From the archives of The Memory Hole

Individualist Anarchism: Re-Radicalization in Post-War America

The following is a chapter from James J. Martin's seminal work, Men Against the State, covering some of the consequences of the American ‘war between the states’ in the 19th century and their effects on individualist anarchist thinking—at least among its more prominent proponents. “War is the health of the state,” as Randolph Bourne later observed, and indeed this fact was rather salient in the post-Civil War period as the effects of wartime measures transformed into permanent features of the socio-politico-economic landscape. This led to the emergence of a new breed of American individualist anarchists inspired by their practical-minded forebears, but opposed to the state on a more fundamental philosophical level. Their literature is the legacy of American individualist anarchism in its incipient stages.


Heralds of the Transition to Philosophical Egoism I

[Josiah] Warren's declining years found a revival of interest in his economic and social ideas. A new group of agents in the propaganda of native anarchism was now upon the scene. The emphasis had by this time broadened to include the exponents of other elements of libertarian reform, and the stress was now to manifest itself as a more intellectual rather than purely practical development. There still remained a strong inclination toward expression in the tradition of the second quarter of the century, but the dislocations in all aspects of life produced by the Civil War extended to the radical front as well as to the structure of the conventional domestic economy. The war enormously accentuated centralization of manufacturing, commerce and finance. It hastened the disposal of the national domain. It increased the scope of governmental functions in a variety of ways, which opponents of the state sensed rather than felt. All these incidents contributed toward the creation of the social and economic circumstances which were to become the new battle ground of American opposition to the state.

The literature of anarchism now incorporated the efforts of not only Warrenite disciples such as Stephen Pearl Andrews and Ezra Heywood but also more distant and independent associates, William B. Greene, J. K. Ingalls and Lysander Spooner, whose anti-statist sentiments took divergent paths but retained the same spirit. The dozens of books and pamphlets published by this small group of men constitute one of the lost branches of American literature and form the basis for a unique incident in the social history of nineteenth century United States.

The consummation of the abolitionist movement released into other areas of reform a group of earnest men seeking another cause, unconvinced that the destruction of chattel slavery had brought about the millennium. The new group of anarchists had all participated in the fight against negro servitude, in varying degrees, having been allied to the Garrisonian school. The purely negative doctrines of no-government which had permeated the non-political wing of the anti-slavery movement undoubtedly influenced all these men. Nevertheless, pre-Civil War America had been the scene of tremendous economic unrest, the bloom of Fourierite socialism being but one of the forms in which it had expressed itself. Thus the acquaintance with economic issues tempered the moralism of abolition in the case of the anti-state libertarians, who found



little satisfaction in pure negation and avoidance of embarrassing material questions now brought into relief and side-stepped by the abolitionists as a whole. They had long been aware of the distress of the "free" Northern worker in the pre-war era, and now sought the cause of his misery in the economic structure of society. Going back to elementary principles of political economy, Warren's successors indicted the state in a more elaborate manner, tracing the origins of practically all derangement within the material community to politically-created artificial advantages.

Although not allied in any formal sense, the exponents of the "free society" remained in accord on basic principles which Warren had attempted to demonstrate with varying degrees of success and satisfaction to himself. Their concern centered around an economic order in which the producer would obtain the full total of his production, the development of a system of exchange geared to the cost of production in labortime, and utilization of land and raw materials on the strict basis of occupation and actual employment. Convinced of the justice of such objectives, the anarchists proposed to prove that such an order was possible from natural conditions, and that the machinery of government succeeded in merely upsetting that which found its own level without special interference or legislation.

Having declared their position, their battle line was drawn up against the specific evils which they designated as the causes of disaffection within the economic community. In their ideal economy, which involved production for use, and free competition so as to find the lowest possible production cost, the existence of anything approximating monopoly and special privilege of all kinds constituted their primary target, and their ultimate attack upon the state grew out of location of the privilege-granting power in the group in control of the machinery of the state. Thus they designated as legislative favoritism the acts of granting exclusive rights to the ownership of land and raw materials, the legal sanction of a particular commodity as the only permissible tender, and the creation of more subtle forms of privilege concealed in tariffs, patents, and copyrights. With the erection of small bodies of special interests whose efforts in the future would thus be devoted toward preserving such perquisites, the anarchists tended to look with undisguised skepticism upon all efforts to repair the continual malfunctioning of the economic system by piecemeal legislation. The resulting temporary expedients might prove highly gratifying to politicians and to supporters of the business world masquerading as "reformers," they observed, but as far removed from basic principles as before the changes were put into operation.

Differences of opinion existed among the anarchists as to the relative importance of the evils which they saw as productive of most of the distemper of human society. For the most part they persisted in bringing their ideas before the literate public as individuals, although two

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vigorous attempts at gathering their efforts under unified auspices occurred during the 40 years immediately following the termination of the war. The first of these, Ezra Heywood's publishing activities, which used Princeton, Massachusetts as its headquarters, spread out over the 25 year period from 1869 until 1893. In many ways it furnished the stimulus to Benjamin Tucker, whose better known venture in the propagation of anarchism spanned over a quarter century, from 1881 to 1908. Both able writers in their own right, their productions cannot easily be separated from their functions as clearing houses for those of their intellectual associates.

1. Ezra Heywood, Pamphleteer

The return of Josiah Warren to Boston early in 1863 and his subsequent influence upon segments of the radicals of the city and its vicinity has been noted. It was in this same year that he was to meet the young Garrisonian abolitionist Ezra Heywood and turn the latter's efforts into the more obscure channel of radical economic thought. Heywood, a native of Westminster, Massachusetts, and the recipient of two academic degrees from Brown University,1 had become associated with William Lloyd Garrison in February, 1858,2 entering into the anti-slavery movement in Boston with considerable vigor. Having previously abandoned training for the ministry, he disassociated himself from the cause of negro freedom with the outbreak of hostilities in 1861, being also a nonresistant and an opponent of violence.3 The outbreak of bloodshed ended his support of the Northern cause, although he continued to deprecate slavery, and inconsistently, to rejoice in later years at its destruction by the means which he most deplored.

A man without a cause, his meeting with Warren and the reading of the latter's True Civilization brought about his conversion to the search for the cause of the general phenomenon of poverty. Destined to exceed the master in degree of extremity in his proposals and, on two occasions


in particular, to draw from him severe expressions of criticism, Heywood never was to renounce his devotion and respect for Josiah Warren. Twenty-five years after their first acquaintance Heywood was to pronounce Warren "the Thomas Paine of coming Socialism," and to assert his work "the most influential book issued since 1840 in the United States or Europe."4

Heywood was unwilling to remain with Warren, or to take any part in the last attempts at colonization which were being contemplated at Cliftondale. The rising wind of unrest had begun to sweep through the industrial workers of the land, heavily-industrialized Massachusetts being concerned no less than any other area. Into the confusion of ideas and suggestions for remedial action, Heywood was content to project the philosophy of Warren's decentralized free economy. Leaving Boston, he went to Worcester, where his influence among the radical intellectuals was soon evident. Meetings of like-minded thinkers resulted in the formation in August, 1867, of the Worcester Labor Reform League,5 the first of a large number of groups of the unconventionally-minded which Heywood was to front, and the forerunner of two larger and more important organizations of similar purpose.

The bright promise of unionization drew the support of this band for a time. William Sylvis' National Labor Union, the first noteworthy post Civil War labor organization, appeared to point the way during their first year. The Worcester group unofficially affiliated for a time, Heywood attending the second session as a delegate at the "New York Congress" of the N. L. U. in New York, September 21, 1868.6 Association with Warren's ideas had already weakened any faith he may have had as to the permanence of any gain effected through combination of laborers, however, and there is no evidence that his sympathy with the cause of working men found any expression at this time.7

Before members of the Worcester associates, later that same year, he began to sketch the philosophy which he had been gradually assimilating. In an address later published under the title The Labor Party,8 he expressed many of the convictions which were to be found in native anarchist literature for the next half century. Heywood still spoke the language of political action, although condemning governmental policies

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as responsible for much of the disjointed relations between capital and labor, heightening class consciousness, bitterness, and violence. The address is important more as a document in the literature of industrial protest than as a philosophical treatise. Thus he asserted:9

No one will deny that labor is entitled to its earnings, and that it is the duty, both of individuals and society, . . . to render unto all men and women according to their works. Let us also bear in mind that class rule, the centralizing of political or financial power in the hands of few, to the injury of many, is wrong, and that law . . . should cover with the shield of its protection the whole people, especially defenseless workers. It is the violation or these simple, self-evident truths which provokes the widespread, profound and ominous agitation called the labor movement.

