Although she came from humble, pioneer beginnings, author and journalist Rose Wider Lane came to prominence at the close of World War II as a staunch defender of freedom. Lane is best known for her book The Discovery of Freedom, published in 1943, which traces the six-thousand year development of freedom from its roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition to the present day. Though Lane later came to dislike the book-she thought it too hastily written-it became an underground classic and one of the foundational documents of the modern libertarian movement. She is less well-known for her role in preparing for publication, often by rewriting, her mothers recollections of frontier life, the popular Little House on the Prairie series.
Lane was born on December 5, 1886 into a poor farming family in the Dakota Territory. She worked various odd jobs before finding her start as a journalist for the San Francisco Bulletin, a radical labor paper. Lane visited the Soviet Union four years after the Bolshevik Revolution, and upon her return to the United States she wrote, “I came out of the Soviet Union no longer a communist, because I believed in personal freedom.”
Lane was most comfortable being described as simply “a theist,” but did not see any essential contradiction between religion and the philosophy of freedom. According to Lane, because of the doctrine of monotheism, people came to believe in one creator God who judges men's actions, instead of a pantheist pantheon of capricious gods. Additionally, the laws of morality are woven into the fibre of creation and provide the guide for human behavior. It is from these doctrines, Lane argued, that the Christian conceptions of individual responsibility and self-control are derived; essential qualities for the preservation of a free society.
Sources: “Three Women Who Inspired the Modern Libertarian Movement,” The Freeman, May 1996 by Jim Powell, The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane (Arno Press, 1972).
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