Appeasement in an international context is a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an aggressive power in order to avoid conflict. The term is most applied to the foreign policy of the British governments of Prime Ministers Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain towards Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy between 1935 and 1939. At the beginning of the 1930s, such concessions were seen as positive due to the trauma of World War I, second thoughts about the treatment of Germany in the Treaty of Versailles, a perception that Fascism was a useful form of anti-communism. However, by the time of the Munich Pact—concluded on 30 September 1938 among Germany, Britain and Italy—the policy was opposed by most of the British left and Labour Party, by Conservative dissenters such as Winston Churchill and Duff Cooper, by Anthony Eden, a former proponent of appeasement; as alarm grew about the rise of fascism in Europe, Chamberlain resorted to news censorship to control public opinion.
Nonetheless, Chamberlain confidently announced after Munich that he had secured "peace for our time". The policies have been the subject of intense debate for more than seventy years among academics and diplomats; the historians' assessments have ranged from condemnation for allowing Adolf Hitler's Germany to grow too strong, to the judgment that Germany was so strong that it might well win a war and that postponement of a showdown was in their country's best interests. Chamberlain's policy of appeasement emerged from the failure of the League of Nations and the failure of collective security; the League of Nations was set up in the aftermath of World War I in the hope that international cooperation and collective resistance to aggression might prevent another war. Members of the League were entitled to the assistance of other members; the policy of collective security ran in parallel with measures to achieve international disarmament and where possible was to be based on economic sanctions against an aggressor.
It appeared to be ineffectual when confronted by the aggression of dictators, notably Germany's Remilitarization of the Rhineland, Italian leader Benito Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia. In September 1931, Japan, a member of the League of Nations, invaded Manchuria in northeast China, claiming that its population was not only Chinese, but was a multi-ethnic region. China appealed to the United States for assistance; the Council of the League asked the parties to withdraw to their original positions to permit a peaceful settlement. The United States reminded them of their duty under the Kellogg–Briand Pact to settle matters peacefully. Japan went on to occupy the whole of Manchuria; the League set up a commission of inquiry that condemned Japan, the League duly adopting the report in February 1933. In response Japan continued its advance into China. However, the U. S. issued the Stimson Doctrine and refused to recognize Japan's conquest, which played a role in shifting U. S. policy to favour China over Japan late in the 1930s.
Some historians, such as David Thomson, assert that the League's "inactivity and ineffectualness in the Far East lent every encouragement to European aggressors who planned similar acts of defiance". In this 1935 pact, Britain permitted Germany to begin rebuilding its navy, including its U-boats, in spite of Hitler having violated the Treaty of Versailles. Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini had imperial ambitions in Abyssinia. Italy was in possession of neighboring Eritrea and Somalia. In December 1934 there was a clash between Italian and Abyssinian troops at Walwal, near the border between British and Italian Somaliland, in which Italian troops took possession of the disputed territory and in which 150 Abyssinians and 50 Italians were killed; when Italy demanded apologies and compensation from Abyssinia, Abyssinia appealed to the League, Emperor Haile Selassie famously appealing in person to the assembly in Geneva. The League persuaded both sides to seek a settlement under the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928 but Italy continued troop movements and Abyssinia appealed to the League again.
In October 1935 Mussolini launched an attack on Abyssinia. The League declared Italy to be the aggressor and imposed sanctions, but coal and oil were not included. Albania and Hungary refused to apply sanctions; the Italian economy suffered. The League considered closing off the Suez Canal which would have stopped arms to Abyssinia, thinking it would be too harsh a measure, they did not do so. Earlier, in April 1935, Italy had joined France in protest against Germany's rearmament. France was anxious to placate Mussolini so as to keep him away from an alliance with Germany. Britain was less hostile to Germany and set the pace in imposing sanctions and moved a naval fleet into the Mediterranean, but in November 1935, the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare and the French Prime Minister, Pierre Laval, had secret discussions in which they agreed to concede two-thirds of Abyssinia to Italy. However, the press leaked the content of the discussions and a public outcry forced Hoare and Laval to resign.
