Bryan Money: Satirical Silver
- Colin Horan
What Is It?
Bryan Money is a term that describes the many types of satirical coins minted by opponents to then Democratic Presidential Candidate William Jennings Bryan during his bid for the Presidency for the Election of 1896 and the Election of 1900. Many Republicans sought to maintain a gold standard that had been prevalent since the Coinage Act of 1873 which had effectively ended bimetallism as a currency standard, however, Bryan wanted to reintroduce a Bimetallic standard at a ratio of 16 to 1 (16 oz. of silver for every 1 oz. of gold).
Bimetallism or “Free Silver” was the key issue for the Democratic Party and Populist Party during the elections of 1896 and 1900. The goal was to print more paper currency as it could be backed by either silver or gold instead of just the latter. The Democratic Party and the Populist Party threw their support behind Bryan after his famous “Cross of Gold Speech” given at the Democratic National Convention in 1896 where he famously declared “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!”. This catapulted him from a dark horse candidate to the Democratic Party’s nomination. He however would lose the Election to William McKinley in both 1896 and 1900 with the Bimetallism dream losing support with the passage of the Gold Standard Act of 1900 which formally adopted the gold standard in the United States of America.
Why Is It So Large?
The purpose of these coins are to show the size needed for a silver dollar in order to fit the 16:1 ratio that was supported by Bryan, the Democratic Party, and Populist Party. A Morgan Silver Dollar contained 412.5 grains of .900 fine silver, meanwhile, in order to fit the Bryan’s 16:1 ratio, 823 grains of .900 fine silver would be needed for a dollar. That is about TWICE as large!