Burton W. Folsom, Jr.


Burton W. Folsom, Jr.

Burton W. Folsom, Jr. (born 1947) is an American historian and author. He received his doctorate in history from the University of Pittsburgh in 1976 and as of 2005 is a professor of American history at Hillsdale College.

Folsom has written several books that revise commonly held views about the role of capitalism in the social developments of the Industrial Revolution and the Gilded Age. While Matthew Josephson (and most contemporary textbooks) portrayed capitalists as irresponsible robber barons who preyed on the public, Folsom shows them as constructive visionaries who benefited consumers and were integral to the development of industry. In his book "The Myth of the Robber Barons", Folsom distinguishes between "political entrepreneurs" who ran inefficient businesses supported by government favors, and "market entrepreneurs" who succeeded by providing better and lower-cost products or services, usually while facing vigorous competition.

Folsom identifies the following people as market entrepreneurs:
*John Jacob Astor
*James J. Hill
*John D. Rockefeller
*Charles M. Schwab
*Cornelius Vanderbilt

He regards these people as political entrepreneurs:
*Robert Fulton
*Thomas McKenney
*Henry Villard
*Warren Buffet [Dr. Folsom's talk to The National Conservative StudentConference, on Monday, August 4, 2008 ]

Folsom is a former associate of the Free Enterprise Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, both free market think tanks, and a frequent guest of the libertarian organization Foundation for Economic Education. Warren Buffet was noted as a political entrepreneur during Dr. Folsom's talk to The National Conservative StudentConference, on Monday, August 4, 2008.


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