Edward Griffin Interview

The Creature From Jekyll Island

"In our Edward Griffin Interview, we found the author to be as engaging, humorous and convincing as he is in his powerful book. If you have not read The Creature From Jekyll Island, it should be on your "to read" list," advises leading family business expert Don Schwerzler Schwerzler has been studying and advising family business entrepreneurs for more than 40 years and he is the founder of the Atlanta-based Family Business Experts The Edward Griffin Interview was conducted by Phil Bellury, our Family Business Expert who specializes in writing family history books - a veteran publisher, editor and author.


1. Why the title?

The Creature from Jekyll Island… yes, I had a lot of fun with that because it lent a little bit of mystery to the title and because it might attract people who thought it was a mystery story. But it really does have a lot of bearing on the topic of the book because Jekyll Island is in fact an island off the coast of Georgia… and it was on that island back in 1910 that the Federal Reserve System was created. It was created under conditions of great secrecy. The fact that something that important was drafted on an island off the coast of Georgia instead of Washington, D.C. tells us that there was something unusual about that meeting.

The Federal Reserve System at that time was being sold to the American people as a solution to a banking problem. The American people were concerned about the concentration of economic power in the hands of a small group of Wall Street firms, financial institutions, which they called the money trust. They wanted Congress to pass a law that would somehow control those big bad bankers. And it turns out that the Act that created the Federal Reserve System was written by the very people who the American people thought should be controlled.

That’s why they had to go offshore, so to speak, and meet at this private retreat. Jekyll Island in those days was privately owned by a small group of billionaires from New York City. We’re talking about the Rockefellers, J.P. Morgan and their associates. These people owned that resort island, and it’s where their families went to get away from the cold winter months in New York. They would take a train ride that lasted two days and nights to get there.

So these wealthy men went to this private clubhouse and sat around a table for a week to hammer out all the details of what eventually became the Federal Reserve System. And they did it under conditions of great secrecy. They denied that they went; they told everyone who knew they were going away that they were going on a duck hunting trip. When asked if they discussed anything serious there, they said no, nothing like that. And on the train, when they were speaking to each other, they used code names. I thought that was very strange when I came across that, especially because it occurred in the privacy of their own railroad cars. But it turns out that some of them who later wrote memoirs explained that they were afraid that the servants on board the train would know who all of these people were if they addressed each other by their full names. And they were afraid that the servants might talk, and in that fashion, the word would get out, and the whole purpose of the meeting would be defeated.

It’s quite an intriguing story. There was so much secrecy, and there are very few wars that are plotted under as much secrecy as that. So that’s the reason for the title of the book. I thought this was an interesting way to start the story. I knew, even in the beginning when I started my research and didn’t know many of the details, I still knew that this was a most unusual story. This was not just a book about banking and theory and practice. This was a history book, and it was a great whodunit. A great crime was committed, and the book is really about who committed the crime, where the body was buried, what the motives were… so the story does unfold in that fashion.

2. Some experts contend that wealth can only be created through three avenues: agriculture, extraction, and manufacturing. How is the real wealth of a nation created?

I think we need to be firm on what wealth means. It means different things to different people. Some would say that money is wealth, but my definition of wealth would be something of tangible value that you use money to acquire. Strictly speaking, money is a medium of exchange. Money has many different definitions, but the overall concept, or definition of money, is that it is a medium of exchanging one thing for another.

So money -- good money – usually has intrinsic value of its own, like gold or silver. Even though it’s used as a medium of exchange, it could also be used based on its own internal value. That’s the way money should be. But the system we now have was created by the Bank of England at the turn of century, two centuries ago. Our system was modeled after that. In that kind of system, money is not based on anything tangible at all. In fact, it is created out of thin air. It’s based on credit, it’s based on debt, and it’s based on political decree. And you have to accept them, or you go to prison. Under that system, money is not wealth at all. But if you’ve got a roomful of it, and got it by printing it up, and you’ve got an army to force people to accept it, then you’re wealthy. You can now go out and buy land, or factories, or food. You can buy people, you can buy just about anything with this paper money. And therefore, you acquire wealth.

It is true that wealth is something of tangible value. Agriculture is a source of great wealth; minerals in the soil are a source of great wealth; and manufacturing is a source of great wealth, because those are things that add to our living standards. They help make our lives easier, and they are all tangible.

