A History of Classical Liberalism: A Study Guide in Three Parts
by David M. Hart

[Created: November 15, 2006]
[Updated: December 17, 2011]


Part 3: Quotations about Liberty & Power


[Created: September 25, 2011]
[Revised: December 17, 2011 ]
W.D. Cooper, "America Trampling on Oppression" (1789
Source: Library of Congress
Frontispiece to Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan (1651)
by Abraham Bosse (1602-1676)


Content of the Study Guide:



To help you begin exploring the range of different texts which are part of the CLT I have compiled a collection of "Quotations about Liberty and Power" at the Online Library of Liberty website, a new one of which is featured on the front page almost every week. I find a passage from one of the over 1,000 texts which are online to illustrate some issue regarding the nature of individual liberty or the threats to liberty by the exercise of government power. They are arranged both chronologically (by the date they first appeared on the OLL) and thematically.

I also select periodically an "Image about Liberty and Power"which is also displayed on the front page. Sometmes the quotation and the image are paired if they on a related topic.

A copy of the list of thematically arranged quotes are reproduced below. I hope you will find browsing them interesting and enlightening. [This list is complete as of 25 September, 2011 with 309 quotations].



Colonies, Slavery & Abolition

  1. (17 April, 2011) John Stuart Mill on “the sacred right of insurrection” (1862)
  2. (28 December, 2009) Frederick Douglass makes a New Year’s resolution to gain his freedom from slavery (1836)
  3. (14 December, 2009) Emerson on the right of self-ownership of slaves to themselves and to their labor (1863)
  4. (5 January, 2009) Sir William Blackstone declares unequivocally that slavery is “repugnant to reason, and the principles of natural law” and that it has no place in English law (1753)
  5. (25 August, 2008) Harriet Martineau on the institution of slavery, “restless slaves”, and the Bill of Rights (1838)
  6. (15 October, 2007) John Stuart Mill on the “atrocities” committed by Governor Eyre and his troops in putting down the Jamaica rebellion (1866)
  7. (3 September, 2007) The ex-slave Frederick Douglass reveals that reading speeches by English politicians produced in him a deep love of liberty and hatred of oppression (1882)
  8. (6 August, 2007) Jeremy Bentham relates a number of “abominations” to the French National Convention urging them to emancipate their colonies (1793)
  9. (12 March, 2007) Thomas Clarkson on the “glorious” victory of the abolition of the slave trade in England (1808)
  10. (23 February, 2007) Jean-Baptiste Say argues that home-consumers bear the brunt of the cost of maintaining overseas colonies and that they also help support the lavish lifestyles of the planter and merchant classes (1817)
  11. (22 February, 2007) J.B. Say argues that colonial slave labor is really quite profitable for the slave owners at the expense of the slaves and the home consumers (1817)
  12. (24 July, 2006) John Millar argues that as a society becomes wealthier domestic freedom increases, even to the point where slavery is thought to be pernicious and economically inefficient (1771)
  13. (19 June, 2006) Adam Smith notes that colonial governments might exercise relative freedom in the metropolis but impose tyranny in the distant provinces (1776)
  14. (4 July, 2005) Less well known is Thomas Jefferson’s First Draft of the Declaration of Independence in which he denounced the slave trade as an “execrable Commerce” and slavery itself as a “cruel war against nature itself” (1776)

Economics & Free Trade

  1. (12 September, 2011) Mises on how price controls lead to socialism (1944)
  2. (5 September, 2011) Mises and the Emergence of Etatism in Germany (1944)
  3. (8 August, 2011) Richard Cobden’s “I have a dream” speech about a world in which free trade is the governing principle (1846)
  4. (5 August, 2011) Bastiat on the spirit of free trade as a reform of the mind itself (1847)
  5. (18 July, 2011) Spencer on spontaneous order produced by “the beneficent working of social forces” (1879)
  6. (6 June, 2011) Adam Smith on the greater productivity brought about by the division of labor and technological innovation (1760s)
  7. (11 October, 2010) Bastiat asks the fundamental question of political economy: what should be the size of the state? (1850)
  8. (4 October, 2010) Bentham on the proper role of government: “Be Quiet” and “Stand out of my sunshine” (1843)
  9. (2 August, 2010) Wicksteed on the subjective theory of value and on opportunity costs (1910)
  10. (20 July, 2010) Sumner criticizes the competing vested interests and the role of legislators in the “new democratic State” (1887)
  11. (29 June, 2010) Kirzner defines economics as the reconciliation of conflicting ends given the existence of inescapable scarcity (1960)
  12. (23 April, 2010) Yves Guyot on the violence and lawlessness inherent in socialism (1910)
  13. (20 April, 2010) Yves Guyot accuses all those who seek Protection from foreign competition of being “Socialists” (1893)
  14. (11 January, 2010) Richard Cobden outlines his strategy of encouraging more people to acquire land and thus the right to vote in order to defeat the “landed oligarchy” who ruled England and imposed the “iniquity” of the Corn Laws (1845)
  15. (9 November, 2009) Ludwig von Mises on the impossibility of rational economic planning under Socialism (1922)
  16. (19 October, 2009) Frank Taussig argues for the reverse of a common misconception about the relationship between high wages and the use of machinery (1915)
  17. (29 June, 2009) Condy Raguet lays out a set of basic principles of free trade among which is the idea that governments cannot create wealth by means of legislation and that individuals are better judges of the best way to use their capital and labor than governments (1835)
  18. (11 May, 2009) John Ramsay McCulloch argues that smuggling is “wholly the result of vicious commercial and financial legislation” and that it could be ended immediately by abolishing this legislation (1899)
  19. (9 February, 2009) Adam Smith argues that retaliation in a trade war can sometimes force the offending country to lower its tariffs, but more often than not the reverse happens (1776)
  20. (16 June, 2008) Jean-Baptiste Say argues that there is a world of difference between private consumption and public consumption; an increase in the latter does nothing to increase public wealth (1803)
  21. (19 May, 2008) Nassau Senior objected to any government regulation of factories which meant that a horde of inspectors would interfere with the organization of production (1837)
  22. (24 September, 2007) Ludwig von Mises argues that monopolies are the direct result of government intervention and not the product of any inherent tendency within the capitalist system (1949)
  23. (17 September, 2007) Harriet Martineau condemns tariffs as a “vicious aristocratic principle” designed to harm the ordinary working man and woman (1861)
  24. (16 April, 2007) Ludwig von Mises argues that the division of labor and human cooperation are the two sides of the same coin and are not antagonistic to each other (1949)
  25. (13 March, 2007) Lord Macaulay writes a devastating review of Southey’s Colloquies in which the Poet Laureate’s ignorance of the real condition of the working class in England is exposed (1830)
  26. (4 December, 2006) Jane Haldimand Marcet, in a popular tale written for ordinary readers, shows the benefits to workers of foreign trade, especially at Christmas time (1833)
  27. (14 August, 2006) Adam Ferguson observed that social structures of all kinds were not “the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design” (1782)
  28. (24 April, 2006) Forrest McDonald argues that the Founding Fathers envisaged a new economic order based upon Lockean notions of private property and the creation of the largest contiguous area of free trade in the world (2006)
  29. (27 January, 2006) Montesquieu thought that commerce improves manners and cures “the most destructive prejudices” (1748)
  30. (7 November, 2005) Bernard Mandeville concludes his fable of the bees with a moral homily on the virtues of peace, hard work, and diligence (1705)
  31. (5 September, 2005) Bernard Mandeville uses a fable about bees to show how prosperity and good order comes about through spontaneous order (1705)
  32. (4 April, 2005) Adam Smith argued that the “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange” was inherent in human nature and gave rise to things such as the division of labour (1776)
  33. (13 September, 2004) Voltaire on the Benefits which Trade and Economic Abundance bring to People living in the Present Age (1736)
  34. (31 May, 2004) Adam Smith on the natural ordering Tendency of Free Markets, or what he called the “Invisible Hand” (1776)

