The legal historian Hazeltine wrote in an essay commemorating the 700th anniversary of Magna Carta that the American colonists regarded Magna Carta as the “bulwark of their rights as Englishmen” (1917)

As part of the 700th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, the great Scottish legal scholar McKechnie edited a new edition of the document and Malden edited a collection of commemorative essays for the Royal Historical Society. In one of those essays Hazeltine examined "The Influence of Magna Carta on American Constitutional Development" and concluded that:

In Measure for Measure Shakespeare has Isabella denounce the Duke’s deputy for being corrupted by power, “it is excellent To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant” (1623)

In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare shows how those in power can easily become corrupted. The Duke appoints Angelo as his deputy while he is absent. Angelo decides to enforce the letter of the law and condemns Claudio to death for a crime which has not been enforced for a long time. His sister Isabella pleads for his life. Angelo accepts her plea in return for sexual favors but double-crosses her by ordering Claudio’s execution anyway. In pleading for her brother’s liife Isabella accuses Angelo of many things:

John Locke on the idea that “wherever law ends, tyranny begins” (1689)

John Locke states in Section 202 of Chap. XVIII "Of Tyranny" in Book II of the Two Treatises of Government that even magistrates must abide by the law:

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

In the 12th lecture on the "Relation between Legislative Opinion and General Public Opinion" the great English constitutional jurist A.V. Dicey summarizes his conclusions concerning the movement away from "individualism" towards "collectivism" in the late 19th century:

In Ecclesiastes there is the call to plant, to love, to live, and to work and then to enjoy the fruits of all one’s labors (3rdC BC)

The sentiments expressed in this passage from Ecclesiastes 3. 1-13, one of the books of the Old Testament, might be familiar as they were used in a well-known song from the 1960s:

Condorcet writes about the inevitability of the spread of liberty and prosperity while he was in prison awaiting execution by the Jacobins (1796)

Condorcet wrote this extraordinarily optimistic prediction about the inevitability of the spread of liberty and prosperity across the globe while he was in prison awaiting execution by the Jacobins during the Terror. This passage begins the section of the book on the tenth future epoch of man:

Catharine Macaulay supported the French Revolution because there were sound "public choice" reasons for not vesting supreme power in the hands of one’s social or economic "betters" (1790)

Catharine Macaulay, the English republican historian, was one of the first to criticize Burke’s opposition to the French Revolution. She argued that there were sound "public choice" reasons for not vesting supreme power in the hands of one’s social or economic "betters":

Adam Ferguson observed that social structures of all kinds were “the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design” (1782)

Friedrich Hayek was most taken by an observation Adam Ferguson made in this work that social structures of all kinds were “the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design”. This led him to develop his notion of “spontaneous order”.

After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 John Milton was concerned with both how the triumphalist monarchists would treat the English people and how the disheartened English people would face their descendants (1660)

In 1660, with the Restoration of the English monarchy and the end of the experiment in Republican government, Milton was concerned with both how the triumphalist monarchists would treat the English people and how the English people would face their descendants:

John Millar argues that as a society becomes wealthier domestic freedom increases, even to the point where slavery is thought to be pernicious and economically inefficient (1771)

A major concern of Millar in The Distinction of Ranks was to show how unjust and inefficient social arrangements, like slavery, were gradually abolished as nations became more prosperous and commercial:

In Percy Shelley’s poem Liberty liberty is compared to a force of nature sweeping the globe, where “tyrants and slaves are like shadows of night” which will disappear in “the van of the morning light” (1824)

In a collection of his posthumously published poems there is this little gem about Liberty which likens it to a force of nature sweeping the globe:

Adam Smith notes that colonial governments might exercise relative freedom in the metropolis but impose tyranny in the distant provinces (1776)

Adam Smith, In the chapter "Of Colonies" in vol. 2 of The Wealth of Nations (1776), discusses how colonial governments exercise tyranny in the distant provinces but relative freedom in the metropolis:

