William Graham Sumner

William Graham
Sumner
1840
1910

American Classical Liberal Social Scientist, Professor at Yale

Author Quotes

Society needs first of all to be free from meddlers that is, to be let alone.

The point which I have tried to make in this lecture is that expansion and imperialism are at war with the best traditions, principles, and interests of the American people, and that they will plunge us into a network of difficult problems and political perils, which we might have avoided, while they offer us no corresponding advantage in return.

We shall find that every effort to realize equality necessitates a sacrifice of liberty.

Such is the Forgotten Man. He works, he votes, generally he prays?but he always pays?yes, above all, he pays.

The real danger of democracy is, that the classes which have the power under it will assume all the rights and reject all the duties-that is, that they will use the political power to plunder those-who-have.

We throw all our attention on the utterly idle question whether A has done as well as B, when the only question is whether A has done as well as he could.

It used to be believed that the parent had unlimited claims on the child and rights over him. In a truer view of the matter, we are coming to see that the rights are on the side of the child and the duties on the side of the parent.

The advantage of some is won by an equivalent loss of others.

The State cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man.

What man ever blamed himself for his misfortune?

It would be hard to find a single instance of a direct assault by positive effort upon poverty, vice, and misery which has not either failed or, if it has not failed directly and entirely, has not entailed other evils greater than the one which it removed.

The aggregation of large fortunes is not at all a thing to be regretted.

The State, it cannot be too often repeated, does nothing and can give nothing which it does not take from somebody. The Forgotten Man works and votes -generally he prays-but his chief business in life is to pay.

Whatever capital you divert to the support of a shiftless and good-for-nothing person is so much diverted from some other employment, and that means from somebody else. I would spend any conceivable amount of zeal and eloquence if I possessed it to try to make people grasp this idea. Capital is force. If it goes one way it cannot go another. If you give a loaf to a pauper you cannot give the same loaf to a laborer. Now this other man who would have got it but for the charitable sentiment which bestowed it on a worthless member of society is the Forgotten Man.

Joint- stock companies are yet in their infancy, and incorporated capital, instead of being a thing which can be overturned, is a thing which is becoming more and more indispensable.

The criminal law needs to be improved to meet new forms of crime, but to denounce financial devices which are useful and legitimate because use is made of them for fraud, is ridiculous and unworthy of the age in which we live.

The truest and deepest pathos in this world is not that of suffering but that of brave struggling.

You see the expansion of industrial power pushed forward by the energy, hope, and thrift of men, and you see the development arrested, diverted, crippled, and defeated by measures which are dictated by military considerations.

Labor organizations are formed, not to employ combined effort for a common object, but to indulge in declamation and denunciation, and especially to furnish an easy living to some officers who do not want to work.

The critical habit of thought, if usual in society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators... They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.

The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D. The radical vice of all these schemes, from a sociological point of view, is that C is not allowed a voice in the matter, and his position, character, and interests, as well as the ultimate effects on society through C's interests, are entirely overlooked. I call C the Forgotten Man.

Liberty is an affair of laws and institutions which bring rights and duties into equilibrium. It is not at all an affair of selecting the proper class to rule.

The Forgotten Man... delving away in patient industry, supporting his family, paying his taxes, casting his vote, supporting the church and the school... but he is the only one for whom there is no provision in the great scramble and the big divide. Such is the Forgotten Man. He works, he votes, generally he prays-but his chief business in life is to pay.... Who and where is the Forgotten Man in this case, who will have to pay for it all?

The waste of capital, in proportion to the total capital, in this country between 1800 and 1850, in the attempts which were made to establish means of communication and transportation, was enormous.

Men educated in [the critical habit of thought] are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain.

Author Picture
First Name
William Graham
Last Name
Sumner
Birth Date
1840
Death Date
1910
Bio

American Classical Liberal Social Scientist, Professor at Yale