The Bastiat Society began in 2004 when Walter LeCroy (physicist and founder of LeCroy Industries) and Ben Rast (Senior V.P. of the Rast Group) hosted a symposium on globalization. The symposium was a success, and a semi-regular discussion group began at Walter’s home in Charleston, South Carolina. Over the years, these meetings became more regular and grew in size.
By 2010, the Bastiat Society was hosting monthly meetings in Charleston featuring academics and think-tank leaders from around the world. Under the management of Brad DeVos, the Society launched a successful membership program and had a surplus of excellent speakers.
In 2011, Ben Rast and Brad DeVos met Surse Pierpoint at a Liberty Fund conference. They immediately realized Surse's his discussion group "The Freedom Hour" at the Fundacion Libertad in Panama City, Panama was very similar to the Bastiat Society in Charleston. Seeing an advantage to networking and co-branding, he soon decided to co-brand his monthly meetings as "The Bastiat Society of Panama". During that same weekend, the group developed a chapter-based business plan for the Bastiat Society, and Brad DeVos accepted the role of executive director soon thereafter.
By 2017, the Bastiat Society network had grown to over 28 chapters and was acquired by the American Institute for Economic Research to become a central program of that organization.
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