Food & Drink

  1. (31 March, 2010) Lysander Spooner on the idea that laws against “vice” (victimless crimes) are unjust (1875)
  2. (23 November, 2009) Herbert Spencer on the pitfalls of arguing with friends at the dinner table (1897)
  3. (24 November, 2008) David Hume examines the pride of the turkey (and other creatures) (1739)
  4. (29 November, 2004) As if in answer to Erasmus’ prayer, Spencer does become a Philosopher of the Kitchen arguing that “if there is a wrong in respect of the taking of food (and drink) there must also be a right” (1897)
  5. (22 November, 2004) Erasmus argues that Philosophizing is all very well but there is also a need for there to be a Philosopher of the Kitchen (1518)
  6. (12 July, 2004) Adam Smith on how Government Regulation and Taxes might drive a Man to Drink (1766)


  1. (11 July, 2011) Pollock on “our lady” the common law and her devoted servants (1911)
  2. (1 March, 2011) Algernon Sidney on the need for the law to be “deaf, inexorable, inflexible” and not subject to the arbitrary will of the ruler (1698)
  3. (31 January, 2011) Sir Edward Coke explains one of the key sections of Magna Carta on English liberties (1642)
  4. (12 May, 2010) Spooner states the importance of the 9th Amendment to the American Constitution which protects the natural rights of the people not enumerated in the 1st 8 Amendments (1886)
  5. (5 April, 2010) Gaius states that according to natural reason the first occupier of any previously unowned property becomes the just owner (2nd Century)
  6. (31 August, 2009) Lysander Spooner on Jury Nullification as the "palladium of liberty" against the tyranny of government (1852)
  7. (15 June, 2009) Cesare Beccaria says that torture is cruel and barbaric and a violation of the principle that no one should be punished until proven guilty in a court of law; in other words it is the “right of power” (1764)
  8. (4 May, 2009) Sir William Blackstone provides a strong defence of personal liberty and concludes that to “secretly hurry” a man to prison is a “dangerous engine of arbitrary government” (1753)
  9. (28 April, 2008) John Adams predicts a glorious future for America under the new constitution and is in “reverence and awe” at its future prospects (1787)
  10. (27 August, 2007) The IVth Amendment to the American Constitution states that the people shall be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches and seizures and that no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause (1788)
  11. (29 January, 2007) John Adams argues that the British Empire is not a “true” empire but a form of a “republic” where the rule of law operates (1763)
  12. (30 October, 2006) Bruno Leoni notes the strong connection between economic freedom and decentralized legal decision-making (1961)
  13. (23 October, 2006) The legal historian Hazeltine wrote in an essay commemorating the 700th anniversary of Magna Carta that the American colonists regarded Magna Carta as the “bulwark of their rights as Englishmen” (1917)
  14. (2 October, 2006) John Locke on the idea that “wherever law ends, tyranny begins” (1689)
  15. (13 February, 2006) J.S. Mill in a speech before parliament denounced the suspension of Habeas Corpus and the use of flogging in Ireland, saying that those who ordered this “deserved flogging as much as any of those who were flogged by his orders” (1866)
  16. (14 November, 2005) Adam Smith argues that the Habeas Corpus Act is a great security against the tyranny of the king (1763)
  17. (31 October, 2005) Cicero urges the Senate to apply the laws equally in order to protect the reputation of Rome and to provide justice for the victims of a corrupt magistrate (1stC BC)
  18. (30 August, 2004) Bruno Leoni on the different Ways in which Needs can be satisfied, either voluntarily through the Market or coercively through the State (1963)
  19. (16 August, 2004) Sir Edward Coke defends British Liberties and the Idea of Habeas Corpus in the Petition of Right before Parliament (1628)

