This is the cover from Vol. 2 (October 1959) edition of the Journal of Law and Economics and as you will notice 3 University of Virginia economics faculty are in this issue --- Coase, Buchanan and Nutter. Coase and Buchanan would go on to win the Nobel Prize, and Nutter's work on the Soviet economic system would prove to be the most penetrating of his generation. All 3 were members of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy.
A year earlier in the University of Virginia Newsletter, Buchanan explained the work of the Thomas Jefferson Center as follows:
The Thomas Jefferson Center strives to carry on the honorable tradition of "political economy" - the study of what makes for a "good society." Political economists stress the technical economic principles that one must understand in order to assess alternative arrangements for promoting peaceful cooperation and productive specialization among free men. Yet political economists go further and frankly try to bring out into the open the philosophical issues that necessarily underlie all discus ions of the appropriate functions of government and all proposed economic policy measures. ...
A society is guided by its ruling philosophy - the prevailing conception of the "good" social order. Some political-economic philosophy must be the basis for intelligent social policy. Forthright and continuing discussion is necessary if this conception is to serve as a clear and coherent guide on numerous particular issues. Otherwise, statesmen and citizens will continue to lose their bearings amid the economic and social complexities of the mid-Twentieth Century.
Study of political-economic philosophy is the basic content of political economy. Political economists try to stimulate open and lively discussion of how a free society should be organized and preserved. And they go further. They examine and discuss the whole set of current policy issue in the light of some conception of the "good" society. ...
Out of ideas such as these, the Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy was born. The Center represents the institutional embodiment of an effort deliberately made to bring about a rebirth of Political Economy. ...
Many years ago, while I was still on the faculty at NYU, I wrote a paper on James Buchanan and the Rebirth of Political Economy. Since the time of that publication, my appreciation for Buchanan's contributions has grown at least ten-fold.
The archives being established at the Buchanan House are going to be a treasure trove for any scholar interested in the reintegration of philosophy, politics and economics in the second half of the 20th century. Scholars of public finance and public choice are obvioius draws as Buchanan was at the epicenter of these discussions. But Buchanan was more than a technical public finance economist, he was a political economist and social philosopher as discussed above. And he also was a man who had no only the courage of his convictions, but the courage to withstand the critique of those convictions and continue to fight on. This "institutional embodiment of an effort deliberately made to bring about a rebirth of Political Economy" was Buchanan's mission, and it has become the mission of many of us at GMU, and in particular those associated with our F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Phillosophy, Politics and Economics.
On the Thomas Jefferson Center controversy at UVA, see the ongoing work of David Levy and Sandra Peart.