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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: William Jennings Bryan backs League of Nations in Hillyard speech

William Jennings Bryan, former presidential candidate and former secretary of state, was in town to speak at the Hillyard Chautauqua, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported July 10, 1919. In the speech, he voiced strong support for the League of Nations. (Spokesman-Review archives)
William Jennings Bryan, former presidential candidate and former secretary of state, was in town to speak at the Hillyard Chautauqua, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported July 10, 1919. In the speech, he voiced strong support for the League of Nations. (Spokesman-Review archives)

William Jennings Bryan, former presidential candidate and former secretary of state, was in town to speak at the Hillyard Chautauqua.

While lunching at the Spokane Hotel, Bryan took the opportunity to weigh in on the key issue of 1919: whether to ratify the League of Nations, as proposed in the Treaty of Versailles.

“The Paris peace conference had to decide whether the treaty should be written in the spirit of Nietzsche, the German philosopher who praised war, … or in the spirit of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. And I am glad to know that the treaty was written in the spirit of the Prince of Peace.”

In other words, Bryan strongly favored ratification.

“The league is for the common good,” he said. “… Surely now that we have a document which will prevent a recurrence of so costly an enterprise (the recent war), we will not turn it down.”

He proved to be wrong about that. The Senate would reject it.

Bryan, who had run for president several times, admitted that it was difficult to get politics out of his blood. “It’s like rheumatism,” he quipped.

From the the wildfire beat: Dry, hot weather spawned dangerous forest fires in North Idaho and Western Montana. The worst was near the headwaters of the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. It had been started by a careless camper.

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