In May 1936, undeterred by sanctions, Italy captured Addis Ababa, the Abyssinian capital, proclaimed Victor Emmanuel III the Emperor of Ethiopia. In July the League abandoned sanctions; this episode, in which sanctions were incomplete and appeared to be given up discredited the League. Under the Versailles Settlement, the Rhineland was demilitarized. Germany accepted this arrangemen
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate mega-regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions is not defined; the self-perception of Chinese nation regional stereotypes, has been dominated by these two concepts, given that regional differences in culture and language have fostered strong regional identities of the Chinese people. Used as the geographical dividing line between northern and southern China is the Qinling Huaihe Line; this line approximates the 800 millimetres isohyet in China. Culturally, the division is more ambiguous. In the eastern provinces like Jiangsu and Anhui, the Yangtze River may instead be perceived as the north–south boundary instead of the Huai River, but this is a recent development. There is an ambiguous area, the region around Nanyang, that lies in the gap where the Qin has ended and the Huai River has not yet begun; as such, the boundary between northern and southern China does not follow provincial boundaries. This may have been deliberate.
The Northeast and Inner Mongolia are conceived to belong to northern China according to the framework above. Xinjiang and Qinghai were not conceived of as being part of either the north or south. However, Xinjiang and Tibet are now regarded as being part of the north due to the spread of Northern Chinese culture and the use of Mandarin; the concepts of northern and southern China originate from differences in climate, geography and physical traits. Northern China is too cold and dry for rice cultivation and consists of flat plains and desert; these differences have led to differences in warfare during the pre-modern era, as cavalry could dominate the northern plains but encountered difficulties against river navies fielded in the south. There are major differences in language, cuisine and popular entertainment forms such as opera. Episodes of division into North and South include: Three Kingdoms Sixteen Kingdoms and Southern and Northern Dynasties Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period Southern Song dynasty and Jin dynasty Warlord era of the Republic of ChinaThe Northern and Southern Dynasties showed such a high level of polarization between North and South that northerners and southerners referred to each other as barbarians.
For a large part of Chinese history, northern China was economically more advanced than southern China. The Jurchen and Mongol invasion caused a massive migration to southern China, the Emperor shifted the Song dynasty capital city from Kaifeng in northern China to Hangzhou, located south of the Yangtze river; the population of Shanghai increased from 12,000 households to over 250,000 inhabitants after Kaifeng was sacked by invading armies. This began a shift of political and cultural power from northern China to southern China; the east coast of southern China remained a leading economic and cultural center of China until the Republic of China. Today, southern China remains economically more prosperous than northern China. During the Qing dynasty, regional differences and identification in China fostered the growth of regional stereotypes; such stereotypes appeared in historic chronicles and gazetteers and were based on geographic circumstances and literary associations and Chinese cosmology.
These differences were reflected in Qing dynasty policies, such as the prohibition on local officials to serve their home areas, as well as conduct of personal and commercial relations. In 1730, the Kangxi Emperor made the observation in the Tingxun Geyan: The people of the North are strong. During the Republican period, Lu Xun, a major Chinese writer, wrote: According to my observation, Northerners are sincere and honest; these are their respective virtues. Yet sincerity and honesty lead to stupidity, whereas skillfulness and quick-mindedness lead to duplicity. In modern times and South is one of the ways that Chinese people identify themselves, the divide between northern and southern China has been complicated both by a unified Chinese nationalism and as well as by local loyalties to linguistically and culturally distinct regions within province, county and villag
Anti-Japanese sentiment involves the hatred or fear of anything Japanese. Its opposite is Japanophilia. Anti-Japanese sentiments range from animosity towards the Japanese government's actions and disdain for Japanese culture to racism against the Japanese people. Sentiments of dehumanization have been fueled by the anti-Japanese propaganda of the Allied governments in World War II. Anti-Japanese sentiment may be strongest in China, North Korea, South Korea, due to atrocities committed by the Japanese military. In the past, anti-Japanese sentiment contained innuendos of Japanese people as barbaric. Following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan was intent to adopt Western ways in an attempt to join the West as an industrialized imperial power, but a lack of acceptance of the Japanese in the West complicated integration and assimilation. One held view was that the Japanese were evolutionarily inferior. Japanese culture was viewed with suspicion and disdain. While passions have settled somewhat since Japan's surrender in World War II, tempers continue to flare on occasion over the widespread perception that the Japanese government has made insufficient penance for their past atrocities, or has sought to whitewash the history of these events.
