Fred Foldvary

Fred Foldvary's Editorial
economics

In Memory of Tertius Chandler


by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor

Tertius Chandler, a historian and author, died at age 85 in Berkeley on May 17, 2000, after being struck by a car on April 21. Chandler's ideas about history were original and visionary, and he was an avid advocate of the single tax on land rent. Also an athlete, he continued running in his elderly age, and he kept up his scholarship and writing until the end.

Tertius was a dear friend of mine. Though well read and educated, with an undergraduate degree from Harvard, he did not get a Ph.D. until late in life, and had difficulty getting his books published. He did not have an academic position in a university, although he was in touch with historians, economists, and philosophers, including Will Durant. He lectured on history, economics, and religion, especially about Moses. I helped him to publish some books on land-value taxation and history. His unpublished autobiography is on file at the Berkeley Historical Society.

Chandler's most successful book in terms of recognition by scholars is Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth (1987). The book includes estimates of the population of cities since ancient times.

His most important book, in my judgment, was The Tax We Need published by the Gutenberg Press in 1980. In less than 100 pages, he laid out the basic economics of land-value taxation, and why unlike other taxes, this is one tax we really need. The book had a foreword by Alfred Kahn, advisor to president Carter. Topics in the book include poverty, taxing land values, the ill effects of taxing improvements, curing depressions, the effect on cities, Henry George, and examples of applications world-wide.

His masterpiece, however, was Chandler's Half Encyclopedia, the second edition published by the Gutenberg Press in 1983. Tertius told me he called it a "half" encyclopedia because he didn't know everything, and some topics are not heavily covered. But it is strong in history, social science, and especially biographies. One of Chandler's passions was to study and make lists of great men and women. It is amazing that one man could write a whole encyclopedia of 1670 pages, plus an index, all written with no computer, but just a typewriter.

Some of Tertius Chandler's original ideas include:

Another of Chandler's books is Godly Kinds and Early Ethics, where he presented his ideas on Moses and his belief that Zeus and other figures in Greek mythology were actual people. Chandler said that Moses, influenced by the Egyptian pharaoh Ikhnaton, originated democracy, advocated the Golden Rule, and invented the alphabet.

In Remote Kingdoms, Tertius Chandler wrote about the little known kingdoms of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific. It includes chapters on Sheba, the Yorubas, the Vikings, kingdoms in Mexico, the Incas, the Sioux, and the Choctaws.

His admiration of Moses led him to write Moses & the Golden Age, showing how Moses was much more than the leader of the Israelite Exodus. He describes the pharaoh Ikhnaton, who rejected the belief in many Gods and worshipped instead Aton, which was the name of the sun, but was not the sun itself but only a symbol for God. Chandler describes the Pax Atonica, an era of peace.

Always cheerful and optimistic, my friend Tertius believed deeply in progress, and wrote a book titled Progress: Social Progress from Mercury to Kennedy, published in 1976. Chandler there identified the ancient god Mercury as Menkuré, pharaoh of Egypt around 2500 BC, who recognized and implemented human rights. Gudea, ruler in Babylonia and a monotheist, also proclaimed the Golden Rule of treating others like you wanted to be treated.

Tertius Chandler was original like few others, and used history to promote peace and social progress. He wrote one of the clearest presentations on geoism and the use of rent for public finance. But despite his publications and large correspondence with well-known people, Chandler remained an obscure historian and social reformer, largely unknown to the world. We have much to learn from him, and let us hope that future history will add Tertius Chandler's name to his own list of great men of progress.

-- Fred Foldvary      


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Copyright 2000 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.