Literature & Music

  1. (22 February, 2010) Thierry on the need for songs about our lost liberties which will act as a barrier to encroaching power (1845)
  2. (11 February, 2010) On Achilles’ new shield Vulcan depicts the two different types of cities which humans can build on earth; one based on peace and the rule of law; the other based on war, killing, and pillage (900 BC)
  3. (6 July, 2009) Beethoven’s hero Florestan in the opera Fidelio laments the loss of his liberty for speaking the truth to power (1805)
  4. (8 June, 2009) Voltaire in Candide says that “tending one’s own garden” is not only a private activity but also productive (1759)
  5. (1 June, 2009) Augustin Thierry relates the heroic tale of the Kentishmen who defeat William the Conqueror and so are able to keep their ancient laws and liberties (1856)
  6. (12 May, 2008) Confucius edited this collection of poems which contains a poem about “Yellow Birds” who ravenously eat the crops of the local people, thus alienating them completely (520 BC)
  7. (24 March, 2008) Shakespeare has King Henry IV reflect on the reasons for invading the Holy Land, namely to distract people from domestic civil war and to “march all one way” under his banner (1597)
  8. (3 December, 2007) J.S. Bach and Martin Luther on how God (the “feste Burg”) helps us gain our freedom (1730)
  9. (8 October, 2007) Percy Bysshe Shelley on the new Constitution of Naples which he hoped would be “as a mirror to make … blind slaves see” (1820)
  10. (13 November, 2006) Shakespeare in Pericles on how the rich and powerful are like whales who eat up the harding working “little fish” (1608)
  11. (16 October, 2006) In Measure for Measure Shakespeare has Isabella denounce the Duke’s deputy for being corrupted by power, “it is excellent To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant” (1623)
  12. (17 July, 2006) In Percy Shelley’s poem Liberty liberty is compared to a force of nature sweeping the globe, where “tyrants and slaves are like shadows of night” which will disappear in “the van of the morning light” (1824)
  13. (12 June, 2006) In Shakespeare’s The Tempest Caliban complains about the way the European lord Prospero taught him language and science then enslaved him and dispossessed him of the island on which he was born (1611)
  14. (29 May, 2006) In Shakespeare’s Henry V the king is too easily persuaded by his advisors that the English economy will continue to function smoothly, like obedient little honey-bees in their hive, while he is away with his armies conquering France (1598)
  15. (22 May, 2006) In Shakespeare’s Henry V the soldier Williams confronts the king by saying that “few die well that die in a battle” and that “a heavy reckoning” awaits the king that led them to it (1598)
  16. (24 October, 2005) Aeschylus has Prometheus denounce the lord of heaven for unjustly punishing him for giving mankind the gift of fire (5thC BC)
  17. (17 October, 2005) John Milton in Paradise Regained has Christ deplore the “false glory” which comes from military conquest and the despoiling of nations in battle (1671)
  18. (16 May, 2005) With the return of spring the memories of Petrarch’s beloved Laura awaken a new pang in him (late 14thC)
  19. (28 February, 2005) In Joseph Addison’s play Cato Cato is asked what it would take for him to be Caesar’s “friend” - his answer is that Caesar would have to first “disband his legions” and then “restore the commonwealth to liberty” (1713)
  20. (13 December, 2004) During the American Revolution Thomas Paine penned a patriotic song called “Hail Great Republic” which is to be sung to the tune of Rule Britannia (of course!) (1776)
  21. (11 October, 2004) Shakespeare farewells his lover in a Sonnet using many mercantile and legal metaphors (1609)

Money & Banking

  1. (11 January, 2011) Bagehot on Government, the banking system, and moral hazard (1873)
  2. (22 November, 2010) Mises on the gold standard as the symbol of international peace and prosperity (1949)
  3. (6 April, 2009) Ludwig von Mises argues that sound money is an instrument for the protection of civil liberties and a means of limiting government power (1912)
  4. (23 March, 2009) Ludwig von Mises lays out five fundamental truths of monetary expansion (1949)
  5. (10 November, 2008) Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Taylor condemns the system of banking as “a blot” on the constitution, as corrupt, and that long-term government debt was “swindling” future generations (1816)
  6. (27 October, 2008) Ludwig von Mises identifies the source of the disruption of the world monetary order as the failed policies of governments and their central banks (1934)
  7. (13 October, 2008) Ludwig von Mises shows the inevitability of economic slumps after a period of credit expansion (1951)
  8. (8 September, 2008) Tom Paine on the "Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance" (1796)
  9. (21 January, 2008) Henry Vaughan argues that it is the voluntary and “universal concurrence of mankind”, not the laws, which makes money acceptable as a medium of exchange (1675)
  10. (22 October, 2007) Friedrich Hayek rediscovers the importance of Henry Thornton’s early 19th century work on “paper credit” and its role in financing the British Empire (1802)

Odds & Ends

  1. (1 January, 2011) Emerson on selecting the right gift to give at Christmas and New Year (1844)
  2. (15 December, 2008) Edward Robertson points out the bureaucratic blundering and inefficiency of the Postal Monopoly during the Christmas rush period (1891)
  3. (15 May, 2006) John Milton opposed censorship for many reasons but one thought sticks in the mind, that “he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself” (1644)
  4. (17 April, 2006) Forrest McDonald discusses the reading habits of colonial Americans and concludes that their thinking about politics and their shared values was based upon their wide reading, especially of history (1978)
  5. (5 December, 2005) The Earl of Shaftesbury states that civility and politeness is a consequence of liberty by which “we polish one another, and rub off our Corners and rough Sides” (1709)
  6. (8 August, 2005) Edward Gibbon reveals the reasons why he wrote on the decline of the Roman Empire, “the greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene in the history of mankind” (1776)
  7. (20 June, 2005) Herbert Spencer argued that in a militant type of society the state would become more centralised and administrative, as compulsory education clearly showed (1882)
  8. (11 April, 2005) John Locke tells a “gentleman” how important reading and thinking is to a man of his station whose “proper calling” should be the service of his country (late 1600s)
  9. (10 January, 2005) Ambroise Clément draws the distinction between two different kinds of charity: true voluntary charity and coerced government “charity” which is really a tax (1852)
  10. (20 December, 2004) Frederick Millar is upset that especially at Christmas time the bad effects of the letter-carrying monopoly of the Post Office are felt by the public (1891)
  11. (5 July, 2004) Adam Smith on the rigorous education of young Fitzmaurice (1759)

