Famous Georgists

Edward McGlynn

The son of Irish Immigrants, Edward McGlynn grew up to become one of the most famous and controversial Catholic priests of his age. Ordained in Rome in the year 1860, Father McGlynn became extremely concerned with the terrible poverty of his urban parishioners. He wrote, “I began to ask myself, ‘Is there no remedy? Is this God’s order that the poor shall be constantly becoming poorer in all our large cities, the world over?'” When he read Henry George’s work Progress and Poverty he was deeply impressed, and became a vocal advocate of land value taxation. His belief that land and natural resources rightfully belonged to the community drew the condemnation of his Catholic superiors, and when he refused to renounce them he was excommunicated. After a few years and a meeting with Pope Leo XIII, the Vatican declared that Georgism was compatible with the doctrines of the Catholic church and reinstated him to the priesthood. Vindicated, Father McGlynn continued his campaigning and remained a firm friend of Henry George, even pronouncing his eulogy when George died in 1897.

“By a beautiful providence, that may be truly called divine, since it is founded upon the nature of things and the nature of man, a fund, constantly increasing with the capacities and needs of society, is produced by the very growth of society itself, namely, the rental value of the natural bounties of which society retains dominion.”

Elizabeth Maggie

Born in 1886, Lizzie Maggie was an intelligent young woman who grew to become an outspoken feminist. As a young adult, she worked as a typist, an author of short stories and poetry, a comedian, and an actress. At the age of 26 she patented an improvement on the typewriter, a rarity in an age where women held fewer than 1% of all patents. A fervent Georgist, Lizzie invented the Landlord’s Game to demonstrate the problems inherent in private land ownership. This board game was the inspiration for Monopoly, which was later patented and sold by Parker Brothers without any credit. Despite being the originator of one of the most popular board games in history, Lizzie Maggie died without having received any money or credit for her invention.

“Let the children once see clearly the gross injustice of our present land system and when they grow up, if they are allowed to develop naturally, the evil will soon be remedied.”

John Haynes Holmes

Born in 1879, John Haynes Holmes was a unitarian minister and pacifist who was notable for his principled opposition to both world wars. He was a leading proponent of Zionism in the United States, urging the British Empire to open Palestine to Jewish refugees fleeing from Europe. In 1909 he helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and in 1920 he helped found the American Civil Liberties Union and served as its chairman from 1940 to 1950.

“My reading of Henry George’s immortal masterpiece marked an epoch in my life. All my thought upon the social question and all my work for social reform began with the reading of this book… Progress and Poverty was the most closely knit, fascinating and convincing specimen of argumentation that, I believe, ever sprang from the mind of man.”