The Freeman

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The Freeman
Editor Sheldon Richman
Categories Classical liberalism
Publisher Foundation for Economic Education
Year founded 1946
Country USA
ISSN Template:ISSN search link

The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty is one of the oldest and most respected libertarian journals in the United States.[1] It is published by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). It started as a digest-sized monthly study journal; it currently appears 10 times per year and is a larger-sized magazine. FEE was founded shortly after the end of World War II in 1946 by Leonard E. Read, who served as its president until his death in 1983. The Foundation was the first organization established after the war to present the principles of free markets, limited government, private property, the rule of law, and libertarian philosophy and at the same time to oppose the many government interventionist programs introduced during the 1930s, especially under Roosevelt's New Deal, and which had multiplied during World War II.


During FEE's early years, it published essays, pamphlets and booklets, all dealing with some aspect of libertarian philosophy, by both classical liberals of the past, such as Frédéric Bastiat and Andrew Dickson White, as well as the early work of contemporary authors such as Milton Friedman, George Stigler and Ayn Rand.[2] In 1955, FEE introduced a quarterly, Ideas on Liberty, which in January 1956 was merged with The Freeman, a bi-weekly free-market oriented news magazine which had been published in New York City since 1950. As the market for free market journals was limited in the 1950s, it ran into financial problems and in 1956 was taken over by FEE, an educational, tax-exempt Foundation. At the time of its take-over, it was transformed from a bi-weekly into a monthly titled The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty.

The editors of The Freeman have included Henry Hazlitt, John Chamberlain, Suzanne La Follette, Paul L. Poirot, Brian Summers, Charles Hamilton, and John Robbins. Henry Hazlitt, an economist and journalist, had been one of FEE's founders and his articles continued to appear regularly in The Freeman after its take-over by FEE. John Chamberlain became FEE's regular book reviewer and his reviews appeared in The Freeman until his death in 1995. Leonard Read, FEE's President, was also a regular contributor, as was FEE's economic adviser, the noted Austrian School economist, Ludwig von Mises. Other contributors in the 1950s included: Barbara Branden, James Burnham, Frank Chodorov, John Dos Passos, Max Eastman, John T. Flynn, F. A. Hayek, Frank Meyer, Raymond Moley, Roscoe Pound, Wilhelm Röpke, Morrie Ryskind and George Sokolsky.[3]

The Freeman is widely considered to be an important forerunner to the conservative publication National Review magazine, which was founded in 1955, and which from its inception included many of the same contributing editors.[4]

FEE's Freeman is published monthly. During its more than half century of life it has published articles by economists, businessmen, professors, teachers, statesmen (domestic and foreign), students, housewives, free-lance writers, and budding libertarians. Many of its authors have gone on to become noted authors, teachers, and founders of other libertarian organizations. It continues to discuss current economic and governmental issues from the same pro-private property, free market, limited government, libertarian philosophy which sparked the founding of FEE and all its publications. Ronald Reagan was photographed reading The Freeman on an airplane when he was running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination.

The current editor of The Freeman since 1997 is Sheldon Richman. The writers whose work appears regularly in The Freeman include such libertarians as Charles W. Baird, Donald J. Boudreaux, Stephen Davies, Burton Folsom, Jr., David R. Henderson, Robert Higgs, Wendy McElroy, Lawrence W. Reed, John Stossel, Thomas Szasz and Walter E. Williams.

Earlier publications called The Freeman

The Freeman has been a popular magazine name and FEE's Freeman had predecessors. There was a Freeman magazine published in the U.S. shortly after the Civil War. From 1920 to 1924, Albert Jay Nock, a noted literary figure and author, edited a magazine called The Freeman, and its contributors included Conrad Aiken, Charles A. Beard, William Henry Chamberlin, John Dos Passos, Thomas Mann, Lewis Mumford, Bertrand Russell, Carl Sandburg, Lincoln Steffans, Louis Untermeyer and Thorstein Veblen.[5] Nock's former assistant Suzanne La Follette revived the periodical as The New Freeman in the 1930s, and, later, LaFollette was one of founding editors of the 1950s Freeman. In addition, the Henry George School published a Freeman magazine during World War II. The immediate predecessor of FEE's The Freeman, however, it was the bi-weekly New York City-published news magazine mentioned above.


  1. About, The Freeman.
  2. Burns, Jennifer, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, 2010, Oxford Univ. Press, pp.102-103, 116-118.
  3. Branden, Barbara, "The Moral Antagonism Of Capitalism and Socialism," The Freeman, Nov., 1959, vol. 9, iss. 11; Kelly, Daniel, James Burnham and the Struggle for the World: a Life, ISI Books, 2002, and Independent Institute, review; Chamberlain, John, A Life With the Printed Word, Regnery, 1982, p.138; Agnew, Jean-Christophe, and Rosenzweig, Roy, A Companion to Post-1945 America, Blackwell, 2002, p.309; Hamilton, Charles H., "The Freeman: the Early Years," The Freeman, Dec., 1984, vol.34, iss. 12; and, Liggio, Leonard P., "The Freeman: An Eyewitness View: How Today's Freeman Came To Be," Jan./Feb. 2006, vol. 56, iss. 1.
  4. Chamberlain, John, A Life with the Printed Word, 1982, Regnery, pp.141, 145-146.
  5. Doherty, Brian, Radicals for Capitalism: a Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, Public Affairs, 2007, p.54; Will Lissner remembers Nock