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 7956-6089 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft

7956-6089 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft

Postcard has two photo portraits, oval framed from the shoulders up of W. Taft (on the left) and W.J. Bryan (on the right). Between the photos is a premade message - printed in blue ink "Dear friends; - /I am confidentially/ informed that "Bill"/ will be elected./ So you might as well vote for him also/ sincerely yours". Message written in cursive. No message it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6090 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Hurrah for Bill"

7956-6090 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Hurrah for Bill"

Postcard has two photo portraits, oval framed from the shoulders up of W. Taft (on the left) and W.J. Bryan (on the right). Between the photos is a premade message - printed in blue ink: "Dear friends; - /I am confidentially / informed that "Bill" / will be elected./ So you might as well vote for him also / sincerely yours". Message written in cursive. Above message is a lighter blue stamp: "Don't worry / it's all over now/ Hurrah for Bill! / Keep busy, Yours _________". "Copyright 1908 by I. Grollman" in lower left corner. No message on back - was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6091 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

7956-6091 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Our Next President"

Color picture of the US Capitol building. "Our next president" printed in upper right. Lower center focuses on a black and white drawing of W.J. Bryan, oval frame. Message asks after recipient, "hurrahs" for Bryan, and writes about attending his nomination. Sent July 10, 1908.

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 7956-6093 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern; "Our Next President & Vice President"

7956-6093 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern; "Our Next President & Vice President"

Front - full color picture of the US Capitol building, wide angle view. Landscape and several people walking included. Upper left and right corners have an oval picture of Bryan, left, and Kern, right. Beneath the ovals are their names. Next to Kern's photo, in black print: "Our Next President/ and Vice President" No message it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6094 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

7956-6094 - 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. Color in photo due to autochrome. Filter was developed in 1907 by Auguste and Louis Lumiere. No message - was not circulated. Does have a one cent Franklin stamp on it.

Image of 7956-6095 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Star of the West"

7956-6095 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Star of the West"

Black and white drawing of W.J. Bryan at a party in a ballroom. A woman is placing a wreath around him as six other people look on. A red star sits between the woman and Bryan. Titled "Star of the West" at the top. Bryan's name is printed beneath his feet followed by copyright information. Bottom fifth of postcard is plain white. No message.

Image of 7956-6096 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; Democratic National Convention

7956-6096 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; Democratic National Convention

Postcard advertises Democratic National Convention and Bromo Seltzer. Black and white - three main images. Left an oval framed drawing of W.J. Bryan; center a woman on a horse in front of a screaming crowd; right a photo of Johnson. Headed by "Which?" at top left, caption continues below images announcing date of conference and continues with ad for Bromo Seltzer. An empty banner that when exposed to a name reveals the name of Bromo Seltzer. No message it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6098 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "The Yankee Pig"

7956-6098 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "The Yankee Pig"

Color drawing of a Yankee Pig dressed in a suit, much like Uncle Sam's, carrying a cane and a bag with blue tint photograph of William Jennings Bryan and wearing a red top hat. Single blue line frame with header: "The Yankee/Pig". Message on back about birthdays.

Image of 7956-6099 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Star of the West"

7956-6099 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Star of the West"

Black and white drawing of W.J. Bryan standing in front of the White House in a coat holding an umbrella and briefcase. A red star to the right of Bryan. His name printed in black beneath his feet. Drawing titled "Star of the west". Short message on front and continued on back - invitation to a housewarming and traveling notice. Sent September 30, 1908.

Image of 7956-6100 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft, "I Have Two Bills, Columbia Cried"

7956-6100 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft, "I Have Two Bills, Columbia Cried"

Front: cartoon drawings, in full color, of Columbia in a gold breast plate, helmet and tunic holding up two bills - one whit a drawing of W. Taft on it and the other with W. J. Bryan. Two small sections of poetry about the choice between the two bills. One section above her outstretched hands and one section below. Back: a short message about weather (very hot), a meeting (republican) and moving in. Sent October 29, 1908.

