John C. Lincoln, the Lincoln Foundation, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 1943-2004

Collection Overview

Title: John C. Lincoln, the Lincoln Foundation, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 1943-2004

Predominant Dates: 1947-1960

Arrangement: Arranged in four series: 1) Material by and about John C. Lincoln; 2) Material by and about James F. Lincoln and the Lincoln Electric Company; 3) Material published by the Lincoln Foundation and its Officers, and; 4) Material published by the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy

Biographical Note

John C. Lincoln, an inventor, engineer, and industrial mogul, first heard Henry George speak in 1889 in Cleveland, Ohio. According to Lincoln’s biographer and friend, Raymond Moley, about 500 attended George’s speech and Lincoln, age 23 at the time, “had no idea what George was talking about.” Still, the speech made an impression. By 1910, Lincoln had read George’s masterpiece—Progress and Poverty—three times and become an enthusiastic single taxer.

Lincoln was born in 1866 and raised in Painesville, Ohio. He became interested in electrical engineering at an early age and trained under Charles F. Brush, who invented the arc light and engineered America’s first electric street car. In 1895, Lincoln established the Lincoln Electric Company to manufacture an electric motor he designed. Over the course of his lifetime, Lincoln received 19 patents for his inventions.

In 1914, Lincoln handed control of the Electric Company to his younger brother, James F. Lincoln. James had joined the company in 1907 as a salesman. Under James’ leadership, the Lincoln Electric Company greatly expanded its operations and established an Employee Advisory Board, which helped design one of the most generous employee compensation plans, including a much studied employee bonus plan. Since 1934, the Lincoln Company has issued a profit-sharing bonus to its employees every year.

In addition to hearing George speak, Lincoln’s association with Cleveland mayor and ardent single taxer Tom L. Johnson impacted his conversion to George’s theories. Before his entry into city politics, Johnson earned a sizeable fortune buying and selling streetcars. Lincoln and Johnson had several contracts together. At Johnson’s urging, Lincoln read Progress and Poverty. According to Moley, “…Lincoln learned much more of George’s ideas through Johnson’s remarkable influence of the life of [Cleveland] and his practical application of George’s ideas.”

Like Johnson, Lincoln used business acumen and wealth to advance the single tax. During his lifetime he contributed more than $3 million to the Henry George movement. In 1924, he ran alongside William J. Wallace on the Commonwealth Land Party presidential ticket. In 1931 Lincoln moved to Arizona to pursue copper mining and real estate development. He excelled in both. In 1947, he established and endowed the Lincoln Foundation to promote the ideas of Henry George through education, research, and advocacy.

The Lincoln Foundation

During its first 10 years, the Lincoln Foundation invested heavily in higher education. The organization financed taxation studies at a number of universities and colleges including the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, the University of Virginia, and New York University. In 1956, the Foundation co-sponsored an essay contest with the NYU Graduate School of Business on the topic “What would Henry George now say about land value taxation, seventy-six years after the publication of his ‘Progress and Poverty.’” It awarded three cash prices: $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place, and $500 for third. In 1961, the Lincoln Foundation established the School of Public Finance at Claremont College in Los Angeles.

For a number of years, the Lincoln Foundation also supported the Henry George School of Social Science, for which Lincoln served as President of the Board of Trustees from 1941 to 1958. Following his father’s death in 1959, David C. Lincoln became President of the Lincoln Foundation.

In 1974, the Lincoln Foundation established the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP), a nonprofit and tax-exempt educational institution. The Lincoln Foundation supported the LILP with grant money until 2006, when the two organizations merged. The LILP sponsors research, conducts courses and conferences in an effort to advance knowledge and inform decision making about land policy.


