William Graham Sumner

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
William Graham Sumner

William Graham Sumner (October 30, 1840April 12, 1910) was a Classic Liberal American academic and "held the first professorship in sociology" at Yale College.


  • Any prosperity policy is a delusion and a path to ruin. There is no economic lesson which the people of the United States need to take to heart more than that. In the second place the Spanish mistakes arose, in part, from confusing the public treasury with the national wealth.
    • "The Conquest of the United States by Spain”, speech at Yale 1899 [1].
  • Gentlemen, the time is coming when there will be two great classes, Socialists, and Anarchists. The Anarchists want the government to be nothing, and the Socialists want government to be everything. There can be no greater contrast. Well, the time will come when there will be only these two great parties, the Anarchists representing the laissez faire doctrine and the Socialists representing the extreme view on the other side, and when that time comes I am an Anarchist.
    • per Irving Norton Fisher in a speech to the Yale socialists club 1911 [2].
  • It is often said that the earth belongs to the race, as if raw land was a boon, or gift.
    • "What Social Classes Owe to Each Other", 1883, Ch III [3].
  • The man who started with the notion that the world owed him a living would once more find, as he does now, that the world pays him its debt in the state prison.
    • “The Challenge of Facts”, 1914 [4].
  • As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X, or in the better case, what A, B, and C shall do for X. … What I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. Perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. He is the man who never is thought of. … He works, he votes, generally he prays—but he always pays.
    • The Forgotten Man and Other Essays (corrected edition), “The Forgotten Man” 1883 [5].
  • 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.
    • The Forgotten Man and Other Essays (corrected edition), “The Forgotten Man” 1883 [6].
  • 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.
    • The Forgotten Man and Other Essays (corrected edition), “The Forgotten Man” 1883 [7].
  • The history of civil liberty is made up of campaigns against abuses of taxation. Protectionism is the great modern abuse of taxation; the abuse of taxation which is adapted to a republican form of government. Protectionism is now corrupting our political institutions just as slavery used to do.
    • Protectionism: the -ism which teaches that waste makes wealth, 1888, paragraph 155 [8].
  • 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.
    • “The Conquest of the United States by Spain”, speech at Yale 1899 [9].
  • What we prepare for is what we shall get.
    • Essays of William Graham Sumner, I: "War", 1903, [10].

Quotes about William Graham Sumner[edit]

  • About half a century before the Depression, a Yale philosopher named William Graham Sumner penned a lecture against the progressives of his own day and in defense of classical liberalism. The lecture eventually become an essay, titled "The Forgotten Man". Applying his own elegant algebra of politics, Sumner warned that well-intentioned social progressives often coerced unwitting average citizens into funding dubious social projects.

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about: