Published in Lewis Masquerier, Sociology: or, The Reconstruction of Society, Government, and Property, 1877.


[Published in "The Truth Seeker" of Oct. l, 1874.]

Thirty years ago George H. Evans declared that from the necessity of all human beings' natural wants for the means of subsistence, and for the preservation of life, they must perpetually own a share of the soil, with its appurtenant elements and products. That as the natural wants of all are equal, in quantity, are perpetual in time, and can only be enjoyed in each one's own body or in proper person; therefore a full, complete and perfect right must be equal, inalienable and individual, combining the triune constituent principles of equality or equalness, inalienation or perpetuity, and individuality or separateness or personality. And that the true foundations of these natural wants, rights, and principles, are bottomed upon the organs of man's body, and the properties of vitality, mobility, mentality, etc., from which arise the rights of life, parentage, labor, sovereignty or power of will in self-government, and of property in homesteads and moveables or products.

Now this being the nature and constitution of rights, the origin of the evils of society is found to be in their violation by their opposite evil principles or wrongs. Thus the right of life is destroyed by murder, death, war, etc., labor by chattel and hireling slavery; sovereignty or self-government, by usurpation, hereditary, or elective; and the homestead by land-lordry, tenure, trafficry, etc.

These different evils were early practised by a grasping and usurping few. The tenure and title to soil and government have been held through all ages under laws of universal alienation and monopoly, and have only changed their phase or [101] form from a bad to a worse state up to the present time. From being held in common by savages, we next see the soil and government held by a feudality; wherein the mass of the people, as serfs, held the use of the soil from the priestly and lordly conquerors; these again of the kings and these again pretended to hold of the gods; all under obligation of fealty and knight or military service, and under the aristocratic dogma that "everything must be held from some superior." Through all time much soil has been held in allodium or fee simple, in one's own person, and not from a superior. But this is also an equally imperfect title as the feudal; for being subject to traffic, by sale, debt, tax, mortgage, etc., can be as much monopolized as in feudality.

But mankind have been at this late age of the world indebted to an Evans for the application of the thorough principle of every human being's equal and inalienable title and right to a share of the soil and government. It is this higher and permanent title to them, subject to no liability to alienate, only to be exchanged for each other, that will enable man to attain true liberty and produce the finishing era of civilization. It is by this high title that the monarchs and aristocracy of the old world have through all time, held their thrones, power of government, and estates by hereditary succession and exemption from all alienating causes. And it is Evans who has shown that the same right and title to the ownership of a home for every human being, would also preserve all from want, crime, and misery. But to apply the true principles of rights in practice, he proposed township democracies, where all could meet in proper person and vote directly for law and judicature, without the intervention of officers, as well as to have the power of self-employment upon their own homesteads without that of landlords. To reach this regeneration of the right to soil, government and of all society, he agitated with the aid of a few others, with the press and public speaking, three preparatory sliding measures, the freedom of the public lands to actual settlers only, homestead exemption, and the limitation of the quantity owned of all other lands. These were urged until the big parties adopted them in their platforms, when the present homestead law was enacted by the withdrawing of the delegation [102] of the slave-holding power. But it contains little of the thorough principle of rights. No legislature can yet attain to the knowledge of this highest and most perfect title to all the rights of man. No reform can be expected from those who can only represent and legislate for wealth. All reform is difficult, and it seems that it can only be accomplished by a majority of small holders of the soil by townships and states, getting their ideas outside of the "ring" of the present erroneous institutions, and by simply signing a constitution that entirely changes and supersedes them all.


A few of his disciples fondly remembering and appreciating the sublime reform he proposed for the salvation of all humanity, of the Land Reform Association of New York city, consisting of Wm. Rowe, President; J. Commerford, and F. Smith, Vice-Presidents; H. Beeny, Treasurer; J. K. Ingalls, first Corresponding Secretary; and the author, Lewis Masquerier, second Corresponding Secretary; in 1874 visited his grave on the forty-acre farm whereon he had lived, four miles east from Keyport, Monmouth County, New Jersey. We found it by a path little worn leading to a tall marble slab headstone, amidst a wild growth of herbage, while the moaning breeze waved the branches of the overhanging trees, like a banner, as if still inviting the landless and pauperized masses to strike for a perpetuated and not a mere transient share of the soil.

