William Jennings Bryan

From New World Encyclopedia

William Jennings Bryan, American politician.
William Jennings Bryan
In office since
November 3, 1896
Assumed office 
March 5, 1913

Political party Democratic
Spouse Mary Baird Bryan
Profession Politician, Lawyer
Religion Presbyterian

William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States in 1896, 1900 and 1908, a lawyer, and the 41st United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. One of the most popular speakers in American history, he was noted for a deep, commanding voice. Bryan was a devout Presbyterian, a supporter of popular democracy, a critic of banks and railroads, a leader of the silverite movement in the 1890s, a leading figure in the Democratic Party, a peace advocate, a prohibitionist, an opponent of Social Darwinism, and one of the most prominent leaders of Populism in late 19th and early 20th century. Because of his faith in the goodness and rightness of the common people, he was called "The Great Commoner." In the intensely fought 1896 election and 1900 election, he was defeated by William McKinley but retained control of the Democratic Party. For presidential candidates, Bryan invented the national stumping tour. In his three presidential bids, he promoted Free Silver in 1896, anti-imperialism in 1900, and trust-busting in 1908, calling on Democrats, in cases where corporations are protected, to renounce states rights to fight the trusts and big banks, and embrace populist ideas. President Woodrow Wilson appointed him Secretary of State in 1913, but Wilson's handling of the Lusitania crisis in 1915 caused Bryan to resign in protest. He was a strong supporter of Prohibition in the 1920s.

Bryan is probably best known for his crusade against Darwinism, which culminated in the Scopes Trial in 1925. Like many, he believed in progress prior to World War I but the war served to disillusion him about the possibility of moral progress. He concluded that Darwinism had helped to undermine morality. Five days after the case was decided, he died in his sleep.[1]

Background and early career: 1860–1896

The son of Silas and Mary Ann Bryan, Bryan was born in the Little Egypt region of southern Illinois on March 19, 1860.

Bryan's mother was a Methodist born of English heritage[2]. Mary Bryan joined the Salem Baptists in 1872, so Bryan attended Methodist services on Sunday morning, and in the afternoon, Baptist services. At this point, William began spending his Sunday afternoons at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. At age 14 in 1874, Bryan attended a revival, was baptized, and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In later life, Bryan said the day of his baptism was the most important day in his life, but, at the time it caused little change in his daily routine. In favor of the larger Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Bryan left the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

His father Silas Bryan, was born of Protestant-Irish and English stock in Virginia. (Asked when his family "dropped the 'O'" from his surname he responded there never had been an "O".)[3] As a Jacksonian Democrat, Silas won election to the Illinois State Senate, where he worked among Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. The year of William Jennings Bryan's birth, Silas lost his seat but shortly won election to be a state circuit judge.

The family moved to a 520-acre (2.1 km²) farm north of Salem in 1866, living in a ten-room house that was the envy of Marion County.

William Jennings Bryan as a younger man.

Until age ten, Bryan was home schooled, finding in the Bible and McGuffey Readers the views that gambling and liquor are evil and sinful. To attend Whipple Academy, the academy attached to Illinois College, 14-year-old Bryan was sent to Jacksonville in 1874.

Following high school, he entered Illinois College and studied classics, graduating as valedictorian in 1881. During his time at Illinois College, Bryan was a member of the Sigma Pi literary society. To study law at Union Law College, he moved to Chicago. While preparing for the bar exam, he taught high school. While teaching, he eventually married pupil Mary Elizabeth Baird in 1884. They settled in Salem, Illinois, a young town with a population of two thousand.

Mary became a lawyer and collaborated with him on all his speeches and writings. He practiced law in Jacksonville (1883–1887), then moved to the boom city of Lincoln, Nebraska.

In the Democratic landslide of 1890, Bryan was elected to Congress and reelected by 140 votes in 1892. He ran for the Senate in 1894, but was overwhelmed in the Republican landslide.

