The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

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

CHAPTER IX
THE ST. Louis CONVENTION

IMMEDIATELY after the election of 1900 I announced that I would not be a candidate in 1904. Having been defeated twice, the second time by a larger majority of the popular vote and of the electoral college than the first time, I thought that it was not wise to be a candidate again until the things I had fought for were so clearly vindicated as to lead the voters of the party to demand my nomination. And having reached the conclusion that I should not be a candidate, I thought it only fair to others who might be candidates to let them know that I would not be in the field.

The result was a contest for supremacy between the radical element of the party and the conservative element. The conservative element had the advantage in that it was able to point to two defeats under my leadership. This advantage was at once seized upon and the conservative leaders promised victory if they were put in control.

Mr. Hearst announced himself as a candidate and received the support of the more radical of the radicals, but did not command the support of all who had supported me. He was especially weak in the South and when the Convention met, the conservatives had a two thirds majority.

Judge Parker, of New York, was the man on whom they had centered, but his delegates were not for the most part instructed. I recognized the difficult position which I occupied and I recognized, too, that those who had fought for me were very much discouraged by the second defeat. I was in a position to know this. After the 1896 election I received as many as 2500 letters a day, all containing promises of support and assurances of victory in 1900.

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