The Elections of 1896 and 1900

Candidates:

1896
William McKinley (271 Electoral Votes)
William Jennings Bryan (176 Electoral Votes)

1900
William McKinley (292 Electoral Votes)
William Jennings Bryan (155 Electoral Votes)

 

In 1896 the Republican Party nominated the last Civil War veteran to reach the presidency, William McKinley of Ohio.  McKinley ran on a nationalist platform of high tariffs and the gold standard.  The Democratic Party repudiated Grover Cleveland and his gold standard policies for young William Jennings Bryan, whose “Cross of Gold” convention speech in favor of an inflationary monetary policy was an instant classic of American political oratory.  Despite Bryan’s vigorous campaigning, he was unable to win any electoral votes outside the South and the West; McKinley swept the electoral vote-rich states of the Northeast and Midwest.  During McKinley’s first term, a speedy and decisive war with Spain gave the United States an overseas empire, including Puerto Rico and the Philippines.  McKinley won an easy victory over Bryan in 1900 as the candidate of prosperity and empire.  His assassination by an anarchist in 1901 ushered in the era of Theodore Roosevelt.

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