Law

About this Collection

From the earliest written legal codes to the beginnings of modern constitutionalism, the history of law is the story of our working out how personal liberties interact with responsibilities to others.

Key People

Titles & Essays

A Concise History of the Common Law

Theodore Frank Thomas Plucknett (author)

Plucknett’s work provides a common-law understanding of individual rights, not in theory only, but protected through the confusing and messy evolution of courts, and their administration as they struggled to resolve real problems.…

Ancient Law

Sir Henry Sumner Maine (author)

A classic work on the history of law by one of the great English jurists of the 19th century. Another great English jurist, Sir Frederick Pollock wrote an introduction and extensive notes.

Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters

Hammurabi (author)

The book contains the code of Hammurabi, the prologue and epilogue, letters by Hammurabi and other political leaders, as well as a detailed discussion of the historical and legal background of Babylonian and Assyrian laws.

Blackstone: A Memoir by Sharswood

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Sir William Blackstone

Source: Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England in Four Books. Notes selected from the editions of Archibold, Christian, Coleridge, Chitty, Stewart, Kerr, and others,…

The Best of Bastiat 2.3: The Law

Frédéric Bastiat (author)

The Best of Bastiat (BOB) is a collection of some of the best material in Liberty Fund’s 6 volume edition of The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat (2011-). They are chapter length extracts and have been edited as pamphlets for…

BOLL 9: William Blackstone, “Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals” (1766)

Sir William Blackstone (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. This one comes…

BOLL 24: Spooner, “Vices are Not Crimes”

Lysander Spooner (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. This is a…

BOLL 29: Norman Barry, “Hayek’s Theory of Spontaneous Order II: Legal Orders” (1982)

Norman P. Barry (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A thematic list…

BOLL 41: “Magna Carta” (The Great Charter) (1215)

OLL Editor (editor)

41: “Magna Carta” (The Great Charter) (1215) The document known as Magna Carta was an agreement signed between King John and his feudal nobles in…

BOLL 42: Sir Edward Coke, “Petition of Right” (1628)

Sir Edward Coke (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A thematic list…

BOLL 43: “The Habeas Corpus Act” (1679)

OLL Editor (editor)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A thematic list…

BOLL 44: “The English Bill of Rights” (1689)

OLL Editor (editor)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A thematic list…

BOLL 56: Hugo Grotius, “The Preliminary Discourse Concerning the Certainty of Right” (1625)

Hugo Grotius (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. At the beginning…

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BOLL 9: William Blackstone, “Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals” (1766)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. This one comes from Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England in which he defines…

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Cesare Beccaria’s Ideas on Criminal Law Shape the Bill of Rights

By: Walter Donway

The Age of Enlightenment (conventionally, 1685-1815) saw the nations of Europe refocus from religion to the human condition on earth, reason as the method of improving it, and the rights of the individual. But in what field did this…
Code civil des français. Édition originale et seule officielle

Napoléon Bonaparte (author)

The first official publication of the French Civil Code which was produced under the direction of Emperor Napoleon. [Source: Gallica/BNF gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb339642859].

The Code Napoleon: or, the French Civil Code

Napoléon Bonaparte (author)

An English translation of the French Civil Code by an anonymous English barrister.

The Code of Hammurabi

Hammurabi (author)

The Code of Hammurabi is a collection of the King of Babylon’s laws which were inscribed on stone columns towards the end of his reign. The 282 case laws include economic provisions (prices, tariffs, trade, and commercial…

The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, 3 vols.

Frederic William Maitland (author)

A 3 volume collection of Maitland’s shorter pieces on English law.

The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, vol. 1

Frederic William Maitland (author)

Vol. 1 of a three volume collection of the shorter works of the great English legal historian, including in vol. 1 his “Historical Sketch of Liberty and Equality”, an essay on Herbert Spencer, and essays on aspects of medieval law

The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, vol. 2

Frederic William Maitland (author)

Vol. 2 of a three volume collection of the shorter works of the great English legal historian, including many essays on aspects of medieval law.

The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, vol. 3

Frederic William Maitland (author)

Vol. 3 of a three volume collection of the shorter works of the great English legal historian, including many essays on aspects of medieval law and some biographical essays.

The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXI - Essays on Equality, Law, and Education

John Stuart Mill (author)

Vol. 21 of the 33 vol. Collected Works contains a number of Mill’s essays on the law, women and children, the American Civil War, and his book on The Subjection of Women. It also contains in the Appendix Harriet Taylor’s works On…

The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXXI - Miscellaneous Writings

John Stuart Mill (author)

Vol. 31 of the 33 vol. Collected Works contains Mill’s writings on botany and reviews of medical books. It also contains his edition of Bentham’s Rationale of Judicial Evidence and his father’s Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human…

The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules)

James M. Buchanan (author)

Vol. 10 of The Collected Works. In his foreword, Robert D. Tollison identifies the main objective of Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan’s The Reason of Rules: ” . . a book-length attempt to focus the energies of economists and…

Collected Works of James Wilson, 2 vols.