Agitation for "labor reform," he pointed out, was evidence of deep and widespread discontent growing out of "violated rights and interests" and a situation in which the "producing classes" were being economically depressed. It was reasonable to assume, said Heywood, that a society in which those who created the wealth but failed to enjoy their proper share of it was 'wrong side up," and the labor reform movement was a move in the direction of setting it aright.

He scoffed at supporters of the status quo, who saw no evidence of the exercise of tyranny on the part of capital, and who brought up the matter of the free contract with reference to laborers. This argument was no longer valid. Capital controlled land, machinery, steam power, waterfalls, ships, railways, and above all, money and public opinion, and was in a position to wait out recalcitrancy at its leisure. The press quietly ignored the driving down of wages, he noticed:10

But if labor, obedient to a sterner necessity, demands more pay, the air swarms with "strike," "dictation," "force," "riot," "insurrection," and many other epithets of rebuke . . .

Nor did the adverse sentiment end here;11". . . nine sermons out of ten take the side of capital against labor." Heywood did not subscribe to the theory of inevitable class conflict. He traced the source of all the evils to legislation, primarily through the creation of special interests by monopoly grants and by exercise of the taxing power:12

Government is a northeast wind, drifting property into a few aristocratic heaps, at the expense of altogether too much democratic bare ground. Through cunning legislation, . . . privileged classes are allowed to steal largely according to law.


The presence of special interests, "the third house at Washington," with their influence upon congressional committees, indirect taxation, creation of tariffs, enormous land grant monopolies, and a money system in the hands of a small group of favored bankers, these were the primary sins which he charged to the ledger of the government.

Torn between distrust of political action13 and loyalty to the general plan of action approved by the National Labor Union, Heywood's review of proposed remedies resulted in a patchwork of anarchist economics and piecemeal expedients favored by union councils. He was in full sympathy with such issues as reduction in the hours of work, close cooperation between capital and labor in the production and distribution of wealth, direct taxation, low interest rates, and "honest money," all of which he conceded were worthy "animating principles" behind the formation of a political labor party.14

His declaration for free banking and a labor currency, a matter which he and the Worcester faction had considered independently, unaware of its other champions, indicated the direction in which their energies were to be henceforth expended:15

Gold has served the plundering instincts of the stock exchange too well; it is too efficient a weapon . . . to be longer tolerated as the money of a free and enlightened people.... Let us have an American currency--perhaps a day's labor will he the unit of reckoning . . . but the least we can demand is that money shall represent the visible results of labor; that at least two dollars in real estate shall be pledged by mortgage for every paper dollar issued.

Misgivings as to the efficacy of political action soon assumed the proportions of complete rejection in the following year. A meeting in Boston in January, 1869, of a larger group of New England intellectuals allied to Heywood in sentiment resulted in the beginning of the New England Labor Reform League. This was a group of radicals which swung away from conventional activities in behalf of labor, prompted by the deterioration of the National Labor Union and the death of Sylvis. Within a short time, the policies of the League became wholeheartedly anarchistic, resulting in its moving to the extreme left and remaining there for its 25 years of existence. One of the important factors resulting

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in this move was the incorporation within its ranks of the services of William B. Greene. Greene was a former clergyman and Union officer, for many years known for his radical writings on the subjects of government and finance, and a personal friend of the French anarchist P. J. Proudhon.

Spurred by the support of Greene, the native anarchist propaganda front swung into action in a determined fashion. Heywood moved to Princeton and established what became known as the Co-operative Publishing Company, the center of anti-statist publications for over a decade. He issued with the collaboration of Greene, the Declaration of Sentiments of the N. E. L. R. L. This brief document was written in an intense style, embracing the declarations of Greene and Warren, as well as his own, on anarchist political economy. As an indictment of the existing order of American society it has few equals in native radical literature of any shade. The partially-utopian tenor of the principal objective of the League, "abolition of class laws and false customs, whereby legitimate enterprise is defrauded by speculative monopoly, and the reconstruction of government on the basis of justice and reciprocity,”16 shielded a number of far more specific condemnations of industrial], financial and governmental practices and policies destructive to the degree of freedom insisted upon by anarchism. In an economic sense, little was ever said thereafter which succeeded in making a significant addition to this pronunciamento :17

Free contracts, free money, free markets, free transit, and free land--by discussion, petition, remonstrance, and the ballot, to establish these articles of faith as a common need, and a commonright, we avail ourselves of the advantages of associate effort . . .

summed up the program of the League, and in distinctive language Heywood established the theoretical basis upon which these convictions were founded. Land, including all mineral, animal and vegetable categories as they existed in nature were declared to be held in common;18 "property, as an original motive power, earns nothing," logically reducing the matter of price to labor cost, a stand in complete accord with Warren.19 The phenomenon of poverty, widespread and increasing among the "laboring classes," was no inseparable concomitant of civilized society, doomed to be thus by some inscrutable force, but grew out of "the claim


to own and sell what one has not earned."20 Thus developed the familiar system of doing business, which he condemned as "a species of piracy, wherein there is not only no intention to render equivalent for equivalent, but studied effort to get the largest possible amount of another's service or property, for the least possible return." He thus proscribed the business system as a "science of overreaching," which gradually served to absolve persons of any moral responsibility, fostered fraud, and promoted thereby the belief that honesty was an impossibility. The logical outcome was thought to be the embedding of the notion that poverty, crime, and war were perennial "necessary evils."

What were the devices by which a portion of society made a living without working? Heywood saw them as the well-entrenched and legally sanctioned features of economics,--rent, profit and interest, when they represented neither "work done or risk incurred," and he demanded that they be abolished. To "make money otherwise than by earning it is the business of counterfeiters," was his scathing comment with relation to their ultimate results. The declaration did not explain how the League anarchists arrived at such conclusions. Payment of interest over and above the face value of a given debt was denounced, and full individual responsibility for all contracts entered into demanded. It re-asserted the demand that free banking be permitted, and that the monopoly of banking be destroyed, thus obviating necessity of the usury laws.21

The declaration closed with a statement of other aims of the N.E.L.R.L.: removal of tariffs; provision for free public markets in the centers of commerce where transactions might be carried on in much the manner of the Owenite Labor Exchanges,22 with the use of labor note currency, and removal of the express, railroad and telegraphic lines from monopoly ownership so that their services might be furnished to patrons at cost. This was expected to occur as a consequence of free competition carried to its logical conclusion.

Heywood's first faltering and exploratory adventures in the material philosophy of native anarchism, with its emphasis on free competition and access to all raw materials and the exchange of goods on the basis of cost as nearly equated as possible with labor time spent in production, was followed by a flood of small paper-bound books from the Princeton press under his authorship. Featured by short, terse titles and reinforced with quotations from numerous authorities in the field of political economy, these booklets contributed a substantial boost to the intellectual propaganda of the movement which the League began to develop. Castigation of the government as the fountainhead of economic disorder grew in intensity thereafter, the Heywood writings furnishing the stimulus for

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the classic phrasing of the Tucker group a generation later. Yours Or Mine, published in 1869, and Hard Cash, five years later, contained the germ of his economic and political anti-statist thought. These were accompanied by an edition of Greene's Mutual Banking under the League's sponsorship in 1870, followed a short while later by the famous Uncivil Liberty. In this Heywood stated his unorthodox views on the woman's rights question, a matter to which he later devoted the major part of his energies.

