William Jennings Bryan
www.americancorner.org.tw | 2013-01-10 09:26
William Jennings Bryan was a gifted speaker, lawyer, three-time presidential candidate, and devout Protestant. Although he was born in Salem, Illinois, Bryan made his career in Nebraska politics. He won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1890. A tireless defender of the small farmer and laborer, Bryan worked closely with the Populist Party, a group of poor Midwestern and Southern farmers who suffered economically due to low prices for their crops, which they blamed on Northeastern business interests. Bryan's efforts on behalf of farmers and laborers (the so-called "common" people) earned him the title the "Great Commoner."
After William Jennings Bryan resigned as President Wilson's secretary of state, he resumed his place as one of the most important members of the Democratic Party. He strongly advocated women's suffrage (women's right to vote). His efforts, as well as others, led to the passage of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women a vote in elections. Do you know when women finally got this right? 
Not until 1920 did all women have the right to vote. Bryan also worked on other issues important to him during his lifetime. He championed such causes as the popular election of senators, an income tax in which the rich pay more than the poor, the creation of a U.S. Department of Labor, and the prohibition of the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. He also fought for the farmers of America. What effect do you think Bryan's efforts had on our country? 
Bryan's efforts had a lasting influence, even after he was no longer active in the Democratic Party. His belief in the power of the government to right wrongs and injustices and to guarantee the rights of all Americans is seen in programs like Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal initiatives. This program helped lift the country out of the Great Depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929. Can you think of other Americans whose beliefs were similar to Bryan's? What are some of their achievements? 
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