James Wilson (author)

This two-volume set brings together a collection of writings and speeches of James Wilson, one of only six signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and one of the most influential members of the federal…

Collected Works of James Wilson, vol. 1

James Wilson (author)

This two-volume set brings together a collection of writings and speeches of James Wilson, one of only six signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and one of the most influential members of the federal…

Collected Works of James Wilson, vol. 2

James Wilson (author)

This two-volume set brings together a collection of writings and speeches of James Wilson, one of only six signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and one of the most influential members of the federal…

The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner (1834-1886), in one vol.

Lysander Spooner (author)

This a draft of the second edition of the collected works of the 19th century American legal theorist and abolitionist Lysander Spooner in chronological order of the year of publication. It is in a single large file in HTML…

Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History

Donald S. Lutz (editor)

A collection of eighty documents which demonstrate how local government in colonial America was the seedbed of American constitutionalism. Most of these documents, commencing with the Agreement of the Settlers at Exeter in New…

Commentaire sur l’Esprit des Lois de Montesquieu

Antoine Louis Claude, Comte Destutt de Tracy (author)

A French version of Destutt de Tracy’s extended commentary on Montesquieu which so impressed Jefferson that he translated it himself.

Commentaries on the Laws of England in Four Books, 2 vols.

Sir William Blackstone (author)

A two volume edition of the classic work on English law by Blackstone. This edition is interesting because it includes the commentaries of at least 5 previous editors of Blackstone’s work along with additional notes by Sharswood, the…

Commentaries on the Laws of England in Four Books, vol. 1

Sir William Blackstone (author)

A two volume edition of the classic work on English law by Blackstone. This edition is interesting because it includes the commentaries of at least 5 previous editors of Blackstone’s work along with additional notes by Sharswood, the…

Commentaries on the Laws of England in Four Books, vol. 2

Sir William Blackstone (author)

A two volume edition of the classic work on English law by Blackstone. This edition is interesting because it includes the commentaries of at least 5 previous editors of Blackstone’s work along with additional notes by Sharswood, the…

Commentary on Filangieri’s Work

Benjamin Constant (author)

The Commentary is Constant’s most extensive treatment of economic matters. It is a response to a multi-volume work by the Italian jurist Gaetano Filangiero, The Science of Legislation (1780-88). Constant defends limited government…

Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty

Hugo Grotius (author)

Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty was written in justification of the capture of the Portuguese merchantman Santa Catarina in the Strait of Singapore in February 1603. The Liberty Fund edition is based on the one prepared by…

The Complaint of Peace

Desiderius Erasmus (author)

The Reformation scholar Desiderius Erasmus portrays Peace visiting to earth to deliver her verdict on the human race. She chastises kings and princes, church leaders, noblemen and ordinary soldiers alike for betraying their Christian…

The Concise Magna Carta: The 63 Clauses in Latin, English, and with Commentary

David M. Hart (editor)

The text, translation, and commentary have been taken from William Sharp McKechnie’s edition of 1914. The lengthly historical introduction and appendices have been removed for reasons of space. The 63 clauses are in Latin and…

Constitution of Athens

Aristotle (author)

Probably written by a pupil of Aristotle, it is the first history of Athens as a model democracy, how it came into existence, and how it operated in practice.

The Constitution of England; Or, an Account of the English Government

Jean Louis De Lolme (author)

The Constitution of England is one of the most distinguished eighteenth-century treatises on English political liberty. Like Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws (1748) and Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769), De…

Constitutionalism: Ancient and Modern

Charles Howard McIlwain (author)

Constitutionalism: Ancient and Modern explores the very roots of liberty by examining the development of modern constitutionalism from its ancient and medieval origins. Derived from a series of lectures delivered by Charles Howard…

Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated

John Taylor (author)

Taylor defends a strict “states rights” interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and advocates limited republican government.

The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 2: The Law, The State, and Other Political Writings, 1843-1850

Frédéric Bastiat (author)

Volume 2 of a collection of the works of the 19th century French political economist Frédéric Bastiat. This volume contains 19 essays on political theory, including “The State,” “The Law,” and “Property and Plunder.” A detailed…

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens

Georg Jellinek (author)

An analysis of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen showing the impact which American practice and theory had on French thinking about constitutional law.

A Defence for Fugitive Slaves (1850)

Lysander Spooner (author)

Since, in Spooner’s view, slavery was both unjust and unconstitutional, men and women held in slavery had the right to flee, and other people had the right and the duty to help the runaway slaves escape to freedom. This meant…

Dicey: His Life & Law of the Constitution

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A.V. Dicey

Source: Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, ed. Roger E. Michener (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1982).

Foreword by Roger E. Michener

Very few jurists ever put forward doctrines…

Dissertations on Early Law and Custom

Sir Henry Sumner Maine (author)

A third volume consisting of Maine’s lectures at the University of Oxford. The first was Village Communities in the East and West”; the second was The Early History of Institutions. This volume is drawn from a number of his courses…

Le droit des gens, ou Principes de la loi naturelle, 2 vols.

