William Jennings Bryan

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In His Image

Being a compendium of his lectures to the Union Theological Seminary.

Bryan made his reputation in two major events that showed how wrong a good person could be--the Scopes trial, in which he debated oppostie Clarence Darrow (chronicled in Inherit the Wind)and his support of bimetalism, in whic he made this famous speech:

from "Cross of Gold"
William Jennings Bryan

If they dare to come out in the open field and defend the gold standard as a good thing, we will fight them to the uttermost. Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests, and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand 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.

You can see that his oratorical style made him one of the most persuasive and interesting speakers of his time.

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"You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

Mr. Bryan would not have known in what way his words would be prophetic -- indeed, the United States has been crucified on a cross of gold. God's ordinances are much more valuable than gold.

Dear Psalm 41,

Thank you!

I had so long associated the phrase and the speech with a particular issue in American Politics that your insight had not occurred to me. You are right on the money! Thanks for sharing that thought.



Was he wrong regarding evolution? In the Scopes trial, he may have appeared as a bungling fool to the fashionably "enlightened", (I can just almost hear the snickers) and probably didn't understand evolution, but what he did understand was "survival of the fittest" was an abomination to teach to an impressionable child.

Thank you for your above comment and God bless you.

Dear Psalm 41,

You're correct in the statement about survival of the fittest, but Bryan, better than most, should have understood that that was not a battle for a Courtroom, but for a society. His most effective presence would have been like his "Cross of Gold," oratory and informing the public rather than running straight up against the fashionable elite.

I don't know if it was pride, grandstanding, or a genuine conviction that this was something to pursue--but I think the critical error was in the mode of pursuit rather than in the content of the message.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 19, 2006 10:18 AM.

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