|William Graham Sumner|
|Born||(1840-10-30)October 30, 1840
Paterson, New Jersey
|Died||April 12, 1910(1910-04-12) (aged 69)
Englewood, New Jersey
|Alma mater||Yale College|
|Influences||Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Social Darwinism|
|Notable students||Kate Claghorn, Albert Galloway Keller, Irving Fisher, Thorstein Veblen|
|Notable works||What the Social Classes Owe To Each Other (1883)
|Notable ideas||Diffusion, folkways, ethnocentrism, social mores|
The forgotten man… He works, he votes, generally he prays, but his chief business in life is to pay.
A drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be, according to the fitness and tendency of things. Nature has set upon him the process of decline and dissolution by which she removes things which have survived their usefulness.
If I want to be free from any other man’s dictation, I must understand that I can have no other man under my control.
There is every indication that we are to see new developments of the power of aggregated capital to serve civilization, and that the new developments will be made right here in America.
It is the tendency of the social burdens to crush out the middle class, and to force society into an organization of only two classes, one at each social extreme.
Perhaps they do not recognize themselves, for a rich man is even harder to define than a poor one.
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 men who start out with the notion that the world owes them a living generally find that the world pays its debt in the penitentiary or the poor house.
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.
Any one who believes that any great enterprise of an industrial character can be started without labor must have little experience of life.
Men never cling to their dreams with such tenacity as at the moment when they are losing faith in them, and know it, but do not dare yet to confess it to themselves.
Civil liberty is the status of the man who is guaranteed by law and civil institutions the exclusive employment of all his own powers for his own welfare.
It is remarkable that jealousy of individual property in land often goes along with very exaggerated doctrines of tribal or national property in land.
Then, again, the ability to organize and conduct industrial, commercial, or financial enterprises is rare; the great captains of industry are as rare as great generals.
Men of routine or men who can do what they are told are not hard to find; but men who can think and plan and tell the routine men what to do are very rare.
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.
There ought to be no laws to guarantee property against the folly of its possessors.
I have before me a newspaper slip on which a writer expresses the opinion that no one should be allowed to possess more than one million dollars’ worth of property.
Moreover, there is an unearned increment on capital and on labor, due to the presence, around the capitalist and the laborer, of a great, industrious, and prosperous society.
Furthermore, the unearned increment from land appears in the United States as a gain to the first comers, who have here laid the foundations of a new State.
It is often said that the earth belongs to the race, as if raw land was a boon, or gift.
We are to see the development of the country pushed forward at an unprecedented rate by an aggregation of capital, and a systematic application of it under the direction of competent men.
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 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.
It is a beneficent incident of the ownership of land that a pioneer who reduces it to use, and helps to lay the foundations of a new State, finds a profit in the increasing value of land as the new State grows up.
A good father believes that he does wisely to encourage enterprise, productive skill, prudent self-denial, and judicious expenditure on the part of his son.
I never have known a man of ordinary common-sense who did not urge upon his sons, from earliest childhood, doctrines of economy and the practice of accumulation.
Undoubtedly there are, in connection with each of these things, cases of fraud, swindling, and other financial crimes; that is to say, the greed and selfishness of men are perpetual.
The great hinderance to the development of this continent has lain in the lack of capital.