Today, though the Japanese government has effected some compensatory measures, anti-Japanese sentiment continues based on historical and nationalist animosities linked to Imperial Japanese military aggression and atrocities. Japan's delay in clearing more than 700,000 pieces of life-threatening and environment contaminating chemical weapons buried in China at the end of World War II is another cause of anti-Japanese sentiment. Periodically, individuals within Japan spur external criticism. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was criticized by South Korea and China for annually paying his respects to the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines all those who fought and died for Japan during World War II, including 1,068 convicted war criminals. Right-wing nationalist groups have produced history textbooks whitewashing Japanese atrocities, the recurring controversies over these books attract hostile foreign attention; some anti-Japanese sentiment originates from business practices used by some Japanese companies, such as dumping.
In the United States, anti-Japanese sentiment had its beginnings well before the Second World War. As early as the late 19th century, Asian immigrants were subject to racial prejudice in the United States. Laws were passed that discriminated against Asians, sometimes Japanese in particular. Many of these laws stated that Asians could not become citizens of the United States and could not hold basic rights, such as owning land; these laws were detrimental to the newly arrived immigrants, since many of them were farmers and had little choice but to become migrant workers. Some cite the formation of the Asiatic Exclusion League as the start of the anti-Japanese movement in California. Anti-Japanese racism and Yellow Peril in California had intensified after the Japanese victory over the Russian Empire in the Russo-Japanese War. On 11 October 1906, the San Francisco, California Board of Education had passed a regulation whereby children of Japanese descent would be required to attend racially segregated separate schools.
At the time, Japanese immigrants made up 1% of the population of California. The invasion of China in 1931 and the conquest of Manchuria was roundly criticized in the US. In addition, efforts by citizens outraged at Japanese atrocities, such as the Nanking Massacre, led to calls for American economic intervention to encourage Japan to leave China; as more and more unfavorable reports of Japanese actions came to the attention of the American government, embargoes on oil and other supplies were placed on Japan, out of concern for the Chinese populace and for American interests in the Pacific. Furthermore, the European American population became pro-China and anti-Japan, an example being a grass-roots campaign for women to stop buying silk stockings, because the material was procured from Japan through its colonies; when the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, Western public opinion was decidedly pro-China, with eyewitness reports by Western journalists on atrocities committed against Chinese civilians further strengthening anti-Japanese sentiments.
African American sentiments could be quite different than the mainstream, with organizations like the Pacific Movement of the Eastern World which promised equality and land distribution under Japanese rule. The PMEW had thousands of members preparing for liberation from white supremacy with the arrival of the Japanese Imperial Army; the most profound cause of anti-Japanese sentiment outside of Asia had its beginning in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese attack propelled the United States into World War II; the Americans were unified by the attack to fight against the Empire of Japan and its allies, the German Reich and the Kingdom of Italy. The surprise attack at Pearl Harbor prior to a declaration of war was presented to the American populace as an act of treachery and cowardice. Following the attack many non-governmental "Jap hunting licenses" were circulated around the country. Life magazine published an article on how to tell a Japanese from a Chinese person by the shape of the nose and the stature of the body.
Japanese conduct during the war did little to quell anti-Japanese sentiment. F
History of the Republic of China
The History of the Republic of China begins after the Qing dynasty in 1912, when the formation of the Republic of China as a constitutional republic put an end to 4,000 years of Imperial rule. The Qing dynasty, ruled from 1644–1912; the Republic had experienced many trials and tribulations after its founding which included being dominated by elements as disparate as warlord generals and foreign powers. In 1928, the Republic was nominally unified under the Kuomintang —Chinese Nationalist Party—after the Northern Expedition, was in the early stages of industrialization and modernization when it was caught in the conflicts among the Kuomintang government, the Communist Party of China, converted into a nationalist party. Most nation-building efforts were stopped during the full-scale Second Sino-Japanese War / War of Resistance against Japan from 1937 to 1945, the widening gap between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party made a coalition government impossible, causing the resumption of the Chinese Civil War, in 1946, shortly after the Japanese surrender to the Americans and the Western Allies in September 1945.
