1896 United States presidential election

1896 United States presidential election

November 3, 1896

447 members of the Electoral College
224 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout79.3%[1] Increase 4.6 pp
 William McKinley by Courtney Art Studio, 1896 (cropped).jpgWilliam Jennings Bryan 2 (cropped).jpg
NomineeWilliam McKinleyWilliam Jennings Bryan
Home stateOhioNebraska
Running mateGarret HobartArthur Sewall
(Democratic, Silver)
Thomas E. Watson
Electoral vote271176
States carried2322
Popular vote7,112,1386,510,807

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Presidential election results map. Red denotes those won by McKinley/Hobart, blue denotes states won by Bryan/Sewall and the Democratic/Populist ticket of Bryan/Watson. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

Grover Cleveland

Elected President

William McKinley

The 1896 United States presidential election was the 28th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1896. Former Governor William McKinley, the Republican candidate, defeated former Representative William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate. The 1896 campaign, which took place during an economic depression known as the Panic of 1893, was a political realignment that ended the old Third Party System and began the Fourth Party System.[2]

Incumbent Democratic President Grover Cleveland did not seek election to a second consecutive term (which would have been his third overall), leaving the Democratic nomination open. Bryan, an attorney and former Congressman, galvanized support with his Cross of Gold speech, which called for a reform of the monetary system and attacked business leaders as the cause of ongoing economic depression. The 1896 Democratic National Convention repudiated the Cleveland administration and nominated Bryan on the fifth presidential ballot. Bryan then won the nomination of the Populist Party, which had won several states in 1892 and shared many of Bryan's policies. In opposition to Bryan, some conservative Bourbon Democrats formed the National Democratic Party and nominated Senator John M. Palmer. McKinley prevailed by a wide margin on the first ballot of the 1896 Republican National Convention.

Since the onset of the Panic of 1893, the nation had been mired in a deep economic depression, marked by low prices, low profits, high unemployment, and violent strikes. Economic issues, especially tariff policy and the question of whether the gold standard should be preserved for the money supply, were central issues. McKinley forged a conservative coalition in which businessmen, professionals, prosperous farmers, and skilled factory workers turned off by Bryan's agrarian policies were heavily represented. McKinley was strongest in cities and in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Pacific Coast. Republican campaign manager Mark Hanna pioneered many modern campaign techniques, facilitated by a $3.5 million budget. Bryan presented his campaign as a crusade of the working man against the rich, who impoverished America by limiting the money supply. Silver, he said, was in ample supply and if coined into money would restore prosperity while undermining the illicit power of the money trust. Bryan was strongest in the South, rural Midwest, and Rocky Mountain states. Bryan's moralistic rhetoric and crusade for inflation (to be generated by the institution of bimetallism) alienated conservatives.

Bryan campaigned vigorously throughout the swing states of the Midwest, while McKinley conducted a "front porch" campaign. At the end of an intensely heated contest, McKinley won a majority of the popular and electoral vote. Bryan won 46.7% of the popular vote, while Palmer won just under 1% of the vote. Turnout was very high, passing 90% of the eligible voters in many places. The Democratic Party's repudiation of its Bourbon faction largely gave Bryan and his supporters' control of the Democratic Party until the 1920s, and set the stage for Republican domination of the Fourth Party System.


Republican Party nomination

McKinley/Hobart campaign poster
Republican Party (United States)
1896 Republican Party ticket
William McKinleyGarret Hobart
for Presidentfor Vice President
Governor of Ohio
24th President of the
New Jersey Senate


Other candidates

Thomas B. ReedMatthew S. QuayLevi P. MortonWilliam B. AllisonCharles F. MandersonShelby M. Cullom
William Boyd Allison.jpg
Charles Frederick Manderson.jpg
Picture of Shelby M. Cullom.jpg
Speaker of the House
from Maine
U.S. Senator
from Pennsylvania
Vice President of the United States
U.S. Senator
from Iowa
U.S. Senator
from Nebraska
U.S. Senator
from Illinois

At their convention in St. Louis, Missouri, held between June 16 and 18, 1896, the Republicans nominated William McKinley for president and New Jersey's Garret Hobart for vice-president. McKinley had just vacated the office of Governor of Ohio. Both candidates were easily nominated on first ballots.

McKinley's campaign manager, a wealthy and talented Ohio businessman named Mark Hanna, visited the leaders of large corporations and major, influential banks after the Republican Convention to raise funds for the campaign. Given that many businessmen and bankers were terrified of Bryan's populist rhetoric and demand for the end of the gold standard, Hanna had few problems in raising record amounts of money. As a result, Hanna raised a staggering $3.5 million for the campaign and outspent the Democrats by an estimated 5-to-1 margin. Major McKinley was the last veteran of the American Civil War to be nominated for president by either major party.

Democratic Party nomination

Bryan's famous "cross of gold" speech gave him the presidential nomination and swung the party to the silver cause
Democratic Party (United States)
1896 Democratic Party ticket
William Jennings BryanArthur Sewall
for Presidentfor Vice President
Former U.S. Representative
for Nebraska's 1st
President of the
Maine Central Railroad

Other candidates

Candidates in this section are sorted by their highest vote count on the nominating ballots, then by reverse date of withdrawal
Richard P. BlandRobert E. PattisonJoseph BlackburnHorace BoiesJohn R. McLean
John Roll McLean.jpg
U.S. Representative
from Missouri
Governor of Pennsylvania
United States Senator
from Kentucky
Governor of Iowa
Publisher of The Cincinnati Enquirer
from Ohio
291 votes100 votes82 votes67 votes54 votes
Claude MatthewsBenjamin TillmanSylvester PennoyerHenry M. TellerWilliam Russell
Senator Henry M Teller.jpg
Governor of Indiana
United States Senator
from South Carolina
Governor of Oregon
United States Senator
from Colorado
Governor of Massachusetts
37 votes17 votes8 votes8 votesW: June 20[3]
2 votes
William R. MorrisonJohn W. DanielStephen M. WhiteGrover Cleveland
Portrait of John W. Daniel.jpg
President Grover Cleveland.jpg
U.S. Representative
from Illinois
United States Senator
from Virginia
United States Senator
from California
President of the United States
from New York

One month after McKinley's nomination, supporters of silver-backed currency took control of the Democratic convention held in Chicago on July 7–11. Most of the Southern and Western delegates were committed to implementing the "free silver" ideas of the Populist Party. The convention repudiated President Cleveland's gold standard policies and then repudiated Cleveland himself. This, however, left the convention wide open: there was no obvious successor to Cleveland. A two-thirds vote was required for the nomination and the silverites had it in spite of the extreme regional polarization of the delegates. In a test vote on an anti-silver measure, the Eastern states (from Maryland to Maine), with 28% of the delegates, voted 96% in favor. The other delegates voted 91% against, so the silverites could count on a majority of 67% of the delegates.[5]

An attorney, former congressman, and unsuccessful Senate candidate named William Jennings Bryan filled the void. A superb orator, Bryan hailed from Nebraska and spoke for the farmers who were suffering from the economic depression following the Panic of 1893. At the convention, Bryan delivered what has been considered one of the greatest political speeches in American history, the "Cross of Gold" Speech. Bryan presented a passionate defense of farmers and factory workers struggling to survive the economic depression, and he attacked big-city business owners and leaders as the cause of much of their suffering. He called for reform of the monetary system, an end to the gold standard, and government relief efforts for farmers and others hurt by the economic depression. Bryan's speech was so dramatic that after he had finished many delegates carried him on their shoulders around the convention hall.

