The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

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

CHAPTER I
IN THE BEGINNING

I WAS born on the nineteenth day of March, 1860, at Salem, Illinois. A picture of my birthplace to be found among the illustrations shows the house in which I first saw the light. The house stood on Broadway about halfway between the public square and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad--prior to 1872 called the Ohio and Mississippi. It had never been materially changed from the time when it was built in 1852. My father, then a young lawyer just starting in at the practice, helped to hew the timbers to build the house. Being thus doubly attached to the homestead, I purchased it and gave it to the city of Salem, moving it a few feet to the west in order to give room for the erection of the Bryan Bennett Library, to which reference will be made in another chapter.

I do not know the hour of my birth, because the hour never became material until after the death of my parents. As soon as I was nominated for the Presidency, astrologists made their appearance and offered to consult my horoscope with a view to ascertaining whether I would be elected. I never had any faith in their calculations but, complying with my general rule, gave the specialists along various lines such information as I could furnish. I remember that one astrologer wrote a letter which my wife answered in my absence. He asked for the hour of the birth both of Mrs. Bryan and myself. She responded giving the day of my birth and the day and hour of her birth. Her parents were then residing with us and she was able to secure the information desired. The astrologer cast my horoscope, based upon such facts as he had, and declared that it indicated my election. He was very much mortified at my defeat-- seemingly more than I was myself--and hastened to explain

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