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.
- 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."
"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
- 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.
- 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.
- Frederick Douglass
There is no doubt that
people are in the long run what the government make out of them.
The government ought
to be what the people make it.
- Johns Adams 
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 
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"
THE IDEA OF LIBERTY
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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
- 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."
- Thomas Jefferson 
Freedom is still the most radical idea of all.
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"
# EDMUND BURKE
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 
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 
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.
# NOTES ON SOURCES
 Quoted in "John
Adams" by David McCullough
 Quoted in "Edmund Burke: His Life & Opinions" by Stanley Ayling
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