Francis Hutcheson’s early formulation of the principle of “the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers” (1726)

The Scottish moral philosopher Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) developed an early version of the utilitarian principle of “the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers” as a way of calculating the best action to take when faced with alternatives:

Say on a person’s property right in their own “industrious faculties” (1819)

In the chapter “On the Right of Property” in his Treatise (1803, 1819) the French economist Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832) argues that property is not limited to ownership of “things” but also includes an individual’s “talents and faculties”:

Gustave de Beaumont and Irish liberty (1839)

In his analysis of the Irish problem in the late 1830s Gustave de Beaumont (1802-1866) provides some historical background, especially the belief some Irish radicals had in the principles of the French Revolution. He sympathetically quotes one of the songs of the United Irishmen from 1789:

Tocqueville on the true love of liberty (1856)

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) in his unfinished history of the Revolution of 1789 asks where the love of liberty comes from:

Destutt de Tracy on the damage which government debt and the class which lives off loans to the state cause the industrious classes (1817)

The Idéologue and classical liberal Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836) criticised the practice of increasing government debt by “borrowing money on perpetual annuities” as harmful to productive economic activity and which perpetuated the power of “a crowd of useless annuitants” who live off future taxes:

James Buchanan on chaining Leviathan (1975)

One of the founders of the Public Choice school of economics, James M. Buchanan (1919-2013), asks the fundamental question of political science - “who will guard us from the guardians”? His answer is a call for a “constitutional revolution” which will “chain Leviathan”:

James Buchanan on “process” and the market order (1982)

In a discussion prompted by an essay on “Spontaneous Order” by Norman Barry, the economist James M. Buchanan (1919-2013) provides one of the most succinct descriptions of how a market order emerges spontaneously by a process of free exchanges:

Ludwig Lachmann and the free market as a leveling process in the distribution of wealth (1956)

In an article he wrote in 1956 the Austrian school economist Ludwig M. Lachmann (1906 - 1990) observed that the free market created a “leveling process” in the distribution of wealth because wealth did not stay in any particular person’s hands for long unless they they had the skill to successfully satisfy the demands of consumers in the face of constantly changing conditions:

The 12th Day of Christmas: Frank Chodorov on free trade as the harbinger of goodwill among men and peace on earth (1940)

The American radical individualist Frank Chodorov (1887-1966) notes that trade is “the harbinger of goodwill among men, and peace on earth”:

The 11th Day of Christmas: Mises on the gold standard and peace on earth (1934)

In 1934 in the midst of the great depression the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) contrasted the economic policies of Fascist Europe and New Deal America with those of the liberal 19th century. The latter was one of the international division of labor, free trade, and the gold standard. The former advocated national autarky, severe trade restrictions, and government fiat currency. Mises believed that only the latter would permit prosperity and peace on earth to prevail:

The 10th Day of Christmas: Richard Cobden on public opinion and peace on earth (c. 1865)

The British advocate of free trade and peace Richard Cobden (1804-1865) chides an unnamed reverend for using his pulpit to praise the bellicose statements of the Duke of Wellington. He reminds the reverend that he serves a higher master who urged mankind to pursue the goals of “peace on earth, good will towards men”:

The 9th Day of Christmas: Condy Raguet on the anti-Christian character of protection and the need for peace on earth (1832)

The American free trader Condy Raguet (1784-1842) argues that there is not one set of rules which governs “duty from man to man, and another sort of duty from nation to nation”. There is only one, namely the “Christian dispensation” for “peace on earth, and good will to men” which in economics translates into a policy of free trade:

The 8th Day of Christmas: Jefferson on the inevitability of revolution in England only after which there will be peace on earth (1817)

In the immediate aftermath of the end of the war against Napoleon, Jefferson believed that the national debt and the serious economic recession in England would lead inevitably to the English people rising up and overthrowing their government as the Americans had done 40 years before. Only after this revolution had succeeded would the world finally be able to enjoy “on earth peace, and good will towards men”:

