The public be damned. What does the public care for railroads except to get as much out of them for as small a consideration as possible? I don't take any stock in this silly nonsense about working for anybody's good but our own, because we are not. When we make a move, we do it because it is in our interest to do so, and not because we expect to do somebody else good. Of course, we like to do everything possible for the benefit of humanity in general, but when we do, we first see that we are benefiting ourselves. Railroads are not run on sentiment, but on business principles and to pay, and I don't mean to be egotistic when I say that the roads which I have had anything to do with have generally paid pretty well.
Quoted in Clarence P. Dresser, "Vanderbilt in the West" New York Times (9 October 1882). Dresser's account has Vanderbilt denying that he ran a particular passenger express service for the public benefit, but rather to drive down prices of a competing Pennsylvania Railroad service. By some accounts Dresser fabricated the interview except for the first sentence, which Vanderbilt said in refusing to give an interview. See "Reporter C. P. Dresser Dead", New York Times (25 April 1891).
[Anti-monopoly] is a movement inspired by a set of fools and black-mailers. To be sure, there are some men in it whose motives are good, if their sense is not. When I want to buy up any politician, I always find the Anti-Monopolists the most purchasable. They don't come so high.
Quoted in Clarence P. Dresser, "Vanderbilt in the West" New York Times (9 October 1882).