The following day, eight names were placed in nomination: Richard "Silver Dick" Bland, William J. Bryan, Claude Matthews, Horace Boies, Joseph Blackburn, John R. McLean, Robert E. Pattison, and Sylvester Pennoyer. Despite a strong initial showing by Bland, who led on the first three ballots, Bryan's electrifying speech helped him gain the momentum required to win the nomination, which he did on the fifth ballot after most of the other candidates withdrew in his favor.

Following Bland's defeat, his supporters attempted to nominate him as Bryan's running-mate; however, Bland was more interested in winning back his former seat in the House of Representatives, and so withdrew his name from consideration despite leading the early rounds of voting. Arthur Sewall, a wealthy shipbuilder from Maine, was eventually chosen as the vice-presidential nominee. It was felt that Sewall's wealth might encourage him to help pay some campaign expenses. At just 36 years of age, Bryan was only a year older than the minimum age required by the Constitution to be president. Bryan remains the youngest person ever nominated by a major party for president.

Third parties and independents

Prohibition Party nomination

1896 Prohibition Party ticket
Joshua LeveringHale Johnson
for Presidentfor Vice President
Joshua Levering (1845-1935) (10506733086) (cropped2).jpg
Hale Johnson (1847-1902) (10506934603) (3).jpg
Baptist leader and businessman
from Maryland
Former Mayor of
Newton, Illinois
Other candidates
Louis C. HughesCharles E. Bentley
LC hughes.jpg
C E Bentley.jpg
11th Governor of
the Arizona Territory
Party State Chairman
from Nebraska
W:On First Ballot[6]DTBN

The Prohibition Party found itself going into the convention divided into two factions, each unwilling to give ground or compromise with the other. The "Broad-Gauge" wing, led by Charles Bentley and former Kansas Governor John St. John, demanded the inclusion of planks endorsing the free coinage of silver at 16:1 and of women's suffrage, the former refusing to accept the nomination if such amendments to the party platform were not approved. The "Narrow-Gauge" wing, which was led by Professor Samuel Dickie of Michigan and rallied around the candidacy of Joshua Levering, demanded that the party platform remain exclusively one dedicated to the prohibition of alcohol.[7] It wasn't long into the convention when conflict between the two sides broke out over the nomination of a permanent chairman, with a number of presented candidates for the position withdrawing before Oliver Stewart of Illinois, a "Broad-Gauger", was nominated.[8] A minority report made by St. John that supported the free coinage of silver, government control of railroads and telegraphs, an income tax and referendums was prevented from being tabled giving "Broad-Gaugers" confidence, but a number of those who voted in favor of the report were actually fence-sitters, undecided on how to vote, or were against gagging the report. After the report was brought forward by a majority of 188, "Narrow-Gaugers" campaigned among wavering delegates of the Northeast and Midwest in an effort to convince them of the electoral consequences that would come should the minority report be adopted, that Party gains in States like New York would reverse overnight in the face of free coinage and populism. When St. John's report was brought up to a formal vote the margins had largely reversed, with it being rejected 492 to 310. With the silver delegates still in shock and St. John attempting to move for a reconsideration, a move was made by Illinois "Narrow-Gaugers" to offer as a substitute to both the minority and majority reports a single plank platform centered around Prohibition. A rising vote was taken in lieu of a roll call, with the "Narrow-Gauge" Platform winning the vote and being adopted.

In an attempt to mollify suffragists who were incensed at the lack of a plank endorsing women's suffrage, the plank itself was adopted through a resolution by the convention by a near unanimous vote. By the time it came to the Party's nomination for president, many of the "Broad-Gaugers" were already openly considering bolting and running their own candidate as it became increasingly apparent that the "Narrow-Gaugers" had brought a majority of the convention under their influence, formal action was deferred until after the nomination for president was made. With Charles Bentley refusing to be nominating under the single-plank platform an attempt was made to nominate the recently retired Governor of the Arizona Territory, Louis Hughes, but as it became apparent that the "Narrow-Gauger" Joshua Levering was set to receive the support of most of the convention delegates, they opted to withdraw Hughes's name. Once Levering's nomination was confirmed without any visible opposition, around 200 of those who were suffragists, silverites or populists bolted the convention, led by Charles Bentley and John St. John, and would join with the National Reform "Party" to create the National Party. Afterwards the convention nominated with unanimity Hale Johnson of Illinois for the Vice Presidency.[9][6]

National Party nomination

1896 National Party ticket
Charles E. BentleyJames H. Southgate
for Presidentfor Vice President
C E Bentley.jpg
Party State Chairman
from Nebraska
Party State Chairman
from North Carolina

Initially known as the "National Reform Party", the convention itself started only a day before the Prohibition National Convention, also being held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Though initially only a gathering of eight or so delegates, it was hoped that any bolters from the Prohibition Party might find their way there and would support the nomination of Representative Joseph C. Sibley for president. A sizable bolt did indeed occur upon the nomination of Joshua Levering by the Prohibition Party to the Presidency, with Charles E. Bentley and former Kansas governor John St. John leading a walkout of "Broad-Gaugers" from their convention, St. John himself exclaiming that the regular convention had been "...bought up by Wall Street." The two groups would reorganize as the "National Party" and swiftly nominated Charles Bentley for the presidency, with James Southgate, the State Chairman for the North Carolina Prohibition Party, as his running mate. The delegates approved the minority report that had been rejected at the Prohibitionist Convention calling for free coinage and greenbacks, government control of railroads and telegraphs, direct election of senators and the president, and an income tax among others.[10][6][9]

Socialist Labor Party nomination

1896 Socialist Labor Party ticket
Charles MatchettMatthew Maguire
for Presidentfor Vice President
Labor leader
from New York
Alderman in
Paterson, New Jersey
Charles H. Matchett - Im04.JPG

The Socialist Labor Convention was held in New York City on July 9, 1896. The convention nominated Charles Matchett of New York and Matthew Maguire of New Jersey. Its platform favored reduction in hours of labor; possession by the federal government of mines, railroads, canals, telegraphs, and telephones; possession by municipalities of water-works, gas-works, and electric plants; the issue of money by the federal government alone; the employment of the unemployed by the public authorities; abolition of the veto power; abolition of the United States Senate; women's suffrage; and uniform criminal law throughout the Union.[11]

Peoples' Party nomination

1896 Peoples' Party ticket
William Jennings BryanThomas E. Watson
for Presidentfor Vice President
Bryan 1896 left.png
Younger Tom Watson.gif
Former U.S. Representative
for Nebraska's 1st
Former U.S. Representative
for Georgia's 10th
Other candidates
Candidates in this section are sorted by their highest vote count on the nominating ballots
Seymour F. NortonEugene V. DebsJacob S. Coxey
Eugene V. Debs, bw photo portrait, 1897.jpg
Jacob S. Coxey, Sr. (The Coxey Plan).png
Writer and Philanthropist
from Illinois
Trade Unionist and Labor leader
from Indiana
Businessman and Political activist
from Ohio
321 votesDTBN
8 votes
1 votes

