R. W. Bradford

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Raymond William Bradford
RW Bradford.jpeg
Born(1947-09-20)September 20, 1947
DiedDecember 8, 2005(2005-12-08) (aged 58)
OccupationMagazine editor
Known forFounder of Liberty magazine

Raymond William "Bill" Bradford (September 20, 1947 – December 8, 2005), who used R. W. Bradford as his pen name, was an American writer chiefly known for editing, publishing, and writing for the libertarian magazine Liberty.

Early life[edit]

Bradford was born on September 20, 1947, in Detroit, Michigan. He was the son of Raymond Bradford and Eleanor Ritter Bradford.[1]

He edited his first periodical, a short-lived mimeographed zine called Eleutherian Forum, while a teenager.

During the 1970s he developed a prosperous precious metals and numismatic business in Lansing, Michigan, Liberty Coin Service. He partially retired in 1980, moving to Port Townsend, Washington with his wife.

Liberty magazine[edit]

For Liberty, which he started in 1987, he wrote under his own name as well as several pseudonyms: as "Chester Alan Arthur" he engaged in political reportage and commentary, and as "Ethan O. Waters" he wrote deliberately provocative philosophical criticism and essays. ("Ethan O. Waters" was an anagram for "Owen Hatteras", a pseudonym used by H. L. Mencken, a writer and editor much admired by Bradford.) Liberty magazine has been one of the longest-running libertarian journals ever published, and along with Reason magazine can be considered a giant in libertarian media.

Bradford was a consequentialist[2] who favored a pragmatic approach to libertarian philosophy, grounding his limited government beliefs in a view of individual rights as social constructs, rather than a result of natural law. This approach differentiated Bradford from many other libertarian writers, as well as Ayn Rand. Bradford, however, was extremely tolerant of differences of opinion, and often published articles and essays by those with whom he disagreed; despite being against the war machine[3] and opposed to the Iraq War, Bradford published articles written by proponents of the war.[4] Many libertarian writers found a home at Liberty magazine, and the monthly continues to be edited and published by his good friend, Stephen Cox, and Bradford's widow, Kathy.

In later years, Bradford became notable for his published criticisms of the Libertarian Party, whom he viewed as excessively didactic and electorally ineffective. He also reported upon what he viewed as financial mismanagement and cronyism by Libertarian Party officials. His criticism of the Libertarian Party's misuse of funds and ineffectual strategies often came into conflict with other libertarians, but his expose of financial mismanagement and cronyism is credited, along with the campaign of Michael Badnarik, with saving the Libertarian Party from disaster.

In 1999, Bradford was a founding coeditor of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies along with Stephen D. Cox and Chris Matthew Sciabarra.


He died of kidney cancer on December 8, 2005 in Port Townsend, Washington, aged 58.


  1. ^ "A Life in Liberty". Liberty. Vol. 20, no. 3. March 2006. pp. 17–18.
  2. ^ "R.W. Bradford, RIP". Reason Magazine. December 10, 2005. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  3. ^ Anthony Gregory (December 10, 2005). "Re: Bill Bradford, RIP". Antiwar.com. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  4. ^ Sandi Doughton (December 12, 2005). "Libertarian publisher Bradford, 58, dies". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 10, 2016.

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