The 7th Day of Christmas: Madison on “the most noble of all ambitions” which a government can have, of promoting peace on earth (1816)

In an address to the Senate and House of Representatives as his second term as President was drawing to a close, James Madison (1751-1836) summed up the achievements of the U.S. in the 40 years of its existence. One of the things he was most proud of was that he had led “a Government which avoids intrusions on the internal repose of other nations”:

The 6th Day of Christmas: Vicesimus Knox on the Christian religion and peace on earth (1793)

The English anti-war minister Vicesimus Knox (1752-1821) reminded his parishioners in 1793 that the motto of Christianity was the exhortation from the gospel of Saint Luke “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will towards men”:

The 5th Day of Christmas: Samuel Cooper on the Articles of Confederation and peace on earth (1780)

The Massachusetts clergyman Samuel Cooper (1725-1783) gave a patriotic sermon in 1780 to celebrate the adoption of the Articles of Confederation. He concludes by urging his listeners to help build “the new city” in America by making the wilderness fruitful, inviting the injured and oppressed to come to America, and to create a country which “breaths” the principles of “peace on earth, and good will towards men”:

The 4th Day of Christmas: Dante Alighieri on human perfectibility and peace on earth (1559)

The Florentine poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) believed in a universal monarch who would end the squabbling and bloodshed between rival kings and lords in Europe. Only under such a regime could peace be established under which humanity could thrive and prosper:

The 3rd Day of Christmas: Erasmus stands against war and for peace on earth (16th century)

In his polemic against war (date?) the Dutch humanist scholar and theologian Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) denounces war for its destructiveness and its violation of fundamental Christian doctrine. He reminds Christians that at the birth of Christ “the angels sung not the glories of war, nor a song of triumph, but a hymn of peace”:

The 2nd Day of Christmas: Petrarch on the mercenary wars in Italy and the need for peace on earth (1344)

The Italian humanist poet Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) was appalled at the use of mercenaries by the warring city states of Italy which ravaged his country in the 14th century. He urged his fellow Italians “from strife and slaughter cease” and instead “gather joy and peace on earth”:

The 1st Day of Christmas: Jan Huss' Christmas letters and his call for peace on earth (1412)

The Czech religious reformer Jan Huss (1372-1415) wrote two letters from exile to the people of Prague in celebration of Christmas in 1412. He emphasizes that Christ is the peacemaker and that his message was “peace be to you” (pax vobiscum):

The evangelist Luke “on earth peace, good will toward men” (1st century)

In the account by Luke of the birth of Christ there is a line which states that the angel which announced the birth was accompanied by a “heavenly host” (a large army of good angels) who urged that there be “peace on earth”:

Madison on “Parchment Barriers” and the defence of liberty II (1788)

In a letter to Thomas Jefferson in October 1788, James Madison expresses lukewarm support for the idea of a bill of rights since “repeated violations of these parchment barriers have been committed by overbearing majorities in every State.” He continues to believe the main threat to liberty comes from the legislative not the executive branch of government:

Madison on “Parchment Barriers” and the defence of liberty I (1788)

Although in the Federalist Papers (1787-88) James Madison (1751-1836) urged ratification of the U.S. Constitution he was also aware of the things it left undone. Here he worries about the weakness of “parchment barriers” such as the constitution in protecting the liberties of the people when the government increasingly “draw(s) all power into its impetuous vortex”:

Jasay on the superiority of “spontaneous conventions” over “legal frameworks” (2007)

The political economist Anthony de Jasay (1925-2019) concludes that a major reason in explaining differences between nations concerning respect for property and tolerance towards others has less to do with formal “legal frameworks” which may exist than with deeper “spontaneous conventions” or social customs which have evolved over long periods of time:

Benjamin Franklin on the “superstructure” of Good Government (1736)

Given Benjamin Franklin’s (1706-1790) technical bent as an inventor and scientist it is not surprising that he would compare government to the construction of a building, nor that he would have great faith in the people’s ability to construct a sound political edifice: