J.S. Mill in a speech before parliament denounced the suspension of Habeas Corpus and the use of flogging in Ireland, saying that those who ordered this “deserved flogging as much as any of those who were flogged by his orders” (1866)

We continue to explore the great treasures which are hidden away in the 33 volume collection of the Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. The key to unlocking this treasure is of course our powerful search engine. Here is an example of what one can find. In 1866 Mill gave a speech in the House of Commons denouncing the English mode of governing Ireland. The occasion was a bill granting the Chief Governor of Ireland the power to suspend habeus corpus, that is "to Apprehend and Detain … Such Persons as He or They Shall Suspect of Conspiring against Her Majesty’s Person and Government.":

Lance Banning argues that within a decade of the creation of the US Constitution the nation was engaged in a bitter battle over the soul of the American Republic (2004)

In the Preface to his anthology of writings by the Federalists (the "friends of order") and the Jeffersonian Republicans (the "friends of liberty") the late Lance Banning noted that it was a struggle over concepts that are at the core of the American political tradition: popular self-governance, federalism, constitutionalism, and liberty:

Montesquieu thought that commerce improves manners and cures “the most destructive prejudices” (1748)

Montesquieu, like many writers in the 18th century, thought that commerce would have more than just economic benefits for societies. It would also improve morals.

Benjamin Constant argued that mediocre men, when they acquired power, became “more envious, more obstinate, more immoderate, and more convulsive” than men with talent (1815)

In a lengthy discussion of the composition and behavior of representative assemblies Constant has this to say about mediocrity (pp. 329-30):

Frédéric Bastiat, while pondering the nature of war, concluded that society had always been divided into two classes - those who engaged in productive work and those who lived off their backs (1850)

In chapter 19 of the last work he ever completed, Frédéric Bastiat pondered on the nature of war and who benefits from it. He concluded that society is divided into two groups: those who live off the productive activity of others and the vast bulk of the people who engage in productive activities:

John Jay in the Federalist Papers discussed why nations go to war and concluded that it was not for justice but “whenever they have a prospect of getting any thing by it” (1787)

In a series of Federalist Papers, John Jay explores how a national government in America might deal with the problems of war and peace:

J.S. Mill’s great principle was that “over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign” (1859)

In the Introductory section of his great work On Liberty Mill states clearly the limits to state power over the liberty of the individual:

Thomas Jefferson opposed vehemently the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798 which granted the President enormous powers showing that the government had become a tyranny which desired to govern with "a rod of iron" (1798)

Thomas Jefferson opposed vehemently the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798 which granted the President enormous powers to restrict the activities of supporters of the French Revolution in the United States. Jefferson kept his authorship of the opposing Kentucky Resolutions a secret until 1821. In the 8th resolution Jefferson asserts that the US government had become a tyranny which desired to govern with "a rod of iron":

The Earl of Shaftesbury states that civility and politeness is a consequence of liberty by which “we polish one another, and rub off our Corners and rough Sides” (1709)

Central to Shaftesbury’s idea of liberty is the notion of the free interchange of ideas, even if some of those ideas grate against those of others (p. 42, last paragraph of Section I):

John C. Calhoun notes that taxation divides the community into two great antagonistic classes, those who pay the taxes and those who benefit from them (1850)

In an extended critique of The Federalist, the pre-Civil War Southern political philosopher John C. Calhoun argued that any system of taxation inevitably divided citizens into two antagonistic groups - the net tax payers and the net tax consumers:

Thomas Gordon gives a long list of ridiculous and frivolous reasons why kings and tyrants have started wars which have led only to the enslavement and destruction of their own people (1737)

Gordon is best known as one of the authors of Cato’s Letters, a severe critique of the political corruption and wars of the British Empire which very much influenced the American colonists. In his lengthy "Discourses on Tacitus" he concludes a section on the Follies of Conquering with the following:

Adam Smith argues that the Habeas Corpus Act is a great security against the tyranny of the king (1763)