Emer de Vattel (author)

A 2 volume work in which Vattel explores the application of natural law to the conduct of states and sovereigns. He discusses the rights of obligation of the state itself, those of the sovereign power, the nature of good government,…

Le droit des gens, ou Principes de la loi naturelle, vol. 1

Emer de Vattel (author)

Volume 1 of a 2 volume work in which Vattel explores the application of natural law to the conduct of states and sovereigns. He discusses the rights of obligation of the state itself, those of the sovereign power, the nature of good…

Le droit des gens, ou Principes de la loi naturelle, vol. 2

Emer de Vattel (author)

Volume 2 of a 2 volume work in which Vattel explores the application of natural law to the conduct of states and sovereigns. He discusses the nature of war, that laws of war, neutrality, just and unjust wars, peace treaties, and the…

The Early Christian Attitude to War

John Cecil Cadoux (author)

Published shortly after the First World War, this book is an examination of Christian ethics regarding war and peace which begins with the teachings of Jesus and continues through the first 2 centuries of the Christian era.

An Essay on Crimes and Punishments

Cesare Bonesana di Beccaria (author)

An extremely influential Enlightenment treatise on legal reform in which Beccaria advocates the ending of torture and the death penalty. The book also contains a lengthy commentary by Voltaire which is an indication of high highly…

An Essay on the Trial by Jury (1852)

Lysander Spooner (author)

Spooner argues that it is principle in English law going back to Magna Carta that juries had the right to determine the justice of the laws under which a person might be tried, as well as whether or not the accused is guilty.

The Federal and State Constitutions, 7 vols.

Francis Newton Thorpe (editor)

Thorpe was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to edit a 7 volume collection of Colonial, Federal and State constitutions in 1906. The volumes are in alphabetical order, with Volume 1 dealing with United States-Alabama-District of…

The Federalist (Gideon ed.)

Alexander Hamilton (author)

The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, constitutes a text central to the American political tradition. Published in newspapers in 1787 and 1788 to explain and promote ratification of the proposed…

The Free Sea (Hakluyt trans.)

Hugo Grotius (author)

Grotius’s influential argument in favor of freedom of navigation, trade, and fishing in Richard Hakluyt’s translation. The book also contains William Welwod’s critque and Grotius’s reply to Welwod.

Freedom and the Law (1961 ed.)

Bruno Leoni (author)

The first edition of this book. The greatest obstacle to rule of law in our time, contends the author of this thought-provoking work, is the problem of overlegislation. In modern democratic societies, legislative bodies are…

Freedom and the Law (LF ed.)

Bruno Leoni (author)

The greatest obstacle to rule of law in our time, contends Bruno Leoni, is the problem of overlegislation. In modern democratic societies, legislative bodies are increasingly usurping functions that were and should be exercised by…

The Freedom of the Seas (Latin and English version, Magoffin trans.)

Hugo Grotius (author)

This edition of Grotius’ defense of the right of all nations (especially the Dutch) to use the international sea lanes for trade, was published during World War One by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as part of their…

Friends of the Constitution: Writings of the “Other” Federalists, 1787-1788

Colleen A. Sheehan (editor)

A collection of pamphlets, speeches, and other pro-ratification writings of George Washington, Benjamin Rush, Nicholas Collin, John Dickinson, James Wilson, Tench Coxe, Benjamin Franklin, Noah Webster, Roger Sherman, Fisher Ames,…

The Genius of the Common Law

Sir Frederick Pollock (author)

The Carpentier Lectures delivered at Columbia University in 1911. They are an introduction to the history and ideas behind the English Common Law.

Government by Judiciary: The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment

Raoul Berger (author)

It is the thesis of this monumentally argued book that the United States Supreme Court - largely through abuses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution has embarked on “a continuing revision of the Constitution, under the…

The Hague Peace Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War

A Pearce Higgins (editor)

This volume contains the text (often in both French and English) of the major conventions concerning peace and the laws of warfare from the Declaration of Paris (1856), the Geneva Convention of 1864, of the two Peace Conferences in…

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Henry Maine’s “Society of Status” Under Feudalism

By: Walter Donway

Even among intellects of the Victorian era, Sir Henry Sumner Maine (1822-1888) shone brightly: on the Cambridge University faculty, at the Inns of Court in London, in India leading legal-system reform, at Oxford University teaching…
The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, 2 vols.

Frederic William Maitland (author)

First published in 1895, Sir Frederick Pollock and Frederic William Maitland’s legal classic The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I expanded the work of Sir Edward Coke and William Blackstone by exploring the origins…

The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, vol. 1

Frederic William Maitland (author)

First published in 1895, Sir Frederick Pollock and Frederic William Maitland’s legal classic The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I expanded the work of Sir Edward Coke and William Blackstone by exploring the origins…

The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, vol. 2

Frederic William Maitland (author)

First published in 1895, Sir Frederick Pollock and Frederic William Maitland’s legal classic The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I expanded the work of Sir Edward Coke and William Blackstone by exploring the origins…

The Ideal Element in Law

Roscoe Pound (author)

Roscoe Pound, former dean of Harvard Law School, delivered a series of lectures at the University of Calcutta in 1948. In these lectures, he criticized virtually every modern mode of interpreting the law because he believed the…

In Defense of the Constitution

George W. Carey (author)

In Defense of the Constitution refutes modern critics of the Constitution who assail it as “reactionary” or “undemocratic.” The author argues that modern disciples of Progressivism are determined to centralize political control in…

Institutes of Roman Law

Gaius (author)

An edition with Latin, English translations, and extensive editorial commentary. The Institutes of Roman Law is Gaius’ best known work which became the authoritative legal text during the late Roman Empire. It was the first…

The Intellectual Portrait Series: Profiles in Liberty - Raoul Berger

Raoul Berger (author)

Raoul Berger, an expert in constitutional law, talks about his earliest days as a young Russian émigré in Chicago, his first career in music, and his later fascination with the legal underpinnings of a free society.