In Bryan's first years in Lincoln, he traveled to Valentine, Nebraska on business where he met an aspiring young cattleman named James Dahlman. Over the next 40 years they remained friends, with Dahlman carrying Nebraska for Bryan twice while he was state Democratic Party chairman. Even when Dahlman became closely associated with Omaha's vice elements, including the breweries, as the city's eight-term mayor, he and Bryan maintained a collegial relationship.[4]

First campaign for the White House: 1896

At the 1896 Democratic National Convention, Bryan delivered a famous speech lambasting Eastern monied classes for supporting the gold standard at the expense of the average worker. The speech is known as the "Cross of Gold" speech.

Over the Bourbon Democrats who long controlled the party and supported incumbent conservative President Grover Cleveland, the party's agrarian and silver factions voted for Bryan, giving him the nomination of the Democratic Party. At age 36, Bryan was the youngest presidential nominee ever.

In addition, Bryan formally received the nominations of the Populist Party and the Silver Republican Party. Without crossing party lines, voters from any party could vote for him. The Populists nominated him only once (in 1896); they refused to do so in previous and later elections mostly due to an incident that occurred during the 1896 election.

Along with nominating Bryan for president, for the vice presidency, the Populists nominated Georgia Representative Thomas E. Watson in hope Bryan would choose Watson to be his Democratic running mate. However, Bryan chose Maine industrialist and politician Arthur Sewall. The Populist Party was greatly disappointed and thereafter paid little attention to him.

General Election

Bryan/Sewall campaign poster.

On a program of prosperity through industrial growth, high tariffs and sound money (that is, gold), the Republicans nominated William McKinley. Republicans ridiculed Bryan as a Populist. However, "Bryan's reform program was so similar to that of the Populists that he has often been mistaken for a Populist, but he remained a staunch Democrat throughout the Populist period."[5]

Bryan demanded Bimetallism and "Free Silver" at a ratio of 16:1. Most leading Democratic newspapers rejected his candidacy.

Bryan as Populist swallowing the Democratic Party; 1896 cartoon from the Republican magazine Judge.

Republicans discovered, by August, Bryan was solidly ahead in the South and West, but far behind in the Northeast. He appeared to be ahead in the Midwest, so the Republicans concentrated their efforts there. They said Bryan was a madman—a religious fanatic surrounded by anarchists—who would wreck the economy. By late September, the Republicans felt they were ahead in the decisive Midwest and began emphasizing that McKinley would bring prosperity to all Americans. McKinley scored solid gains among the middle classes, factory and railroad workers, prosperous farmers and among the German Americans who rejected free silver. Bryan gave 500 speeches in 27 states. William McKinley won by a margin of 271 to 176 in the electoral college.

War and peace: 1898–1900

Conservatives in 1900 ridiculed Bryan's eclectic platform.

Bryan volunteered for combat in the Spanish-American War in 1898, arguing, "Universal peace cannot come until justice is enthroned throughout the world. Until the right has triumphed in every land and love reigns in every heart, government must, as a last resort, appeal to force." Bryan became colonel of a Nebraska militia regiment; he spent the war in Florida and never saw combat. After the war, Bryan opposed the annexation of the Philippines (though he did support the Treaty of Paris that ended the war).

Presidential Election of 1900

He ran as an anti-imperialist, finding himself in alliance with Andrew Carnegie and other millionaires. Republicans mocked Bryan as indecisive, or a coward; Henry Littlefield argued that the portrayal of the Cowardly Lion in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published that year, reflected this.

Bryan combined anti-imperialism with free silver, saying:

The nation is of age and it can do what it pleases; it can spurn the traditions of the past; it can repudiate the principles upon which the nation rests; it can employ force instead of reason; it can substitute might for right; it can conquer weaker people; it can exploit their lands, appropriate their property and kill their people; but it cannot repeal the moral law or escape the punishment decreed for the violation of human rights.[6]

In a typical day he gave four hour-long speeches and shorter talks that added up to six hours of speaking. At an average rate of 175 words a minute, he turned out 63,000 words, enough to fill 52 columns of a newspaper. (No paper printed more than a column or two.) In Wisconsin, he once made 12 speeches in 15 hours.[7]. He held his base in the South, but lost part of the West as McKinley retained the Northeast and Midwest and rolled up a landslide.

On the Chautauqua circuit: 1900–1912

Bryan giving a speech during his 1908 run for the presidency.

Following his presidential bid, the forty year-old Bryan said he was letting politics obscure his calling as a Christian.

