Life of Henry George

third period


1897 AGE, 58 -

THOUGH now only in his fifty-eighth year, Mr. George felt further advanced in life than most men do at that age. While organically sound, the iron constitution with which he had started out was perceptibly weakening under the incessant toil since boyhood and the extraordinary strain of the last sixteen years in putting the breath of life into a world-wide movement and inspiring it with his own passionate enthusiasm. He became conscious as he travelled about during the recent presidential campaign that he had lost his old physical elasticity, and he found it required an effort to get back to the newspaper habits of his younger days. And when, instead of the victory he had expected, defeat came, he was more keenly disappointed than over any previous public event during his lifetime. It seemed to him, as he said afterwards, that the century was closing in darkness; that the principle of democracy, which had triumphed in 1800 with the acendancy of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency of the United States, might be conquered by the Hamiltonian principle of aristocracy and plutocracy in 1900. If he said little about these sombre thoughts at the time, he said less of the consciousness that he probably would not much longer be able physically to lead in the cause for equal rights. Yet that that must be done by younger men was clearly in his mind. But if he could not lead the army, he could define the law; and he quietly settled down again to "The Science of Political Economy" – the book that he hoped would prove the supreme effort of his life. And over and over he read in the family circle and softly repeated to himself, as was one of his habits, the lines of Browning's "Rabbi Ben Ezra," beginning:


    "Grow old along with me!
      The best is yet to be,
      The last of life, for which the first was made:
      Our times are in his hand
      Who saith, 'A whole I planned,
      Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!'"

Mr. George found some diversion in overseeing the building of a house adjoining the old house that the family occupied at Fort Hamilton. This was to be Mrs. George's home, and he took great interest in it. It was practically the only thing that took him away from his desk.

But while with an iron will he held himself to his work, he had not the old snap and vigour; and in March came what seemed like a severe bilious attack – nausea, dizziness, utter muscular weakness. Dr. Kelly gave warning that work must stop for a while. He proposed a sea voyage. Mr. George would not listen to going away. "I must finish the book before anything else," was the reply to all suggestions of cessation.

Yet the family made every effort to divert him. There was much reading aloud – a little of Conan Doyle, of Stevenson, of DeFoe for lighter things; of Tennyson, Browning and Macaulay for poetry; of Thomas Jefferson's letters and Schopenhauer's works to engage reflection. The scriptures were a great solace. Again he listened to the old story of the image with head of gold and feet of clay; and to the story of the prophet at the king's feast reading the writing upon the wall: "Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting."

During all the early part of this year the second son, Richard, who had developed a talent for sculpture, was at work upon a bust of his father, doing the modelling in a chamber adjoining the writing room. At various times of day, suiting his own inclination, Mr. George came and posed; or rather reposed in an easy-chair, talking, reading or going to sleep, in any position, innocently supposing that he was doing all that the artist could ask. As with everything his children did, he took great interest in this piece of work, and he believed that under the patient, faithful fingers of his son, this piece of sculpture acquired essentials that former busts of him, one by Carl Rohl-Smith in 1888 and one by John Scott Hartley in 1894, did not possess. One day when both of his sons were present he said, after he had been for a while sitting for the sculptor and musing: "When I am dead, you boys will have this bust to carry in my funeral procession, as was the custom with the Romans."

This was not uttered in any spirit of morbidness, but in the calm contemplation of things touching death as well as life. For, one day, after he had quite recovered from the temporary illness and lay stretched on the couch in his work room, his wife in a chair beside him, and he talked of the progress of the cause, he sprang up and vigorously paced the room. "The great, the very great advancement of our ideas," said he, "may not show now, but it will. And it will show more after my death than during my life. Men who now hold back will then acknowledge that I have been speaking the truth. Neither of us can tell which of us will die first. But I shall be greatly disappointed if you precede me, for I have set my heart on having you hear what men will say of me and our cause when I am gone."

And now came the lightning stroke out of the clear sky. The married daughter, Jennie, with her seven months' old baby boy, had come to visit the parents' house, and after a few days' illness that seemed to be but a form of influenza and neuralgia, suddenly died early in the morning of May 2. As the light of dawn came into his room, Henry George sat alone with his eldest son. He said that he had for some time felt a disaster impending; that now it had come; that Herodotus, in his own way and according to the imagery of the time, had depicted a great truth in the story of Polycrates the Tyrant of Samos and Amasis the King of Egypt; that it was not in the order of things for men to have unbroken prosperity; that evil comes mixed with good; that life is a strife; that there are defeats as well as victories – disappointments as well as triumphs. Realising this, he had felt that of late years he had had too much good fortune; that success had crowded upon his efforts; that even the seeming setbacks had turned into advancements. Just within a few days a draft of several thousand dollars had come from England as the first part of a bequest made by Silas M. Burroughs, the ardent single tax friend, who had carried on a large drug business in Great Britain and her colonies. Mr. Burroughs, following William Saunders in death, had bequeathed to Henry George a one twenty-fourth interest in his estate. This filled the cup of prosperity full to overflowing, so that Mr. George had come to look for a reverse, a disaster – just as disasters come to other men. He had apprehended that he might be incapacitated from further work in the cause. But the blow had come in another way.

