of the country, are naked and hungry, their only answer is, "Be ye clothed and fed;" but they give nothing to eat or wear.

© 2010 Rebecca Edwards, author of New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 by Rebecca Edwards, Oxford University Press

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Major events of the campaign,
in cartoon and story. (Click date)

  • Feb 27: People’s Advocate: Reading Tillman's Speech
  • Mar 19: People’s Advocate: Pitchfork
  • Apr 4: The Ram’s Horn: Rescued
  • Apr 15: Sound Money: History Repeats Itself
  • Apr 25: The Ram’s Horn: The Stranger at Our Gate
  • May 28: Prohibitionist’s convention, Pittsburgh, PA
  • June 16: Republican convention, St. Louis, MO
  • June 21: Denver New Road: Cleveland's Romance
  • June 28: L.A. Times: Bucking a Wall
  • July 4: Socialist convention, New York, NY
  • July 11: Democratic convention, Chicago, Illinois
  • July 9: Rocky Mountain News: A Soliloquy
  • July 11: Harper’s Weekly: Gold Bugs
  • July 12: L.A. Times: The Old Lady and Her New Wheel
  • July 16: People’s Advocate: McKinley's Evil Sprit
  • July 18: Harper’s Weekly: Altgeld and Bryan
  • July 22: Silver convention, St. Louis, MO
  • July 25: People’s Party convention, St. Louis, MO
  • July 22: Rocky Mountain News: Wall Street's Private Studio
  • July 25: Harper’s Weekly: Farmer McKinley
  • July 25: Judge: The Silver Candle
  • July 27: Chicago Record: Bryan's Tightrope
  • Aug 5: Rocky Mountain News: The Plain English of It
  • Aug 6: Sound Money: Spain and Rothschilds
  • Aug 8: McKinley accepts Republican nomination
  • Aug 9: Denver New Road: Bryan's Romance
  • Aug 12: Bryan accepts Democratic nomination
  • Aug 13: American Non-Conformist: Farmer Hanna
  • Aug 15: Rocky Mountain News: Bryan the Lion
  • Aug 16: L.A. Times: Aesop's Fox
  • Aug 18: Rocky Mountain News: Hanna the Wizard
  • Aug 20: Sound Money: The Cross of Gold
  • Aug 20: L.A. Times: Popocratic Witches
  • Aug 22: The Ram’s Horn: A Double Burden
  • Aug 29: Harper’s Weekly: McKinley the Veteran
  • Aug 29: Labor Advocate: Look at This
  • Aug 30: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Dime Museum
  • Sept 2: National (Gold) Democratic convention, Indianapolis, IN
  • Sept to Nov 1: McKinley front-porch campaign, Canton, OH
  • Sept 3: New York Journal: Li Hung Chang
  • Sept 5: Harper’s Weekly: The Crown of Thorns
  • Sept 5: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Just the Bare Facts
  • Sept 6: L.A. Times: Comrades in Arms
  • Sept 6: St. Paul Pioneer Press: A Bryan Dollar
  • Sept 8: Early election day in Arkansas and Vermont
  • Sept 9: Rocky Mountain News: John Bull
  • Sept 10: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Arkansas and Vermont
  • Sept 11 to Nov 1: Bryan travels 13,000 miles by train, stump-speaking around the nation.
  • Sept 11: St. Paul Pioneer Press: The Divorcee
  • Sept 11: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Uncle Sam Diagnoses
  • Sept 12: Labor Advocate: Their Argument Misses Fire
  • Sept 12: The Ram’s Horn: Building Up His Business
  • Sept 12: Harper’s Weekly: Populist Supreme Court
  • Sept 12: New York Journal: Hanna's Funds
  • Sept 13: Boston Globe: The Silver Dog
  • Sept 13: L.A. Times: Uncle Sam's Circus
  • Sept 14: L.A. Times: Populist Pandora
  • Sept 14: Rocky Mountain News: Playing Upon a Single String
  • Sept 17: Rocky Mountain News: Chinese Immigration
  • Sept 18: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Against Turkey
  • Sept 18: Rocky Mountain News: A Horrible Suspicion
