Cross of Gold Speech Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1333 Words
Date:  2022-12-20

An investigation into the most convincing narratives of all time leads to the renowned Cross of Gold speech. The orator and author, Willian Bryan Jennings, delivered the speech at the 1896 Democratic National Convention. William Jennings was famous for his controversial political stances. At the moment of the delivery of the speech, he had risen to become a touring speaker representing the ordinary man. According to his speech, there existed a need for a humane approach to politics. At the 1896 gathering of Democrat politicians, the famous orator walked up to the podium and made an emotional appeal on the need for use of both silver and gold as American currency.

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Among his immediate audience were political delegates and media personnel. The speech would later circulate throughout the nation to the amusement of the lower classes of America. The speech was focused on bringing forth the benefits of using both gold and silver for all Americans. Republicans had already declared their preference gold as a monetary standard. The gold standard favoured international economic transactions, and the rich, since they were in possession of most of the gold at the time. Contra wise, the common man rarely possessed gold, but had silver for trade. The masses needed a champion. His appeals were directed towards the need for protection of the common citizens, as they were valuable contributors to the nation's well-being. Jennings believed that for this and other reason, America should adopt a bimetallic monetary system. Amidst his delivery, he also employed religious symbolism, logical appeals, juxtaposition, and witty use of language. Jennings even switched from humble language to fiery and provocative statements. The speech was so stirring and effective that on the following day, Willian Jennings Bryan was voted as the official Presidential Representative of the Democrats.

While considering a logos perspective of Jennings' work, it is worth analysing the rational appeals employed in the speech. According to history, William Bryan Jennings delivered his speech at a time of hot debate over which monetary system would best suit all of America. Using a logical approach, Jennings introduces the matter at hand, explaining both side of the story. Even though against it, he explains that the sole use of gold as currency will have the benefits of integrating American transactions into the international community. He then logically argues that despite benefits, it would mean a heavy burden for the common man. To enhance understanding of his view, Jennings narrated numerous logical approaches, employing plentiful stances of juxtaposition for direct comparisons. This makes him very convincing from a logical perspective.

Jennings reminds his audience of the seriousness of the issues at hand. Using repetition for emphasis, he mentions that there has never been a matter so passionately contested as the matter at hand. He goes on to remind his audience, members of the Democratic Party, that they serve as representatives of the people. By reminding them of their duty, he prepares them for the logical approaches he will present. He warns against personal interest, and even states that the matter at hand was a question of principle (Jennings 1).

Turning to the gold delegates, he mentions that they have "made the definition of a business man too limited in its application" (Jennings 1). Jennings rationally expounds on this by mentioning that if a bimetallic monetary system disrupts business, then it disrupts business for all, since all working American are business men in the sense that they are all aimed at earning profit. He also says that a focus on "catching votes" would not accommodate the changing needs of society and would be a deviation from the principles of the Democratic system (Jennings 2). He convincingly follows this by saying that it was time to step up and meet arising challenges. He also sagely argues about the benefits of an income tax system by mentioning that serves to distribute the burdens of government justly among the people (Jennings 2). Furthermore, he talks about the sensibility of letting the government control money issues instead of rich individuals and banks, as this will always result in burdening of the common man. The approaches he uses are sensible and well developed. In my opinion, the speech is effective because Jennings introduces his arguments and develops them progressively in a well-organized manner.

An analysis of the Cross of Gold reveals an interesting pathos viewpoint of the speech. To ensure effectiveness, William Jennings seems to cleverly manage the emotions of his audience. He always maintains a balance between extremes to eliminate negativity resulting from bias. To prepare the audience for his most important views, Jennings applauds the contributions of all Democrats to the money issue, which arouses positive feelings. Doing this also emphasizes the need for more positive action. Jennings arouses emotional investment by mentioning the close ties that have been set aside in favour of the motion. Ties of father and son, brother against brother. He convincingly adds that "the warmest ties of love, acquaintance, and association have been disregarded" (Jennings 1). From then on, he fervidly supports his views on bimetallism in a manner that seems to have exhilarated the crowd and readers of the speech, and especially the common man of 1896. Among his fiery statements include questions like "are we less independent than our forefathers?" when questioning why America has to follow foreign ways (Jennings 4). He also appeals to all hardworking citizens and especially lower classes using an intelligent comparison where he states "burn down your cities and leave our farms, and they will spring up again", following this with "but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every" (Jennings 4). Further, he uses a question and answer format organize his ideas and to inspire applause. Such stirring techniques are a show of Jennings prowess at emotional provocation.

From an ethos standpoint, William Jennings did not have much political credibility at the time of delivery of the speech. At the time of delivery of the speech, William Jennings did not have much political authority. In fact, he was not serving at a state office at the time. To appeal to the crowd, Jennings used his talent as an orator. His choice of words and expression of ideas ensured that his audience related with his message. At his introduction, the orator embraces his inferiority among other members of the convention. He however skilfully mentions that "the humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armour of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error" (Jennings 1). He uses additional sayings throughout the speech including "an individual is but an atom, but principles are eternal" (Jennings 1). Such philosophical sayings increase his credibility among the audience.


In my opinion, Jennings' ability to choose the right words greatly enhanced engagement of the audience. In the speech, we see a use of internal rhymes within sentences including "commendation of the Administration, ...and in condemnation of the Administration" (Jennings 1). To appeal to his audience on the detriments of the gold standard, the orator skilfully states "if protection has slain its thousands, the gold standard has slain its tens of thousands" (Jennings 3). He also employs repetition throughout the text to create emphasis and makes the speech engaging throughout. Among other literary skills, William Jennings employs imagery for example "a zeal approaching that of the Crusaders" (Jennings 1). Among his final statement, and at his climax, he boldly states "You shall not press down upon the brow of labour this crown of thorns" (Jennings 5). This is said in support for protecting valuable lower classes. He closes the speech with open arms in a dramatic symbolism addressed to the gold delegates where he states "you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold" (Jennings 5). This excites the crowd and assures him of the nomination.

Works Cited

"William Jennings Bryan Cross of Gold Speech July 8, 1896." William Jennings Bryan Cross of Gold Speech July 8, 1896 < 1876-1900 < Documents < American History From Revolution To Reconstruction and Beyond,

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