From the Front Porch to the Front Page: McKinley and Bryan in the 1896 Presidential Campaign
The last presidential campaign of the nineteenth century was remarkable in a number of ways.
·It marked the beginning of the use of the news media in a modern manner.
·It saw the Democratic Party shift toward the more liberal position it occupies today.
·It established much of what we now consider the Republican coalition: Northeastern, conservative, pro-business.
It was also notable for the rhetorical differences of its two candidates. In what is often thought of as a single-issue campaign, William Jennings Bryan delivered his famous “Cross of Gold” speech but lost the election. Meanwhile, William McKinley addressed a range of topics in more than three hundred speeches—without ever leaving his front porch.
The campaign of 1896 gave the public one of the most dramatic and interesting battles of political oratory in American history, even though, ironically, its issues faded quickly into insignificance after the election.
In From the Front Porch to the Front Page, author William D. Harpine traces the campaign month-by-month to show the development of Bryan’s rhetoric and the stability of McKinley’s. He contrasts the divisive oratory Bryan employed to whip up fervor (perhaps explaining the 80 percent turnout in the election) with the lower-keyed unifying strategy McKinley adopted and with McKinley’s astute privileging of rhetorical siting over actual rhetoric.
Beyond adding depth and detail to the scholarly understanding of the 1896 presidential campaign itself (and especially the “Cross of Gold” speech), this book casts light on the importance of historical perspective in understanding rhetorical efforts in politics.
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The Early Weeks of McKinleys Front Porch Campaign
Bryans A Cross of Gold
Unmade by One Speech? Bryans Trip to Madison Square Garden
McKinleys Front Porch Oratory in September 1896
McKinleys Speech to the Homestead Workers
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12 September 13 August 20 September Acceptance Speech advocate Akron Beacon American appeal attack Beacon and Republican bimetallism Bryan spoke Bryan's campaign Bryan's Great Speech Bryan's rhetoric Bryan's speech campaign speeches candidate Canton Repository cause and effect Chicago City Cleveland Plain Dealer Coletta commented convention critical Cross of Gold crowd currency Dawes debate delegation Democratic Party dollar economic effect argument Ehninger farmers flag free silver Front Porch campaign gave gold standard Ibid identification interests July labor Louis Post-Dispatch Madison Square Garden McKinley's campaign McKinley's Front Porch McKinley's rhetoric McKinley's speeches national audience newspaper Nonetheless October Ohio opponents orator oratory platform policies political Populist pro-gold pro-silver protective tariff pseudo-event public speaking radical railroad reported Republican Party September 1896 silence sound money speaker Speeches in September strategy stressed Tammany timeliness tion tradition train voters votes Washington Evening Star William Jennings Bryan William McKinley York