Watch the video

The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with Ronald H. Coase

Ronald H. Coase (author)

Ronald Coase talks about his life work, his contributions to economics, and the law and economics movement which he helped create as editor of the Journal of law of Economics from 1964 to 1982.

Watch the video and explore related…

The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with Ernest van den Haag

Ernest van den Haag (author)

Dutch-born criminologist Ernest van den Haag talks about his work on criminology, criminal justice, punishment, and the foundations of a free society.

The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with Henry Manne

Fred McChesney (interviewer)

Fred McChesney, the James B. Haddad Professor at Northwestern University School of Law, interviews Henry Manne who founded the Center for Law and Economics, now at George Mason University, and has directed scores of law and economics…

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

Roscoe Pound (author)

A series of lectures given in the William L. Storrs lecture series in 1921 at the Yale University Law School.

An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

Jeremy Bentham (author)

One of Bentham’s most important works in which he develops his theory of ‘utility’ at considerable length and discusses how the penal system (especially punishments) could be based on this theory. One of the founding texts of the…

Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (5th ed.)

Albert Venn Dicey (author)

Dicey’s most famous work on English constitutional law in which he defended the idea of the sovereignty of parliament under an independent judiciary and the rule of law.

Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (LF ed.)

Albert Venn Dicey (author)

Liberty Fund’s edition of Dicey’s most famous work on English constitutional law in which he defended the idea of the sovereignty of parliament under an independent judiciary and the rule of law.

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John Marshall, the Great Chief Justice

By: Matthew J. Franck

There is only one judge in American history for whom the epithet “the Great” has been commonly used: John Marshall (1755–1835), the fourth chief justice of the United States. Yet in a strange way, his outsized reputation, built on…
Jurisprudence

James Mill (author)

One of the articles James Mill wrote for the Encyclopedia Britannica.

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Justice and Truth

By: Carlos Alejandro Noyola Contreras

Montaigne wrote that “we owe justice to men, and mercy and kindness to other creatures that may be capable of receiving it”. But why is justice so important? What is it about justice that Montaigne considers it among the most…
The Law (FEE ed.)

Frédéric Bastiat (author)

The translation by the Foundation of Economic Education of one of Bastiat’s most famous pamphlets, written as part of his opposition to the growth of socialism in France in the 1840s and where he states that “the state is the great…

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Law and its Development in the Talmud

By: Steven Grosby

If one were to reduce the numerous works of the three thousand year-long, still developing Jewish tradition to those books constitutive of that tradition, there would, by general agreement, be three. The first is the Hebrew Bible,…
Law in a Free State

Wordsworth Donisthorpe (author)

A collection of essays by a radical individualist political thinker on a range of topics which he called “the hardest nuts to crack”, in other words, topics which pushed the theory of individual liberty to its limits. He discusses…

The Law (revised LF ed.)

Frédéric Bastiat (author)

This is a revised edition of Liberty Fund’s translation of Bastiat’s famous essay on The State which was one of the last things he wrote before he died in 1850.

The Law of Intellectual Property (1855)

Lysander Spooner (author)

Although this is entitled volume 1 and a proposed list of contents for a volume 2 was appended to the work, no volume 2 ever appeared. Spooner takes a strong position on the property right of an author to his ideas in perpetuity with…

Law of Nations

James Mill (author)

One of the articles James Mill wrote for the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Law of Nations (LF ed.)

Emer de Vattel (author)

A republication of the 1797 translation of Vattel’s work, along with new English translations of 3 early essays.

Read the Liberty Classic on this title from Law & Liberty

The Law of Nations (1833 ed.)

Emer de Vattel (author)

An influential English translation of a work which had a profound impact on the ideas of the American founders. Chitty brought it to the attention of 19th century English readers and it was brought up to date with additional notes by…

The Law of Torts (4th ed.)

Sir Frederick Pollock (author)

One of Pollock’s more substantial works which also contains his draft on a law of torts prepared for the government of India.

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Laws of a Bygone Civilization

By: Barry Cooper

Liberty Fund’s Online Library of Liberty offers its readers the opportunity to learn from C.H.W. Johns’s classic 1904 edition of Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters. As with later collections of early Mesopotamian…
Lectures on the Early History of Institutions

Sir Henry Sumner Maine (author)

The sequel to his more famous book on *Ancient Law” in which Maine examines kinship, tribal society, early legal remedies and sovereignty.

