“William Jennings Bryan, whose electrifying oration on silver at the national convention had convinced the uncertain Democrats to nominate a man of thirty-six, came out of the beleaguered communities of Nebraska. He understood the powerful pull of village values because he felt it; and he predicated a career on the assumption that a sufficient number of voters would respond in the same way if only the call were made clearly enough. His public life was devoted to translating a complicated world of affairs he barely comprehended back into those values he never questioned. As an ambitious politician with fair organizing talents, he fought steadily for power and place, yet as an especially honorable man, he compromised less than any of his equally prominent contemporaries.”
from The Search for Order by Robert H. Wiebe
(underlining is mine)
This volume published in 1967 is an excellent intro to progressivism. Wiebe is an exceptional history writer.