[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.

Michigan: Privatization Pioneer

Berry Gordy and Motown Records: Lessons for Black History Month

The story of how Berry Gordy borrowed $800 and built his Detroit home-based business into a multimillion-dollar music empire is a powerful reminder of what black entrepreneurs can achieve in America. … more

Governor Groesbeck: Road Builder and Defender of School Choice

In the 1920s, a daring three-term Michigan governor took bold stands against unfair taxation and the Ku Klux Klan's anti-school-choice efforts. … more

When the Telegraph Came to Michigan

Even more than e-mail today, the telegraph changed the way Americans communicated with each other in 1847. Michigan's first telegraph line, from Detroit to Ypsilanti, was a free market triumph. … more

Michigan and the Fantastic Federal Fur Failure

In 1822 the nation's first experiment with a federally subsidized industry-the Michigan fur trade-showed how entrepreneurs can succeed where government fails. … more

Corn Flakes and Greatness

From "dim-witted" dropout to one of the century's wealthiest Americans, Will Kellogg reminds us that personal and economic freedom encourage great achievement from even the most unlikely individuals. … more

A Grand Rapids Success: Helping the Homeless Help Themselves

Goverment antipoverty programs can provide a check, but not the incentive and nurturing to change a life. Mel Trotter Ministries is an example of how the poor are better helped by private charities. … more

Joe Louis vs. the IRS

The heavyweight champion's toughest opponent was not a boxer; it was the IRS. Louis' tragic story shows why we should replace the current income tax with a low, flat rate. … more

The Difference Between a Fire and a Flood

The North Dakota flood of 1997 and the great Michigan fire of 1881 inspired vastly different forms of generosity: one based on politics and the other founded in compassion. … more

Let There Be Light