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Jeff Smith: The Progress Report: America's Most Famous Forgotten Man

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Henry George
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While the issues of 1886 were similar to today's -- jobs, wages, benefits, working conditions -- the voters were different. A successful writer, as was Henry George, could become a working class hero. The factory worker of the last century, often less than a generation removed from the farm, understood the connection between available land and available jobs.

Henry George did not initiate his 1886 campaign for mayor of New York but was drafted by the unions. Even then he tried to avoid the pressures of a campaign by challenging the unions to collect 30,000 signatures in the few weeks before the filing deadline. The challenge seemed insurmountable; George felt safe. However, for his birthday, September 2, the workingmen broke all records in rising to the occasion. Henry George was their man.

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