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest Caliban complains about the way the European lord Prospero taught him language and science then enslaved him and dispossessed him of the island on which he was born (1611)

In an exchange between Prospero and Caliban (Act I, Scene II, line 320) the latter complains about the way the European lord Prospero taught him language and science but enslaved him and dispossessed him of the island on which he was born:

In Shakespeare’s Henry V the king is too easily persuaded by his advisors that the English economy will continue to function smoothly, like obedient little honey-bees in their hive, while he is away with his armies conquering France (1598)

King Henry V is too easily persuaded by his advisors that the English economy will continue to function smoothly, like a well-ordered bee hive, while he is away with his armies conquering France. The Archbishop of Canterbury advises him that:

In Shakespeare’s Henry V the soldier Williams confronts the king by saying that “few die well that die in a battle” and that “a heavy reckoning” awaits the king that led them to it (1598)

On the eve of battle King Henry V goes secretly amongst his own soldiers and is challenged by two of them about the morality of going to war:

John Milton opposed censorship for many reasons but one thought sticks in the mind, that “he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself” (1644)

When Parliament did not relax the law requiring the prior censorship of books after the English Revolution had broken out but in fact passed an ordinance requiring the licensing of the press in 1643, Milton urged it to reconsider:

Montesquieu was fascinated by the liberty which was enjoyed in England, which he attributed to security of person and the rule of law (1748)

Montesquieu was fascinated by the liberty which was enjoyed in England, which he attributed to the sharp separation of political powers:

Forrest McDonald argues that the Founding Fathers envisaged a new economic order based upon Lockean notions of private property and the creation of the largest contiguous area of free trade in the world (2006)

Forrest McDonald begins his speech to the Economic Club of Indianapolis by asking what kind of economic order did the Founding Fathers intend building:

Forrest McDonald discusses the reading habits of colonial Americans and concludes that their thinking about politics and their shared values was based upon their wide reading, especially of history (1978)

In the very first issue of the journal Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought the distinguished historian of the American Revolution, Forrest McDonald discussed the reading habits of Americans before the revolution and concluded that much of what they thought was based upon their wide reading, especially of history:

Pierre Bayle begins his defence of religious toleration with this appeal that the light of nature, or Reason, should be used to settle religious differences and not coercion (1708)

Pierre Bayle begins his defence of religious toleration with this appeal that the light of nature, or Reason, should be used to settle religious differences and not coercion:

Edward Gibbon wonders if Europe will avoid the same fate as the Roman Empire, collapse brought on as a result of prosperity, corruption, and military conquest (1776)

In an aside in Chapter XXXVIII of Volume VI of his massive work on the fall of Rome Gibbon summarized his thoughts and drew lessons for the present:

J.S. Mill spoke in Parliament in favour of granting women the right to vote, to have “a voice in determining who shall be their rulers” (1866)

In July 1866 Mill spoke in moving "for an Address for ‘Return of the number of Freeholders, Householders, and others in England and Wales who, fulfilling the conditions of property or rental prescribed by Law as the qualification for the Electoral Franchise, are excluded from the Franchise by reason of their sex.’":

Voltaire argued that religious intolerance was against the law of nature and was worse than the “right of the tiger” (1763)

Towards the end of his long life Voltaire took the courageous stand of defending a Protestant family against religious intolerance and legal persecution. In his Treatise on Toleration he argued that religious intolerance was against the law of nature and was worse than the “right of the tiger":

J.S. Mill was convinced he was living in a time when he would experience an explosion of classical liberal reform because “the spirit of the age” had dramatically changed (1831)

In an essay which Mill wrote in 1831 at the age of 26 he confidently announces that “the spirit of the age” in which he lived would bring about revolutionary changes because men had suddenly “insisted on being governed in a new way”:

J.M. Keynes reflected on that “happy age” of international commerce and freedom of travel that was destroyed by the cataclysm of the First World War (1920)

2006 is the 90th anniversary of two of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, Verdun and the Somme. Keynes reminds us of the classical liberal world which was destroyed by that war: