Brother, Can You Spare A Billion? The Story of Jesse Jones  
Jesse Jones


He has been forgotten over the years, but during his lifetime Jesse H. Jones had a major impact on the nation. From World War I through the Great Depression and World War II, he was one of the most powerful people in the country. The following remembrances from historians and magazines of the time and observations from those who knew Jones personally give insight into the man Fortune called nothing less than a "fourth branch of government." Brother, Can You Spare A Billion? The Story of Jesse H. Jones airs on PBS April 3, 2000 from 10:00 - 11:00 p.m. ET (check local listing).

"Next to the President, no man in the Government and probably in the United States wields greater powers."
-Saturday Evening Post, November 30, 1940

"Jones is the only man in Washington who can say yes and no intelligently twenty-four hours a day."
-President Franklin D. Roosevelt

"I get all my money information from Jesse Jones."
-Will Rogers, Humorist

"Most of the people who read his words felt reassured at once. There was no need of higher authority, not J.P. Morgan, not even Franklin Roosevelt could be of as much comfort to the public. To many a U.S. citizen great and small, if Jesse Jones says O.K., O.K."
-TIME Magazine, January 13, 1941

"He was, through the New Deal and through the war, the great financial bridge between the purposes of the New Deal, and particularly the purposes of the war, and the sources of the funds to do it. It was an extraordinary grant of power. He had more control over the flow of money to the executive branch and its purposes than any congressman or any congressional committee."
-John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist, November 22, 1996

"He was perhaps the most important public investor in American history. And his actions could be a model for those who would like to see the same thing happen today."
-Alan Brinkley, Historian

"The New Deal saved Capitalism in America. And Jesse Jones was the key player in that salvation."
-James Olson, Historian

"The importance of Jesse Jones and the RFC is to remind people that government is not the enemy. That government is one of the instrumentalities free people have to improve economic conditions and economic opportunity."
-Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Historian

"It is possible that the civics books will have to be revised. They explain the three branches of Government laid down by our constitution but they haven't caught up with the fourth. Today we have the executive, the legislative, the judiciary and Jesse Jones. And it is a surmise in Washington whether this fourth branch hasn't more power than one or two of the others."
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 15, 1938

"He has allocated and loaned more money to various institutions and enterprises than any other man in the history of the world."
-Vice President John Nance Garner, 1936

"Jones' contribution to mobilization was indispensable."
-David Ginsburg, New Deal Lawyer

"Unlike many capitalists in America, Jones divided his life in half and spent much of his adult life trying to help democracy. At times, at the expense of his practice of capitalism."
-Joseph A. Pratt, Historian