Origin of Government

  1. (15 November, 2010) Sidney argues that a People’s liberty is a gift of nature and exists prior to any government (1683)
  2. (10 August, 2009) John Stuart Mill discusses the origins of the state whereby the “productive class” seeks protection from one “member of the predatory class” in order to gain some security of property (1848)
  3. (7 August, 2007) David Hume on the origin of government in warfare, and the “perpetual struggle” between Liberty and Power (1777)
  4. (18 February, 2007) Franz Oppenheimer argues that there are two fundamentally opposed ways of acquiring wealth: the “political means” through coercion, and the “economic means” through peaceful trade (1922)
  5. (1 January, 2007) Tom Paine asks how it is that established governments came into being, his answer, is "banditti of ruffians" seized control and turned themselves into monarchs (1792)
  6. (16 January, 2006) Frédéric Bastiat, while pondering the nature of war, concluded that society had always been divided into two classes - those who engaged in productive work and those who lived off their backs (1850)
  7. (13 June, 2005) Herbert Spencer makes a distinction between the “militant type of society” based upon violence and the “industrial type of society” based upon peaceful economic activity (1882)

Parties & Elections

  1. (15 August, 2011) Cobden reminds the Liberals in Parliament that the motto of their party is “Economy, Retrenchment, and Reform!” (1862)
  2. (6 December, 2010) Thomas Gordon on how the “Spirit of Party” substitutes party principles for moral principles, thus making it possible for the worst to get on top (1744)
  3. (31 October, 2010) Spencer on voting as a poor instrument for protecting our rights to life, liberty, and property (1879)
  4. (23 August, 2010) Bruce Smith on the misconceived and harmful legislation produced by voting as an inevitable though temporary case of “measles” (1887)
  5. (16 August, 2010) Spencer on voting in elections as a screen behind which the wirepullers turn the sovereign people into a puppet (1882)
  6. (17 August, 2009) Captain John Clarke asserts the right of all men to vote in the formation of a new constitution by right of the property they have in themselves (1647)
  7. (12 January, 2009) Gustave de Molinari argues that political parties are like “actual armies” who are trained to seize power and reward their supporters with jobs and special privileges (1904)
  8. (4 November, 2008) James Madison on the dangers of elections resulting in overbearing majorities who respect neither justice nor individual rights, Federalist 10 (1788)
  9. (3 November, 2008) Bruno Leoni points out that elections are seriously flawed because majority rule is incompatible with individual freedom of choice (1961)
  10. (11 February, 2008) Bruno Leoni argues that expressing one’s economic choice as a consumer in a free market is quite different from making a political choice by means of voting (1961)
  11. (25 February, 2007) Herbert Spencer takes “philosophical politicians” to task for claiming that government promotes the “public good” when in fact they are seeking “party aggrandisement” (1843)
  12. (6 February, 2006) Lance Banning argues that within a decade of the creation of the US Constitution the nation was engaged in a bitter battle over the soul of the American Republic (2004)
  13. (21 February, 2005) James Bryce tries to explain to a European audience why “great men” are no longer elected to America’s highest public office (1888)
  14. (31 January, 2005) Auberon Herbert discusses the “essence of government” when the veneer of elections are stripped away (1894)


  1. (26 July, 2011) John Locke on “perfect freedom” in the state of nature (1689)
  2. (15 February, 2010) Wollaston on crimes against person or property as contradictions of fundamental truths (1722)
  3. (7 April, 2008) Plato believed that great souls and creative talents produce “offspring” which can be enjoyed by others: wisdom, virtue, poetry, art, temperance, justice, and the law (340s BC)
  4. (17 March, 2008) Aristotle insists that man is either a political animal (the natural state) or an outcast like a “bird which flies alone” (4thC BC)
  5. (2 January, 2006) J.S. Mill’s great principle was that “over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign” (1859)
  6. (25 July, 2005) Wilhelm von Humboldt argued that freedom was the “Grand and Indispensable Condition” for individual flourishing (1792)
  7. (7 February, 2005) Thomas Hobbes sings a hymn of praise for Reason as “the pace”, scientific knowledge is “the way”, and the benefit of mankind is “the end” (1651)
  8. (3 January, 2005) Voltaire lampooned the excessively optimistic Leibnitzian philosophers in his philosophic tale Candide by exposing his characters to one disaster after another, like a tsunami in Lisbon, to show that this was not “the best of all possible worlds” (1759)
  9. (26 July, 2004) Jean Barbeyrac on the Virtues which all free Men should have (1718)