Of the several third parties active in 1896, by far the most prominent was the People's Party. Formed in 1892, the Populists represented the philosophy of agrarianism (derived from Jeffersonian democracy), which held that farming was a superior way of life that was being exploited by bankers and middlemen. The Populists attracted cotton farmers in the South and wheat farmers in the West, but significantly few farmers in the Northeast and rural Midwest. In the presidential election of 1892, Populist candidate James B. Weaver carried four states, and in 1894, the Populists scored victories in congressional and state legislature races in a number of Southern and Western states. In the Southern states, including Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, the wins were obtained by electoral fusion with the Republicans against the dominant Bourbon Democrats, whereas in the rest of the country, fusion, if practiced, was typically undertaken with the Democrats, as in the state of Washington.[12][13] By 1896, some Populists believed that they could replace the Democrats as the main opposition party to the Republicans. However, the Democrats' nomination of Bryan, who supported many Populist goals and ideas, placed the party in a dilemma. Torn between choosing their own presidential candidate or supporting Bryan, the party leadership decided that nominating their own candidate would simply divide the forces of reform and hand the election to the more conservative Republicans. At their national convention in 1896, the Populists chose Bryan as their presidential nominee. However, to demonstrate that they were still independent from the Democrats, the Populists also chose former Georgia Representative Thomas E. Watson as their vice-presidential candidate instead of Arthur Sewall. Bryan eagerly accepted the Populist nomination, but was vague as to whether, if elected, he would choose Watson as his vice-president instead of Sewall. With this election, the Populists began to be absorbed into the Democratic Party; within a few elections the party would disappear completely. The 1896 election was particularly detrimental to the Populist Party in the South; the party divided itself between members who favored cooperation with the Democrats to achieve reform at the national level and members who favored cooperation with the Republicans to achieve reform at a state level.

Bryan's Democratic and Populist supporters organized joint "fusion" tickets in several states with pledged electors drawn from both parties. The New York Times counted seventy-one Populist and six Silver Republican electoral candidates pledged to Bryan. In ten states where the fusion ticket was successful, twenty-seven electors voted for Bryan for president and Watson for vice president. (The remainder of Bryan's 176 electors, including the Populist and Silver Republican electors from Colorado and Idaho, voted for Sewall.)[14]

Presidential BallotVice Presidential Ballot
William Jennings Bryan1,042Thomas E. Watson469.5
Seymour F. Norton321Arthur Sewall257.5
Eugene V. Debs8
Ignatius L. Donnelly3
Jacob S. Coxey1

Silver Party nomination

1896 Silver Party ticket
William Jennings BryanArthur Sewall
for Presidentfor Vice President
Bryan 1896 left.png
Former U.S. Representative
for Nebraska's 1st
Director of the
Maine Central Railroad

The Silver Party was organized in 1892. Near the beginning of that year, U.S. senators from silver-producing states (Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Montana) began objecting to President Benjamin Harrison's economic policies and advocated the free coinage of silver. Senator Henry Teller notified the Senate that if the two major parties did not back down on their financial policies, the four western states would back a third party. The Portland Morning Oregonian reported on June 27, 1892, that a Silver Party was being organized along those lines.

Nevada silverites called a state convention to be held on June 5, 1892, just days following the close of the Democratic National Convention. The convention noted that neither the Republicans or Democrats addressed the silver concerns of western states and officially organized the "Silver Party of Nevada." Proceeding by itself, the Silver Party swept the state in 1892; James Weaver, the People's Party nominee for president running on the Silver ticket, won 66.8% of the vote. Francis Newlands was elected to the U.S. House with 72.5% of the vote. The Silverites took control of the legislature, assuring the election of William Stewart to the U.S. Senate.

The success of the Nevada silverites spurred their brethren in Colorado to action; the Colorado Silver Party never materialized, however.

In the 1894 midterm elections, the Silver Party remained a Nevada party. It swept all statewide offices, formerly held by Republicans. John Edward Jones was elected Governor with 50% of the vote; Newlands was re-elected with 44%.

Following the Democratic Party debacle in 1894, James Weaver began agitating for the creation of a nationwide Silver Party. He altered the People's Party platform from 1892 and eliminated planks he felt would be divisive for a larger party and began to lobby silver men around the nation. The first major statement by the national Silver Party was an address delivered to the American Bimetallic League, printed in the Emporia Daily Gazette on March 6, 1895. Letterhead for the nascent party promoted U.S. Representative Joseph Sibley of Pennsylvania for president, noting that his endorsement by the Prohibitionists would secure that party's support.

Silver leaders met in Washington DC on January 22 to discuss holding a national convention. They decided to wait until after the conventions of the two major parties in case one of them agreed to the 16:1 coinage demands. Just a few days later, however, party regulars convinced the leaders to change course. On January 29, the leaders issued a call for a national convention to be held in St. Louis on July 22. J.J. Mott, the Silver Party National Chairman, went to great lengths to organize state parties, but his efforts did not produce dramatic results. The Silver State convention in Ohio was attended by just 20 people, even though the president of the Bimetallic League, A.J. Warner, lived there.

Although most Silverites had been pushing the nomination of Senator Teller, the situation changed with the Democratic nomination of William Jennings Bryan. Congressman Newlands was in Chicago as the official Silver Party visitor, and he announced on July 10 that the Silver Party should endorse the Democratic ticket. Chairman Mott, who was in St. Louis making final arrangements for the Silver National Convention, told a reporter five days later "All the Silver Party wants is silver, and the Democratic platform will give us that." I.B. Stevens, a member of the executive committee, told a reporter that the Silver Party "will bring to the support of [Bryan] hundreds of thousands who do not wish to vote a Democratic ticket."

On July 25, both Bryan and Arthur Sewall would be nominated by acclamation.

National Democratic Party nomination

1896 National Democratic Party ticket
John M. PalmerSimon Bolivar Buckner
for Presidentfor Vice President
Reminiscences, or, Four years in the Confederate Army - a history of the experiences of the private soldier in camp, hospital, prison, on the march, and on the battlefield, 1861 to 1865 (1898) (14793579403).jpg
U.S. Senator
from Illinois
Governor of Kentucky
Other candidates
Candidates in this section are sorted by their highest vote count on the nominating ballots, then by reverse date of withdrawal
Edward S. BraggHenry WattersonJames BroadheadDaniel W. LawlerGrover Cleveland
Photograph of Henry Watterson.jpg
James O. Broadhead.jpg
Daniel William Lawler (March 28, 1859 - September 15, 1926) in 1915.jpg
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
from Wisconsin
U.S. Representative
for Kentucky's 5th
U.S. Representative
for Missouri's 9th
from Minnesota
24th U.S. President
from New York
130.5 votesW:On First BallotDTBNDTBNDTBN
The National "Gold" Democratic Convention

The pro-gold Democrats reacted to Bryan's nomination with a mixture of anger, desperation, and confusion. A number of pro-gold Bourbon Democrats urged a "bolt" and the formation of a third party. In response, a hastily arranged assembly on July 24 organized the National Democratic Party. A follow-up meeting in August scheduled a nominating convention for September in Indianapolis and issued an appeal to fellow Democrats. In this document, the National Democratic Party portrayed itself as the legitimate heir to Presidents Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland.

Delegates from forty-one states gathered at the National Democratic Party's national nominating convention in Indianapolis on September 2. Some delegates planned to nominate Cleveland, but they relented after a telegram arrived stating that he would not accept. Senator William Freeman Vilas from Wisconsin, the main drafter of the National Democratic Party's platform, was a favorite of the delegates. However, Vilas refused to run as the party's sacrificial lamb. The choice instead was John M. Palmer, a 79-year-old former senator from Illinois.[15] Simon Bolivar Buckner, a 73-year-old former governor of Kentucky, was nominated by acclamation for vice-president. The ticket, symbolic of post-Civil War reconciliation, featured the oldest combined age of the candidates in American history.

