The 1896 election proved to be one of the most emotional on record. It was, as has been said before, a battle between rural and urban America and, in a sense, a struggle over the future of the United States. Democrat William Jennings Bryan did well in the West, but lost in the East to William McKinley.
Along with the Spanish American War (1898), this election ushered in 20th-century America. Durangoans had a few years before the future arrived.
Durango Herald, Aug. 23, 1896
McKinley Talks at His Home
A crowd of admirers stand in the rain for an hour and are rewarded by a speech. Two thousand farmers, mechanics and others listen. Then they had marched to McKinley’s home. 6,000 people crowded over the bare lawn and surged into neighboring streets. Then it rained.
The wing of the Democratic Party which controlled the Chicago (nominating) convention is just as much in favor of free trade as the wing (conservative) in control of the national administration. The people of this country have condemned the polices of this party in these particulars in every election since 1892. (Democrats enjoyed fighting among themselves even back then.)
Paper for Bryan and Sewall. (Bryan won the county, 2,729 to 88)
Judge M. B. Gerry returned yesterday from attendance at the Democratic convection at Pueblo.
Knights of Pythias annual convention to be held in Durango.
Republican Primaries owing to the shortness of the notice the Republican Primaries were not largely attended yesterday.
Populist Primaries were held last evening. No special interest was manifested.
Bryan cheered by thousands. He makes a journey to big Indian Valley and finds great crowds awaiting him at every stop in New York.
(Meanwhile Banker A. P. Camp believed the hard times were easing.) Business has increased materially over the last year. Money matters grow easier all the time. There is greater activity in business circles.
Drs. L. A. and L. S. Barnes electronic treatment given under scientific principles (Claimed to cure most everything).
It is pay day for Porter and Hesperus coal mines. Probably very few people have an adequate idea of the money paid for labor and the beneficial effect Durango receives.
Duane Smith is a Fort Lewis College history professor. Reach him at 247-2589.