George Howard Earle, Jr.

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It has been said that in controversy everything depends upon whether truth be put in the first or in the second place. And so in constitutional law much depends upon whether "liberty" be given precedence.

George H. Earle, Jr. (6 July 185619 February 1928) was a Philadelphia lawyer and "financial diplomat" who was highly sought after to save ailing corporations from financial ruin.

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  • ...a false prophet has come among you... who, in a country where all are in the highest class—that of the American citizens—tries to divide us into many, and then set those classes against each other; who tries to set State against State, section against section, and so nullify the great work for which Abraham Lincoln gave his life; who tries to lead us into paths of dishonor and asks us to disgrace the country for which we would give our lives...
    • On 3 October 1896, at a Republican meeting in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, Earle urged his "fellow citizens" to vote for McKinley over Bryan (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 Oct 1896)
  • ...some one has to speak in favor of the right when so speaking is unpopular. The more unpopular, the greater the necessity; ... The Republican party has done much for this country. It has often created and preserved prosperity by fighting crazes. For the first time in its history, it is yielding to one. If it would only say "we have made this prosperity, it is our child, and shall have our protection," and stand to its guns, it will beat Bryanism to death as it always has. But with its leader caring more for popularity than principle, courageous, as he is uninformed, I, myself, am convinced that it will have to go out of power in order that it may return chastened and more trusted than ever.
  • I can suggest no remedy, but would prefer present evils to those resulting from the creation of too centralized a power; and the answer, to my mind, is obvious. The true remedy must be found, not in placing our dependence upon the discretion of any one, but of every one,—that is, again, upon liberty, rather than upon power and restraint.
    • Speaking out against a central bank after the Panic of 1907. From "A Central Bank as a Menace to Liberty," by George H. Earle, Jr. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. XXXI No. 2: Lessons of the Financial Crisis, March 1908.
  • It has been said that in controversy everything depends upon whether truth be put in the first or in the second place. And so in constitutional law much depends upon whether "liberty" be given precedence.
  • Of course, I've made enemies ... But the interesting feature of this reorganization business is that I am criticized between times. They always forget it when there's a broken-down company to pull out of a hole, and somebody's money to save.
  • Socialism is offered as a remedy. It is pretty to look at, but it does not mean liberty. It means just the other thing, because it brings us face to face with the same old equation. We know what the socialist leaders would do, for human nature does not change.
  • Socialism believes in the elimination of the individual and in the destruction of competition. The people who wish to destroy the idea that the Government exists for each one of us, and not each one of us for the Government, are all in favor of these monopolies. For while they consider them present evils, they consider them working to the good of an established government in which the individual is lost, and every man belongs to the State, and has lost his individual manhood and freedom.
    • Earle, on John Stuart Mill, speaking of the socialistic doctrines. From Hearing Before the Committee on Interstate Commerce: United States Senate Sixty-second Congress pursuant to S. Res. 98 &c. (6 December 1911:793)
  • Equality of treatment is the chief purpose for which the Government exists ... Liberty is but an equality of justice.
    • From Hearing Before the Committee on Interstate Commerce: United States Senate Sixty-second Congress pursuant to S. Res. 98 &c. (6 December 1911:803)
  • To vote for Mr. Roosevelt is to give Mr. Taft half a slap and Mr. Wilson half a boost, and why a man would want to impale himself on so absurd a dilemma I can't see for the life of me.
  • At this moment the most stable Government in the world is our own, and it is solely because, in its real essence, it is the most free, in the only sense in which Freedom really exists; where men can act at their own free discretion, restrained only by the necessities of Justice. If the spirit of the Constitution is to be observed, that great instrument is always self-preserving. It needs only to be followed to be safeguarded.
  • ...all men naturally love freedom, however ignorant they may be of that eternal vigilance and the necessary measures to preserve it, and where their folly has caused them to lose it, always try to return to it.
  • In the first place, the meaning of the Constitution never varies. It means today exactly what it meant on the day of its adoption. To hold otherwise would destroy the judicial character of the Supreme Court, and make the continuance of our "unalienable" rights completely uncertain. This has been forcibly stated in South Carolina vs. United States, 199 U. S., at 448: "The Constitution is a written instrument. As such its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when adopted it means now. * * * Those things which are within its grants of power, when made, are still within them, and those things not within remain still excluded. * * * Any other rule of construction, would abrogate the judicial character of this Court, and make it the mere reflex of the popular opinion or passion of the day."

Quotes about George H. Earle, Jr.[edit]

  • Mr. Earle derives from his Quaker ancestry the breadth of view that recognizes no monopoly of integrity or weakness in any denomination, and that business ability and character are more valuable, because less easily pretended, than piety.
    • From "The Man for the Place." New York Times, 8 September 1906.

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