For the next 25 years, Bryan was the most popular Chautauqua (an adult education movement) speaker, delivering thousands of speeches, even while serving as Secretary of State. He mostly spoke about religion but covered a wide variety of topics. His most popular lecture (and his personal favorite) was a lecture entitled "The Prince of Peace": in it, Bryan stressed religion was the solid foundation of morality, and individual and group morality was the foundation for peace and equality. Another famous lecture from this period, "The Value of an Ideal," was a stirring call to public service.

In 1905 speech, Bryan warned: "The Darwinian theory represents man reaching his present perfection by the operation of the law of hate—the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak. If this is the law of our development then, if there is any logic that can bind the human mind, we shall turn backward to the beast in proportion as we substitute the law of love. I choose to believe that love rather than hatred is the law of development."

William Jennings Bryan addresses a crowd from a train in Utica, New York, October 21, 1908.

Bryan threw himself into the work of the Social Gospel. Bryan served on organizations containing a large number of theological liberals: he sat on the temperance committee of the Federal Council of Churches and on the general committee of the short-lived Interchurch World Movement.

Bryan founded a weekly magazine, The Commoner, calling on Democrats to dissolve the trusts, regulate the railroads more tightly and support the Progressive Movement. He regarded prohibition as a "local" issue and did not endorse it until 1910. In London in 1906, he presented a plan to the Inter-Parliamentary Peace Conference for arbitration of disputes that he hoped would avert warfare. He tentatively called for nationalization of the railroads, then backtracked and called only for more regulation. His party nominated gold bug Alton B. Parker in 1904, but Bryan was back in 1908, losing this time to William Howard Taft.

Secretary of State: 1913–1915

For supporting Woodrow Wilson for the presidency in 1912, he was appointed Secretary of State. However, Wilson only nominally consulted Bryan and made all major foreign policy decisions. Bryan negotiated 28 treaties that promised arbitration of disputes before war broke out between countries and the United States; agreements which Germany never signed. In the civil war in Mexico in 1914, he supported American military intervention.

Bryan resigned in June 1915 over Wilson's strong notes demanding "strict accountability for any infringement of [American] rights, intentional or incidental." He campaigned for Wilson's reelection in 1916. When war was declared in April 1917, Bryan wrote Wilson, "Believing it to be the duty of the citizen to bear his part of the burden of war and his share of the peril, I hereby tender my services to the Government. Please enroll me as a private whenever I am needed and assign me to any work that I can do."[8] Wilson, however, did not allow Bryan to rejoin the military and did not offer him any wartime role, so Bryan campaigned for the Constitutional amendments on prohibition and women's suffrage.

Prohibition battles: 1916–1925

Partly to avoid Nebraska ethnics such as the German Americans who were "wet" and opposed to prohibition,[9] Bryan moved to Miami, Florida. Bryan filled lucrative speaking engagements and was extremely active in Christian organizations. Deeming him not dry enough, he refused to support the party's presidential nominee James M. Cox in 1920. As one biographer explains,

Bryan epitomized the prohibitionist viewpoint: Protestant and nativist, hostile to the corporation and the evils of urban civilization, devoted to personal regeneration and the social gospel, he sincerely believed that prohibition would contribute to the physical health and moral improvement of the individual, stimulate civic progress, and end the notorious abuses connected with the liquor traffic. Hence he became interested when its devotees in Nebraska viewed direct legislation as a means of obtaining antisaloon laws.[10]

William Jennings Bryan and wife, Mary, in New York City, June 19, 1915.

Bryan's national campaigning helped Congress pass the 18th Amendment in 1918, which shut down all saloons as of 1920. While prohibition was in effect, however, Bryan did not work to secure better enforcement. He ignored the Ku Klux Klan, expecting it would soon fold. For the nomination in 1924, he opposed the wet Al Smith and his brother, Nebraska Governor Charles W. Bryan, was put on the ticket with John W. Davis as candidate for vice president to keep the Bryanites in line. Bryan was very close to his younger brother Charles and endorsed him for the vice presidency.

Bryan was the chief proponent of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, the precursor to America's modern War on Drugs. However, he argued for the act's passage more as an international obligation than on moral grounds.[11]

Fighting Darwinism: 1918–1925

Before World War I, Bryan believed moral progress could achieve equality at home and, in the international field, peace between all the world's nations.

