William Jennings Bryan, three time Presidential candidate

William Jennings Bryan

Holy, Holy, Holy
From a Speech delivered at Lincoln, Nebr., in November, 1906.

IT is the fate of those who stand in a position of leadership to receive credit which really belongs to their coworkers. Even the enemies of a public man exaggerate the importance of his work without, of course, intending it. I have recently been a victim of this exaggeration. Senator Beveridge, of Indiana, made a speech before the Republican Club of Lincoln, and in it he paid me some compliments; but he said that I was merely a dreamer while President Roosevelt did things. I did not pay much attention to the title which he gave me until I read shortly afterwards that Speaker Cannon called me a dreamer; then Governor Cummins called me a dreamer, and then Governor Hanley, of Indiana, did also; and I saw that I could not expect acquittal with four such witnesses against me, and so I decided to plead guilty and justify.

I went to the Bible for authority, as I am in the habit of doing, for I have never found any other book which contains so much of truth or in which truth is so well expressed; and then, too, there is another reason why I quote scripture: When I quote democratic authority, the Republicans attack my authority and they keep me so busy defending the men from whom I quote that I do not have time to do the work I want to do, but when I quote scripture and they attack my authority, I can let them fight it out with the Bible while I go on about my business.

The Bible tells of dreamers, and among the most conspicuous was Joseph. He told his dreams to his brothers, and his brothers hated him because of his dreams. And one day when his father sent him out where his brothers were keeping their flocks in Dothan, they saw him coming afar off and said: “Behold, the dreamer cometh.” They plotted to kill him—and he is not the only dreamer who has been plotted against in this old world. But finally they decided that instead of killing him they would put him down in a pit, but some merchants passing that way, the brothers decided to sell him to the merchants, and the merchants carried Joseph down into Egypt.

The brothers deceived their father and made him think the wild beasts had devoured his son.

Time went on and the brothers had almost forgotten the dreamer Joseph. But a famine came—yes, a famine—and then they had to go down into Egypt and buy corn, and when they got there, they found the dreamer—and he had the corn.

So I decided that it was not so bad after all for one to be a dreamer—if one has the corn.

But the more I thought of the dreamer’s place in history, the less I felt entitled to the distinction.

John Boyle O’Reilly says that

“The dreamer lives forever,
While the toiler dies in a day.”

And is it not true?

In traveling through Europe you find great cathedrals, and back of each there was a dreamer. An architect had a vision of a temple of worship and he put that vision upon paper. Then the builders began, and they laid stone upon stone and brick upon brick until finally the temple was completed—completed sometimes centuries after the dreamer’s death. And people now travel from all corners of the world to look upon the temple, and the name of the dreamer is known while the names of the toilers are forgotten.

No, I cannot claim a place among the dreamers, but there has been a great dreamer in the realm of statesmanship—Thomas Jefferson. He saw a people bowed beneath oppression and he had a vision of a self-governing nation, in which every citizen would be a sovereign. He put his vision upon paper and for more than a century multitudes have been building. They are building at this temple in every nation; some day it will be completed and then the people of all the world will find protection beneath its roof and security within its walls. I shall be content if, when my days are numbered, it can be truthfully said of me that with such ability as I possessed, and whenever opportunity offered, I labored faithfully with the multitude to build this building higher in my time.

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