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Paradox of Progress

Industrialization and the development of finance capitalism deeply transformed the U.S. economy, society, and culture at the end of the nineteenth century. As a small number of capitalists and industrialists made fortunes, the living and working conditions for most American wage workers and immigrants worsened, which produced divergent positions on the causes of growing income inequality. Henry George’s Poverty and Progress (1879) and William Graham Sumner’s What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1883) exemplify some of these positions.

After reading the sources listed below, briefly synthesize George’s and Sumner’s arguments. Then, using Phillips Thomson’s poem and Father Edward McGlynn’s comments explain how they reflected on the causes of unequal distribution of income and opportunity. What do you think influenced these views?

Henry George, Poverty and Progress (1879). (Links to an external site.) Read pp. 3-13 only.
William Graham Sumner excerpt from What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1883) (Links to an external site.)
Phillips Thomson, “The Political Economist and the Tramp” (1878) (Links to an external site.)
– Comments on Henry George by Father Edward McGlynn in Louis F. Post and Fred C. Leubusher, Henry George’s 1886 Campaign: An Account of the George-Hewitt Campaign in the New York Municipal Election of 1886 (1887) (Links to an external site.)


  1. In approximately 150-250 words, post your response to the question(s). Your post should use evidence from the provided sources. You may also use the textbook, but only as additional support. Your focus should be the above sources. Use a concise, professional and academic style of writing, free of grammatical errors and colloquialisms.

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