Charles W. Bryan
Bryan in 1924
20th and 23rd Governor of Nebraska
In office
January 8, 1931 – January 3, 1935
LieutenantTheodore Metcalfe
Walter H. Jurgensen
Preceded byArthur J. Weaver
Succeeded byRoy Cochran
In office
January 3, 1923 – January 8, 1925
LieutenantFred Johnson
Preceded bySamuel McKelvie
Succeeded byAdam McMullen
23rd and 30th Mayor of Lincoln
In office
Preceded byFenton Fleming
Succeeded byOren S. Copeland
In office
Preceded byFrank Zehrung
Succeeded byJohn Miller
Personal details
Charles Wayland Bryan

(1867-02-10)February 10, 1867
Salem, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMarch 4, 1945(1945-03-04) (aged 78)
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
Resting placeWyuka Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseElizabeth Brokaw
Parent(s)Silas Bryan
Mariah Elizabeth Jennings
RelativesWilliam Jennings Bryan (brother)
William Sherman Jennings (cousin)
EducationIllinois College
University of Chicago

Charles Wayland Bryan (February 10, 1867 – March 4, 1945) was an American businessman and politician who served as the 20th and 23rd Governor of Nebraska, and Mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska, and was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 1924. He was the younger brother of Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, who was the Democratic nominee for President in 1896, 1900, and 1908.

Early life

Charles W. Bryan at left; William Jennings Bryan at right.
Charles W. Bryan at left; William Jennings Bryan at right.

Charles Wayland Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois on February 10, 1867, to Silas Lillard Bryan and Mariah Elizabeth (Jennings) Bryan.[1] Silas Bryan had been born in 1822 and had established a legal practice in Salem in 1851. He married Mariah, a former student of his at McKendree College, in 1852.[2] Of Scots-Irish and English ancestry,[a] Silas Bryan was an avid Jacksonian Democrat. He won election as a state circuit judge and in 1866 moved his family to a 520-acre (210.4 ha) farm north of Salem, living in a ten-room house that was the envy of Marion County.[4] Silas served in various local positions and sought election to Congress in 1872, but was narrowly defeated by the Republican candidate.[5] An admirer of Andrew Jackson and Stephen A. Douglas, Silas passed on his Democratic affiliation to his son, William, who would remain a life-long Democrat.[6] Charles' cousin, William Sherman Jennings,[7] was also a prominent Democrat.

Charles was one of nine children of Silas and Mariah, the first three of their children died during infancy. He had four of whom lived to adulthood.[8] Silas was a Baptist and Mariah was a Methodist.

Bryan attended both the University of Chicago and Illinois College in Jacksonville. He married Elizabeth Louise Brokaw and they had three children. Bryan worked as a tobacco broker and insurance salesman, farmed, and raised purebred livestock.


Bryan moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1889, and became business manager and political secretary for his brother, William Jennings Bryan. From 1901 to 1923, he was publisher and associate editor of his brother's newspaper, The Commoner. Elected to the Lincoln City Commission in 1915 and 1921, he also served as mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska from 1915 to 1917 (again from 1935 to 1937).[9]

Bryan first ran for governor in 1916,[10] though he lost in the primary to Keith Neville.[11] Bryan was elected the Governor of Nebraska in 1922, and served from 1923 to 1925. He was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1924, picked largely because of his name to serve as running mate to conservative easterner John W. Davis. The ticket was overwhelmingly defeated by Republican incumbent Calvin Coolidge and his running mate Charles G. Dawes.

He was an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1926 and 1928. He won in 1930 and 1932, and served from 1931 to 1935. During his tenure, the state's economy flourished, state spending was limited, and taxes were reduced.[12] He was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1934, governor in 1938, the U.S. House in 1940, and governor in 1942.


Bryan died on March 4, 1945, in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is interred there at Wyuka Cemetery.


  1. ^ Asked when his family "dropped the 'O'" from his O'Bryan surname, he replied there had never been one.[3]


  1. ^ William Jennings Bryan[usurped] Nebraska State Historical Society
  2. ^ Kazin (2006), pp. 4–5
  3. ^ Bryan Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan, pp. 22–26.
  4. ^ Colletta (1964), pp. 3–5.
  5. ^ Kazin (2006), p. 5
  6. ^ Kazin (2006), pp. 4–5, 9
  7. ^ "Florida International University: Reclaiming the Everglades-biography of William Sherman Jennings". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2022-04-15.
  8. ^ Kazin (2006), p. 8
  9. ^ Charles W. Bryan. Encyclopedia of Nebraska. January 1999. ISBN 9780403098347. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  10. ^ Argus, Albion (March 1, 1916). "Comments on Mayor Bryan's candidacy for the Nebraska Democratic gubernatorial nomination". The Commoner. p. 7.
  11. ^ Dunn, I.J. (April 1, 1916). "Dunn Scores Special Interests". The Commoner. p. 9.
  12. ^ "Charles W. Bryan". National Governors Association. Retrieved 24 September 2012.


Political offices Preceded byFrank C. Zehrung Mayor of Lincoln 1915–1917 Succeeded byJohn Miller Preceded bySamuel McKelvie Governor of Nebraska 1923–1925 Succeeded byAdam McMullen Preceded byArthur J. Weaver Governor of Nebraska 1931–1935 Succeeded byRoy Cochran Preceded byFenton Fleming Mayor of Lincoln 1935–1937 Succeeded byOren S. Copeland Party political offices Preceded byJohn H. Morehead Democratic nominee for Governor of Nebraska 1922, 1924 (withdrew) Succeeded byJohn N. Norton Preceded byHarry C. Parmenter Progressive nominee for Governor of Nebraska 1924 (withdrew) Succeeded byDan B. Butler Preceded byFranklin D. Roosevelt Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States 1924 Succeeded byJoe Robinson Preceded byJohn N. Norton Democratic nominee for Governor of Nebraska 1926, 1928, 1930, 1932 Succeeded byRoy Cochran Preceded byTerry Carpenter Democratic nominee for Governor of Nebraska 1942 Succeeded byGeorge Olsen