Lectures on the Relation between Law and Public Opinion (2nd ed. 1919)

Albert Venn Dicey (author)

A series of lectures Dicey gave at Harvard Law School on the rise of collectivism in England during the 19th century and its impact on legislation.

Lectures on the Relation between Law and Public Opinion (LF ed.)

Albert Venn Dicey (author)

This volume brings together a series of lectures A. V. Dicey first gave at Harvard Law School on the influence of public opinion in England during the nineteenth century and its impact on legislation. It is an accessible attempt by…

Liberty Matters: Hugo Grotius on War and the State (March 2014)

Fernando R. Tesón (author)

In this online discussion, Fernando R. Tesón explores what Grotius thought about the proper relationship between the laws of nature and the laws of nations, what limits (if any) can be legitimately and rightly placed on the conduct…

Liberty Matters: Magna Carta after 800 Years: From liber homo to modern freedom (May, 2015)

Justin Champion (author)

This Liberty Matters discussion invited four leading historians to explain what Magna Carta was, why it has appealed to so many people over the years, the impact it has had on the development of Anglo-American legal and political…

Liberty Matters: The Significance of Lysander Spooner (Jan. 2016)

Randy E. Barnett (author)

In this discussion Randy Barnett explores the political thought and constitutional theories of the 19th century American individualist, anarchist, and abolitionist Lysander Spooner (1808-1887). He concludes that “Spooner’s approach…

Liberty, Order, and Justice

James McClellan (author)

Liberty, Order, and Justice seeks to familiarize students with the basic principles of the Constitution, and to explain their origin, meaning, and purpose. Particular emphasis is placed on federalism and the separation of powers.…

Magna Carta Commemoration Essays

Henry Elliot Malden (editor)

A collection of essays about the history and continuing significance of Magna Carta.

Magna Carta: A Commentary

John Lackland (King John) (author)

This is a detailed and meticulous edition of Magna Carta with each clause in the original Latin, followed by an English translation and heavily annotated by the editor.

The Natural Law: A Study in Legal and Social History and Philosophy

Heinrich Rommen (author)

Originally published in German in 1936, The Natural Law is the first work to clarify the differences between traditional natural law as represented in the writings of Cicero, Aquinas, and Hooker and the revolutionary doctrines of…

Natural Law; or the Science of Justice (1882)

Lysander Spooner (author)

Even this is entitled “The First” it is the only part Spooner published. It was meant to be the opening section of a much larger treatise on natural law. It is interesting because Spooner outlines the basic principles of the thinking…

On Civil Liberty and Self-Government

Francis Lieber (author)

Lieber discusses the nature of civil iberty, its history, the rule of law, parliament, the independence of the judiciary, and includes a nuber of English, American, and French constitutinal documents.

The Orations of Marcus Tullius Ciciero

Marcus Tullius Cicero (author)

A 4 volume collection of Cicero’s orations which consisted of his political and legal speeches in which he often expressed his political views.

Orations vol. 1

Marcus Tullius Cicero (author)

Vol. 1 of a 4 volume collection of Cicero’s orations which consisted of his political and legal speeches in which he often expressed his political views. In vol. 1 there are his Orations for Quintius, Sextus Roscius, Quintus Roscius,…

Orations vol. 2

Marcus Tullius Cicero (author)

Vol. 2 of a 4 volume collection of Cicero’s orations which consisted of his political and legal speeches in which he often expressed his political views. In vol. 2. Three Orations on the Agrarian Law, the four against Cataline, the…

Orations vol. 3

Marcus Tullius Cicero (author)

Vol. 3 of a 4 volume collection of Cicero’s orations which consisted of his political and legal speeches in which he often expressed his political views. In Vol. 3. Orations for his House, Plancius, Sextius, Coelius, Milo, Ligarius,…

Orations vol. 4

Marcus Tullius Cicero (author)

Vol. 4 of a 4 volume collection of Cicero’s orations which consisted of his political and legal speeches in which he often expressed his political views. In vol. 4. The Fourteen Orations against Marcus Antonius; to which are appended…

The Philosophy of Law

Immanuel Kant (author)

This 1887 translation contains Kant’s General Introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals and both parts of The Science of Right.

Treatise on the Laws

Marcus Tullius Cicero (author)

The Treatise on the laws is Cicero’s imitation of Plato’s dialogue The Laws where he develops a Stoic theory of natural law as right reason. This book became very influential during the middle ages.

Principles of Equity

Henry Home, Lord Kames (author)

Principles of Equity is Kames’s most lasting contribution to jurisprudence. He sought to explain the distinction between the nature of equity and common law and to address related questions, such as whether equity should be bound by…

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Property and Justice: An OLL Book Discussion

By: Sarah Skwire, Jacob T. Levy, and Aeon J. Skoble

I recently had the chance to sit down with Jacob Levy and Aeon Skoble to talk about Billy Christmas's new book Property and Justice: A Liberal Theory of Natural Rights. Its carefully drawn argument about the connections among…
The Rights of War and Peace (1901 ed.)

