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Bryan, William Jennings

William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois, on March 19, 1860, to Silas Bryan and Mariah Jennings Bryan. His undergraduate education was completed at Illinois College, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1881. He then earned a graduate degree at the Union College of Law in Chicago, Illinois, in 1883. Following graduation, he began practicing law in Jacksonville, Illinois. A year later, he married Mary Baird. He and his family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1887. Once in Nebraska, he used his extraordinary rhetorical skills to quickly rise within the state’s Democratic Party.

Bryan was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1890. He campaigned as a populist, espousing the direct election of U.S. senators and inflating the nation’s currency through the bimetallic standard. ...

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