Beneath the Ivy

Beneath the ivy stones molder away;
Light shineth out as the last golden ray.
For all is autumn now under the birch,
Lest snowy night ore’ take the cathedral church.

It is a quiet autumn on our Western front, and beneath the ivy we may still glimpse the moldering remnants of our older world.
Read more on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

The Good Life, No. 8: Heroes

Rose Friedman was once described as “equal parts velvet and steel.” At once her husband’s wife and colleague, Rose was never the great woman behind a great man. She noted in a 1999 interview that “I’ve always felt that I’m responsible for at least half of what he’s gotten.”  From co-authoring three of his most influential works to providing the impetus for such ambitious projects as their television series and nonprofit foundation, Rose Director Friedman can rightfully be called Milton’s partner.

An influential economist in her own right, Rose greatly influenced Milton’s economic thought. “It was an extremely close intellectual fellowship, and she was not someone who got credit for things she didn’t do,” Milton’s student Gary Becker observes. “They discussed ideas constantly.” Another longtime friend of the couple remarks that, for Milton, Rose’s opinion was “the ultimate test.” Friedman eagerly sought his wife’s point of view when developing his own, and openly admitted that she was the only person who had ever won an argument with him. This intellectual equality rendered their professional collaboration a very natural one. Still, she said, “I was smart enough to know that he was smarter than me.” So while Milton focused his efforts on technical economics, Rose set out to bring their theory of freedom to the public.

In the early 1980s, PBS approached the couple about turning their co-written international best-seller Free to Choose into a television series. After convincing Milton to take on the project with her, Rose assumed the role of associate producer and was heavily involved in organizing the series, which achieved global success. Friends and relations also credit her with providing the inspiration for the Friedman Foundation. But while she is universally recognized as an expert economist with intelligence and drive, Rose is also remembered for the grace with which she balanced her roles as colleague and wife.

“She was a great lady, in every sense of the word,” an acquaintance recalls. Outspoken yet polite, patient yet uncompromising, Rose stepped confidently — never aggressively — into her husband’s spotlight and quickly bowed out again when appropriate. She complemented Milton, earning the admiration of her peers and setting a tremendous example of feminine strength, courage and love.

These virtues helped to sustain the Friedmans through an arduous fight for freedom. When they entered academia, the field was virtually void of principled conservatives. Their work reintroduced classical liberalism as a valid and critically important body of thought with the power to revolutionize society as well as the academy. Milton and Rose changed the world together, leaving a legacy that will flourish for generations to come.

Great Britain and the Gregorian Calendar: What is the Date?

Much confusion in the writing of history arises from the fact that history spans a diverse array of dating methods. Because man’s knowledge is finite, his methods for discovering what is true are in constant flux. One of these changes has been the altering of the old Julian calendar to the present Gregorian calendar. Great Britain and her colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until Sept. 14, 1752 (The 1752 Calendar Change). Accordingly, dating American and British history before 1752 is difficult, and merits a short discussion in any context that addresses the history of these nations. Read more on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

FEE Lectures

Kurt Bouwhuis, Mackinac Center Intern

The Foundation of Economic Education has posted many of the lectures from summer seminars here

These lectures cover a large range of topics and are all labeled and easy to find.  I attended The History and Liberty Seminar at Northwood University in Midland, MI and learned many things from each and every lecture.

A Lack of Unity: Lessons from Falkirk

The Battle of Falkirk (from

The Battle of Falkirk (from

Per Scriptum,

E. Wesley

We live in a time and place where there’s much excitement and protest about government spending.  But are we being as resourceful as possible?  Are we divided and scattered?  My mind goes back to another July 22nd in 1298 when the sky was less sunny than it is today, being filled with a torrent of arrows.  Freedom was then not being fought on the peaceful grounds of verbal protest and “tea parties,” but rather with swords and spears in marshy swamps.  Heroes walked alongside the peasantry, and the face of friend and foe were never far apart.

During 1298, Edward I of England was continuing his tyrannical invasion of Scotland, and in June he reviewed his army at Roxburgh.  Under his command were 80,000 infantry (English, Irish, and Welsh), 3,000 fully armed heavy cavalry (veterans from the French wars), 4,000 light cavalry, and finally 500 Life Guards from Gascony decked in their finest.  Tyranny looked far more obvious than it does today.  In contrast, liberty was far less comfortable than it is now.  William Wallace and the rest of the Scottish freedom fighters picked the marshes of Falkirk as battleground.  In front of Wallace’s army, a boggy morass would stop a galloping advance of Edward’s cavalry.  To their left and right, the army erected palisade walls.  Due to internal jealousies, only a few Scottish nobles were among Wallace’s peasant army of about 25,000-30,000 strong.  Among the few nobles who served as commanders were Sir John the Grahame of Abercorn and Dundaff; Sir John Stewart of Bonhilll; Duncan MacDuff, 11th Earl of Fife; and John “Red” Comyn, son of the Lord of Badenoch.  On July 22nd, St. Magdalen’s Day, Edward’s army fell into fighting positions and the Battle of Falkirk began.

