When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The condition upon which God hath given liberty to a man is eternal vigilance. Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have. "Ours was a new nation brought forth by our fathers, those iron men of 1776. Our new nation was conceived in liberty. At birth, our nation was dedicated to the moral proposition that all men are created equal. While the virtue of our founding and of our nature rules us, our country will be safe and powerful. To us it will be a blessing."

        - Abraham Lincoln

"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."

"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question."

- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address "The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills."

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."
        - Thomas Jefferson

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
        - George Washington

"Liberty does not always carry out each of its undertakings with the same perfection as an intelligent despotism, but in the long run it produces more than the latter. It does not always and in all circumstances give the peoples a more skilful and faultless government; but it infuses throughout the body social an activity, a force and an energy which never exist without it, and which bring forth wonders."
        - Alexis de Tocqueville (1831)

"I don't hate liberty. I clear it out of my way when it's obstructing my route."
        - Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
        - GK Chesterton


The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society. The recourse to force, however unavoidable, is a disclosure of the failure of civilization. Commerce is the great example of intercourse by way of persuasion. War, slavery, and governmental compulsion exemplify the reign of force.

- Mark Skousen The degree of a country's freedom is the degree of its prosperity. - Ayn Rand, "The Roots of War" Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows us to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions. We believe that liberty can be measured by how much freedom Americans have to make their own decisions, even their own mistakes.

        - Ronald Reagan

We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert.

- J. Robert Oppenheimer Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny. - Robert Heinlien, "Time Enough for Love" "If a nation or an individual values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony is that if it is comfort or money it values more, it will lose that too." Countries are not cultivated in proportion to their fertility, but to their liberty. - Montesquieu Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains. - Jean Jacques Rousseau "They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin "In the end more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free." - Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice. - Anonymous Democracy means that if the doorbell rings in the early hours, it is likely to be the milkman. - Winston Churchill Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters.

        - Frederick Douglass

There is no doubt that people are in the long run what the government make out of them.
        - Rousseau

The government ought to be what the people make it.
        - Johns Adams [1]

How few of the human race have ever had an opportunity of choosing a system of government for themselves and their children? How few have ever had anything more of choice in government than in climate?
        - John Adams [1]

Isaiah Berlin’s two concepts of freedom are extensively examined in this book. For him true freedom is a negative concept: it means and only means freedom from constraint by other men. It has an absolute value superior to justice, equality or the happiness of the utilitarian. Contrasting with this is positive freedom, which essentially is finding self-fulfilment in identifying oneself with some higher purpose; for example, the historical process as conceived by Hegel or as defined in our Book of Common Prayer, ‘Oh God... in whose service is perfect freedom’. A slave may find fulfilment and happiness in serving his master, but he is not a free man.
        - Raymond Carr, reviewing "Political Ideas in the Romantic Age", "The Spectator"


Liberty or Freedom is not, as the origin of the name may seem to imply, an exemption from all restraints, but rather the most effectual applications of every just restraint to all members of a free society whether they be magistrates or subjects.

- Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) "When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny." Wealth is, for most people, the only honest and likely path to liberty. With money comes power over the world. Men are freed from drudgery, women from exploitation. Businesses can be started, homes built, communities formed, religions practiced, educations pursued.
But liberals aren't very interested in such real and material freedoms. They have a more innocent, not to say toddlerlike, idea of freedom. Liberals want the freedom to put anything into their mouths, to say bad words and to expose their private parts in art museums. At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child - miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic, and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats. "Freedom of thought, and liberty of conscience, freedom of the person and the civil liberties, ought not to be sacrficed to political liberty, to the freedom to participate equally in political affairs."

"One of the tenets of classical liberalism is that the political liberties are of less intrinsic importance than liberty of conscience and freedom of the person. Should one be forced to choose between the political liberties and all the others, the governance of a good sovereign who recognized the latter and who upheld the rule of law would be far preferable. The chief merit of the principle of participation is to insure that the government respects the rights and welfare of the governed."

- John Rawls, "A Theory of Justice" "It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist. But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason."

"The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities."

"Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end."

- Lord Acton "Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom."

"It is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess and because each individual's use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone."

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

- FA Hayek Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place. - Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) "The average man's love of liberty is nine-tenth's imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty - and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies. It is, indeed, only the exceptional man who can even stand it. The average man doesn't want to be free. He simply wants to be safe." Statism postulates the doctrine that the citizen has no rights which the State is bound to respect; the only rights he has are those which the State grants him, and which the State may attenuate or revoke at its own pleasure. This doctrine is fundamental; without its support, all the various nominal modes or forms of Statism which we see at large in Europe and America - such as are called Socialism, Communism, Nazism, Fascism, etc., - would collapse at once. The individualism which was professed by the early Liberals, maintained the contrary; it maintained that the citizen has rights which are inviolable by the State or by any other agency. - Albert J. Nock "The fundamental difference between the liberal and the illiberal outlook is that the former regards all questions as open to discussion and all opinions as open to a greater or lesser measure of doubt, while the latter holds in advance that certain opinions are absolutely unquestionable, and that no argument against them must be allowed to be heard. What is curious about this position is the belief that if impartial investigation were permitted it would lead men to the wrong conclusion, and that ignorance is, therefore, the only safeguard against terror. This point of view cannot be accepted by any man who wishes reason rather than prejudice to govern human action." "There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence. The history of man is simply the history of slavery, of injustice and brutality, together with the means by which he has, through the dead and desolate years, slowly and painfully advanced. He has been the sport and prey of priest and king, the food of superstition and cruel might. Crowned force has governed ignorance through fear. Hypocrisy and tyranny - two vultures - have fed upon the liberties of man.
From all these there has been, and is, one means of escape - intellectual development. Upon the back of industry has been the whip. Upon the brains have been the fetters of superstition. Nothing has been left undone by the enemies of freedom. Every art and artifice, every cruelty and outrage has been practiced and perpetrated to destroy the rights of man.
In this great struggle every crime has been rewarded and every virtue has been punished. Reading, writing, thinking and investigating have all been crimes. Every science has been an outcast. All the altars and all the thrones united to arrest the forward match of the human race.
The king said that mankind must not work for themselves. The priest said that mankind must not think for themselves. One forged chains for the hands, the other for the soul. Under this infamous regime the eagle of the human intellect was for ages a slimy serpent of hypocrisy. The human race was imprisoned." "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."

