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

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Sun May 7 07:22:18 PDT 2017


Regarding the evolution of the remark: By 1897 a version with "people"
instead of "farmers" was circulating.

Date: May 21, 1897
Newspaper: Kansas Agitator
Newspaper Location: Garnett, Kansas
Article: Plenty of Men for the Army
Quote Page 1, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
The above item is easily explained. With so many men out of
employment, it is an easy matter for Uncle Sam to get all the soldiers
he wants. True, these men receive but a pittance as soldiers, but they
prefer that to starvation. It is thus that the Goulds and their ilk
are enabled to hire one-half of the people to kill the other half.
[End excerpt]

By 1939 a version with "working class" was circulating. It was spoken
by George Moorad who was the city editor of the "Santa Cruz Sentinel"
during a talk about the history of propaganda.

Date: October 19, 1939
Newspaper: Santa Cruz Sentinel
Newspaper Location: Santa Cruz, California
Article: Propaganda Methods Told In Talk To 20-30 Clubbers
Quote Page 5, Column 2 and 3
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
"When Jay Gould said, many years ago, that he could hire one half of
the working class to kill the other half, he undoubtedly was boasting
of the power of propaganda as opposed to mass thinking."
[End excerpt]

All the citations are in newspapers.com because I only performed a
restricted search.

Garson

On Sun, May 7, 2017 at 9:39 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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
> cunning,
>
> 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
> death."
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson


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