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Cross of Gold Speech Anniversary Today

Posted By Bradley Jansen On July 9, 2011 @ 10:45 am In Commodity Money,Economic History,Events,Money & Politics | 3 Comments

Says the NYTs today, “On July 9, 1896, William Jennings Bryan caused a sensation at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago with his “cross of gold” speech denouncing supporters of the gold standard. Bryan went on to win the party’s nomination.”  We should add that he lost the general election, of course.  In fact, his was a politically losing argument not only in 1896, but 1900 and 1908 for him as well.

I wonder if there are any Gold Democrats left.  They had a great platform at the Convention of the National Democratic Party at Indianapolis, Ind., September 3, 1896.

‘This convention was assembled to uphold the principles upon which depends the honor and welfare of the American people in order that Democrats throughout the Union may unite their patriotic efforts to avert disaster from their country and ruin from their party. The Democratic party is pledged to equal justice and exact justice in all men of every creed and condition; to the largest freedom of individual consistent with good government; to the preservation of the Federal Government in its constitutional vigor and support of the maintenance of the public faith and sound money; and it is opposed to paternalism and all class legislation. The declarations of the Chicago Convention attack individual freedom, the right of private contract, the independence of the judiciary, and the authority of the President to enforce Federal laws. They advocate a reckless attempt to increase the price of silver by legislation to the debasement of our monetary standard, and threaten unlimited issues of paper money by Government. They abandon for Republican allies the Democratic cause of tariff reform to court the favor of protectionists to the fiscal heresy. In view of these and other grave departures from Democratic principles, we cannot support the candidates of that convention, nor be bound by its acts. The Democratic party has survived a victory won in behalf of the doctrine and the policy proclaimed in its name at Chicago. The conditions, however, which make possible such utterances from a national convention are a result of class legislation by the Republican party. Is still proclaims, as it has for many years, the power and duty of the Government to raise and maintain prices by law; and it proposes no remedy for existing evils except oppressive and unjust taxation.’

The Independent had a write up of the Gold Democrats not so long ago.

History reminds us that Bryan campaigned not only for monetary debasement but prohibition of alcohol and the teaching of evolution (he wanted it banned in church-related as well as public schools).  In fact, the chief proponent of monetary debasement was also the leading light against the teaching of evolution at the Skopes trial in 1925.

Getting back on point, our friend Dan Mitchell posted this video of the speech of an NPR episode with a clip from Jennings repeating the cross of gold speech in 1923:


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