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William Jennings Bryan visits Madisonville, 1897

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William Jennings Bryan visits Madisonville, 1897

Posted: 1070250205000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 1116900943000
Surnames: Bryan, Hardin, Holeman, Dempsey, Rhea


The announcement that Hon. William Jennings BRYAN would appear at Madisonville on Tuesday night caused a crowd to assemble at this place, the like of which was never before seen in this section of the country. Estimates vary as to the extent of the crowd, but hardly anyone places it at less than ten thousand. Gen. Wat HARDIN who has seen many big crowds and who is used to estimating stated that he thought there must have been something near 20,000 people at Madisonville to hear him.
People began coming early in the morning and there was a steady influx by train and vehicle all during the day. By noon the streets were crowded with people, and by night there was hardly any such a thing as getting around.
A platform was erected on the pavement leading to the court house, and at three o'clock in the afternoon, Hon P. Watt HARDIN addressed the people from the stand for nearly two hours. He made a powerful speech in support of the silver cause and answered all the arguments put forth recently by the gold standard men, who have been seeking to claim the credit for the recent advance in all farm products.
Mr. BRYAN arrived at half past seven by special train, having spoken during the day at Bowling Green, Russellville and Hopkinsville. He was met at Hopkinsville by Mayor HOLEMAN and a delegation of citizens and escorted to the city in true Kentucky style. He and his party reached the platform at 8 o'clock. At the depot and all along the route to the stand, he was given a rousing reception. The crowd almost went wild over him.
Judge J.F. DEMPSEY acted as master of ceremonies, and first introduced John S. RHEA to the audience, who spoke for an hour with his characteristic force and eloquence. He could be distinctly heard a block away, and many thought it was BRYAN speaking. When Mr. BRYAN was introduced about nine o'clock, one vast deafening cheer went up, but he made one or two of his noted waves of the hand and everything became still. He spoke for nearly an hour and was frequently interrupted by applause. All who heard him were very much impressed by his earnest manner and his clearness of statement.
At the conclusion of his speech, the great crowd dispersed and such a crowd is not apt to congregate at Madisonville soon again.
Although the crowd was so large, the order was remarkably good and only two arrests were made for drunkenness. It is reported that several pockets were picked though the losses are reported as being small.
The special train conveyed Mr. BRYAN to Henderson Tuesday night and he spoke at the fair grounds at that place Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., after which he proceeded to Princeton and Paducah, where he made speeches that afternoon and night. (Source: Madisonville Hustler, Fri., Oct. 15, 1897)

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