In 1896, several major Democrats who considered the gold standard to be crucial for a stable economy had refused to endorse the presidential candidacy of William Jennings Bryan, who advocated the free coinage of silver. They either remained inactive during the campaign or supported the breakaway National Democrats (“Goldbugs”). In 1900, with the money question seemingly resolved in favor of the gold standard, many Gold Democrats returned to the party fold and backed Bryan for president.
This cartoon shows the marriage of Bryan to Eastern pro-gold standard Democrats interrupted by Uncle Sam, who objects because of the candidate’s adopted “Free Silver Baby.” Bryan insisted that the 1896 free-silver plank be incorporated into the 1900 Democratic National Platform, although he did not emphasize the issue during the 1900 campaign as he had during the previous contest. Even though the changed economic circumstances were enough for many Gold Democrats to overlook Bryan’s continued adherence to free silver, Republicans warned that the Gold Standard Act could be repealed if Bryan and a Democratic Congress were elected in 1900.
Here, Bryan appears as the bride, wearing a shamrock garland representing the Democratic Party’s Irish-Catholic faction. The groom appears to be an amalgam of financier August Belmont Jr. (eyes and nose) and his brother, Perry (hair and moustache), a former congressman and minister to Spain. Both were actively involved in politics and major contributors to the Democratic Party. As an influential international banker, August Belmont Jr. joined J. P. Morgan in the early 1890s to purchase U.S. bonds with gold as an emergency effort to restore the federal government’s dwindling gold reserve. Holding Bryan’s train are two other leading Gold Democrats (left-right), former senator David B. Hill of New York and former senator Arthur Pue Gorman of Maryland.
The Democrats in the pews are (left-right): pro-silver Joseph Blackburn, a former U.S. senator from Kentucky (1885-1897); Congressman Joseph Bailey of Texas, the House minority leader; Congressman William Sulzer of New York, a Tammany Hall politician; Richard Olney, former attorney general (1893-1895) and secretary of state (1895-1897); and James Hogg, former governor of Texas (1891-1895). The letter on the floor in the foreground is from Tammany “Boss” Richard Croker to Bryan. Tammany Hall had not supported Bryan in 1896 while Croker was on a three-year sojourn in Europe. He returned in 1897, and Tammany Hall worked hard for Bryan during the 1900 campaign.