William Jennings Bryan: Difference between revisions

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In 1899 Bryan founded a weekly magazine, ''The Commoner'', calling on Democrats to dissolve the trusts, regulate the railroads more tightly, and support the [[Progressive Movement]].<ref>See [http://books.google.com/books?id=3d3hAAAAMAAJ ''The Commoner Condensed'' Volume 3 (1901)] for full text of annual compilation</ref> He regarded prohibition as a "local" issue and did not endorse it until 1910. In London in 1906, he presented a plan to the Inter-Parliamentary Peace Conference for arbitration of disputes that he hoped would avert warfare. He tentatively called for nationalization of the railroads, then backtracked and called only for more regulation. His party nominated [[Bourbon Democrat]] [[Alton B. Parker]] in [[United States presidential election, 1904|1904]], who lost to Roosevelt. For two years following this defeat, Bryan would pursue his public speaking ventures on an international stage. From 1904 to 1906, Bryan traveled globally, preaching, sightseeing with his wife Mary, lecturing, and all while escaping the political upheaval in Washington. Bryan crusaded as well for the initiative and referendum, making a whistle-stop campaign tour of Arkansas in 1910.<ref>Steven L. Piott, ''Giving voters a voice: the origins of the initiative and referendum in America'' (2003) pp 126-32</ref> Bryan's speech to the students of [[Washington and Lee University]] began the [[Washington and Lee Mock Convention]].
 
In 1899 Bryan founded a weekly magazine, ''The Commoner'', calling on Democrats to dissolve the trusts, regulate the railroads more tightly, and support the [[Progressive Movement]].<ref>See [http://books.google.com/books?id=3d3hAAAAMAAJ ''The Commoner Condensed'' Volume 3 (1901)] for full text of annual compilation</ref> He regarded prohibition as a "local" issue and did not endorse it until 1910. In London in 1906, he presented a plan to the Inter-Parliamentary Peace Conference for arbitration of disputes that he hoped would avert warfare. He tentatively called for nationalization of the railroads, then backtracked and called only for more regulation. His party nominated [[Bourbon Democrat]] [[Alton B. Parker]] in [[United States presidential election, 1904|1904]], who lost to Roosevelt. For two years following this defeat, Bryan would pursue his public speaking ventures on an international stage. From 1904 to 1906, Bryan traveled globally, preaching, sightseeing with his wife Mary, lecturing, and all while escaping the political upheaval in Washington. Bryan crusaded as well for the initiative and referendum, making a whistle-stop campaign tour of Arkansas in 1910.<ref>Steven L. Piott, ''Giving voters a voice: the origins of the initiative and referendum in America'' (2003) pp 126-32</ref> Bryan's speech to the students of [[Washington and Lee University]] began the [[Washington and Lee Mock Convention]].
   
==Secretary of State: 1913–1915==
 
  +
=
[[Image:WJB-fromthewarfront-1914.jpg|thumb|right||Cartoon of Secretary of State Bryan reading war news in 1914]]
 
[[Image:Winter Home of Wm. J. Bryan, Miami, FL.jpg|thumb|right|''La Serena'', Bryan's home built in 1913 at Miami, Florida]]
 
 
For supporting [[Woodrow Wilson]] for the presidency in 1912, Bryan was appointed [[United States Secretary of State|Secretary of State]]. However, Wilson only nominally consulted him and made all the major foreign policy decisions himself. Bryan negotiated 28 treaties that promised arbitration of disputes before war broke out between the signatory countries and the United States. He made several attempts to negotiate a treaty with Germany, but ultimately was never able to succeed. In the [[Mexican Civil War|civil war in Mexico]] in 1914, Bryan supported American military intervention.
 
 
In September 1914 he wrote President Wilson urging mediation in the First World War:
 
 
{{quote| It is not likely that either side will win so complete a victory as to be able to dictate terms, and if either side does win such a victory it will probably mean preparation for another war. It would seem better to look for a more rational basis for peace.<ref>Hofstadter "The American Political Tradition" p. 260</ref>}}
 
 
Bryan tried to choke the American credit to the Entente, saying "money is the worst of all contrabands because it commands everything else" but eventually yielded. He also pointed out that by traveling on British vessels "an American citizen can, by putting his own business above his regard for this country, assume for his own advantage unnecessary risks and thus involve his country in international complications" <ref>Lawrence W. Levine, ''Defender of the faith: William Jennings Bryan, the last decade, 1915–1925'' (1987) p. 8</ref> Wilson's demands for "strict accountability for any infringement of [American] rights, intentional or incidental" after the sinking of the Lusitania troubled Bryan, leading to his resignation in June 1915.
 
 
Despite their differences, Bryan campaigned as a private citizen for Wilson's reelection in 1916. When war was declared in April 1917, Bryan wrote Wilson, "Believing it to be the duty of the citizen to bear his part of the burden of war and his share of the peril, I hereby tender my services to the Government. Please enroll me as a private whenever I am needed and assign me to any work that I can do."<ref>Hibben, Peerless Leader, p. 356</ref> Wilson, however, did not allow the 57-year-old Bryan to rejoin the military, and did not offer him any wartime role.
 
