[PW] ? "Hire One Half of the Working Class" (Quotation Query #774)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Sun May 7 06:39:03 PDT 2017

Fred Shapiro wrote:
> The quotation "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the
> other half" is usually attributed to Jay Gould.  Can anyone help
> me to trace documented and dated occurrences of this, attributed
> to Gould or not attributed to Gould, as far back as possible?

A request to investigate this statement was sent to me in December
2016. The earliest instances I located in 1891 referred to "farmers"
instead of the "working class". The statement evolved over time. Gould
died in December 1892.

I haven't posted on the QI website yet and would welcome earlier
citations or other interesting evidence. As always, please
double-check this information.

Date: October 28, 1891
Newspaper: The Advocate
Newspaper Location: Meriden, Kansas
Article: Letter from John Livingston
Quote Page 1, Column 3
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
The truth of Jay Gould's assertion that he "could buy the vote of a
farmer member of the legislature for the price of a bull calf, about
seven dollars and a half," was clearly disproved at Topeka last
January, where not a single People's party member of the Kansas House
could be bought at any price.

It is my prayer to God that all farmers and other toilers will now
unite in one solid phalanx, so that the other characteristic remark of
the same gentleman, that he "could hire one-half the farmers to shoot
the other half to death," shall also show him to have overestimated
the power of his money, supplemented though it may be by Satanic

John Livingston,
President New York State Farmers' Alliance.
Campville, Tioga Co., N.Y., Oct 21, 1891.
[End excerpt]

Date: November 17, 1891
Newspaper: Kansas Agitator
Newspaper Location: Garnett, Kansas
Article: Untitled article
Quote Page 4, Column 3
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
JAY GOULD says he "can buy the vote of a farmer member of the
legislature for the price of a bull calf." Again he says, "I can hire
one-half the farmers of the United States to shoot the other half to
[End excerpt]


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