Politics & Liberty

  1. (19 September, 2011) Benjamin Constant and the Freedom of the Press (1815)
  2. (4 July, 2011) Jefferson on the right to change one’s government (1776)
  3. (13 December, 2010) Jefferson’s preference for “newspapers without government” over “government without newspapers” (1787)
  4. (29 November, 2010) Shaftesbury on the need for liberty to promote the liberal arts (1712)
  5. (20 September, 2010) The State of New York declares that the people may “reassume” their delegated powers at any time they choose (1788)
  6. (12 July, 2010) Georg Jellinek argues that Lafayette was one of the driving forces behind the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)
  7. (26 April, 2010) Lord Acton on the destruction of the liberal Girondin group and the suicide of Condorcet during the French Revolution (1910)
  8. (5 October, 2009) The Abbé de Mably argues with John Adams about the dangers of a “commercial elite” seizing control of the new Republic and using it to their own advantage (1785)
  9. (14 September, 2009) Samuel Smiles on how an idle, thriftless, or drunken man can, and should, improve himself through self-help and not by means of the state (1859).
  10. (23 August, 2009) John Adams thought he could see arbitrary power emerging in the American colonies and urged his countrymen to “nip it in the bud” before they lost all their liberties (1774)
  11. (12 August, 2009) Benjamin Constant distinguished between the Liberty of the Ancients (“the complete subjection of the individual to the authority of the community”) and that of the Moderns (“where individual rights and commerce are respected”) (1816)
  12. (3 August, 2009) Edward Gibbon called the loss of independence and excessive obedience the "secret poison" which corrupted the Roman Empire (1776)
  13. (7 July, 2009) Étienne de la Boétie provides one of the earliest and clearest explanations of why the suffering majority obeys the minority who rule over them; it is an example of voluntary servitude (1576)
  14. (5 May, 2009) Sir William Blackstone differentiates between “absolute rights” of individuals (natural rights which exist prior to the state) and social rights (contractural rights which evolve later) (1753)
  15. (20 April, 2009) John Stuart Mill on the need for limited government and political rights to prevent the “king of the vultures” and his “minor harpies” in the government from preying on the people (1859)
  16. (16 March, 2009) Mercy Otis Warren asks why people are so willing to obey the government and answers that it is supineness, fear of resisting, and the long habit of obedience (1805)
  17. (22 September, 2008) James Madison on the need for the “separation of powers” because “men are not angels,” Federalist 51 (1788)
  18. (1 September, 2008) James Madison on the mischievous effects of mutable government in The Federalist no. 62 (1788)
  19. (20 August, 2007) Viscount Bryce reflects on how modern nation states which achieved their own freedom through struggle are not sympathetic to the similar struggles of other repressed peoples (1901)
  20. (30 July, 2007) Augustin Thierry laments that the steady growth of liberty in France had been disrupted by the cataclysm of the French Revolution (1859)
  21. (17 February, 2007) Herbert Spencer concludes from his principle of equal freedom that individuals have the Right to Ignore the State (1851)
  22. (28 August, 2006) Condorcet writes about the inevitability of the spread of liberty and prosperity while he was in prison awaiting execution by the Jacobins (1796)
  23. (21 August, 2006) Catharine Macaulay supported the French Revolution because there were sound "public choice" reasons for not vesting supreme power in the hands of one’s social or economic "betters" (1790)
  24. (1 May, 2006) Montesquieu was fascinated by the liberty which was enjoyed in England, which he attributed to security of person and the rule of law (1748)
  25. (27 March, 2006) Edward Gibbon wonders if Europe will avoid the same fate as the Roman Empire, collapse brought on as a result of prosperity, corruption, and military conquest (1776)
  26. (27 February, 2006) J.S. Mill was convinced he was living in a time when he would experience an explosion of classical liberal reform because “the spirit of the age” had dramatically changed (1831)
  27. (15 August, 2005) The Australian radical liberal Bruce Smith lays down some very strict rules which should govern the actions of any legislator (1887)
  28. (25 April, 2005) John Milton gave a speech before Parliament defending the right of freedom of speech in which he likened the government censors to an “oligarchy” and free speech to a “flowery crop of knowledge” (1644)
  29. (28 March, 2005) David Hume ponders why the many can be governed so easily by the few and concludes that both force and opinion play a role (1777)
  30. (14 March, 2005) William Emerson, in his oration to commemorate the Declaration of Independence, reminded his listeners of the “unconquerable sense of liberty” which Americans had (1802)
  31. (7 March, 2005) Edmund Burke asks a key question of political theory: quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (how is one to be defended against the very guardians who have been appointed to guard us?) (1756)
  32. (14 February, 2005) Andrew Fletcher believed that too many people were deceived by the “ancient terms and outwards forms” of their government but had in fact lost their ancient liberties (1698)
  33. (8 November, 2004) David Hume argued that Individual Liberty emerged slowly out of the “violent system of government” which had earlier prevailed in Europe (1778)
  34. (2 August, 2004) Bernhard Knollenberg on the Belief of many colonial Americans that Liberty was lost because the Leaders of the People had failed in their Duty (2003)
  35. (7 June, 2004) Adam Smith on the Dangers of sacrificing one’s Liberty for the supposed benefits of the “lordly servitude of a court” (1759)
  36. (24 May, 2004) Richard Price on the true Nature of Love of One’s Country (1789)
  37. (10 May, 2004) George Washington on the Difference between Commercial and Political Relations with other Countries (1796)

