The Federation Press

Nature’s Gifts

The Australian Lectures of Henry George on the Ownership of Land and Other Natural Resources


In 1890, the famous American economist and social reformer, Henry George, arrived in Australia to begin a controversial 98-day public lecture tour. Following the international publicity generated by his book Progress and Poverty, with its challenges to conventional economics, he had made several lecture tours in Britain, attracting immense audiences. In Australia he visited 34 cities and towns and continued to promulgate vigorously and eloquently his radical program for the ownership, management and taxation of natural resources such as land, coal, and minerals.

Nature’s Gifts provides, for the first time, a detailed account of this important and progressive lecture series. Equal rights to land; land taxation; land prices; land rents; land nationalisation; and free trade and protection remain issues which are highly relevant today.

Engaging and insightful, this is a timely and critical study of the reforms proposed by Henry George and the possibility of establishing an efficient and equitable system for the ownership of natural resources.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Overview of the Lecture Tour and Biographical Background

Summary of the Itinerary

PART 1 - Henry George’s Lecture Tour in Australia

1.  New South Wales: 6 March – 24 March
2.  Victoria: 25 March – 8 April
3.  New South Wales: 9 April – 16 April
4.  South Australia: 17 April – 3 May
5.  New South Wales: 4 May – 7 May
6.  Queensland: 8 May – 25 May
7.  Farewells: From Brisbane to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide: 26 May – 11 June

PART 2 - Australia and Henry George, 1890 and Now

Nature’s Gifts
Unearned increments: The caused-by-society argument and the caused-by-nature argument
The Single Tax
Free trade, land rights and the Single Tax
International implications
The right of private property: Two principles or one?
Private property or private possession
The ethics of income tax: Natural resources and human resources
Land nationalisation or land-value taxation
Trade unions
Town planning
Spending the revenue: Collectively or distributively
Spending the revenue: Local versus central government
Political feasibility of land-value taxation
Compensation or confiscation
Realised and unrealised increments: The ability-to-pay problem
Equal rights to the value of land and other natural resources
The dispossessed and the disinherited

Appendix A: Newspapers Consulted
Appendix B: Biographical Notes
Appendix C: Single Tax Conference at Sydney, March 1890

Index of Names
Index of Subjects

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