William Graham Sumner is the "forgotten man" of American intellectual history. Too often dismissed or only superficially understood, his interpretations are now attracting closer scrutiny and appreciation. He is remembered chiefly as one of the founding fathers of sociology. He was also a strong supporter of classical liberalism during a time when liberalism was being transformed into a belief in statism. Sumner's analysis of the relation between the individual and society is deeper and more sophisticated than is commonly thought. For students of American history and politics, the essays reveal the complexity of American political and social thought. For observers of the contemporary social scene, they raise issues concerning the relation of liberty to property and both to government that remain as vital and unresolved as they were a century ago.
Robert Bannister, Editor