Document Analysis: “Cross of Gold”
In 1896, three years after the “Panic of 1893”, a man by the name of William Jennings Bryan delivered one of the most historical speeches to this day. In the late 1800’s a populist movement was happening and people were starting to take notice. Political corruption and big business practices hurt not only laborers, but also farmers. When farmers organized into alliances, and eventually into the Populist Party, they posed a challenge to the reigning two-party system. During the 1896 elections the Populist Party had begun to grow and gain momentum, they had put a senator in office and taken over the Kansas state Legislature. The election of 1896 was known as the “battle of the standards” because it focused primarily on the gold versus silver standards of money. People wanted quick solutions to the economic crisis and the support of free silver coinage began to rise in 1894. During the Democratic Convention William Jennings Bryan delivered the “Cross of Gold” speech. This speech is considered one to the most well known political speeches. This speech when reviewed with the historical context and Bryan’s political point of view creates a great description of what our nation was going through in the early to mid 1890’s and the importance and significance of the 1986 presidential election.
In 1894, 20 Democratic state platforms called for a free coinage of silver despite President Cleveland’s opposition. Power from the party shifted to the south and its outlook reflected the views of southerners and Democrats became a sectional party, no longer a national party. As a result this left the Democrats without a leader and this is where Bryan got involved. The republicans had defeated their silver platform and wanted the gold standard. Bryan wanted to lead the silver Democrats and felt that he could. He delivered the “Cross of Gold” speech and won the presidential nomination the next day.
This speech is supposed to gain the...
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