A series of political and military missteps led to the KMT's defeat and its retreat to Taiwan in 1949, where it established an authoritarian one-party state continuing under Generalissimo/President Chiang Kai-shek. This state considered itself to be the continuing sole legitimate ruler of all of China, referring to the communist government or "regime" as illegitimate, a so-called "People's Republic of China" declared in Beijing by Mao Zedong in 1949, as "mainland China", "Communist China, or "Red China". Although supported for many years decades by many nations with the support of the United States who established a 1954 Mutual Defense treaty, as the decades passed, since political liberalization began in the late 1960s, the PRC was able after a constant yearly campaign in the United Nations to get approval in 1971, to take the seat for "China" in the General Assembly, more be seated as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council. After recovering from this shock of rejection by its former allies and liberalization in the late 1970s from the Nationalist authoritarian government and following the death of Chiang Kai-shek, the Republic of China has transformed itself into a multiparty, representative democracy on Taiwan and given more representation to those native Taiwanese, whose ancestors predate the 1949 mainland evacuation.
The last days of the Qing dynasty in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were marked by civil unrest and foreign invasions. Various internal rebellions caused millions of deaths, conflicts with foreign Western European powers always resulted in humiliating unequal treaties that exacted costly reparations and compromised the country's territorial integrity. In addition, there were sentiments that political power should return to the majority Han Chinese from the minority Manchus from the northeastern province of Manchuria. Responding to these civil failures and discontent, the Qing Imperial Court attempted to reform the Imperial Government in various ways, such as the decision to draft a constitution in 1906, the establishment of provincial legislatures in 1909, the preparations for electing a national parliament in 1910. However, many of these measures were opposed by the conservatives of the Qing Court, many reformers were either imprisoned or executed outright; the failures of the Imperial Court to enact such political liberalization and modernization caused the reformists to take the road of revolution.
There were many revolutionary groups, but the most organized one was founded by Sun Yat-sen, a republican and anti-Qing activist who became popular among overseas Chinese and Chinese students abroad in Japan. In 1905 Sun founded the Tongmenghui in Tokyo with Huang Xing, a popular leader of the Chinese revolutionary movement in Japan, as his deputy; this movement, generously supported by overseas Chinese funds gained political support with regional military officers and some of the reformers who had fled China after the Hundred Days' Reform. Sun's political philosophy was conceptualized in 1897, first enunciated in Tokyo in 1905 and modified through the early 1920s, it centered on the Three Principles of the People: "nationalism and people's livelihood". The principle of nationalism called for overthrowing the Manchus and ending foreign hegemony over China; the second principle, was used to describe Sun's goal of a popularly elected republican form of government. People's livelihood referred to as socialism, was aimed at helping the common people through regulation of the ownership of the means of production and land.
The Republican Era of China began with the outbreak of revolution on 10 October 1911, in Wuchang, the capital of Hubei Province, among discontented modernized army units whose anti-Qing plot had been uncovered. This would be known as the Wuchang Uprising, celebrated as Double Tenth Day in Taiwan, it had been preceded by organized protests inside China. The revolt spread to neighboring cities, Tongmenghui members throughout the country rose in support of the Wuchang revolutionary forces. On October 12 the Revolutionaries succeeded in capturing Hanyang. However, the euphoria engendered by this victory was short-lived. On October 27, Yuan Shikai was reappointed by the Qing Court to lead the New Army, loyalist forces under Feng Guozhang and Duan Qirui moved south to retake Wuhan. After heavy fighting in November, the out-manned and out-gunned Revolutionary Army was drive
The Warlord Era was a period in the history of the Republic of China when control of the country was divided among former military cliques of the Beiyang Army and other regional factions, which were spread across the mainland regions of Sichuan, Qinghai, Guangdong, Gansu and Xinjiang. In historiography, the era began when Yuan Shikai died in 1916, lasted until 1928 when the Nationalist Kuomintang unified China through the Northern Expedition, marking the beginning of the Nanjing decade. Several of the warlords continued to maintain their influence through the 1930s and the 1940s, problematic for the Nationalist government during the Second Sino-Japanese War; this era was characterized by constant military conflicts between different factions, the largest conflict was the Central Plains War which involved more than one million soldiers. Early in the 20th century the term was adopted in China as "Jun Fa" to describe the aftermath of the 1911 Wuchang uprising and Xinhai Revolution, when regional commanders led their private militias to battle the state and competing commanders for control over territory, launching the period that would come to be known in China as the modern Warlord Era.
