James Cash Penny

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James Cash Penny

  • Values:
  • love
  • unity
  • liberty

Businessman and Philanthropist

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Changemaker name [38]: James Cash Penney [17]

Dates [15]: 1875–1971 [11]

Quote [190]:

I knew I must learn, specifically, to give myself over to God’s plan for me. … I

had been given both talents and experience as part of a plan.

Quote credit [50]: James Cash Penney, 1950 [11]

Image credit [270]: Smithsonian American Art Museum, museum purchase

through the Robert Tyler Davis Memorial Fund

Subheader [40]: Inspired by Faith [17]

Synopsis copy [220]:

James Cash “J. C.” Penney was a poor Missouri farm boy and son of a Baptist

preacher who founded one of America’s largest department store chains and

operated its business according to the Bible’s Golden Rule. [208]

Image credit [270]: Getty Images

Subheader [40]: Faith in Action [15]

Body copy [227]:

Penney opened his first store, the Golden Rule, in 1902. Its name was derived

from Jesus’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do unto others as you

would have them do unto you.” Matthew 7:12 [192]

Image caption [144]:

The Golden Rule in Kemmerer, Wyoming, ca. 1902 [46]

Image credit [60]: Bettmann / Contributor

Body copy [227]:

Admitted to a sanitarium after a nervous breakdown in 1931, Penney

experienced an awakening: “I came forth with a soaring sense of release, from

a bondage of gathering death to a pulse of hopeful living. I had glimpsed God.”

Image caption [144]:

Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, 1920 [67]

Image credit [60]: Pictures Now / Alamy Stock Photo

Body copy [227]:

Penney: “My faith in God, taught by my parents, convinces me that justice, fair

dealing and right are His will for men … and that the twin laws, love for God

and love for one’s neighbor, will always lead men in the right way.”

Image caption [144]:

Penney saying grace at dinner, 1961 [35]

Image credit [60]:

Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images [59]

Body copy [227]:

Penney’s growing business was later incorporated under the name J. C. Penney

Company, but the Golden Rule remained its organizing principle. “The Penney

Idea” reflected Penney’s belief in Golden Rule capitalism.

Image caption [144]:

“The Penney Idea,” Penney’s principles of business [51]

Image credit [60]: JCPenney Archives Collection at DeGolyer Library

Body copy [227]:

Penney appealed to customers by creating an affordable and accessible place

for shopping in small rural towns as well as in large cities. By the 1940s, there

were 1,600 stores in 48 states. [189]

Image caption [144]:

Penney speaks to customers about silk stockings, 1951 [53]

Image credit [60]:

Carl Iwasaki/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

Body copy [227]:

J. C. Penney grew his company into one of the most successful store chains in

America, motivated not primarily by profit, but by the public good: “to build a

better community, a better state, a better nation, and a better world.”

Image caption [144]:

The J. C. Penney store in Plainview, New York, 1955 [50]

Image credit [60]: Pleasant Family Shopping

Subheader [40]: J. C. Penney through the Years [26]

Bubble copy [167]:

Over the years, J. C. Penney’s company transformed from a small business with

a single location to a popular national chain. [123]

Date [4]: 1902 [4]

Image credit [60]: JCPenney Archives Collection at DeGolyer Library

Image caption [144]: Penney’s first store was the Golden Rule Store in

Kemmerer, Wyoming. The original store was a one-room wooden building.

Bubble copy [167]:

While the building that originally housed the Golden Rule still exists, Penney’s

business has expanded far beyond its walls. [124]


Date [4]: 2020 [4]

Image credit [60]: Bloomberg / Contributor

Image caption [144]: A modern-day J. C. Penney store in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee,

2020 [58]

Bubble copy [167]:

J. C. Penney stores remain one of the nation’s largest apparel and home

retailers, with an expansive footprint of hundreds of stores across the United


Subheader [40]: Legacy of Liberty [17]

Question/alignment statement [179]:

Do you think that the Bible’s Golden Rule is essential to a free and humane

market economy? [77]

Image credit [270]:

Wikimedia Commons [26]

Scripture [200]:

Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law

of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets. [127]

Scripture credit [50]: Matthew 7:12

Image credit [270]:

Oscar White/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images [39]

Related changemakers: The Tappan Brothers, Anna Jarvis and William


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