Yours Or Mine attempted to solve the problem of property ownership. It was an investigation of the basis upon which property was held and the reasons why it was inequitably distributed. The labor reform movement should seek "fundamental equity," he said, and not become another "assault on vested interests," a "raid of the have-nothings upon the have-somethings;"23 The origins of property became lost in the origins of society itself, the source of derivation being obscure from the point of view of the political economist.24 Heywood believed that occupancy and use were the real valid titles to ownership, despite the fact that society acquiesced in other claims to ownership in the belief that such deference performed some benefit to the 'general welfare." However, property built up as a result of the profit process he declared inadmissible to the discussion of equity, with the exception of "work done, or risk incurred." Profit-taking was an injustice which ranked second only to legalizing titles to absolute ownership of land or raw materials. The latter he denounced as "the most gigantic fraud ever perpetrated by human avarice," and "the first and most fruitful source of speculative accumulation."25 Though sanctioned by religion, literature, and public opinion, he believed the status of both was located in and enforced by government,26 but which made them none the less false. The resale of land he considered a kind of "stealing," when it involved profit as a result of "rise of values." Monopoly, and not "society" was responsible for the rise of land values, he asserted, a point which the anarchists stressed in their critique of Henry George in the pamphleteering of the 80's.

Concerning the item of rent, Heywood entered a rather novel argument. Property was an artificial creation, he said, and as such had no inherent power of increase. The owner of a house had no right to rent


once the building had paid for itself, beyond the cost of the labor in transferring, insurance, and repair of natural deterioration. It was not fair to figure rent as a one way proposition. A house once paid for, when returned by the lessee after the period of occupation in original condition, not only was not subject to payment of rent, but was actually due a recompense. Heywood reasoned that if empty, natural decay would have occasioned the owner substantial repair costs with no revenue being received during this untenanted interim. A renter who returned property in its original condition was worthy of as much consideration as was the owner. This standard was equally applicable to all goods when loaned, he insisted, as all wealth was perishable to a greater or lesser degree.27

If absolute ownership of land began the process of progressive inequality of wealth, the institution of an 'exclusive" currency as a cause was not far behind. Interest, like rent, was to Heywood nothing else than another tax on labor. It was made possible only by the ability of a few to control money:28

Since money is the common measure of products, and exchanges must be made in the accepted currency, it is apparent that if speculation control this medium, dictating its nature, amount, and value, they are masters of both labor and trade, and can tax us on the chance to do business, and also for the privilege of living.

Heywood called legal tender "class currency," since it did not represent all the property in the nation, as he felt it should, but only the property of those who issued it.29 It was useless to oppose high rates of interest, Heywood said, while defending low rates. All payment beyond labor and risk was no better than extortion. It was no more consistent to support some interest-taking than it was to hold that slavery was wrong in ten states but right and constitutional in two or three. "Interest must be adjudged crime in the court of conscience," he pronounced, "and the right to meddle with it carries with it the right to abolish it altogether.... Since all equitable exchange is simply exchange of services, interest, being the monopoly price of money, should be an outlaw in economical science."30 Heywood applied the same reasoning

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to the national debt. It was his contention that interest payments on the debt constituted an installment upon the principal, and that the debt was no longer valid once its face had been paid in interest. Carrying over such taxation as was represented by a national debt and imposing it upon succeeding generations was actually the maintenance of a system of involuntary servitude.31

By the time Heywood published Hard Cash, his acquaintance with radical literature included the violently anti-government pamphlets of Lysander Spooner as well as the economic treatises of Warren and Greene, his views reflecting the No Treason32 series of the former to a marked degree. In many ways it was the most extreme of all native anarchist writings to come from the Princeton press.

Heywood's incursion into the field of relative values was made primarily as an assault upon the limited commodity basis of money and as a plea for the free currency of the mutual bank. Anything that had exchangeable value was money, and property had exchangeable value; hence all property was money, and governmental decrees were of no

import in the face of this actuality. Gold and silver owed their use as a money to their value as property and not to any other supposed value. However, if two men chose to pay their debts in other "values," the actual bills used mattered little as long as they represented tangibles, regardless of the standard which was used to express them.33

"Capitalists object to trade unions of working people," he observed laconically, "but there is a trades-union of moneylenders of infinitely greater, more oppressive and fraudulent power, than any combination ever devised among working people."34 He was under no misconceptions as to the influence of such ideas as his and those of the Labor Reform League among financiers, in spite of the vigor of the convictions expressed; ". . . despotism holds almost undisputed sway in finance, scoffing at dissent as puerility and patronizing equity as the whim of visionary reformers."35 Heywood was sure that a national currency system was not the answer to the needs of commerce. The state as the sole issuer of money was a prospect that he did not entertain with any enthusiasm,36 since he no longer considered the "government" as an abstraction, but


as a group of very real men whom he saw silently acquiring control of this new and powerful financial arm. It was for this reason that he reproached the remnants of the National Labor Union37 for its espousal of the national currency plan of Edward Kellogg. Other aspects of the activities of unionization, including the eight hour law campaign, he looked upon as "well-meant protests against existing abuses, and serviceable in their way," but he remained devoted to the idea of an industrial age of freedom under a system of "free land and free money."

The influence of Ezra Heywood's writings is hard to determine accurately. Despite the fact that some of his pamphlets sold from eighty to a hundred thousand copies, it is apparent from his style and vocabulary that his efforts were directed to a level of intelligence and comprehension far above average. His importance as a catalyst in radical circles in the 70's, however, cannot be wholly ignored. It was his tireless work as corresponding secretary that kept the New England Labor Reform League in existence. The League held bi-annual meetings, generally in Boston but once in a while in such Massachusetts cities as New Bedford and Framingham, for 24 years after the original gathering in January, 1869. It gradually became dominated by anarchist thought, but its activities continued to attract many elements of the labor and intellectual radical fronts, and maintained relations with Susan B. Anthony's National Woman's Suffrage Association and the National Labor Union for a few years. Prior to the 1872 election the N. E. L. R. L. broke with these organizations,38 mainly through Heywood's insistence, but sympathy with individuals from diverse bodies quite distant from the anti-state partisans was evident in almost all its undertakings.39 John Orvis, leader of the Sovereigns of Industry, became its president in 1873. Succeeding meetings were attended by such persons as Bronson Alcott, Lysander Spooner, Greene, and Charles T. Fowler.

Although taking little part in the formalities during the early years, Heywood was always present, and acquired a reputation for his many resolutions setting forth individualist doctrines. His speeches had some

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of their old abolitionist flavor, and the exuberant and sensational declarations they contained brought upon him the upbraiding of the daily press, especially in Boston. The Post characterized the speeches at the 1873 convention of May 25 and 26 as "levelling harangues," while the Globe considered their program one of "social incendiarism:" The Advertiser described the League itself as "distemper of reform," and all condemned its program as encouraging the self-consciousness of the "workmen" and serving to set them apart as an "exclusive class."40

Heywood himself was unaffected by adverse criticism, recalling to his listeners and readers that he had been previously labeled a fanatic and incendiarist while associated with Garrison. At the convention in New Bedford in the fall of 1873 he declared that labor reform was a part of the old struggle against chattel slavery. Speculation, rent, interest, and dividends had now taken the place of the lash as the means of depriving laborers of their rightful earnings. "The labor movement is not a struggle for a ten or an eight hour law, a theory of finance or cooperation merely, but an effort to make equity the ruling principle of business and politics.”41

The N. E. L. R. L. began to attract the attention of non-New Englanders soon after its meetings received notice in the nation's press. The League was intended to be local in character but Heywood undertook to bring to its support all potential adherents. Plans for a New York convention of intellectuals were made which culminated in a three day gathering in May, 1871. The American Labor Reform League was launched at this meeting, and henceforth met annually in New York. lt included many shades of native radical opinion, but was dominated by the New England anarchists until 1893. The A. L. R. L. was an eclectic gathering of non-political radicals, in many ways reflecting the confusion and indecision of similar independent groups in the face of a trend toward more centralization in all aspects of American life. The trend was one which advocates of various schemes of social simplification were well aware of, but which they were unable to exert influence upon in any appreciable manner.

