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quotations about corporations

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and cause me to tremble for safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, letter to Col. William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864

Loyalty is dead, the experts proclaim, and the statistics seem to bear them out. On average, U.S. corporations now lose half their customers in five years, half their employees in four, and half their investors in less than one. We seem to face a future in which the only business relationships will be opportunistic transactions between virtual strangers.


Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like.

EDWARD THURLOW, as quoted in Poynder's Literary Extracts

They [corporations] cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicate, for they have no souls.

EDWARD COKE, "The Case of Sutton's Hospital," The Reports of Sir Edward Coke

There was a time when corporations played a minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations.

WOODROW WILSON, "The Old Order Changeth," The New Freedom

Large corporations welcome innovation and individualism in the same way the dinosaurs welcomed large meteors.


The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.

C. S. LEWIS, The Screwtape Letters

I hope that we shall ... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to George Logan, Nov. 12, 1816

It's ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They're totalitarian institutions - you take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.

NOAM CHOMSKY, How the World Works

Corporations are people, my friend ... of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People's pockets. Human beings my friend.

MITT ROMNEY, speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 11, 2011

No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They thrive. They dance. They live. They love. And they die. And that matters. That matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.

ELIZABETH WARREN, speech at Democratic National Convention, Sep. 5, 2012

The idea that each corporation can be a feudal monarchy and yet behave in its corporate action like a democratic citizen concerned for the world we live in is one of the great absurdities of our time.


A corporation often means the protection of a few to the detriment of the many.

F. A. KLEIN, attributed, Day's Collacon

Corporation: a miniature totalitarian state governed by a hierarchy of unelected officials who take a dim view of individualism, free speech, equality and eggheads. The backbone of all Western democracies.

RICK BAYAN, The Cynic's Dictionary

[It] is necessary to raise the corporation above the level of a mere machine. To be a moral agent, something must have reasons for what it does, not simply causes for what it does, and for something to be a moral agent, some of those reasons must be moral ones. Obviously, corporations are unable to think as humans, but they can employ reasons of a sort, and this is shown by the fact that they can be morally accountable. That is, with the proper internal structure, corporations, like humans, can be liable to give an account of their behavior where the account stipulates which moral reasons prompted their behavior.

THOMAS DONALDSON, Corporations and Morality

A corporation is an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

EVAN ESAR, 20,000 Quips & Quotes

That corporations are the creatures of the Crown must be universally admitted.

LORD KENYON, King v. Ginever, 1796

Corporations are very often useful bodies of men; but they more frequently outlive their usefulness and become corpori mortui to all intents and purposes.

DAVID JENNINGS, attributed, Day's Collacon

The big guys who ran things didn't want you thinking or feeling. It slowed down production. They wanted you scared and working so you wouldn't bump up against the truth--life could be fun. Yup, they wanted you scared. They wanted you grim. They wanted you madly cranking out Barbie dolls or Post Toasties or Xerox, or they wanted you overworked and underpaid at teaching so you could at least feel smart, and they wanted you to keep having kids so you'd have to keep working at whatever job you were stuck in and not have time to think or feel or, if you did, you certainly wouldn't have time to do anything about it, or even get close to the big fun, the fun that belonged only to them. And then they wanted your kids to hop on the same treadmill.

BILL RIPLEY, Prisoners

A corporation does seem like a family ... a hotbed of passion, rivalry, and dreams that build or destroy careers.

PAULA BERNSTEIN, Family Ties, Corporate Bonds

Corporate principles and military principles are basically the same. Insulation. Illusion. Hype. Activity.

TARUN J. TEJPAL, The Alchemy of Desire

If anything is due to a corporation, it is not due to the individual members thereof, nor do the members individually owe what the corporation owes.

JUSTINIAN, attributed, Day's Collacon

A corporation has all the powers and privileges of an individual: all it lacks is a conscience.

EVAN ESAR, 20,000 Quips & Quotes

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Progressive Principles

It is a fiction, a shade, a nonentity, but a reality for legal purposes. A corporation aggregate is only in abstracto—it is invisible, immortal, and rests only in intendment and consideration of the law.

EDWARD COKE, Case of Sutton's Hospital

Corporations are not legal "persons" with constitutional rights and freedoms of their own, but legal fictions that we created and must therefore control.

KALLE LASN, Culture Jam

Liberals support the idea that individuals are more important than corporations, that as long as there are welfare programs for corporations there should be welfare programs for individuals.

JON CARROLL, attributed, The Best Liberal Quotes Ever

Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT, The Roosevelt Policy

Surely by now there can be few here who still believe the purpose of government is to protect us from the destructive activities of corporations. At last most of us must understand that the opposite is true: that the primary purpose of government is to protect those who run the economy from the outrage of injured citizens.


Modern society has created a class of artificial beings who bid fair soon to be the masters of their creator. It is but a very few years since the existence of a corporation controlling a few million dollars was regarded as a subject of grave apprehension, and now this country already contains single organizations which wield a power represented by hundreds of millions. These bodies are the creatures of single States; but in New York, in Pennsylvania, in Maryland, in New Jersey, and not in those States alone, they already are establishing despotisms which no spasmodic popular effort will be able to shake off. Everywhere, and at all times, however, they illustrate the truth of the old maxim of the common law, that corporations have no souls.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, "A Chapter of Erie", North American Review, July 1869

The corporations don't have to lobby the government anymore. They are the government.

JIM HIGHTOWER, attributed, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy


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