The term "Jun Fa" is now applied retroactively to describe the leaders of regional private armies who, throughout China's history, threatened or used violence to expand their political rule over additional territories, including those who rose to lead and unify kingdoms. The origins of the armies and leaders which dominated politics after 1912 lay in the military reforms of the late Qing dynasty. During the Taiping Rebellion, the Qing dynasty was forced to allow provincial governors to raise their own armies, the Yong Ying, to fight against the Taiping rebels. Strong bonding, family ties and respectful treatment of troops were emphasized; the officers were never rotated, the soldiers were handpicked by their commanders, commanders by their generals, so personal bonds of loyalty formed between local officers and the troops, unlike Green Standard and Banner forces. These late Qing reforms did not establish a national army but instead they mobilized regional armies and militias that had neither standardization nor consistency.
Officers were loyal to their superiors and formed cliques based upon their place of origins and background. Units were composed of men from the same province; this policy was meant to reduce dialectal miscommunication, but had the side effect of encouraging regionalistic tendencies. The Confucian disdain for the military was swept aside by the rising necessity of military professionalism, with scholars becoming militarized, many officers from non-scholarly backgrounds rising to high command and high office in civil bureaucracy. At this time, the military upstaged the civil service. Influenced by German and Japanese ideas of military predominance over the nation, coupled with the absence of national unity amongst the various cliques in the officer class, led to the fragmentation of power in the warlord era; the most powerful regional army was the northern-based Beiyang Army under Yuan Shikai, which received the best in training and modern weaponry. The Xinhai Revolution in 1911 brought widespread mutiny across southern China.
The revolution began in October 1911 with the mutiny of troops based in Wuhan. Soldiers once loyal to the Qing government began to defect to the opposition; these revolutionary forces established a provisional government in Nanjing the following year under Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who had returned from his long exile to lead the revolution, it became clear that the revolutionaries were not strong enough to defeat the Beiyang army and continued fighting would certainly lead to defeat. Instead, Sun negotiated with Beiyang commander Yuan Shikai to bring an end to the Qing and reunify China. In return, Sun would hand over his presidency and recommend Yuan to be the president of the new republic. Yuan refused to move to Nanjing and insisted on maintaining the capital in Beijing, where his power base was secure. Reacting to Yuan's growing authoritarianism, the southern provinces rebelled in 1913 but were crushed by Beiyang forces. Civil governors were replaced by military ones. In December 1915 Yuan found a new dynasty.
The southern provinces rebelled again in the National Protection War. Yuan renounced his plans for restoring the monarchy to woo back his lieutenants, but by the time he died in June 1916 China was fractured politically; the North-South split would persist throughout the entire Warlord Era. Yuan Shikai cut back on many government institutions in the beginning of 1914 by suspending parliament, followed by the provincial assemblies, his cabinet soon resigned making Yuan dictator of China. After Yuan Shikai curtailed many basic freedoms, the country spiraled into chaos and entered a period of warlordism. "Warlordism did not substitute military force for the other elements of government. This shift in balance came from the disintegration of the sanctions and values of China's traditional civil government." In other words, during the warlord era, there was a characteristic shift from a state-dominated civil bureaucracy held by a central authority to a military-dominated culture held by many groups, with power shifting from warlord to warlord.
A notable theme of warlordism is identified by C. Marti
Taiwan the Republic of China, is a state in East Asia. Neighbouring states include the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the northeast, the Philippines to the south. Taiwan is the most populous state and largest economy, not a member of the United Nations; the island of Taiwan was inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years before the 17th century, when Dutch colonialists opened the island to mass Han immigration. After a brief rule by the Kingdom of Tungning, the island was annexed in 1683 by the Qing dynasty of China, ceded to Japan in 1895. Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, the Republic of China, which had overthrown and succeeded the Qing in 1911, took control of Taiwan; the resumption of the Chinese Civil War led to the loss of the mainland to the Communists and the flight of the ROC government to Taiwan in 1949. Although the ROC government continued to claim to be the legitimate representative of China, since 1950 its effective jurisdiction has been limited to Taiwan and several small islands.
