The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan

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

CHAPTER XVIII
THE VINDICATION OF MR. BRYAN'S POLICIES

HENRY WATTERSON once said that Mr. Bryan was a moral philosopher--not a statesman. "He is no statesman," said Mr. Watterson, "who has not learned to detach his policies from his visions. He is no statesman who has not emancipated himself from that which for the want of a better name dreamers call the ideal. He is no statesman who does not apply his means to his ends, going fast or slow, as occasion requires, but making no mistakes in reading the riddle of the time, in deciphering the mathematics of the moment, in translating the spirit of the people."

Mr. Bryan certainly refused to detach his policies from his ideals. In advocating a measure, he never asked, "Is it popular?" He spent his life advocating unpopular causes which he felt to be right. Phillips Brooks characterizes such a man when be says, "Great is the condition of a man who lets rewards come, if they will or fail to come, but goes on his way true to the truth simply because it is true, strongly loyal to the right, for its pure righteousness."

If a successful political career can be gauged by the public offices held, Mr. Bryan was only moderately successful, but Wayne C. Williams in his book "Bryan--A Study in Political Vindication," gives another standard of success. "No other man in American public life has ever lived to see so many of his ideas and reforms accepted by his political opponents and the people at large and established in the fundamental law and the institutions of the land."

As all of Mr. Bryan's life was so closely interwoven with constructive policies, it will be necessary to set down a

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