How Ralph Raico Met Ludwig von Mises
[It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Dr. Ralph Raico. In remembrance, here is the story of how Mises met the man who would go on to be one of the great champions of his ideas, as told by Guido Hulsmann in Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism.]
Murray Rothbard was the first in a long line of whiz kids who found a new intellectual home in Human Action and in Mises’s seminars.
Over the next fifteen years it happened with great regularity that highly gifted young men such as George Resch and Paul Cantor suddenly sought admission to the NYU seminar. Some of them even sought admission to Mises’s residence. One day Mises was ready to go out for dinner when the doorbell rang. Two youngsters were standing at the door and offered a subscription to The Freeman magazine. Mises declined the offer, saying he was already on their mailing list. He did not know that this was his first contact with two of his most ardent followers: Ralph Raico and George Reisman.
Raico and Reisman were both fifteen years old. They had been reading The Freeman for a year or two and had also read some of Mises’s books. Inspired, they had established “the Cobden Club, an organization of right-wing students” to fight the good fight. One day they decided to pay their hero a visit and came up with the ruse of presenting themselves as salesmen. Fortunately, they then decided to do things the proper way and paid a visit to the FEE offices in Irvington, where they met with Ivan Bierly, who was so impressed by their knowledge that he asked Mises whether he would be willing to receive them. Within ten days the meeting was arranged, and the old man— who fortunately did not remember their faces—advised the boys “about the proper way to study economics and spend [their] time in college."
He persuaded them that they had to invest more time learning about economics and liberty, rather than propagandizing theories that they did not really understand. As a token of his trust in their talents, he invited them to attend his NYU seminar—on the condition that they did not make noise.
They would attend his seminar for many years and became important advocates of Misesian economics. They both learned German on Mises’s advice. Raico translated Liberalismus into English and Reisman did the same for Grundprobleme.