Hugo Grotius (author)

Grotius’s magnum opus on international law and the laws of war and peace. He wrote this volume while the Thirty Years’ War raged around him in the hope that rational human beings might be able to agree to legal limits on war’s…

The Rights of War and Peace (2005 ed.) 3 vols

Hugo Grotius (author)

Grotius’s Rights of War and Peace is a classic of modern public international law which lays the foundation for a universal code of law and which strongly defends the rights of individual agents - states as well as private persons -…

The Rights of War and Peace (2005 ed.) vol. 1 (Book I)

Hugo Grotius (author)

Grotius’s Rights of War and Peace is a classic of modern public international law which lays the foundation for a universal code of law and which strongly defends the rights of individual agents - states as well as private persons -…

The Rights of War and Peace (2005 ed.) vol. 2 (Book II)

Hugo Grotius (author)

Grotius’s Rights of War and Peace is a classic of modern public international law which lays the foundation for a universal code of law and which strongly defends the rights of individual agents - states as well as private persons -…

The Rights of War and Peace (2005 ed.) vol. 3 (Book III)

Hugo Grotius (author)

Grotius’s Rights of War and Peace is a classic of modern public international law which lays the foundation for a universal code of law and which strongly defends the rights of individual agents - states as well as private persons -…

The Roots of Liberty: Magna Carta and the Anglo-American Tradition of Rule of Law

John Phillip Reid (author)

This is a critical collection of essays on the origin and nature of the idea of liberty. The authors explore the development of English ideas of liberty and the relationship those ideas hold to modern conceptions of rule of law.

Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, 3 vols.

Committee of the Association of American Law Schools (editor)

A massive three volume collection of essays by leading American and English legal experts which surveys the entire body of Anglo-American law.

Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, vol. 1

John Maxcy Zane (author)

A massive three volume collection of essays by leading American and English legal experts which surveys the entire body of Anglo-American law. Volume 1 is a general survey.

Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, vol. 2

Sir William Searle Holdsworth (author)

A massive three volume collection of essays by leading American and English legal experts which surveys the entire body of Anglo-American law. Volume 2 covers particular topics such as the sources of English law, the court system,…

Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, vol. 3

Viscount James Bryce (author)

A massive three volume collection of essays by leading American and English legal experts which surveys the entire body of Anglo-American law. Volume 3 covers particular topics such as commercial law, torts, property, wills and…

Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, 3 vols.

Steve Shepherd (editor)

A 3 vol. set of The Selected Writings. Vol. 1 contains a long introduction by the editor and 13 parts of the Reports. Vol. 2 contains Coke’s Speech at Norwich, excerpts from the small treatises, and excerpts from the 4 parts of the

Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I

Steve Shepherd (editor)

Vol. 1 of a 3 vol. set of The Selected Writings. This volume contains a long introduction by the editor and 13 parts of the Reports.

Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. II

Steve Shepherd (editor)

Vol. 2 of a 3 vol. set of The Selected Writings. This volume contains Coke’s Speech at Norwich, excerpts from the small treatises, and excerpts from the 4 parts of the Institutes.

Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. III

Steve Shepherd (editor)

Vol. 3 of a 3 vol. set of The Selected Writings. This volume contains Coke’s speech in Parliament (including the Petition of Right), a number of official acts related to Coke’s career, and other matters.

The Shorter Works and Pamphlets of Lysander Spooner, 2 vols. (1834-1884)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This is a compilation of Spooner’s shorter works and pamphlets. Vol. 1 contains works on deism, law, poverty, the post office, and money, which were published between 1834 and 1861. Vol. 2 contains works on money and banking,…

The Shorter Works and Pamphlets of Lysander Spooner, Vol. 1 (1834-1861)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This is a compilation of Spooner’s shorter works on deism, law, poverty, the post office, and money, which were published between 1834 and 1861.

The Shorter Works and Pamphlets of Lysander Spooner, Vol. 2 (1862-1884)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This is a compilation of Spooner’s shorter works and pamphlets. Vol. 2 contains works on money and banking, copyright, law, and political philosophy, which were published between 1861 and 1884. The essay “Vices are not Crimes” (1875)…

United States. Declaration of Independence. United States–Politics and government–1775-1783.

John Maxcy Zane (author)

Written for the layman as well as the attorney, The Story of Law is the only complete outline history of the law ever published. Zane lucidly describes the growth and improvement of the law over thousands of years, and he points out…

Studies in History and Jurisprudence, 2 vols.

Viscount James Bryce (author)

A two volume collection of Bryce’s essays and articles on the Roman and British Empires, constitutional history and theory, obedience, sovereignty, the law of nature , and legal history.

Studies in History and Jurisprudence, vol. 1

Viscount James Bryce (author)

Vol. 1 of a two volume collection of Bryce’s essays and articles on the Roman and British Empires, constitutional history and theory, obedience, sovereignty, the law of nature , and legal history.

Studies in History and Jurisprudence, vol. 2

Viscount James Bryce (author)

Vol. 2 of a two volume collection of Bryce’s essays and articles on the Roman and British Empires, constitutional history and theory, obedience, sovereignty, the law of nature , and legal history.

