LeFevre, Robert, 1911-

Alternative names
Birth 1911-10-13
Death 1986-05-13

Biographical notes:

Robert LeFevre (1911-1986) was born in Gooding, Id. He attended Hamline University from 1931-1932, and enlisted in the Army during World War II. After the war he worked in San Francisco. In 1949 he became part owner of Falcon's Lair, formerly Rudolph Valentino's estate, and represented the Falcon Lair Foundation, dedicated to world peace. After running unsuccessfully for Congress in 1950 he moved to Florida. During the late 1940s and early 1950s he became more involved in right-wing anti-union and anti-communist organizations. He was executive director of the Congress of Freedom and the United States Day Committee, which both demanded the U.S. withdraw from the United Nations. In 1954 he published an article claiming to find socialist and "one-world" propaganda in the Girl Scout handbook. Later that year he moved to Colorado Springs and wrote for the Gazette telegraph, eventually becoming its editor. There he founded the Freedom School, which later moved to California and was renamed Rampart College. His political philosophy moved from more traditionally conservative to radical libertarian and beyond that to reject all political action and even the Libertarian Party itself. His Freedom School attracted such figures as Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and Rose Wilder Lane.

From the description of Robert LeFevre papers, 1946-1981. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 122943514

Robert LeFevre was born in Gooding, Idaho in 1911. His family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota when LeFevre was quite young. It was there that LeFevre developed an interest in the theatre. He attended Hamline University in St. Paul from 1931 to 1932 where he studied English and drama. After leaving the university, LeFevre worked at a variety of jobs, including acting and radio announcing. Upon the advent of World War II, LeFevre enlisted in the Army and eventually became an officer in the education and orientation division of the Army Air Corps. He spent a year in Europe and was discharged from the Army in 1945 after being injured in a jeep accident in France.

After leaving the Army, LeFevre worked in real estate in San Francisco. In 1949 he became part owner of Falcon's Lair, an estate formerly owned by the silent film actor Rudolph Valentino, and became embroiled in a controversy over turning the estate into a shrine dedicated to Valentino. During this time LeFevre became involved with the San Francisco Group, an organization formed to impart the religious and educational views of its members to the general public. He also represented the Falcon Lair Foundation, which was dedicated to world peace. LeFevre eventually declared bankruptcy because of problems encountered in his real estate business, some of which he blamed on government interference.

Following an unsuccessful run for Congress in Los Angeles' 14th Congressional District in 1950 as a Republican, LeFevre moved to Florida where he worked in radio and television as a newscaster. It was during these years, from the late 1940's to early 1950's, that LeFevre became more involved in right-wing anti-union and anti-communist political organizations. He was a member of the Wage Earners Committee, an organization formed in 1949 to counter unionism, and he eventually founded the Miami Breakfast Club which was associated with Merwin K. Hart's conservative Freedom Club organization. LeFevre served as the Executive Director of the Congress of Freedom and the United States Day Committee, both of which advocated conservative agendas including the demand that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations.

In an article published in Human Events in 1954, LeFevre charged that the Girl Scout Handbook contained "socialist" and "one world government" propaganda. The article attracted nationwide attention from the public and the news media and eventually forced the scouting organization to make changes in the Handbook.

LeFevre moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado late in 1954 to become an editorial writer for R. C. Holies' newspaper, the Gazette Telegraph. While still working at the newspaper where he would eventually become editor, LeFevre started the Freedom School, a small private school dedicated to teaching free market and anti-government principles.

By this time LeFevre's politics had moved from more traditionally conservative positions to more radical libertarian ones. He thought that the ideal state would have no government or political entities and the functions that government would normally be expected to handle--education, policing, and so forth--would be handled by the private sector. He rejected all political action and would eventually even reject the Libertarian Party that formed in the early 1970's.

The Freedom School began with teaching short sessions during the summer months and was not, nor would it ever be, accredited by any educational organization. The school did, however, draw a number of prominent libertarian and free-market thinkers. Ludwig von Mises, Frank Chodorov, Milton Friedman and Rose Wilder Lane all visited the Freedom School at one time or another, some to teach or lecture. In the late 1960's, LeFevre and the school's operations moved to Santa Ana, California. He changed the name of the school to Rampart College and shifted its emphasis from small classroom sessions to lectures, home study courses, and seminars directed mainly at business executives.

LeFevre left the school in 1973 and continued to lecture, write, and publish material on libertarian subjects. He had been a charismatic orator throughout most of his life and he remained a popular speaker on the libertarian lecture circuit until his death in 1986. During his lifetime LeFevre also published a number of books, newsletters, and pamphlets dealing with politics, government, economics, and his libertarian philosophy. In addition to his libertarian writings, LeFevre wrote fiction works late in his life but was apparently unsuccessful in getting them published.

From the guide to the Robert LeFevre papers, 1946-1981, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)


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