The clashes between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan during the 1896 and 1900 presidential elections changed the course of American politics. Prior to Bryan’s candidacy, the Democratic Party was slightly more conservative than the Republican Party. At the 1896 Democratic National Convention, Bryan’s dramatic “Cross of Gold” speech stampeded the delegates left-of-center—a position the party has traditionally held since.
Most Americans, though, rejected this new wave, remained conservative and twice elected McKinley. These were dramatic years for the country as it continued its rise to become a major world economic and military power. Significantly, freedom increased for those now within the American orbit.