The Progressive Era

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How did Henry George and Edward Bellamy influence progressivism's rise?

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Both George and Bellamy were writers, Bellamy as a newspaper reporter although his influence came mostly through his novels.  Looking Backward, published in 1888 and set in Boston, sold over a million copies, and concerned a man who somehow fell asleep and awakes in the year 200, in a socialist utopia.  This society, in contrast to the contemporaneous one, had nationalised industry, equal distribution of wealth and no classes.  Bellamy also founded the Nationalist Clubs, and was editor of the Nationalist (beginning 1889) and the New Nation (1891-1894).

Henry George was self taught in economic theories through his reading.  While working as a journeyman printer in San Fransisco he witnessed the town's rise from a rough camp-town to a city with fine buildings, tramways and buses.  He did notice, however, that the more progress the city made and the richer some of the people became, the more poverty there was, that the advent of actual poverty and degradation in the city came only when affluence and liesure became common among an "upper" class.  This led him to his studies, and the 1879 publication of Progress and Poverty.  His ideas included the concept that one who works should have access to that which he makes or builds, what the community makes belongs to the community for use by the community, and ownership of the world belongs to all.  These ideas became much of the basis of the Progressive Movement, a decentralized movement believing that economic elites and the rich always have more influence than the poor, the average taxpayers and citizens and that this inequity should be redressed.


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