William Jennings Bryan, 1896
Bryan's oratorical gifts easily won him the Democratic nomination over rival Richard, "Silver Dick," Bland. 1 Again, the most pressing issue was whether America should stay on the Gold Standard. Really. People got het up about that in those days. Republican candidate William McKinley was for the Gold Standard, and Democrat Bryan was against it. What was at stake was how much currency would be in circulation. Bimetalism meant more currency - ie, easier access to dough - which would benefit farmers. Sticking to gold meant lower inflation and a sounder dollar which was good for the Big-Money Interests. In this go-round, the Big Money Interests won out. Thank goodness. Bryan had grown up Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian, so he'd swallowed three times the recommended dosage of religion. Historians agree Bryan was an upright, deeply moral man of profound ethical convictions, which is the sort of thing that's bound to get you in trouble sooner or later. He swore he would not allow America to be "crucified on a cross of gold." As far as I know, we never were, so he ultimately won that go-round even though he didn't win the election.
William McKinley: 271
William Jennings Bryan: 176
1. He got his nickname because of his support for silver coinage, at least I hope that was the reason.