Palmer/Buckner campaign button

Despite their advanced ages, Palmer and Buckner embarked on a busy speaking tour, including visits to most major cities in the East. This won them considerable respect from the party faithful, although some found it hard to take the geriatric campaigning seriously. "You would laugh yourself sick could you see old Palmer," wrote lawyer Kenesaw Mountain Landis. "He has actually gotten it into his head he is running for office."[16] The Palmer ticket was considered to be a vehicle to elect McKinley for some Gold Democrats, such as William Collins Whitney and Abram Hewitt, the treasurer of the National Democratic Party, and they received quiet financial support from Mark Hanna. Palmer himself said at a campaign stop that if "this vast crowd casts its vote for William McKinley next Tuesday, I shall charge them with no sin."[17] There was even some cooperation with the Republican Party, especially in finances. The Republicans hoped that Palmer could draw enough Democratic votes from Bryan to tip marginal Midwestern and border states into McKinley's column. In a private letter, Hewitt underscored the "entire harmony of action" between both parties in standing against Bryan.[18]

However, the National Democratic Party was not merely an adjunct to the McKinley campaign. An important goal was to nurture a loyal remnant for future victory. Repeatedly they depicted Bryan's prospective defeat, and a credible showing for Palmer, as paving the way for ultimate recapture of the Democratic Party, and this did indeed happen in 1904.[19]

Presidential ballot
Ballot1st before shifts1st after shifts
John M. Palmer757.5769.5
Edward S. Bragg130.5118.5

Campaign strategies

While the Republican Party entered 1896 assuming that the Democrats were in shambles and victory would be easy, especially after the unprecedented Republican landslide in the congressional elections of 1894, the nationwide emotional response to the Bryan candidacy changed everything. By summer, it appeared that Bryan was ahead in the South and West and probably also in the Midwest.[20][21] An entirely new strategy was called for by the McKinley campaign. It was designed to educate voters in the money issues, to demonstrate silverite fallacies, and to portray Bryan himself as a dangerous crusader. McKinley would be portrayed as the safe and sound champion of jobs and sound money, with his high tariff proposals guaranteed to return prosperity for everyone. The McKinley campaign would be national and centralized, using the Republican National Committee as the tool of the candidate, instead of the state parties' tool.[22] Furthermore, the McKinley campaign stressed his pluralistic commitment to prosperity for all groups (including minorities).[23]


The McKinley campaign invented a new form of campaign financing that has dominated American politics ever since.[24] Instead of asking office holders to return a cut of their pay, Hanna went to financiers and industrialists and made a business proposition. He explained that Bryan would win if nothing happened, and that the McKinley team had a winning counterattack that would be very expensive. He then would ask them how much it was worth to the business not to have Bryan as president. He suggested an amount and was happy to take a check. Hanna had moved beyond partisanship and campaign rhetoric to a businessman's thinking about how to achieve a desired result. He raised $3.5 million. Hanna brought in banker Charles G. Dawes to run his Chicago office and spend about $2 million in the critical region.[25]

Meanwhile, traditional funders of the Democratic Party (mostly financiers from the Northeast) rejected Bryan, although he did manage to raise about $500,000. Some of it came from businessmen with interests in silver mining.

The financial disparity grew larger and larger as the Republicans funded more and more rallies, speeches, and torchlight parades, as well as hundreds of millions of pamphlets attacking Bryan and praising McKinley. Lacking a systematic fund-raising system, Bryan was unable to tap his potential supporters, and he had to rely on passing the hat at rallies. National Chairman Jones pleaded, "No matter in how small sums, no matter by what humble contributions, let the friends of liberty and national honor contribute all they can."[26]

Republican attacks on Bryan

Conservatives said that Bryan (the Populist snake) was taking over (swallowing) the Democratic Party (the mule). Cartoon from "Judge" magazine, 1896.

Increasingly, the Republicans personalized their attacks on Bryan as a dangerous religious fanatic.[27] The counter-crusading rhetoric focused on Bryan as a reckless revolutionary whose policies would destroy the economic system.[28] Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld was running for re-election after having pardoned several of the anarchists convicted in the Haymarket affair. Republican posters and speeches linked Altgeld and Bryan as two dangerous anarchists.[29] The Republican Party tried any number of tactics to ridicule Bryan's economic policies. In one case they printed fake dollar bills which had Bryan's face and read "IN GOD WE TRUST ... FOR THE OTHER 53 CENTS", illustrating their claim that a dollar bill would be worth only 47 cents if it was backed by silver instead of gold.[30]

Ethnic responses

The Democratic Party in Eastern and Midwestern cities had a strong German Catholic base that was alienated by free silver and inflationist panaceas. They showed little enthusiasm for Bryan, although many were worried that a Republican victory would bring prohibition into play.[31][32] The Irish Catholics disliked Bryan's revivalistic rhetoric and worried about prohibition as well. However their leaders decided to stick with Bryan, since the departure of so many Bourbon businessmen from the party left the Irish increasingly in control.[33][34]

Labor unions and skilled workers

The Bryan campaign appealed first of all to farmers. It told urban workers that their return to prosperity was possible only if the farmers prospered first. Bryan made the point bluntly in the "Cross of Gold" speech, delivered in Chicago just 25 years after that city had indeed burned down: "Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again; but destroy our farms, and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country."[35] Juxtaposing "our farms" and "your cities" did not go over well in cities; they voted 59% for McKinley. Among the industrial cities, Bryan carried only two (Troy, New York, and Fort Wayne, Indiana).[36]

The main labor unions were reluctant to endorse Bryan because their members feared inflation.[37][38] Railroad workers especially worried that Bryan's silver programs would bankrupt the railroads, which were in a shaky financial condition in the depression and whose bonds were payable in gold. Factory workers saw no advantage in inflation to help miners and farmers, because their urban cost of living would shoot up and they would be hurt. The McKinley campaign gave special attention to skilled workers, especially in the Midwest and adjacent states.[39] Secret polls show that large majorities of railroad and factory workers voted for McKinley.[40]

The fall campaign

Three-quarters standing portrait of Bryan in a dark suit and white tie, with hands clasped before him, and with a serious and commanding expression
Bryan's imposing voice and height made a deep impression on many who thronged to hear him.

Throughout the campaign the South and Mountain states appeared certain to vote for Bryan, whereas the East was certain for McKinley. In play were the Midwest and the Border States.

Bryan traveled 18,000 miles in 3 months, concentrating on the critical states of the Midwest.

The Republican Party amassed an unprecedented war chest at all levels: national, state and local. Outspent and shut out of the party's traditional newspapers, Bryan decided his best chance to win the election was to conduct a vigorous national speaking tour by train. His fiery crusading rhetoric to huge audiences would make his campaign a newsworthy story that the hostile press would have to cover, and he could speak to the voters directly instead of through editorials. He was the first presidential candidate since Stephen Douglas in 1860 to canvass directly, and the first ever to criss-cross the nation and meet voters in person.

The novelty of seeing a visiting presidential candidate, combined with Bryan's spellbinding oratory and the passion of his believers, generated huge crowds. Silverites welcomed their hero with all-day celebrations of parades, band music, picnic meals, endless speeches, and undying demonstrations of support. Bryan focused his efforts on the Midwest, which everyone agreed would be the decisive battleground in the election. In just 100 days, Bryan gave over 500 speeches to several million people. His record was 36 speeches in one day in St. Louis. Relying on just a few hours of sleep a night, he traveled 18,000 miles by rail[41] to address five million people, often in a hoarse voice; he would explain that he left his real voice at the previous stops where it was still rallying the people.

