A Righteous Cause: The Life of William Jennings Bryan by Robert W. Cherny

By Robert W. Cherny

thrice the Democratic Party’s nominee for president (1896, 1900, and 1908) and secretary of kingdom below Woodrow Wilson, William Jennings Bryan voiced the troubles of many american citizens omitted of the post–Civil struggle fiscal growth.

In A Righteous reason: The lifetime of Williams Jennings Bryan, Robert W. Cherny offers Bryan’s key position within the Democratic Party’s transformation from the conservatism of Grover Cleveland to the progressivism of Woodrow Wilson. Cherny attracts on Bryan’s writings and correspondence to track his significant political crusades for a brand new forex coverage, prohibition, and women’s suffrage, and opposed to colonialism, monopolies, America’s access into global struggle I, and the educating of evolution within the public schools.

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Fifteen-year-old Will entered Whipple Academy as a "typical farmer lad with all the crudities that are characteristic of the species," according to the recollection of one of his instructors. Will spent two years in the Academy and four more at Illinois College, acquiring an education typical of many colleges of the day. The seven students in Bryan's class took nearly the same courses. Students received introductions to many subjects, but studied only languages in any depth; Bryan and his classmates had one year of German, three of Latin, four of Greek, and four of rhetoric (English composition and speaking).

Mary was admitted to the bar in late 1888; in the summer of 1889, she gave birth to a second child, William Jennings Bryan, Jr. The Bryans established a new circle of friends, mostly young couples from among the town's professionals or from the University. Will built up his law practice in a shorter time than it had taken in Jacksonville; his speaking skills made him particularly successful in jury pleading. He also plunged into political speech-making for the Democratic party. He found campaign speaking not only temperamentally agreeable, but also a professional asset; he worked references to his law practice into his speeches, and he found clients as a result of stirring campaign addresses.

Will learned as much from Lyman Trumbull and from his observation of the city as in his classes, thereby repeating patterns from Illinois College and school in Salem. Nonetheless, his disciplined study habits earned him good grades even as he managed to find time for the YMCA, church, and the presidency of the junior class. He also continued to improve his public speaking by taking part in school oratory contests. At the end of two years, when the class elected its valedictorian, Will missed the honor by a single vote.

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