   
 
==Prohibition battles: 1916–1925==
 
==Prohibition battles: 1916–1925==

Revision as of 13:39, 20 February 2013

William Jennings Bryan
WilliamJBryan1902.png
41st United States Secretary of State
In office
March 5, 1913 – June 9, 1915
President Woodrow Wilson
Preceded by Philander C. Knox
Succeeded by Robert Lansing
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nebraska's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1891 – March 3, 1895
Preceded by William James Connell
Succeeded by Jesse Burr Strode
Personal details
Born (1860-03-19)March 19, 1860
Salem, Illinois[1]
Died July 26, 1925(1925-07-26) (aged 65)
Dayton, Tennessee
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Baird Bryan
Children Ruth Bryan Owen,
William Jennings Bryan Jr., Grace Bryan
Alma mater Illinois College, Union College of Law
Profession Politician, Lawyer
Signature
Bryan's birthplace in Salem

William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was a leading American politician from the 1890s until his death. He was a dominant force in the populist wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States (1896, 1900 and 1908). He served in Congress briefly as a Representative from Nebraska and was the 41st United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson (1913–1915), taking a pacifist position on the World War. Bryan was a devout Christian, a supporter of popular democracy, and an enemy of the gold standard as well as banks and railroads. He was a leader of the silverite movement in the 1890s, a peace advocate, a prohibitionist, and an opponent of Darwinism on religious and humanitarian grounds. With his deep, commanding voice and wide travels, he was one of the best known orators and lecturers of the era. Because of his faith in the wisdom of the common people, he was called "The Great Commoner."

In the intensely fought 1896 and 1900 elections, he was defeated by William McKinley but retained control of the Democratic Party. With over 500 speeches in 1896, Bryan invented the national stumping tour, in an era when other presidential candidates stayed home. In his three presidential bids, he promoted Free Silver in 1896, anti-imperialism in 1900, and trust-busting in 1908, calling on Democrats to fight the trusts (big corporations) and big banks, and embrace anti-elitist ideals of republicanism. President Wilson appointed him Secretary of State in 1913, but Wilson's strong demands on Germany after the Lusitania was torpedoed in 1915 caused Bryan to resign in protest. After 1920 he was a strong supporter of Prohibition and energetically attacked Darwinism and evolution, most famously at the Scopes Trial in 1925. Five days after the end of the case, he died in his sleep.[2]


A young Bryan

Following high school, he entered Illinois College, graduating as valedictorian in 1881. During his time at Illinois College, Bryan was a member of the Sigma Pi literary society. He studied law at Union Law College in Chicago (which later became Northwestern University School of Law). While preparing for the bar exam, he taught high school and met Mary Elizabeth Baird,[3] a cousin of William Sherman Jennings. He married her on October 1, 1884,[4] and they settled in Salem, which at the time had a population of two thousand.

Mary became a lawyer and collaborated with him on all his speeches and writings. He practiced law in Jacksonville from 1883 to 1887, then moved to the boom city of Lincoln, Nebraska. In Lincoln, Bryan met James Dahlman and they became lifelong friends. As chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party, Dahlman would help carry Nebraska for Bryan in two presidential campaigns. Even when Dahlman became closely associated with Omaha's vice elements, including the breweries as the city's eight-term mayor, he and Bryan maintained a collegial relationship.[5]

In the Democratic landslide of 1890, Bryan was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, from Nebraska's First Congressional District. The growing prohibitionist movement entered the election of 1890 with its own slate of candidates. In the three-way race in the First Congressional District, Bryan received 6,713 more votes than his nearest opponent. This was a plurality of the vote and was 8,000 votes short of a majority of the vote. Nonetheless, Bryan was elected and was only the second Democrat to be elected to Congress in the history of Nebraska.[6] However in his re-election race in 1892, Bryan was re-elected by a 140-vote majority in a two person race. He ran for the Senate in 1894, but a Republican landslide led to the state Legislature's choice of a Republican for the Senate seat.

First campaign for the White House: 1896

A Republican satire on Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech

Br

War and peace: 1898–1900

Bryan strongly supported the Spanish-American War in 1898. According to historian William Leuchtenburg, "few political figures exceeded the enthusiasm of William Jennings Bryan for the Spanish war."[7] Bryan argued that "universal peace cannot come until justice is enthroned throughout the world. Until the right has triumphed in every land and love reigns in every heart, government must, as a last resort, appeal to force." He volunteered for duty and became colonel of a Nebraska militia regiment. He contracted typhoid fever in Florida and stayed there to recuperate, never seeing combat. After the war, Bryan opposed the annexation of the Philippines (though he did support the Treaty of Paris that ended the war). Bryan gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1900 called "The Paralyzing Influence of Imperialism." In this speech he discusses his views against the annexation of the Philippines, questioning the United States's right to overpower people of another country just for a military base. He mentions, at the beginning of the speech, that the United States should not try to emulate the imperialism of Great Britain and other European countries.

