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 country below Woodrow Wilson, William Jennings Bryan voiced the worries of many american citizens passed over of the post–Civil battle financial 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 foreign money coverage, prohibition, and women’s suffrage, and opposed to colonialism, monopolies, America’s access into global battle I, and the instructing of evolution within the public schools.

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He opposed the acquisition of empire, and he called for a more forceful federal regulatory policy than was adopted then, or since. Perhaps his most important accomplishment was to lead the Democratic Party through one of its most crucial transformations, from a party committed to the Jacksonian precept that government is best when it governs least, to a party pledged to use the power of government on behalf of those displaced and disadvantaged by the advance of industrialization and the emergence of corporate behemoths.

For most voters, party affiliation derived from attitudes related to social and economic characteristics. Ethnicity, religion, and party were closely related in much of mid-nineteenth century America. Outside the South, Republicans usually secured the support of three-quarters of the Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Northern Baptists. By contrast, Catholics usually voted Democratic in proportions of seven to one. Transplanted white southerners usually voted like their brethren in the South, giving strong support to the Democrats.

Such groups usually affiliated with the Democrats, because Democrats showed a long history of opposing nativism, anti-Catholicism, and moral reform. White Southerners after the Civil War usually voted the Democratic ticket. Willy Bryan came into the world a few months before Abraham Lincoln won election to the presidency. Lincoln's party, the Republicans, drew together Northerners who opposed the extension of slavery into the western territories, a few who favored outright abolition, some nativists fearful of increased immigration, and advocates of a stronger role for the federal government in the promotion of economic development.

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