Étienne de la Boétie provides one of the earliest and clearest explanations of why the suffering majority obeys the minority who rule over them; it is an example of voluntary servitude (1576)

La Boétie poses one of the thorniest problems in political philosophy: why the suffering majority obey the orders of the ruling few:

Beethoven’s hero Florestan in the opera Fidelio laments the loss of his liberty for speaking the truth to power (1805)

In Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio (1805), the hero Florestan is imprisoned and laments the loss of his liberty for speaking truth to power. He awaits his wife Leonora who comes to rescue him

Condy Raguet argues that governments cannot create wealth by means of legislation and that individuals are better judges of the best way to use their capital and labor than governments (1835)

The American free trader Condy Raguet began a series of articles in the Philadelphia paper Banner of the Constitution in 1829 in which he listed the basic principles of free trade and its benefits to consumers

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)

Chapter XVI of Cesare Beccaria’s work on Crimes and Punishments (1764) is devoted to the issue of torture. Here he methodically lays out the modern, enlightened case against such practices, calling them cruel and based upon the "right of power" not justice

Voltaire in Candide says that “tending one’s own garden” is not only a private activity but also productive (1759)

The enlightened playwright and social critic Voltaire (1694-1778) concluded his satirical tale Candide (1759) with the observation that the violence and plunder of kings could not compare with the productive and peaceful life of those who minded their own business, "cultivated their own garden," and traded the surpluses with their neighbors:

Augustin Thierry relates the heroic tale of the Kentishmen who defeat William the Conqueror and so are able to keep their ancient laws and liberties (1856)

Augustin Thierry (1795-1856) was an important classical liberal historian who developed a class theory of history based upon the conflict between those who used force (as in conquest and taxation) and those who were the victims of that force (peasants and tax payers). In an Appendix to his History of the Conquest of England by the Normans (1856) Thierry includes a poem about William’s failure to subdue the "Kentishmen" who refused to bow to his authority and forced William to allow them to keep their traditional laws. In return, the Kentishmen acknowledged William as King of England

Daniel Webster thunders that the introduction of conscription would be a violation of the constitution, an affront to individual liberty, and an act of unrivaled despotism (1814)

Daniel Webster (1782-1852) gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on December 9, 1814 in opposition to President Madison’s proposal for compulsory military service in which he argued that Madison’s plan to conscript individuals into the army was "an abominable doctrine (which) has no foundation in the Constitution"

John Ramsay McCulloch argues that smuggling is “wholly the result of vicious commercial and financial legislation” and that it could be ended immediately by abolishing this legislation (1899)

The advocate of Ricardian economics, John Ramsay McCulloch (1789-1864), argued that smuggling was caused by poor legislation, and that it resulted in the corruption of the law courts and the sending of troops into the field

Sir William Blackstone differentiates between “absolute rights” of individuals (natural rights which exist prior to the state) and social rights (contractural rights which evolve later) (1753)

Blackstone argues that government exists principally to protect and enforce the absolute or natural rights of individuals which exist prior to the formation of the state:

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)

The great English jurist, Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), argued in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1753) that one of the key "absolute rights of individuals" was the right to the preservation of one’s personal liberty. Following from this principle he further argued that it was "a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government" to "secretly hurry" a man to jail where he might suffer unknown or forgotten by the people

John Stuart Mill uses an analogy with the removal of protective duties and bounties in trade to urge a similar “Free Trade” between the sexes (1869)

In The Subjection of Women (1869) J.S. Mill (1806-1873) argues that, just as with trade between different nations, men and women will have different comparative advantages and that both will benefit if one side is not favoured by the government with unfair "bounties and protective duties in favour of men":

John Stuart Mill on the need for limited government and political rights to prevent the “king of the vultures” and his “minor harpies” in the government from preying on the people (1859)

2009 marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1859), one of the key texts in 19th century classical liberal thought. In the second paragraph of this work, Mill states that societies need a system of legal and political rights and constitutional checks and balances in order to prevent the stronger, the "innumerable vultures" and their allied "minor harpies", from oppressing ordinary people in a perpetual struggle between "Liberty and Authority":