Money gets a bad rap. People often say that it is the root of all evil. I don’t agree with that at all. I think the root of evil is evil people. It’s what they do with money that makes it evil. You can use money for good or evil. So I don’t think money is intrinsically evil; it’s the character of the people that use it that determines whether it’s good or evil.

3. What is happening to the US dollar?

The U.S. dollar is meeting its just rewards. It is being exposed finally after all these years for what it is, worthless. The U.S. dollar has never really been worth anything of its own, it never was wealth; it was just its ability to command wealth, and to buy wealth. As long as people were willing to accept U.S. dollars in exchange for things of real wealth, the dollar was very much in demand. It was in demand because it was the world reserve currency. All the nations of the world traded in it. If you lived in another country and wanted to purchase something from another country, chances are that you had to convert to U.S. dollars to pay for whatever it was. Everyone wanted dollars because it was the reserve currency. Of course it was backed by the powerful United States with its great military force and its great industrial capacity. So it ruled the world for a long, long time. And nobody paid much attention to the fact that, starting with the Federal Reserve System essentially, the U.S. dollar was cut away from anything of real value or real wealth.

It was just backed by political decree and psychological factors. And the people who created the U.S. dollars – that is, the Federal Reserve System with cooperation from the Congress – have just kept creating and creating, and buying everything they wanted without having to worry about manufacturing anything, because all they did was manufacture more money. And as long as there were people around the world who were willing to accept it and demand it, that worked great. But over the over the last couple of decades, that game has been coming to an end. And in the last few years, in particular, the world is realizing that the U.S. dollar is worthless. It always has been, but now they are beginning to say we don’t want anymore of this stuff. The world has been flooded with it, and like grains of sand, it isn’t worth much, because there’s just too much of it.

So the purchasing power of the dollar is going down, down, down. And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s not just a straight line; it’s curving downward. And in the next year or two at the most, the dollar will be heading straight down in a vertical plunge. We’re coming to a place in most of our life spans where we will see the dollar abandoned. It will no longer be of any value, except historic.

5. Your book was first published in 1994 – what changes have been made since then?

We’ve gone through five editions and thirty-two printings, and every time we’ve gone through a new printing, we’ve always updated. Since we issued the first printing, we’ve probably made maybe a thousand changes in the book. Most were not major changes but changes in things like percentages, or name changes when new people come into positions like the chairmen of the Federal Reserve System. The main story did not change, except for substantial change we made in the fifth edition when we brought the book up to date in terms of bailout. Starting in 2008, the bailout of the banks and some of the large corporations that owed money to the banks, accelerated so steeply and the stakes changed so dramatically, that we had to make significant changes to that chapter.

6. The primary wealth generators in the U.S. are typically family-owned businesses. What are some of the steps they can take to protect their wealth?

The typical answer would be to get out of debt, be prudent, don’t over-expand, prepare for inflation, or put your assets in tangible values. All of that is good advice, and you can read that every day in the newspaper or somewhere But I don’t think there is anything anyone can do to preserve their wealth if we allow the system to continue to unwind as it is now doing. When the system goes down to the bottom, wealth will mean nothing, and the whole thing will be heading for a police state. Under those conditions, it won’t make any difference how much money you have. If you’re not politically connected, if you’re not part of the ruling elite, if you are not part of the police state itself, they will take everything you have because they will say they need it for national security.

That’s a grim picture, and I wish I didn’t have to say it. We have to recapture control of our own government. We have to turn this around or there is no way out. It’s going down, and we are going with it. It’s not just a matter of how we protect ourselves; we have to protect the nation. Our children, our grandchildren, our whole system… we’re all in this together. The boat is going down, and if we don’t patch up the holes and bail out the water, and get the crew that’s running this thing – the glaciers – out of the wheelhouse, then there is nothing we can do to stay dry.

7. The problems of our banking system are so huge and influence so much of our political and social culture – can changes be implemented that can turn it around? Is it too late?

I don’t think it’s too late, but we do have to turn it around. We are under dire circumstances, but as late as it is, we can turn it around if we take appropriate action. It is too late to turn this ship around easily. It’s too late to get out of this mess without having to pay a very serious price. It’s like people with bad cases of alcoholism, or drug addicts. They have the DTs – the shivers and the shakes – and they can’t think straight. They are hallucinating; they can’t take food; or even talk. Is it too late for them? It’s pretty close to too late, but it’s not too late. It will take a lot to take them off the drugs, and they will have withdrawal pains, but they can recover. It can be done if the patients are able to take the penalty, get that stuff out of their systems, all those toxins and all that poison. But they can’t recover by prescribing more cocaine to relieve the pain.

