Cross of Gold

Perhaps the greatest American orator of his time, William Jennings Bryan was three times the nominee of the Democratic party, 1896, 1900 and 1908, losing each time.  It is a tribute to his hold on his party that he was put forward three times, as American parties are usually unforgiving to candidates who lose a Presidential race, with very few exceptions.  Bryan was an interesting mix of economic radicalism, pacificism and traditional religious fervor.  If he is remembered at all today, it is because of his role in the Scopes Monkey Trial, one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood legal battles in American history.  This does not do justice to the man.

Bryan began the process by which the Democratic party, long the conservative party in this country on most issues, began a drift to the Left.  He also ensured that his party retained a strong presence in rural American, a presence that did not come to an end, at least for the time being, until Reagan.  In many ways Bryan, more than any other man, helped shape the Democratic party between the Civil War and the New Deal, and should be regarded as a precursor to FDR.  Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech gained him the Democratic nomination in 1896 and is one of the finest examples of American oratory, whatever one may think, and I do not think much of it, in regard to substance: (more…)

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Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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