William Jennings Bryan's Childhood

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William Jennings Bryan had a very involved childhood. His father went out of his way to make sure that his son would become a well-rounded individual and not just a farmer or a store clerk. Although Mr. Bryan did not totally ignore the importance of learning how to work with one's hands, he allowed his son to take part in more than just farm work. William attended Sunday school twice every Sunday at two different churches, allowing him to be well rounded spiritually. The same goes for his participation in the local Y.M.C.A. William was also allowed to help with his father's political career. This allowed him to learn how the political process works and eventually allow him to be successful in that field. He also participated in debate clubs that would later help him in his law career. All these involvements would eventually help mold this young man into a great leader.

From observing the primary sources from the prairie settlement in Nebraska, it would appear that there are some similarities and differences between the two towns. It would appear that the citizens of each town were both isolated in the fact that the town's people have few relationships outside of their town. In the letter from Mattie V. Thomas to Uriah W. Oblinger written on July 18, 1868*, Mattie devotes several paragraphs to the happenings of the town. Cherny paints this same picture when he explains that almost all the relationships were between people who knew each other in multiple social settings.

Where William's town had advantages over the Nebraska town was in the number of organizations and clubs one could belong to. When looking at the clubs and organizations in the prairie settlements it would appear that only a small number were available, and of those few, most dealt with farm and woodwork^. William was able to participate in political, debate and religious clubs. Not being able to participate in a wide variety of organizations definitely makes these other towns appear more isolated than William's town.

William was a very lucky child. He had a father that knew the value of a well-rounded education. His father made sure that William would become more than just your average citizen. William was also lucky to live in a town that had a lot to offer its citizens. These two factors would eventually lead to the molding of a great American.

*http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/psbib:@field(DOCID+l063) ^http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?ammem/psbib:@field(SUBJ+@od1(Clubs))