Presidential election of 1900

Conservatives in 1900 ridiculed Bryan's eclectic platform

He ran as an anti-imperialist in 1900, finding himself in alliance with Andrew Carnegie, as well as others who had fought against silver. Republicans mocked Bryan as indecisive, or a coward, a point which L. Frank Baum satirized viciously in the Bryan-like Cowardly Lion in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in the spring of 1900.[8]

Bryan combined anti-imperialism with free silver, saying:

The nation is of age and it can do what it pleases; it can spurn the traditions of the past; it can repudiate the principles upon which the nation rests; it can employ force instead of reason; it can substitute might for right; it can conquer weaker people; it can exploit their lands, appropriate their property and kill their people; but it cannot repeal the moral law or escape the punishment decreed for the violation of human rights.[9]

In a typical day he gave four hour-long speeches and shorter talks that added up to six hours of speaking. At an average rate of 175 words a minute, he turned out 63,000 words a day, enough to fill 52 columns of a newspaper. In Wisconsin, he once made 12 speeches in 15 hours.[10] He held his base in the South, but lost part of the West as McKinley retained the Northeast and Midwest and rolled up a comfortable margin of victory. McKinley won the electoral college with a count of 292 votes compared to Bryan's 155. Bryan's hold on his party was weakened, while his erstwhile allies the populists had virtually disappeared from the arena.

Chautauqua circuit

Bryan needed money and his powerful voice and 100% name recognition were assets that could be capitalized. Bryan became a celebrity on the ""Chautauqua circuit"giving paid speeches on current events in hundreds of towns and cities across the country. He usually charged $500 per speech in addition to a percentage of the profits.

Bryan owned land in Nebraska and a 240-acre (0.97 km2) ranch in Texas; both were paid for with earnings from speeches and his own weekly newspaper, The Commoner.[11]

Presidential election of 1908

Bryan giving a speech during his 1908 run for the presidency

The 1908 election was Bryan’s third attempt at gaining the presidency. The Democrats nominated Bryan by a wide margin at the Democratic convention held in Denver and decided on John Kern, a politician from Indiana, as his running mate. Bryan ran against the Republicans, and Theodore Roosevelt’s hand-picked nominee William Howard Taft.

Bryan launched a special message to Congress, suggesting income and inheritance taxes, publicity on campaign contribution and opposing the use of the navy for the collection of private debts.[12] He campaigned against corporate domination, urging that all corporation contributions be made public before election day, and that failure to cooperate be made a penal offense.[13]

The GOP ran its campaign on the benefits of the Roosevelt administration, creation of a postal service, continuation of "Sound Currency", citizenship for Puerto Rico inhabitants, regulation on big business, and tariff revision in protectionist mode.[14]

Bryan and the Democrats’ platform denounced the wrongs done by the Republican party: Congress spent too much money; Roosevelt hand picked Taft in undemocratic fashion; Republicans wanted centralization; Republicans favored monopolies. In response, Bryan unleashed the slogan, "Shall the People Rule?" In a time of peace and prosperity, and Republican trust-busting, Bryan fared poorly among the voters. He lost the electoral college 321 to 162, his worst defeat yet, and did not carry any of the states in the Northeast.

In his three presidential election bids, Bryan received a total of 493 electoral votes - the most of any candidate in American history who never won the presidency.

Chautauqua circuit: 1900–1912

For the next 25 years, Bryan was the most popular Chautauqua speaker, delivering thousands of paid speeches in towns across the land, even while serving as secretary of state. He mostly spoke about religion, but covered a wide variety of topics.[15] His most popular lecture (and his personal favorite) was a lecture entitled "The Prince of Peace", which stressed that religion was the solid foundation of morality, and individual and group morality was the foundation for peace and equality. Another famous lecture from this period, "The Value of an Ideal", was a stirring call to public service.

In a 1905 speech, Bryan warned that "the Darwinian theory represents man reaching his present perfection by the operation of the law of hate, the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak. If this is the law of our development then, if there is any logic that can bind the human mind, we shall turn backward to the beast in proportion as we substitute the law of love. I choose to believe that love rather than hatred is the law of development."

Bryan threw himself into the work of the Social Gospel. Bryan served on organizations containing a large number of theological liberals—he sat on the temperance committee of the Federal Council of Churches and on the general committee of the short-lived Inter-church World Movement.

Bryan in 1908

In 1899 Bryan founded a weekly magazine, The Commoner, calling on Democrats to dissolve the trusts, regulate the railroads more tightly, and support the Progressive Movement.[16] He regarded prohibition as a "local" issue and did not endorse it until 1910. In London in 1906, he presented a plan to the Inter-Parliamentary Peace Conference for arbitration of disputes that he hoped would avert warfare. He tentatively called for nationalization of the railroads, then backtracked and called only for more regulation. His party nominated Bourbon Democrat Alton B. Parker in 1904, who lost to Roosevelt. For two years following this defeat, Bryan would pursue his public speaking ventures on an international stage. From 1904 to 1906, Bryan traveled globally, preaching, sightseeing with his wife Mary, lecturing, and all while escaping the political upheaval in Washington. Bryan crusaded as well for the initiative and referendum, making a whistle-stop campaign tour of Arkansas in 1910.[17] Bryan's speech to the students of Washington and Lee University began the Washington and Lee Mock Convention.