The slate of officers elected at the 1872 convention indicates the degree of heterogeneity which the League meeting in New York encompassed. Greene, an anarchist, became president. The vice presidents were Orvis of the Sovereigns of Industry, the Fourierite socialist Albert Brisbane, and the feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Heywood remained as the omnipresent corresponding secretary, while Stephen Pearl Andrews, Victoria Woodhull, and the old land reformers J. K. Ingalls, Lewis Masquerier and Henry Beeney all held honorary posts.42 During the next few years a variety of other reform representatives became


affiliated with the A. L. R. L. in one capacity or another. These included the Owenite socialist John Francis Bray, the labor leader A. W. St. John, and another representative of the Evans school of land reformers and former associate of Josiah Warren, William Rowe.43

The cross-current of opinion stirred up in the meetings of the N. E. L. R. L. and wide correspondence in response to his libertarian pamphlets brought Heywood into action on a third and eventually much more widely known aspect of anarchist propaganda. This was as editor of a periodical devoted to spreading the ideas of the men with whom he became associated as a result of his other interests. In May, 1872, Heywood issued the first number of The Word, a four page monthly sheet, bearing the subtitle "A Monthly Journal of Reform." It was intended to be an organ in which views of the members of the two Reform Leagues could be expressed, regardless of whether or not they adhered to Heywood's economic and social philosophy. He listed as contributors, William B. Greene, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Josiah Warren, John Orvis, Victoria Woodhull, Albert Brisbane, John Humphrey Noyes, Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Denton, Frederick William Evans, Wendell Phillips, and Henry Ward Beecher. The policy of the paper was summed up in this prospectus:44

THE WORD favors the abolition of speculative income, of woman's slavery, and war government; regards all claims to property not founded on a labor title as morally void, and asserts the free use of land to be the inalienable privilege of every human being on having the right to own or sell only his service impressed upon it. Not by restrictive methods, but through freedom and reciprocity, THE WORD seeks the extinction of interest, rent, dividends, and profit, except as the represent work done; the abolition of railway, telegraphic, banking, trades-union and other corporations charging more than actual cost for values furnished, and the repudiation of all so-called debts the principal whereof has been paid in the form of interest.

Heywood's paper failed to keep the celebrities listed above as steady contributors. It soon gained a reputation as a radical sheet, however, and enjoyed wide circulation, with subscribers in every state in the Union, Europe and even in South Africa.45 Each issue carried an impressive list of letters to the editor on a wide variety of subjects occasioned by discussion in previous issues. A separate department of the paper, bearing the heading "The Opposition," carried full comments of Heywood's critics in the daily press. This was an unusual policy, in view of the marked sensitivity of the radical movement as a whole to adverse criti-

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cism. The labor policies of the Reform Leagues tended to stress more and more the uncompromising economic views of their anarchist members, while The Word began to assume the appearance of a personal organ for the expression of the Heywood stand on all matters pertinent to the radical movement. Despite this trend there continued to be much controversial material in the paper, and many of Heywood's personal friends and fellow anarchists used its pages to bitterly oppose his stands on some things.

In the first issue of the paper, Heywood warmly approved the declarations of the International Workingmen's Association at its gatherings in Belgium and Switzerland, especially those which called upon the members everywhere to "obliterate" nationalism and "abolish" patriotism, which he called "the most barbarous and stupid of virtues." He sounded one note of disapproval, however, reflecting the bitter dispute which had already split the anarchist and socialist factions in Europe: "It is not pleasant to see Dr. Marx and other leaders of this great and growing fraternity lean so strongly toward compulsory policies. If the International would succeed it must be true to its bottom idea--voluntary association in behalf of our common humanity."46

The following month the stamp of approval was placed upon a measure in direct opposition to anarchist principles. This was the proposal of John H. Keyser for a graduated income and estate tax ranging from one-half of one per cent on incomes of $5000, to 50% on everything above $5 million.47 He followed this with an attack upon philanthropy, in which he questioned the basis of all large fortunes and the apparent magnanimity of their possessors:48

Where did the George Peabodys, the Peter Coopers, and others of the alms-giving class of philanthropists get the money which they presume to "give" away as their own? . . . The "poor" whom these philanthropists become so conspicuously distinguished by befriending are really the creators of the wealth they humbly receive as a gift; and, if equity prevailed, their now acknowledged "benefactors" might themselves be subjects of "charity." To alleviate suffering is praiseworthy, but to assist in creating in manifold forms the misery one gets credit for assuaging is a "deed" which . . . cannot be approved of.

His stand on the land question, which already was under fire from his erstwhile teachers, Warren and Greene, found a companion ground of disagreement through his insertion in The Word of the ultra-feminist point of view on behalf of Victoria Woodhull and her protagonists, which


included her sister Tennie Claflin. The core of their propaganda was a frontal attack on the institution of marriage as one lacking justice and equality. Heywood himself entered this violent controversy on the side of the femininists, his pamphlet Uncivil Liberty containing a number of explanations of the "woman movement." He also endorsed woman suffrage,49 at a time when fellow opponents of government were already declaring the futility of voting.

Warren, in retirement but an occasional contributor to both The Word and WoodhuII and Claflin's Weekly, was a resident at Heywood's home for a time, even though he disagreed with him on most every other issue besides the basis of land ownership. These included the attack on possessors of large fortunes, the graduated tax proposal, and the abuse of the eight hour day agitation and the Massachusetts Labor Union.50 Embarrassed by the policies which Heywood and Mrs. Woodhull, as well as the N. E. L. R. L., proclaimed, the aging progenitor of anarchism in America gave vent to expressions of unmistakable dissatisfaction before breaking formal relations with all and retiring to Charlestown, Mass., to the home of Edward Linton.51

Although a severe critic, Warren was not an exponent of the conspiracy theory of society, which Heywood now was inclined to support. He upbraided Heywood for what he styled "hasty and injudicious" language and impatience with those who did not understand the principles of equity and put them into complete practice at once. The language used in The Word was apt to repel many potential friends, he cautioned, although he hoped that new readers would understand the use of the terms as employed by the editor.52 In like manner he opposed the uncompromising war upon state marriages; not only were there many persons who preferred being married thus, but there existed the potential misinterpretation by the popular press, a matter which was of great concern to Warren by this time.53 Referring to the land question, Warren doubted the need for the assault upon legal land titles. He continued to

Transition to Philosophical Egoism I119

stand by the earlier position that land speculation would cease if all land were sold at the price paid by the original buyer in all subsequent transactions involving the same piece of land.54 Warren, however, proposed no tactics which might be utilized in effecting such a reform, whereas Heywood suggested a combination of "squatter sovereignty" and passive resistance, the latter of these two being used with great effectiveness by the Irish Land League against absentee English landlords at a later time.

Warren feared wealth, and felt that an effort to secure a graduated income tax would be defeated through the efforts of capital, as well as possibly resulting in a considerable degree of violence. Even if it were placed in operation, he doubted that the officials in charge of raising and utilizing the funds designated would escape immersion in wholesale graft.55 At the same time, he warned against stressing class distinctions in reference to possessors of wealth, or "the successful in the general scramble," as he chose to designate the rich. He felt that ignorance was more responsible for misery than was purposeful design on the part of a scheming minority; he saw all becoming oppressors in turn. In the absence of a system of "equitable compensation," a man might be living on the "profits" made from his particular business, and at the same time be receiving as little as a tenth of what actually belonged to him in equity. Hence to denounce all profit-takers as "thieves and robbers," as was occasionally the case at the Labor Reform League meetings, was erroneous and unfair.56

Censure by both Warren and Greene57 had little effect upon the course of Heywood's conduct of The Word or his participation in the Reform Leagues. His admiration for their writings was equaled only by his indifference to their criticisms as he continued an energetic campaign of writing and speaking on an independent basis. Having expressed himself in a number of ways which even his preceptors considered extreme, he was to continue expounding the economic and social principles he had obtained from them, enlarging the scope of his attentions month by month to include or reject such fragments of the radical movement as he chose with which to align himself. In July, 1874 he formally broke with Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly as a result of attacks on The Word and the N. E. L. R. L. stand on interest, banking, individual sovereignty and majority rule.58 In succeeding years he severely criticized Orvis, Brisbane, and the whole structure of Fourierite59


socialism. He singled out for particular disparagement the National Labor Union, Edward Kellogg, and the Greenback movement,60 which he conceived as serving at best to clear the way for a system of free banking. He was convinced now that the major task of "labor reform" was the abolition of property in land61 and not the creation of a free money structure, thus taking sides in a controversy over which radicals haggled for the next three decades.