In the early 1960s, Taiwan entered a period of industrialisation. In the 1980s and early 1990s, it changed from a one-party military dictatorship to a multi-party democracy with a semi-presidential system; as a founding member, the ROC represented China in the UN until it was replaced by the PRC in 1971. The PRC has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and refused diplomatic relations with any country that recognises the ROC; as of 2019, Taiwan maintains official ties with 16 out of 193 UN member states. Most international organisations in which the PRC participates either refuse to grant membership to Taiwan or allow it to participate only as a non-state actor. Most major powers maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan through representative offices and institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. In Taiwan, the major political division is between parties favouring eventual Chinese unification and promoting a Chinese identity contrasted with those aspiring to independence and promoting a Taiwanese identity, though both sides have moderated their positions to broaden their appeal.
Taiwan is a high-income advanced economy, with a skilled and educated workforce. It has the 22nd-largest economy in the world, its high-tech industry plays a key role in the global economy, it is urbanised, is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with most of the population concentrated on the western coast. The state is ranked in terms of civil and political liberties, health care and human development. Various names for the island of Taiwan remain in use today, each derived from explorers or rulers during a particular historical period; the name Formosa dates from 1542, when Portuguese sailors sighted an uncharted island and noted it on their maps as Ilha Formosa. The name Formosa "replaced all others in European literature" and remained in common use among English speakers into the 20th century. In the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company established a commercial post at Fort Zeelandia on a coastal sandbar called "Tayouan", after their ethnonym for a nearby Taiwanese aboriginal tribe Taivoan people, written by the Dutch and Portuguese variously as Taiouwang, Teijoan, etc.
This name was adopted into the Chinese vernacular as the name of the sandbar and nearby area. The modern word "Taiwan" is derived from this usage, seen in various forms in Chinese historical records; the area occupied by modern-day Tainan represented the first permanent settlement by both European colonists and Chinese immigrants. The settlement grew to be the island's most important trading centre and served as its capital until 1887. Use of the current Chinese name became official as early as 1684 with the establishment of Taiwan Prefecture. Through its rapid development the entire Formosan mainland became known as "Taiwan". In his Daoyi Zhilüe, Wang Dayuan used "Liuqiu" as a name for the island of Taiwan, or the part of it closest to Penghu. Elsewhere, the name was used for the Ryukyu Islands in general or Okinawa, the largest of them; the name appears in the Book of Sui and other early works, but scholars cannot agree on whether these references are to the Ryukyus, Taiwan or Luzon. The official name of the state is the "Republic of China".
Shortly after the ROC's establishment in 1912, while it was still located on the Chinese mainland, the government used the short form "China" to refer to itself, which derives from zhōng and guó, a term which developed under the Zhou dynasty in reference to its royal demesne, the name was applied to the area around Luoyi during the Eastern Zhou and to China's Central Plain before being used as an occasional synonym for the state during the Qing era. During the 1950s and 1960s, after the government had withdrawn to Taiwan upon losing the Chinese Civil War, it was referred to as "Nationalist China" to differentiate it from "Communist China", it was a member of the United Nations representing "China" until 1971, when it lost its seat to the People's Republic of China. Over subsequent decades, the Republic of China has become known as "Taiwan", after the island that comprises 99% of the territory under its control. In some contexts ROC government publications, the name is written as "
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American orator and politician from Nebraska. Beginning in 1896, he emerged as a dominant force in the Democratic Party, standing three times as the party's nominee for President of the United States, he served in the United States House of Representatives and as the United States Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. Just before his death he gained national attention for attacking the teaching of evolution in the Scopes Trial; because of his faith in the wisdom of the common people, he was called "The Great Commoner". Born and raised in Illinois, Bryan moved to Nebraska in the 1880s, he won election to the House of Representatives in the 1890 elections, serving two terms before making an unsuccessful run for the Senate in 1894. At the 1896 Democratic National Convention, Bryan delivered his "Cross of Gold speech" which attacked the gold standard and the eastern moneyed interests and crusaded for inflationary policies built around the expanded coinage of silver coins.
