Saturday Evening Post History Minute: William Jennings Bryan – Progressive Leader or Religious Demagogue?

William Jennings Bryan is often remembered for his role as the anti-evolution lawyer in the Scopes "Monkey" trial, but that reputation hardly does justice to a man who was once the country’s most progressive politician.

William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan (Library of Congress)

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  1. So many of the important laws and protections we have in this country (and still do) we have Mr. Bryan to thank, even if they came through later under Presidents Wilson and FDR. If liberalism had equivalent meaning to what it had then–fairness for the average American and the common good, our country wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today, and for so long now preceding that.

    It’s too long and complicated to get into, but liberalism in this sense seemed to end with President Carter. He has continued doing what’s right for the common good since leaving office to this day. It’s easier to pinpoint with the Democratic Party than the Republicans, but their ‘last President’ was President (HW) Bush; also our last World War II generation President.

    On the news this week there have been stories about World War II vets turning 100, 105. Though unlikely, it made me wonder if JFK had not been assassinated and were still alive now, how horrified he’d be at both parties in unrecognizable ruin. There’s no one like W. J. Bryan today, and even if there was, he (or she) wouldn’t be able to make a dent in this permanent tragic carnival, rigged by and for the richest of the rich only.


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