Heywood was characteristically impatient with and abusive of the restraint of liberal reform. His treatment of Washington Gladden's Working People and Their Employers is an excellent illustration. Although believing that it might be read with profit, he thought press reviews had been far more complimentary than the book deserved and that Gladden had presented no adequate solution of the difficulty at hand. He was incensed because he believed Gladden had misrepresented the radicals and had intimated that no portion of the radical reform group felt friendly to a peaceful settlement of the labor question. In addition, he considered Gladden's favorable quotation of Herbert Spencer, who misunderstood the stand of Proudhon with respect to present holders of wealth, indicated to the average reader that the anarchists advocated forcible dispossession, a matter concerning which the anarchists felt particularly sensitive.62

The outbreak of the railroad strikes in the summer of 1877 brought an immediate response from Heywood. He followed a series of editorials with a booklet, The Great Strike, which furnished an opportunity for a summary of anarchist economics as interpreted by the Labor Reform group, as well as for a statement from the anti-government wing on the separate items of striking, violence, and the attitude toward the state and capital in times of industrial disputes. Heywood was convinced that the execution of the "Molly Maguires," just a month before the first of the strikes occurred, was of utmost significance. He insisted that their arrest, trial and conviction had been based on evidence which no court in the land would have taken against any man of wealth or social prominence. He believed that the whole case had been "worked up" against the Mollies by the Pinkerton Detective Agency at the express order of the railroad interests with a deliberate intention of removing them permanently;63 ". . . These eleven manual laborers . . . were put out of life

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with a ferocity which shocked the civilized world." The ensuing strike was partially in the nature of a reaction to this initial act of violence. This oversimplification of the cause of a complex, nation-wide affair served to highlight Heywood's hate of the railroad companies and their collaboration with the government.64

Heywood recognized the Pittsburgh strikers as "morally lawful belligerents" engaging in "defensive warfare," even though he disagreed with them diametrically in philosophy:65

The different sections of the Labor Reform movement with which I have the honor to serve do not think the destruction of life or property a judicious method of advancing any reform. We reject the philosophy of strikes, oppose trades-union monopolies of labor, and discard every other style of associative or legislative intrusion to settle this question. Personally a non-resistant, 1 would not take another's life to save my own. Asking no favors for labor but that it be left alone, I seek to abolish capital--. . . by unrestricted enterprise, by peaceful methods of evolution . . .

He deplored the use of coercion by the government and the employers to put down the strike as "ill-advised and abortive."66 Such a course of conduct in the future with the intention of obtaining obedience or agreement he believed would be a total failure and would result in less harmony than had existed before. This eruption was but the beginning of a long contest, which no amount of violence would abate. The only conditions which would produce tranquility once more would be the total abolition of property in land and raw materials, and the removal of all restrictions on exchange, the "free land and free money" program.67

On November 3, 1877, Heywood was arrested while speaking in Boston by Anthony Comstock, and charged with the violation of postal statutes relative to the circulation of obscene material through the mails. This was the first of three prosecutions of Heywood by the federal government on such charges, on two of which he was convicted and served terms in prison. The subtle degrees by which The Word had been transformed from a labor reform to a "love reform" paper cannot be detailed,


even though there had been a growing body of members of Heywood's subscribers to whom the matter of female independence before the law was of paramount importance. Once he took up the fight for the extension of women's rights with the primary intention of removing women from economic subjection, he found himself drawn more and more into the display of material of somewhat intimate nature which clashed violently with the morality attitudes reflected in the Comstock laws. The unusual approach of several of his women correspondents, including his own wife, the former Angela Tilton, a radical in her own right, soon brought the paper unusual notoriety. His arrest was merely a matter of time, in the minds even of his friends.

Heywood was sentenced to two years at hard labor on June 25, l 878,68 an event which stirred up many elements of liberal and radical thought throughout the East. A mass meeting of 6000 people, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the emancipation of the West Indies slaves, culminated with a demonstration in Faneuil Hall in Boston on August 1, demanding Heywood's release and the repeal of the Comstock laws. Presided over by the old abolitionist, Elizur Wright, the speakers included J. H. W. Toohey, president of the National Defense Society, the principal opponent of the Comstock-dominated Society for the Suppression of Vice. Other prominent participants were Laura Kendrick, J. M. L. Babcock, Moses Hull and Thaddeus B. Wakeman, the latter the author of a petition for the repeal of the Comstock laws which obtained 70,000 signatures.69 Heywood was released from prison the following December 19, and pardoned by President Hayes the next day, political influence supplementing the storm of protest emanating from free thought and liberal circles.70

Arrested a second time in the fall of l 882, Heywood was acquitted in Boston before a federal court on April 12, 1883, in a trial where Heywood appeared in his own defense, delivering a speech which lasted four and a half hours. Finally declared not guilty by the jury, the verdict was received with obvious pleasure by a considerable gathering of sympathetic onlookers.71

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Conviction for such publishing activities as these confirmed Heywood in his decision to continue printing the literature of the free love element, and in 1879 he changed the policy of The Word to conform with his advanced views of the marital and sexual question. Anti-statist views also continued to find extended expression,72 but, like Stephen Pearl Andrews, he became engrossed with the possibilities of a union of all the various fragments of\ the intellectual radical movement. With the aid of Andrews, he attempted to bring these together in a Union Reform League, with headquarters in Princeton, but at the end of three years, the major part of the interest in such a project had waned. The '80's saw the initiative in the spreading of anarchism pass into the hands of Benjamin Tucker and his associates, who for a time confined their attentions to predominantly economic questions.

For a brief period, in 1889, Heywood re-entered the arena, stimulated by the widespread campaign for local option on the part of temperance groups in Massachusetts, following the passage of a local option law in Ohio in 1888.73 The drive for the prohibition of the sale and traffic of liquor by law, accompanied by a parallel proposition to control the sale of alcoholic beverages by state license, provoked the appearance of the vigorous counter-attack Social Ethics, wherein Heywood arraigned the crusade to legislate the virtue of temperance.

He protested that whether an individual partook of alcohol or abstained was strictly an affair of his own. Philosophically, morally, or politically, the drive to promote sobriety was baseless, in the eyes of the believer in natural society, where personal freedom was unrestrained except when it approached the area where it infringed on the similarity of freedom possessed by another.74 Blanket statutory prohibition constituted a serious invasion of individual personality; and, said Heywood, "individuals are the primary and ultimate facts in this wilderness of pronoun which is called society."75 Total prohibition or state-licensed sale were sides of the same coin; one despaired of liberty and the other of temperance, "two distrusts of the ability of men and women to work out their own salvation."76

Prohibition he considered irrational sumptuary legislation which contributed nothing to bridging the moral gap, while licensing in the hope


of producing temperance by destroying the "grog shop" approached the problem from the reverse side of truth, since the habit of intemperance preceded the dispensary, and not vice versa.77 The drive to license the sale in salutary surroundings was "a raid on the poor man's hotel," the saloon, and highly suspicious:78

. . . the hypocritical manifesto of the politico-ecclesiastical rogues trying to sail between rum and water into office. If it is right to sell rum at all, it is the right of poor men and women to sell it. License is wrong because . . . civil power ought not to sanction evil manifest in ill-use of liquor; . . . because it accepts intemperance as a fixed permanent fact, instead of working to abolish it; . . . because it enacts monopoly . . . and enshrines vicious practices in attractive, respectable, insidious environment.

