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Macroeconomic Consequences
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The Cross of Gold Speech
The Elections
Gold Inflation
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Monetary History

Political Groups and their Backers

From 1879 to the end of the century a constant agitation for the expansion of the money stock raged in the USA. Political parties like the Inflationnist Party were founded whose sole purpose was to make, by one mean or another, the total money supply rise. Some favored the issue of paper money, like the extremist Greenbackers, some the return to the Bimetallic Standard. Farmers were the most cruelly struck of all by the deflation. In rural areas, as the wholesale price of agricultural commodities fell at at a greater rate of about 3 % a year. As many farmers, especially in the West, were deeply indebted, this meant that the real value of their debts increased every year. Sellers of goods whose price fall have a stronger political influence than buyers of rising prices commodities, because they are concentrated in an industry. Farmers were thus powerful backers of Bryan and the inflationnist cause. (more on this)

Silver producers, of course, advocated a silver or bimetallic standard, "for the good of the country". Furthermore, the silver producing states had a overrepresentation in the US Senate in term of population. Farmers being generally net monetary debtors, the real burden of their debts was rising with deflation.

The country was split in two before the Presidential elections of 1896, with about one half backing Bryan and his progressive platform (with the free coinage of silver as its main tenet), and the other for the Republican Mc Kinley, who advocated a Gold Standard. The will show you in a simple way what were the characteristics of both parties, platforms, arguments and backers.

NB : By clicking on words in the commentary, you will be taken to the glossary where I have defined most of the specialized terms for you. Please use your BACK button to come to the original page.


The 1896 Presidential Elections

Parties and political constituencies

William Jennings Bryan
Democrats candidate


William Mc Kinley
Republican candidate

Stood for bimetallism
and the free coinage of silver
at the ratio of 16:1

Woman suffrage
Anti Imperialism
8 hours day
Income tax
Trust regulation


Stood for a gold standard
  1. Silver producers
  2. Inflationnists

    Labor groups

    Debtor farmers

  3. Sincere Bimetallists

Who did back them ?

  1. Gold producers
  2. Deflationnists


    Foreign bondholders

  3. Convinced monometallists
  • Main Street
  • The country
  • Small business


  • Wall Street
  • Cities
  • Big business
    and financiers
  • Democratic Party
  • Populists Party of the USA
  • Free Silver Movement
  • American Bimetallic League
  • National Silver Committee

Movements, parties,


  • Republican Party
  • The Bimetallist
  • Coin’s Financial School


& publications

  • Sound Money
  • Silverites
  • Silver Fishes
  • Inflationnists


  • Gold bugs
  • Monetary monomaniacs
  • Hard Money men
«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 for a gold standard by saying to them:
You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.»
WJ Bryan

Examples of
arguments and

"The man who cannot now see that
they are little more than a pack of
brainless dupes and impudent humbugs blended, ought to turn his attention to something less complicated than the
money question.

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