Picture of William Jennings Bryan

Statement Conceding the Presidential Election

November 05, 1908

The election has gone against us by a decisive majority. The returns are not all in, and it is impossible at the present time to analyze them or to say what causes contributed most to the Republican victory. We made our fight upon a platform which embodied what we believed to be good for the American people, but it is for the people themselves to decide what laws they desire and what methods of Government they prefer.

I have faith that the publicity which we asked for will yet commend itself to the American people; that the election of Senators by the people will be secured; that the iniquities of the trusts will arouse an opposition that will result in the elimination of the principle of private monopoly.

I am confident that the people will see the necessity for the labor legislation and the tariff reduction which our platform demanded. I am confident, too, that the educational work done in this campaign will result in securing greater protection to bank depositors.

The above are the most prominent reforms for which we labored, and I believe that these reforms will yet come together with more effective regulations and railroads and independence for the Filipinos.

I desire to commend the work of our National Committee. I am entirely satisfied with Mr. Mack as the Chairman and with the members of the committee. I do not see what they could have done more than they did, and as for myself, I put forth every effort in my power to secure victory for our cause. The nomination came from the hands of the voters, I have obeyed their command and have led as best I could.

Words will not express my gratitude for the devotion which has been shown by millions of Democrats during the last twelve years. Neither am I able to adequately express my appreciation for the kind words which have been spoken since the election.

If I could regard the defeat as purely a personal one, I would consider it a blessing rather than a misfortune, for I am relieved of the burdens and responsibilities of an office that is attractive only in proportion as it gives an opportunity to render a larger public service.

But I shall serve as willingly in a private capacity as in a public one. God does not require great things of us. He only requires that we improve the opportunities that are presented, and I shall be glad to improve the opportunities for service presented by private life.

In this hour of National defeat I find some consolation in the cordial support given by my neighbors, by the citizens of Lincoln and by the people of the State of Nebraska. With a Democratic Governor and a Democratic Legislature we shall be able to put into practice so much of the Denver platform as relates to State legislation, and I trust that our State will set an example that will be an influence for good in the Nation.

Source: "Bryan on the Result," New York Times, November 6, 1908, p. 2.

William Jennings Bryan, Statement Conceding the Presidential Election Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/345982

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