=

Prohibition battles: 1916–1925

Bryan campaigned for the Constitutional amendments on prohibition and women's suffrage. Partly to avoid Nebraska ethnics such as the German-Americans who were "wet" and opposed to prohibition,[18] Bryan moved to Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida in 1913. He called his home on Brickell Avenue Villa Serena. Later, in 1925, he moved to a new home further south in Coconut Grove on Main Highway called Marymont.[19][20] Bryan filled lucrative speaking engagements, including playing the part of spokesman for George E. Merrick's new planned community Coral Gables, addressing large crowds across a Venetian pool for an annual salary of over $100,000.[21] He was also extremely active in Christian organizations. Bryan refused to support the party's presidential nominee James M. Cox in 1920, because he deemed Cox not dry enough. As one biographer explains,

William Jennings Bryan and wife, Mary, in New York City, June 19, 1915

Bryan's national campaigning helped Congress pass the 18th Amendment in 1918, which shut down all saloons as of 1920. But while prohibition was in effect, Bryan did not work to secure better enforcement. He opposed a highly controversial resolution at the 1924 convention condemning the Ku Klux Klan, expecting it would soon fold. Bryan disliked the Klan but never publicly attacked it.[23] For the nomination in 1924, he opposed the wet Al Smith; Bryan's brother, Nebraska Governor Charles W. Bryan, was put on the ticket with John W. Davis as candidate for vice president to keep the Bryanites in line. Bryan was very close to his younger brother Charles and endorsed him for the vice presidency.

Bryan was the chief proponent of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, the precursor to our modern War on Drugs. However, he argued for the act's passage more as an international obligation than on moral grounds.[24]

Fighting the theory of evolution: 1918–1925

Before World War I, Bryan believed moral progress could achieve equality at home and, in the international field, peace between all the world's nations.

Bryan opposed the theory of evolution for two reasons. First, he believed that what he considered a materialistic account of the descent of man through evolution undermined the Bible. Second, he saw Social Darwinism as a great evil force in the world promoting hatred and conflicts, especially the World War.[25]

In his famous Chautauqua lecture, "The Prince of Peace," Bryan warned the theory of evolution could undermine the foundations of morality. However, he concluded, "While I do not accept the Darwinian theory I shall not quarrel with you about it."

Charles W. and William J. Bryan

One book Bryan read at this time convinced him that social Darwinism (emphasizing the struggle of the races) had undermined morality in Germany.[26] Bryan was heavily influenced by Vernon Kellogg's 1917 book, Headquarters Nights: A Record of Conversations and Experiences at the Headquarters of the German Army in Belgium and France, which asserted (on the basis of a conversation with a reserve officer named Professor von Flussen) that German intellectuals were social Darwinists totally committed to might-makes-right.[27]

Bryan also read The Science of Power (1918) by British social theorist Benjamin Kidd, which credited the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche with German nationalism, materialism, and militarism, which in turn was the outworking of the social Darwinian hypothesis.[28]

In 1920, Bryan told the World Brotherhood Congress the theory of evolution was "the most paralyzing influence with which civilization has had to deal in the last century" and that Nietzsche, in carrying the theory of evolution to its logical conclusion, "promulgated a philosophy that condemned democracy,... denounced Christianity,... denied the existence of God, overturned all concepts of morality,... and endeavored to substitute the worship of the superhuman for the worship of Jehovah."[29]

By 1921, Bryan saw Darwinism as a major internal threat to the US. The major study which seemed to convince Bryan of this was James H. Leuba's The Belief in God and Immortality, a Psychological, Anthropological and Statistical Study (1916). In this study, Leuba shows that during four years of college a considerable number of college students lost their faith. Bryan was horrified that the next generation of American leaders might have the degraded sense of morality which he believed had prevailed in Germany and caused the Great War. Bryan then launched an anti-evolution campaign.[30]

File:EverHopeful-WmChasBryan-1924.jpg
Ever Hopeful
A November 1924 cartoon depicts Bryan with his brother, Charles, sitting on a log marked "Almost the Solid South" looking at the sun marked "1928" where more hope might come for them. Charles was the losing Democratic nominee for vice president in 1924.

The campaign kicked off in October 1921, when the Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia invited Bryan to deliver the James Sprunt Lectures. At its heart was a lecture entitled "The Origin of Man", in which Bryan asked, "what is the role of man in the universe and what is the purpose of man?" For Bryan, the Bible was absolutely central to answering this question, and moral responsibility and the spirit of brotherhood could only rest on belief in God.

The Sprunt lectures were published as In His Image, and sold over 100,000 copies, while "The Origin of Man" was published separately as The Menace of the theory of evolution and also sold very well.[31]

Bryan was worried that the theory of evolution was making grounds not only in the universities, but also within the church itself. Many colleges were still church-affiliated at this point. The developments of 19th century liberal theology, and higher criticism in particular, had left the door open to the point where many clergymen were willing to embrace the theory of evolution and claimed that it was not contradictory with their being Christians. Determined to put an end to this, Bryan, who had long served as a Presbyterian elder, decided to run for the position of Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, which was at the time embroiled in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy (Under Presbyterian church governance, clergy and laymen are equally represented in the General Assembly, and the post of Moderator is open to any member of General Assembly). Bryan's main competition in the race was the Rev. Charles F. Wishart, president of the College of Wooster, who had loudly endorsed the teaching of the theory of evolution in the college. Bryan lost to Wishart by a vote of 451-427. Bryan then failed in a proposal to cut off funds to schools where the theory of evolution was taught. Instead, the General Assembly announced disapproval of materialistic (as opposed to theistic) evolution.

