Brother Justin and Henry George
Edward P. Troy
[Reprinted from Land and Freedom, March-April
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