Brother Justin and Henry George

Edward P. Troy

[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, March-April 1928]

Taxers are interested in every phase of Henry George's career that will shed light upon his life during the period when he was working out his great philosophy. St. Mary's College was founded in San Francisco about 1867, by the late Archbishop Alemany, then Catholic Archbishop of California, and the Christian Brothers of De La Salle were placed in charge of that educational work. During the seventies Brother Justin was the President of the College. He was a man of great ability, a fine orator, and devoted to the cause of humanity as well as the education of his boys.

Brother Justin and Henry George were warm friends, and George took every opportunity of consulting his friend about his great book when it was in the making. Frequently he visited the College, which was then some five miles from the center of the city, and read the manuscript of Progress and Poverty to Brother Justin, who was most helpful in his criticism of it.

I have a friend who was a protege of Archbishop Alemany, who sent him to St. Mary's, where he became the prize pupil. Because if these circumstances, my friend was frequently in the company of Brother Justin, and he tells me now that when he was a boy, he often heard Henry George read the pages of his manuscript, as they "were written from time to time, to Brother Justin. He remembers one particular occasion when Brother Justin, listening to George read the latest pages of the manuscript interrupted him, saying: "Cut that out, Harry. It will alienate the " George was helped very much to a correct view of the religious aspect of his philosophy through his association with Brother Justin.

Another interesting feature of this association was that when my friend was taking his examinations at the end of the college year Brother Justin requested Henry George to come out to the college and examine him in logic. My friend tells me that George was a thorough, logician, and gave him a complete and practical examination.

This friendship between Henry George and Brother Justin existed for many years before Progress and Poverty was written. Those who are interested may find in the copies of the Evening Post during 1872 or later, when Henry George was its editor, whole pages devoted to printing the St. Patrick's Day Oration of Brother Justin and it is well worth reading today. The files of the Post are in the San Francisco Public Library, and also among the Henry George Collection given to the New York Public Library by Mrs. DeMille.

Brother Justin left San Francisco for New York about the same time that Henry George left here. Brother Justin there became President of Manhattan College, conducted by the Christian Brothers. No doubt he and Henry George continued their close and intimate friendship. Perhaps some of the Single Taxers of the early eighties may have known him?