Alfred Russel Wallace's Campaign to Nationalize Land

How Darwin's Peer Learned from John Stuart Mill and Became Henry George's Ally


  • Mason Gaffney

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      [Mason Gaffney is a Professor of Economics at the University of California, Riverside.] His interests include urban economics, land and resource economics, public finance, and the history of economic thought. Recently, he published with coauthor Fred Harrison, The Corruption of Economics (London: Shepheard-Walwyn Ltd., 1994), and “Land as a Distinctive Factor of Production” in N. Tideman, ed., Land and Taxation (London: Shepheard-Walwyn Ltd., 1994).


Abstract. Alfred Russel Wallace rose to fame with Charles Darwin: They independently found the principle of natural selection. Wallace later focused on reforming Great Britain's land tenure system, under which a few owners had come to control most of the land, while most citizens had little or none of their own. In Land Nationalization (1882) Wallace proposed for the state to acquire all land, with limited compensation. The state would then lease it by auction, but to actual users only. Wallace saw his kinship with Henry George, and opened doors to help George tour Britain as a speaker. For years their ideas were linked by friend and foe, and together had great impact on British politics.