In his famous Chautauqua lecture, "The Prince of Peace," Bryan warned the theory of evolution could undermine the foundations of morality. However, he concluded, "While I do not accept the Darwinian theory I shall not quarrel with you about it."

However, the First World War convinced Bryan that Darwinism undermined morality and moral progress had ground to a complete halt.

Charles W. and William J. Bryan.

Bryan was heavily influenced by Vernon Kellogg's 1917 book, Headquarters Nights: A Record of Conversations and Experiences at the Headquarters of the German Army in Belgium and France, which forwarded that most German military leaders were committed Darwinists skeptical of Christianity, and The Science of Power by Benjamin Kidd (1918), which attributed the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche to German nationalism, materialism, and militarism which in turn was the outworking of the Darwinian hypothesis.

In 1920, Bryan told the World Brotherhood Congress Darwinism was "the most paralyzing influence with which civilization has had to deal in the last century" and that Nietzsche, in carrying Darwinism to its logical conclusion, "promulgated a philosophy that condemned democracy… denounced Christianity… denied the existence of God, overturned all concepts of morality… and endeavored to substitute the worship of the superhuman for the worship of Jehovah."

However, it was not until 1921 that Bryan saw Darwinism as a major internal threat to the United States. The major study which seemed to convince Bryan of this was James H. Leuba's The Belief in God and Immortality, a Psychological, Anthropological and Statistical Study (1916). In this study, Leuba shows during four years of college a considerable number of college students lost their faith. Bryan was horrified that the next generation of American leaders might have the degraded sense of morality which he believed had prevailed in Germany and caused the Great War. Bryan then launched an anti-evolution campaign.

Ever Hopeful
A November 1924 cartoon depicts Bryan with his brother, Charles, sitting on a log marked "Almost the Solid South" looking at the sun marked "1928" where more hope might come for them. Charles unsuccessfully ran for the vice presidency in the 1924 election having lost a number of southern states.

When Union Theological Seminary in Virginia invited Bryan to deliver the James Sprunt Lectures, the campaign kicked off in October 1921. The heart of the lectures was one entitled "The Origin of Man," in which Bryan asked, "what is the role of man in the universe and what is the purpose of man?" For Bryan, the Bible was absolutely central to answering this question, and moral responsibility and the spirit of brotherhood could only rest on belief in God.

The Sprunt lectures were published as In His Image, and sold over 100,000 copies, while "The Origin of Man" was published separately as The Menace of Darwinism and also sold very well.

Bryan was worried that Darwinism was making grounds not only in the universities, but also within the church itself. Many colleges were still church-affiliated at this point. The developments of nineteenth century liberal theology, and higher criticism in particular, had influenced many clergymen to embrace Darwinism, claiming that Darwinism was not contradictory with Christianity. Determined to put an end to this, Bryan, who had long served as a Presbyterian elder, decided to run for the position of Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, which was at the time embroiled in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. (Under Presbyterian church governance, clergy and laymen are equally represented in the General Assembly, and the post of Moderator is open to any member of General Assembly.) Bryan's main competition in the race was the Rev. Charles F. Wishart, president of the College of Wooster, who had loudly endorsed the teaching of Darwinism in the college. Bryan lost to Wishart by a vote of 451-427. Bryan then failed in a proposal to cut off funds to schools where Darwinism was taught. Instead the General Assembly announced disapproval of materialistic (as opposed to theistic) evolution.

According to author Ronald L. Numbers, Bryan was not nearly as much of a fundamentalist as many modern day creationists and is more accurately described as a "day-age creationist.":

William Jennings Bryan, the much misunderstood leader of the post–World War I antievolution crusade, not only read the Mosaic “days” as geological “ages” but allowed for the possibility of organic evolution—so long as it did not impinge on the supernatural origin of Adam and Eve.[12]

Scopes Trial: 1925

Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan chat in court during the Scopes Trial.

