Picture of William Jennings Bryan

Telegram to William McKinley Conceding the Presidential Election

November 05, 1896


HON. WM. MCKINLEY, Canton, Ohio: Senator Jones has just informed me that the returns indicate your election, and I hasten to extend my congratulations. We have submitted the issue to the American people and their will is law.


Senator James K. Jones, D. Arkansas, was Chair of the Democratic National Committee. 

At 8:20 pm on November 5, Senator Jones notified Bryan that he (Jones) had conceded the election to McKinley.  Jones also released the following statement:

The result of the Presidential election is apparently no longer in doubt. It has been one of the closest contests that the people have been called on to determine in recent years. We have claimed the election on our advices from States that were admittedly in doubt, in which we knew there had been many frauds, and from which there were evidences of tampering with the returns. It seems now to be apparent that while Mr. Bryan, after making the most brilliant campaign in the history of our country and having carried most of the States claimed to be doubtful, has not carried enough to assure his success in the Electoral College.

Bryan electors have been chosen from all of the States south of the Potomac and Ohio except West Virginia and all those west of the Missouri except California and Oregon. He has 190 electoral votes and this number may be increased by final returns from States yet in question. He has not obtained enough votes to carry the Electoral College. Thus this remarkable campaign closes with the election of William McKinley. The result was brought about by every kind of coercion and intimidation on the part of the money power, including threats of lockouts and dismissals and impending starvation; by the employment of by far the largest campaign fund ever used in this country, and by the subordination of a large portion of the American press.

The President-elect and his party are under the pledge to the American people to continue the gold standard, and by its operation to restore prosperity to this country. As Chief Executive Mr. McKinley will have the cordial support of the millions of patriotic Americans who have cast their votes for William Jennings Bryan. They bow to the majesty of office and bide by the result with none of the mutterings that would have come from the monied powers, had it been unsuccessful.

They are confident the gold standard cannot give the promised prosperity, but will gladly welcome it if it comes. They will continue the great struggle for the uplifting of humanity, and the maintenance of the dignity of our country in the establishment of the American monetary system. And the Democratic party aided by its present allies will still uplift the bimetallic standard and bear it on to victory. 

Source:  New York Times, "Even Jones Gives It Up," November 6, 1896, p 5.

William Jennings Bryan, Telegram to William McKinley Conceding the Presidential Election Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/345909

Simple Search of Our Archives