In his efforts to bring some publicity to his cause, Bryan joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1924 and attended the annual meeting.[32] A featured session at the meeting was a debate on biological evolution between Bryan and Edward Loranus Rice, a developmental biologist from the Methodist-associated Ohio Wesleyan University.

According to author Ronald L. Numbers, Bryan was not nearly as much of a fundamentalist as many modern-day creationists, and is more accurately described as a "day-age creationist": "William Jennings Bryan, the much misunderstood leader of the post–World War I antievolution crusade, not only read the Mosaic "days" as geological "ages" but allowed for the possibility of organic evolution—so long as it did not impinge on the supernatural origin of Adam and Eve."[33]

Scopes trial: 1925

File:Scopes trial.jpg
Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan chat in court during the Scopes Trial
Congresswoman Ruth Bryan Owen, Bryan's daughter

Bryan also actively lobbied for state laws banning public schools from teaching evolution. The legislatures of several Southern states proved more receptive to his anti-evolution message than the Presbyterian Church had, and passed laws banning the teaching of evolution in public schools after Bryan addressed them. A prominent example was the Butler Act of 1925, making it unlawful in Tennessee to teach that mankind evolved from lower life forms.[34]

Bryan's participation in the highly publicized 1925 Scopes Trial served as a capstone to his career. He was asked by William Bell Riley to represent the World Christian Fundamentals Association as counsel at the trial. During the trial, Bryan took the stand and was questioned by defense lawyer Clarence Darrow about his views on the Bible. "Asked when the Flood occurred, Bryan consulted Ussher's Bible Concordance, and gave the date as 2348 B.C., or 4273 years ago. Did not Bryan know, asked Darrow, that Chinese civilization had been traced back at least 7000 years?" Bryan conceded that he did not. He was also asked if the records of any other religion contain any mention of a flood at the time he cited? And Bryan replied: "The Christian religion has always been good enough for me - I never found it necessary to study any competing religion." [35]

The national media reported the trial in great detail, with H. L. Mencken using Bryan as a symbol of Southern ignorance (despite his not being from the South) and anti-intellectualism. In a more humorous vein, satirist Richard Armour stated in It All Started With Columbus that Darrow had "made a monkey out of" Bryan due to Bryan's ignorance of the Bible.

After the judge retroactively expunged all of Bryan's answers to Darrow's questions, both sides closed without summation. The jury quickly returned a guilty verdict with the defense's encouragement, and Bryan won the case. However, the state supreme court reversed the verdict on a technicality and Scopes went free.

Biologist Stephen Jay Gould has speculated that Bryan's anti-evolution views were a result of his Populist idealism and suggests that Bryan's fight was really against eugenics. However, the biographers, especially Michael Kazin, reject that conclusion, based on Bryan's failure during the trial or at any other time to attack eugenics; Kazin notes that there is a section on eugenics in Civic Biology, which was the biology textbook Scopes was in trouble for using.[36]

Death

After the trial, Bryan continued to edit and deliver speeches, traveling hundreds of miles in the next few days. On Sunday, July 26, 1925, he returned from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Dayton, where he attended a church service, ate a meal, and died in his sleep that afternoon (the result of diabetes and fatigue) — just five days after the Scopes trial had ended. School Superintendent Walter White proposed that Dayton should create a Christian college as a lasting memorial to Bryan; fund raising was successful and Bryan College opened in 1930.

Bryan is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His tombstone reads "He kept the Faith." He was survived by, among others, a daughter, Congresswoman Ruth Bryan Owen, and her four children: son John Bryan Leavitt and daughter Ruth Leavitt, (by her first husband, Newport, Rhode Island artist William Homer Leavitt), and two children by her second husband, British Royal Engineers officer Reginald A. Owen.[37]

John Bryan Leavitt had been adopted by his grandfather, William Jennings Bryan, after his parents divorced. He dropped 'Leavitt', shortening his name to simply John Bryan. He became an actor. [38]

Popular image

Inherit the Wind, a 1955 play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, is a highly fictionalized account of the Scopes Trial written in response to McCarthyism. A populist thrice-defeated Presidential candidate from Nebraska named Matthew Harrison Brady comes to a small town named Hillsboro in the Deep South to help prosecute a young teacher for teaching evolution to his schoolchildren. He is opposed by a famous trial lawyer, Henry Drummond, and chastised by a cynical newspaperman as the trial assumes a national profile.

Bryan also appears as a character in Douglas Moore's 1956 opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe and is briefly mentioned in John Steinbeck's East of Eden. In addition, he is a (very) minor character in Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel. His death is referred to in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. In Robert A. Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice, Bryan's unsuccessful or successful runs for the presidency are seen as the "splitting off" events of the alternate histories through which the protagonists travel.

