The Story of the Gold Cross

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Cross of Gold Speech Study Guide. In Course Hero. Accessed October 7, Prior to the North American gold rush of the midth century, the global monetary standard metal was silver. Though the United Kingdom converted to the gold standard in , the United States, Germany, and France did not formally adopt it until the s.

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In this system, each currency was pegged to gold, meaning the U. The gold standard assumed the United States had enough gold to back up all its currency in circulation, which meant currency was necessarily limited. Though the United States would abandon the gold standard in , it dictated economic policy in the country for the better part of a century.

William Jennings Bryan — , a former Nebraska congressman, was a high-profile critic of the gold standard and made it the topic of his address to the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Illinois, in First, the gold standard favored those who had gold, which included the wealthy elites of New England and prospectors who had mined gold in the California gold rush of the early s.

Second, like many people, Bryan thought the gold standard disadvantaged the working classes and farmers by keeping the price of debt high. With diminishing access to gold—and silver money rendered less valuable—those in debt were unable to pay back their loans, and interest rates remained high, placing even more financial burden on them. Bryan wanted to change this economic inequality by way of the free silver movement. Advocates of free silver felt the gold standard was too rigid.

They supported creating more currency based on both silver and gold. This system, called bimetallism, would create inflation that would in turn lower the cost of debt. Bryan was 36 when he attended the Democratic Convention.

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He had served only two terms in the U. House of Representatives —95 , but he hoped to be nominated as the Democrats' presidential candidate. The primary issue at the convention was whether Democrats should support the free coinage of silver, which would allow the U. This practice would add silver coins to the supply of money at a ratio of In other words, 16 ounces of silver would have the same value as one ounce of gold.

Jennings appeared at the convention to present a case for the free silver movement. He gave the closing convention speech, inspiring the delegates with his impassioned critique of the gold standard. The Democrats adopted the free silver platform and gave Bryan the nomination the next day. Bryan opens his speech with an ethical appeal, which in rhetoric is called the ethos mode of persuasion, a standard appeal in which the speaker attempts to convince his audience that he is a person of good character worth listening to.

He praises the experience and talent of the other "distinguished gentlemen" who spoke before him and says he cannot compare himself to them. His tactic here is to appear humble so he can exalt his cause, thus establishing his credibility. Like a warrior, Bryan says, he has come in defense of humanity, which he describes as a cause as holy as that of liberty.

In his next paragraph Bryan states that the debate regarding the gold standard has thus far focused on individuals rather than ideals. He objects to this type of debate because the life of the individual is short, while principles are everlasting. Next, Bryan argues that the money question the Democrats are facing has been the most contentious one the party has ever faced. He gives a short history lesson to illustrate his point. He refers to a March 4, address by the Democrats to voters promoting the free silver movement's agenda.

The leaders of the free silver faction made a case for taking charge of the Democratic Party. These leaders came to be known as the silver Democrats. The silver Democrats spoke of their convictions throughout the country. Their arguments won over the people of the nation. Bryan says they are now present to proclaim the people's judgment, for which there should be no debate.

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He acknowledges the amount of conflict this issue has caused. He claims families have been torn apart and old leaders have been cast aside by it. Bryan goes on to say the silver Democrats come with a clear mandate as representatives of the people's will. Hill — or former Massachusetts Governor William Russell —96 , both supporters of the gold standard. Bryan says although these men are perhaps worthy of respect as individuals, this is a political issue, not personal, and their opinions are not in line with the best interests of the Democratic Party.

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In his next paragraph Bryan addresses the main argument of the "gold delegates. Bryan says the gold delegates' definition of a businessman is too narrow. He argues that he would call any man who works for wages a businessman. He then allies the free silver movement with all workers, saying the Democrats have come to speak for the broader class of businessmen. The workers in the countryside or small towns are as important as workers in the cities, he says. In this paragraph Bryan uses pathos, or emotion, as a mode of persuasion to stir his listeners.

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He also employs the rhetorical device of mesodiplosis, which is a rhythmic repetition of words or phrases. In using this device he repeats the phrase "is as much a businessman as" in the middle of his clauses.

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The approach highlights the importance of his argument. Bryan goes on to say he doesn't want to denigrate those who live in the original 13 colonies. However, he argues the "hardy pioneers" who have settled the other parts of the country are also deserving of consideration.

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