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William Jennings Bryan (Napoleon's World)

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William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 - July 26, 1925) was an American politician in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a powerful figure in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He emerged as the party's champion after the disastrous 1900 election as an opponent of gold, banks and railroads and won the Presidency in two landslide elections in 1904 and 1908. Regarded as one of the most politically liberal Presidents in the history of the United States, Bryan extended suffrage to women in 1909, ended the gold standard in 1910 by fulfilling the promises of the silverite movement, set about on an ambitious policy of "trust-busting" and pushed for an extension of popular democracy to decide public policy, kickstarting the Progressive Era of the early 20th century. A devout Presbyterian, Bryan was a prohibitionist and opposed Darwinism and the teaching of evolution of religious grounds. Due to his wide travels throughout the nation on his campaigns and his strong belief of the goodness of the people, he was often referred to as the "Great Commoner."

Due to his stewardship of a great liberalization of American politics during his two terms and afterwards, as well as his variety of policy successes and popularity amongst a wide variety of Americans, Bryan is often regarded as one of the best Presidents in United States history and is often cited as the best President of the Democratic Party. Until Jay Leno in 2008, Bryan was only the second Democrat after Josiah Marks to win a reelection campaign, and as of 2011 is the last Democrat to serve a full two terms (Leno resigned due to health problems in mid-2010, thus denying him two full terms).

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