Page images


Democratic Candidate for President.

[blocks in formation]

The candidacy of Mr. Bryan is indorsed by both Mr. Bland and Mr. Boies.

On June 11 the convention adjourned, after nominating Mr. Arthur Sewall of Maine for vice-president on the fifth ballot. The following were the names formally pre


George Fred Williams of Massachusetts, nominated by Mr. O'Sullivan.

John R. McLean of Ohio, nominated by Mr. Marsden of Louisiana; seconded by Ulrich Sloan.

J. H. Lewis of Washington, nominated by Mr. Maloney. Judge Walter Clark of North Carolina, nominated by J. H. Curry.

George W. Fithian of Illinois, nominated by Tom L. Johnson of Ohio; declined in favor of Mr. Sibley.

Ex-Governor Sylvester Pennoyer of Oregon, nominated by M. M.


Arthur Sewall of Maine, nominated by W. R. Burke of California; seconded by C. S. Thomas of Colorado.

Joseph C. Sibley of Pennsylvania, nominated by J. G. Showalter of Missouri; seconded by F. P. Morris of Illinois.

John W. Daniel of Virginia, nominated by O. W. Powers of Utah; declined to run.

R. P. Bland of Missouri, nominated by Mr. Bailey of Texas.
The balloting resulted as follows:

Vol. 6.-19.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]

After the result of the fourth ballot was announced, the reading of a telegram from Mr. McLean practically withdrawing his name, caused the turning of the tide which gave the victory to Mr. Sewall. The nomination was declared unanimous.

William Jennings Bryan: Biographical Sketch.-The candidate of the democratic party for the presidency of the United States in the campaign of 1896 is the youngest in years, and with the shortest experience in the discharge of public duties, of those who have ever been nominated for that high office. William Jennings Bryan was born March 19, 1860, in Salem, Marion county, Ill. His father, Silas L. Bryan, was a lawyer of good standing for character and abilities, a native of Culpeper county, Va., who, at the age of eighteen, had removed to southern Illinois, the region known as "Egypt," and settled finally at Salem. It was when northern Illinois was little settled, and Chicago was scarcely more than a fort, one of the far western military outposts of the United States. The elder Bryan, who was graduated in law at the McKendree College, Lebanon, Ill., was a good public speaker; served in the state senate eight years (1852–60); was a circuit judge twelve years (1860-72); and was a member of the state constitutional convention of 1870, in which year he was democratic candidate for congress, and was defeated by 240 votes. died in 1880. Young Bryan, the fourth of nine children, was about a year old when South Carolina, opening fire on Fort Sumter, sounded the first note of the great Civil War. His mother died at her home in Salem, Ill., within a month preceding his nomination to the presidency.


The early life of the present candidate was spent on a farm. He studied in the public schools; and, at the age of fifteen, began preparation for college at Whipple Academy, Jacksonville, Ill., whence, after two years, he passed to Illinois College, an institution in the same town, established through the efforts of early settlers from New England. This college has never been large, but has been noted for doing good work with limited funds and facilities. Mr. Bryan studied well, and was graduated with high honors in 1881. He gave much attention to rhetoric and elocution; and in his senior year won the second prize at an oratorical contest at Galesburg between colleges. He was chosen as orator of his class on commencement day. It is

said that he began his career as a political orator as early as his twelfth year, addressing a democratic meeting at Centralia, Ill., to which his father had taken him, and winning great applause.

Two years were then given to studying law in Chicago, on a plan which had the merit of combining the theoretical and the practical, inasmuch as he entered the Union Law College at Chicago, and at the same time the law office of the well-known Judge Lyman Trumbull. After graduation in 1883, he began practice at his college town of Jacksonville, where a year later he was married to Miss Mary E. Baird, daughter of a merchant in Perry, Ill.-a young lady who had been a pupil in a seminary in Jacksonville while he was in college.

In 1887, attracted by the new and larger West, Mr. Bryan removed to Lincoln, Neb., and joined in a law partnership under the firm name Talbot & Bryan. In May of the next year he was sent as delegate to the democratic state convention at Omaha, which met for choosing delegates to the national convention at St. Louis, Mo. Here some friends gave him opportunity for his gift of oratory by calling for a speech from him during one of the dismal intermissions which occur in such assemblies. He delighted his hearers by his fluent and forcible presentation of extreme anti-protectionist views; and on that day, at the age of twenty-eight, laid the foundation of a repute throughout the state for political oratory, which with his effective speaking for J. Sterling Morton in the campaign for congress-brought him the next year the offer, from the leaders of his party, of the nomination for lieutenant-governor of the state of Nebraska. This offer he declined: there was little promise in the democratic prospect in Nebraska that year (1889); no signal was visible of the republican disas ters which were to come in the following year. He was, however, an active helper in the campaign-making speeches in various parts of the state.

In the following year, 1890, Mr. Bryan received a nomination for congress, a nomination which, he says, nobody else wanted. It seemed a hopeless contest, for, though the democrats had carried that district by a majority of 7,000 four years previously, yet two years previously (1888) the republican candidate had defeated J. Sterling Morton by a majority of more than 3,000. Moreover, the Omaha democrats put no faith in that boy from Lincoln," as they termed Bryan. The contributions for the campaign were small. Bryan himself is said to have thought defeat probable, yet worked energetically, making many vigorous speeches. The unexpected reaction on the part of workingmen against the McKinley tariff-which new law the democratic speakers East and West were expounding as a gigantic system of robbery of the poor by the rich manufacturers- suddenly revealed itself in a tidal wave of democratic or of populist success. In Nebraska the republicans had additionally loaded their party with a proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting the liquor traffic; and their congressional candidate was defeated by Mr. Bryan by about 6,700 majority. His entrance into congress (December, 1891) was thus made notable before the country. As his opponent was as favorable as himself to free silver coinage, Mr. Bryan's campaign was fought entirely on the tariff question. He wrote the platform on which he was nominated; and it is noticeable that he placed on the free list the same items which the Wilson bill as it first passed the house declared free-wool, lumber, salt, sugar, iron ore, coal.

In congress Mr. Bryan made his friend William M. Springer of Illinois, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, his chief

« PreviousContinue »