In addition to his unsuccessful advocacy of banning the teaching of evolution in church-run universities, Bryan also actively lobbied in favor of state laws banning public schools from teaching evolution. The legislatures of several southern states proved more receptive to his anti-evolution message than the Presbyterian Church had, and consequently passed laws banning the teaching of evolution in public schools after Bryan addressed them. A prominent example was the Butler Act of 1925, making it unlawful in Tennessee to teach that mankind evolved from lower life forms.[13]

Bryan's participation in the highly publicized 1925 Scopes Trial served as a capstone to his career. He was asked by William Bell Riley to represent the World Christian Fundamentals Association as counsel at the trial. During the trial Bryan took the stand and was questioned by defense lawyer Clarence Darrow about his views on the Bible. Biologist Stephen Jay Gould has speculated that Bryan's anti-evolution views were a result of his Populist idealism and suggests that Bryan's fight was really against Social Darwinism. Others, such as biographer Michael Kazin, reject that conclusion based on Bryan's failure during the trial to attack the eugenics in the textbook, Civic Biology.[14] The national media reported the trial in great detail, with H. L. Mencken using Bryan as a symbol of Southern ignorance and anti-intellectualism. In a more humorous vein, satirist Richard Armour stated in It All Started With Columbus that Darrow had "made a monkey out of" Bryan.

The trial concluded with a directed verdict of guilty, which the defense encouraged, as their aim was to take the law itself to a higher court in order to challenge its constitutionality.

Immediately after the trial, he continued to edit and deliver speeches, traveling hundreds of miles that week. On Sunday, July 26 1925, he drove from Chattanooga to Dayton to attend a church service, ate a meal and died in his sleep that afternoon–five days after the trial ended. School Superintendent Walter White proposed that Dayton should create a Christian college as a lasting memorial to Bryan; fund raising was successful and Bryan College opened in 1930. Bryan is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His tombstone reads "He kept the Faith." He was survived by among others, a daughter, Congresswoman Ruth Bryan Owen.

Popular image

The 1950s play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, Inherit the Wind, is a fictionalized account of the Scopes Trial written in response to McCarthyism. A populist thrice-defeated Presidential candidate from Nebraska named Matthew Harrison Brady comes to a small town named Hillsboro in the deep south to help prosecute a young teacher for teaching Darwin to his schoolchildren. He is opposed by a famous liberal lawyer, Henry Drummond, and chastised by a cynical newspaperman as the trial assumes a national profile. Critics of the play charge that it mischaracterizes Bryan and the trial.

Bryan also appears as a character in Douglas Moore's 1956 opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe and is briefly mentioned in John Steinbeck's East of Eden. His death is referred to in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. In Robert A. Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice, Bryan's unsuccessful or successful runs for the presidency are seen as the 'splitting off' events of the alternate histories through which the protagonists travel.


Statue of Bryan on the lawn of the Rhea County, Tennessee courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee.

Bryan was the first of the twentieth century "celebrity politicians" better known for their personalities and communications skills than their political views.[15] He has been criticized by some historians for his unwillingness to take a principled stand against white supremacy in the Southern United States.

Jones explains that "the ruling elite in the South, the remnants of the old southern slaveholding oligarchy, formed a critical base of the Democratic Party. This Party had defended slavery and secession and had led the struggle against post-Civil War Reconstruction. It had opposed granting suffrage to freed slaves and generally opposed all progressive reforms aimed at alleviating the oppression of blacks and poor whites. No politician could hope for national leadership in the Democratic Party, let alone expect to win the presidency, by attacking the system of racial oppression in the South.[16]

Bryan's "legacy remains complicated." Form and content mix uneasily in Bryan's politics. The content of his speeches leads in a direct line to the progressive reforms adopted by 20th century Democrats. But the form his actions took—-a romantic invocation of the American past, a populist insistence on the wisdom of ordinary folk, a faith-based insistence on sincerity and character.[17]

Irving Stone criticized Bryan as a person who was egocentric and never admitted wrong. Stone mentioned how Bryan lived a sheltered life and therefore could not feel the suffering of the common man. He speculated that Bryan merely acted as a champion of the common man in order to get their votes. Stone mentioned that none of his ideas were original and that he did not have the brains to be an effective president. Stone believed Bryan to be one of the nation's worst Secretaries of State. He also feared that Bryan would have supported many radical religious blue laws. Stone felt that Bryan had one of the most undisciplined minds of the 19th century and that McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft all made better presidents.[18]

However, a number of prominent personalities have also defended Bryan and his legacy. In 1962, journalist Merle Miller interviewed former President Harry Truman. When asked about Bryan, Truman replied that Bryan "was a great one - one of the greatest." Truman also claimed that, in his opinion, "if it wasn't for old Bill Bryan there wouldn't be any liberalism at all in the country now. Bryan kept liberalism alive, he kept it going."

