Henry George’s Contribution to Socialism in America, 1870-1900

Ko, Emily
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
The Gilded Age was a period of industrial development in the United States from approximately 1870 to 1900. In many ways, it helped to usher in the modern world. With the large growth in business, there also arose a displacement among workers who were migrating from farms to cities and adapting to new methods of management and business. This dissatisfaction led to the creation of labor unions and the spread of socialism in America. Henry George (1839 to 1897), a political and social leader of this period, was inspired to write his manifesto, Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions, and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy, by the social conditions he witnessed. Many socialist thinkers during the Gilded Age and since read George’s work and were struck by its socialist leanings. In their writings, most of them conceded that George contributed to bringing socialist ideas to the public with his bestseller. However, some thinkers took issue with his single land tax principle that they judged to be overrated or not radical enough. George has been largely overlooked in the history of the Gilded Age, but during George’s life, Progress and Poverty reached the minds of reformers, politicians, writers, lecturers, and social leaders.
socialism, anarchism, Progress and Poverty, single land tax
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