Though this death was the first break in the family; though it came like a knife thrust in the heart, Henry George showed that outward cheer and courage and thought of others that seldom failed him. Even in so small a thing as sending messages to friends, he waited until the little telegraph station at Fort Hamilton should open, so as to help swell the business of the woman operator there, and to that extent increase her importance and help increase her pay.

As soon as they learned of the death, the intimate friends hurried to Fort Hamilton to pour out their hearts' deep but scarcely spoken sympathy. Mr. George, accompanied by one of his sons, went to Greenwood Cemetery, not far from Fort Hamilton, and selected a spot beside where Tom L. Johnson's father, Colonel A.W. Johnson, was buried – just over the crest of Ocean Hill, looking south and east toward the Atlantic. And there the dear daughter was laid on a radiant spring afternoon; Dr McGlynn, who had married her two years before, now conducting the simple burial service.

To Thomas F. Walker, Mr. George wrote: "This is the bitter part of life that we had not tasted, but we have nothing but beautiful memories, and my wife and I have rallied for the duties that life still brings." Mr. Mendelson wrote and quoted the words of a German song – "wenn Menschen von einander gehn so sagen sie 'auf Wiedersehn'" – "When people take leave of each other, they say, 'To see you again.'" Mr. George replied: "The old German song you quote is very sweet. But it really goes back to the year 1. In one shape or another, that is the constant song of our race."

Among the first of these duties, was, they believed, that of preparing for the future, for the duration of life now seemed most uncertain. Both husband and wife drew wills, each making the other sole beneficiary, with their two sons as witnesses. Besides this there was the finishing of the house then being built to see to. But for Mr. George, the chief duty was to complete "The Political Economy" that had cost him so much more hard labour than any of his other books. So again he settled down quietly to writing.

Mr. George had divided "The Science of Political Economy" into five divisions or "books" and a general introduction, but, as with "Progress and Poverty," its final form followed many changes and rearrangements.[1]

Once or twice when conscious of physical weakness he had expressed to Mrs. George a doubt of being able to hold out to complete the work, and probably it was this feeling that impelled him to write Chapter VIII of Book II, entitled, "Breakdown of Scholastic Political Economy – Showing the Reason, the Reception and Effect on Political Economy of 'Progress and Poverty.'" This chapter consists of nine and a half pages treating of the history of "Progress and Poverty" and of the standing of the new political economy it represents. No person save the second son, who was asked by the father to make a copy of this chapter, saw it until the author's decease, three months later, and there can be small doubt that feeling that death might claim him at any time, Henry George deemed it necessary to take this means of making clear to the world certain facts relating to the genesis of his writing and the progress and standing of his ideas.

This did not come from any petty sense of vanity, but from passionate pride in and zeal to press forward the cardinal cause with which the very fibres of his nature were interwoven. He had long thought of writing an autobiography, for he held that no one could have so exact a knowledge of essential facts as the subject himself. This he had looked to do at the close of his life. But the sudden death of his daughter and his own recurring weakness made him conscious that the end might be nearer than would be compatible with such a plan, so that without speaking of the matter, he now slipped these autobiographical notes into the manuscript of his big book, and he quietly put in order his more important papers, to many attaching notes and dates. He also more freely than ever before in his life talked of his personal history, and in the household and to immediate friends, in a casual way told of past scenes with a candour and unaffectedness that left lasting impressions on the listeners' ears. Later in the year, just after he had entered on his last campaign against the solemn warning of his medical friends, he was obviously more strongly impressed than ever with the necessity of making autobiographical notes, and he told Ralph Meeker, a newspaper friend, who had a stenographer present to take his words verbatim, something of the story of his life.

Henry George's final view of the effect of his teachings on the orthodox presentation of political economy he set forth in the "Progress and Poverty" chapter of his last work:


    "'Progress and Poverty' has been, in short, the most successful economic work ever published. Its reasoning has never been successfully assailed, and on three continents it has given birth to movements whose practical success is only a question of time. Yet though the scholastic political economy has been broken, it has not been, as I at the time anticipated, by some one of its professors taking up what I had pointed out; but a new and utterly incoherent political economy has taken its place in the schools.

