William Jennings Bryan

1860-1925. Populist, editor, Chautauqua lecturer, secretary of state, and opponent of evolution. He was born and educated in Illinois and was admitted to the bar there in 1883. He practiced law in Illinois and Nebraska (1883-91) and was editor of the Omaha World-Herald (1894-96). From 1891 to 1895 he was a congressman from Nebraska. As secretary of state in Wilson's government he negotiated thirty treaties of arbitration with other nations. Three times the unsuccessful candidate of the Democratic Party for the presidency, he was a folk-hero for rural America because of his conservative Protestantism and concern for the agrarian Midwest. Catapulted onto the national political stage by his “Cross of Gold” speech in 1896, Bryan brought the program of the Populists into the Democratic Party. In 1925 he debated with the lawyer Clarence Darrow in the famous “Monkey Trial” at Dayton, Tennessee, when J.T. Scopes was accused of teaching evolution in the classroom (see Scopes Trial). Bryan died five days after the trial finished.