High inflation during the American civil war benefited farmers who were debtors and who received high prices for farm products. After the war, the U.S. went back to the gold standard causing general deflation. Various rural-based inflation movements developed. By the early 1890s, the Populist Party and figures within the Democratic and Republican Parties advocated "free silver" (a silver-standard currency at a high price for silver that would bring inflation). The Populists represented an alliance of rural interests and silver mining interests. Free silver advocate William Jennings Bryan became the Democratic presidential candidate of 1896, delivering the famous "Cross of Gold" speech denouncing the gold standard. This is a radio broadcast on the 100th anniversary of the speech which includes a 1923 phonograph recording of excepts from the speech by Bryan. (Bryan ran for president 4 times. He was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson for a time. And he became the prosecutor in the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in Tennessee, convicting Scopes for teaching evolution in the public schools.)
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