The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

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

CHAPTER V
PRIVATE LIFE OF A CANDIDATE

MR. BRYAN in his Memoirs has dealt at length with the Chicago Convention and the circumstances which led up to his nomination for the Presidency in 1896. But while his record ceases with the fact of his nomination, and while history records the balloting which gave the election to his opponent, William McKinley, the following November, nothing is recorded on that peculiar subject, the private life of a candidate, if, indeed, a candidate can be said to possess a private life.

Up to the time of his first nomination a few pages will suffice to record the outline of our busy, quiet days.

In our new home in Nebraska and in Washington, during Mr. Bryan's years as Congressman, we lived serenely. The care of my father, who, by that time, had become totally blind, and of my mother, an invalid, and of my three young children, together with my close participation in all of Mr. Bryan's legal and political work, filled my years. Mr. Bryan had applied himself unremittingly, and though we were progressing steadily up the ladder which ambitious youth may ascend, the first nomination found Mr. Bryan and me, at thirty-six and thirty-five years of age, a very serious, quietly prosperous, closely congenial couple.

Upon our small household suddenly shone the white light which is said to beat upon the throne. Our very house had altered its appearance when we returned home to it from the Chicago Convention. Streamers of bunting festooned it from porch to eaves; small boys sat in rows along the roof; the crowd which filled the front yard overflowed into the house; flowers and smilax decorated the crowded rooms. It was a symbolic atmosphere. The public had invaded our lives.

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