Presidents, Kings, Tyrants, & Despots

  1. (25 April, 2011) Thomas Paine on the absurdity of an hereditary monarchy (1791)
  2. (20 February, 2011) Paine on the idea that the law is king (1776)
  3. (13 September, 2010) Trenchard on the dangers posed by a standing army (1698)
  4. (6 September, 2010) Milton on the ease with which tyrants find their academic defenders (1651)
  5. (4 July, 2010) Jefferson’s list of objections to the British Empire in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776)
  6. (14 June, 2010) Tocqueville on the form of despotism the government would assume in democratic America (1840)
  7. (8 June, 2010) Milton argues that a Monarchy wants the people to be prosperous only so it can better fleece them (1660)
  8. (19 May, 2010) Cato denounces generals like Julius Caesar who use success on the battlefield as a stepping stone to political power (1710)
  9. (9 May, 2010) Cicero on the need for politicians to place the interests of those they represent ahead of their own private interests (1st century BC)
  10. (23 March, 2010) Madame de Staël argues that Napoleon was able to create a tyrannical government by pandering to men’s interests, corrupting public opinion, and waging constant war (1817)
  11. (15 March, 2010) Jefferson on how Congress misuses the inter-state commerce and general welfare clauses to promote the centralization of power (1825)
  12. (4 January, 2010) Livy on the irrecoverable loss of liberty under the Roman Empire (10 AD)
  13. (7 December, 2009) Jefferson feared that it would only be a matter of time before the American system of government degenerated into a form of “elective despotism” (1785)
  14. (16 November, 2009) Lao Tzu discusses how “the great sages” (or wise advisors) protect the interests of the prince and thus “prove to be but guardians in the interest of the great thieves” (600 BC)
  15. (2 November, 2009) Macaulay argues that politicians are less interested in the economic value of public works to the citizens than they are in their own reputation, embezzlement and “jobs for the boys” (1830)
  16. (26 October, 2009) Althusius argues that a political leader is bound by his oath of office which, if violated, requires his removal (1614)
  17. (13 August, 2009) Richard Overton shoots An Arrow against all Tyrants from the prison of Newgate into the prerogative bowels of the arbitrary House of Lords and all other usurpers and tyrants whatsoever (1646):
  18. (13 April, 2009) St. Augustine states that kingdoms without justice are mere robberies, and robberies are like small kingdoms; but large Empires are piracy writ large (5th C)
  19. (3 September, 2008) Lord Acton writes to Bishop Creighton that the same moral standards should be applied to all men, political and religious leaders included, especially since “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (1887)
  20. (18 August, 2008) Edward Gibbon gloomily observed that in a unified empire like the Roman there was nowhere to escape, whereas with a multiplicity of states there were always gaps and interstices to hide in (1776)
  21. (4 August, 2008) Thomas Hodgskin wonders how despotism comes to a country and concludes that the “first step” taken towards despotism gives it the power to take a second and a third - hence it must be stopped in its tracks at the very first sign (1813)
  22. (3 March, 2008) Thucydides on political intrigue in the divided city of Corcyra caused by the “desire to rule” (5thC BC)
  23. (25 February, 2008) George Washington warns that the knee jerk reaction of citizens to problems is to seek a solution in the creation of a “new monarch”(1786)
  24. (3 February, 2008) Plato warns of the people’s protector who, once having tasted blood, turns into a wolf and a tyrant (340s BC)
  25. (21 February, 2007) George Washington warns the nation in his Farewell Address, that love of power will tend to create a real despotism in America unless proper checks and balances are maintained to limit government power (1796)
  26. (7 August, 2006) After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 John Milton was concerned with both how the triumphalist monarchists would treat the English people and how the disheartened English people would face their descendants (1660)
  27. (23 January, 2006) Benjamin Constant argued that mediocre men, when they acquired power, became “more envious, more obstinate, more immoderate, and more convulsive” than men with talent (1815)
  28. (19 December, 2005) Thomas Jefferson opposed vehemently the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798 which granted the President enormous powers showing that the government had become a tyranny which desired to govern with "a rod of iron" (1798)
  29. (3 October, 2005) John Milton laments the case of a people who won their liberty “in the field” but who then foolishly “ran their necks again into the yoke” of tyranny (1660)
  30. (26 September, 2005) Adam Ferguson notes that “implicit submission to any leader, or the uncontrouled exercise of any power” leads to a form of military government and ultimately despotism (1767)
  31. (18 July, 2005) Edward Gibbon believed that unless public liberty was defended by “intrepid and vigilant guardians” any constitution would degenerate into despotism (1776)
  32. (2 May, 2005) Montesquieu states that the Roman Empire fell because the costs of its military expansion introduced corruption and the loyalty of its soldiers was transferred from the City to its generals (1734)
  33. (18 April, 2005) John Milton believes men live under a “double tyranny” within (the tyranny of custom and passions) which makes them blind to the tyranny of government without (1649)
  34. (17 January, 2005) Vicesimus Knox tries to persuade an English nobleman that some did not come into the world with “saddles on their backs and bridles in their mouths” and some others like him came “ready booted and spurred to ride the rest to death” (1793)
  35. (2 November, 2004) James Bryce believed that the Founders intended that the American President would be “a reduced and improved copy of the English king” (1885)
  36. (18 October, 2004) Thomas Gordon believes that bigoted Princes are subject to the “blind control” of other “Directors and Masters” who work behind the scenes (1737)
  37. (9 August, 2004) Algernon Sidney’s Motto was that his Hand (i.e. his pen) was an Enemy to all Tyrants (1660)
  38. (7 April, 2004) Thomas Gordon compares the Greatness of Spartacus with that of Julius Caesar (1721)

Property Rights

  1. (18 October, 2010) Auberon Herbert on compulsory taxation as the “citadel” of state power (1885)
  2. (7 September, 2009) James Mill on the natural disposition to accumulate property (1808).
  3. (6 October, 2008) Lysander Spooner spells out his theory of “mine and thine”, or the science of natural law and justice, which alone can ensure that mankind lives in peace (1882)
  4. (4 September, 2008) Sir William Blackstone argues that occupancy of previously unowned land creates a natural right to that property which excludes others from it (1753)
  5. (20 August, 2008) Alexis de Tocqueville stood up in the Constituent Assembly to criticize socialism as a violation of human nature, property rights, and individual liberty (1848)
  6. (10 March, 2008) Lord Kames states that the “hoarding appetite” is part of human nature and that it is the foundation of our notion of property rights (1779)
  7. (26 February, 2007) Thomas Hodgskin argues for a Lockean notion of the right to property (“natural”) and against the Benthamite notion that property rights are created by the state (“artificial”) (1832)
  8. (24 February, 2007) J.B. Say on the self-evident nature of property rights which is nevertheless violated by the state in taxation and slavery (1817)
  9. (15 November, 2004) Wolowski and Levasseur argue that Property is “the fruit of human liberty” and that Violence and Conquest have done much to disturb this natural order (1884)
  10. (6 September, 2004) John Taylor on how a “sound freedom of property” can destroy the threat to Liberty posed by “an adoration of military fame” and oppressive governments (1820)

