The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

By Mary Baird Bryan; William Jennings Bryan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
LEADING UP TO MY SECOND NOMINATION

THE number of letters which I received after the election of 1896 made it certain that unless some change in conditions occurred, I would be renominated in 1900, for although defeated, the six and a half millions of voters came out of the campaign of 1896 a compact and undismayed army. The elections of 1897 indicated a growth in our party's strength and things went well until the Spanish War broke out, then attention was turned from economic matters to questions affecting the war.

I telegraphed to President McKinley on the day that the war was declared offering my services, but never received a reply. I know that the telegram was received, because the President asked Senator Allen, of Nebraska, what position I could fill, and Senator Allen communicated the question to me. I wrote the Senator that I was willing to do any work to which I might be assigned, but suggested that as I was personally acquainted with General Wheeler, it would be agreeable to be assigned to his staff if the rules permitted. Senator Allen did not receive my letter until after General Wheeler had gone South, and I afterwards learned that the rules of the army would have prevented my being assigned to his staff, as I was not a commissioned officer and had had no experience. Shortly afterwards Governor Holcomb, of Nebraska, authorized me to raise a regiment--I had already enlisted as a private in a company organized at Lincoln. I raised the regiment and served something more than five months, resigned the day that the treaty with Spain was signed, so that my military career began constructively with the offer of my services on the day that war was declared, and with the termi

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