In a repudiation of incumbent President Grover Cleveland and his conservative Bourbon Democrats, the Democratic convention nominated Bryan for president, making Bryan the youngest major party presidential nominee in U. S. history. Subsequently, Bryan was nominated for president by the left-wing Populist Party, many Populists would follow Bryan into the Democratic Party. In the intensely fought 1896 presidential election, Republican nominee William McKinley emerged triumphant. Bryan gained fame as an orator as he invented the national stumping tour when he reached an audience of 5 million people in 27 states in 1896. Bryan retained control of the Democratic Party and won the presidential nomination again in 1900. In the aftermath of the Spanish–American War, Bryan became a fierce opponent of American imperialism, much of the campaign centered on that issue. In the election, McKinley again defeated Bryan, winning several Western states that Bryan had won in 1896. Bryan's influence in the party weakened after the 1900 election, the Democrats nominated the conservative Alton B. Parker in the 1904 presidential election.
Bryan regained his stature in the party after Parker's resounding defeat by Theodore Roosevelt, voters from both parties embraced the progressive reforms that had long been championed by Bryan. Bryan won his party's nomination in the 1908 presidential election, but he was defeated by Roosevelt's chosen successor, William Howard Taft. Along with Henry Clay, Bryan is one of the two individuals who never won a presidential election despite receiving electoral votes in three separate presidential elections held after the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment. After the Democrats won the presidency in the 1912 election, Woodrow Wilson rewarded Bryan's support with the important cabinet position of Secretary of State. Bryan helped Wilson pass several progressive reforms through Congress, but he and Wilson clashed over U. S. neutrality in World War I. Bryan resigned from his post in 1915 after Wilson sent Germany a note of protest in response to the sinking of Lusitania by a German U-boat. After leaving office, Bryan retained some of his influence within the Democratic Party, but he devoted himself to religious matters and anti-evolution activism.
He opposed Darwinism on humanitarian grounds, most famously in the 1925 Scopes Trial. Since his death in 1925, Bryan has elicited mixed reactions from various commentators, but he is considered to have been one of the most influential figures of the Progressive Era. William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois, on March 19, 1860, to Silas Lillard Bryan and Mariah Elizabeth Bryan. Silas Bryan had been born in 1822, had established a legal practice in Salem in 1851, he married Mariah, a former student of his at McKendree College, in 1852. Of Scots-Irish and English ancestry, Silas Bryan was an avid Jacksonian Democrat, he won election as a state circuit judge, in 1866 moved his family to a 520-acre farm north of Salem, living in a ten-room house, the envy of Marion County. Silas served in various local positions and sought election to Congress in 1872, but was narrowly defeated by the Republican candidate. An admirer of Andrew Jackson and Stephen A. Douglas, Silas passed on his Democratic affiliation to his son, who would remain a life-long Democrat.
Bryan was the fourth child of Silas and Mariah, but all three of his older siblings died during infancy. Bryan had five younger siblings, four of whom lived to adulthood. Bryan was home-schooled by his mother until the age of ten. Demonstrating a precocious talent for oratory, Byran gave public speeches as early as the age of four. Silas was a Baptist and Mariah was a Methodist, but Bryan's parents allowed him to choose his own church. At age fourteen, Bryan had a conversion experience at a revival, he said. At age fifteen, Bryan was sent to attend Whipple Academy, a private school in Jacksonville, Illinois. After graduating from Whipple Academy, Bryan entered Illinois College, located in Jacksonville. During his time at Illinois College, Bryan served as chaplain of the Sigma Pi literary society, he continued to hone his public speaking skills, taking part in numerous debates and oratorical contests. In 1879, while still in college, Bryan met Mary Elizabeth Baird, the daughter of an owner of a nearby general store, began courting her.
Bryan and Mary Elizabeth married on October 1, 1884. Mary Elizabeth would emerge as an important part of Bryan's career, managing his correspondence and helping him prepare speeches and articles. After graduating from college at the top of his class, Bryan studied law at Union Law College (which became Northwestern University