In his lectures on jurisprudence Smith notes the importance of the law of habeas corpus in protecting the liberty of subjects against oppression by the king:

Bernard Mandeville concludes his fable of the bees with a moral homily on the virtues of peace, hard work, and diligence (1705)

2005 is the 300th anniversary of the publication of the poem “The Grumbling Hive” which began Mandeville’s exploration of the idea that the pursuit of selfish goals by individuals, within the confines of the free market, could produce beneficial public benefits. This Moral concludes the poem:

Cicero urges the Senate to apply the laws equally in order to protect the reputation of Rome and to provide justice for the victims of a corrupt magistrate (1stC BC)

In a speech in favor of the impeachment of a corrupt magistrate, Caius Verres, Cicero urges the Senate to apply the laws equally in order to protect the reputation of Rome and to provide justice for his victims:

Aeschylus has Prometheus denounce the lord of heaven for unjustly punishing him for giving mankind the gift of fire (5thC BC)

Prometheus has become a symbol of resistance to injustice and the deprivation of liberty. In the words of the Greek playwright Aeschylus, Prometheus defies the gods thusly:

John Milton in Paradise Regained has Christ deplore the “false glory” which comes from military conquest and the despoiling of nations in battle (1671)

In Milton’s great poem Christ and Satan argue about the nature of greatness and glory. Christ makes the following points about the true nature of glory:

Mary Wollstonecraft believes that women are no more naturally subservient than men and nobody, male or female, values freedom unless they have had to struggle to attain it (1792)

Mary Wollstonecraft begins chapter 4 on "Observations on the State of the Degradation to which Woman is reduced by various Causes" with the following observation:

John Milton laments the case of a people who won their liberty “in the field” but who then foolishly “ran their necks again into the yoke” of tyranny (1660)

After having fought for individual liberty in the English Revolution, the English poet John Milton was appalled that oppressive monarchy would be returned in 1660:

Adam Ferguson notes that “implicit submission to any leader, or the uncontrouled exercise of any power” leads to a form of military government and ultimately despotism (1767)

In SECTION VI. "Of the Progress and Termination of Despotism" of his pioneering work of "philosophical history," Adam Ferguson reflects on how free and prosperous nations might step-by-step degenerate into despotism:

Hugo Grotius states that in an unjust war any acts of hostility done in that war are “unjust in themselves” (1625)

Grotius attempted to codify the historical, moral, and legal grounds for justly waging war against an enemy. Here are his thoughts on acts committed in an unjust war:

Hugo Grotius discusses the just causes of going to war, especially the idea that the capacity to wage war must be matched by the intent to do so (1625)

Grotius attempted to codify the historical, moral, and legal grounds for justly waging war against an enemy. Here are his thoughts on waging war against a perceived threat:

Bernard Mandeville uses a fable about bees to show how prosperity and good order comes about through spontaneous order (1705)

In 1714 the poem “The Grumbling Hive” was published, which began Mandeville’s exploration of the idea that the pursuit of selfish goals by individuals, within the confines of the free market, could produce beneficial public benefits:

The Australian radical liberal Bruce Smith lays down some very strict rules which should govern the actions of any legislator (1887)

Even in 1887 there were classical liberals, like the Australian barrister Bruce Smith, who lamented the fact that state intervention was on the increase and that legislators had little regard for individual liberty. Here is his list of principles which all legislators should keep in mind:

Edward Gibbon reveals the reasons why he wrote on the decline of the Roman Empire, “the greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene in the history of mankind” (1776)

After 20 years of work, Gibbon finally completed his history of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776. The final paragraph of that monumental work reads as follows:

Wilhelm von Humboldt argued that freedom was the “Grand and Indispensable Condition” for individual flourishing (1792)

In Chapter II “Of the Individual Man, and the Highest Ends of his Existence” Humboldt explains the connection between liberty and a variety of situations, and their connection to the flourishing of the individual: