December 1961 | Volume 13, Issue 1
—Willa Cather, in Round-up: A Nebraska Reader
What a disgusting, dishonest fakir Bryan is! When I see so many Americans running after him, I feel very much as I do when a really lovely woman falls in love with a cad.
—Elihu Root to William M. Laffan, October 31, 1900
As for Bryan, though he has many kindly and amiable traits, what a shallow demagogue he is! I do not believe he is a bit worse than Thomas Jefferson, and I do not think that if elected President he will be a worse President. The country would survive, but it would suffer just as the country suffered for at least two generations because of its folly in following Jefferson’s lead.
—Theodore Roosevelt to Henry Cabot Lodge, August 6, 1906
It has become the custom nowadays, among supercilious people, to depict Bryan as a clown, or a fool, or a mountebank. He was nothing of the kind. In many respects, he was one of the shrewdest men I have ever known. In him, unsophistication and sagacity were strangely blended. Along with this he was truthful and square. His friendships were sincere; one could depend implicitly on his word. … He turned every public question into a moral issue. He was by nature a crusader, a reformer. … But anyone who pictures him as a grumpy, sour, muddled fanatic is wholly wrong. …
As I think of him there comes into my mind what somebody said of Gladstone—that to keep hating him, one had to avoid meeting him. I cannot say if this was true of Gladstone, but it was certainly true of William Jennings Bryan.
—William G. McAdoo, in Crowded Years