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The public be damned

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Words attributed to William H. Vanderbilt, a railroad executive of the late nineteenth century. They were supposedly spoken to a newspaper reporter.

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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notes for The public be damned

“The public be damned” has often been recalled when business leaders have been accused of shirking responsibility toward the public.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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