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Can one man end war forever?

William Jennings Bryan.

If we know him at all it is from the Scopes Monkey Trial at the end of his life. Or maybe we know of his 3 failed campaigns for President of the United States on the Democratic ticket. But many of us are unaware of his efforts to establish world peace. William Jennings Bryan hated war. He wasn’t a pacifist – he enlisted for the Spanish-American War after all. But he saw the meaningless carnage of war and vowed to do his best to reduce the amount of bloodshed.

So “The Commoner” used his position as Secretary of State under President Wilson to establish 30 peace treaties. In this mini-episode, we revisit his career and talk about the impact this man might have had if WWI hadn’t slowed his progress.

God-willing I’ll be back soon with a full episode! Thanks for your patience!

Helpful Sources:

  • “A Godly Hero” book by Michael Kazin
  • “A Righteous Cause” book by Robert Cherny
  • “The Evangelicals” by Frances Fitgerald
  • “Money: The True Story of a Made Up Thing” by Jacob Goldstein
  • “What’s Your Problem?” podcast from Pushkin Industries, hosted by Jacob Goldstein

Discussion Questions:

  • William Jennings Bryan was the head of the party of Jim Crow. Do his actions to stop imperialism or war shape how you feel about him?
  • Would a conciliation treaty policy work today?
  • Is world peace a worthy goal today? What role do weapons play in that?
  • How might this tie into fundamentalism?
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