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 7956-6060 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Bryan is Still Cryin"

7956-6060 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Bryan is Still Cryin"

Cartoon drawing of W.J. Bryan; hand outstretched and walking towards the viewer. Caption in upper right corner: "Bryan/Is still/cryin'". White background, minimal color in cartoon. Copyright in lower right. Message on back - a short hello from sender returning from a trip.

Image of 7956-6061 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "I Was Tickled to Hear from You"

7956-6061 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "I Was Tickled to Hear from You"

The front has a saying "I was tickled to hear from you". A feather stuck on along with a picture of W.J. Bryan. Message on back.

Image of 7956-6062 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; Bryan on Donkey and Taft on Elephant

7956-6062 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; Bryan on Donkey and Taft on Elephant

Front features a full cartoon of Bryan on a donkey and Taft on an elephant blocking Bryan from entering the White House. Cartoons have real photos for heads. Red caption at lower left: "You can't come in". Upper right in black identifies "Presidential campaign 1908". Message - details friends activities in Berlin, receipt of card and a request to hear from the receiver soon.

Image of 7956-6063 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Its Bound to Be a Bill"

7956-6063 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Its Bound to Be a Bill"

Pictures of William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft. Both men are on the capital with a large question mark between them. The bottom slogan is "it's bound to be a Bill". Unused, no correspondence on back.

Image of 7956-6064 - Postcard;, William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft, "Which'll Yer Have"

7956-6064 - Postcard;, William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft, "Which'll Yer Have"

Front: white background with focus on two floating heads. Drawings of Taft's head on the left and Bryan's head on the right. Both are eyeing each other. Above the heads, black cursive print: "Which'll yer have". Beneath the heads: "Bill Taft er Bill Bryan?". Back: short message in pencil: "You pays your money and takes your choice". Sent Aug. 30, 1908.

Image of 7956-6065 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

7956-6065 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

Photo of the US Capitol building, color filled in. Top right and left corner, black and white oval frames. Left Bryan and right Kern. Between the two in black type "Bryan and Kern". Campaign card advertisement on back in correspondence panel. No message it was not circulated. Color in photograph due to Autochrome. Filler was developed in 1907 by Auguste and Louis Lumiere.

Image of 7956-6066 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

7956-6066 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

Photo front, color painted in. View of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Two photo profiles - upper corners. Left: Bryan, and right Kern. Beside each photo is the signature of the person photographed. Back - no message it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6067 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

7956-6067 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

Front image: photograph of US Capitol building, color painted in. Wide angle view. Upper left and right corners have an oval photo of Bryan, left, and Kern, right. Beside each is the subject's signature. Between the two photographs in red print: "Shall the People Rule". Message on back details origin of card - gotten when sender heard Bryan and of an ill friend. Sent October 15, 1908.

Image of 7956-6068 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

7956-6068 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

Front image: photograph of US Capitol building, color painted in. Wide angle view. Upper left and right corners have an oval photo of Bryan, left, and Kern, right. Beside each is the subject's signature. Between the two photographs in red print: "Shall the People Rule". Message on back has announcement of a meeting with Senator R.L. Owen. Sent September 25, 1908 with no additional message.

Image of 7956-6069 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

7956-6069 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

Front - photograph of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. in color due to Autochrome created in 1907 by the Lumiere brothers. A wide angle view of the Capitol. Left corner has an oval photo of Bryan, shoulders up. Next to his photo is his signature. Right corner in red print: "Our next president". No message on back it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6070 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

7956-6070 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

Image on postcard is a drawing of the US Capitol building with color. Wide angle view includes landscaping and some people walking. Left upper corner has a black and white drawing of W.J. Bryan in an oval frame. Right corner in black print: "Our Next President'. No message on back it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6071 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Who Is Going to Win the Race?"

7956-6071 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Who Is Going to Win the Race?"

