Publisher: Mott Media
Item #: N371
Level: Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8
Every member of Congress was in his place. The gallery was crowded and people stood along the walls and jammed the hallways. William Jennings Bryan was about to speak. He stood tall and strong, a handsome figure, smartly dressed, in western boots.
Everywhere Bryan spoke, excited crowds cheered and applauded. He was called the golden-tongued orator yet he was known as the Great Commoner, fighting for the common people against the power of big corporation and monopolies, fighting against evils in society and government.
Bryan could help even the children in his audiences to understand the big issues. "When you buy one dollar's worth of starch," he said in a farming town, "you pay sixty cents for the starch and forty cents for the trusts and the tariff."
As a schoolboy, Bryan failed to place at all in the first speech contest he entered. Practicing in the fields and woods, speaking with pebbles in his mouth as he heard Demosthenes of ancient Greece had done, planning all year long for upcoming contests, he began to win prizes. While still a youth, he determined to emulate Cicero and use what eloquence and power he might attain, not for himself, but for those who were oppressed. And throughout his life he held to that decision.
A great Christian and a great American, William Jennings Bryan left an indelible mark upon America and upon the world.