Monetary policy was a hot topic in the late 19th century, in part because of the free silver movement headed by the charismatic politician William Jennings Bryan, who died on this day in 1925.
At 36, he was the youngest-ever presidential candidate. At the 1896 Democratic National Convention, he delivered one of the most famous campaign speeches in US history--"The Cross of Gold"--a diatribe against the gold standard. Nonetheless, he lost all three Presidential races he ran.
On whether the government should guarantee deposits, Bryan was staunchly in favor. He thought it could even increase the character of the banking industry. In a 1908 piece published in the Pensacola Journal entitled "Why Not Make the Depositor Secure?" Bryan wrote:
"It has sometimes been objected that the guaranty system would bring into the banking system a lower class of men, and reduce the average in character. On the contrary, the guaranty of deposits, I submit, would, if it made any difference in this respect, bring into the banking system a better class of men, and raise, if that is possible, the average of character."