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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 13339-3-(1-2) - Cover, First Day; Nebraska Statehood Stamp, with card

13339-3-(1-2) - Cover, First Day; Nebraska Statehood Stamp, with card

White envelope with a sepia-toned design on the proper right half. The design depicts the Nebraska Capitol Building and official Centennial medal surrounded by names of famous individuals and Native American tribes. Lettering above the design reads "Nebraska / Centennial / 1867-1967." Beneath the design is "Official First / Day Cover." Nebraska Statehood five cent postage stamp in upper proper left corner. Stamp depicts a ear of corn with a cow in front of it. Hand stamp beneath postage stamp reads "First Day of Issue." Postmarked at upper center "Lincoln, NB / Jul / 29 / 1967." Informational card included with envelope gives an overview of the history of Nebraska statehood, the Capitol

Image of 3915 [dup1] - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan/Sewall; "Victory 1896"

3915 [dup1] - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan/Sewall; "Victory 1896"

"Victory 1896" "Bryan & Sewall" Jugate in black, white and gray

Image of 3994 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "16 To 1"

3994 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "16 To 1"

Blue background with "16 To 1" and "No Compromise" in silver. A Bug is illustrated in the center.

Image of 13371-6 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

13371-6 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

Round celluloid button with a tinted portrait of William Jennings Bryan against a mottled green background on the face. Caption above portrait reads "For President Wm. J. Bryan." Two pointed holes on the reverse where a pin or tab would have originally been located.

Image of 3923 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "I'll Carry Silver If It Breaks My Back"

3923 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "I'll Carry Silver If It Breaks My Back"

"Ill Carry Silver If It Breaks My Back" Colors: silver, black

Image of 13371-7 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

13371-7 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

Round celluloid button with a tinted portrait of William Jennings Bryan against a mottled green background on the face. Caption above portrait reads "For President Wm. J. Bryan." Straight pin on reverse. White paper backing on underside has black typeface that reads "Compliments / Of / The Minneapolis / Tribune."

Image of 13371-2 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

13371-2 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

Round celluloid button with a black and white portrait of William Jennings Bryan against a silver circle on the front. American flag just visible behind the circle. Straight pin on reverse.

Image of 13371-3 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

13371-3 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

Round button with a portrait of WIlliam Jennings Bryan in the center surrounded by a ridged metal edging. On the reverse is a knob for sliding through a buttonhole.

Image of 13371-4 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

13371-4 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

Round celluloid button with a black and white profile of William Jennings Bryan pictured in the center. Above the image is his most famous campaign promise, "Free Silver 1896." Below, "W. J. Bryan" is printed in black ink. On the reverse is a knob for sliding through a buttonhole.

Image of 13371-5 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

13371-5 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

Round lithograph button with black and white portraits of William Jennings Bryan and Arthur Sewall against a blue and white background. Above the figures is "Free Silver" in black lettering. The portraits are captioned with white lettering. Along the edge very small lettering reads "Kleenex Tissue '68." Straight pin on reverse. Part of a set of 35 lithographed buttons issued in 1968 to advertise Kleenex Paper Products. These kinds of reproductions were generally used to promote companies and products during presidential election years.

Image of 13373-104 - Napkin; Bishop Clarkson Memorial Hospital, School of Nursing

13373-104 - Napkin; Bishop Clarkson Memorial Hospital, School of Nursing

A simple yellow napkin with scalloped edges. In the lower right corner "Bryan Memorial Hospital School of Nursing" is printed in brown. On the reverse "Elsie Watson" is handwritten in blue ink.

Image of 3924 - Button, Political; William Jennigns Bryan

3924 - Button, Political; William Jennigns Bryan

Portrait of WJ Bryan with gold trim. Colors: silver, gold

Image of 3925 - Button; William Jennings Bryan; "16-1"

3925 - Button; William Jennings Bryan; "16-1"

Round metal button with "W.J. Bryan", "16-1"

Image of 3926 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

3926 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan

Black and white side photo portrait of William Jennings Bryan on a silver disk with a red white and blue ribbon

Image of 3928 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Free Silver or Bust"

3928 - Button, Political; William Jennings Bryan; "Free Silver or Bust"

Round silver button with text in black: "Free Silver or Bust"

Image of 3929 - Pin, Political: William Jennings Bryan; Gold Bug, "16 to 1"

3929 - Pin, Political: William Jennings Bryan; Gold Bug, "16 to 1"

Metal bug with retractable wings. "16/1" on its right wing

Image of 1722 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

1722 - Button, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

Original Bryan Button, 1896, on Card with Inscription;

Image of 2241-28 - Ribbon, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

2241-28 - Ribbon, Campaign; William Jennings Bryan

No Crown of Thorns, No Cross of Gold. It is an orange ribbon with black wooding and trim. In the middle of the ribbon is an attached photo of Bryan. The words on it read, on to , "No crown of Thorns. No cross of Gold," and on the bottom, "For President W. J. Bryan."