Image of 7956-6101 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Each Will Would Be the Bill"

7956-6101 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Each Will Would Be the Bill"

Advertisement for Badger Furniture Co. Front has two photos - left, Taft, right, Bryan. Brown tones to print and photos. Right edge with rhyming poem on which William will be the Bill. Caption under each photo identifies the men and candidacy. Back - no message it was not circulated. More poems about which Bill followed by ad for furniture polish.

Image of 7956-6102 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "It Is Better to Have Run and Lost"

7956-6102 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "It Is Better to Have Run and Lost"

Postcard front dominated by a cartoon, in color, of W.J. Bryan beating a drum and marching along as he drags a donkey on a wheeled platform. The drum head is fabric - blue with white stars. Beneath the cartoon, captioned in blue print: "it is better to have run and lost/ Than never to have run at all." Message on back. "Excuse the card arrived/ safe and am well with / love to all John." Posted December 30, 1908 from Wheeling, West Virginia.

Image of 7956-6103 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Back to the Farm"

7956-6103 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Back to the Farm"

Front - cartoon drawing of W.J. Bryan riding a donkey both Bryan's and the donkey's head hung in despair as they follow a hand shaped sign pointing to Lincoln, The sun sets behind the US Capitol building. Black and white image. Print in black, above Bryan's head. "Back to the farm!" and to the right of the donkey (facing left): "3 strikes and out". Copyright along bottom edge of postcard. Back short message: "I told you so." Sent November 5, 1908.

Image of 7956-6104 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "The Candidates at Exercise"

7956-6104 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "The Candidates at Exercise"

Front features two cartoons under the heading (in black print): "The Candidates of Exercise". Two panels, left features a farm image of W.J. Bryan pitching hay onto a horse drawn wagon. A smaller box in the Bryan panel has a drawing of Lincoln chopping logs. Captioned: "The Commoner". Bryan has "Bryan" printed over his farm attire. Right panel features Taft in golf gear playing golf on a course with "29 million Dollar John". Taft is swinging his club and captioned: "The Plutocrat". Left edge of postcard has the copyright. No message on back it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6105 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Star of the West"

7956-6105 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; "Star of the West"

Front - white background, large paragraph - black print - of star of west poem. "Star of the West" heading at top, followed by a red star on the left and a black and white photo of Bryan sitting at a table to the right. Center is more type with Bryan's name, "U.S.A."; and the publishing company of the postcard. Then the poem in the center of the postcard. No message it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6106 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

7956-6106 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

Embossed postcard - U.S.flags act as frame. Center has two black and white drawings of W.J. Bryan (on left) and J. W. Kern (on right). Square images with gold frames forming a "V" in front of a red, white and blue shield, two flags on gold poles and gold stars. Beneath a banner says "Our choice". Gold stars run along outside edge. Two shields are in the corners. Caption on each drawing identifies the candidate and their candidacy. No message it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6112 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; Hunsakers Buffet, Chicago

7956-6112 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan; Hunsakers Buffet, Chicago

Advertisement for Hunsakers Buffet in Chicago. Front - white background with a blue sketch of W.J. Bryan captioned "The Man of the hour". Also has Hunsaker's location and phone number. Back - blue background with "Be Good/ Hunsaker" in large type with a white frame.

Image of 7956-6107 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

7956-6107 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern

Embossed postcard - focus on to circular black and white photographs of W.J. Bryan (left) and J.W. Kern (right). Photos have gold frames and white captions that identify the men and their candidacy. Background is made up of a US flag colored curtain. Below the photos is a golden eagle perched on a US flag colored shield. No message it was not circulated.

Image of 7956-6108 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern; Fairview

7956-6108 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan/Kern; Fairview

Black and white photograph of W.J. Bryan and J.W. Kern standing next to each other on the Fairview porch. Captioned: "First photograph taken together after nomination" below the photo. Caption above identifies them and their candidacy. No message it was not circulated.