William Graham Sumner

William Graham Sumner held a professorship in political economy at Yale and did pioneering work in sociology when the field was in its infancy. In addition to doing academic work that spanned a multitude of disciplines, he wrote popular essays for publications like Harper’s Weekly.


Wherefore We Should Love One Another

by William Graham Sumner in 1883

Sumner says there’s a time to talk about the reasons people get into trouble, and a time to help them.


Civil Liberty and Social Bonds

by William Graham Sumner on Jan 30, 1883

In this excerpt from an 1883 speech, Sumner discusses the nature of liberty and the implications of the transition from a status-based society to one based on contract.


Definitions of Democracy and Plutocracy

by William Graham Sumner in 1913

Sumner defines and distinguishes the concepts of democracy and plutocracy. Originally published in The Independent.


The Conflict of Plutocracy and Democracy

by William Graham Sumner in 1913

In this piece, originally published in The Independent, Sumner argues that democracy is vulnerable to plutocratic influence.


Sumner, William Graham (1840-1910)

by Robert Bannister on Aug 15, 2008

William Graham Sumner was an economist and sociologist. He is known for his staunch opposition to American imperialism and dedication to individualism.


Social Darwinism

by George H. Smith on Aug 15, 2008

Social Darwinism applied the idea of “survival of the fittest” to society to poor ends. However, its intellectual founders did not share those views.

Video Collection

Competition, Monopoly, and Antitrust

featuring Dominick Armentano on Sep 15, 1981

Dominick Armentano makes the case that a competitive economy doesn’t need antitrust laws to function well.