It is inscribed on his tomb that he was born in Bromyard Herefordshire, England, March 25, 1805, and died in Granville, N. J., February 2, 1856, in his fifty-first year. The great object of his life was to secure homes for all by abolishing the monopoly of them. As editor of The Man, The Radical, The Workwoman's Advocate, The People's Rights, and Young America, he triumphantly vindicated the right of every human being to a share of the soil, as essential to the welfare and permanence of a landed democracy.

By his side is the grave of his first wife, Laura, who died in 1850, and the inscription upon its headstone bespeaks the sentiment of a good and conjugal husband, as well as wife. For it says that "She bore, without murmuring, all the privations [103] necessary for the cause her husband had espoused, and now while we mourn the vacant chair, she sleeps calmly, with the branches above waving a requiem over her grave."

Evans' person was over medium size, well formed, regular features with straight facial line and expansive brow and head. He spoke logically with no attempt at rhetorical display, and possessed a very even temper with a conciliatory manner that won and retained many friends. His second wife still survives.


It is in contemplation to erect a monumental bust in Prospect or Central Park to his honor and to instruct the Park visitors that the equal and inalienable homestead, labor, self-government, etc., to be inscribed upon the faces of its pedestal, are the only thorough remedy for all the evils of society and government. Millions can thus be informed of their rights and wrongs as much as by a newspaper, a book, or by public speaking.

It is intended also to celebrate his birthday every year, and republish his writings with a history of his land reform movement, and with biographical notices of all who have aided in it. Contributions are promised for the erection of the granite and bronze bust.

The Land Reform Association originated by Evans continues to meet in executive committee to arrange for meetings, and whenever there is a chance for a hearing in labor league conventions, anniversaries of progressives, and to get up memorials to Congress against the robberies of the public lands, to forbid the sale of them to non-residents or others, and to grant them only to actual settlers. Our memorials have been faithfully urged in Congress and discussed by Julian, Grow, Smith, Sumner, Walker, Holman and others, resulting in the homestead law, giving the quarter sections in all the alternate sections on condition of occupancy and cultivation for fivo years. The principles have also been advocated by Greeley, Bradlaugh, O'Brien, O'Connor, Hines, McClatehoy and others of the press, and by Ingalls, Commerford, Devyr, Davis, Beeny, Burr, [104] Bovey, Haddock, McKenzie, Eyckman, J. A. Pyne, Van Amringe and others on the rostrum.


The ownership of man's body being, now abolished, as in chattel slavery, the next forms of slavery are that of the hireage of man's muscles, as in hired labor; the vassalage or slavery of both men and women in voting for the so-called representatives who only legislate for the wealthy classes, and the debauchery and slavery of the appetite by rum and tobacco, all come next in the order of reform. But these evils can only be thoroughly abolished by inalienable homesteads on the soil, giving both men and women the power of self-employment, or a free will vote direct for the law and for the extermination of spirituous liquors and tobacco. As the canvass for president is the means of giving information more extensively over the Union than in any other way, every consideration points out G. W. Julian, who has been so prominent in all these reforms, as the proper candidate for President in 1880.


It is to be regretted that reformers do not progress in the true principles of reform without blundering into dogmatic propositions. Proudhon asserts that all property is robbery, instead of asserting that it is the inequality or monopoly of it that robs. Owen dogmatizes that it is the private ownership of property and competition, which are among the main causes of evil, when he should have seen, that, if all owned an equal inalienable and individual homestead, giving the power of self-employment, self-government, etc., his bugbear of competition and private ownership would produce only a virtuous emulation. This dogma of the communism of all rights and property, prevents the perception of the reformatory power that there is in an equal inalienable and private homestead. What better cooperation can be conceived than the establishment of all upon homesteads never to be divided down beyond the minimum quantity for a family support, with dwelling, barn and shop, upon every home, surrounded by garden, fruit and forest [105] trees; equality in exchanging surplus products in town-marts or by express vehicles, and meeting in town halls for governing, thus making a rural city of the whole earth, and stopping the curse of the present overgrown cities? An Owen "common property community" would be a kind of slave plantation' overseered by managers, a form of officers, indulging in favoritism, and where the want of private ownership would destroy all stimulus to duty and responsibility. Communism in all things leads to the logical inference of a free love promiscuity of the sexes. But let every homestead be improved in every thing in two equal halves, with thorough ownership of the one in the male and the other in the female, and then in case of difficulty either can retire from the other. But this plan of township democracies, and communizing or the nationalizing form of society can be settled by experiment as to which is the true one.