Academic journal article The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

16 Ingalls, Hanson, and Tucker: Nineteenth-Century American Anarchists

Academic journal article The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

16 Ingalls, Hanson, and Tucker: Nineteenth-Century American Anarchists

Article excerpt

This chapter essays an analysis of the attacks made upon the thought of Henry George by three individualist American anarchists--Joshua K. Ingalls, William Hanson, and Benjamin R. Tucker.

To one historian of the movement, American anarchism had a "double tradition." The native tradition, running from the beginning of the nineteenth century, was "strongly individualistic" and suspicious of the state. The immigrant tradition, begun in the 1870s, "was first collectivist and afterward anarchist communist." (1) These three critics of George were part of the native tradition.

The individualist anarchism of Joshua K. Ingalls reflected his two tenets: free individuals and free land. Born in Massachusetts in 1816, he was a Quaker, a social reformer, a minister (for a short time), and a strong champion of "land limitation." All his life he attacked land monopoly and urged the repeal of laws that protected land titles not based on personal occupancy. In 1850 he helped organize a utopian colony in West Virginia (The Valley Farm Association), which shortly thereafter failed. In 1878 he began to denounce "capitalism," identifying it with land monopoly. He lost faith in organized labor, continued to assail the state, criticized the growth of moneyed corporations, castigated the entrenched land monopoly, and finally endorsed the doctrine of individualist anarchism. He opposed what he termed the Henry George advocacy of state landlordism, as well as George's "failure" to recognize capital as the enemy of labor. Ingalls's book Social Wealth (2) became a noted anarchist classic. His antipoverty remedy was the "occupancy and use" formula of land distribution. (More about that later.) Ingalls ignored the money question, and disagreed with Tucker, who stressed it. Ingalls regarded the monetary approach as superficial. He preferred to deal with "causes" and "remedies" of social ills. He did not believe in revolutions or legislation, and urged, characteristically, reform through education. Toward the end of his life, which coincided with the end of the nineteenth century, he became extremely pessimistic. (3)

Very little is recorded of William Hanson. He was a contributor to Tucker's Liberty, and was highly regarded as an individualistic anarchist in the nineteenth century. His adverse analysis of Henry George is found in a well-written book, The Fallacies in "Progress and Poverty." (4) Like Ingalls, Hanson believed in the "occupancy and use" formula. He took George to task for defending capital and interest, for proposing state landlordism, and for the comments about "unearned increment." Hanson believed in natural law, and his book is deeply religious and sincere. (5)

The most famous of the three anarchists presented in this chapter was Benjamin R. Tucker. Born in Massachusetts in 1854, of Quaker background, he was, at various times, a Unitarian, "an atheist, a materialist, an evolutionist, a prohibitionist, a free trader, a champion of the legal eight-hour day, a woman suffragist, an enemy of marriage, and a believer in sexual freedom." (6) He finally became an individualist anarchist. He was, for a time, the "boy lover" of the notorious Victoria Woodhull, herself a professed rebel. (7)

After traveling extensively in Europe, Tucker settled down, first in Boston and then in New York. He became a journalist, and finally established his reputation with the magazine Liberty, which he founded. Most of his writings from that publication were gathered in a volume entitled Instead of a Book. (8) A later variation of Instead of a Book, with some additional writings of Tucker, was titled Individual Liberty. (9)

Accepting some of the dogmas of the socialists, Tucker nevertheless adhered firmly, or so he claimed, to the basic principles of philosophical anarchism. He devoted his entire productive life to exposing and attacking what he considered the four prime monopolies: money, land, tariff, and patent. …

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