THE READING ROOM

The Law and the Lady: A Book Discussion

By: Sarah Skwire

The Law and the Lady is a much neglected Victorian legal gothic novel. Written by one of Charles Dickens's closest friends, Wilkie Collins, the novel is a forerunner of today's popular detective and legal thriller genres. In fact,…

LIBERTY MATTERS

The Roman Senate in Early Modern Europe (May 2023)

By: Paulina Kewes, Ioannis D. Evrigenis, Michael Valdez Moses, and Filippo Sabetti

The rise and fall of the Roman republic continued to influence political thought for centuries after its demise. In this Liberty Matters, we invited a group of scholars, led by Paulina Kewes, to consider the influence of this history…
A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States 2 vols.

Christopher G. Tiedeman (author)

A 2 volume work which examines the power of the government over individual personal and property rights under the US constitution. It is an expansion of a 1 vol. work on Limitations of Police Power published originally in 1886. Vol.…

A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States vol. 1

Christopher G. Tiedeman (author)

A 2 volume work which examines the power of the government over individual personal and property rights under the US constitution. It is an expansion of a 1 vol. work on Limitations of Police Power published originally in 1886. Vol.…

A Treatise on State and Federal Control of Persons and Property in the United States vol. 2

Christopher G. Tiedeman (author)

A 2 volume work which examines the power of the government over individual personal and property rights under the US constitution. It is an expansion of a 1 vol. work on Limitations of Police Power published originally in 1886. Vol.…

The Unconstitutionality of the Laws of Congress, prohibiting Private Mails (1844)

Lysander Spooner (author)

Spooner challenged the US postal monopoly by starting his own mail company to deliver letters and by writing a short book arguing that it was wrong on legal and constitutional grounds.

View of the Constitution of the United States with Selected Writings

St. George Tucker (author)

View of the Constitutionwas the first extended, systematic commentary on the United States Constitution after its ratification and later its amendment by the Bill of Rights. As Clyde N. Wilson notes, “Tucker is the exponent of…

The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot, vol. 5

Mrs. Russell Barrington (editor)

This volume contains essays on Money, Grote, and The English Constitution.

Works of Jeremy Bentham, 11 vols.

Jeremy Bentham (author)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring. For a complete list of the titles in The Works of Jeremy Bentham see this page.

Vol. 1 Table of Contents

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 1

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring.

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 2

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring.

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 3

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring.

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring.

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 5 (Scotch Reform, Real Property, Codification Petitions)

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring.

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 6

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring. Vol. 6 contains An Introductory View Of The Rationale Of Evidence; Rationale Of Judicial Evidence,…

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 7 (Rationale of Judicial Evidence Part 2)

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring. Vol. 7 contains Rationale Of Judicial Evidence. (Books V-X).

For a complete list of the titles in The Works…

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring.

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 9 (Constitutional Code)

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring. Vol. 9 contains Constitutional Code.

For a complete list of the titles in The Works of Jeremy Bentham see…

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)

Jeremy Bentham (author)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring. Vol. 10 contains Memoirs Of Jeremy Bentham (Chaps I-XXII).

For a complete list of the titles in The Works…

The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)

John Bowring (editor)

An 11 volume collection of the works of Jeremy Bentham edited by the philosophic radical and political reformer John Bowring. Vol. 11 contains Memoirs of Bentham Part II and an analytical index to the Works. The Index is not…

The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner (1834-1886), in 5 vols.

Lysander Spooner (author)

This is a five volume collection of the works of the 19th century American legal theorist and abolitionist Lysander Spooner. It is in chronological order of the year of publication.

A full list of Spooner’s works in both…

The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner (1834-1886), vol. 1 (1834-1850)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This a 5 volume collection of the works of the 19th century American legal theorist and abolitionist in chronological order of the year of publication. Vol. 1 contains 10 pieces from the period 1834-1850.

The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner (1834-1886), vol. 2 (1853-1855)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This a 5 volume collection of the works of the 19th century American legal theorist and abolitionist in chronological order of the year of publication. Vol. 2 contains material from 1852-1855, namely An Essay on the Trial by Jury

The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner (1834-1886), vol. 3 (1858-1862)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This a 5 volume collection of the works of the 19th century American legal theorist and abolitionist in chronological order of the year of publication. Vol. 3 contains material from 1858-1862, including works on the…

The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner (1834-1886), vol. 4 (1863-1873)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This a 5 volume collection of the works of the 19th century American legal theorist and abolitionist in chronological order of the year of publication. Vol. 4 contains material from 1863-1873.