    "Among the adherents of the scholastic economy, who had been claiming it as a science, there had been from the time of Smith no attempt to determine what wealth was; no attempt to say what constituted property, and no attempt to make the laws of production or distribution correlate and agree, until there thus burst on them from a fresh man, without either the education or the sanction of the schools, on the remotest verge of civilisation, a reconstruction of the science, that began to make its way and command attention. What were their training and laborious study worth if it could be thus ignored, and if one who had never seen the inside of a college, except when he had attempted to teach professors the fundamentals of their science, whose education was of the mere common school branches, whose alma mater had been the forecastle and the printing office, should be admitted to prove the inconsistency of what they had been teaching as a science? It was not to be thought of. And so while a few of these professional economists, driven to say something about 'Progress and Poverty' resorted to misrepresentation, the majority preferred to rely upon their official positions in which they were secure by the interests of the dominant class, and to treat as beneath contempt a book circulating by thousands in the three great English-speaking countries and translated into all the important modern languages. Thus the professors of political economy seemingly rejected the simple teachings of 'Progress and Poverty,' refrained from meeting with disproof or argument what it had laid down, and treated it with contemptuous silence.

    "Had these teachers of the schools frankly admitted the changes called for by 'Progress and Poverty,' something of the structure on which they built might have been retained. But that was not in human nature. It would not have been merely to accept a new man without the training of the schools, but to admit that the true science was open to any one to pursue, and could be successfully continued only on the basis of equal rights and privileges. It would not merely have made useless so much of the knowledge that they had laboriously attained, and was their title to distinction and honour, but would have converted them and their science into opponents of the tremendous pecuniary interests that were vitally concerned in supporting the justification of the unjust arrangements which gave them power. The change in credence that this would have involved would have been the most revolutionary that had ever been made, involving a far-reaching change in all the adjustments of society such as had hardly before been thought of, and never before been accomplished at one stroke; for the abolition of chattel slavery was as nothing in its effect as compared with the far-reaching character of the abolition of private ownership of land. Thus the professors of political economy, having the sanction and support of the schools, preferred, and naturally preferred, to unite their differences, by giving what had before been insisted on as essential, and to teach what was an incomprehensible jargon to the ordinary man, under the assumption of teaching an occult science, which required a great study of what had been written by numerous learned professors all over the world and a knowledge of foreign languages. So the scholastic political economy, as it had been taught, utterly broke down, and, as taught in the schools, tended to protectionism and the German, and to the assumption that it was a recondite science on which no one not having the indorsement of the colleges was competent to speak, and on which only a man of great reading and learning could express an opinion....

    "Such inquiry as I have been able to make of the recently published works and writings of the authoritative professors of the science has convinced me that this change has been general among all the colleges, both of England and the United States. So general is this scholastic utterance that it may now be said that the science of political economy, as founded by Adam Smith and taught authoritatively in 1880, has now been utterly abandoned, its teachings being referred to as teachings of 'the classical school' of political economy, now obsolete."[2]

But to turn to external things. As early as June began the preliminary rumbling of fall politics. Various rumours were afloat that Henry George was to be asked to run as an independent candidate for the office of Mayor of the Greater New York which had just been formed by the absorption of Brooklyn and other adjoining municipalities, so that it now had become the second city in the world in respect to population. Though Mr. George discouraged the idea that he desired to run, and even told a number of his friends that the necessity of continuous work on the book and his physical condition would not permit him to run, yet only those closest about him understood his real condition and hundreds and thousands in the cause beyond were urgent for his candidacy. Mr. George's medical adviser, Dr. Kelly, hastened to warn him against the ordeal that such a campaign would certainly entail; and Dr. M.R. Leverson, a neighbour at Fort Hamilton, and a friend since the California days, set down some notes of a conversation with Mr. George touching the matter:


    "One afternoon, after talking over the mayoralty subject, we went for a walk on Shore Road, just in front of his house. Mr. George was convalescent merely, indications showing to the physician the still existant condition. Continuing the conversation commenced in the house, Mr. George said to me:
    "'Tell me: If I accept, what is the worst that can happen to me?'
    "I answered: 'Since you ask, you have a right to be told. It will most probably prove fatal.'
    "He said: 'You mean it may kill me?'
    "'Most probably, yes.'
    "'Dr. Kelly says the same thing, only more positively. But I have got to die. How can I die better than serving humanity? Besides, so dying will do more for the cause than anything I am likely to be able to do in the rest of my life.'"

To another medical friend, Dr. Walter Mendelson, brother-in-law to August Lewis, he wrote (September 30) in response to a letter of friendly warning: "I thank you very much for your friendly counsel. I shall take it, unless as I can see it duty calls. In that case I must obey. After all, how little we can see of the future. God keep you and yours."

And when some of the intimate friends came to Mrs. George to emphasize the danger and advise her to influence her husband to desist, she answered:


    "When I was a much younger woman I made up my mind to do all in my power to help my husband in his work, and now after many years I may say that I have never once crossed him in what he has seen clearly to be his duty. Should he decide to enter this campaign I shall do nothing to prevent him; but shall, on the contrary, do all I can to strengthen and encourage him. He must live his life in his own way and at whatever sacrifice his sense of duty requires; and I shall give him all I can – devotion."

