William Graham Sumner Quotes

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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
Academic background
Alma mater Yale College
Influences Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Social Darwinism
Academic work
Institutions Yale University
Notable students Kate Claghorn, Albert Galloway Keller, Irving Fisher, Thorstein Veblen
Main interests Sociology
Notable works What the Social Classes Owe To Each Other (1883)
Folkways (1907)
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
Perhaps they do not recognize themselves, for a rich man is even harder to define than a poor one.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
One thing must be granted to the rich: they are goodnatured.
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.
William Graham Sumner
Any one who believes that any great enterprise of an industrial character can be started without labor must have little experience of life.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
What we prepare for is what we shall get.
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.
William Graham Sumner
It is remarkable that jealousy of individual property in land often goes along with very exaggerated doctrines of tribal or national property in land.
William Graham Sumner
The aggregation of large fortunes is not at all a thing to be regretted.
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
There ought to be no laws to guarantee property against the folly of its possessors.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
If you ever live in a country run by a committee, be on the committee.
It is often said that the earth belongs to the race, as if raw land was a boon, or gift.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
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.
William Graham Sumner
The great hinderance to the development of this continent has lain in the lack of capital.
William Graham Sumner