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 years 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

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