The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

By Mary Baird Bryan; William Jennings Bryan | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VIII
THE BENNETT WILL CASE

THE friendship between Philo S. Bennett and myself, which began in 1896 and continued until his death, was one of my closest and dearest friendships outside of my family, and yet it brought upon me an experience which gave rise to more malicious misrepresentation than any other incident of my life. It was the only time in which I have been called upon to serve a friend at great expense to myself both in feelings and in money. I am glad to put upon permanent record the facts in connection with it. It is now possible to discuss the case with more freedom than was possible during the lifetime of Mrs. Bennett.

Philo S. Bennett was a citizen of New Haven, Connecticut, but was engaged in business in the city of New York. His firm, Bennett, Sloan & Company, were wholesale grocers, specializing in tea.

I never met Mr. Bennett until the campaign of 1896, when he was on the reception committee on the occasion of my campaign visit to New Haven.

Speaking some six hundred times during the campaign, it was of course impossible for me to recall the members of all the reception committees which took part in meetings. It so happened that at New Haven, Connecticut, Mr. Bennett rode in the carriage with me along with John B. Sargent, a prominent hardware manufacturer of that city. I had known of Mr. Sargent for some years, because he was one of the few Eastern manufacturers opposed to a protective tariff. He had made a trip around the world and on his return gained a considerable prominence by interviews in which he declared that American manufacturers could compete with the world without a tariff; basing his arguments on observations he made as a traveler. The prop

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