Welcome to the Online Library of Liberty

The OLL brings books and ideas together so they can converse with each other and with you. We’ve gathered together collections of texts from historical movements and about big ideas that have changed the world to make it easier to allow our texts to “talk” to each other.

Featured Titles

The Aeneid (Dryden trans.)

Virgil (author)

Virgil’s epic poem, the Aeneid, has been of continuing importance to Western literature. Although it was commissioned by the emperor Augustus, the poem is more than early imperial propaganda. It proclaims the divine mission of Aeneas…

All’s Well that Ends Well

William Shakespeare (author)

All’s Well that Ends Well has defied categorization for centuries. The winning of a reluctant husband by an over-eager bride, and the subsequent bed-trick that secures their continued marriage are morally complicated in ways that…

The Economic Consequences of the Peace

John Maynard Keynes (author)

As part of the British delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference after WW1 Keynes had detailed knowledge of the debates about reparations which were demanded of Germany. He believed the demands on defeated Germany were too harsh…

The Analects

Confucius (author)

A 1,000 page book which includes the original Chinese text, a translation, and commentaries.

The Reading Room

The OLL blog explores the fascinating, vital, and often surprising texts and people that fill our library. Come talk in our library!

The Strained Quality of Mercy in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice

At the end of The Merchant of Venice, Shylock gets himself into quite a legal pickle. Unlike many tragedies (and many proverbial pickles), Shylock’s situation is entirely of his own making –due to his rigid adherence to law, not his avoidance of it.
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Liberty Matters

The OLL brings people together to debate and discuss important texts and big ideas about liberty.

Systemic Racism in Crime and Housing

A previous set of essays explored systemic racism as a potential cause of racial disparities in education and healthcare. This set focuses on similar disparities in housing and crime.
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Economics

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. The maxim is so perfectly self-evident, that…

Adam Smith

Money & Banking

It would be too ridiculous to go about seriously to prove, that wealth does not consist in money or in gold and silver, but in what money purchases.

Adam Smith

Food & Drink

Chagrined a little that we have been hitherto able to produce nothing in this way of use to mankind; and the hot weather coming on, when the electrical experiments are not so agreeable, it is proposed to put an end to them for this…

Benjamin Franklin

References and Guides

Mandeville: His Life and Work

Related Links:

Works by Bernard de Mandevile

Source: Editor's Introduction to Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, 2 vols. With a Commentary Critical, Historical, and Explanatory by F.B. Kaye (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1988). Vol. 1.

INTRODUCTION

I. LIFE…

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Kalidasa: Life and Works

Source: Introduction to Translations of Shakuntala and Other Works, by Arthur W. Ryder (London: J.M. Dent, 1920).

INTRODUCTION . KALIDASA—HIS LIFE AND WRITINGS

Kalidasa probably lived in the fifth century of the Christian era. This date, approximate as it is, must yet be given with…

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Chronology: the Life and Times of William Penn

Related Links:

William Penn Collections: Political Theory Collections: Religious Toleration

Source: In The Political Writings of William Penn, introduction and annotations by Andrew R. Murphy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).

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Emerson on Anti-slavery

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a passionate opponent of slavery. Scattered throughout volume 11 of his collected works are essays and speeches on this topic. Here are a list of them:

Address On Emancipation In the British West Indies (August 1844). Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Works of Ralph Waldo…

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Shakespeare: Liberty and Responsibility

This is a Reading List based upon a Liberty Fund Conference on “Liberty and Sovereignty in Four Shakespearean Tragedies.”

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John Milton: Liberty in his Prose and Poetry

This is a Reading List based upon a Liberty Fund Conference on “Liberty in the Poetry and Prose of John Milton.”

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Forgotten Gems

Over the course of time some particularly noteworthy essays, chapters or sections of books are forgotten. This section is an attempt to revive these “forgotten gems”.

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An Introduction to the Major Writings of Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973)

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) wrote widely on matters such as highly technical works on monetary theory as well as journalistic pieces designed for a broader audience. Here is an annotated list of some of his major writings which have been…

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Socialism: A Study Guide and Reader

Introduction

This Study Guide examines the long-standing clash between Socialism and Marxism, and Classical Liberalism over the past 200 years or so. It provides a brief history of the tradition, some of its main criticisms of the free market, the classical liberalresponse to these criticisms,…

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