James M. Buchanan - Biography


Buchanan was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the eldest child of James and Lila (Scott) Buchanan. He is a grandson of John P. Buchanan, who served as Governor of Tennessee in the 1890s. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State Teachers College, now known as Middle Tennessee State University, in 1940. Buchanan completed his M.S. from the University of Tennessee in 1941. He spent the war years on the staff of Admiral Nimitz in Honolulu, and it is during that time he met and married his wife Anne.

Buchanan received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1948, where he was much influenced by Frank H. Knight. It was also at Chicago that he read for the first time and found enlightening the work of Knut Wicksell. Photographs of Knight and Wicksell have hung from his office-walls ever since.

Buchanan is the founder of a new Virginia school of political economy. He taught at the University of Virginia, where he founded the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression; UCLA; Florida State University; the University of Tennessee; and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute ("Virginia Tech"), where he was affiliated with the Center for the Study of Public Choice (CSPC). In 1983, he followed CSPC to its new home at George Mason University. In 2001 Buchanan was honoured with an honorary doctoral degree at Universidad Francisco Marroquín due his contribution to economic theory.

Buchanan's work includes extensive writings on public finance, the public debt, voting, rigorous analysis of the theory of logrolling, macroeconomics, constitutional economics. and libertarian theory.

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