Some of the friends, anxious for his safety and seeing that he was not to be frightened off by the condition of his health, endeavoured to divert him in another way. They appealed to his sense of fitness, saying that while he was pre-eminent as a political economist and as a teacher of the principles of democratic government, he was unfitted by temperament and training for the laborious routine and multifarious harassments of such a position, and that he had not the experience such as made most appropriate the candidature, on an independent Republican ticket, of Seth Low, who had twice been Mayor of Brooklyn, and who had since held with distinction the great administrative office of the presidency of Columbia University, one of the largest and wealthiest educational institutions in the country, if not in the world. Mr. George's reply was that there might be many men fitted to make better executives than he; but that sharing Thomas Jefferson's view, that democratic government called upon the people not to select men best qualified to fill public office so much as to select men best qualified to represent popular sentiment, if he ran for the mayoralty, it would not be because he thought he could make a better executive than any other man, but that he would represent certain principles that those who put him forward would wish to see promoted.

As time advanced it looked as though the Democratic ring that ruled New York proposed to carry the election with a high hand, putting up for its mayoralty candidate Judge Robert Van Wyck, who was regarded as a mere "machine" man, who would readily lend himself to the kind of rotten politics that for generations had made the name of New York Democracy a reproach to all the country. The call for George as an independent candidate therefore became stronger than ever. The radical element in the Democratic party, moreover, appeared to be ready to rally for a new fight against the plutocratic powers – the Jeffersonian forces once more lining up before the Hamiltonian forces.

Following his custom, Mr. George called a meeting of his more intimate friends early in October for consultation. The meeting took place in the New York office of the Johnson Company. About thirty persons were present. It was a mixed company and much advice for and against the fight was given, to all of which Mr. George listened and said little, except to cut short every reference to his health and strength, saying that the sole question to consider was the one of duty; and to reply to allusions relative to work on the book by saying that the essentials were completed, the remainder indicating, should anything befall him, the direction of his thought.

As a result of this conference, Mr. George decided to make the fight, and the moment he came to that decision there was a remarkable change in his condition. A new vigour came to him. He had but one other person to consult with – his wife – and as he started for Fort Hamilton to talk with her, a new vivacity shone in his face, a spring was in his step, and he softly whistled to himself in the old, hopeful, boyish way; all unconscious as he passed down the steps from the Johnson Company office and out into the street that he almost brushed against Richard Croker, the political boss of New York, whose misrule he should denounce almost with his dying breath.

When he reached home, Mr. George told his wife of the conference with the friends and then said:


    "Annie: Remember what you declared Michael Davitt should do at the time of the Phœnix Park murders in 1882 – go to Dublin and be with his people, even though it should cost him his life. I told you then that I might some day ask you to remember those words. I ask you now. Will you fail to tell me to go into this campaign? The people want me; they say they have no one else upon whom they can unite. It is more than a question of good government. If I enter the field it will be a question of natural rights, even though as mayor I might not directly be able to do a great deal for natural rights. New York will become the theatre of the world and my success will plunge our cause into world politics."

Mrs. George answered: "You should do your duty at whatever cost." And so it was decided that he should run.

Mr. George's prediction as to the change his candidacy would make in the character of the campaign was verified at once. From the Tammany-Democracy point of view the issue was merely a "spoils-of-office" one, with a man for a figurehead who had for some years sat upon a judicial bench, but who outside of strictly local legal circles was scarcely known. The Republican party had set up a man of much wider name, General Benjamin F. Tracy, who stood high at the bar of the country and had held a portfolio in President Harrison's cabinet; but who scarcely less than the Tammany candidate stood for "spoils." Each was put forward by a "machine" and each was dominated by a "boss." Neither stood for any principle that from the outside country could claim other attention than distrust and regret. The candidacy of President Seth Low of Columbia College as an independent Republican in protest against corrupt politics awakened widespread interest – an interest which the entrance of Henry George at the head of a regenerated Democracy broadened and deepened.

But Henry George's appearance brought to the canvass more than a strengthening of the fight against "machine rule" and for "pure politics." Besides a political contest, it became a social struggle; for while, even if clothed with the mayoralty powers, there was no possibility of his doing much at once and directly to improve economic conditions, his victory would mean that social questions had found a strong lodgment in the body politic and must soon turn the larger, potent politics to its ends. Eleven years had passed over since he had stood for the mayoralty of the smaller New York – eleven years full of work with tongue and pen to spread broadcast through the world the hope of and faith in a natural order that would root out from the earth want and suffering, sin and crime. Those who had heard him speak had multiplied to scores upon scores of thousands and those who had read his written message had swelled to millions. Those who had abandoned old beliefs or awakened from dull despair and claimed his optimistic faith and called him leader were among all nations and spoke all tongues. Justice, Liberty, Equality were the watchwords; where his banner waved, there for them was the thick of the battle to make life for mankind better and brighter. For that reason men travelled from distant parts of the country to participate in this mayoralty campaign; and when news of the conflict was brought, fervent words of God-speed went out from responsive hearts across the wide seas in England and Scotland and Ireland, in Germany, in Italy, in far-away South Africa and the farther still antipodes; in the centres of knowledge and on the frontiers of civilisation; even in those remote and isolated parts of the world where communication is slow and intelligence of the candidacy did not reach until after death had intervened, like starlight that for a time continues to shine on, though the orb that gave it has ceased to be.