When Heywood was convicted for postal law violations in 1878, he had suspected that others than his publishing business had precipitated his difficulties, especially his attitudes toward labor and government. When he was again arrested on similar charges, in May, 1890,79 he was convinced that it was a political matter. The new Harrison administration had replaced the Democratic postmaster in Princeton with an enemy of Heywood's, Josiah D. Gregory, whom the former referred to as a "high-toned, prohibitory, anti-saloon Republican,"80 a man unsympathetic with any radical sentiment. At his direction, deliveries of The Word had been interrupted.

Heywood was sentenced again to two years in prison in Charlestown, serving the full term. Several petitions to Harrison for pardon were ignored, largely because of malice on the part of his own relatives, Heywood charged.81 One of these petitions, signed by 1400 prominent persons in the United States, England and Scotland, including Elizabeth B. Chase, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Annie Besant, Andrew Jackson Davis, Theoder Dwight Weld, the pioneer abolitionist, and several other well-known persons, indicated the interest the case aroused.82 Efforts to have

Transition to Philosophical Egoism I125

his paper printed in his absence failed, and for the first time in 18 years, the first sustained voice of anarchist doctrine in America was silenced. Resumed in 1892 upon its editor's return, it permanently lapsed when he died May 22, 1893, little over a year after returning.

Ezra Heywood is best remembered for his efforts in the propagation of native anti-government thought and literature83 during a period of transition when radicalism was receding almost to the vanishing point before a wave of post-war sentiment for continued conformity. Although not particularly important as an original thinker, his services as a publisher in reprinting the works of Warren and Greene served to keep their ideas current, resulting in the widespread interest in the economics of the free society on the part of a later generation. His own erratic writings were not without influence; some of his floridity, acrid phrasing and talent for articulation was to be found in the work of Tucker at a later time. The revival of the mutual money theories of Greene is particularly noteworthy from the standpoint of anarchist economic thought, in this respect Heywood's work being an important rediscovery.

2. William B. Greene, Money Reformer

The fundamental structure of American anarchism is without doubt based upon the social and economic experiments and writings of Josiah Warren. In one respect however, his subsequent followers chose to expand the limits of the outline of the free economy. This was in a field in which the New Harmony pioneer had been noticeably inconclusive, finance. The gradual but increasing complexity of the economy, especially the division of labor occurring in both production and distribution, brought the matter of exchange more forcibly to the attention of the anti-statist radicals. This resulted in one of the few real additions to Warrenite mutualism, the idea of the mutual bank of William B. Greene, an ignored contemporary of Warren's during the period of the experimental towns.

Greene, unlike Warren, did not devote a lifetime to unorthodox activities. His life touched the radical movement with intensity only at intervals, and his conversion to full-fledged anarchist beliefs occupied only the last ten years of his life, despite an intimate acquaintanceship of a full three decades. Furthermore, his early years give no clue as to the source of any of his later interest in political economy and finance. In a similar manner to Ezra Heywood, it was a sequel to an abortive career in the ministry.

Born in Haverhill, Massachusetts,84 the son of a Boston newspaper


publisher, Greene was educated at West Point, and acquired there an affinity with military ways that he never repudiated, despite his early defection. He took part in the Seminole campaign in Florida against Osceola as a young officer, and while on active duty professed to have gone through a sudden conversion to religion, now believing war to be "unjust." He continued to hold his commission and remain in the fighting area, however, hesitant to expose himself to expected ridicule on announcing his change of heart.85 He returned north following a serious illness after eighteen months of service and entered a theological seminary. Becoming an Unitarian, he now devoted much of his time to the study of Egyptian and Indian history and religion, some of his later writings indicating a competent grasp of oriental philosophy.86 After leaving the Harvard Divinity School, where he had become an associate of Thomas Wentworth Higginson,87 he located in Brookfield, near Worcester, and engaged in the writing of religious tracts and pamphlets.

Few instances in American history have created as much curiosity concerning economic and financial matters among amateurs and members of the general citizenry as the panic of 1837, and the drastic credit stringency which characterized it. Banking abuses came under concentrated scrutiny and gave rise to many proposed radical remedies. William Beck's plan for inducing the business world to adopt credit and employ it so as to perform the functions of money by utilizing a complicated system which generalized credit in account, was broached in 1839, and was one of the first. Edward Kellogg's Labor and Other Capital, a direct outgrowth of his personal experiences in the panic, had been completed by July, 1843, although it remained unpublished for several years and did not receive much attention until post-Civil War times.88 Other plans, involving considerable originality and inspired by a fear of the potentialities of a money system based on an alliance between large bankers and politicians, sought to impress the independent-minded with the possibilities of solution on a local level, by-passing reforms requiring large-scale adoption.

Financial thinking was still dominated by concepts which dated from

Transition to Philosophical Egoism I127

early eighteenth century times, and concerned the needs of a decentralized economic society. A product of the colonial land bank period, the philosophy centered on a banking system based on private credit. This situation may have been aided by the comparative lack of a commercial class in the vast non-urban areas, the group most interested in central banking policies along European models.89

The drive for centralized banking on mercantile credit, well under way by the 1837 panic, was meeting plenty of opposition during the same period, since it hardly coincided with majority opinion well down to the Civil War. Many expert critics, among them Richard Hildreth, William M. Gouge and George Tucker, had promoted the idea of competition in banking, attacked the national bank and condemned state chartered banks in general.90

Free banking in the sense in which it was understood during this period was not synonymous with the unchartered system proposed by early individualist anarchists. Despite many structural similarities and often a similar propaganda the two financial theories proceeded along separate ways. It can readily be seen, however, that the monetary theories of Greene and Lysander Spooner are deeply indebted to the environment of unrest caused by disturbed relations existing in the money system of the United States of their times.

The writings of Greene were to become the best known, although Spooner had previously stated the position of the free money decentralist in Greene's home area with the publication of his Constitutional Law Relative to Credit, Currency and Banking in Worcester in 1843. Spooner had followed this up with an even more positive work in this line, Poverty, Its Illegal Causes and Legal Cure, which appeared in Boston three years later.91 It is doubtful whether Greene had any knowledge of these brief treatises when his own expositions of the philosophy of mutualism in banking began to appear for the first time, in a series of newspaper articles in the Worcester Palladium in 1849 under the pseudonym "Omega." Gathered together and expanded with unpublished material, the collection was issued, under the title Equality, in West Brookfield


that same year. This is essentially the same work brought out under the title Mutual Banking the following year, and was destined to become the most widely reprinted of all anarchist financial publications written by a native American. For an understanding of Greene's political, economic and social ideas they are best studied together.

A bank, in Greene's opinion, had only one reason for existing: that of being a place to bring together borrowers and lenders, regardless of what the particular capital available for lending consisted and what was wanted by the borrower. The man without tools and raw material was helpless despite any degree of industry, while the owner of such things faced the prospect of watching them deteriorate in the event that laborers desiring them for productive purposes could not be found. Being what he called "mutually necessary" to each other, their efforts to locate each other was a continual process, which banks could greatly facilitate.92 The bank as he saw it, however, was an anti-social institution, carrying on a war with those citizens who did not happen to be a part of it. Free competition among owners of capital he regarded a healthful thing, depressing the rate of interest and guaranteeing to the worker a greater percentage return of the total of his production. Once a bank in the ordinary sense of the word became organized, this process abruptly ceased. The device thus conceived enabled a number of lenders to escape the consequences of competition, and enabled them to bring "crushing" force upon individuals who did not belong to their number, thus resulting in their possessing the power to control interest rates to their best advantage and prevent the fall of the price of any commodity which they offered to potential lenders.93 Chartered by the legislature, they were now in a perfect position "to enable the few to bring the many under tribute"; "On the side of the bank there is a small army, well equipped, well officered, and well disciplined; on the side of the community, there is a large, undisciplined crowd, without arms, and without leaders."94

The picture was complete only as far as the particular group of capitalists forming the bank in question was considered; there still existed the possibility of competition from without, with the consequent much-feared drop in the rate of interest. Here the hand of government, which granted them the monopoly of incorporation, stepped in again to preclude the latter possibility with another special privilege.95 But to understand this stage, Greene declared, it was necessary to review the

Transition to Philosophical Egoism I129

position of the government in the general matters of the currency and artificially-created rates of interest.

