The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXIV. Economists

§ 19. Henry George

Another important milestone in the progress of economic science is marked by Henry George (1839–97). George, living in California at a time when everything seemed to point to the rapid growth of bonanza farms, came to the conclusion that the solution of the modern social problem lay in the nationalization of land, through the medium of the single tax. Beginning with Our Land and Land Policy (1871), he elaborated his general theory in Progress and Poverty (1879), which ran through countless editions. The same ideas with further applications were repeated in Social Problems (1884), Protection or Free Trade (1891), A Perplexed Philosopher (1892), and The Science of Political Economy (1898). In all other respects an extreme individualist, Henry George carried to its logical extreme John Stuart Mill’s theory of the unearned increment. One-sided as his doctrine has come to be considered, he contributed two important points to the progress of economic thought in the United States. The one was his theory of privilege—even though he was extreme in limiting this to land; the other was the theory that wages are fixed by the product of rentless land, which started the thinking of Professor Clark.