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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 11082-14 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

11082-14 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

Round button with a cross surrounded by thorns and the word "No". "BRYAN" is below the cross. Colors: blue, gold

Image of 11082-18 - Badge; William Jennings Bryan; Nebraska Traveling Mens Bryan Club

11082-18 - Badge; William Jennings Bryan; Nebraska Traveling Mens Bryan Club

This badge has two parts. The top part is an American flag bow. At the bottom middle of the bow is a ring that connects a hanging circular metal button with Bryan's picture on it on the outer edge of the button is writing that reads." Nebraska traveling men's Bryan club."

Image of 11082-2 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Commoner, Guarantee of Bank Deposits"

11082-2 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Commoner, Guarantee of Bank Deposits"

Celluloid button with black and white image of Bryan superimposed on to a bank safe. Safe has "Commoner" printed in red at the top and "Guarantee Bank Deposits" in black on the bottom. Edge of pin has an American flag motif.

Image of 11082-20 - Badge; William Jennings Bryan; "Labor for Bryan"

11082-20 - Badge; William Jennings Bryan; "Labor for Bryan"

Blue, white and red ribbon with a silver pin bar at the top. In the middle is a celluloid button with Bryan's image. Printed in silver on the ribbon: "Labor for Bryan/Mass Meeting/Oct.30, 1896/Cooper Union/And/Union Square." Printed in black on the button with Bryan's image: "William J. Bryan/16 to 1/Free Coinage."

Image of 11082-3 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

11082-3 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

Black and white photo of William Jennings Bryan.

Image of 11082-38 - Stickpin; William Jennings Bryan

11082-38 - Stickpin; William Jennings Bryan

Metal "W.J. Bryan" Signature

Image of 11082-56 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan

11082-56 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan

The Lincoln-Bryan Club of Lincoln, NE celebrating Bryan's birthday. Greeting card inviting members to come to the dinner. Features images of Abraham Lincoln and Bryan.

Image of 11082-4 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Guarantee Bank Deposits"

11082-4 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Guarantee Bank Deposits"

Celluloid button with black and white image of Bryan superimposed on to a bank safe. Safe has "Commoner" printed in red at the top and "Guarantee Bank Deposits" in black on the bottom. Edge of pin has an American flag motif.

Image of 11082-42 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan/Towne

11082-42 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan/Towne

Red ribbon that reads, "Nebraska/Bryan and Towne" in silver.

Image of 11082-49 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan

11082-49 - Ribbon, Political; William Jennings Bryan

The ribbon has an image of George Washington towards the top. Under his image are the words, "The father of his country; E Pluribus Unum". There are other patriotic images. At the bottom is a red tassel.

Image of 11082-5 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan/Kern; Jugate

11082-5 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan/Kern; Jugate

Colorized jugate with photographic portraits of Bryand and his running mate John Kern.

Image of 11082-52-(1) - Invitation; William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State

11082-52-(1) - Invitation; William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State

Notice, on white card stock, with a gold embossed Great Seal of the United States. Notice reads, in black text: "To Meet the Honorary Commercial commission of China/The Secretary of State and Mrs. Bryan will be at home on Wednesday, the Twenty-Sixth of May from Five until Seven o'clock. Calumet Place."

Image of 11082-54 - Paper, Letterhead; William Jennings Bryan; Secretary of State

11082-54 - Paper, Letterhead; William Jennings Bryan; Secretary of State

Letterhead used by Bryan as Secretary of State.

Image of 11082-57 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Democracy Leads"

11082-57 - Postcard; William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft; "Democracy Leads"

Main image on front is a cartoon drawing of Bryan and Taft in a race along a dirt path and white fence towards the White House in the background. Bryan, with a photo of his face on a cartoon body, is in the lead on his donkey. Taft, with a photo of his head pasted on, rides an elephant. Uncle Sam sits on the White House waiting for them. In the lower left corner, in red print: "Democracy leads". Upper right corner in black: "Presidential Race - 1908". Message on back asks about a bet on the finish. Sent October 18, 1908.

Image of 11082-6 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

11082-6 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

Sepia toned photo portrait of William Jennings Bryan

Image of 11082-60 - Program; William Jennings Bryan

11082-60 - Program; William Jennings Bryan

Program featuring images of Abraham Lincoln and Bryan on the front. Text reads: "Bryan Birthday Dinner, 1860-1912/The Auditorium, Lincoln, Nebraska, March 19, 1912." The inside lists the activities of the evening.

Image of 11082-61 - Cartoon; William Jennings Bryan

11082-61 - Cartoon; William Jennings Bryan

By Morris in Spokesman-Review; Clipped from Original Publication & Glued to Paper. Features an image of Bryan staring at a picture marked the Presidents chair. Next to Bryan is a hat with his name on it. The caption reads, "I love it, I love it, and who shall dare To chide me for loving that old chair?"

Image of 11082-62 - Cartoon; William Jennings Bryan; "The Only William J. Bryan"

11082-62 - Cartoon; William Jennings Bryan; "The Only William J. Bryan"

Cartoon clipped from the original publication and glued to paper. It features Bryan on one foot on a pedestal surrounded by men. Bryan has a roll of paper in his hand., and is wearing a coat. Caption reads "I wonder if I can stand it until 1908?"

Image of 11082-66 - Sheet Music, The Merry Smile; Democratic Campaign Song,

11082-66 - Sheet Music, The Merry Smile; Democratic Campaign Song,

Sheet music for the Democratic Campaign Song "The Merry Smile" (Merry Widow). Words by J.A. Wallace. Music Publicity Bureau, Pittsburg, PA. There is an illustration of William Jennings Bryan on the cover. The song talks about how W.H. Taft's's merry smile will soon fade away. "When the votes are counted Bryan will lead him by a mile". Three pages of music.

Image of 11082-67 - Cartoon; William Jennings Bryan

11082-67 - Cartoon; William Jennings Bryan

Drawing of Bryan in work clothes and another of him in suite and top hat. Caption reads: "Before and After Taking Office."