Analytical Essay: The Election Of 1896

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A watershed Election is one that changes history. The candidate has a campaign that decides the course of politics for decades; one that is especially memorable, or that proves to be a dividing line between historical periods. The election of 1896 was just that.
The depression of the 1890s, and President Cleveland’s unwillingness to use federal resources to assist the unemployed, alienated irate farmers and workers from the Democratic Party. During the 1892 and 1894 elections, Democrats suffered large Congressional seat losses while Republicans and Populists each achieved significant gains.
As the presidential election of 1896 drew closer and political leaders worked to define party platforms, currency standards became the hottest issue.
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Bryan’s support of silver over gold angered those who favored only gold, commonly called Goldbugs. But through a series of speeches, primarily in the south and west where farmers and silver miners lived, support for Bryan’s plan grew rapidly.
Many considered the 36-year-old, two-term congressman from Nebraska one of the best speakers of the day. Bryan rose to national prominence when he fought for the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the treasury to purchase 4.5 million ounces of silver each month. The agreement, he claimed, would have a harmful inflationary impact on the economy. Bryan used his exceptional oratory skills to call for the implementation of silver coinage and an end to the big business-backed gold standard.
"We have petitioned and our petitions have been scorned,” Bryan told the audience. “We have entreated and our entreaties have been disregarded. We have begged and they have mocked when our calamity came. We beg no longer. We entreat no more. We petition no more. We defy

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