1896 Democratic Convention

Chicago, IL

July 7 to 11, 1896

Nominated: William J Bryan, of Florida for President

Nominated: Arthur Sewall, of Maine for Vice President

The democratic convention of 1896 took place against the background of an economic depression. When the convention opened Senator David Hill of New York who had been an opponent of Clevelands nomination- entered a resolution that commended " the honesty, economy, courage and fidelity of the present Democratic National Administration". The resolution was defeated 564-357One of the major policies of Cleveland that was unpopular was his support of the Gold Standard. Many in the party opposed the gold standard wanted it changed to include using silver as part of the currency. Leading the charge for what was called free silver was Senator Pitchfork Ben Tillman. During the debate over the platform William Jennings Bryan a two term congressman from Nebraska gave a stirring speech in support of Free Silver. In it he stated " Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand fro a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you sall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold". Byran brought down the house. The convention quickly adopted a platform in favor of free silver. When it came time to nominate a President Bryan was selected by the third ballot.