The Anti-Poverty Society

Henry George

[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.