Newstalgia Reference Room with William Jennings Bryan and a portion of address he made at the 1908 Democratic Convention known as "An Ideal Republic". You're making a difference. Donate to Newstalgia and help save the Archives!
April 28, 2012

William Jennings Bryan in 1908 - the early 20th Century had no shortage of great orators.


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Staying in the early 20th Century today. Here is an address by the legendary William Jennings Bryan, who may probably be best known for his role in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925; teaching Evolution in public Schools. Bryan died within hours of the trials end. Although Bryan came to epitomize the Liberal Wing of the Democratic Party, he was a staunch prohibitionist and staunchly anti-Darwin, whose theory of Evolution was the basis for the famous trial. He unsuccessfully ran for President in 1896, 1900 and 1908 and was appointed Secretary of State in the Wilson Administration in 1913.

Here is the last portion of his address to the 1908 Democratic Convention, recorded several days later, on July 21, 1908 for posterity and also to be used for the Bryan campaign.

Later known as the "Ideal Republic" Address, here is the transcript of that speech since, being recorded in 1908, is a little hard to decipher in places:

“Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee: I can never fully discharge the debt of gratitude which I owe to my countrymen for the honors which they have so generously bestowed upon me; but, sirs, whether it be my lot to occupy the high office for which the convention has named me, or to spend the remainder of my days in private life, it shall be my constant ambition and my controlling purpose to aid in realizing the high ideals of those whose wisdom and courage and sacrifices brought this Republic into existence.

I can conceive of a national destiny surpassing the glories of the present and the past -- a destiny which meets the responsibility of today and measures up to the possibilities of the future. Behold a republic, resting securely upon the foundation stones quarried by revolutionary patriots from the mountain of eternal truth -- a republic applying in practice and proclaiming to the world the self-evident propositions that all men are created equal; that they are endowed with inalienable rights; that governments are instituted among men to secure these rights, and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Behold a republic in which civil and religion liberty stimulate all to earnest endeavor and in which the law restrains every hand uplifted for a neighbor's injury -- a republic in which every citizen is a sovereign, but in which no one cares to wear a crown. Behold a republic standing erect while empires all around are bowed beneath the weight of their own armaments -- a republic whose flag is loved while other flags are only feared. Behold a republic increasing in population, in wealth, in strength and in influence, solving the problems of civilization and hastening the coming of an universal brotherhood -- a republic which shakes thrones and dissolves aristocracies by its silent example and gives light and inspiration to those who sit in darkness. Behold a republic gradually but surely becoming the supreme moral factor in the world's progress and the accepted arbiter of the world's disputes -- a republic whose history, like the path of the just, "is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

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