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BRYAN 1896 (?) A-0-1972-2
During the 1896 presidential campaign, William Jennings Bryan was running against William McKinley in support of the “Free Silver” movement, a central issue in the election. The Coinage Act of 1873, which was intended to move the U.S. toward adopting the god standard, reduced the money supply and raised interest rates, leading to a panic that started a five year depression. Leading up to the election of 1896, Grover Cleveland’s monetary policy had been in support of the gold standard. Rural, populist democrats favored “free silver”, or the unlimited coinage of silver at a ration of 16 to 1 against gold.
Bryan demanded the minting of silver to create new money as the way out of the depression. He traveled a total of 18,000 miles to deliver 600 speeches. McKinley did not travel or make campaign trail appearances, but promised “a full dinner pail”. He won, along with Hobart Garret, and beat Bryan and Arthur Sewall by 7 million votes to 6.5 million. After William Jennings Bryan lost the election, the United States government adopted the gold standard.