Many direct attempts have been made to secure the adoption of the single tax program, while many of the attempts have been indirect and concealed. The use of political campaigns, legislative action, and general education to the principles have been most employed. The followers of Henry George have not always held the same opinion as to the most successful method of propaganda, nor was Mr. George always of the same mind. The scheme which has had the most promise of success at a particular time and place has been the one generally used.
Early Propaganda. - The first active campaign for the adoption of the principles of Progress and Poverty was staged by Mr. George in the political campaign for the election of Mayor of New York City in 1886. His book had had a wide reading among the laboring classes, and he had come to be looked upon as the champion of the oppressed and downtrodden. He was chosen as the people's candidate for mayor, after he had refused to accept the nomination unless thirty thousand signatures could be obtained in favor of his making the race. The issues of the campaign were clear-cut, and while Mr. George and his principles were defeated, the magnitude of the vote which they commanded indicates what a hold they had gained upon the people. Mr. George received 68,100 votes, while the other candidates, Mr. Hewitt and Mr. Roosevelt, received 90,552 and 60,435, respectively. Encouraged by the large vote, candidates were entered in future campaigns, both in state and in city elections, and at times the principles have entered actively into national political campaigns. Mr. George again entered the New York City mayoralty race in 1897, but died a few days before the election. Death was no doubt due to overexertion during the campaign.
Educational Campaign. - The basis for a general educational campaign lies in the gifts of persons of means who have been interested in the movement. The most important provision for the educational work is the Joseph Fels Fund, started by Joseph Fels - a rich soap manufacturer of Cincinnati. He created funds, not only in the United States, but in various other countries, offering to match every dollar up to certain amounts that others might contribute. From the resources thus provided, much literature has been distributed, and the financing of many campaigns has been made possible. A number of periodicals have been established which are devoted to the dissemination of single tax principles.
Legislative Attempts. - In recent years much effort, time, and money have been spent in attempting to secure legislation, which, while it has not been directly single tax proposals, will form an entering wedge for the adoption of the principles. Movements to secure the initiative ' and referendum have been actively supported by those who are interested in the development of the single tax. Much money from the Fels Fund has been spent to secure the adoption of these principles in different states. Where the initiative exists, the opportunity for conducting campaigns through the circulation of petitions is made possible, and the way is opened for more extensive educational operations. All propositions which have for their end the separate assessment of land and buildings have of course had the active indorsement of all single tax enthusiasts. Such assessments bring into closer review the so-called unearned land values.
Attempt to Secure Local Option. - The proposition which has been most heartily supported when it has come before the legislative body, and the one whose adoption the single taxers have labored most strenuously to secure, is what is generally called home rule, or local option, in taxation. It is the proposal to allow the various political units to be self-determining on matters of taxation. The belief is held that, if this be secured, some districts would decide to adopt the single tax principles, and that others would then be impelled or compelled to follow their example. In some of the campaigns for securing this principle, the propaganda has been openly of a single tax nature, while in others there has been an attempt at the concealment of this aspect. The method which seemed to indicate the most favorable results has usually been followed. The end and not the means has seemed to be the important consideration in most single tax campaigns. It is the consensus of opinion that most of the campaigns would not have been waged had it not been for single tax influences.
Aside from the legislative activities, the single tax enthusiasts are becoming more active in putting candidates in the political campaigns. In some states the Single Tax Party has become a force of considerable strength. The fact that a National single tax ticket appeared on the ballots in the November, 1920, election, is evidence that the political ambitions are not local in scope.
A number of single tax clubs and organizations scattered over the country continually attempt to scatter single tax influences. These organizations, moreover, keep alert to any political or economic conditions which will favor the adoption of their principles. Lecture bureaus have been established to place speakers before influential meetings. Many novel schemes of advertising have been used at various times. As a whole, the movement can be characterized as one of active propaganda from the beginning.