William Jennings Bryan was one of the most influential Democrats in the nation during his time. He was elected twice to Congress, in 1890 and 1892. His powerful oratorical skills combined with his advocacy of free silver and opposition to high tariffs, earned him the nomination three times as the Democratic presidential candidate, in 1896, 1900 and 1908.
In 1912, realizing he would not be president, he helped forge the successful nomination of Woodrow Wilson, who appointed Bryan as secretary of state.
Bryan became one of the area's first Winter Texans, building his home in Mission in 1910 to get away from the harsh winters of Nebraska. At the urging of Mission founder and developer John J. Conway, Bryan arrived in Mission in 1909. He resided at the Mission Hotel while his home, located on Bryan Rd. and Two Mile Line, was being built. The Bryan home still stands at that location and was awarded a Texas Historical Marker in 1936.
At the time of his arrival in Mission, Bryan's presidential bids were behind him, but he was a frequent lecturer in the Valley as he was on the Chautauqua circuit.
After his appointment as secretary of state, Bryan sold his Mission home and moved to Washington D.C., never to return to the Rio Grande Valley.
A strong advocate of neutrality in War World I, he resigned as secretary of state in 1915 out of protest over President Wilson's actions after the Lusitania was sunk.
He continued to fight for a number of causes the remainder of his life, including women's suffrage, prohibition and a graduated income tax.
Bryan died July 26, 1925, shortly after serving as associate counsel in the famous Scopes Trial, in which teacher John Scopes was accused of teaching evolutionism.
"The History of Mission, Hidalgo County, Texas" by Dick D. Heller Jr. 207