The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

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

CHAPTER X
THE BALTIMORE CONVENTION

AFTER my third defeat in 1908 I felt that nothing but a revolutionary change in the political situation would justify a fourth nomination. Not seeing evidence of such a change and not being willing to obstruct the plans of other aspirants, I announced that I would not be a candidate in 1912. As a result of the Congressional election in 1910 the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives and Champ Clark was elected Speaker.

Clark entered Congress in 1892, from which time my acquaintance with him began. As is the custom, he came to Washington after his election and before his term began in March of 1893. I recall our first meeting at that time. He said that he had used my record as an argument in his race for the nomination. The Democratic member of Congress from his district was serving his first term when Clark announced his candidacy. His argument against the sitting member was that he had not accomplished anything during his first term. The member replied that it was not customary for a new member to do much during his first term; that it took time for a man to secure prominence and influence in Congress. I had been made a member of the Ways and Means Committee during my first term when I was only a little past thirty.

From that time on I met Clark in the 53d Corgress and afterwards at Democratic national gatherings. While I was not more intimate with him than I was with a thousand other Democrats scattered throughout the Union, I followed his record with interest and rejoiced at his growing influence.

After his election to the Speakership in 1911 I regarded him as the logical candidate and invited him to speak at my

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