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I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world: no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.
Attributed in Shadow Kings (2005) by Mark Hill, p. 91; This and similar remarks are presented on the internet and elsewhere as an expression of regret for creating the Federal Reserve. The quotation appears to be fabricated from out-of-context remarks Wilson made on separate occasions and two leading sentences that have no clear source:
I have ruined my country.
No known source from Wilson, but possibly a misattribution of remarks by Sidney Sonnino at the Paris Peace Conference (1919), criticizing Wilson's treaty framework as unfair to Italy. See Margaret Macmillan (2002), Paris 1919.
A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit.…
"Monopoly, Or Opportunity?" (1912), criticizing the credit situation before the Federal Reserve was created, also in The New Freedom (1913), p. 185
We have come to be one of the worst ruled… Governments….
"Benevolence, Or Justice?" (1912), also in The New Freedom (1913), p. 201
The quotation has been analyzed in Andrew Leonard (2007-12-21), "The Unhappiness of Woodrow Wilson" Salon:
I can tell you categorically that this is not a statement of regret for having created the Federal Reserve. Wilson never had any regrets for having done that. It was an accomplishment in which he took great pride.
John M. Cooper, professor of history and author of several books on Wilson, as quoted by Andrew Leonard[ex\]