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Leonard E. Read (September 26, 1898 – May 14, 1983) was the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, which was the first modern libertarian think tank in the United States.

After a stint in the United States Army Air Service during World War I, Read started a grocery wholesale business in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which was initially successful but eventually went out of business. He moved to California where he started a new career in the tiny Burlingame Chamber of Commerce near San Francisco.

Read gradually moved up hierarchy of the United States Chamber of Commerce, finally becoming general manager of the Los Angeles branch, America's largest, in 1939.

During this period his views became progressively more libertarian. Apparently, it was in 1933, during a meeting with W. C. Mullendore, an executive with Southern California Edison, that Read was finally convinced that the New Deal was completely inefficient and morally bankrupt.

Read was also profoundly influenced by his religious beliefs. His pastor, Reverend James W. Fifield, was minister of the 4,000-member First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, of which Read was also a board member. Fifield ran a "resistance movement" against the "social gospel" of the New Deal, trying to convince ministers across the country to adopt libertarian "spiritual ideals".

During the period when he worked for the Chamber of Commerce, Read was also deeply influenced by Albert Jay Nock.

In 1945, Virgil Jordan, the President of the National Industrial Conference Board (NICB) in New York, invited Read to become its executive vice president. Read realized he would have to leave the NICB to pursue fulltime the promotion of free market, limited government principles. He resigned as a result.[1][2]

One donor from his short time at NICB, David M. Goodrich, encouraged Read to start his own organization. With Goodrich's aid, as well as financial aid from the William Volker Fund and from Harold Luhnow, Read founded the Foundation for Economic Education in 1946. He continued to work with FEE until his death in 1983. Read authored 29 books, a few of which are still in print and sold by FEE. He wrote numerous essays including the well-known "I, Pencil".



  • Romance of Reality (unknown)
  • I'd Push the Button (New York: Joseph D. McGuire, 1946)
  • Pattern for Revolt (1948)
  • Instead of Violence (unknown)
  • Students of Liberty (FEE, 1950)
  • Outlook for Freedom (unknown)
  • Government: an Ideal Concept (FEE, 1954; 2nd edition 1997)
  • "I, Pencil" (FEE, 1958, still in print)
  • Why Not Try Freedom? (FEE, 1958)
  • Elements of Libertarian Leadership (FEE, 1962)
  • Anything That's Peaceful (FEE, 1964; revised edition 1992; 2nd edition 1998, still in print)
  • The Free Market and Its Enemy (FEE, 1965)
  • Deeper then you Think (FEE, 1967)
  • Where Lies This Fault? (FEE, 1967)
  • Accent on the Right (FEE, 1968)
  • The Coming Aristocracy (FEE, 1969)
  • Let Freedom Reign (FEE, 1969)
  • Talking To Myself (FEE, 1970)
  • Then Truth Will Out (FEE, 1971)
  • To Free or Freeze, That is the Question (FEE, 1972)
  • Who's Listening (FEE, 1973)
  • Free Man's Almanac (FEE, 1974)
  • Having My Way (FEE, 1974)
  • Castles in the Air (FEE, 1975)
  • The Love of Liberty (FEE, 1975)
  • Comes the Dawn (FEE, 1976)
  • Awake for Freedom's Sake (FEE, 1977)
  • Vision (FEE, 1978)
  • Liberty: Legacy of Truth (FEE, 1978)
  • The Freedom Freeway (FEE, 1979)
  • Seeds of Progress (FEE, 1980)
  • Thoughts Rule the World (FEE, 1981)
  • How Do We Know (FEE, 1981)
  • The Path of Duty (FEE, 1982)

See also


  1. ^ North, Gary. (August 07, 2002) "Leonard E. Read's Small Tent Strategy", Retrieved on October 28, 2008.
  2. ^ Opitz, Edmund A. (1989-09)"Leonard E. Read:A Portrait", Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Retrieved on October 28, 2008.
This article uses content from the SourceWatch article on Leonard Read under the terms of the GFDL.

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