Front Page Titles (by Subject) Liberty in America - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2
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Liberty in America - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Liberty in America
“American Liberty: A post-Bicentennial Look at our Unfinished Agenda.” The Civil Liberties Review 4 (May–June 1977): 38–51.
America's experiment with liberty has been a love-hate drama concerning civil liberties.
This drama divides itself into three historic acts: the colonial, rural America from its beginnings to Jacksonian democracy; nineteenth century industrial America ending in the Great Depression of the 1930s; and welfare-warfare America from the New Deal down to today. The leitmotif of this entire drama has been the tension between the rhetoric of freedom or natural rights and their repression.
Freedom emerged in early, republican America because no single group could capture the federal government and impose conformity. Pluralism and the mobility of a spacious America allowed freedom despite narrow and intolerant local communities which curbed individual dissent.
The early federal government repressed popular protest for rights and civil disobedience (e.g., the Whiskey and Fries rebellions). Freedom of religion, however, was nurtured by disestablishing state churches, and free speech progressed. Still, local communities were illiberal centers ruled by authoritarian elites. And despite the Declaration's and Constitution's words, freedom overlooked aliens, blacks, and women.
The second act of the drama of liberty, staged during the century from Jackson to Roosevelt, marks the low point of American civil liberties. Four areas of freedom dominated this turbulent epoch: the treatment of racial minorities; the treatment of workers in an emerging industrial society; the treatment of immigrants by native Anglo-Saxons; and the treatment and legal status of women.
Black slavery ended after the Civil War, but the new-won “freedom” accompanied low socioeconomic status and segregation. Racism, government imposed reservations, and “blaming the victim” poisoned Indian relations.
Meanwhile workers, white and black, struggled to form unions against business elites which controlled government, regulatory commissions, the courts, and police. The federal government also bolstered xenophobia against aliens by branding some “radicals” in order to deport them. Finally, women only gradually won freedom from legal disabilities involving income, property, divorce, and the vote.
Throughout the second period, government suppressed freedom of dissent in time of war (e.g., Lincoln's and Wilson's administrations). Censorship and sexual suppression, enforced by government edicts, operated on both local and national levels.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal ushered in the last 45 year long act of America's conflict between freedom and its repression. In this period, government has not been the consistent friend of freedom because of self-interest and pragmatism. Modern America also has been burdened by the repressive hand of bureaucracy, expanding government, and the growth of laws together with their discretionary enforcement. Progress, however, was evident in civil rights for workers and blacks, in the waning of censorship, and in legal safeguards.
Repressive trends also continue. Racial progress has been plagued by discrimination. The government erected detention camps for Japanese-Americans and restricted free speech through loyalty programs and the 1939 Hatch Act. Federal agencies such as the FBI and CIA invaded citizens' privacy through wire taps and computerized dossiers, while simultaneously protecting its own political secrets.
“Governments, courts, other power centers, and individuals have always been ready to balance freedom against competing social values and circumstances.”