Beverly Gage: Meet the Man Who Invented the GOP’s Defense of the Wealthy—in 1883.





Beverly Gage, a Yale history professor, is the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded

...One of the earliest (and most acerbic) champions of inequality was William Graham Sumner, a Yale sociologist and one of the best-known public intellectuals of the late 19th century. Sumner started his career as an Episcopal priest, tending to the pastoral needs of a New Jersey flock. Within a few years, however, he concluded that his temperament—famously standoffish and blunt—was better suited to scholarly endeavors. As a professor, he helped to pioneer the new discipline of sociology, coining such lasting terms as ethnocentrism and folkways in his studies of American culture. He also made a name for himself as a staunch anti-imperialist and principled opponent of the Spanish-American War....

...Sumner was unabashed in his admiration for millionaires, and indignant at criticism lobbed in their direction. “The rich are good-natured,” he insisted, model citizens to be applauded for their initiative and patience with lesser souls. He approved the “aggregation of large fortunes” as “a necessary condition of many forms of social advance.”...



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