Convinced that the demonetization of silver was the primary cause of the nation’s economic difficulties, advocates of the unrestricted coinage of silver succeeded in having their leader, William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, nominated for president at the 1896 Democratic Party convention. Following Bryan’s nomination, however, Democrats who favored maintaining the gold standard chose to form their own party. Led by former Indiana congressman William Dallas Bynum, the National Democratic Party met in a convention in Indianapolis on September 2-3, 1898. 

Held in Tomlinson Hall, the convention was attended by 824 delegates from 41 states and was marked by great enthusiasm and little dissension. The delegates centered the party’s platform around their opposition to silver coinage and support for a gold standard. Senator John M. Palmer of Illinois, a former Union general, became the party’s presidential candidate; a former Confederate general, Simon Bolivar Buckner of Kentucky, was his running mate. Bynum and fellow Hoosier John A. Wilson were both on the new party’s executive committee.

Despite the success of the National Democratic Party’s convention, the Gold Democrats, as they soon became known, captured only 1 percent of the presidential vote, with Republicans carrying both Indiana and the nation in the general election. After disappointing results in the 1898 congressional elections, the party disbanded in 1900.

Revised March 2021

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