The National "Gold" Democratic Party undercut Bryan by dividing the Democratic vote and denouncing his platform.

In contrast to Bryan's dramatic efforts, McKinley conducted a "front porch" campaign from his home in Canton, Ohio.[42] Instead of having McKinley travel to see the voters, Mark Hanna brought 500,000 voters by train to McKinley's home. Once there, McKinley would greet the men from his porch. His well-organized staff prepared both the remarks of the visiting delegations and the candidate's responses, focusing the comments on the assigned topic of the day. The remarks were issued to the newsmen and telegraphed nationwide to appear in the next day's papers. Bryan, with practically no staff, gave much the same talk over and over again. McKinley labeled Bryan's proposed social and economic reforms as a serious threat to the national economy. With the depression following the Panic of 1893 coming to an end, support for McKinley's more conservative economic policies increased, while Bryan's more radical policies began to lose support among Midwestern farmers and factory workers.

To ensure victory, Hanna paid large numbers of Republican orators (including Theodore Roosevelt) to travel around the nation denouncing Bryan as a dangerous radical. There were also reports that some potentially Democratic voters were intimidated into voting for McKinley. For example, some factory owners posted signs the day before the election announcing that, if Bryan won the election, the factory would be closed and the workers would lose their jobs.

Bryan's midsummer surge in the Midwest played out as the intense Republican counter-crusade proved effective. Bryan spent most of October in the Midwest, making 160 of his final 250 speeches there. Morgan noted, "full organization, Republican party harmony, a campaign of education with the printed and spoken word would more than counteract" Bryan's speechmaking.[43]

Several of Bryan's advisors recommended additional campaigning in the Upper South States of Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Another plan called for a coastal tour from Washington State to Southern California. Bryan however, opted to concentrate in the Mid-West and to launch a unity tour into the heavily Republican Northeast. Bryan saw no chance of winning in New England, but felt that he needed to make a truly national appeal. On election day the results from the Pacific Coast and Upper South would be the closest of the election.


McKinley secured a solid victory in the electoral college by carrying the core of the East and Northeast, while Bryan did well among the farmers of the South, West, and rural Midwest. The large German-American voting bloc supported McKinley, who gained large majorities among the middle class, skilled factory workers, railroad workers, and large-scale farmers.

The national popular vote was rather close, as McKinley defeated Bryan by 602,500 votes, receiving 51% to Bryan's 46.7%: a shift of 53,000 votes in California, Kentucky, Ohio and Oregon would have won Bryan the election despite McKinley winning the majority of the popular vote, but due to the joint Democratic-Populist ticket, this also would have left Hobart and Sewell short of the 224 electoral votes required to win the vice-presidency, forcing a contingent election for vice-president in the Senate.

The National Democrats did not carry any states, but they did divide the Democratic vote in some states and helped the Republicans flip Kentucky; Gold Democrats made much of the fact that Palmer's small vote in Kentucky was higher than McKinley's very narrow margin in that state. This was the first time a Republican presidential candidate had ever carried Kentucky, but they did not do so again until Calvin Coolidge in 1924.[44] From this, they concluded that Palmer had siphoned off needed Democratic votes and hence thrown the state to McKinley. However, McKinley would have won the overall election even if he had lost Kentucky to Bryan.

Mayor Tom L. Johnson of Cleveland, Ohio, summed up the campaign as the "first great protest of the American people against monopoly – the first great struggle of the masses in our country against the privileged classes."

According to a 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper, "Bryan did well where mortgage interest rates were high, railroad penetration was low, and crop prices had declined by most over the previous decade. Using our estimates, we show that further declines in crop prices or increases in interest rates would have been enough to tip the Electoral College in Bryan's favor. But to change the outcome, the additional fall in crop prices would have had to be large."[45]

A 2022 study found that campaign visits by Bryan increased his vote share by one percentage point on average.[42]

General results

McKinley received a little more than seven million votes, Bryan a little less than six and a half million, about 800,000 in excess of the Democratic vote in 1892. It was larger than the Democratic Party was to poll in 1900, 1904, or 1912. It was somewhat less, however, than the combined vote for the Democratic and Populist nominees had been in 1892. In contrast, McKinley received nearly 2,000,000 more votes than had been cast for Benjamin Harrison, the Republican nominee, in 1892. The Republican vote was to be but slightly increased during the next decade.

Realignment of 1896

The 1896 presidential election is often seen as a realigning election, in which McKinley's view of a stronger central government building American industry through protective tariffs and a dollar based on gold triumphed.[46][47] The new Fourth Party System then displaced the near-deadlock in the Third Party System since the Civil War. The Republicans now usually dominated in the major states and nationwide down to the 1932 election, another realigning election with the ascent of Franklin Roosevelt and the Fifth Party System.[48] Phillips argues that McKinley was the only Republican who could have defeated Bryan—he concludes that Eastern candidates would have done badly against the Illinois-born Bryan in the crucial Midwest. Although Bryan was popular among rural voters, "McKinley appealed to a very different industrialized, urbanized America."[49]

Geography of results

Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage for the winning candidate. Shades of red are for McKinley (Republican), shades of blue are for Bryan (Democratic), and shades of green are for "Other(s)" (Non-Democratic/Non-Republican).[50]

One-half of the total vote of the nation was polled in eight states carried by McKinley (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin). In these states, Bryan not only ran far behind the Republican candidate, but also polled considerably less than half of his total vote.[51]

Bryan only won in twelve of the eighty-two cites in the United States with populations above 45,000 with seven of those being in the Solid South. In the states that Bryan won seven of the seventeen cities voted McKinley while in the states that voted for McKinley only three of the sixty-five cities voted for Bryan. Bryan lost in every county in New England and only won one county in New York, with Bryan even losing in traditionally Democratic New York City.[52]

In only one other section, in the six states of New England, was the Republican lead great; the Republican vote (614,972) was more than twice the Democratic vote (242,938), and every county was carried by the Republicans.[51]

The West North Central section gave a slight lead to McKinley, as did the Pacific section. Nevertheless, within these sections, the states of Missouri, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Washington were carried by Bryan.

In the South Atlantic section and in the East South Central section, the Democratic lead was pronounced, and in the West South Central section and in the Mountain section, the vote for Bryan was overwhelming. In these four sections, comprising 21 states, McKinley carried only 322 counties and four states – Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

A striking feature of this examination of the state returns is found in the overwhelming lead for one or the other party in 22 of the 45 states. It was true of the McKinley vote in every New England state and in New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. It was also true of the Bryan vote in eight states of the lower South and five states of the Mountain West. Sectionalism was thus marked in this first election of the Fourth Party System.


This was the last election in which the Democrats won South Dakota until 1932, the last in which the Democrats won Utah and Washington until 1916, and the last in which the Democrats won Kansas and Wyoming until 1912. It was also the last time that South Dakota and Washington voted against the Republicans until they voted for the Progressive Party in 1912. This also constitutes the only election since their statehoods when a Republican won the presidency without winning Kansas, South Dakota, Utah, or Wyoming. Today these are solidly Republican states and have not backed a Democratic nominee since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide over Barry Goldwater.

