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"Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes it's laws" — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild

This prominent international banker is commonly quoted this. First, did he actually say it? Second, what was its context (when and where was he and what other things did he say shortly before or after this) if we know? Finally, seeing as how this is likely his most notable quote, did he ever reflect on it at a later time shedding some light on it?

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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The actual quote which is attributed to Mayer Amschel Rothschild is:

Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!

A number of sources (such as this one) claim that this statement was made in 1838 (which would have been a difficult feat as he would have been dead for 26 years by then). Wikiquote claims that there is no way to verify by whom, when or why it was made. It notes:

No primary source for this is known and the earliest attribution to him known is 1935 (Money Creators, Gertrude M. Coogan). Before that, "Let us control the money of a nation, and we care not who makes its laws" was said to be a "maxim" of the House of Rothschilds, or, even more vaguely, of the "money lenders of the Old World".

It is adapted from another well known quote:

Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.

This is in turn attributed to the Scot, Andrew Fletcher:

In An Account of a Conversation he made his well-known remark "I knew a very wise man so much of Sir Christopher's sentiment, that he believed if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation."

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iow it's contributed to Rothschild most likely by conspiracy theorists wanting to paint a black system of "evil bankers controlling the world's governments" :) –  jwenting Mar 6 '13 at 13:23
I'm a little confused at your first source. It seems that there was more than one Rothschild with the names Meyer and Amschel. Maybe I have confused the two (or more). However, wikiquotes indicates that the earliest cite is 1935. What is the evidence that Mr. Daniel in that work was making a play on that old English proverb and not simply stating a commonly believed notion? +1 so far. –  fredsbend Mar 6 '13 at 18:50
@fredsbend In the Wikipedia article that you cite in your Question, his eldest son is named as Amschel Mayer Rothschild. –  Eugene Seidel Mar 7 '13 at 6:41
@fredsbend I've clarified the identity of the Rothschild with a link. As for the 1935 source, we simply don't know. It is suggested that if Mayer Amschel did make such a statement, then he was simply adapting an earlier saying. However, it is not certainly known if he actually made such a statement at all as the earliest record of it being made was written ~123 years after his death. Presumably Mr. Daniel did not cite a reliable source which makes the matter questionable in terms of its authenticity. –  coleopterist Mar 7 '13 at 7:13
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It was John Maynard Keynes who famously said, "Practical men who believe themselves exmept from any intellectual influences, are usually the slave of some defunct economist." Rothschild's statement (above) echoed this sentiment, meaning, "Let me control a country's economy and the laws that it passes will follow naturally from this economy."

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Sources? Especially since this flies in the face of the other answer. –  fredsbend Mar 7 '13 at 23:27
@fredsbend: The Keynes quote is from "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. " I'm using Keynes to interpret Rothschild, not Rothschild himself. The money creators quote in 1935 is contemporaneous with Keynes' 1936 work. –  Tom Au Mar 7 '13 at 23:31
Ok. But the quote you made from Rothschild? Are you saying that he actually didn't say that? If he did where is that from? –  fredsbend Mar 7 '13 at 23:41
How could something someone (supposedly!) said around the year 1800 possibly "echo" something someone else said in 1936?? Let's assume that the quote attributed to Rothschild was contemporaneous with Keynes' -- how could there be any relationship between the two? Most importantly, how does this answer the Question? –  Eugene Seidel Mar 8 '13 at 7:19
This is a nice addition, but it'd be even nicer to see it as a comment rather than an answer. –  Felix Goldberg Mar 8 '13 at 10:48
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