Protection or Free Trade
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Protection or Free Trade
Protection or Free Trade: An Examination of the Tariff Question, with especial Regard to the Interests of Free Trade
Protection or Free Trade.jpg
AuthorHenry George
CountryUnited States
SubjectsTrade, free trade, protectionism, tariff, capitalism, socialism, Georgism, tax policy, land, economic rent
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback)

Protection or Free Trade is a book published in 1886 by the economist and social philosopher, Henry George. Its sub-title is An Examination of the Tariff Question with Especial Regard to the Interests of Labor. As the title suggests, George examined the debate between protectionism and free trade.[1]

George was opposed to tariffs, which were at the time both the major method of protectionist trade policy and an important source of federal revenue. He argued that tariffs kept prices high for consumers, while failing to produce any increase in overall wages. He also believed that tariffs protected monopolistic companies from competition, thus augmenting their power. Like Progress and Poverty, much of the book was devoted to attacking privileges, such as land monopoly, which limit trade and rob value from producers.

Largely as a result of this book, free trade became a major issue in federal politics. Protection or Free Trade was the first book to be read entirely into the Congressional Record.[2] It was read aloud by five Democratic congressmen.[3][4]

"True free trade"

George defended what he considered "true free trade". For him, this required free trade to be coupled with the treatment of land as common property:

Free trade means free production. Now fully to free production it is necessary not only to remove all taxes on production, but also to remove all other restrictions on production. True free trade, in short, requires that the active factor of production, Labor, shall have free access to the passive factor of production, Land. To secure this all monopoly of land must be broken up, and the equal right of all to the use of the natural elements must be secured by the treatment of the land as the common property in usufruct of the whole people.[5]


In 1997, Spencer MacCallum wrote that Henry George was "undeniably the greatest writer and orator on free trade who ever lived."[6]

In 2009, Tyler Cowen wrote that George's 1886 book Protection or Free Trade "remains perhaps the best-argued tract on free trade to this day."[7]

Jim Powell said that Protection or Free Trade was probably the best book on trade written by anyone in the Americas, comparing it Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.[8]

Milton Friedman said it was the most rhetorically brilliant work ever written on trade.[9] Friedman also paraphrased one of George's arguments in favor of free trade: "It's a very interesting thing that in times of war, we blockade our enemies in order to prevent them from getting goods from us. In time of peace we do to ourselves by tariffs what we do to our enemy in time of war."[10]

Oswald Garrison Villard said, "Few men made more stirring and valuable contributions to the economic life of modern America than did Henry George,"[11] and that what George had "written about protection and free trade is as fresh and as valuable today as it was at the hour in which it was penned."[12]

Table of contents

The table of contents are as follows:[13]

  • Chapter 1 - Introductory
  • Chapter 2 - Clearing Ground
  • Chapter 3 - Protection as a Universal Need
  • Chapter 4 - Trade
  • Chapter 5 - Protection and Producers
  • Chapter 6 - Tariffs for Revenue
  • Chapter 7 - Tariffs for Protection
  • Chapter 8 - The Encouragement of Industry
  • Chapter 9 - Exports and Imports
  • Chapter 10 - Confusions Arising from the Use of Money
  • Chapter 11 - Do High Wages Necessitate Protection?
  • Chapter 12 - Of Advantages and Disadvantages as Reasons for Protection
  • Chapter 13 - Protection and Producers
  • Chapter 14 - Protection and Wages
  • Chapter 15 - The Abolition of Protection
  • Chapter 16 - Inadequacy of the Free Trade Argument
  • Chapter 17 - The Real Strength of Protection
  • Chapter 18 - The Paradox
  • Chapter 19 - The Robber that Takes All that is Left
  • Chapter 20 - True Free Trade
  • Chapter 21 - Free Trade and Socialism
  • Chapter 22 - Practical Politics
  • Chapter 23 - Appendices

See also


  1. ^ "Inadequacy of the Free Trade Argument", Chapter 16, Protection or Free Trade
  2. ^ George, Henry (2016). The annotated works of Henry George. Madison New Jersey Lanham, Maryland New York, NY: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. ISBN 1611477018.
  3. ^ Weir, "A Fragile Alliance," 425-425
  4. ^ Henry George, Protection or Free Trade: An Examination of the Tariff Question, with Especial Regard to the Interests of Labor(New York: 1887).
  5. ^ "True Free Trade", Chapter 20, Protection or Free Trade
  6. ^ MacCallum, Spencer H. (Summer-Fall 1997). "The Alternative Georgist Tradition" (PDF). Fragments. 35. Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ Cowen, Tyler (May 1, 2009). "Anti-Capitalist Rerun". The American Interest. 4 (5). Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ Obenhaus, Matthew. "Free Trade Lessons for the Economically Challenged". The Gymnasium. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ Powell, Jim (June 11, 2016). "Milton Friedman's Favorite Book on Trade". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ Obenhaus, Matthew. "Free Trade Lessons for the Economically Challenged". The Gymnasium. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ House Congressional Record (PDF). 1935. p. 10630. Retrieved 2018. US Representative Charles R. Eckert quoting Villard
  12. ^ Burrows, Waters Field (1934). Government by Quinary Civic Councils. USA Federal government. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ Table of contents for Protection or Free Trade

External links

Online editions of Protection or Free Trade

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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