About William Batchelder Greene
William Batchelder Greene (April 4, 1819 – May 30, 1878) was a 19th-century individualist anarchist, Unitarian minister, soldier, and promoter of free banking in the United States. Greene was also a member of the First International.
Greene is best known for the works Mutual Banking which proposed an interest-free banking system; and Transcendentalism, a critique of the New England philosophical school. In 1850 and 1851, he organized citizens of Brookfield, Warren and Ware, Massachusetts to petition the state's General Court for a charter to establish a mutual bank. Upon all the petitions and after hearing the arguments of the petitioners, the Committee on Banks and Banking reported simply: "Leave to withdraw!" (The Radical Deficiency of the Existing Circulating Medium, 1857). Similar attempts by the New England Labor Reform League in the 1870s met with similar results. Greene's mutualist banking ideas resembled those of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon as well as the land banks of the colonial period. He had an important influence on Benjamin Tucker, the editor of the anarchist journal Liberty.
William Batchelder Greene was born in Haverhill on 4th April 1819. His father, Nathaniel Greene, was the postmaster of Boston and the founder of The Boston Statesman, the leading progressive newspaper in Massachusetts.
After attending West Point Greene took part in the Florida War against the Seminoles. He left the army and studied at Harvard Divinity School before serving as pastor of the Unitarian Church in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who encountered Greene at this time, described him as the "handsomest and most distinguished looking person I had ever met... he had eyes that transfix you with their blackness and penetration."
After reading the work of Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Greene became a socialist and published the influential work, Mutual Banking. According to Benjamin Tucker it was "the most important work on finance ever published in the country." Greene also became a strong advocate of women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery.
In 1853 Greene moved to Paris and remained there until the outbreak of the American Civil War. Returning to America he joined the Union Army and Governor John Andrew appointed him as colonel of the Fourteenth Massachusetts Infantry and had the responsibility of defending Washington against the Confederate Army. One of his men recalled that Greene had "the keenest black eyes ever put in a head... he was kind, patient, forgiving, and fatherly to his enlisted men."
Greene resigned his commission in October 1862 and returned to Boston where he joined with Ezra Heywood and Josiah Warren to develop America's first anarchist movement. Greene became increasingly involved in the struggle for trade union rights and became president of the Massachusetts Labor Union and was an active member of the International Workingmen's Association (the First International).
Greene also worked closely with Benjamin Tucker, the editor of the anarchist journal, Liberty. Both men were leading figures in the New England Labor Reform League, an organization that campaigned for: "the abolition of class laws and false customs, whereby legitimate enterprise is defrauded by speculative monopoly, and the reconstruction of government on the basis of justice and reciprocity."
William Greene died on 30th May 1878.
From : Wikipedia.org / Spartacus-Educational.com
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