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BRYAN 1896 (?) A-0-1972-2
This button is a replica of an 1896 presidential campaign button supporting the “Free Silver” movement which was also supported by William Jennings Bryan. In this campaign Bryan was running against William McKinley and the “Free Silver” movement was a central issue in the election.
The Coinage Act of 1873 that was intended to move the U.S. toward adopting the god standard reduced the money supply which raised interest rates and led to a panic that started a five year depression. Leading up to the election of 1896, Grover Cleveland’s monetary policy had been in support of the gold standard, while more rural, populist democrats favored “free silver” ie the unlimited coinage of silver at a ration of 16 to 1 against gold.
During the campaign, Bryan demanded the minting of silver to create new money as the way out of the 90’s depression, running an energetic campaign, traveling 18,000 miles to deliver 600 speeches. McKinley on the other hand, never left his porch at home in Ohio, but promised “a full dinner pail” - he won, with Hobart Garret, beating Bryan and Arthur Sewall: 7 million votes to 6.5 million. After William Jennings Bryan lost the election the United States government adopted the gold standard.