The Collected Works of Lysander Spooner (1834-1886), vol. 5 (1875-1886)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This a 5 volume collection of the works of the 19th century American legal theorist and abolitionist in chronological order of the year of publication. Vol. 5 contains material from 1875-1886. The essay “Vices are not Crimes” (1875)…

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Quotes

War & Peace

A.V. Dicey noted that a key change in public thinking during the 19th Century was the move away from the early close association between “peace and retrenchment” in the size of the government (1905)

Albert Venn Dicey

Law

Adam Smith argues that the Habeas Corpus Act is a great security against the tyranny of the king (1763)

Adam Smith

Taxation

Adam Smith claims that exorbitant taxes imposed without consent of the governed constitute legitimate grounds for the people to resist their rulers (1763)

Adam Smith

Food & Drink

Adam Smith on how Government Regulation and Taxes might drive a Man to Drink (1766)

Adam Smith

Colonies, Slavery & Abolition

Adam Smith on Slavery

Adam Smith

Law

Algernon Sidney argues that a law that is not just is not a law (1683)

Algernon Sidney

Parties & Elections

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)

Bruno Leoni

Law

Bruno Leoni notes the strong connection between economic freedom and decentralized legal decision-making (1961)

Bruno Leoni

Law

Bruno Leoni on the different Ways in which Needs can be satisfied, either voluntarily through the Market or coercively through the State (1963)

Bruno Leoni

Parties & Elections

Bruno Leoni points out that elections are seriously flawed because majority rule is incompatible with individual freedom of choice (1961)

Bruno Leoni

Law

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)

Cesare Bonesana di Beccaria

Liberty

De Lolme on Liberty as equality under the laws (1784)

Jean Louis De Lolme

War & Peace

Erasmus has the personification of Peace come down to earth to see with dismay how war ravages human societies (1521)

Desiderius Erasmus

Sport and Liberty

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)

Sir Frederick Pollock

Property Rights

Gaius states that according to natural reason the first occupier of any previously unowned property becomes the just owner (2nd Century)

Gaius

Natural Rights

Gershom Carmichael on the idea that civil power is founded on the consent of those against whom it is exercised (1724)

Gershom Carmichael

War & Peace

Grotius on Moderation in Despoiling the Country of one’s Enemies (1625)

Hugo Grotius

Natural Rights

Heineccius argues that no man should be deprived of anything which he has received by nature, or has justly acquired (1738)

Johann Gottlieb Heineccius

War & Peace

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)

Hugo Grotius

War & Peace

Hugo Grotius on civil right being derived from civil power

Hugo Grotius

War & Peace

Hugo Grotius on sparing Civilian Property from Destruction in Time of War (1625)

Hugo Grotius

Property Rights

Hugo Grotius on the natural sociability of humans (1625)

Hugo Grotius

War & Peace

Hugo Grotius states that in an unjust war any acts of hostility done in that war are “unjust in themselves” (1625)

Hugo Grotius

Law

James Wilson argues that it is the people, not the prince, who is superior in matters of legal sovereignty (1790)

James Wilson

Natural Rights

James Wilson asks if man exists for the sake of government, or is government instituted for the sake of man? (1791)

James Wilson

Justice

Jean Barbeyrac on the need to disobey unjust laws (1715)

Jean Barbeyrac

Philosophy

Jean Barbeyrac on the Virtues which all free Men should have (1718)

Jean Barbeyrac

War & Peace

Kant believed that citizens must give their free consent via their representatives to every separate declaration of war (1790)

Immanuel Kant

Free Trade

Lord Kames argued that neither the King nor Parliament had the right to grant monopolies because they harmed the interests of the people (1778)

Henry Home, Lord Kames

Taxation

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)

Lysander Spooner

Law

Lysander Spooner on Jury Nullification as the "palladium of liberty" against the tyranny of government (1852)

Lysander Spooner

Food & Drink

Lysander Spooner on the idea that laws against “vice” (victimless crimes) are unjust (1875)

Lysander Spooner

Economics

Lysander Spooner on why government monopolies like the post office are inherently inefficient (1844)

Lysander Spooner

Justice

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)

Lysander Spooner

Law

Plucknett contrasts the flexibility and adaptability of customary law with the rigidity and remoteness of state legislation (1956)

Theodore Frank Thomas Plucknett

Law

Plucknett on the Renaissance state’s “war against the idea of law” (1956)

Theodore Frank Thomas Plucknett

Law

Pollock on “our lady” the common law and her devoted servants (1911)

Sir Frederick Pollock

Law

Pollock on “our lady” the common law and her devoted servants (1911)

Sir Frederick Pollock

Law

Sir Edward Coke declares that your house is your “Castle and Fortress” (1604)

Sir Edward Coke

Law

Sir Edward Coke defends British Liberties and the Idea of Habeas Corpus in the Petition of Right before Parliament (1628)

Sir Edward Coke

Law

Sir Edward Coke explains one of the key sections of Magna Carta on English liberties (1642)

Sir Edward Coke

Property Rights

Sir William Blackstone argues that occupancy of previously unowned land creates a natural right to that property which excludes others from it (1753)

Sir William Blackstone

Colonies, Slavery & Abolition

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)

Sir William Blackstone

Law

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)

Sir William Blackstone

Free Trade

The right to free trade under Magna Carta (1215)

John Lackland (King John)

Women’s Rights

The Women of Seneca Falls and William Blackstone

Sir William Blackstone

Politics & Liberty

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)

Viscount James Bryce

Notes About This Collection

Cicero(106-43 BC) Edward Coke (1552-1634) Bruno Leoni (1913-1967)

See also the extracts, chapters, and introductions in the Law section of the Ideas page.