Foundation for Economic Education

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The Foundation for Economic Education was one of the first free market think tanks set up in 1946 and said to have inspired F A Hayek to set up the Mont Pelerin Society


According to Henry Hazlitt's account:

It must have been sometime in 1944 or 1945 that a handsome man dropped in to see me at the New York Times, where I was then writing the economic editorials, and introduced himself as Leonard Read, general manager of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
The free-enterprise philosophy had already become almost a religion with him. He told me he was looking for a wider audience to which to explain that philosophy, and was thinking of setting up a libertarian foundation of his own.
In 1946 Leonard had raised the money, set up the Foundation for Economic Education here at Irvington, and invited me to become one of his original trustees and officers.
It is astonishing how soon Leonard's action began to produce important results. Friedrich Hayek, in London, impressed by Read's initiative, raised the money the next year, 1947, to call a conference at Vevey, Switzerland, of 43 libertarian writers, mainly economists, from half a dozen nations. The group of ten of us from the United States included such figures as Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, George Stigler - and Leonard Read. That was the beginning of the still flourishing and immensely influential Mont Pelerin Society, now with several hundred members from dozens of countries.
Another effect of Leonard's initiative soon followed. Other libertarian foundations were set up in emulation. Baldy Harper, who had been working as economist for FEE from its first year, left in 1958 and started his Institute for Humane Studies in 1963 in California. Soon Antony Fisher set up like organizations in England, Canada, and eventually here. I recently learned from Antony that he is now watching over eighteen institutions in eleven countries. Manuel Ayau in Guatemala established his libertarian Universidad Francisco Marroquín. Groups in other Latin American countries have set up their own equivalents of FEE. It would take too long to name all the present institutions here and abroad, even if I knew of them all, that owe their origin directly to Leonard Read's example.
Let me return to the early days of the Foundation. The original officers were David M. Goodrich, chairman of the Board (he was then also chairman of the board of the B. F. Goodrich Company); Leonard Read, president; myself, vice-president; Fred R. Fairchild, professor of economics at Yale University, secretary; and Claude Robinson, president of the Opinion Research Institute, treasurer. There were sixteen trustees. They included H. W. Luhnow, president of William Volker & Company; A. C. Mattei, president of Honolulu Oil Corporation; William A. Paton of the University of Michigan; Charles White, president of the Republic Steel Corporation; Leo Wolman, professor of economics at Columbia; Donaldson Brown, former vice-president of General Motors; Jasper Crane, former vicepresident of Du Pont; B. E. Hutchinson, chairman of the finance committee of Chrysler Corporation; Bill Matthews, publisher of the Arizona Star; W. C. Mullendore, president of the Southern California Edison Company; and the officers of FEE.[1]


Further Reading

Sourcewatch entry on the Foundation for Economic Education


  1. ^ Henry Hazlitt 'The Early History of FEE' The Freeman, a publication of The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., March, 1984, Vol. 34, No. 3.
    1. Staff Profiles, Nicole Gray Conchar, Market House International Website, June-7-2004, Accessed through web archive on 24-April-2010