He also has a biographical part in The 42nd Parallel in Dos Passos' USA Trilogy. [39]

In political cartoons

The sheer volume of political propaganda cartoons featuring Bryan is a testament to the amusement and fear he caused among conservatives.[citation needed] Bryan campaigned tirelessly, championing the ideas of the farmers and workers, using his skills as a famed orator to ultimately reshape the Democratic Party into a more progressive one. These political cartoons attacked just about every facet of Bryan’s character and policy. They mocked his religious fervor, his campaign slogans, and even his ability to unify parties for a common cause. As Keen puts it, "The art of propaganda is to create a portrait that incarnates the idea of what we wish to destroy so we will react rather than think, and automatically focus our free-floating hostility, indistinct frustrations, and unnamed fears".[40] Bryan embodied these fears of the Republican Party of the time, which is clearly evident in the lengths they went to deface his character in these cartoons.

The most notable cartoons are of Bryan illustrated as a snake, representing Populism, swallowing a donkey, symbolizing the Democratic Party. Another notable Bryan cartoon is one where he is standing atop a Bible, marketing the sales of a "crown of thorns" and a "cross of gold" both referencing "The Cross of Gold" his most popular speech. Other cartoons can analyze overall judgments of Bryan’s continuous failure to win the Presidential Election and Bryan can be seen as some sort of puppet or smaller figure in comparison to other presidential elect opponents.

Nicknames

Bryan had an unusually high number of nicknames given to him in his lifetime; most of these were given by his loyal admirers in the Democratic Party. In addition to his best-known nickname, "The Great Commoner", he was also called "The Silver Knight of the West" (due to his support of the free silver issue) and the "Boy Orator of the Platte" (a reference to his oratorical skills and his home near the Platte River in Nebraska). A derisive nickname given by journalist H.L. Mencken, a prominent Bryan critic, was "The Fundamentalist Pope", a reference to Bryan's devout religious views. He is called "Adam-and-Eve" Bryan in "O Russet Witch!, Tales of the Jazz Age" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Legacy

Statue of Bryan on the lawn of the Rhea County, Tennessee courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee.

Michael Kazin considers Bryan the first of the 20th century "celebrity politicians", better known for their personalities and communications skills than their political views. Shannon Jones, on a Socialist website, claims that Bryan never took a principled stand against white supremacy in the Southern United States. Alan Wolfe has concluded that Bryan's "legacy remains complicated". Form and content mix uneasily in Bryan's politics. The content of his speeches leads in a direct line to the progressive reforms adopted by 20th century Democrats. But the form his actions took was a romantic invocation of the American past, a populist insistence on the wisdom of ordinary folk, and a faith-based insistence on sincerity and character.[41]

In They Also Ran, Irving Stone criticized Bryan as a person who was egocentric and never admitted wrong. Stone mentioned how Bryan lived a sheltered life and therefore, could not feel the suffering of the common man. He speculated that Bryan merely acted as a champion of common men in order to get their votes. Stone mentioned that none of Bryan's ideas were original and that he did not have the brains to be an effective president. Stone personally believed Bryan to be one of the nation's worst Secretaries of State. He also feared that Bryan would have supported many radical religious blue laws. Stone felt that Bryan had one of the most undisciplined minds of the 19th century and that McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft all made better presidents.

A number of prominent personalities, however, have also defended Bryan and his legacy. In 1962, the journalist Merle Miller interviewed former President Harry Truman. When asked about Bryan, Truman replied that he [Bryan] "was a great one—one of the greatest". Truman also claimed that, in his opinion, "if it wasn't for old Bill Bryan there wouldn't be any liberalism at all in the country now. Bryan kept liberalism alive, he kept it going." In 1900, Truman, then aged 16, had served as a page to the Democratic National Convention in Kansas City. There he had heard Bryan give a speech to the convention's delegates and was deeply impressed. In his biography of Truman, the historian David McCullough wrote that in 1900 Truman and his father "declared themselves thorough 'Bryan men'... Bryan remained an idol for Harry, as the voice of the common man". Tom L. Johnson, the famed progressive mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, referred to Bryan's campaign in 1896 as "the first great struggle of the masses in our country against the privileged classes". In a 1934 speech dedicating a memorial to Bryan, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said "I think that we would choose the word 'sincerity' as fitting him [Bryan] most of all...it was that sincerity that served him so well in his life-long fight against sham and privilege and wrong. It was that sincerity which made him a force for good in his own generation and kept alive many of the ancient faiths on which we are building today. We...can well agree that he fought the good fight; that he finished the course; and that he kept the faith."

Bryan was one of the best known speakers of his time, and he became a fixture of the Democratic party and a hero to the common man. Starting with his Cross of Gold speech, Bryan brought the populist party into the Democratic, and with his common man message he would inevitably draw the African-American and feminist vote into the party. Bryan became the bridge that brought different factions into the party, and paved the way for liberal democrats like Franklin D. Roosevelt with his New Deal legislation. As noted by Bryan's biographer Michael Kazin,

“Bryan was the first leader of a major party to argue for permanently expanding the power of the federal government to serve the welfare of ordinary Americans from the working and middle classes....he did more than any other man-between the fall of Grover Cleveland and the election of Woodrow Wilson-to transform his party from a bulwark of laissez-faire to the citadel of liberalism we identify with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his ideological descendants.”[42]

Honors

Bryan County, Oklahoma is named after him.[43] Bryan Memorial Hospital (now BryanLGH Medical Center) of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Bryan College located in Dayton, Tennessee, are also named for William Jennings Bryan. The William Jennings Bryan House in Nebraska was named a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1963. A $4,000 scholarship for Creighton University students participating in Speech and Debate at the university is named after William Jennings Bryan. The Bryan Home Museum is a by-appointment only museum at his birthplace in Salem, Illinois. Salem is also home to Bryan Park and a large statue of Bryan. Omaha Bryan High School and Bryan Middle School in Bellevue, Nebraska are named for him. He is also honored by having an elementary school in Mission, Texas named after him, Bryan Elementary School on a street named after him, Bryan Street.

