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FROM NEBRASKA TO THE SEA.
N Friday, August the 8th, at 2 o'clock p. m., we boarded the Rock Island train and began the journey to New York. Besides the newspaper correspondents our party consisted of Mrs. Bryan and myself. The crowd had gathered at the depot, and in response to calls for a speech, I said:
The Enemy's Country.
In ordinary times I would have desired to have the notification take place at my home. But this is not an ordinary campaign, and, feeling that the principles in which we are interested should rise above any personal preferences which we may have, I expressed the desire to be notified in New York, in order that our cause might be presented first in the heart of what now seems to be the enemy's country, but which we hope to be our country before this campaign is over. I appreciate the kindness which you, our neighbors, have shown in gathering here to bid us good bye. All that I can promise you is that, whether what I do meets with your approval or not, I shall do my duty as I see it, and accept all consequences which may follow.
The phrase "the enemy's country" was picked out for criticism by our opponents, and often used in a sense entirely different from the one intended by me.
At Omaha a number of friends had assembled and a still larger number at Council Bluffs. Our train stopped at nearly all the stations, and at most of them people in greater or less numbers had assembled. I made short speeches at Avoca, Atlantic and Stuart. We reached Des Moines about 9:30 o'clock, and were met at the depot by a reception committee headed by ex-Governor Boies and General James B. Weaver. We drove across the river to the tabernacle, where the principal meeting was held. The hall was so packed with people that we had difficulty in getting to the stage. Mr. Boies presided, and introduced me in a very graceful speech. I referred to the campaigns of '91 and '93, when I visited Iowa and spoke in behalf of Governor Boies. In speaking of his candidacy before the National Convention, I said:
Des Moines Speech.
If in the National Convention which has just closed the choice fell upon me rather than upon him, it was not because of any superior merit on my part, but because of the circumstances which surrounded that convention. I do not take unto myself credit for what was done. I believe that those delegates were as honest and as earnest a body of men as were ever assembled in convention. After reviewing the situation they decided-whether wisely or foolishly, time will tell-that, under all the circumstances, the nomination should fall to me, and I am on my way now to the city of New York to receive the notification.
I did not speak long, and avoided here, as I did generally before the notification meeting, any extended discussion of political questions. An overflow meeting was held just outside of the hall.
We resumed our journey at 7 o'clock the next morning, taking the Rock Island train for Chicago. This was a slow train, and stopped at all the stations. I made short speeches at a large number of places that day. The first stop was at Colfax, the home of General James B. Weaver. Here I took occasion to express my appreciation of his pioneer work. At the next town, Newton, I spoke of one of the laws of finance called to mind by the name of the town. I said:
Some of the laws of finance-I may say all the great laws of finance-are as certain in their operation and as irresistible in their force as the law of gravitation. If you throw a stone into the air you know that it will come down. Why? Because it is drawn toward the center of the earth. The law upon which we base our fight is as sure as the law of gravitation. If we have a gold standard, prices are as certain to fall as the stone which is thrown into the air.
Short stops were made, among other places, Grinnell, Iowa City, West Liberty and Moscow. Before we reached Davenport we received a committee representing the Democrats of that city, and when we arrived there found a very enthusiastic crowd of silverites. Knowing that Davenport was considered one of the strongholds of the gold Democrats, I was both surprised and pleased to find so much. interest manifested.
During the run through Iowa a little incident occurred which illustrates the brevity of some of our stops. As we approached one of the smaller stations, an enthusiastic supporter announced that we were coming to his town and that he would introduce me to the crowd. When the train came to a stop, he took his place upon the rear platform and said in substance: "Ladies and Gentlemen: This is the proudest moment of my life. It gives me pleasure to introduce to
you (the train then began to move, and as he jumped off of the car he concluded) the next President of the United States, William Jennings Bryan." By this time the train had gone so far that I could only bow my acknowledgments and retire.
I might suggest here that introductions were sometimes so eulogistic as to be embarrassing. Every candidate receives the title, "the -," and I soon became accustomed to that form of introduction. But sometimes the zeal of the presiding officer led him into such extravagant flattery that I felt tempted to tell of a form of introduction which was once employed at an Illinois meeting. As this meeting brought out several amusing incidents vhich will be enjoyed by any one who has had experience in public speaking, I will describe it. In the month of October, 1884, the Democratic committee made an appointment for me to address the people at Buckhorn schoolhouse, which is situated some six miles. to the southwest of Jacksonville. Mr. M. F. Dunlap, a Democratic co-worker, accompanied me, and, as neither of us knew the road, we inquired the way from time to time. When nearly there, a gentleman rode by and we asked about the road. He at first informed us that we ought to have turned off a half mile back, but later assured us that we were on the right road, explaining that when he gave the first answer he was under the impression that we were going out to disturb the meeting. On arriving at the schoolhouse one of the crowd was quite urgent in an invitation to partake of the contents of a bottle of hip-pocket size. When the offer had been declined. repeatedly, the gentleman expressed the friendly hope that I would. speak as well as I could anyhow, emphasizing the "anyhow" in a way that indicated that he could not expect much under the circumstances. Before the meeting was called to order, one of the audience cautioned me against talking too long, and remarked that only a few nights before a speaker had nearly worn them out, while another encouraged me with the advice: "Hit 'em hard, there isn't a Republican here."
