Emerson on the right of self-ownership of slaves to themselves and to their labor (1863)

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) caused a stir when he read this poem in Boston to celebrate President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. What seemed to ruffle some feathers was his notion that the slaves had a right to self-ownership and therefore should be compensated for the crimes committed against them while they were slaves:

Jefferson feared that it would only be a matter of time before the American system of government degenerated into a form of “elective despotism” (1785)

Because Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) thought it would be only a matter of time before the American system of government degenerated into an “elective despotism,” he warned that citizens should act now in order to make sure that “the wolf [was kept] out of the fold”:

Madison argued that war is the major way by which the executive office increases its power, patronage, and taxing power (1793)

After President Washington issued the Neutrality Proclamation of 1793 a debate ensued between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton over the power of the President to declare war. Madison took the view that Washington had introduced dangerous new powers to the office of the president:

Herbert Spencer on the pitfalls of arguing with friends at the dinner table (1897)

The English radical individualist philosopher Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) wisely counsels silence when arguing with others at the dinner table. Sometimes it may be fit and proper to blow one’s own horn. At other times biting one’s tongue when a family member says something foolish or incorrect is the best way to promote “social intercourse”:

Lao Tzu discusses how “the great sages” (or wise advisors) protect the interests of the prince and thus “prove to be but guardians in the interest of the great thieves” (600 BC)

The founder of the Taoist tradition of thought, Lao Tzu (600 BC), compares the actions of a petty thief who steals a satchel with those of the great thieves who steal entire kingdoms following the advice of their intellectual advisors, or “sages”:

Ludwig von Mises on the impossibility of rational economic planning under Socialism (1922)

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) as early as 1922 (a mere 5 years after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia) showed that a centrally planned economy (a key platform of the socialists) was both morally wrong because it violated property rights as well as utterly impractical because it prevented the rational allocation of resources. In his view, the socialist experiment could only lead to dictatorship and chaos:

Macaulay argues that politicians are less interested in the economic value of public works to the citizens than they are in their own reputation, embezzlement and"jobs for the boys" (1830)

Lord Macaulay (1800-1859) takes on the witless Southey again, this time on the supposed benefits of public works undertaken by the government:

Althusius argues that a political leader is bound by his oath of office which, if violated, requires his removal (1614)

Johannes Althusius (1557-1638) believed that all political leaders were bound by their oath of office to protect the liberties of the people. If he failed in this duty the people were free to replace him with another who would:

Frank Taussig argues for the reverse of a common misconception about the relationship between high wages and the use of machinery (1915)

Frank W. Taussig (1859-1940), in a chapter on comparative advantage, shows the connection between high wages, the use of machinery, and the widespread existence of “freedom and competition in [men’s] affairs”:

Harriet Taylor wants to see “freedom and admissibility” in all areas of human activity replace the system of “privilege and exclusion” (1847)

Harriet Taylor (1807-1858), in an essay dedicated to Queen Victoria, claims that the replacement of “privilege and exclusion” by that of “freedom and admissibility” is “the very most important advance which has hitherto been made in human society”:

The Abbé de Mably argues with John Adams about the dangers of a “commercial elite” seizing control of the new Republic and using it to their own advantage (1785)

The Abbé de Mably has an interesting debate with John Adams about the dangers of a “commercial elite” seizing control of the new Republic and using it to their own advantage:

David Hume argues that “love of liberty” in some individuals often attracts the religious inquisitor to persecute them and thereby drive society into a state of “ignorance, corruption, and bondage” (1757)

When faced with the problem of religious persecution and even death at the hands of the inquisitor Hume argues that “the illegal murder of one man by a tyrant is more pernicious than the death of a thousand by pestilence, famine, … calamity”:

Charles Darwin on life as a spontaneous order which emerged by the operation of natural laws (1859)

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) concludes The Origin of Species (1859) by marvelling at the “grandeur” and complexity of the life which has evolved as a spontaneous order through the operation of natural laws:

Samuel Smiles on how an idle, thriftless, or drunken man can, and should, improve himself through self-help and not by means of the state (1859).

The Scot, Samuel Smiles (1812-1904), argued that individuals could and should improve themselves through hard work, thrift, self-discipline, education, and moral improvement and not seek the help of government:

James Mill on the natural disposition to accumulate property (1808)

James Mill (1773-1836), the father of John Stuart Mill, defended commerce and the freedom to trade against its critics on the grounds that it was natural, greatly contributed to human happiness, and added to the amount of wealth in society.

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

Lysander Spooner (1808-1887) argued in Trial by Jury (1852) that juries had the right and the duty to judge the justice of the law and to thereby act as a "palladium of liberty" against the tyranny of government:

John Adams thought he could see arbitrary power emerging in the American colonies and urged his countrymen to “nip it in the bud” before they lost all their liberties (1774)

In 1774 John Adams (1735-1826) replied to a series of essays by Daniel Leonard who defended the authority of the British Parliament over the American colonies. His Novanglus letters had a powerful impact in the colonies, especially his arguments about the limits of British imperial authority which Adams wanted to "nip in the bud":

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)

One of the demands of the American revolutionaries was “no taxation without representation”; Spooner takes this demand one step further by stating “no taxation without explicit consent”:

Captain John Clarke asserts the right of all men to vote in the formation of a new constitution by right of the property they have in themselves (1647)

Captain John Clarke was one of the officers of the New Model Army who met in general council at Putney in October 1647 to debate the constitutional settlement. Cromwell argued that the franchise should be strictly limited to men of property. He was challenged by Rainborough, Sexby, and Clarke who were representatives of the radical Leveller movement within the army. Clarke argued for a much broader franchise in elections based upon his notion of natural law and individual property rights

Richard Overton shoots “An Arrow against all Tyrants” from the prison of Newgate into the prerogative bowels of the arbitrary House of Lords and all other usurpers and tyrants whatsoever (1646)

While in prison the Leveller Richard Overton “shoots an arrow” (ideological not literal) at the arbitrary government which imprisoned him. He begins with a solid defense of individual property rights and goes from there:

Benjamin Constant distinguished between the Liberty of the Ancients (“the complete subjection of the individual to the authority of the community”) and that of the Moderns (“where individual rights and commerce are respected”) (1816)

In this section of his essay Constant argues that the right to engage in commerce and the protection of property rights which makes this possible is one of the key factors which distinguished modern liberty from ancient liberty:

John Stuart Mill discusses the origins of the state whereby the “productive class” seeks protection from one “member of the predatory class” in order to gain some security of property (1848)

In a chapter on the function of government in The Principles of Political Economy (1848) John Stuart Mill observed how the state (or the predatory class) forces the productive classes into a condition of uncertainty, insecurity, and dependence:

Edward Gibbon called the loss of independence and excessive obedience the "secret poison" which corrupted the Roman Empire (1776)

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) called the loss of independence and excessive obedience to the Emperor the "secret poison" which corrupted the Roman Empire:

St. John, private property, and the Parable of the Wolf and the Good Shepherd (2ndC AD)

In the Gospel of St. John there is related a parable by Jesus about the wolf and the good shepherd. (10: 7-14). Only a property owner truly cares for his property and does what is necessary to protect it:

Thomas Jefferson on the Draft as "the last of all oppressions" (1777)

Even when the revolutionary war was not going well for the colonists, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) reminded John Adams in a letter that the colonists would not stand for military conscription or the draft under any circumstances regarding it as "the last of all oppressions":