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William Jennings Bryan

posted Sep 17, 2014, 3:25 PM by Thomas Ivie

William Jennings Bryan was a leading American politician from the 1890s until his death. He was a dominant force in the populist wing of the Democratic Party and was the Party's candidate for President of the United States three times (1896, 1900 and 1908), losing to McKinley and Taft. He served two terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Nebraska and was the United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson (1913–1915). During his 1896 Presidential campaign, he gave over 500 speeches. Some say he invented the national stumping tour, in an era when other presidential candidates stayed home. After his Presidential defeat in 1900, Bryan started a side career for the next 25 years as a public speaker and arguably became the most prolific speaker in the nation. He was the most popular speaker on the Chautauqua circuit, delivering thousands of paid speeches on current events in hundreds of towns and cities across the country, even while serving as Secretary of State.

It was during this time that he visited Wyoming to stump for Presidential candidate Woodrow Wilson. The Wyoming newspapers reported that Bryan traveled by rail in Wyoming from September 28 into October, 1912, giving stump speeches throughout, including Evanston, Kemmerer and Cheyenne. He was in Rawlins on a Sunday, but Bryan did not give political speeches on Sundays. Instead, he visited the state penitentiary and the Elk’s Home where he gave sermons. His sermon at the penitentiary was “The Making of Man,” which was one of his most famous lectures and lasted two hours. The title of the sermon he gave at the Elk’s Home was “The Larger Life.” He was rewarded for his stumping efforts when Woodrow Wilson appointed him Secretary of State after becoming President of the United States.

You can read more about William Jennings Bryan and other politicians in the historic Wyoming newspapers http://newspapers.wyo.gov 

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