Edward coordinated the attack in three columns of 30,000 men each.  The first column was to be led by Earl Marshal.  The Bishop of Durham would lead the second column, with Edward himself leading the third.  Earl Marshal rolled his force directly into the morass, and was immediately under fire from the Scottish bowman.  Deciding that going strait through the bog was no good, he swerved to the left to firmer ground and struck Wallace’s right flank.  However Wallace was ready for them.  Wallace had armed his army with 12 ft. long spears, and organized his infantry into tight box or oval shaped unites (the Scottish term for this armed formation is “Schiltron”).  Earl Marshal’s cavalry charged in vain, being simply impaled on the spears.  While Marshal’s force was still fighting hard, The Bishop of Durham’s division wisely decided to ride around the morass, and fall on Wallace’s right.  Wallace may have been able to withstand both attacks had he not been betrayed at that vital moment.  A rival noble to Robert Bruce, “Red” John Comyn and 10,000 followers, simply left the field.  Wallace only had 20,000 to the English force of 90,000.  Wallace, the Hector of the Scots, fought from the front raining blows upon the English with his 6 ft. long two-handed broadsword, but it was too late.  The Welsh longbows (destined to later become famous in the Battle of Agincourt) poured volley after volley of deadly arrows into the Scottish Schiltrons, weakening them for the overwhelming cavalry charges of the English.  Wallace, 7 foot giant though he was, found himself retreating to the Carron ford, as the last rays of the setting sun gleamed on the armor of his pursuers.

Liberty has never been safe with just “a giant.”  Unity is the key to success.  Toward that end, I would encourage my readers to read the Mackinac Center’s Tea Party Activist Toolbox.  What we do during this time is critical, and we certainly can’t just go to our tea parties and return home.  We must stay active.

Interventions Breed Interventions – Bank On It

This is a great letter to the editor from Don Boudreaux:

18 July 2009

Editor, The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

To the Editor:

Discussing today’s proposed increase in federal financial regulation, Paul Krugman describes “the creation of federal deposit insurance in the 1930s” as marking “the last time there was a comparable expansion of the financial safety net” (“The Joy of Sachs,” July 18).

Mr. Krugman’s history is half-baked.  U.S. bank insolvencies in the 1930s resulted from restrictions on branch banking.  Canada, which had no such restrictions, suffered not a single bank run during the Depression.  And our northern neighbor had no deposit insurance until the 1960s.  So the very safety that Mr. Krugman suggests can be, and was, created only by deposit insurance was itself earlier undermined by misguided government regulations restricting branch banking.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Chairman, Department of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

794 Years Ago…

Per Scriptum,

E. Wesley — Mackinac Center Intern

June 15th should go down in history as a cornerstone in the freedom movement in the West. Although the Magna Carta didn’t apply to all men and women when first crafted, it implemented the concept of fundamental human rights into political reality. In the West, it was arguably the first step towards forming a society with explicit rights for humanity, and limitations on how a ruler can rule over his subjects. We ought to remember the strife that determined the fate of such a vital document.

In 1204, King John of England was forced to concede the loss of his French provinces. However, he was determined to regain popularity among the English nobles by continuing renewed military campaigns with France. This necessitated a rise in English taxes to support the foreign wars, which only led to more dissatisfaction among the nobility. Meanwhile, John also disagreed with Pope Innocent III over the Canterbury archbishopric election. The Pope threatened to depose John in 1212, but stopped when John (as a necessary compromise) offered England as a fief to the Church. John, in attempting to save his own power, now became a puppet.

The nobility, now completely enraged at John’s most resent political blunder, began to form a confederacy. Ironically, Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury revealed a copy of Henry I’s charter of freedoms in a meeting of nobility in London. The nobles swore to renew the observance of this charter. Soon, the confederacy spread throughout England and comprised the vast majority of the all the nobility. A much larger meeting was called at St. Edmundsbury by Langton, and the results were the same. It was agreed that after Christmas, they would trek to London for a “petition.” In the meantime, they armed themselves.

At the festival of Easter, when the nobles expected to hear the King’s reply to their petition, 2,000 knights in majestic array (and countless others of inferior rank) formed at Brackley, 15 miles from Oxford. The King, in an angry rant, refused to limit his power. Not a good idea! The confederacy then chose Robert Fitz-Walter as their general. They besieged Northampton castle (though unsuccessfully), marched through the gates of Bedford castle, and rode on to London. Upon reaching London, the nobles issued compulsory orders to other loyal barons to join the fight. The confederacy trashed the King’s palaces and parks, and “loyalists” flocked to their ranks all the more as an opportunity to make their secret hopes of freedom a reality. King John, having only 7 knights left, finally capitulated. In Runnymede, on June 15th 1215, John signed the “Great Charter” into law.

The Magna Carta’s influence is extraordinary. It laid the foundation for local elections in England (originally, only for the nobility). When England began to institute the “election” into society as a legitimate means of governance, it simultaneously spelled doom on its class system. Noble councils became parliaments, and rights to lords became rights to mankind. America would then take these seeds and plant them in a new world.