Elizabeth J. Magie – The birthplace of Monopoly’s inventor in Macomb

Magie first made her game, known as The Landlord’s Game, popular among friends. It is a realty and taxation game intended to educate users about Georgism. The inspiration for the board game Monopoly. In 1903, Magie applied to the US Patent Office for a patent on her board game. She was granted U.S. Patent 748,626 on January 5, 1904.

The first patent drawing for Lizzie Magie’s board game, dated January 5, 1904

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Magie was born in Macomb, on May 9th, 1866, the year after the Civil War ended and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Her father, James K. Magie, was a newspaper publisher and an abolitionist who accompanied Lincoln as he traveled around Illinois in the late 1850s debating politics with Stephen Douglas.

The seeds of the Monopoly game were planted when James Magie shared with his daughter a copy of Henry George‘s best-selling book, “Progress and Poverty,” written in 1879. As an anti-monopolist, James drew from the theories of George, a charismatic politician and economist who believed that individuals should own 100 percent of what they made or created, but that everything found in nature, particularly land, should belong to everyone.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Historic Courthouse Square in downtown Macomb has functioned as the hub of county activity since the centerpiece structure was erected in 1871. The plat of the board game is surprisingly similar to that of Macomb’s Downtown Square. Macomb’s Jail, incidentally was, at that time, in one of corners of the Square

Featured Image: Elizabeth J. Magie, an American game designer, writer 1866 – 1948

Websites: cityofmacomb.com, uspto.gov, corporate.hasbro.com, wimuseum.org



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