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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Presidential Losers #26: William Jennings Bryant

William grew up Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist, meaning he had swallowed three times the recommended dosage organized religion, and he was never quite right in the head afterwards.  Known as "the Great Commoner" (which is a little like calling someone the Insignificant Monarch) William's oratorical gifts easily won him the Democratic nomination over rival Richard, "Silver Dick," Bland. 

William stirred the party faithful with his dramatic "Cross of Gold" convention speech, urging that the US dollar be backed by both gold and silver.  In doing so, he touched on the hot-button issue of 1896.  Soon the streets were filled with lusty chants of "bimetallism would only depreciate the currency if an inequitable ratio were determined, and this is a gratuitous assumption," from supporters and jeers of "bimetallism effectively freezes the ratio of prices of the two metals without regard to the demand and supply conditions," from opponents.

People really got het up over this topic.  In St Augustine, during a discussion of monetary policy, James Allen drew a knife and stabbed his companion, Joe Weldman, and Joe retaliated by drawing a pistol and shooting.  Both men died.

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.


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.

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