I use that analogy because the leaders in Washington D.C. are prescribing more of the same toxicity that’s killing the patients. They say we need more money out of nothing; we need to go deeper into debt, we need quantitative easing, we need to create another hundred-trillion dollars and spread it around. That’s more of the same cocaine that’s killing the patients.

The average person is not responsible for this, but they are going to pay for it. If you want to get philosophical, you could say that the average person is responsible because they didn’t take an interest, they voted for benefits, they wanted freebies, or they listened to the lies of those people and voted those creeps in. Many of them knew they were being lied to, but they liked it because of the benefits. So you could argue that the average American is responsible.

But it’s not a question of placing guilt as much as it is us getting us out of this mess. Unfortunately, the average person is not going to understand how to get out of it, because he or she doesn’t understand how we got into it. And that’s our problem. Education and information is the weak point, because our media and our schools are not giving us that information. They’re giving us the other information, basically telling us lies and feeding us with fantasies.

8. Are there any political or social organizations that use your book as a rallying point to recruit members/supporters to reform our money and banking system?

I don’t know if organizations are using the book, but I do know that the distribution and readership of the book has been especially strong in the past few years. Sales have been unbelievable to me, because it’s this big, thick book, and after it came out, I thought no one is going to want to read all that. I thought it might make a good doorstop for someone. But it hit some kind of nerve, and though we never advertised it, it started to sell by word of mouth. It’s one of those books that people recommend to someone else, so they’re flying out the door.

The book is selling better as things get worse. People are become more interested and paying attention, because they are getting worried. They are worried about what will happen to their lifestyles, their savings, which may already be shot. As long as their savings are in money, or insurance policies, or anything denominated in money, those savings are gone. And they don’t even know it. Inflation will turn savings into a zero, just as it occurred in Germany, Zimbabwe and many other countries around the world. It’s going to happen here.

So as this gets closer, people here are getting worried and want to know how it happened. And they want to know how to turn it around. That’s the good part of this story, and it’s unfortunate that it had to reach this point to get everyone’s attention.

But here’s the good news. You don’t have to have a majority. You don’t have to have more than 50% of the people to make change. All it takes is three percent of the population who really understand and are willing to offer leadership to get out there and do something about it. The ones who dominate the political systems of every country represent three percent of the population – or less – and the rest are followers.

So that’s good news, if we can reach that three percent of the population with this message. And if they then understand what the problem really is, and take action to turn it around, yes we can do it. There will be one heck of a price, but it can be done.

And that’s what we’re counting on here. We formed an organization to try to be the backbone of that movement. We call it Freedom Force International. As the name suggests, it’s international in scope, and we have members now in about 68 different countries. It’s a global problem and the same thing is going on all over the world. And the solution is the same all over the world… people who have decided to take back the political system. They’ve quit watching television all day long, or playing golf or being entertained. And they are becoming active in the political life of their countries. They have become influential in determining the policies of their countries. They are for the first time considering getting into politics, and they are writing letters and articles in newspapers, and going into other organizations – unions, churches, political clubs – and expressing their opinions and disseminating information.

I used to worry that there won’t be anything for our children and grandchildren, but I believe it can be done, even though there has to be a penalty paid. But I believe it can be done, and that the future can be bright for our children and grandchildren if we can pull it off.

Interview by Phil Bellury, a veteran publisher, editor and author. For nearly twenty years, Phil has published commemorative coffee-table books for organizations celebrating significant milestones in their history. His most recent book, completed this spring, is The Mayfield Family Story , a colorful coffee-table gift book that tells the remarkable 100-year story of a small dairy that grew into one of America’s most recognizable brands.

If you would like to talk with Phil about writing a book for your family business, simply use the Ask the Expert form at the bottom of this page.

Do you have questions about your Family Business?
Don't have the answers - don't know who to ask?
It's FREE to

Contact the


Reply within 48 hours.


Family Business Experts Understands
Family Values
and Business Systems

Return from Edward Griffin Interview to
The Creature From Jekyll Island

Google Analytics


Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.