Bryan County, Oklahoma was named after him.[19] Bryan Memorial Hospital (now BryanLGH Medical Center) of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Bryan College located in Dayton, Tennessee, are also named for William Jennings Bryan. The William Jennings Bryan House in Nebraska was named a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1963.

See also

  • History of creationism
  • History of the United States Democratic Party
  • Progressive Movement
  • U.S. presidential elections of 1896, 1900 and 1908.


All links Retrieved August 20, 2008.

  1. Joy Hakim. War, Peace, and All That Jazz. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. ISBN 0195095146), 44-45
  2. Williams Jennings Bryan, and Mary Baird Bryan. (original 1920) 2003. Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan. reprint ed. (Kessinger), 22-26.
  3. Bryan and Bryan (2003), 22-26.
  4. B.W. Folsom, (1999) No More Free Markets Or Free Beer: The Progressive Era in Nebraska, 1900-1924. (Lexington Books.), 57-59.
  5. Paolo E. Coletta. (1964), William Jennings Bryan, vol.1 Political Evangelist, 1860-1908. (University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803200226), 40
  6. Paxton Hibben. The Peerless Leader, William Jennings Bryan. (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, Inc., 1929), 220
  7. Coletta, Vol 1., 272
  8. Hibben, 356
  9. Coletta. William Jennings Bryan, Vol. 3: Political Puritan, 1915-1925. (University of Nebraska Press, 1969), 116
  10. Coletta. William Jennings Bryan, Vol. 2: Progressive Politician and Moral Statesman, 1909-1915. (University of Nebraska Press, 1969), 8
  11. Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, 1914. Historical documents Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  12. Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, expanded ed., (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006, ISBN 0674023390), 13
  13. "It shall be unlawful…" to teach "…any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." Section 1 of House Bill No. 185 Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  14. Michael Kazin. A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), 289
  15. Kazin, 2006
  16. Shannon Jones (2006)
  17. Alan Wolfe. Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What It Needs to Do to Recover It. (Princeton University Press, 2005. ISBN 0691119333)
  18. Irving Stone. They Also Ran: The Story of the Men Who Were Defeated for the Presidency. (Doubleday, Doran & Co, Inc., 1943)
  19. Oklahoma Historical Society. "Origin of County Names in Oklahoma", Chronicles of Oklahoma 2:1 (March 1924) 75-82 (retrieved August 18, 2006).

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

Secondary sources


  • Cherny, Robert W. A Righteous Cause: The Life of William Jennings Bryan. Boston: Little, Brown, 1985. ISBN 9780673393289
  • Coletta; Paolo E. William Jennings Bryan. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1964. OCLC 444734
    • William Jennings Bryan, Vol. 1: Political Evangelist, 1860-1908. ISBN 0803200226.
    • William Jennings Bryan, Vol. 2: Progressive Politician and Moral Statesman, 1909-1915. 1969. ISBN 0803200234.
    • William Jennings Bryan, Vol. 3: Political Puritan, 1915-1925. 1969. ISBN 0803200242.
  • Glad, Paul W. The Trumpet Soundeth: William Jennings Bryan and His Democracy 1896-1912. University of Nebraska Press, 1966. OCLC 964829
  • Hibben; Paxton. The Peerless Leader, William Jennings Bryan. New York Farrar and Rinehart, Inc., 1929. OCLC 263022
  • Kazin, Michael. A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.
  • Koenig, Louis W. Bryan: A Political Biography of William Jennings Bryan. New York: Putnam. 1971. OCLC 146766
  • Levine, Lawrence W. Defender of the Faith: William Jennings Bryan; The Last Decade, 1915-1925. Harvard University Press, (1965) 1987. ISBN 0674195426.
  • Werner, M. R. Bryan. New York: Harcourt, Brace. 1929. OCLC 1517464