Greene believed that all trade was barter in one form or another. The adoption of specie by society as a circulating medium merely made the process easier rather than destroyed it. It still remained a valuable commodity, subject to purchase and sale like all others; ". . . when we sell anything for money, we buy the money, and . . . when we buy anything with money, we sell the money."96

With the establishment of specie in the form of gold and silver as the only legal tender by the government and the exclusion of all other types of property from furnishing this function, an altogether new element entered into consideration. Exchange remained the same type of process, but the action of the legislature had enhanced the utility of the precious metals in a "remarkable manner." The exchangeable value of a particular commodity depended upon not only its utility but the relative scarcity of it as well. The relative scarcity of gold and silver gave them now a new value not inherent in them as metals, but an artificial one conferred on them by the action of the government, presumably in the interests of society.97 The result? Greene said that now the metals became a marketable commodity as a medium of exchange, and their utility as a means of exchange became abruptly contracted, allowing those who managed to obtain a monopoly of the supply of these metals to similarly control the business of the area using them as the sole legal tender, and thereby secure a premium for their use by all others engaging in commerce.98 "Hence follow great social and political evils," commented Greene. One of the major attempts to repair the damage done to the commercial structure was the passage by the government of laws arbitrarily limiting the rate of interest. This did nothing to restore any kind of competition among loaners of capital, however, because of still another government-created factor, the allowing of holders of specie, incorporated as banks, to issue paper money up to twice the face value of the specie.99 This enable them to gather twice the rate of interest permitted, or to drive all non-banker loaners of capital out by charging one-half the interest until


the latter ceased competing. Thus even "usury" laws100 were negated by the creation of banks. The process now went along relatively unhindered, Greene observed:101

Now the banks have everything in their hands. They make great issues, and money becomes plenty; . . . all other commodities become dear. Then the capitalist sells what he has to sell, while prices are high. The banks draw in their issues, and money becomes scarce, . . . all other commodities become cheap. The community becomes distressed for money, individuals are forced to sell property to raise money--and to sell at a loss on account of the state of the market: then the capitalist buys what he desires to buy, while everything is cheap.... The operation of the banking system is evident; . . .

He commented briefly on the impact that banking and credit organization was producing upon production and price levels. The corollary to credit monopoly, he noted, was an accompanying belief that price was determined by the amount of labor that different commodities could command, which he designated "the philosophy of speculation on human misfortune." "Considered from this point of view," Greene pointed out, "the price of commodities is regulated, not by the labor expended in their production, but by the distress and want of the laboring class." A vigorous proponent of the labor cost theory of value, as was Warren, he pronounced: 'There is no device of the political economists so infernal as the one which ranks labor as a commodity, varying in value according to supply and demand."102 Greene stoutly held that the ratio of the supply of labor to the demand for it was unvarying because every producer was a consumer "to the precise extent of the amount of his products," and the price of labor ought therefore to be constant.

Greene admitted that there was not only a market price for commodities, which he believed to be based on supply and demand, but a "natural" price, as well, which depended on its cost of production. Although these were in a state of continual oscillation due to the credit system, under a proper system they would coincide at all times.103 The phenomena of want and "overproduction" were directly attributable to the credit structure. "Many a tailor has carried his coat to a market where coats were at once voted over production, not because there was no real demand for coats, but because there was no money demand for them.”104 Credit as he saw it in operation was actually perpetuating feudalism. Money was furnished to individuals and corporations prin-

Transition to Philosophical Egoism I131

cipally for purposes of speculation, advantageous to the speculators if successful, catastrophic to the community if a failure. Monopoly of trade or insecurity were the alternatives of "the existing organization of credit . . . the daughter of hard money, begotten upon it incestuously by that insufficiency of circulating medium which results from laws making specie the sole legal tender.”105

Greene's proposition for remedying the cyclical money shortage and the artificial control of the economy vested in the banking fraternity by the government was the "mutual bank." Any person could become a member of this bank by pledging mortgages to the bank on actual property, upon which he would be issued bills of exchange amounting to one-half of the total value of the mortgaged property.106 No money was to be loaned to persons not members of the particular banking company, all members entering into a voluntary agreement to accept the paper of the bank in all payments, at par, when presented by fellow members. The rate of interest at which the money was to be loaned to the members was to be sufficient only to pay the operating expenses of the institution. Greene claimed that one per cent would be enough. Other principles of the mutual bank provided for the release of the member from his pledge when his mortgage had been redeemed, and a declaration promising perpetual non-redemption in specie of the bills of the bank.

What the Greene proposal amounted to was a mutual agreement on the part of a number of persons to monetize other values than specie to the amount of one-half of the declared valuation of a given volume of these other values, preferably real property. However, he once said, ". . . anything that may be sold under the hammer may be made a basis for the issue of mutual money.”107 At the time he originally proposed such a bank, he suggested that the undertaking be postponed until 10,000 persons signified their intentions of starting the organization. This he thought would insure the feeling of security on the part of the members, because all might inspect the books and thus observe on what basis all others were having money issued. This would be further strengthened by the psychological effect of ]0,000 persons in the vicinity of such a bank, all using the bills in the member stores, hotels, theatres, tailor shops, restaurants and similar business enterprises, in payment for desired goods and services.108

Currency in sufficient volume to satisfy the need thereof was Greene's objective, which necessitated a complete divorce from the specie idea of


redemption. However, he found no fault with having the valuation of the monetized property expressed with the silver dollar as the standard of value in mind, and the measure of value as well. Thus tied to the silver dollar, the mutual bank bills would rise and fall with the value of silver dollars, without fear of depreciation. Based on the dollar as the measure of value, the silver at a designated degree of fineness and weight as the standard of value, the mutual money was to serve only as an instrument of exchange.109 Greene considered that such money would escape the evil consequences attending scarcity or excess of supply. It would always be worth its face value in silver dollars. Like Proudhon, he believed that the element of money which rendered it insecure was the doubt of final redemption in specie, and he proposed to eliminate this by generalizing the bill of exchange:110

. . . that is to say, in making of it an anonymous title, exchangeable forever, and redeemable at sight, but only in merchandise and services. Or, to speak a language more comprehensible to financial adepts, the problem consists in basing bank paper . . . upon products.

The mutual bank was a "producer's bank," said Greene. Its currency was non-interest-bearing. The monetization of commodities other than gold and silver would tend to further depress the rate of interest. This would enable a person with only his labor to offer to easily borrow capital to engage in productive work and thus create capital goods of his own. Individuals would thus join a mutual bank company not in expectation of a dividend but to facilitate the procurement of money, a lowering rate of interest being substituted for the usual dividend incentive.111

Greene objected to the comparison of the mutual money with the disreputable "wildcat money" of a decade before on four grounds. The wildcat issues not only promised to redeem in specie, but professed to be based on specie which did not exist. By pretending to be gold and silver, they gravely "deranged" the currency. Without specie backing or any other guarantee, the money was principally borrowed by the stockholders of these wildcat banks. Mutual money, on the other hand, was not redeemable in specie, but in actual existing commodities of other types. Furthermore, issued against actual values, it was utilized by all who "insured" it, and had no more effect upon the precious metals than upon any other particular materials or commodities.112

What would be the consequences of decentralized mutual banking

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upon such a basis as Greene proposed? A frontal attack on the state was his conclusion:113

Mutualism operates, by its very nature, to render political government, founded on arbitrary force, superfluous; that is, it operates to the decentralization of the political power, and to the transformation of the State by substituting self-government instead of government ab extra..

