… is from an October 20th, 1960 memo written by Ronald Coase (then on the Economics faculty at the University of Virginia) after a visit to the Ford Foundation in New York City. Coase met with some Ford Foundation officials, including Kermit Gordon, to help press for a large grant proposal that UVA’s Thomas Jefferson Center had requested from Ford. Although Coase had been warned by Jim Buchanan and Warren Nutter (who’d earlier met with Gordon and other Ford Foundation officials) that the Foundation was apparently hostile to the favorable mention, in a T.J. Center brochure, of “individual liberty,” Coase was nevertheless surprised by the negative results of his meeting:
The main source of my gloom was the realization that in the United States a high official of one of the most important foundations in the country could manifest such disrespect for a group of scholars engaged in the study of the problems of a free society and could find in the expression of a belief in individual liberty and the kind of society envisioned in the American Constitution a cause for suspicion of their honesty and their sense.
Coase’s memo is included in full in a hot-off-the-press paper by my GMU colleague David Levy, and his co-author Sandy Peart, entitled “How the Virginia School Got Its Name.”