Sitting in the room where I wrote my first stories as a boy, I am looking out at the lush green trees and lawns of Chicago’s north shore suburbs while taking a break from writing an article for a local newspaper, preparing for a course on one of my favorite writers, O. Henry, at Chicago’s first Objectivist Conference (OCON) and looking forward to my first visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, Taliesinin Spring Green, Wisconsin.

On the eve of this year’s OCON, I’ve posted an exclusive report about Ayn Rand in Chicago, where the philosopher lived in 1926 when she first came to America from Soviet Russia, returning in 1947 and again in 1963, when Rand faced the threat of an initiation of physical force at McCormick Place, where her scheduled lecture, “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business,” sold out. I spoke with the event’s organizer, who remembered Leonard Peikoff as “brilliant” in an exclusive interview, and architect Harry Newman, who attended the lecture with his wife Ruby as part of Rand’s entourage, and Ayn Rand biographer Shoshana Milgram (who is also a friend) gave me an enormous amount of useful information. I think the article, intended for print publication and posted on Capitalism Magazine, may be the single most comprehensive article about Ayn Rand in Chicago.

Both Ayn Rand and Chicago represent the spirit of 1776, independence – a virtue in the Objectivist ethics and a crucial characteristic to creating a great industrial city on a great lake – so posting this piece today, on the Fourth of July, when we celebrate America’s independence, makes me happy. Though I fear that the spirit of individualism is diminished across the disintegrating West, by refueling my own spirit and writing these stories during a hometown visit, my goal is to reignite that all-American spirit of ’76.