An investigation of American colonial history not only reinforced this conclusion but resulted in his abandonment of any claims to originality as far as the mutual bank idea was concerned. In actuality, Greene's and Kellogg's financial propositions had venerable antecedents in the history of eighteenth century Massachusetts, where "land banks"114 remarkably similar to that of Greene had been proposed in 1714 and again in 1740. The earlier bank had never obtained the sanction of the General Court, and died in discussion, while that of 1740 actually operated for a time, with admitted success.115 This latter bank, which received widespread popular support, nevertheless terminated abruptly. It was disallowed by the British Parliament, acting at the request of the governor and others whom Thomas Hutchinson designated as "men of estates and the principal merchants in the province."116 Hutchinson, no friend of the venture, labeled its originators "persons in difficult or involved circumstances in trade, or such as were possessed of real estates but had little or no ready money at command," and supported primarily by those "generally of low condition among the plebeians and of small estate."117

Greene considered it highly significant that Hutchinson admitted the strength of the bank, confessing that "Had not parliament interposed, the province would have been in the utmost confusion, and the authority


of government entirely in the land bank company."118 It was Greene's interpretation that the principal disturbance created by the bank had been political rather than economic:119

. . . Gov. Hutchinson ought to have explained more in detail the nature of the evils he complains of; and also to have told us why he, a declared enemy of popular institutions, opposed the advocates of the bank so uncompromisingly.

The discovery of a colonial precedent neither detracted from Greene's enthusiasm for his project nor cast any suspicions upon his independent status as an innovator. With the financial writings of others, however, he was already familiar, particularly Kellogg and Proudhon. It is highly probable that he learned from both,120 even though later editions of his works carried sharp criticisms of some of their theories.121 Favorable quotations of Kellogg in several of his works indicated a thorough reading at one time of Labor and Other Capital.122 His knowledge of Proudhon appears to have been somewhat less thorough until after a stay in France in the late '50's, during which time he became personally acquainted with the internationally-known French anarchist.123 It is most inaccurate to speak of Greene simply as a proponent of Proudhonian principles.

Coming at a time when the labor and consumer groups were experi-

Transition to Philosophical Egoism I135

menting with "associated workshops" and "protective union stores," Greene suggested that the mutual bank be incorporated in the movement, forming what he called "complementary units of production, consumption, and exchange, . . . the triple formula of practical mutualism." This program of mutualism he considered best adapted to local community level. In times of economic distress, the mutual money would prove the bulwark against inflationary or deflationary pressures: "the town cannot fail disastrously, for the real property is always there, rooted in the very ground."124

For some time the campaign ran strongly to obtain a charter from the Massachusetts General Court for the establishment of a mutual bank. Greene, now in Boston, argued the case before the Town and Country Club of which he was a member, along with such notables as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker, Henry James, the elder, W. H. Channing, Octavius B. Frothingham, William D. Ticknor, Charles Sumner, E. R. Hoar, Henry Giles, John Orvis, and George B. Loring. Repeated petitions to the General Court were made in 1850-51 both under his sponsorship and that of groups of inhabitants of Brookfield, Ware and Warren.125 In l 857 he restated his financial arguments in a volume titled The Radical Deficiency of the Existing Circulating Medium, and the Advantages of a Mutual Currency, under the stimulation of the new panic assailing the nation's economy. Apathy was the principal response. Shortly thereafter Greene left for France, where he became interested for a time in mathematics,126 concern over social matters abating until after the war.

Greene's Equality contained other than his money and banking theories. Some of his sociological ideas, albeit evidencing little logical organization and often contradictory, appeared here and there in its pages. One was his assertion that as an individual, a man received certain rights at creation, but that the right of property was not one of them. This was a social creation, and was not absolute. "Society gives me . . . proprietorship . . . because it is for its own interests to do so; my right to my watch is not a natural, but a social right. I own it, not because I earned it, . . . but by the free grace and favor of society."127 Greene's conception of individualism, however, was religious in nature. Although failing to describe the rights which the individual received from God, he condemned coercion of any kind as a contention against God Himself. It was therefore "profoundly immoral" to make a man dependent upon


his neighbors or upon public opinion, which made him "subservient to his accidents, instead of supreme over them."128

In another respect he was much less indefinite. Equality contained one of the first of the anarchist arraignments of socialism as a system of societal organization. Socialism, averred Greene, was the only political system in which he could see no "good points." In other types he saw a few privileged groups such as nobles, slaveholders, or "usurers" who managed to gather some advantages as compared to the volume of evil endured by "the mass of the people," but no one appeared to gain under socialism.129

In socialism, there is but one master, which is the state; but the state is not a living person, capable of suffering and happiness. Socialism benefits none but demagogues, and is, emphatically, the organization of universal misery . . . socialism gives us but one class, a class of slaves.

Written at a time when proponents of "state" socialism had hardly begun to state the theory, Greene's blast presaged the ideological conflict which was to break out in full flower in the anarchist and socialist journals of thirty-five years later.

Greene's career after his advocacy of the mutual bank was as much an account of irreconcilables as that which had previously transpired. Although abhorring government beyond the local level, he joined the Democratic party. At the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1853 he championed minority representation and woman suffrage. He was also an outspoken abolitionist.”130 Wealthy by inheritance and marriage, he returned from his stay in France at the outbreak of the Civil War, and became commander of the 14th Massachusetts Regiment, later resigning after a quarrel with Governor Andrew.131

Activity in the ranks of the intellectual radicals once more absorbed his interest at the end of the war. He restated most of his social philosophy in a small book titled Sovereignty of the People, at about the time

Transition to Philosophical Egoism I137

Heywood's Worcester group began to demonstrate interest in the mutual bank literature. The reprinting of an enlarged edition of Mutual Banking, the formation of the Labor Reform Leagues, and Heywood's publication of The Word all found in Greene a ready supporter and participant. In the latter part of 1872 he became a member of the French Section of the Marxian International Working People's Association in Boston. Shortly afterward he became president of the New England Labor Reform League.132 This affiliation placed the N. E. L. R. L. as a whole under suspicion as a branch of the International. The aims of the former were alleged to be a mere restatement of those of "the foreign communists."133 Although he collaborated with French members in the formulation of an address outlining the principles of the International Working People's Association, which was subsequently read before the N. E. L. R. L. at the 1873 convention,134 it appears that neither he nor the League continued relations. This is borne out by Greene's critical writings concerning communism and his first translations of Proudhon's writings.135

Between 1872-1876 Heywood and the League made several attempts to obtain a charter for a mutual bank from the Massachusetts General Court, but to no avail. The earliest of these was buried in the Committee on Banks and Banking, three of whose seven members were bankers themselves. The general treatment received strengthened the convictions of prominent members of the League that "legislatures are made up of capitalists who draw pay for serving their own interests, not the people's." Greene participated in general criticism of the legislature but gave no evidence of entertaining hope that opposition might be overcome.136


Greene returned to Europe in the spring of 1878. His premature death in Weston, England137 during this same year brought to an end the career of the ablest native American anarchist writer and theorist on finance. Mutual Banking remained prominent in the individualist propaganda thereafter without additions or abridgement. It was widely read by those interested in radical currency, and has been reprinted repeatedly up to the present day.138

The contributions of Ezra Heywood and William B. Greene to native anarchist thought are important not only in themselves but also in their impact upon contemporaries and later converts. Ineffectual upon the radical movement as a whole due to their unconcern with class consciousness, they were regarded as mere examples of the petty bourgeois response to the grave and growing economic disarrangements of their time. Their importance in the transition period between the experimental colonies and the strictly intellectual propaganda of anti-statism cannot be ignored, for by 1890 their efforts had become recognized among radicals everywhere as a contribution to revolutionary social philosophy. Greene's currency ideas gradually became those which the latter-day anarchists supported, even though they represented a change from those originally developed by Warren. The "labor for labor" ideas embodied in the labor check system, found in the writings of both Warren and Andrews, dropped from the discussions of the problems of exchange. Mutual banking and currency based on a commodity standard of value, but allowing for the monetization of all durable wealth, now became the core of anti-statist finance. In like manner Warren's approach to the land problem was modified by the inclusion of more studied and abstract thinking by less radical exponents of reform.

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