The Lincoln Foundation. Report of the First Ten Years (1958)
William Feather, “Those Single Taxers,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer (March 26, 1961)

Collection Content

Series One: Publications by and about John C. Lincoln and the Lincoln Foundation

John C. Lincoln, The Lincoln Letter (October 1949)
John C. Lincoln, The Lincoln Letter (July 1951-June 1952)
J.A. Wadovick, “John C. Lincoln Here on Birthday” Cleveland Plain Dealer (July 16, 1955)
John C. Lincoln, “Stop Legal Stealing” (1958)
“Millions for Single Tax” The Oregonian (July 20, 1959)
George J. Harmann, “John Lincoln Bequests…” Cleveland Plain Dealer (September 20, 1959)
Page 2
William Feather, “Those Single Taxers” Cleveland Plain Dealer (March 24, 1961)
N.R. Howard, “John C. Lincoln Left Deep Impact on Land” (Spring 1962)
Tony Ortega, “Georgist Burns,” New Times (November 2-8, 1995)
John C. Lincoln, “Dear Friend” (undated)
John C. Lincoln, “The Importance of Natural Relations” (undated)
John C. Lincoln, “The Natural Source of Revenue for Government” (undated)
John C. Lincoln, “Scientific Taxation” (undated)
John C. Lincoln, “Should Land Having Selling Value” (undated)
John C. Lincoln, “Some Important Axioms” (undated)

Series Two: Publications by and about James F. Lincoln and Lincoln Electric Company

James Lincoln, Intelligent Selfishness and Manufacturing (Cleveland: Lincoln Electric Company, 1943)
“Another Lincoln Heard From” The Daily Republican Eagle (May 26, 1944)
James F. Lincoln, et. al. “Why the Lag in Production?” Town Meeting (October 2, 1946)
James F. Lincoln, “Wages and Workers” N.A.C.A. Bulletin (May 1, 1947)
Thomas E. Shroyer, Report of the Joint Committee on Labor-Management Relations [c. 1947]
James F. Lincoln, What Makes Workers Work? (Cleveland: The Lincoln Electric Co., 1951)
Howard Hall, “Graded Taxes Urged Here” The Dayton Daily News (March 7, 1962)
Peter Edson, “Lincoln Electric Suit First Court Test of Renegotiation,” World-Telegram and Sun [c. 1953]
John W. Love, “Lincoln Electric Soon to Pay Another Bonus,” World-Telegram and Sun (Dec 12, 1953)
Charles Hillinger, “For the 49th year, this company pays a bonus” Philadelphia Inquirer (Dec 5, 1982)
William Serrin, “The Way That Works at Lincoln” New York Times (January 15, 1984)
“Lincoln Preaches Incentive Plans” World-Telegram and Sun (April 30, [no year])

Series Three: Material Published by the Lincoln Foundation and its Officers

C.O. Steele to Otto K. Dorn (August 22, 1949)
C.O. Steele to Otto K. Dorn (September 7, 1949)
Richard Stanton Rimanoczy, Adult Economic Education in Industry. A Report (1954)
The Lincoln Foundation. Report of the First Ten Years (1958)
John C. Lincoln, “The Effect of Differences in Property Tax Rates Among Committees” (June 1961)
Selected Readings on Land Value Taxation in Australia (June 1964)

Raymond Moley (Adviser and Director)

“The Increasing Cost of Land” The Sun (January 13, 1960)
“Mother of Monopoly” Newsweek (September 12, 1960)
“Tokenism II” Newsweek (May 15, 1961)
“Penalty for Excellence” (1963)
“Forgotten Tax Source” (August 18, 1963)
“Taiwan’s Model Land Reform” Los Angeles Times (January 6, 1964)
“Property Tax Reform” Newsweek (May 10, 1965)
“Struggle for the Land” Newsweek (July 4, 1966)
“How High Taxes Hold Back Slum Repairs” (1967)
“Church’s Answer to Communism” Los Angeles Times (January 7, 1968)
“One Reason We Have Slums” (undated)

Series Four: Material Published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Committee on Taxation, Resources and Economic Development. Conference Brochure (October 1977)
Committee on Taxation, Resources, and Economic Development. Conference Brochure (September 1978)
“Fall Course Schedule” (1979)
Frederick D. Stocker, Farm-Use Assessment Revisited (1979)
George Break, Adam Smith and The Property Tax: Some Neglected Advice (1979)
Ronald B. Welch, The Property Tax Under Pressure. A Policymaker’s Guide (1980)
Robert V. Andelson, “A Capitalist Theology of Liberation” (July 19, 1993)
Steven B. Cord, Legal Suggestions for Enacting Land Value Taxation (1999)
Land Lines (October 2001)
Land Lines (April 2002)
Land Lines (July 2002)
Land Lines (July 2003
Land Lines (January 2004)