Leonard E. Read (1898 - 1983)
Leonard E. Read was an author and evangelist for a free society based
on the free market. He created the Foundation for Economic Education
as an organization to educate people in the concepts of liberty and
free markets via public speaking and, later, its monthly magazine,
The Freeman. In addition to that, he is most remembered for his essay
I, Pencil, a very approachable introduction to the amazing mystery
of the Invisible Hand.
Read was born on September 26, 1898 on a farm in Michigan, and grew up
a studious youth. He volunteered for military service when the United States
entered World War I, and after his discharge wanted to attend medical
school, but was unable to afford it. He started a produce business, intending
to become a doctor later. Perhaps due to his experience as a businessman,
he instead later went to work for the Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles,
where he preached against excessive governmental intrusion in business. After
of the New Deal and the growth of fascism through the years of
World War II, and recognizing that pro-statist thought had been
becoming more prevalent in the U.S., he turned his attention to the
full-time goal of economic education, forming the
FEE in 1946, and running it until
his death. Some credit him for not allowing the ideas of
classical liberalism to die out.
It was a major part of his crusading philosophy to explain liberty
and the free market as the most moral framework for a society, in addition
to the efficiency arguments that many proponents of
libertarianism focus on; he said Coercion for noble purposes must
produce ignoble results. This approach lives on in the
editorial policy of The Freeman.
Darn! I meant to write this up on the anniversary
of Mr. Read's birth, but I neglected to take into account
where E2's clock is.
Update: FEE's monthly magazine is now named Ideas on Liberty