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Percy L. Greaves

(1906 – 1984)

Eminent Champion of Economic Freedom

     Percy L. Greaves graduated from Syracuse University magna cum laude in 1929. After a short business career, he took graduate work in economics at Columbia University. In 1934 he went to Washington, D.C., to “cover” the financial aspects of the Roosevelt New Deal for the newly formed U.S. News magazine. In 1936 he became a European executive for an American food company. His travels and business contacts gave him a familiarity with socialist-drifting England, Front Populaire France and the deteriorating economic conditions of Nazi Germany under Hitler.

     He returned to the U.S. before Munich and served a major life insurance company before becoming Research Director for the Republican National Committee during World War II. Following the war he became Chief of the Minority Staff for the Joint Congressional Committee for the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack. In 1947, as a House Committee employee, he wrote the first draft of the Hartley Bill, later amended to become the Taft-Hartley Bill. From 1948 until his death in 1984, Percy served the cause of economic education and the ideals of a free society by consulting, writing, lecturing, and teaching college students.

     In 1944 Percy read his first two Mises’ books. In 1950 his duties as Economic Advisor for the Christian Freedom Foundation and featured columnist for Christian Economics (which lasted seven years) brought him to New York.. At age 44 he enrolled in the Mises’ graduate seminar at New York University. He continued to attend for 19 years until it ended in 1969. From 1959 to 1972 he was chairman of the Mises Dinner Circle. And from 1965 to 1971 he was the Armstrong Professor of Economics, with Professor Mises, at the University of Plano, Texas. 

     During his life Dr. Greaves lectured extensively both at home (at Bellevue University in 1984) and abroad, addressed numerous seminars for the Foundation for Economic Education and appeared on programs with Professor Mises on many occasions. He was a guest lecturer on Economic topics for the Freedom School from 1957 to 1960. His articles have appeared widely in publications of North and South America, Europe and Asia. He contributed to a number of books, including two Festschriften in honor of Ludwig von Mises. His books include: Operation Immigration (1947), Glossary of Mises’ Human Action (1967), Understanding the Dollar Crisis (1973), and Mises Made Easier (1974)

     Percy Greaves was also the editor of a series of nine essays by Ludwig von Mises entitled, On the Manipulation of Money and Credit (1978). His wife, Bettina, translated the essays from the German. After authorizing the editorship of these essays, Mises wrote to Percy, “Of all my students, you are one of the very few who really understands the full significance of my teachings.” No finer endorsement could be made of an educator in the Austrian economic tradition.

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