[Photo of Dr. Burton W. Folsom]

Dr. Burton W. Folsom

Senior Fellow in Economic Education

Dr. Burton Folsom Jr. is a history professor at Hillsdale College and senior fellow in economic education for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He currently serves on the Mackinac Center’s Board of Scholars, and from 1994 to 1999 was the Center's senior fellow in economic history.

For the Mackinac Center, Folsom has authored dozens of widely reprinted articles about Michigan's rich and varied past as well as a 1997 book, Empire Builders: How Michigan Entrepreneurs Helped Make America Great. His other books include Urban Capitalists: Entrepreneurs and City Growth in Pennsylvania's Lackawanna and Lehigh Regions, 1800-1920 (1981); The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America (1991), now in its sixth edition; New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America (2008); and FDR Goes to War (2011), which he co-authored with Anita Folsom. He also has edited two volumes, The Spirit of Freedom: Essays in American History and The Industrial Revolution and Free Trade. His work has appeared in major newspapers and magazines including The Detroit NewsThe American Spectator, and The Wall Street Journal. He blogs at BurtFolsom.com.

Folsom received his Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pittsburgh.

Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and Liberty

We cannot know what views Douglass and Washington might hold if they were alive today. But it’s worth remembering that the injustice and racial discrimination they faced in their era were at least as unforgiving as any persecution experienced in America in recent decades. … more

Black History Month: Remembering Ralph Bunche

“There is,” he said, “a steady tendency toward polarization of the white and non-white peoples of the world which can lead to ultimate catastrophe for all.” … more

Ford Did Indeed Have A Better Idea

It was clear to Ford that hard work and entrepreneurial risk-taking were the sources of America’s great wealth. “Our help does not come from Washington, but from ourselves,” he wrote. “The government is our servant and never should be anything but a servant.” … more

The Crystal Gazer from Crystal Falls

Emil Hurja, a native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, was the pioneer of political polling, and was instrumental in the success of the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his political program, "The New Deal." Later, a disillusioned Hurja broke with Roosevelt over policy and lost a run for Congress. Known as "the Crystal Gazer from Crystal Falls," Hurja was a local boy with a national impact. … more

An Anniversary All Michigan Citizens Can Celebrate

By an overwhelming vote of citizens, the 1851 Michigan Constitution took the state out of economic development and gave wide berth to free markets and entrepreneurship. … more

Let There Be Lighthouses!

One of the Century's Major Books: Kirk's The Roots of American Order

Michiganian Russell Kirk's quarter-century-old book, The Roots of American Order, has become one of the most important explanations of America's unique rise to greatness and warnings of the erosion of her freedom and prosperity. … more

Are High School Economics Textbooks Reliable?

A review of the 16 most-used high school economics textbooks in Michigan reveals that many contain gross errors and dangerous myths about the market economy and the proper role of government. … more

What's Wrong with the Progressive Income Tax?

President Franklin Roosevelt proposed a 99.5 percent marginal tax rate on all incomes over $100,000. After that proposal failed, Roosevelt issued an executive order to tax all income over $25,000 at the astonishing rate of 100 percent. … more

George Washington's Unimpeachable Character

Congress advised General Washington to feed his troops by having them steal food from farmers. Instead, he promised to hang any soldier caught stealing food. Such theft might have solved a short-term problem, but it failed Washington's character test. … more