In 1928 the Baldwin County Historical Society sought to publish a small book on the history of Baldwin County. Their intent was to strive to present in a brief manner some facts which they hoped would be an inspiration to those seeking to know the history of the county better. A manuscript written to embody inspiration usually does not include items of interest that would show the county in a bad light. The topic of slavery, for instance, is mute.
The section I find most interesting appears on pages 71-74 and discusses the Fairhope Single Tax Colony. A group of settlers from the Midwest settled on land in Baldwin County to build their “Utopia.” They held as a “self-evident truth” that all men have equal right to the use of the earth (without which they contend indeed that the assertion of the Declaration of Independence of the equal right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is meaningless). They hold that, as a natural result of the coming of people together in communities—local, state or national— and of the activities of governments which they institute for their benefit, land values arise, and that these land values, bearing a direct relation to population and to public needs, are therefore obviously a proper source of public revenue. They hold still further that in any properly organized and administered government the land values would yield sufficient revenue for all proper public purposes, rendering it unnecessary to tax forms of wealth that, instead of being due to the community, are the result of individual industry and thrift—hence the conception of the land value tax as the only (or “single”) tax. Baldwin County then was to be the test for this colony of settlers. Read the pages to find out what happened. If you want to look at some source documents from the corporation that was created from this effort they are available online at the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation Archives.