  • Sept 19: Judge: Bryan's Cross
  • Sept 19: Labor Advocate: How They Love The Farmers
  • Sept 19: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Election-Year Friend
  • Sept 20: Boston Globe: Writ of Replevin'
  • Sept 20: L.A. Times: Populist Delilah
  • Sept 20: L’Abeille de Nouvelle Orleans: The Sultan Laughs
  • Sept 20: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: John Bull's Theft
  • Sept 21: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Robber And His Victim
  • Sept 24: L.A. Times: Resurrecting Secession
  • Sept 24: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Treachery
  • Sept 25: Daily Inter-Ocean: Democratic Jonah
  • Sept 26: Harper’s Weekly: Silver Bullfight
  • Sept 26: L.A. Times: For Sale
  • Sept 26: National Reflector: Rings On The Hog
  • Sept 26: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Bicyclist Bryan
  • Sept 29: L.A. Times: Poor Circulation
  • Oct 1: Pioneer Press: Silver Trust Hog
  • Oct 3: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Workingman's Friend
  • Oct 4: Raleigh New and Observer: Hanna and Dixon
  • Oct 6: Election Day in the state of Florida (not all states voted on the first Tuesday in Nov).
  • Oct 6: Chicago Times: X-Ray of Bryan's Brain
  • Oct 6: Pioneer Press: Silver Conversation
  • Oct 6: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Florida's Lifeline
  • Oct 8: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Democratic Florida
  • Oct 8: New York Journal: Confident Hanna
  • Oct 10: Harper’s Weekly: Three Witches
  • Oct 10: The Coming Nation: The Worker's Treadmill
  • Oct 11: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Resurrection
  • Oct 13: New York Journal: Hanna and Workers
  • Oct 13: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Bryan as Jack Cade
  • Oct 13: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Gold Balloon
  • Oct 15: Coxey's Sound Money: Uncle Sam Enslaved
  • Oct 15: Rocky Mountain News: Elected McKinley
  • Oct 16: Boston Globe: Bryan the Salesman
  • Oct 17: Coming Nation: Labor Exploitation
  • Oct 20: L.A. Times: Burning Cross of Gold
  • Oct 21: The Coming Nation: Socialism
  • Oct 22: Sound Money: The Old Party Scale
  • Oct 22: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna's Crown of Thorns
  • Oct 24: Harper’s Weekly: Altgeld and Guiteau
  • Oct 25: Daily Inter-Ocean: Bryan's Balloon
  • Oct 25: Omaha World Herald: Getting Women to Register
  • Oct 27: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna, Trusts, and Morgan
  • Oct 28: Puck: A New Civil War
  • Oct 30: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna in Lehigh Valley
  • Oct 31: Republicans announce “Flag Day,” then argue with Democrats and Populists over meaning of the flag
  • Oct 31: Harper’s Weekly: Democratic Wind-Up Toys
  • Oct 31: New York Journal: Buncombe Brigade
  • Oct 31: The Ram’s Horn: Ignorance, Stupidity, and Fraud
  • Nov 2: McKinley wins presidential election
  • Nov 2: L.A. Times: Clown Bryan
  • Nov 4: L’Abeille de Nouvelle Orleans: Knock-Out Punch
  • Nov 4: St. Paul Pioneer Press: Elephant on the Silver Pillow
  • Nov 5: Sound Money: Prediction for 1900
  • Nov 14: Judge: Republican Tam O'Shanter
  • Nov 14: Coming Nation: Our Farmers Situation
  • Dec: Overland Monthly: Uncle Sam Looks Abroad
New Spirits
New Spirits
Perceptions and Realities: The Victorian Age Inventions of the era Tramps and Millionaires Yellowstone Park Journals of the era White City/1893 Worlds Fair The Civil War President McKinley