William Jennings Bryan was born on March 18, 1960, to Mariah Jennings and Silas Bryan in Salem, Illinois. After graduating from Union Law School in 1883, he left Illinois and moved to Nebraska. Then in 1890, Bryan was elected to Congress as a Democrat, and that began his political life.
On July 9, 1896, William Jennings Bryan gave his famous “Cross of Gold” speech to the Democratic Party about “free-silver.” One of the most remembered lines from his speech was “you will not press down on the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” He was only 35 when he made this speech, and it made him the Democratic Presidential Candidate. But he lost the 1896 election to William McKinley. He ran for office two more times.
In 1900 he was defeated by McKinley, and in 1908 Theodore Roosevelt won. Then in 1912, William Jennings Bryan helped Woodrow Wilson, a governor from New Jersey, win the presidency. So in return, Woodrow Wilson appointed William Jennings Bryan Secretary of State. Sadly William Jennings Bryan’s extreme commitment to American neutrality during World War 1 caused to resign after Wilson decided to crack down on German submarine warfare.
Another thing William Jennings Bryan is famous for is the Scopes Monkey Trial. In 1925, a substitute teacher in Tennessee taught students about evolution. As a Presbyterian Bryan argued to the prosecution that it was against the law to teach evolution in a state-funded school. This was seen as a great debate between science and religion, so it got a lot of attention. During the case, Bryan was ridiculed for his belief in the Bible and against evolution. However, he won the case.
Unfortunately, less than a week after the Monkey Trial, William Jennings Bryan died in his sleep in Dayton, Tennessee.
Information and Quotes taken from two sources:
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