Ida Tarbell Quotes

1857-1944

Ida Tarbell
Ida Tarbell. Interim Archives/Getty Images

Ida Tarbell was a muckracking journalist whose book on the Standard Oil Company helped bring about its breakup.

Selected Ida Tarbell Quotations

• Sacredness of human life! The world has never believed it! It has been with life that we settled our quarrels, won wives, gold and land, defended ideas, imposed religions. We have held that a death toll was a necessary part of every human achievement, whether sport, war or industry.

A moment's rage over the horror of it, and we have sunk into indifference.

• Imagination is the only key to the future. Without it none exists -- with it all things are possible.

• There is no man more dangerous, in a position of power, than he who refuses to accept as a working truth the idea that all a man does should make for rightness and soundness, that even the fixing of a tariff rate must be moral.

(about John D. Rockefeller)And he calls his great organization a benefaction, and points to his church-going and charities as proof of his righteousness. This is supreme wrong-doing cloaked by religion. There is but one name for it -- hypocrisy.

• There is no more effective medicine to apply to feverish public sentiment than figures.

• Rockefeller and his associates did not build the Standard Oil Co. in the board rooms of Wall Street banks. They fought their way to control by rebate and drawback, bribe and blackmail, espionage and price cutting, by ruthless ...

efficiency of organization.

• A mind which really lays hold of a subject is not easily detached from it.

• Perhaps our national ambition to standardize ourselves has behind it the notion that democracy means standardization. But standardization is the surest way to destroy the initiative, to benumb the creative impulse above all else essential to the vitality and growth of democratic ideals.

• The first and most imperative necessity in war is money, for money means everything else -- men, guns, ammunition.

• How defeated and restless the child that is not doing something in which it sees a purpose, a meaning! It is by its self-directed activity that the child, as years pass, finds its work, the thing it wants to do and for which it finally is willing to deny itself pleasure, ease, even sleep and comfort.

• The whole force of the respectable circles to which I belonged, that respectable circle which knew as I did not the value of security won, the slender chance of replacing it if lost or abandoned, was against me....

•  We must organize men and women for labor as if for war. Watch the perfection of the training and the movement of the masses that at this moment are meeting in unspeakable, infernal slaughter in Europe. See how the humblest is fitted to his task. With what ease great bodies wheel, turn, advance, retreat. Consider how, after standing men in line that they may be knocked to pieces, they promptly and scientifically collect such as have escaped, both friend and foe, and (oh, amazing and heart-breaking human logic!) under the safe sign of the cross, tenderly nurse them back to health.

 If this can be done for War, should we do less for Peace? 

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Ida Tarbell Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/quotes/a/ida_tarbell.htm . Date accessed: (today).

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