Specialized studies

  • Barnes, James A. "Myths of the Bryan Campaign," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 34 (December 1947) on 1896 campaign; ISSN 0161-391X
  • Cherny, Robert W. "William Jennings Bryan and the Historians." Nebraska History 1996 77(3-4): 184-193. ISSN 0028-1859. Analysis of the historiography.
  • Edwards, Mark. "Rethinking the Failure of Fundamentalist Political Antievolutionism after 1925" Fides et Historia 2000 32(2): 89-106. ISSN 0884-5379 Argues that fundamentalists thought they had won Scopes trial but death of Bryan shook their confidence.
  • Folsom, B. W. No More Free Markets Or Free Beer: The Progressive Era in Nebraska, 1900-1924. Lexington Books, 1999.
  • Glad, Paul W. McKinley, Bryan and the People (1991), on 1896.
  • Hohenstein, Kurt. "William Jennings Bryan and the Income Tax: Economic Statism and Judicial Usurpation in the Election of 1896" Journal of Law & Politics 2000 16(1): 163-192. ISSN 0749-2227
  • Jeansonne, Glen. "Goldbugs, Silverites, and Satirists: Caricature and Humor in the Presidential Election of 1896." Journal of American Culture 1988 11(2): 1-8. ISSN 0191-1813
  • Larson, Edward. Summer for the Gods. C-SPAN 1997, on the Scopes Trial. OCLC 74471632
  • Longfield, Bradley J. "For Church and Country: the Fundamentalist-modernist Conflict in the Presbyterian Church." Journal of Presbyterian History 2000 78(1): 34-50. ISSN 0022-3883 Puts Scopes in larger religious context.
  • Mahan, Russell L. "William Jennings Bryan and the Presidential Campaign of 1896" White House Studies 2003 3(2): 215-227. ISSN 1535-4768
  • Murphy, Troy A. "William Jennings Bryan: Boy Orator, Broken Man, and the 'Evolution' of America's Public Philosophy." Great Plains Quarterly 2002 22(2): 83-98. ISSN 0275-7664
  • Numbers, Ronald L. The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design.expanded edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.
  • Smith, Willard H. "William Jennings Bryan and the Social Gospel," The Journal of American History, Vol. 53, No. 1. (Jun., 1966), pp. 41-60. in JSTOR
  • Taylor, Jeff. Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy. Columbia: University of Missouri Press (2006), on Bryan's place in Democratic Party history and ideology. ISBN 9780826216618
  • Wood, L. Maren. "The Monkey Trial Myth: Popular Culture Representations of the Scopes Trial" Canadian Review of American Studies 2002 32(2): 147-164. ISSN 0007-7720

Primary sources

  • Bryan, Mary Baird, ed. The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan. The John C. Winston Company (1925). OCLC 1804608
  • Bryan, William Jennings. The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896 Chicago: W.B. Conkey Co., 1896. speeches from 1896 campaign. OCLC 511148
  • Bryan, William Jennings. Under Other Flags: Travels, Lectures, Speeches (1905) Fifth edition. Retrieved August 20, 2008. OCLC 1817891
  • Ginger, Ray, ed. William Jennings Bryan; Selections. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill (1967). OCLC 466419
  • Whicher, George F., ed. William Jennings Bryan and the Campaign of 1896. Boston: (1953), primary and secondary sources. OCLC 58039901

External links

All links retrieved October 4, 2020.

Political offices
Preceded by:
Philander C. Knox
United States Secretary of State
March 5, 1913 – June 9, 1915
Succeeded by: Robert Lansing
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by:
William James Connell
Member from Nebraska's 1st congressional district
March 4, 1891 – March 3, 1895
Succeeded by: Jesse Burr Strode
Party Political Offices
Preceded by:
James Baird Weaver
Populist Party presidential candidate
Succeeded by: Wharton Barker
Preceded by:
Grover Cleveland
Democratic Party presidential candidate
1896, 1900
Succeeded by: Alton B. Parker
Preceded by:
Alton B. Parker
Democratic Party Presidential nominee
Succeeded by: Woodrow Wilson


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

The history of this article since it was imported to New World Encyclopedia:

Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.