Southern votes

In the South, there were numerous Republican counties, notably in Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, northern Alabama and Virginia, representing a mix of white Southern Unionist counties along with majority black counties in areas where black disenfranchisement was not yet complete (such as North Carolina, where a Republican-Populist fusion ticket had captured the General Assembly in 1894). Even in Georgia, a state in the Deep South, there were counties returning Republican majorities.

United States Electoral College 1896.svg

Electoral results
Presidential candidatePartyHome statePopular voteElectoral
Running mate
CountPercentageVice-presidential candidateHome stateElectoral vote
William McKinley Jr.RepublicanOhio7,111,60751.03%271 Garret Augustus HobartNew Jersey271
William Jennings BryanDemocratic-Populist-SilverNebraska6,509,052(a)46.70%176Arthur Sewall(b)Maine149
Thomas Edward Watson(c)Georgia27
John McAuley PalmerNational DemocraticIllinois134,6450.97%0 Simon Bolivar BucknerKentucky0
Joshua LeveringProhibitionMaryland131,3120.94%0 Hale JohnsonIllinois0
Charles Horatio MatchettSocialist LaborNew York36,3730.26%0 Matthew MaguireNew Jersey0
Charles Eugene BentleyNational ProhibitionNebraska13,9680.10%0 James Haywood SouthgateNorth Carolina0
Needed to win224224

(a) Includes 912,241 votes as the People's nominee
(b) Sewall was Bryan's Democratic running mate.
(c) Watson was Bryan's People's running mate.

Source (Popular Vote):[53]

Source (Electoral Vote):"Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 31, 2005.

Popular vote
Electoral vote

Geography of results


Cartographic gallery

Results by state


States/districts won by Bryan/Sewall
States/districts won by McKinley/Hobart
States/districts won by Bryan/Watson
States/districts won by Bryan/Sewall
William McKinley
William Jennings Bryan
John Palmer
National Democrat
Joshua Levering
Charles Matchett
Socialist Labor
Charles Bentley
National Prohibition
MarginState Total
New Hampshire457,44468.66421,27125.43-3790.45----21,65025.88-3,5204.21-7790.93-2280.27-490.06-35,79442.7883,670NH
New Jersey10221,53559.6810133,69536.02-------133,69536.02-6,3781.72----3,9861.07-5,6171.51-87,84023.66371,211NJ
New York36819,83857.5836551,36938.72-------551,36938.72-18,9501.33-16,0521.13-17,6671.24----268,46918.851,423,876NY
North Carolina11155,12246.82-174,40852.646--5---174,40852.64115780.17-6350.19----2220.07--19,286-5.82331,337NC
North Dakota326,33555.57320,68643.65-------20,68643.65----3580.76-------5,64911.9247,391ND
Rhode Island437,43768.33414,45926.39-------14,45926.39-1,1662.13-1,1602.12-5581.02----22,97841.9454,785RI
South Carolina99,31313.51-58,80185.309------58,80185.3098241.20-----------49,488-71.7968,938SC
South Dakota441,04249.48-41,22549.702--2---41,22549.704---6830.82--------183-0.2282,950SD
West Virginia6105,37952.23694,48046.83-------94,48046.83-6780.34-1,2200.60-------10,8995.40201,757WV

Close states

Margin of victory less than 1% (26 electoral votes; 20 won by Republicans; 6 by Democrats):

  1. Kentucky, 0.06% (277 votes)
  2. South Dakota, 0.22% (183 votes)
  3. California, 0.64% (1,922 votes)

Margin of victory less than 5% (55 electoral votes; 42 won by Republicans; 13 by Democrats):

  1. Oregon, 2.09% (2,040 votes)
  2. Indiana, 2.85% (18,181 votes)
  3. Kansas, 3.69% (12,330 votes)
  4. Wyoming, 3.74% (789 votes)
  5. Ohio, 4.78% (48,494 votes) (tipping point state)

Margin of victory between 5% and 10% (66 electoral votes; 6 won by Republicans; 60 by Democrats):

  1. Nebraska, 5.35% (11,943 votes)
  2. West Virginia, 5.40% (10,899 votes)
  3. Tennessee, 5.76% (18,485 votes)
  4. North Carolina, 5.82% (19,286 votes)
  5. Virginia, 6.56% (19,329 votes)
  6. Missouri, 8.71% (58,727 votes)


Counties with Highest Percent of Vote (Republican)

  1. Zapata County, Texas 94.34%
  2. Leslie County, Kentucky 91.39%
  3. Addison County, Vermont 89.17%
  4. Unicoi County, Tennessee 89.04%
  5. Keweenaw County, Michigan 88.96%

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote (Democratic)

  1. West Carroll Parish, Louisiana 99.84%
  2. Leflore County, Mississippi 99.68%
  3. Smith County, Mississippi 99.26%
  4. Pitkin County, Colorado 99.21%
  5. Neshoba County, Mississippi 99.15%

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote (Populist)

  1. Madera County, California 62.80%
  2. Lake County, California 61.95%
  3. Stanislaus County, California 59.00%
  4. San Benito County, California 57.59%
  5. San Luis Obispo County, California 56.37%


The election parade for William McKinley is seen on The Little House film in 1952.

