Who was Henry George?
Henry George, American economist and social philosopher (b. Philadelphia 1839, d. New York 1897). Principal works: The Science of Political Economy, Progress & Poverty, Protection or Free Trade, The Condition of Labor, A Perplexed Philosopher, Social Problems.
Henry George is a product of America. His contribution to modern economic thought grew out of the experience of America–its freedom of opportunity, its incentives for invention and production, its march of material progress.
In the frontier West — in San Francisco — where Henry George rose as a young man from typesetter to editor and publisher, he saw the workings of economic forces in the raw. And he studied them. He made America his economics laboratory in which he formulated a philosophy of freedom indigenous to America and an answer to the collectivist theories of old world.
The cultural heritage of Henry George is broad. He drew upon the experience of every race and every civilization to discover and test the law of human progress–association in freedom–the final object of his inquiry.
Witnessing the growth of modern industrial civilization, Henry George was profoundly disturbed by the trends toward centralized control, Gargantuan taxation, disregard for the rights of person and property, which he saw setting in, and which, carried far enough, he believed, must bring progress to a halt.
Challenged by the economic and social problems of modern times, he sought answers in the study of the classical economists — Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, David Ricardo — against the background of his observation of the expanding American economy. He found answers in measures of greater freedom rather than less. He identified freedom of opportunity as the natural remedy for current problems.
–John Lawrence Monroe
Director of the Chicago Henry George School, 1935-1968
Some links about Henry George
Many have written biographical sketches about Henry George. Here are a few links for exploration:
- “Who was Henry George?” by Agnes de Mille (Henry George’s granddaughter). Preface to the Centenary edition of Progress and Poverty, New York, January, 1979.
- “The Printer and the Riddle: The Story of Henry George” by Joseph Cottler. Reprinted from Ch. 7 of the book Champions of Democracy, published by Little, Brown and Co., 1936.
- “The Prophet of San Francisco” by Louis F. Post. Condensed from The Prophet of San Francisco, published in Chicago, 1904.
- “Who Was Henry George?” from a course in Georgist social philosophy prepared by the Australian School of Social Science
- “Henry George: Antiprotectionist Giant of American Economics by Richard Fisher. Economic Insights Vol 10 #2. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
- “Henry George” by Elbert Hubbard. Little Journeys to Homes of Reformers
- “Henry George: Unorthodox American” by Albert Jay Nock. This essay first appeared in Scribner’s Magazine, and was reprinted by permission in The Freeman, official organ of the Henry George School of Social Science.
Several full-length biographies exist, including one by Henry George, Jr. And Ed Dodson of the Philadelphia Henry George School has put together a fine slide show about Henry George.