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Henry George

American Political Economist, Journalist

Country:United States

Lifetime: 1839 - 1897 Passed: ≈ 125 years ago

Henry George was an American political economist and journalist. His writing was immensely popular in 19th-century America and sparked several reform movements of the Progressive Era. He inspired the economic philosophy known as Georgism, the belief that people should own the value they produce themselves, but that the economic value derived from land (including natural resources) should belong equally to all members of society. He argued that a single tax on land would create a more productive, more just society.


His most famous work Progress and Poverty (1879) sold millions of copies worldwide. The treatise investigates the paradox of increasing inequality and poverty amid economic and technological progress, the business cycle with its cyclic nature of industrialized economies, and the use of rent capture such as land value tax and other anti-monopoly reforms as a remedy for these and other social problems. Other works by George defended free trade, the secret ballot, and public ownership of certain natural monopolies.


A journalist for many years, the popularity of his writing and speeches brought him to run for election as Mayor of New York City in 1886 as the Union Labor Party nominee and in 1897 as the Jefferson Democracy Party nominee, receiving 31 percent and 4 percent of the vote respectively and finishing ahead of former New York State Assembly Minority Leader Theodore Roosevelt in the first race. After his death during the second campaign, his ideas were carried forward by organizations and political leaders through the United States and other Anglophone countries. The mid-20th century labor economist and journalist George Soule wrote that George was by far "the most famous American economic writer" and "author of a book which probably had a larger world-wide circulation than any other work on economics ever written."

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Books by Henry George