The chairman of the meeting asked me to suggest a proper form of introduction, and, being anxious to secure whatever professional advertisement the meeting might give, I replied that he might say: "Mr. W. J. Bryan, an attorney at law, of Jacksonville, will now address you." His enthusiasm, together with his embarrassment, led to an abbreviated introduction which, when concluded, sounded about like this: "Mr. O'Brien will now spake."
I have often referred to this introduction as the best one I ever received, because, instead of raising the expectations of the audience he simply threw me upon the mercy of my hearers and left me to hoe my own row. This meeting has been fixed in my mind by the additional fact that, when I removed to Nebraska, my first fee was received from a man with whom I became acquainted at the Buckhorn meeting, and who located in Nebraska just before I did.
But to return to the journey.
Crossing the Mississippi we entered Illinois at Rock Island, and there found another large crowd assembled, as there was also at Moline. We made short stops at Geneseo, Anawan, and Sheffield. At Bureau I received the following note from the brother of the great American poet, William Cullen Bryant: "Princeton, Illinois, August 8, 1896.-Eighty-nine to thirty-six-The people's man. John Howard Bryant."
We found crowds gathered at Spring Valley and Peru. At the last named place, finding that I could not shake hands with all, I employed a plan of which I learned a number of years ago. I asked them to hold up their hands, and then we shook at long range, they shaking their hands and I mine.
The train also stopped at Ottawa, Morris and Joliet. There was a large gathering at the last named place, and here we met the Chicago reception committee of more than a hundred. When we reached Chicago we found an enormous number waiting at the depot. A procession headed by the police and made up of the reception committee, band, Cook County Democratic Club, Cook County Central Committee, labor organizations, Cook County Silver Club, the Chicago University Bryan Club and the Democratic ward clubs, led the way by a roundabout route to the Clifton. Great enthusiasm was exhibited all along the line of march. The crowd assembled in front of the hotel filled the streets half a block each way, and was so large that I found it difficult to make all of them hear. Judge W. J. Strong, until recently a Republican, delivered an address of greeting, and I responded in a brief speech, a part of which I quote:
Chicago Speech-First Reception.
When I see this assemblage tonight and then remember what the newspapers of this city say, I am reminded of an expression recently made by one of our friends: "There is nobody on our side but the people." And as I look into the faces of these people and remember that our enemies call them a mob, and say they are a menace to free government, I ask: Who shall save the people from themselves? I am proud to have in this campaign the support
of those who call themselves the common people. If I had behind me the great trusts and combinations, I know that I would no sooner take my seat than they would demand that I use my power to rob the people in their behalf. But having rather the support of the great toiling masses, I know that when they give me their ballots they unite in saying, "Do your duty and we will be repaid." These are the people who ask no favors of government; these are the people who simply ask for equality before the law; they demand equal rights to all and special privileges to none. I am glad to have the support of these people, because I know that when the nation is in peril every able-bodied man among them is willing to shoulder his musket to save his country; and I believe that those who are good enough to offer their blood upon the altar of their country in time of danger are good enough to trust in the hour of peace and quiet.
Mrs. Bryan and I attended the First Presbyterian church at Englewood and heard Rev. John Clark Hill, who had been called to the pulpit in our home church. We rested in the afternoon, and just before midnight took the train for Pittsburg. Night is supposed to be a season of rest, but I found during the campaign that the rule could not always be observed. That night was my first introduction to midnight campaigning. At Valparaiso, Indiana, we found a thousand or more, many of them students. I spoke to them for a moment. At 4:45 I was again up-this time to greet a small crowd at Columbia City. It was half past five when we reached Fort Wayne, and there a considerable number had assembled.
At Delphos, Ohio, the depot platform gave way, causing considerable fright, but no injury. This was the first experience with falling platforms, but during the campaign there were five or six other accidents of this kind.
At Lima a large crowd had assembled, and I saw some with whose faces I had become familiar when I spoke there during the summer of 1895.
At Ada I met a number of the students whom I had addressed about a year before upon invitation of Prof. Lehr, of the Normal College at that place.
At Bucyrus I was introduced by ex-Congressman Findley, who has for many years been identified with the silver cause; he was a delegate to the last Democratic National Convention.
There was a considerable crowd at Mansfield, Senator Sherman's home. At Crestline we found a very enthusiastic audience assembled, and here became the victim of the snap shot. The kodak of every size and make presented itself in all parts of the country, but this one found Mrs. Bryan with her hat pushed to one side, and just in the act of shaking hands with an enthusiastic silverite.