        - Oliver Wendell Holmes


"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question,'Is it politic?' But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right."

"In times when the government imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also the prison." The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. -Thomas Jefferson The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.

        - Thomas Jefferson [1]

Freedom is still the most radical idea of all.

- Nathaniel Branden A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government. - Edward Abbey The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it. - Anon You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. - Charles Austin Beard Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery! Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! - Patrick Henry The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. 'Tis dearness only that gives everything its value... It would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. - Thomas Paine I am not a consensus politician - I am a conviction politician. "There are only three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder 'what happened?'" "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be...The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." Once you stop fearing government, the government fears you. - Robert D. Graham The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost invariably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And if he is not romantic personally, he is apt to spread discontent among those who are. - H.L. Mencken Man is free at the moment he wishes to be. - Voltaire It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. # LORD ACTON

Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
        - Lord Acton (1861)

Whenever a single definite object is made the supreme end of the State, be it the advantage of a class, the safety of the power of the country, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or the support of any speculative idea, the State becomes for the time inevitably absolute. Liberty alone demands for its realisation the limitation of the public authority, for liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition.
        - Lord Acton (1862)

All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
        - Lord Acton (1867)

Liberty is the prevention of control by others. This requires self-control and, therefore, religious and spiritual influences; education, knowledge, well-being.
        - Lord Acton

At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has been sometimes disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition, and by kindling dispute over the spoils in the hour of success.
        - Lord Acton, "The History of Freedom in Antiquity"

It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist.
        - Lord Acton, "The History of Freedom in Antiquity"

Liberty and good government do not exclude each other; and there are excellent reasons why they should go together. Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
        - Lord Acton, "The History of Freedom in Antiquity"


Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.
        - Edmund Burke

I certainly think that all men who desire it, deserve it... It is our inheritance. It is the birthright of our species. We cannot forfeit our right to it; but by what forfeits our title to the privileges of our kind; I mean the abuse or oblivion of our natural faculties, and a ferocious indocility which makes us prompt to wrong and violence, destroys our social nature, and transforms us into something little etter than the description of wild beasts. To men so degraded, a state of strong constraint is a sort of necessary substitute for freedom, since, bad as it is, it may deliver them in some measure from the worst of all slavery, that is the despotism of their own blind and brutal passions.
        - Edmund Burke, on the subject of liberty [2]

Liberty is not solitary, unconnected, individual, selfish liberty. The liberty I mean is social freedom. It is that state of things in which liberty is secured by the equality of restraint.
        - Edmund Burke [2]

Men have a right to... justice, to the fruits of their industry, and to the means of making their industry fruitful. They have a right to the acquisitions of their parents; to the nourishment and improvement of their offspring; to instruction in life, and consolation in death... All men have equal rights, but not to equal things... the rights of man are in a sort of middle, incapable of definition, but not impossible to be discerned, The rights of men in governments... are often in balances between differences of good; in compromises sometimes between good and evil, and sometimes between evil and evil.
        - Edmund Burke, "Reflections on the Revolution in France"

You think you are combating prejudice, but you are at war with nature.
        - Edmund Burke, "Reflections on the Revolution in France" (1790)

On the one hand [Burke] is revealed as a foremost apostle of Liberty, on the other as the redoubtable champion of Authority. But a charge of political inconsistency applied to this life appears a mean and petty thing. History easily discerns the reasons and forces which actuated him, and the immense changes in the problems he was facing which evoked from the same profound mind and sincere spirit these entirely contrary manifestations. His soul revolted against tyranny, whether it appeared in the aspect of a domineering Monarch and a corrupt Court and Parliamentary system, or whether, mouthing the watch-words of a non-existent liberty, it towered up against him in the dictation of a brutal mob and wicked sect. No one can read the Burke of Liberty and the Burke of Authority without feeling that here was the same man pursuing the same ends, seeking the same ideals of society and Government, at defending them from assaults, now from one extreme, now from the other.
        - Winston Churchill, "Consistency in Politics"

Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament... Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
        - Edmund Burke, "Speech to the Electors of Bristol" (1774)

All that wise men ever aim at is to keep things from coming to the worst. Those who expect perfect reformations, either deceive or are deceived miserably.

He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill.

History is a preceptor of prudence, not of principles

Property, left undefended by principles, became a repository of spoils to tempt cupidity.

A man that breeds a family without competent means of maintenance, encumbers other men with his children.

In the fog and haze of confusion all is enlarged.

Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.


[1] Quoted in "John Adams" by David McCullough
[2] Quoted in "Edmund Burke: His Life & Opinions" by Stanley Ayling

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