Bryan was named to the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1971. A bust of him was dedicated as part of the Hall of Fame in 1974 which currently resides, like other members of the hall of fame, in the Nebraska State Capitol.[44]

He has been honored by the United States Postal Service with a $2 Great Americans series postage stamp.

See also

References

  1. ^ William Jennings Bryan Nebraska State Historical Society
  2. ^ Jeffrey P. Moran, The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents (2002)
  3. ^ Paulo E. Colletta, William Jennings Bryan: Volume I, Political Evangelist, 1860-1908, p. 21.
  4. ^ Paulo E. Colletta, William Jennings Bryan: Volume I, Political Evangelist, 1860-1908, p. 30.
  5. ^ B.W. Folsom, No More Free Markets Or Free Beer: The Progressive Era in Nebraska, 1900–1924 (1999), pp. 57-59.
  6. ^ Paulo E. Colletta, William Jennings Bryan: Volume I, Political Evangelist, 1860-1908., p. 48.
  7. ^ Woods, Thomas (2004-08-02) The Progressive Peacenik Myth, The American Conservative
  8. ^ John G. Geer and Thomas R. Rochon, "William Jennings Bryan on the Yellow Brick Road," The Journal of American Culture Volume 16 Issue 4, (June 2004) Pages 59 - 63
  9. ^ Hibben, Peerless Leader, 220
  10. ^ Coletta 1:272
  11. ^ The Commoner. Lincoln, Nebraska: William J. Bryan http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/46032385/. Retrieved 26 December 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Paxton Hibben, The Peerless Leader, William Jennings Bryan (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, incorporated, 1929), 266.
  13. ^ Paxton Hibben, The Peerless Leader, William Jennings Bryan (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, incorporated, 1929), 279.
  14. ^ usaelectionatlas.org election 1908
  15. ^ Coletta, William Jennings Bryan vol 2 p. 2
  16. ^ See The Commoner Condensed Volume 3 (1901) for full text of annual compilation
  17. ^ Steven L. Piott, Giving voters a voice: the origins of the initiative and referendum in America (2003) pp 126-32
  18. ^ Coletta 3:116
  19. ^ City of Miami Historic Preservation Serena
  20. ^ City of Miami Historic Preservation Church
  21. ^ George, Paul S. "Brokers, Binders & Builders: Greater Miami's Boom of the Mid-1920s." Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 59, no. 4. 1981. pp. 440-463.
  22. ^ Coletta William Jennings Bryan vol 2 p. 8
  23. ^ Coletta, William Jennings Bryan 3:162, 177, 184; Kazin
  24. ^ Historical documents
  25. ^ Coletta, William Jennings Bryan vol 3 ch 8
  26. ^ Coletta, William Jennings Bryan vol 3 p. 200
  27. ^ Bryan was especially influenced by pp 22-31 of Kellogg's book, which is online
  28. ^ Bryan, Memoirs 552-53
  29. ^ Bradley J. Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and Moderates (1991) p 68
  30. ^ Coletta 3:200
  31. ^ Bryan, In His Image (1922) full text online
  32. ^ "Gilbert, J. (1997). William Jennings Bryan, Scientist". pp. 22-35 In: Redeeming Culture:American Religion in An Age of Science. University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  33. ^ The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, expanded edition, Ronald L. Numbers, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 2006, p. 13 ISBN 0-674-02339-0
  34. ^ "It shall be unlawful..." to teach "...any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." Section 1 of House Bill No. 185
  35. ^ Paul Y. Anderson, "Sad Death of a Hero," American Mercury, v. 37, no. 147 (March 1936) 293-301.
  36. ^ Kazin p.289. In a speech that Bryan was working on when he died there is one sentence that says "scientific breeding" is impossible. The speech did not use the word "eugenics" and the term does not appear in his writings. Bryan, Memoirs p. 548.
  37. ^ Bryan and Grandson Hunt, The New York Times, Nov. 23, 1913
  38. ^ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,740782,00.html?iid=chix-sphere
  39. ^ Dos Passos, John (1896-1970). U.S.A. Daniel Aaron & Townsend Ludington, eds. New York: Library of America, 1996.
  40. ^ Keen (1986), p, 26
  41. ^ Quotations of William Jennings Bryan
  42. ^ Progressivism by Walter Nugent
  43. ^ Oklahoma Historical Society. "Origin of County Names in Oklahoma", Chronicles of Oklahoma 2:1 (March 1924) 75-82 (retrieved August 18, 2006).
  44. ^ Nebraska Hall of Fame

Bibliography

Biographies

  • Cherny, Robert W. A Righteous Cause: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (1994).
  • Coletta; Paolo E. William Jennings Bryan 3 vols. (1964), the most detailed biography. online vol 1; online vol 2; online vol 3
  • Glad, Paul W. The Trumpet Soundeth: William Jennings Bryan and His Democracy 1896–1912 (1966).
  • Hibben; Paxton. The Peerless Leader, William Jennings Bryan (1929).
  • Kazin, Michael. A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan (2006).
  • Koenig, Louis W. Bryan: A Political Biography of William Jennings Bryan (1971).
  • Leinwand, Gerald. William Jennings Bryan: An Uncertain Trumpet (Lanham (MD), Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).
  • Levine, Lawrence W. Defender of the Faith: William Jennings Bryan, The Last Decade, 1915–1925 (1965).
  • Werner; M. R. Bryan (1929).

