William Jennings Bryan - Vol. 1

By Paolo E. Coletta | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10

Cuba Libre and America's Mission

I

"IF I COULD only feel that the defeat was a personal one," Bryan wrote William V. Allen on November 9, 1896, "it would be very easy to find someone else to carry out our ideas, but if the Republicans can frighten the people against our ideas, no matter who honestly stands for them, it is going to be a more difficult matter, and yet in the end we must triumph." 1 A week later, in Denver, he launched his campaign for 1900, saying, "Those who fought in the battle will continue in the ranks until bimetallism is restored." 2

Upon his return from Denver, Bryan collected photographs of Richard Parks Bland, James B. Weaver, and Henry M. Teller, to whom he dedicated his book The First Battle, and of many other silver leaders. 3 The prime objectives of his work, which is a hurried compilation of speeches and documents rather than a narrative, were to thank and praise those who had aided him, to provoke continued interest and work in behalf of fusion and free silver for the campaign of 1900, and to leave at least a partial record of the official documents and addresses delivered in the battle of the standards that would prove useful to campaign workers if not to posterity. 4 As revealed subsequently, the venture was also undertaken to raise some money for the silver cause.

Issued early in 1897, The First Battle sold at the rate of a thousand copies a day for the first two months of 1897, to a total of about two hundred thousand copies. Bryan received $35,643.60 for sales through August 31, 1897. When Marion Butler and William V. Allen refused to serve on a nonpartisan commission that would distribute half this

____________________
1
Letter of November 9, 1896, William Jennings Bryan Papers.
2
Omaha World-Herald, November 16, 1896.
3
Watson refused the use of his photograph, biography, and speeches, saying he had given up politics and would not let it be thought that he looked forward to any political future. Letters to Bryan of November 25, December 9, 1896, Bryan Papers.
4
William J. Bryan, The First Battle, pp. 621-629.

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