Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

Contenders: Say it Like You Mean it

Contenders Talkers Composite_L

Adlai Stevenson (left) and William Jennings Bryan

Throughout American history, one of the most important job qualifications for the office of President has been knowing how to talk. You have to be able to deliver a speech that will rally the people.

For Lincoln it was: “Four score and seven years ago,” FDR had: “A date which will live in infamy.” JFK asked, “Ask not what your country can do for you…” You get the idea.

But one of the most influential speeches in American political history is one most people have never even heard of: William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech. In this episode, we bring you the story of Bryan’s epic speech, plus the story of the presidential campaign of 1952 when a fondness for oratory doomed the candidacy of Adlai Stevenson.

This is the second episode in our 3-part series, Contenders: Portraits of some of the most groundbreaking and unusual presidential candidates — who never won the White House. Click here for Part 1:”Before Hillary: Women who Fought for the White House.”

Radio Diaries is part of Radiotopia from PRX, a podcast network with 14 great shows.

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