Interactive postcard. Image on front consists of a cartoon Bryan and Taft with real photo. Heads running towards a drawing of the White House. Their legs are drawn on a "wheel" and when the postcard is run along a flat surface the legs "run". Held in place by metal gronets. Caption between them: "Who is going/to win/the race?". Card is black, white, and green. Message writes of life - daily habits and visiting plans. Sent September 28, 1908.

Image of 7956-6073 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Star of the West"

7956-6073 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Star of the West"

White background, drawing of W.J. Bryan riding a train. Postcard titled "Star of the West". Drawing of Bryan has a photo of his head in place. Red star in front of the train. Captions beneath train identify him as "Our next president". Copyright in lower right.

Image of 7956-6074 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "A Clean Sweep"

7956-6074 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "A Clean Sweep"

Full color cartoon of W.J. Bryan with actual photo for head standing on the steps of the White House with a broom sweeping away as Uncle Sam looks on. A donkey with "democracy" painted white on its side kicks away four portly men with "Trust" painted on them in white. In the background an elephant "G.O.P" retreats. Captions bottom left in red: "A Clean sweep" and upper right in black: "Presidential campaign 1908". Message on back is written to a small boy. Asks if he's been a good boy and writes about travel plans. Sent November 25, 1908.

Image of 7956-6075 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan

7956-6075 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan

Main image is of a husk with four ears of golden corn with a picture of W.J. Bryan sticking out of the husk - shoulders up. Red string ties the ears together. Either side of string: "Two of America's/Great Essentials (corn image) To Peace and/Prosperity". Beneath ears: "Known the world over". All print in red type. Copyright beneath ears on left side, "From Mr. Bryan's Fairview farm" on black on leaf/husk. No message on back of postcard. Correspondence panel has announcement and invitation to a speaking engagement by Hon Wm. V Allen. Sent to a B. Davidson on Oct. 1, 1908 with a 1 cent Franklin stamp.

Image of 7956-6092 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

7956-6092 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

Color picture of US Capitol building in the background and a black and white photo of W.J. Bryan in lower right corner, oval. Black print title: "Our Next President". Message - just for fun.

Image of 7956-6077 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan

7956-6077 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan

Main image is of a husk with four ears of golden corn with a picture of W.J. Bryan sticking out of the husk - shoulders up. Red string ties the ears together. Either side of string: "Two of America's /Great Essentials (corn image) To peace and/prosperity". Beneath ears: "Known the world over". All print in red type. Copyright beneath the ears on left side, "From Mr Bryan's Fairview Farm" on black on leaf/husk. Back of postcard has short message expressing travel plans. Postmarked Sep. 3, 1908 with Franklin stamp. Darker tint to image.

Image of 7956-6079 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan

7956-6079 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan

Main image is of a husk with four ears of golden corn with a picture of W.J. Bryan sticking out of the husk shoulders up. Red string ties the ears together. Either side of string: "Two of America's/Great Essentials (corn image) To peace and / Prosperity". Beneath ears: "Known the world over". All print in red type. Copyright beneath ears on left side. "From Mr Bryan's Fairview farm" on black on leaf/husk. No message it was not circulated. Correspondence panel has a brief announcement and invitation to Ohio congressman John J Lentz' speaking engagement. Address panel has lines for address and box for stamp.

Image of 7956-6080 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Next Occupant of White House"

7956-6080 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Next Occupant of White House"

Main image is a full color picture of the White House. View includes fountain in front and front of White House. Upper left corner is a black and white portrait of Bryan. To the right of the portrait, in black print: "Next occupant of the white house." No message on back it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6081 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "National Democratic Convention"

7956-6081 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "National Democratic Convention"

Colored map of United States. Yellow highlight on the state of Colorado. Flag sticking out of flag: "National/Democratic convention/July 7, 1908". Below flag is a portrait of William J Bryan. Along bottom of card: "See that sunny spot? That's it!" in orange. Copyright information along right corner. Message on back details activities at convention and travel plans.