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Samuel Insull: Human Dynamo

Samuel Insull: Human Dynamo

2 Mins
December 15, 2014

Atlas Summit 2014 -- He was, arguably, the most inspirational success story of the business era immediately preceding the New Deal. He was the John D. Rockefeller of the electric-utility industry: the man who during forty years repeatedly lowered the cost of electric power for American consumers. Yet few today know the great achievements of Samuel Insull (1859-1938) because of his rapid fall and bankruptcy during the Great Depression—and because his New Deal enemies persecuted his failure criminally and vilified his business in historical accounts.

Until the end of his career, Insull was reality-grounded and concerned with hard results. He embodied the self-help philosophy of his homeland hero Samuel Smiles. In this first of two lectures on Samuel Insull, energy expert Robert L. Bradley, Jr. will ask whether Insull was an Objectivist practitioner and even a hero. Bradley will discuss in what ways Insull was like Hank Rearden, or even John Galt—and in what ways not. Lastly, he will ask what lessons from Insull’s rise and fall can be gained for Objectivism’s philosophy for successful living.  (Also see the companion lecture:  The Innocence of Samuel Insull , presented by Roger Donway.)

Robert L. Bradley, Jr. ( is the CEO & Founder of the Institute for Energy Research. He is the author of seven books, most recently Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategies, and blogs at

Bradley's interest has grown from energy regulation to 'sustainable development' issues to political capitalism in theory and practice to the teaching of 'the science of liberty.'

About the author:
Environment and Energy
Work and Achievement