The Henry George Foundation of America

James R. Brown

[A letter wrtten by James R. Brown, President of the Manhattan Single Tax Club, to Percy R. Williams in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 28 July, 1926, on establishment of the Henry George Foundation of America]

My dear Williams:

Yours to hand under date of July 17th and contents noted.

Please allow me to comment on statements contained in some paragraphs.

I think it is very "bad taste to use the name of Henry George as you have. You are now trying to form which you hope will be a foundation, but you really have no foundation. When Robert Schalkenbach left his entire fortune to our cause some members of the committee wished to call it a Henry George foundation, but myself and some more strenuously objected as it was too presumptious. It is bad taste to make use of a dead man's name as you cannot get his consent, and we should not deprive other Single Taxers from the use of that name, so the best play is not to use it at all and it will also save the name of Henry George from being dragged in the mud in case some organisation with his name should come a croper or should get an unsavery name through the action of some wild members. It is kind of a cheap thing to do as it looks as though it were to be used as a catch penny name.

You say that you have nominated me as a member. I will not serve as a member of your foundation, all my time and energy is taken up with the work that I have been engaged in for the past twelve years and it would be obviously silly of me to scatter any influence I may have, and thereby add to the difficulties in maintaining this work. It also seems to me that you are duplicating machinery that already exists with which you could, have co-operated, but you have shown no desire to do so in the past, although this organization has been very generous in the state of Pennsylvania with both literature and lectures, but we haven't received encouragement in this work from you.

I will not be with you in September.

I notice you say the foundation has the support of former officers of the late National Single Tax League. Well, that does not recomnend it to me a bit as those people made a holy mess of the Fels Fund and other Single Tax work.

I see you have on your list Frank Stephens. In my judgement, Frank Stephens has been the greatest liability carried by the Single Tax movement. The holy show he made of himself during the war, his insistence that free love is a natural part of Single Tax philosophy, has given the Single Tax a very black eye wherever he is known. His overwhelming vanity impels him whenever he has a chance to make a Single Tax speech to drag in some of his crazy notions. Unfortunately, this same man is a member of the Schalkenback committee and he is known there as a minus quantity, although he wastes a good deal of our time with his idiotic discussions.