The canvass opened amid intense anxieties for those nearest Mr. George. For when he arose in crowded Cooper Union on the evening of October 5 to accept the nominations of several political organisations, he was not as he had been eleven years before – flushed with strength and vigour – but with thin body and ashen face. He had almost fainted on his way to the hall. But his words had the old ring and courage:


    "I have not sought this nomination directly or indirectly. It has been repugnant to me. My line lay in a different path, and I hoped to tread it; but I hold with Thomas Jefferson that while a citizen who can afford to should not seek office, no man can ignore the will of those with whom he stands when they have asked him to come to the front and represent a principle.

    "The office for which you name me gives me no power to carry out in full my views, but I can represent the men who think with me – men who think that all men are created equal; and whether it be success or failure matters nothing to me. (A shout: 'But it's something to us!') Aye, something to all of us; something to our friends and relatives in far off lands; something for the future, something for the world. (Cheers.) To make the fight is honour, whether it be for success or failure. To do the deed is its own reward. You know what I think and what I stand for....

    "A little while ago it looked to me at least that the defeat that the trusts, the rings and money power, grasping the vote of the people, had inflicted on William Jennings Bryan (applause) was the defeat of everything for which the fathers had stood, of everything that makes this country so loved by us, so hopeful for the future. It looked to me as though Hamilton had triumphed at last, and that we were fast verging upon a virtual aristocracy and despotism. You ask me to raise the standard again (applause); to stand for that great cause; to stand as Jefferson stood in the civil revolution in 1800. I accept. (Applause. Three cheers for Henry George were called for and given with cries of 'And you will be elected, too!')

    "I believe I shall be elected. (Applause.) I believe, I have always believed, that last year many so-called Democrats fooled with the principles of the Chicago platform, but that there was a power, the power that Jefferson invoked in 1800, that would cast aside like chaff all that encumbered and held it down; that unto the common people, the honest democracy, the democracy that believes that all men are created equal, would come a power that would revivify, not merely this imperial city, not merely the State, not merely the country, but the world. (Vociferous applause.)

    "No greater honour can be given to any man than to stand for all that. No greater service can he render to his day and generation than to lay at its feet whatever he has. I would not refuse if I died for it. (Applause.)

    "What counts a few years? What can a man do better or nobler than something for his country, for his nation, for his age?

    "Gentlemen, fellow Democrats, I accept your nomination (applause) without wavering or turning, whether those who stand with me be few or many. From henceforward I am your candidate for the Mayoralty of Greater New York."

Thus Henry George bravely spoke, but his words at times were low and slow, and only the few who crowded about him at the end and were with him until he left the hall realised the great physical effort he had made. They said little, but affection held them close about him like a bodyguard to save him every step, every effort, possible.

Thus commenced the campaign to be closed on November 2, a little over three weeks off. They were three weeks of happiness for Henry George. The breath of battle had entered into his nostrils, and when occasion called, roused to something like former strength his lion's soul. He had seriously agreed at the outset that he would make only three, four or five speeches during the whole canvass; but soon he had swept this aside as an idle resolve, until, by his own will, he was speaking at three, four and five meetings every night, more, probably than the other three candidates put together.

The new party called itself "The Party of Thomas Jefferson," a name suggested by Mr. George, as opposed to the name of "Democratic Party," which Tammany had degraded. It had headquarters in the Union Square Hotel, beside the old "Standard" office. The party had none of the machinery of organisation that professional politicians believe essential, but it had the intense, almost religious, enthusiasm that makes up for organisation. Tom L. Johnson, August Lewis and John R. Waters made liberal contributions towards what there was of a fund for legitimate campaign expenses, and small sums were collected at some of the meetings and came from other minor sources. Against the wishes of his friends who thought he should keep it all for his personal maintenance, Mr. George turned over some of the money from the Burroughs bequest towards this purpose. But all told the fund was ridiculously small in comparison with the other party funds. It sufficed, however, as there were no campaign trappings and with but few exceptions, the host of speakers paid their own expenses.