St. Augustine states that kingdoms without justice are mere robberies, and robberies are like small kingdoms; but large Empires are piracy writ large (5th C)

St. Augustine (354-430), in Book IV of The City of God, relates the story about the pirate who had been seized and brought before Alexander the Great. The cheeky pirate asks Alexander what is the real difference between a pirate and an emperor apart from the scale of action

Ludwig von Mises argues that sound money is an instrument for the protection of civil liberties and a means of limiting government power (1912)

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), argues in The Theory of Money and Credit (1912) that "sound money" was a crucial part of classical liberal theory because it was the market’s choice of a commonly used medium of exchange and also a method for obstructing the government’s propensity to meddle with the currency system:

Ludwig von Mises lays out five fundamental truths of monetary expansion (1949)

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), in the chapter "The Inflationist View of History" in his masterwork Human Action (1949), criticises the popular view that a policy of inflation (or a general rise in prices of all goods and services) is good for economic development

Mercy Otis Warren asks why people are so willing to obey the government and answers that it is supineness, fear of resisting, and the long habit of obedience (1805)

In her pioneering History of the American Revolution (1805) Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814) reflected upon the propensity of human beings to obey authority out of old habits of obedience until they have been pushed to the limits by despotic masters.

Frédéric Bastiat on the state as the great fiction by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else (1848)

In his essay on “The State”, which Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) wrote during the revolutionary year of 1848 when socialist governments were promising the moon to French citizens, he sarcastically offered his own definition of what the state was:

Adam Smith argues that retaliation in a trade war can sometimes force the offending country to lower its tariffs, but more often than not the reverse happens (1776)

Adam Smith (1723-1790) grudgingly admits that retaliation in a trade war may have some good effect if it leads to the abandonment of the initial protective duty, but he is highly doubtful that the “insidious and crafty animal, vulgarly called a statesman or politician” can or really wants to end protection in this manner. All it does is benefit a few at the expence of the many:

Gustave de Molinari argues that political parties are like “actual armies” who are trained to seize power and reward their supporters with jobs and special privileges (1904)

The French economist Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912) compared political parties to "armies" whose sole aim is to win office, distribute spoils and jobs, all at the expence of taxpayers

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 (1723-1780), the great English jurist, in his Commentaries of the Laws of England (1753) believed that slavery was "repugnant to reason, and the principles of natural law" and thus had no standing under English law

Alexander Hamilton warns of the danger to civil society and liberty from a standing army since “the military state becomes elevated above the civil” (1787)

In Federalist Paper no. 8 "The effects of Internal War in producing Standing Armies, and other institutions unfriendly to liberty" Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) warned of the dangers to liberty when the importance of the military is elevated above that of the citizenry:

Edward Robertson points out the bureaucratic blundering and inefficiency of the Postal Monopoly during the Christmas rush period (1891)

Thomas Mackay in 1891 edited a collection of essays attacking the Fabian Socialist ideas of George Bernard Shaw. In one essay Edward Robertson complained about the inefficiencies of the government postal monopoly at Christmas time

David Hume examines the pride of the turkey (and other creatures) (1739)

The great Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) in his Treatise of Human Nature (1739) has an interesting observation on the pride and vanity of the male turkey:

John Trenchard identifies who will benefit from any new war “got up” in Italy: princes, courtiers, jobbers, and pensioners, but definitely not the ordinary taxpayer (1722)

John Trenchard (1662-1723), one of the author’s of Cato’s Letters, warned in 1722 that a new war with Italy would allow "many princes (to) warm their hands at it, whilst their subjects will be burnt to death," and reward many jobbers and courtiers who stood to personally benefit from increased taxes and debt:

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Taylor condemns the system of banking as “a blot” on the constitution, as corrupt, and that long-term government debt was “swindling” future generations (1816)

In his retirement to Montecello Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) complained about the lack of any good bookshops. So he was delighted to receive from John Taylor (1753-1824) a copy of his new book An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the U.S. (1814). This prompted a letter to Taylor (May 28, 1816) which reflected upon the nature of republics and of government debt.