Museum logo
Museum logo

Person Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Name Bryan, William Jennings, 1860-1925
Born 1860 Mar 19
Birthplace Salem, Marion, Illinois
Father Silas Lillard Bryan
Mother Maria Elizabeth Jennings
Notes William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois on March 19, 1860. He attended public school in Salem until the age of 15 when he entered Whipple Academy at Jacksonville, Illinois. Bryan was active in debate and declamatory oration and the valedictory address. He had become interested in politics in his later years at college, and remained active after entering law practices with a Jacksonville firm in 1883. In 1887 he was persuaded to move to Lincoln, Nebraska and enter practice with A.R. Talbot. In Nebraska he immediately became active with the activities of the Democratic Party, and was a delegate to the state Democratic convention in 1888. He was elected to Congress, serving from 1891-1895, having failed in his bid for a Senate seat in 1894.

During this period, Bryan was a leader of the silver coinage forces, and it was at the Democratic National Convention in 1896 when he made his famous "Cross of Gold" speech. Supported by the rising Populist Party, the "Boy Orator of the Platte" began his campaign for the presidency in which he was three times a candidate and three times defeated (1896, 1900, 1908). He remained a leader of the Democratic party and in 1912 led the movement that named Woodrow Wilson to be the Democratic candidate. Upon his election, Wilson made Bryan his Secretary of State. In this capacity Bryan campaigned for peace, negotiating treaties with thirty other nations. When he saw that the United States was about to enter the war, he resigned his post.

Bryan was a great showman and had a command of oratory which enabled him to hold his mid-western audiences spellbound. A true humanitarian with deep religious convictions and a dedicated advocate of temperance, he was always a champion of the common people. He was an editor, establishing the newspaper The Commoner at Lincoln; and an author. Bryan lived his last years in Miami, Florida, and died while attending court at Dayton, Tennessee in July 1925.
Role Political
Spouse Mary Elizabeth Baird
Children Grace Bryan
William Jennings Bryan, Jr.
Ruth Bryan
Deceased 1925 July 26
Deceased where Dayton, Rhea, Tennessee

Associated Records

Image of 3896 [dup2] - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Lincoln to Washington"

3896 [dup2] - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Lincoln to Washington"

"From Lincoln to Washington," "William Jennings Bryan for President" is written on the outside edge. Picture of Bryan standing in the middle with A. Lincoln and G. Washington portraits on eithe side. Badge is cream, black, and various other colors.

Image of 3897 - Badge; William Jennings Bryan; 16 To 1

3897 - Badge; William Jennings Bryan; 16 To 1

The pin-bar is leather with "16 to 1" on it in silver. A celluloid button is attached. It is circular and leather with a black and white picture of Bryan under the celluloid.

Image of 3901 - Badge; William Jennings Bryan/Sewall

3901 - Badge; William Jennings Bryan/Sewall

Silverish pin bar with an American flag ribbon. A circular celluloid button is connected at the bottom. On the button is a black and white picture of Bryan and Sewell. Colors - red, white, and blue.

Image of 3904 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

3904 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

Red ribbon that reads "Our Next President", "Wm. J. Bryan" with an image of William Jennings Bryan in between. A border is present both above and below the words and image. The ribbon is red and the writing and images are black. A single piece of metal is bent to serve as a pin and hold the top of the ribbon straight.

Image of 3905 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "16 to 1"

3905 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "16 to 1"

The ribbon features an image of William Jennings Bryan at the top with the phrase "16 to 1" below. "Bryan" runs perpendicular to these words down the ribbon. The words are in a dark color, possibly blue, black, or grey and are faded. The ribbon itself is tan to light brown.

Image of 3907 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

3907 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

Port in Blue; Red Lettering Faded. In the middle of the ribbon is a blue portrait of Bryan with his name under it. On the rest of the ribbon are faded red words that read, "Over Next president, William J. Bryan." The bottom edge has a frayed fringe. COLORS: white, blue, red

Image of 3914 - Button, Political;  William Jennings Bryan; "16 To 1"

3914 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "16 To 1"

Political button, Blue clockface with silver numerals and the campaign slogan "16 To 1" Time 12:44

Image of 3917 [dup2] - Button, Political;  William Jennings Bryan; "I Never Use Gold, Do You?"