See also


  1. ^ "Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections". The American Presidency Project. UC Santa Barbara.
  2. ^ Williams (2010)
  3. ^ "GOLD AND NO SURRENDER; Connecticut Democrats To Fight Hard In Chicago Convention" (PDF). The New York Times. June 21, 1896. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022.
  4. ^ "NOT AN ACTIVE CANDIDATE; Morrison Will Not Ask the Illinois Convention to Endorse Him" (PDF). The New York Times. June 20, 1896. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022.
  5. ^ Walter Dean Burnham, "The System of 1896: An Analysis," in Paul Kleppner et al., The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981), 147—202 at pp. 158–60
  6. ^ a b c "THE COLD WATER TICKET - NATIONAL PROHIBITIONISTS NAME THEIR CANDIDATES" (PDF). The New York Times. May 29, 1896. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 4, 2021. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  7. ^ "A PROHIBITION SPLIT - The Silver Question Cutting a Figure at Pittsburg" (PDF). The New York Times. May 27, 1896. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 4, 2021. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  8. ^ "THE SILVER QUESTION THREATENS TO SPLIT THE PARTY" (PDF). The New York Times. May 28, 1896. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 4, 2021. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "HOW THE NARROW-GAUGE PROHIBITIONISTS WON AT PITTSBURG" (PDF). The New York Times. May 31, 1896. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 4, 2021. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  10. ^ "A PARTY WITH A LITTLE P" (PDF). The New York Times. May 26, 1896. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 4, 2021. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  11. ^ Davis, William Thomas (February 22, 2008). The New England States. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  12. ^ "African". History.missouristate.edu. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  13. ^ "Senate and House Secured; Republican control in the next Conress assured. The House of Representatives Repub- lican by More than Two -- thirds Ma- jority -- Possible Loss of a Repub- lican Senator from the State of Washington -- Republicans and Pop- ulists Will Organize the Senate and Divide the Patronage". The New York Times. November 9, 1894. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  14. ^ Rosin, Michael L. (2020). "A History of Elector Discretion". Northern Illinois University Law Review. 41 (1): 193–95.
  15. ^ "THE DEMOCRATIC TICKET; Palmer and Buckner Nominated at Indianapolis" (PDF). The New York Times. September 4, 1896. p. 1. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  16. ^ Glad, Paul W. (1964). McKinley, Bryan, and the people. Lippincott. p. 187.
  17. ^ Jones, 1896 p. 273
  18. ^ Nevins, Allan (1935). Abram S. Hewitt: with some account of Peter Cooper. Harper & Brothers. p. 564. ISBN 9780598825124.
  19. ^ Barnes, James A. (1931). John G. Carlisle, financial statesman. Dodd, Mead. p. 470.
  20. ^ Jones, 1896 p. 277
  21. ^ Phillips, McKinley pp. 74–75
  22. ^ Klinghard, Daniel (2010). The Nationalization of American Political Parties, 1880-1896. Cambridge University Press. pp. 221–28. ISBN 9780521192811.
  23. ^ Spragens, William C. (1988). Popular Images of American Presidents. Greenwood. pp. 158–59. ISBN 9780313228995.
  24. ^ Horner, William T. (2010). Ohio's Kingmaker: Mark Hanna, Man & Myth. Ohio University Press. pp. 195–99. ISBN 9780821418949.
  25. ^ Pixton, John E. Jr. (1955). "Charles G. Dawes and the McKinley Campaign". Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. 48 (3): 283–306. JSTOR 40189448.
  26. ^ William Jennings Bryan (1896). The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896. W.B. Conkey. p. 292.
  27. ^ Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer (1937). A History of the United States Since the Civil War: 1888-1901. Macmillan. p. 437.
  28. ^ Spragens, William C. (1988). Popular Images of American Presidents. Greenwood. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-313-22899-5.
  29. ^ Fahs, Alice; Waugh, Joan (2004). The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture. U. of North Carolina Press. p. 193. ISBN 9780807855720.
  30. ^ Lears, Jackson (2010). Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920. Harper Collins. p. 188. ISBN 9780060747503.
  31. ^ Robert Booth Fowler (2008). Wisconsin Votes: An Electoral History. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 80. ISBN 9780299227401.
  32. ^ Kleppner, Paul (1970). The cross of culture: a social analysis of midwestern politics, 1850-1900. Free Press. pp. 323–35.
  33. ^ Richard Franklin Bensel (2000). The Political Economy of American Industrialization, 1877-1900. Cambridge University Press. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-521-77604-2.
  34. ^ The politics of depression: political behavior in the Northeast, 1893–1896. Oxford University Press. 1972. p. 218.
  35. ^ Kleppner, Paul (1970). The cross of culture: a social analysis of midwestern politics, 1850-1900. Free Press. p. 304.
  36. ^ William Diamond, American Historical Review (1941) 46#2 pp. 281–305 at pp. 285, 297 in JSTOR
  37. ^ Sanders, Elizabeth (1999). Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers, and the American State, 1877-1917. U. of Chicago Press. p. 434. ISBN 9780226734774.
  38. ^ Hild, Matthew (2007). Greenbackers, Knights of Labor, and Populists: Farmer-Labor Insurgency in the Late-Nineteenth-Century South. U. of Georgia Press. pp. 191–92. ISBN 9780820328973.
  39. ^ Harpine, William D. (2006). From the Front Porch to the Front Page: McKinley and Bryan in the 1896 Presidential Campaign. Texas A&M University Press. p. 117. ISBN 9781585445592.
  40. ^ Jensen, Richard J. (1971). The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1888–1896. U. of Chicago Press. pp. 55–56. ISBN 9780226398259.
  41. ^ Jeffrey G. Mora, "William Jennings Bryan and the 1896 Campaign," Railroad History, (Fall/Winter 2008), Issue 199, pp. 72–80,
  42. ^ a b Buggle, Johannes C; Vlachos, Stephanos (2022). "Populist Persuasion in Electoral Campaigns: Evidence from Bryan's Unique Whistle-Stop Tour". The Economic Journal. doi:10.1093/ej/ueac056. ISSN 0013-0133.
  43. ^ H. Wayne Morgan (1969). From Hayes to McKinley; national party politics, 1877–1896. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780608152011.
  44. ^ Counting the Votes; Kentucky Archived November 20, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Eichengreen, Barry; Haines, Michael R.; Jaremski, Matthew S.; Leblang, David (October 2017). "Populists at the Polls: Economic Factors in the 1896 Presidential Election". NBER Working Paper No. 23932. doi:10.3386/w23932.
  46. ^ Kevin Phillips, William McKinley (2003) pp 57-85.
  47. ^ R. Hal Williams, Realigning America: McKinley, Bryan and the Remarkable Election of 1896 (U Press of Kansas, 2010), pp. xi, 169–170.
  48. ^ Walter Dean Burnham, "The system of 1896: An analysis" in Paul Kleppner et al. he Evolution of American Electoral Systems (Greenwood, 1981) pp. 147-202.
  49. ^ Phillips 2014, pp. 73–77.
  50. ^ The Presidential Vote, 1896–1932 – Google Books. Stanford University Press. 1934. ISBN 9780804716963. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  51. ^ a b The Presidential Vote, 1896–1932, Edgar E. Robinson, p. 4
  52. ^ Murphy, Paul (1974). Political Parties In American History, Volume 3, 1890-present. G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  53. ^ History of American Presidential Elections 1789–1968, Volume II, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
  54. ^ "1896 Presidential General Election Data - National". Retrieved March 18, 2013.

Further reading

  • Burnham, Walter Dean. "The system of 1896: An analysis" in Paul Kleppner, W.D. Burnham, Ronald P. Formisano, Samuel P. Hays, Richard Jensen, and Walter G. Shade. The Eevolution of American electoral systems (Greenwood, 1981) pp. 147-202.
  • Coletta, Paolo E. (1964). William Jennings Bryan, Political Evangelist. vol. 1. University of Nebraska Press.
  • Diamond, William, "Urban and Rural Voting in 1896," American Historical Review, (1941) 46#2 pp. 281–305 in JSTOR
  • Durden, Robert Franklin "The 'Cow-bird' Grounded: The Populist Nomination of Bryan and Tom Watson in 1896," Mississippi Valley Historical Review (1963) 50#3 pp. 397–423 in JSTOR
  • Edwards, Rebecca. "The election of 1896." OAH Magazine of History 13.4 (1999): 28–30. online brief overview
  • Fahey, James J. "Building Populist Discourse: An Analysis of Populist Communication in American Presidential Elections, 1896–2016." Social Science Quarterly 102.4 (2021): 1268–1288. online
  • Fite, Gilbert C. (2001). "The Election of 1896". In Arthur Schlesinger (ed.). History of American Presidential Elections. vol. 2. ISBN 9780791057131.
  • Fite, Gilbert C. (1960). "Republican Strategy and the Farm Vote in the Presidential Campaign of 1896". American Historical Review. 65 (4): 787–806. doi:10.2307/1849404. JSTOR 1849404.
  • Glad, Paul W. (1964). McKinley, Bryan, and the People. ISBN 0-397-47048-7.
  • Graff, Henry F. (2002). Grover Cleveland. ISBN 0-8050-6923-2.
  • Harpine, William D. From the Front Porch to the Front Page: McKinley and Bryan in the 1896 Presidential Campaign (2006) focus on the speeches and rhetoric
  • Horner, William T. Ohio’s Kingmaker: Mark Hanna, Man and Myth (Ohio University Press, 2010.)
  • Stonecash, Jeffrey M.; Silina, Everita. "The 1896 Realignment," American Politics Research, (Jan 2005) 33#1 pp. 3–32
  • Wanat, John and Karen Burke, "Estimating the Degree of Mobilization and Conversion in the 1890s: An Inquiry into the Nature of Electoral Change," American Political Science Review, (1982) 76#2 pp. 360–70 in JSTOR
  • Wells, Wyatt. Rhetoric of the standards: The debate over gold and silver in the 1890s," Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (2015). 14#1 pp. 49–68.
  • Williams, R. Hal (1978). Years of Decision: American Politics in the 1890s. ISBN 9780471948773.
  • Williams, R. Hal. (2010) Realigning America: McKinley, Bryan, and the Remarkable Election of 1896 (University Press of Kansas) 250 pp