Religion & Toleration

  1. (21 December, 2009) Noah Webster on the resilience of common religious practices in the face of attempts by the state to radically change them (1794)
  2. (28 September, 2009) David Hume argues that “love of liberty” in some individuals often attracts the religious inquisitor to persecute them and thereby drive society into a state of “ignorance, corruption, and bondage” (1757)
  3. (27 July, 2009) St. John, private property, and the Parable of the Wolf and the Good Shepherd (2ndC AD)
  4. (29 September, 2008) John Locke believed that the magistrate should not punish sin but only violations of natural rights and public peace (1689)
  5. (15 September, 2008) Job rightly wants to know why he, “the just upright man is laughed to scorn” while robbers prosper (6thC BC)
  6. (28 January, 2008) William Findlay wants to maintain the separation of church and state and therefore sees no role for the “ecclesiastical branch” in government (1812)
  7. (11 September, 2006) In Ecclesiastes there is the call to plant, to love, to live, and to work and then to enjoy the fruits of all one’s labors (3rdC BC)
  8. (10 April, 2006) Pierre Bayle begins his defence of religious toleration with this appeal that the light of nature, or Reason, should be used to settle religious differences and not coercion (1708)
  9. (13 March, 2006) Voltaire argued that religious intolerance was against the law of nature and was worse than the “right of the tiger” (1763)
  10. (25 October, 2004) Voltaire notes that where Commerce and Toleration predominate, a Multiplicity of Faiths can live together in Peace and Happiness (1764)
  11. (4 October, 2004) Samuel warns his people that if they desire a King they will inevitably have conscription, requisitioning of their property, and taxation (7th century BC)
  12. (27 September, 2004) The Prophet Isaiah urges the people to “beat their swords into plowshares” and learn war no more (700s BC)
  13. (20 September, 2004) The Psalmist laments that he lives in a Society which “hateth peace” and cries out “I am for peace: but when I speak they are for war” (1000 BC)


  1. (19 January, 2010) Voltaire laments the destruction of Lisbon in an earthquake and criticises the philosophers who thought that “all’s well with the world” and the religious who thought it was “God’s will” (1755)
  2. (21 September, 2009) Charles Darwin on life as a spontaneous order which emerged by the operation of natural laws (1859)
  3. (14 June, 2004) Adam Smith on the “Wonder, Surprise, and Admiration” one feels when contemplating the physical World (1795)

Sport and Liberty

  1. (21 June, 2010) Mises on human action, predicting the future, and who will win the World Cup Football tournament (1966)
  2. (1 March, 2010) Macaulay and Bunyan on the evils of swearing and playing hockey on Sunday (1830)
  3. (7 February, 2010) John Hobson argues that sport plays an important part in British imperialism for all classes and that the “spirit of adventure” is now played out in the colonies (1902)
  4. (4 February, 2010) The Earl of Shaftesbury relates the story of an unscrupulous glazier who gives the rowdy town youths a football so they will smash windows in the street and thus drum up business (1737)
  5. (3 February, 2010) Nisbet on how violent, contact sports like football redirect people’s energies away from war (1988)
  6. (1 February, 2010) Frederick Pollock argues that a violent assault on the football field is not an actionable tort because it is part of the activities of a voluntarily agreed to association of adults (1895)
  7. (25 January, 2010) Herbert Spencer worries that the violence and brutalities of football will make it that much harder to create a society in which individual rights will be mutually respected (1879)


  1. (1 May, 2011) Luke, Taxes, and the Birth of Jesus (85)
  2. (10 April, 2011) Mises on the public sector as “tax eaters” who “feast” on the assets of the ordinary tax payer (1953)
  3. (24 January, 2011) Spooner on the difference between a government and a highwayman (1870)
  4. (18 January, 2011) Knox on how the people during wartime are cowered into submission and pay their taxes “without a murmur” (1795)
  5. (18 August, 2009) Lysander Spooner argues that according to the traditional English common law, taxation would not be upheld because no explicit consent was given by individuals to be taxed (1852)
  6. (13 July, 2009) Thomas Paine responded to one of Burke’s critiques of the French Revolution by cynically arguing that wars are sometimes started in order to increase taxation (“the harvest of war”) (1791)
  7. (9 March, 2009) Frédéric Bastiat on the state as the great fiction by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else (1848)
  8. (11 August, 2008) Adam Smith claims that exorbitant taxes imposed without consent of the governed constitute legitimate grounds for the people to resist their rulers (1763)
  9. (28 July, 2008) Alexander Hamilton denounces the British for imposing “oppressive taxes” on the colonists which amount to tyranny, a form of slavery, and vassalage to the Empire (1774)
  10. (26 May, 2008) Jefferson tells Congress that since tax revenues are increasing faster than population then taxes on all manner of items can be “dispensed with” (i.e. abolished) (1801)
  11. (4 October, 2007) Frédéric Bastiat and the state as “la grande fiction à travers laquelle Tout Le Monde s’efforce de vivre aux dépens de Tout Le Monde (1848)
  12. (14 March, 2007) William Graham Sumner reminds us never to forget the “Forgotten Man”, the ordinary working man and woman who pays the taxes and suffers under government regulation (1883)
  13. (5 March, 2007) Frank Chodorov argues that taxation is an act of coercion and if pushed to its logical limits will result in Socialism (1946)
  14. (28 November, 2005) John C. Calhoun notes that taxation divides the community into two great antagonistic classes, those who pay the taxes and those who benefit from them (1850)
  15. (11 July, 2005) David Ricardo considered taxation to be a “great evil” which hindered the accumulation of productive capital and reduced consumption (1817)
  16. (21 March, 2005) Thomas Hodgskin noted in his journey through the northern German states that the burden of heavy taxation was no better than it had been under the conqueror Napoleon (1820)
  17. (24 January, 2005) Thomas Jefferson boasts about having reduced the size of government and eliminated a number of “vexatious” taxes (1805)