3917 [dup2] - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "I Never Use Gold, Do You?"

Gold and black button with "I Never Use Gold, Do You?"

Image of 3922 [dup3] - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "No Goldbugs Wanted Here"

3922 [dup3] - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "No Goldbugs Wanted Here"

Gold and black button with "No Goldbugs Wanted Here"

Image of 3935 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; Bryan Money

3935 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; Bryan Money

Billy Bryans One Dam Free Silver, Aluminum Side 1: Says "Billy Bryan's Free Silver" on the outside edge. In the middle is "One Dam" with a five pointed star on either side. Side 2: On the edges it says "United Snakes of America". In the middle is a Donkey-headed goose with outstretched wings standing on a wreath made from two entwined snakes. On either side of the goose is a five pointed star. The coin has a raised rim on both edges.

Image of 3936 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; Bryan Money

3936 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; Bryan Money

Face side: Female head facing left. Above her face is "Bullion Value" below is 1896. Reverse side: A displayed eagle is in the middle. Above the eagle is "Sixteen to One" below is "We don't think" Both sides have a deep crenelated border.

Image of 3941 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; Bryan Money

3941 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; Bryan Money

Obverse: Says "Billy Bryan's Free Silver" on the outside edge. In the middle is "One Dam" with a five pointed star on either side. Reverse: On the edges it says "United Snakes of America". In the middle is a Donkey-headed goose with outstretched wings standing on a wreath made from two entwined snakes. On either side of the goose is a five pointed star. The coin has a raised rim on both edges.

Image of 3942 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; "16 To 1"

3942 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; "16 To 1"

Picture of Bryan in the middle. Above is "W.J. Bryan" on the left end of his name is a "F" and on the right end is a "C". At the bottom is "16 to 1" on either side is five circles. Nothing in the back. It looks like it was pulled off of something. Color: silver

Image of 3943 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; "16 To 1"

3943 - Coin, Commemorative; William Jennings Bryan; "16 To 1"

Picture of Bryan in the middle. Above is "W.J. Bryan" on the left end of his name is a "F" and on the right end is a "C". At the bottom is "16 to 1" on either side is five circles. Nothing in the back. It looks like it was pulled off of something. Color: silver

Image of 3983 - Souvenir; William Jennings Bryan

3983 - Souvenir; William Jennings Bryan

A tube with paper rockers on both the top and bottom has a paper cut-out of Bryan who is dressed like an acrobat. This cut is on both sides. There is a weight in the middle of the tube. COLORS: yellow, blue, red.

Image of 3985 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "I Am a Sound Money Democrat"

3985 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "I Am a Sound Money Democrat"

"I Am a Sound Money Democrat" in red letters on white background

Image of 3989 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "American Gold Cure"

3989 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "American Gold Cure"

"American Gold Cure"; Eye in center surrounded by stars. Off-white, red, silver, gold, black and blue

Image of 3992 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

3992 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

William J. Bryan Portrait. Off-white and black

Image of 4108 - Pendant; William Jennings Bryan; "NE Traveling Mens Bryan Club"

4108 - Pendant; William Jennings Bryan; "NE Traveling Mens Bryan Club"

Silver, black and white "NE Traveling Mens Bryan Club" pendant with portrait of Bryan in the center.

Image of 4008-1 - Badge, Jeffersonian Club, Lancaster County, Nebr; Natl. Convention, Kansas City, July 4, 1900

4008-1 - Badge, Jeffersonian Club, Lancaster County, Nebr; Natl. Convention, Kansas City, July 4, 1900

Natl. Convention, Kansas City, July 4, 1900. A picture of William Jennings Bryan, sits on a velvet/satin flavette. A silk ribbon drops below with silver print reading, "Jefferson club, Lancaster County Nebraska. National convention, Kansis City, July 4, 1900." The ribbon has a gold trim. At the bottom of the ribbon is a metal fringe.