Primary sources

  • Bryan, William Jennings. First Battle (1897), speeches from 1896 campaign. online

External links

Media files used on this page

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US Flag with 45 stars. In use 4 July 1896–3 July 1908. Created by jacobolus using Adobe Illustrator, and released into the public domain. This flag was used during the Spanish-American War.
Republican Disc.svg
Inverted color of GOP square social media logo, in disc form
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Photograph of William Jennings Bryan as a young man.
Bryan/Sewall campaign poster, 1896 US presidential election.
William Jennings Bryan
Photo of James Haywood Southgate, Vice Presidential candidate and Party Chair of the Prohibition Party of North Carolina
16 to 1 ... the speech that won the nomination ... at the National Democtratic Convention at Chicago, 1896.jpg
Poster for the unsuccessful first presidential campaign of Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, in 1896.
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County Results of the United States presidential election, 1896
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Results by State Delegation of the 5th Ballot for the 1896 Democratic Party Vice Presidential Nomination.
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John McAuley Palmer

Hon. Grover Cleveland, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right.
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Louis Cameron "L. C." Hughes (1842-05-12 - 1915-11-24) was Governor of Arizona Territory.
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Title: Reminiscences, or, Four years in the Confederate Army : a history of the experiences of the private soldier in camp, hospital, prison, on the march, and on the battlefield, 1861 to 1865
Year: 1898 (1890s)
Authors: Dyer, Jno. Will Dyer, Amelia W
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ere is something inthe way you handle your foil that reminds me of mymost deadly enemy, and I find it influences me to thatextent that I lose my self-control. We Avill not crossfoils again.- Under a promise of secrecy he told me hisstory, which was the old one of womans trust and manstreachery. In a duel with the betrayer of his sister hehad wounded his antagonist who in turn gave him thethrust which destroyed his eye. In the struggle for in-dependence his enemy had espoused the cause of Austria,and it was while making a desperate effort to get to hisenemy, whom he recognized on the battlefield, that hewas shot down. Poor Frank Attilla, born mid the strifeand struggle for liberty, living to the music of the bat-tles roar, it was fit that his last days should be passed inthe field of strife. He had lived a soldier and thus hedied. Camp Chase Avas located on a kind of table land withgood drainage, which rendered it a healthy prison, andalthough there were thousands of prisoners confined
Text Appearing After Image:
Gen, S. B. Buckner. BY A PRIVATE SOLDIER. 41 there the mortality was at no time very great. We werefree from any contagious diseases—while I was there—and were not even troubled greatly with itch or lice.There was one row of barracks in our prison occupied bya lot of ^Vest Mrginia mountaineers who became care-less and got lousy, thereby acquiring for their quartersthe name of louse row, against which the balance of theprison quarantined strictly, even to requiring them todraw rations from the other side of the commissary.One day after a heavy rain, on going outside we foundone of these West Virginians picking the gray backsoff his clothes and dropping them in a pool of waterwhich had formed beside our quarters. He seemed tobe enjoying himself as well as any boy who ever sailed abark boat on a goose pond and it was funny to see aboutfifty great, big lice swimming, it seemed with almost hu-man intelligence, to get back to their old quarters. Talkabout a flea being sharp; why, he isn

Note About Images

Please note that these images are extracted from scanned page images that may have been digitally enhanced for readability - coloration and appearance of these illustrations may not perfectly resemble the original work.
Bryan, Judge magazine, 1896.jpg
1896 Judge cartoon shows William Jennings Bryan/Populism as a snake swallowing up the mule representing the Democratic party.
Author/Creator: , Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Cartogram of Other presidential election results by county (1896). Colors based on Colorbrewer 2.0.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 5th Ballot for the 1896 Democratic Party Presidential Nomination.
John Roll McLean.jpg
John Roll McLean, 1904
A portrait of U.S. Vice President and New York Governor Levi P. Morton.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Cartogram of presidential election results by county (1896). Colors based on Colorbrewer 2.0.
Democratic Disc.svg
Democratic donkey logo.
US presidential election of 1896. Map of speeches by William Jennings Bryan.
Picture of Robert E. Pattison.
Credited to the U.S. Senate Historical Office
United States Electoral College 1896.svg
Democratic Party: 176 seats
Republican Party: 271 seats
Joshua Levering (1845-1935) (10506733086) (cropped2).jpg

Joshua Levering (1845-1935), Prohibition candidate for President, 1896.

Image from "The Parties and The Men, or, Political Issues of 1896 ... The Issues of the Day Impartially Reviewed" (1896).

Contrast digitally enhanced from faded original.
1896 Palmer and Buckner button.
McKinley-Hobart 1896.jpg
Poster for the successful 1896 presidential campaign of Governor William McKinley of Ohio and Garret Hobart of New Jersey. "Our home defenders": Republican Party presidential campaign poster shows head-and-shoulder portraits of William McKinley holding U.S. flag and standing on the gold coin of "sound money," held up by a group of men in front of the ships "commerce" and the factories "civilization." The print was intended to show the beneficial aspects of the Republican Party protectionist policy compared to the detrimental impact of the Democratic Party's free trade policy.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 1st Ballot for the 1896 Democratic Party Vice Presidential Nomination.
Garret A. Hobart, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right
C E Bentley.jpg
Old family photo, scanned by owner.
William Jennings Bryan, Democratic party presidential candidate, standing on stage next to American flag
Palmer McKinley1896.png
"The Flag Is Still There"
Daniel William Lawler (March 28, 1859 - September 15, 1926) in 1915.jpg
Daniel William Lawler (March 28, 1859 - September 15, 1926) in 1915
Author/Creator: , Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Other presidential election results by county (1896). Colors based on Colorbrewer 2.0.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 2nd Ballot for the 1896 Democratic Party Vice Presidential Nomination.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 3rd Ballot for the 1896 Democratic Party Presidential Nomination.
Delegates to the Indianapolis Convention Get a Warm Welcome Home.
Headline and drawing about the 1896 Gold Democratic Convention
William McKinley, half-length portrait, standing, facing left
Picture of Horace Boies (1891).
Benjamin Ryan Tillman
Hon. Stephen M. White as shown in "Souvenir of Santa Clara College" published for the College's golden jubilee in 1901. Before 1923, Image of the Public Domain.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 4th Ballot for the 1896 Democratic Party Presidential Nomination.
Younger Tom Watson.gif
Younger Tom Watson
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 4th Ballot for the 1896 Democratic Party Vice Presidential Nomination.
Picture of Richard P. Bland
Hale Johnson (1847-1902) (10506934603) (3).jpg

Hale Johnson (1847-1902), mayor of Newton, Ill., Prohibition Party candidate for Vice-President, 1896. Murdered in 1902.

Image from "The Parties and The Men, or, Political Issues of 1896 ... The Issues of the Day Impartially Reviewed" (1896).

Contrast digitally enhanced from faded original.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 1st Ballot for the 1896 Democratic Party Presidential Nomination.