Willis J. Abbott, prominent in New York and Chicago daily journalism and author of several popular histories, was chairman of the campaign committee. Tom L. Johnson, being a citizen of another State, could not properly be one of the committee. Nevertheless, he was too deeply interested to be inactive, and he was consulted in everything, letting his own private affairs take care of themselves. And August Lewis, who at the outset had not the remotest idea of taking a personal part in the fight, quickly got into the very thick of it and became treasurer of the committee. These were the two men to whom Henry George had dedicated his yet unfinished book, and love for the man and devotion to his cause and their cause held them close beside him in this crisis.

The committee was composed of men schooled in the art of politics, yet as one of them said to Arthur McEwen, one of the intimate friends: "How it is I don't know, but every move we have made in politics against George's advice we have been wrong, and every time we have followed his advice we have come out right. We all think we know more about the ins and cuts of the game than he does, but he has a sort of instinct that guides him straight."

The friends shielded him from work as much as they could. August Lewis lived in the neighbourhood. Every day he took Mr. George off there to lunch, gently compelling him afterward to take a little rest. And it was in intervals of relaxation that Mr. George on invitation sat for his portrait in four different photograph galleries.[3] There was not time for much correspondence, but one letter that Mr. George found opportunity to write reveals the man. Rev. E. Heber Newton, the boyhood friend, had written words of God-speed, but said that in the peculiar circumstances he must vote for Low. Mr. George answered (October 22):


    "DEAR HEBER: Thanks for your advice and counsel. We have been wiser than you at this time thought. But this makes no matter. Vote for Low or vote for me, as you may judge best. I shall in any event, be true. What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

Mr. George was confident of success, but showed only flashes of enthusiasm, which Mrs. George noticed and spoke of to him. "No," he answered; "little of the old-time enthusiasm. Perhaps it is that with success, such as has come to our cause, the mind advances to the contemplation of other things."

One night – a raw night, towards the end – after he had come in from speaking, he left the hotel again with Edward McHugh to look at one of the fruits of our one sided civilisation – a long line of decent-looking men standing before a Broadway bakery, silently waiting for a customary midnight dispensing of stale loaves of bread. Mr. George said little, but that little showed a full heart.

And then came the last night – Thursday, October 28 – five days before election. Five speeches had been planned, but the places were so far apart that the last had to be declared off, and as it was Mr. George did not get back to headquarters till near midnight.

Mrs. George, whom he now wanted near him at all times, had attended every meeting and was as usual with him this night, as also was his brother, John V. George. The first meeting was at Whitestone, Long Island, where he showed signs of weariness. But his sentences were clear, his words well chosen and his sentiments direct and strong.


    "What I stand for and what my labour has been, I think you know. I have laboured many years to make the great truths known, and they are written down in the books. What I stand for is the principle of true Democracy, the truth that comes from the spirit of the plain people and was given to us and is embodied in the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. The Democracy of Jefferson is simple and good, and sums up the majesty of human rights and the boundaries of government by the people....

    "Slowly but surely the Democracy of Jefferson has been strayed from, has been forgotten by the men who were, by its name, given office and power among the people. Error and wrong have been called by the name of the truth, and the harvest of wrong is upon this land. There are bosses and trusts and sumptuary laws. Labour-saving machinery has been turned like captured cannon, against the ranks of labour, until labour is pressed to earth under the burden!

    "And must no one rise up in the land of liberty when labour must humbly seek, as a boon, the right to labour?"

In Turner Hall, College Point, Mr. George next spoke. There was a large audience, mostly of working men, and he was introduced as "the great friend of labour and Democracy." His first utterance was one of dissent:


    "I have never claimed to be a special friend of labour. Let us have done with this call for special privileges for labour. Labour does not want special privileges. I have never advocated nor asked for special rights or special sympathy for working men!

    "What I stand for is the equal rights of all men!"

Long and loud cheers showed that the speaker's sentiments found instant echo in the hearts of his hearers. The third speech was in the Town Hall at Flushing. Dan Beard, the artist, was in the chair. He relates this incident:


    "I escorted Mr. George from the reception room to the stage and bowed to the audience, as the only way that the applause would permit me to introduce him. Mr. George took a few steps, faced the side of the stage, looked upward for a moment, and raising his right hand as if addressing some one overhead, said: 'Time and tide wait for no man.' His arm fell to his side, his head fell forward, the chin on the breast, and he stood as if lost in thought. Presently he roused, turned to the audience and said: 'I have only time to come, take a look at you and go away.'"

In this speech Mr. George said:


    "Let me say a word about Mr. Low. On election day as between Mr. Low and myself, if you are yet undecided, you must vote for whom you please. I shall not attempt to dictate to you. I do entertain the hope, however, that you will rebuke the one-man power by not voting for the candidate of the bosses. I am not with Low. He is a "Republican and is fighting the machine, which is all very good as far as it goes. But he is an aristocratic reformer; I am a democratic reformer. He would help the people; I would help the people to help themselves."

