Academic journal article International Advances in Economic Research

Henry George: An Overlooked Free Trader

Academic journal article International Advances in Economic Research

Henry George: An Overlooked Free Trader

Article excerpt

JEL B31 * F10

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In 1886 Henry George, who is best known for his single tax theory in the history of economic thought, published a work in London entitled Protection or Free Trade: An Examination of the Tariff Question. George's primary goal in this volume was to condemn the high tariffs imposed on imports coming into the United States during the Civil War period and still in effect during the 1880s. George did so by presenting an amazingly contemporary discussion of comparative advantage supplemented with an explanation of the economic costs incurred by a society when allowing governments to restrict cross-border trade, all of which can be found virtually verbatim in today's International Trade textbooks. George, thus, offered a well developed counter argument against the mounting protectionist movement building in Congress which culminated, much to his chagrin, with the McKinley Law of 1890 which pushed the average tariff rate up to an all time historical high of 48.4 percent.

Ironically, a review of the principle works in the areas of history of thought and trade in the mainstream literature reveals no mention of his presentation of modern trade theory. …

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