Burton Folsom Presentation: How Entrepreneurs, Not Big Government, Built America

September 13, 2022

On Tuesday evening (Sept. 13th), Burton W. Folsom from Hillsdale College delivered his presentation entitled How Entrepreneurs, Not Big Government, Built America to students, faculty, and staff from Michigan Tech. This presentation was also attended by several people from the local UP community.

A distinguished economic historian Burt Folsom serves as a distinguished fellow at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Dr. Folsom appears regularly on Fox News and is the author of ten books, including The Myth of the Robber Barons, which is published by the Young America’s Foundation and will soon be in its ninth edition; Uncle Sam Can’t Count; and FDR Goes to War. He has also written New Deal or Raw Deal?—a book that describes President Franklin Roosevelt’s disastrous New Deal program, which attacked free enterprise and impaired America’s recovery from the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In his presentation Folsom told a tale of economic growth and remarkable innovations by entrepreneurs between the 1840s and 1900s. The numerous examples helped cement and clarify his point that it is a private business and not a government that incentivize innovation and creativity, and provided the foundation for prosperity in the United States.

Select comments from participants:

"I really enjoyed Dr. Folsom's examples of how entrepreneurs repeatedly did what government subsidies failed to do in the 19th century! He was really passionate about the subject, too, which made his presentation very engaging." -Tarot Denger, YAF Chapter President

"Dr. Folsom was a great speaker because his message was simple: we must learn from past mistakes to build a better future. He reminded me of why I love America. I am not a brainwashed nationalist: I am a true believer in the American dream. This opportunity to analyze the mistakes of the past while simultaneously remembering the greatness of America and the ordinary exceptionalism that it built is not something I will soon forget." -Kelsie Kaufman, YAF student

"Dr. Folsom's energy and obvious passion paired with a topic rarely talked about in today's culture gave one of the most interesting presentations I have heard. He both entertained and educated his audience." -Lauren M. Hayes, YAF student

"I learned a lot from Dr. Burt Folsom and I really liked his unique approach to the topic by starting out with examples from history and allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions." -YAF student

"Very informative and interesting presentation. An hour well spent." -Houghton resident

"Burton Folsom provided a fascinating presentation into the history of subsidized vs unsubsidized entrepreneurship in the USA from the middle 1800s to the early 20th century. His perspective highlighted inventions such as the telegraph, railroad and airplane as successful inventions in support of engineering innovation without government funding." -U.P. resident

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