On July 9, 1896, the great Nebraska statesman, William Jennings Bryan, who ran for and lost the Presidency of the United States three times during his life, stood up at the Democrat National Convention in Chicago to defend rural American farmers from going into debt against the idea of a Federal coinage of silver against gold at 16 to 1. Here is part of that famous speech that would later be known as his Cross of Gold:

The humblest citizen in all the land when clad in the armor of a righteous cause is stronger than all the whole hosts of error that they can bring. I come to speak to you in defense of a cause as holy as the cause of liberty — the cause of humanity. I shall object to bringing this question down to a level of persons.
The individual is but an atom; he is born, he acts, he dies; but principles are eternal; and this has been a contest of principle. …

You come to us and tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold standard; we reply that the great cities rest upon our broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country. …

If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we shall fight them to the uttermost, having behind us the producing masses of the nation and the world. Having behind us the commercial interests and the laboring interests and all the toiling masses, we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.

William Jennings Bryan may have been a “Magnificent Loser” who cared more about morality and doing the right thing even if meant humiliation at the age of 65 during the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 or standing up for the unpopular farmhand as a 36 year old in 1896, but he always he followed a light he felt was divinely guiding and, like him or not, one must admire his tenacity of purpose and his dedication to giving volume to the voiceless underrepresented. You can read all of Bryan’s Cross of Gold on the keen George Mason University’s History Matters website.

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