John Locke believed that the magistrate should not punish sin but only violations of natural rights and public peace (1689)

John Locke (1632-1704), in his Letter on Toleration, argued that sins should not be punished by the magistrate. Only acts which are "prejudicial to other men’s rights" should be legally punished:

James Madison on the need for the “separation of powers” because “men are not angels,” Federalist 51 (1788)

In Federalist Paper no. 51, James Madison (1751-1836) worries about how to create institutions which would check personal ambition and the "encroachment" of one branch of government by the other

Job rightly wants to know why he, “the just upright man is laughed to scorn” while robbers prosper (6thC BC)

In Chapter 12 of the Book of Job, Job laments the fact that, even though he has understanding and is morally upright, he is laughed at and scorned whilst robbers prosper:

Tom Paine on the "Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance" (1796)

In 1796 Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called "The Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance", in which he noticed a pattern of increasing public debt and paper currency in the 100 years and 6 majors wars which Britain had fought since 1697:

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

In his influential Commentaries on the Laws of England (1753) Sir William Blackstone has a chapter on “Of Property, in General” in which he outlines a case for property rights which has influenced a couple of hundred years of thinking on the subject in England and America:

Lord Acton writes to Bishop Creighton that the same moral standards should be applied to all men, political and religious leaders included, especially since “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (1887)

Lord Acton writes to Bishop Creighton in a series of letters concerning the moral problem of writing history about the Inquisition. Acton believes that the same moral standards should be applied to all men, political and religious leaders included, especially since, in his famous phrase, “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”:

James Madison on the mischievous effects of mutable government in The Federalist no. 62 (1788)

James Madison (1751-1836) in The Federalist (1788) Essay 62 outlines some of the "mischievous effects of a mutable government" which constantly changes the law to suit its own needs or the needs of its supporters:

Harriet Martineau on the institution of slavery, “restless slaves”, and the Bill of Rights (1838)

The popularizer of political economy, Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), in her account of her travels in the U.S. in 1834-36, relates the story of a slave woman, Mum Bett, who resisted a beating by her owner and demanded her liberty in the name of the Bill of Rights

Alexis de Tocqueville stood up in the Constituent Assembly to criticize socialism as a violation of human nature, property rights, and individual liberty (1848)

In February, 1848, the July Monarchy of Louis Philippe was overthrown, and the Second French Republic established. The new republic believed that the unemployment problem which was plaguing Paris could be solved by setting up government work-projects, guaranteeing employment at a certain wage rate for all who desired it. On September 12th, the Constituent Assembly debated the continuance of this arrangement and Tocqueville rose to speak against it. In the course of his speech he entered onto the subject of socialism, which he considered the logical consequence of recognizing the “right to work,” and devoted most of his time to a discussion of the socialist position. [Translator’s Note]:

Edward Gibbon gloomily observed that in a unified empire like the Roman there was nowhere to escape, whereas with a multiplicity of states there were always gaps and interstices to hide in (1776)

Edward Gibbon, in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), describes the dangers of a unified Empire, in comparison to a Europe divided into a number of independent states, where the opponent of tyranny has nowhere to escape:

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

In his Lectures on Jurisprudence (1763) Adam Smith discusses the "very figurative metaphoricall consent" that people are supposed to grant the ruler to tax them. When taxes become "very exorbitant" he believes the people have the right to resist as the Americans did in 1775:

Thomas Hodgskin wonders how despotism comes to a country and concludes that the “first step” taken towards despotism gives it the power to take a second and a third - hence it must be stopped in its tracks at the very first sign (1813)

In his protest against impressment (conscription) and flogging in the Royal Navy, An Essay on Naval Discipline (1813) the ex-naval officer Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869) argues that the brutal behavior of the officers has a corrupting influence which leads to outright despotism:

Alexander Hamilton denounces the British for imposing “oppressive taxes” on the colonists which amount to tyranny, a form of slavery, and vassalage to the Empire (1774)

Alexander Hamilton in "A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress" (1774) argued that the oppressive taxes laid upon the American colonists by the British were a form of slavery which had become intolerable and would thus lead to the colonists' independence:

Jean-Baptiste Say argues that there is a world of difference between private consumption and public consumption; an increase in the latter does nothing to increase public wealth (1803)

Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832) in his influential Treatise on Political Economy (1803) drew a distinction between private and public consumption, viewing an increase in the latter as no way to increase public wealth:

Jefferson tells Congress that since tax revenues are increasing faster than population then taxes on all manner of items can be “dispensed with” (i.e. abolished) (1801)

In his first annual message to Congress in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) discussed how the tax burden could be reduced and warned how "accumulated treasure" could tempt regimes to go to war in the future:

Nassau Senior objected to any government regulation of factories which meant that a horde of inspectors would interfere with the organization of production (1837)

The English economist Nassau Senior (1790-1864) complained in Letters on the Factory Act that one consequence of the new Act of 1833 would be to allow government inspectors to interfere with the smooth running of cotton factories:

Confucius edited this collection of poems which contains a poem about “Yellow Birds” who ravenously eat the crops of the local people, thus alienating them completely (520 BC)

In the ancient Chinese collection of poems known as the Shih King, probably edited by Confucius, there is a touching verse which laments the ravenous yellow birds in a foreign land where they are not welcomed:

John Adams predicts a glorious future for America under the new Constitution and is in “reverence and awe” at its future prospects (1787)

In the conclusion to his 3 volume Defence of the Constitutions of the U.S. John Adams looks forward to the very great promise the new American republican experiment offers the world:

Plato believed that great souls and creative talents produce “offspring” which can be enjoyed by others: wisdom, virtue, poetry, art, temperance, justice, and the law (340s BC)

In the Symposium, Plato argues that ideas such as wisdom and virtue and temperance and justice have their own offspring and that the great poets like Homer or legislators like Solon have "children" which are worthy of admiration and emulation:

Shakespeare has King Henry IV reflect on the reasons for invading the Holy Land, namely to distract people from domestic civil war and to “march all one way” under his banner (1597)

At the very beginning of Shakespeare’s play, King Henry IV expresses frustration that his plans to invade the Holy Lands on a new crusade will have to wait once again until bloody revolt has been put down within England:

Aristotle insists that man is either a political animal (the natural state) or an outcast like a “bird which flies alone” (4thC BC)

In his Politics, Aristotle believed man was a "political animal" because he is a social creature with the power of speech and moral reasoning:

Lord Kames states that the “hoarding appetite” is part of human nature and that it is the foundation of our notion of property rights (1779)

Henry Home, Lord Kames, a leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, argued in Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion (1779) that the "hoarding appetitie" was universal among mankind and that it was the basis of the idea of property rights:

Thucydides on political intrigue in the divided city of Corcyra caused by the “desire to rule” (5thC BC)

In his Third Book of his History of the Peloponnesian Wars (section 82), Thucydides (Hobbes translation) describes the behavior of the different political factions during the revolt in Corcyra in 405 BC:

George Washington warns that the knee jerk reaction of citizens to problems is to seek a solution in the creation of a “new monarch”(1786)

In a letter to John Jay written on August 15, 1786, George Washington worries that, because the states will not grant the central government sufficient "coercive power", they will swing to the other extreme of seeking a new monarch to solve their problems:

Adam Smith observes that the true costs of war remain hidden from the taxpayers because they are sheltered in the metropole far from the fighting and instead of increasing taxes the government pays for the war by increasing the national debt (1776)

In Chapter III: Of Publick Debts in The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith notes that most people put up with slightly higher taxes in wartime in exchange for the "amusement" of reading about imperial exploits, little realizing that the true cost of war has been added to the natonal debt: