Director of customer research for General Motors during the early 20th century

Henry Grady Weaver (24 December 1889 – 3 January 1949) was the director of Customer Research Staff for General Motors Corporation, and shown on the cover of the 14 November 1938 issue of Time magazine. He is credited with developing the use of the survey questionnaire to investigate customer preferences for design features in cars. He is best known for his work, The Mainspring of Human Progress.


24 Dec 1889, in Eatonton, Georgia


3 Jan 1949, in Detroit, Michigan


The Mainspring of Human Progress by Henry Grady Weaver, by William H. Peterson, The Freeman, Jun 1998
Review of the 1997 edition of Weaver's classic, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, with a preface by FEE founder Leonard Read and a new introduction by John Hood (author of The Heroic Enterprise)
"Henry Grady Weaver (1889-1949), a General Motors marketing executive who made the cover of Time in 1938, saw the role of the individual as central in American business. That role can be highly constructive, cautioned Weaver, only if two conditions are met—limited government and people who adhered to an ethical code. He hailed the concept of natural law and extolled the Founders' political structure ... Weaver did his homework well in this historical examination of the ideas and people who built the American dream."
Henry Grady Weaver's Classic Vision of Freedom, by John Hood, The Freeman, Aug 1997
Expanded version of Hood's introduction to the 1997 edition of Weaver's The Mainspring of Human Progress; discusses the changing attitudes towards business during the second half of the 20th century
"The author, Henry Grady Weaver, served as director of customer research for GM. Blind in one eye, he nevertheless spent much of his life peering over data. He was a number-cruncher, not a philosopher or polemicist. His writing experience had consisted mainly of penning articles on psychological research. ... Weaver was a practical man as well as a vigorous defender of American business. He understood that, in order to persuade his readers that the free enterprise system was worth preserving, he would have to eschew elaborate theory and focus instead on historic fact and common sense."


Talking To Ourselves, Ideas on Liberty, Sep 1955
Examines the question of whether it is worthwhile to distributing literature about individual freedom and free markets to those who already favor those premises; note this was the opening article of the second issue of Ideas on Liberty
"'But what's the use of talking to ourselves? What's the point of sending literature on free enterprise to people who are already sold on free enterprise? Is it not true that the real problem is one of reaching the masses—those who really need some sound ideas?' ... One understanding man summed it up this way: 'I’m not smart enough to run the personal affairs of the great masses of people. I've got enough to do just trying to improve myself as an individual citizen. If I work hard enough and long enough at that one job, then the time may come when two ... or maybe ... ten persons may voluntarily seek my counsel. ...'"
The Great Multiplier, The Mainspring of Human Progress, 1947
Excerpted from chapters 2 and 3, "The Great Multiplier" and "Networks and Pitfalls"
"Through foresight, imagination, and individual initiative, man develops tools and facilities which expand his efforts and enable him to produce things which would not otherwise be possible. This is an outstanding difference between man and animal, just as it is an outstanding difference between civilization and barbarism. ... At one time or another, every conceivable form of authority has been tried, but each has failed for the simple reasons that: (1) Only an individual human being can generate human energy; and (2) Only an individual human being can control the energy he generates."
Related Topic: Achievement

Books Authored

The Mainspring of Human Progress, 1947
Partial contents: Puzzling Questions - The Great Multiplier - The Pagan View - Socialism and (or) Communism - The Living Authorities - Roots of Revolution - The New Model - Unplanned Planning - Hope versus Fear - Moral versus Material - Freedom versus War

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Henry Grady Weaver" as of 28 Sep 2017, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.