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The first sound bites

The presidential campaign, 1908-style. Hear early phonograph recordings.

By
7:29pm, September 26, 2008

When Bryan speaks, then I rejoice.
His is the strange composite voice
Of many million singing souls
Who make world-brotherhood their choice
— Vachel Lindsay, American poet, 1915

William Jennings Bryan was rarely at a loss for words. His impassioned oratory spellbound congressmen during his two terms in the U.S. House and thrilled thousands of voters during the presidential campaigns of 1896 and1900. But during his third run for the White House, 100 years ago, Bryan had trouble speaking in the intimacy of his own home.

“Mr. Bryan seemed a little nervous when he first started, much more so, he said, than he ever felt in facing an audience of ten thousand people,” Harold Voorhis recalled. V

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