Many surged after Mr. George as he left the hall with his wife and his brother. Nearest of all to them was a poor, but neat, old woman, pale with emotion or ill health, who in low tones said and many times repeated: "God bless you! God bless you, Henry George! You are a good man." Presently Mr. George noticed the voice, and turning, said reverently: "And may God bless you, too; you must be a good woman to ask God to bless me." In a moment more there was a movement towards the carriage and the woman was lost in the throng.

On the way to the last meeting in the Central Opera House, New York proper, the candidate showed great weariness and climbed the stairs with evident labour. It was close to eleven o'clock when he arose to speak and a large part of the audience that had left the hall and got into the street to go home crowded back again. But while in the former speeches that evening, especially in the one at Flushing, he spoke with clearness and continuity, this last speech was disconnected and rambling. The contrast was marked to Mrs. George and the brother. But Mr. George spoke only briefly and then the party took carriage for the Union Square Hotel, where Mr. and Mrs. George were to sleep.

It was nearly midnight when the Georges and such of the friends who still lingered about the headquarters – ten in all – went to the hotel dining-room for a little supper. Mr. George had for several weeks been eating sparingly, breakfast being the largest meal. At half past five that evening, before starting on his speaking engagements, he had taken a little soup and toast, and some weak tea. At the midnight supper he had a few small oysters and a glass of milk. Some of the friends spoke of the pallor and extreme fatigue showing in Mr. George's face. Nevertheless, after the light supper he seemed to take comfort from a cigar. Before retiring he complained to his wife of a slight feeling of indigestion, and she waked in the early morning hours to find that he had arisen from his bed. She called and he answered that he was well, but he did not return to bed. After a time she arose and found him in an adjoining room of their suite. He was standing, one hand on a chair, as if to support himself. His face was white; his body rigid like a statue; his shoulders thrown back, his head up, his eyes wide open and penetrating, as if they saw something; and one word came – "Yes" – many times repeated, at first with a quiet emphasis, then with the vigour of his heart's force, sinking to softness as Mrs. George gently drew him back to his couch. He moved mechanically and awkwardly, as though his mind was intently engaged, and little conscious of things about him.

The elder son, the only other member of the family in the hotel, was called, and then Dr. Kelly and Mr. Lewis and Mr. Johnson, who lived close at hand. Mr. George was entirely unconscious when Dr. Kelly arrived. A stroke of apoplexy had fallen. The great heart had worn out the physical body, and a thread in the brain had snapped. The physician's sympathy went out to the wife, and then in utter helplessness he cast himself face downward upon the floor. For at that moment Henry George's spirit was answering the call of the All-Father.

With tears and fierce resolution his party companions vowed to push on with the contest. They put forward the dead man's oldest son and namesake to carry the campaign banner; but the son drew only the votes that his unknown and untried personality could command.

Beyond party lines, Henry George's fellow-men gave him the acknowledgment he had said would come when he was dead. He had made his fight the theatre of the world, and messages poured in not merely from neighbouring cities and all parts of the nation, but from Great Britain, France, Germany and Denmark, from Africa, Australia, Japan and China to lay garlands of tribute on his bier. To the watching world he had fought the greatest of battles and won the supremest of victories: he had risked and met death to proclaim justice. "To-day," they said, "the earth loses an honest man." The press far and wide rang with encomiums. "He was a tribune of the people," said a city paper not of his camp – "poor for their sake when he might have been rich by mere compromising; without official position for their sake when he might have had high offices by merely yielding a part of his convictions to expediency. All his life long he spoke, and wrote, and thought, and prayed, and dreamed of one thing only – the cause of the plain people against corruption and despotism. And he died with his armour on, with his sword flashing, in the front of the battle, scaling the breastworks of intrenched corruption and despotism. He died as he lived. He died a hero's death. He died as he would have wished to die – on the battlefield, spending his last strength in a blow at the enemies of the people. Fearless, honest, unsullied, uncompromising Henry George!" Said a paper of another faction: "Stricken down in the moment of supremest confidence, Henry George, the idol of his people, is dead. He was more than a candidate for office, more than a politician, more than a statesman. He was a thinker whose work belongs to the world's literature. His death has carried mourning into every civilised country on the globe. As a thinker, a philosopher, a writer, he was great; but he was greatest as an apostle of the truth as he saw it – an evangelist, carrying the doctrines of justice and brotherhood to the remotest corners of the earth."

While the press of the world hailed this man's name, the pulpit, trade union meetings, gatherings of the unlettered, councils of the learned, in many nations and many tongues, sounded praises of his purity of heart and the greatness of his purpose; while in his own city came the unknown and forlorn and wretched to gaze wistfully into the casket and burst into tears at this last glimpse of him whom they instinctively felt to be their champion.

