19. Free Silver

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Length: {5:10 minutes}

Summary of Free Silver Movement and William Jennings Bryan

Economic Manipulation by Money Changers

  1. Economic Booms and Busts:
    • The money changers periodically created economic booms followed by depressions to acquire homes and farms cheaply.
  2. 1891 ABA Memo:
    • The American Bankers Association (ABA) planned a depression for September 1, 1894, by refusing to renew loans and foreclosing on properties, aiming to control the American economy and force farmers into tenant status.

Push for Silver Money

  1. Gold Standard Manipulation:
    • Since gold was scarce and easy to manipulate, the money changers controlled the economy, prompting public demand for the legalization of silver money to break this stranglehold.
  2. Crime of 1873:
    • The demonetization of silver in 1873, referred to as the “Crime of ’73,” led to widespread demand for its reinstatement.

William Jennings Bryan’s Campaigns

  1. Presidential Campaign of 1896:
    • William Jennings Bryan, a Democratic senator, ran on the free silver issue. His famous “Crown of Thorns and Cross of Gold” speech at the Democratic National Convention won him the nomination.

  2. Fierce Election Contest:
  3. Subsequent Runs and Influence:
    • Bryan ran for president again in 1900 and 1908, but was unsuccessful. In 1912, he played a key role in securing the Democratic nomination for Woodrow Wilson, who appointed Bryan as Secretary of State.
  4. Resignation and Legacy:
    • Bryan resigned in 1915 over disagreements with Wilson, particularly concerning the sinking of the Lusitania. Although he never became president, his efforts delayed the establishment of a new central bank by the money changers for 17 years.
  5. The 1896 presidential race was fiercely contested. Bryan campaigned vigorously, but the Republican candidate, William McKinley, with strong backing from bankers and industrialists, won by a narrow margin.

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