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Meet Amazing Americans Leaders & Statesmen William Jennings Bryan
An 1896 cartoon of Bryan leading figures including Uncle Sam, in support of 'Free Silver.'
An 1896 cartoon of William Jennings Bryan supporting "Free Silver."

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William Jennings Bryan and the Free Silver Movement

What exactly did he mean that money did not need to be "backed" by gold? Bryan did not think it was necessary for the United States to hold in reserve an amount of gold equal in value to all the paper money in circulation. Bryan wanted the United States to use silver to back the dollar at a value that would inflate the prices farmers received for their crops, easing their debt burden. This position was known as the Free Silver Movement.

At the Democratic National Convention in 1896, Bryan not only persuaded his party that he was right, he also secured the Democrats' nomination for the presidency with his skills as a speaker. Can you guess how Bryan's beliefs about money affected his campaign?

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