War & Peace

  1. (24 September, 2011) Cobden urges the British Parliament not to be the “Don Quixotes of Europe” using military force to right the wrongs of the world (1854)
  2. (29 August, 2011) James Mill likens the expence and economic stagnation brought about by war to a “pestilential wind” which ravages the country (1808)
  3. (22 August, 2011) The Duke of Burgundy asks the Kings of France and England why “gentle peace” should not be allowed to return France to its former prosperity (1599)
  4. (25 May, 2011) Grotius on Moderation in Despoiling the Country of one’s Enemies (1625)
  5. (9 May, 2011) Sumner and the Conquest of the United States by Spain (1898)
  6. (9 August, 2010) John Jay on the pretended as well as the just causes of war (1787)
  7. (1 June, 2010) Vicesimus Knox on how the aristocracy and the “spirit of despotism” use the commemoration of the war dead for their own aims (1795)
  8. (25 May, 2010) William Grampp shows how closely connected Richard Cobden’s desire for free trade was to his desire for peace (1960)
  9. (7 March, 2010) Milton warns Parliament’s general Fairfax that justice must break free from violence if “endless war” is to be avoided (1648)
  10. (30 November, 2009) Madison argued that war is the major way by which the executive office increases its power, patronage, and taxing power (1793)
  11. (20 July, 2009) Thomas Jefferson on the Draft as "the last of all oppressions" (1777)
  12. (25 May, 2009) Daniel Webster thunders that the introduction of conscription would be a violation of the constitution, an affront to individual liberty, and an act of unrivaled despotism (1814)
  13. (29 December, 2008) Alexander Hamilton warns of the danger to civil society and liberty from a standing army since “the military state becomes elevated above the civil” (1787)
  14. (17 November, 2008) John Trenchard identifies who will benefit from any new war “got up” in Italy: princes, courtiers, jobbers, and pensioners, but definitely not the ordinary taxpayer (1722)
  15. (18 February, 2008) Adam Smith observes that the true costs of war remain hidden from the taxpayers because they are sheltered in the metropole far from the fighting and instead of increasing taxes the government pays for the war by increasing the national debt (1776)
  16. (17 December, 2007) James Madison on the need for the people to declare war and for each generation, not future generations, to bear the costs of the wars they fight (1792)
  17. (5 November, 2007) Thomas Gordon on standing armies as a power which is inconsistent with liberty (1722)
  18. (10 September, 2007) James Madison argues that the constitution places war-making powers squarely with the legislative branch; for the president to have these powers is the “the true nurse of executive aggrandizement” (1793)
  19. (23 July, 2007) St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the three conditions for a just war (1265-74)
  20. (25 September, 2006) A.V. Dicey noted that a key change in public thinking during the 19thC was the move away from the early close association between “peace and retrenchment” in the size of the government (1905)
  21. (20 February, 2006) J.M. Keynes reflected on that “happy age” of international commerce and freedom of travel that was destroyed by the cataclysm of the First World War (1920)
  22. (9 January, 2006) John Jay in the Federalist Papers discussed why nations go to war and concluded that it was not for justice but “whenever they have a prospect of getting any thing by it” (1787)
  23. (21 November, 2005) Thomas Gordon gives a long list of ridiculous and frivolous reasons why kings and tyrants have started wars which have led only to the enslavement and destruction of their own people (1737)
  24. (19 September, 2005) Hugo Grotius states that in an unjust war any acts of hostility done in that war are “unjust in themselves” (1625)
  25. (12 September, 2005) Hugo Grotius discusses the just causes of going to war, especially the idea that the capacity to wage war must be matched by the intent to do so (1625)
  26. (30 May, 2005) William Graham Sumner denounced America’s war against Spain and thought that “war, debt, taxation, diplomacy, a grand governmental system, pomp, glory, a big army and navy, lavish expenditures, political jobbery” would result in imperialsm (1898)
  27. (23 May, 2005) Erasmus has the personification of Peace come down to earth to see with dismay how war ravages human societies (1521)
  28. (1 November, 2004) Ludwig von Mises laments the passing of the Age of Limited Warfare and the coming of Mass Destruction in the Age of Statism and Conquest (1949)
  29. (23 August, 2004) Thomas Hodgskin on the Suffering of those who had been Impressed or Conscripted into the despotism of the British Navy (1813)
  30. (19 July, 2004) Robert Nisbet on the Shock the Founding Fathers would feel if they could see the current size of the Military Establishment and the National Government (1988)
  31. (21 June, 2004) Adam Smith on the Sympathy one feels for those Vanquished in a battle rather than for the Victors (1762)
  32. (17 May, 2004) Hugo Grotius on sparing Civilian Property from Destruction in Time of War (1625)
  33. (3 May, 2004) Bernard Mandeville on how the Hardships and Fatigues of War bear most heavily on the “working slaving People” (1732)

Women's Rights

  1. (12 October, 2009) Harriet Taylor wants to see “freedom and admissibility” in all areas of human activity replace the system of “privilege and exclusion” (1847)
  2. (27 April, 2009) John Stuart Mill uses an analogy with the removal of protective duties and bounties in trade to urge a similar “Free Trade” between the sexes (1869)
  3. (31 October, 2006) J.S. Mill in The Subjection of Women argued that every form of oppression seems perfectly natural to those who live under it (1869)
  4. (20 March, 2006) J.S. Mill spoke in Parliament in favour of granting women the right to vote, to have “a voice in determining who shall be their rulers” (1866)
  5. (10 October, 2005) Mary Wollstonecraft believes that women are no more naturally subservient than men and nobody, male or female, values freedom unless they have had to struggle to attain it (1792)
  6. (9 May, 2005) J.S. Mill denounced the legal subjection of women as “wrong in itself” and as “one of the chief hindrances to human improvement” (1869)