The Anti-Poverty Society
[The introductory statement by Henry George at the
opening meeting of the Anti-Poverty Society, 2 May 1887]
Believing that the time has come for an active warfare against the
conditions that, in spite of the advance in the powers of production,
condemn so many to degrading poverty, and foster vice, crime, and
greed, the undersigned associate themselves together in an
organization to be known as the Anti-Poverty Society. The object of
the society is to spread, "by such peaceable and lawful means as
may be found most desirable and efficient, a knowledge of the truth
that God has made ample provision for the needs of all men during
their residence upon earth, and that poverty is the result of human
laws that allow individuals to claim as private property that which
the Creator has Provided for the use of all.
In starting this society to combat the social crime of poverty we do
not propose to found a church. There are churches enough already in
this community. And if churches could abolish poverty and all the sin
and crime that flow from it, there would be no poverty or crime here,
Yet this society is a religious society in one sense, rather out of
the ordinary. In it there will be no question of faith or creed. There
will be room in it for all faiths and creeds.
We don't intend to pray to God, or to praise God, but we do intend to
do God's work. We band ourselves together to do the work of God, to
rouse in men and women the essentially religious sentiment in men and
women which looks to the helping of suffering. We want to do what
churches and creeds cannot do -- abolish poverty altogether, to secure
to each son of God as he comes into the world a full share of God's
natural bounties, an equal right in all the advantages and fruits of
civilization and progress, a fair chance to develop all his powers.
The poverty that festers in the heart of a great, rich city like
this, comes not from the niggardliness of the Creator, but from the
injustice of man, and it would be a sin in us and a shame if we did
not try to strike at it in the very roots.