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William Graham Sumner

Born: 30-Oct-1840
Birthplace: Paterson, NJ
Died: 12-Apr-1910
Location of death: Englewood, NJ
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, Alderbrook Cemetery, Guilford, CT

Gender: Male
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Educator, Sociologist, Historian
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Laissez faire sociologist

Sociologist William Graham Sumner taught at Yale from 1872 to 1909, where he argued that laissez-faire economics is justified by Charles Darwin's laws of evolution, and wrote numerous widely-read essays arguing for near-absolute individual liberty and the gold standard for American currency. His own father had been a working man, forced to flee England when he could find no work, but Sumner's arguments were against all forms of business regulation, labor unions, or public welfare.

Defending himself from accusations of cold-heartedness, he wrote, "The sociologist is often asked if he wants to kill off certain classes of troublesome and bewildered persons. No such interference follows from any sound sociological doctrine, but it is allowed to infer, as to a great many persons and classes, that it would have been better for society and would have involved no pain to them, if they had never been born."

Before his academic career, he was for several years an Episcopalian clergyman. He also served as Vice President of the Anti-Imperialist League, a political group opposed to US intervention in the Philippines. He died in 1910, after suffering a stroke while traversing a snowstorm to deliver a lecture. His sister was married to Yale football legend Walter Camp.

Father: Thomas Sumner (mechanic, b. 1808)
Mother: Sarah Graham Sumner (b. 1819, d. 1848)
Sister: Alice Graham Sumner Camp (married fottball icon Walter Camp)
Wife: Jeannie Whittemore Elliott Sumner (m. 1871)
Son: Graham Sumner (attorney)

    High School: Hartford Public High School, Hartford, CT
    University: BA Political Economics, Yale University (1863)
    University: University of Göttingen (attended, 1864-66)
    Theological: Oxford University (1866)
    Teacher: Political Economics, Yale University (1866-67)
    Professor: Social and Political Sciences, Yale University (1872-1909)

    American Sociological Association President (1908-10)
    Skull and Bones Society
    Board of Aldermen, New Haven, CT (1873-76)
    Connecticut State Official Board of Education (1882-1910)
    English Ancestry

Author of books:
A History of American Currency (1874)
Lectures on the History of Protection in the United States (1877)
Andrew Jackson as a Public Man (1882)
What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1883)
Collected Essays in Political and Social Science (1885)
Protectionism: The -Ism which Teaches that Waste Makes Wealth (1885)
Alexander Hamilton (1890)
The Financier and the Finances of the American Revolution (1891, two volumes)
Robert Morris (1892)
A History of Banking in All the Leading Nations (1896)
Folkways (1906)
War, and Other Essays (1911, posthumous)
Earth-Hunger, and Other Essays (1913, posthumous)
The Challenge of Facts, and Other Essays (1914, posthumous)
The Forgotten Man, and Other Essays (1918, posthumous)
The Science of Society (1927, posthumous, with Albert G. Keller)
Selected Essays of William Graham Sumner (1934, posthumous)
The Forgotten Man's Almanac:Rations of Common Sense (1943, posthumous)
Social Darwinism: Selected Essays of William Graham Sumner, (1963, posthumous)
The Conquest of the United States by Spain, and Other Essays (1965, posthumous)
On Liberty, Society, and Politics: The Essential Essays of William Graham Sumner (1992, posthumous)


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