All day Sunday the body lay in state in the Grand Central Palace, with the bronze bust executed by the son Richard looking down upon the bier. From early morning old and young, poor and rich, passed to take a silent farewell. "Never for statesman or soldier," said one of the press, "was there so remarkable a demonstration of popular feeling. At least one hundred thousand persons passed before his bier and another hundred thousand were prevented from doing so only by the impossibility of getting near it. Unconsciously they vindicated over his dead body the truth of the great idea to which his life was devoted, the brotherhood of man."

And in the afternoon, with doors closed and the great hall thronged to the last possible inmate, occurred the simple but majestic public services, as catholic as his own broad religion. Voices from Plymouth's Congregational choir sang the solemn hymns; Dr. Heber Newton read from the beautiful ritual that as boys he and the dead man had listened to each Sunday in old St. Paul's in Philadelphia; Dr. Lyman Abbott recounted the peerless courage, Rabbi Gottheil the ancient wisdom, Dr. McGlynn the pulsing sympathy and John S. Crosby the civic virtue of the great heart lying silent in their centre, till strong feeling rent the funeral hush and cheers burst from smothering bosoms.

As night descended the long funeral procession moved. In advance a volunteer band alternated the requiem throb of Chopin's "Funeral March" with the Marseillaise' exultant "March on to Victory!" Then followed the mortal remains, mounted high upon a draped and garlanded funeral car, drawn by a double line of led horses. Behind came the vast, winding column of those, riding and walking, rich and poor, high and low, distinguished and unknown, who wished to pay homage to the dead man's worth and high-born principles – moving along without pomp or demonstration, save only the fluttering of occasional trade union banners. Chief in the multitude were such as had personally known and talked with Henry George, who had accepted his teachings and were counted among the faithful. Now in the closing drama they followed their friend and leader, so eloquent in death that all the world seemed to reverence – gathering each present shifting scene, each past look and word, to leave as a priceless heritage to their furthermost posterity.

Night deepened and the great city's lights shone out as the funeral concourse moved on through the people-lined avenues, heads uncovering and eyes glistening as the funeral car rolled by. There was a halt for a silent moment before the hushed and darkened City Hall, where perhaps had he lived Henry George may have sat as chief magistrate; thence the procession crossed the bridge to the Brooklyn City Hall, where the cortege was disbanded and the casket given to the relatives. "The world yesterday paid the highest tribute, perhaps, it has ever paid to the quality of sincerity," were the words of an opposing party paper.

Next morning – Monday, November 1, 1897 – with the light streaming in on the home at Fort Hamilton, two Episcopal divines – George Latimer, the cousin, and John W. Kramer, the friend – read the service of their Church, after which Dr. McGlynn testified to their dear one's inspiring faith in immortality. Then the relatives and intimates bore the body to Greenwood and lowered it at the chosen spot on the hill-crest, beside the beloved daughter. All was enveloped in the soft grey light of an autumn day, and beyond to the south lay the shimmering Atlantic.

On the stone that his fellow-citizens soon raised there are fixed in metal letters these words from Henry George's first great book – words to which, after long years of labour, he bore final testimony with his life:


    "The truth that I have tried to make clear will not find easy acceptance. If that could be, it would have been accepted long ago. If that could be, it would never have been obscured. But it will find friends – those who will toil for it; suffer for it; if need be, die for it. This is the power of Truth."


[1] The divisions settled upon were: "Book I – The Meaning of Political Economy"; "Book II – The Nature of Wealth"; "Book III – The Production of Wealth"; " Book IV – The Distribution of Wealth"; "Book V – Money: The Medium of Exchange and the Measure of Value." The last three books were largely written in the summer of 1897, but were not completed at the time of Mr. George's death; and when the work was published as it had been left by his hand, mauy critics spoke of the evidences of declining powers in the last three divisions and especially in the broken and even rough places in the part on money. The truth is that "The Science of Political Economy" as posthumously published is the best example that can be found of Henry George's method of work; for the last three divisions or "books" present much of his earlier drafting of the general work. The money division was written in 1894 and 1895, as dates on the rough-draft manuscript and in note-books indicate. The really last work he did was in smoothing and polishing the first two divisious, which Dr. Taylor assured him were equal in force, clearness and finish to his earlier high-water performance of "Progress and Poverty"; and in this opinion his own judgment concurred.
[2] "The Science of Political Economy," pp.203-208. It may also be said that Mr. George during the last months of his life had occasion to reset "Progress and Poverty" for new electrotype plates. Notwithstanding the very large controversial literature to which it had given birth, he had found no reason to change the book in any essential, though he did make some alterations respecting syntax and punctuation, cleared the phraseology of the plane illustration in the chapter on interest and the cause of interest, and made a distinction between patents and copyrights, condemning the former and justifying the latter – something he had not formerly done. With these minor exceptions, the book was reset identically as it had been set in San Francisco in 1879, notwithstanding the, battery of criticism of eighteen years.
[3] Schaidner's, Prince's, See & Eppler's, and Rockwood's.