Specialized studies

  • Barnes, James A. (1947). "Myths of the Bryan Campaign". Mississippi Valley Historical Review. Organization of American Historians. 34 (3): 367–404. doi:10.2307/1898096. JSTOR 1898096.  on 1896
  • Bensel, Richard Franklin. Passion and Preferences: William Jennings Bryan and the 1896 Democratic Convention (2008)
  • Cherny, Robert W. (1996). "William Jennings Bryan and the Historians". Nebraska History. 77 (3–4): 184–193. ISSN 0028-1859.  Analysis of the historiography.
  • Edwards, Mark (2000). "Rethinking the Failure of Fundamentalist Political Antievolutionism after 1925". Fides et Historia. 32 (2): 89–106. ISSN 0884-5379. PMID 17120377.  Argues that fundamentalists thought they had won Scopes trial but death of Bryan shook their confidence.
  • Glad, Paul W. (1964). McKinley, Bryan and the People. Philadelphia: Lippincott. 
  • Hohenstein, Kurt (2000). "William Jennings Bryan and the Income Tax: Economic Statism and Judicial Usurpation in the Election of 1896". Journal of Law & Politics. 16 (1): 163–192. ISSN 0749-2227. 
  • Jeansonne, Glen (1988). "Goldbugs, Silverites, and Satirists: Caricature and Humor in the Presidential Election of 1896". Journal of American Culture. 11 (2): 1–8. doi:10.1111/j.1542-734X.1988.1102_1.x. ISSN 0191-1813. 
  • Taylor, Michael (2008). "The Bicycle Boom and the Bicycle Bloc: Cycling and Politics in the 1890s". Indiana Magazine of History. 104 (3): 213–240. 
  • Larson, Edward (1997). Summer for the Gods: The Scopes trial and America's continuing debate over science and religion. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-07509-6. 
  • Longfield, Bradley J. (2000). "For Church and Country: the Fundamentalist-modernist Conflict in the Presbyterian Church". Journal of Presbyterian History. 78 (1): 34–50. ISSN 0022-3883.  Puts Scopes in larger religious context.
  • Mahan, Russell L. (2003). "William Jennings Bryan and the Presidential Campaign of 1896". White House Studies. 3 (2): 215–227. ISSN 1535-4768. 
  • Murphy, Troy A. (2002). "William Jennings Bryan: Boy Orator, Broken Man, and the 'Evolution' of America's Public Philosophy". Great Plains Quarterly. 22 (2): 83–98. ISSN 0275-7664. 
  • Smith, Willard H. (1966). "William Jennings Bryan and the Social Gospel". Journal of American History. Organization of American Historians. 53 (1): 41–60. doi:10.2307/1893929. JSTOR 1893929. 
  • Taylor, Jeff (2006). Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy. Columbia: University of Missouri Press. ISBN 0-8262-1659-5.  On Bryan's place in Democratic Party history and ideology.
  • Wood, L. Maren (2002). "The Monkey Trial Myth: Popular Culture Representations of the Scopes Trial". Canadian Review of American Studies. 32 (2): 147–164. doi:10.3138/CRAS-s032-02-01. ISSN 0007-7720. 

Primary sources

  • Bryan, William Jennings. William Jennings Bryan: selections ed. by Ray Ginger (1967) 259 pages
  • Bryan, William Jennings. The first battle: a story of the campaign of 1896 (1897), 693pp; campaign speeches online edition
  • The Commoner Condensed, annual compilation of The Commoner magazine; full text online for 1901, 1902, 1903, 1907, 1907, 1908
  • Bryan, William Jennings. The old world and its ways (1907) 560 pages full text online
  • Bryan, William Jennings. Speeches of William Jennings Bryan edited by Mary Baird Bryan (1909) full text online
  • Bryan, William Jennings. In His image (1922) 226pp full text online
  • Bryan, William Jennings. The Memoirs: of William Jennings Bryan, by himself and his wife (1925) 560pp; online edition
  • Bryan, William Jennings. British Rule in India (1906) Online Edition

External links

Political offices

Template:U.S. Secretary box

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William James Connell
Member from Nebraska's 1st congressional district
March 4, 1891 – March 3, 1895
Succeeded by
Jesse Burr Strode
Party political offices
Preceded by
James Baird Weaver
Populist presidential nominee
1896
Succeeded by
Wharton Barker
Preceded by
Grover Cleveland
Democratic presidential nominee
1896, 1900
Succeeded by
Alton B. Parker
Preceded by
Alton B. Parker
Democratic presidential nominee
1908
Succeeded by
Woodrow Wilson

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