A FOURTH BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT
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
Evening Post, November 30, 1940
"Jones is the only man in Washington who
can say yes and no intelligently twenty-four hours a day."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
"I get all my money information from Jesse
"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."
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."
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."
"The New Deal saved Capitalism in America.
And Jesse Jones was the key player in that salvation."
"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."
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."
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."
President John Nance Garner, 1936
"Jones' contribution to mobilization was
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
A. Pratt, Historian