Kazin's mission in A Godly Hero: The Life of William Fennings Bryan is to establish that the Great Commoner
was the same man with the same principles, and much the same following, during and between the two famous bookends of his career: the 1896 "Cross of Gold" speech that launched his tumultuous first presidential campaign, and the Scopes "Monkey Trial" a few days before his death.
Of course, like the big-city liberals and the craft unions with whom Bryan declined to ally himself, "the Great Commoner
" had never offered a place for black people under his banner.
The popular portrayals of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator, the Great Commoner
and the Savior of the Union are not lies, says Mr.
Moran then provides a day-to-day narrative of the trial, in which he presents a nuanced portrait of William Jennings Bryan that reveals that the Great Commoner
's defense of fundamentalism was not at all inconsistent with his earlier career championing democratic reforms.
In his Second Inaugural, Jefferson declared that government should preserve "that state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his own industry or that of his fathers." Even William Jennings Bryan, the Great Commoner
, in accepting the Democratic nomination in 1896, said, "We believe, as asserted in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal; but that does not mean that all men are or can be equal in possessions, in ability, or in merit; it simply means that all shall stand equal before the law." This is what Alexis de Tocqueville meant when he summed up American democracy in the two words "born equal": civic equality, social equality, the refusal of Americans to regard themselves as anyone's inferior.
SUTTPON PUBLISHING have recently republished a revised edition of Pitt the Elder: The Great Commoner
by Jeremy Black ([pounds]2.99/US$20.95.
The man known as the Great Commoner
defended the interests of small farmers, railed against the speculators of Wall Street, crusaded to ban the saloon, and denounced the teaching of evolution in public schools.
"99 out of 100 of the students of this university," intoned Bryan, "are the sons of the idle rich." Bryan had inadvertently called out the class's "magic number," and the freshmen shouted down the "Great Commoner
" by booming the class chant "9, 9, 99" over and over again.(21) Malcolm Ross, who attended Yale in the 1910s, recalled that "9 out of 10" of his fellow students subscribed "to anti-labor attitudes with fervor," as did students at "Harvard [and] California." There were students who became involved in the burgeoning settlement house movement, whose sympathies were with labor, but these constituted a small minority.
"Crusading is my business," the "Great Commoner
" once said; "early in life God revealed to me my power over men." Bryan was born in Illinois.