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The 1896 Elections occurred during the turmoils of The Long Depression and The Panic of 1893. The Contenders were Former Ohio Governor William McKinley of The Republican Party with his running mate Garret Hobart and Former Nebraska Representative William Bryan of The Democratic Party with his Populist Party running mate Georgia Representative Tom Watson of Georgia. Despite The Gold (or National) Democratic split from the mainstream Democratic Party, The Democratic/Populist fusion ticket had won the election in a close call. Shortly after the Election, The Democrats and Populists would fuse together into the American Silver Party. In the realms of Political Science, 1896 was often considered a realigning election favoring The Silver Party and its policies, while Pro-Business elements of both parties were the opposition for the time being.
The Party Nominations
Democratic Party nomination
- William Jennings Bryan, former U.S. representative from Nebraska
- Richard P. Bland, former U.S. representative from Missouri
- Robert E. Pattison, former U.S. governor of Pennsylvania
- Horace Boies, former U.S. governor of Iowa
- Joseph C. S. Blackburn, former U.S. senator from Kentucky
- Claude Matthews, former U.S. governor of Indiana
- John Roll McLean, former newspaper owner and publisher from Ohio
Former Congressman William Jennings Bryan was the void filler of the nomination. Bryan hailed from the rural state of Nebraska and was an excellent orator and spokesman for the millions of Americans who were suffering from the economic recessions of The Panic of 1893. During The Convention, Bryan delivered a speech that would soon be considered my numerous historians as "The Cross Of Gold" speech, one of the most famous ever to be made. In his speech, Bryan highlighted the fact that many farmers, factory workers, and other working class citizens were being crucially hurt by the economic downspiral. He called on the end of The Gold Standard, and implement its replacement, The Silver Standard. Along with many other government relief programs being promised, the speech was a major success.
Bryan's speech was so dramatic that the now united convention delegates walked him through the convention hall on their shoulders. He slaughtered the other candidates, especially his closest rival, Senator Richard "Silver Dick" Bland of Missouri by a 3 to 1 margin. The original pick for Bryan's running mate was Arthur Sewall of Maine, primarily due to his wealth being a help to fundraise for Bryan. Unfortunately, Sewall was in a fatal car accident shortly after the convention, he lived but declined the Vice Presidential Nomination due to stress and trauma. He simply just endorsed Bryan and promised to help campaign for him. After a lot of debate, Populist Party member Representative Tom Watson of Georgia was selected to be Bryan's running mate, creating a fusion ticket of the two parties. Watson is the first Georgian to be either on The Presidential or Vice Presidential ballot, and Bryan was the youngest person (at age 36) ever to run run for President, and still is to this day.
Republican Party nomination
- William McKinley, former U.S. governor of Ohio
- Thomas B. Reed, Speaker of the House from Maine
- Matthew S. Quay, U.S. senator from Pennsylvania
- Levi P. Morton, U.S. governor of New York
- William B. Allison, U.S. senator from Iowa
Similar with 176 and 1880, The Republicans decided to pick into the Ohio Governor's office for their candidate. With his strong pro-business and pro-gold standard platform, William McKinley won the nomination in an easy stroll. He was originally going to have wealthy businessman Mark Hanna to be his running mate, but Hanna was found dead after traveling to the convention due to a misfired gunshot from a St. Louis archery competition. Garret Hobart of New Jersey was chosen instead. Due to The Republicans showing strong support for The Gold Standard, many Western Republicans left The Convention in support for Bryan, crippling Republican chance in The West. McKinley is the last candidate on either party to be a Civil War veteran.
National Democratic Party ("Gold Democrats") nomination
National Democratic candidates
- John M. Palmer, U.S. senator from Illinois
- Edward S. Bragg, former U.S. representative from Wisconsin
- Grover Cleveland, President of the United States from New York
- William Vilas, U.S. senator from Wisconsin
- John G. Carlisle, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from Kentucky
- Julius Sterling Morton, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from Nebraska
- William Lyne Wilson, U.S. Postmaster General from West Virginia
- Henry Watterson, former U.S. representative from Kentucky
Despite William Bryan winning the nomination of The Democratic Party, many Democrats supporting The Gold Standard left in frustration to form The National (or Gold) Democratic ticket. President Cleveland was a staunch supporter of this split, and endorsed it over The Democratic Party. Former Illinois Governor John Plamer was nominated to The Presidential Ballot and Former Governor of Kentucky Simon Buckner, Sr. was nominated for The Vice Presidential Ballot. The National Democrats did not carry any states, but if they carried a few more votes in certain states, McKinley would have won the election. After their defeat, some went back into The Democratic (now Silver) Party, but the majority of non-Southern National Democrats joined The Republican Party.
William Bryan/Tom Watson: 232 EVs 50.2% PV
William McKinley/Garret Hobart: 215 EVs 48.1% PV
Other: O EVs 1.7% EV
Winner bolded, 224 EVs required to win.