Tiedeman on the victimless crime of vagrancy (1900)

The American constitutional lawyer Christopher Tiedeman (1857-1903) argued that vagrancy might be a crime under statutory law but it was not an offense against the common law:

Tom Paine on the “birthday of a new world” (1776)

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day the Online Library of Liberty went public for the first time. To celebrate that fact we have found a quotation by the great advocate of liberty and independence Thomas Paine (1737-1809) who, in the Appendix to Common Sense, wrote about the “birthday of a new world”:

Mises on liberalism and the battle of ideas (1927)

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) argued that the power of liberal ideas were so great that they would eventually succeed in “conquering the minds of officials and soldiers” everywhere:

John Trenchard on the real nature of political parties (1721)

The English Radical Whig journalist John Trenchard (1662-1723) warned that the true nature of political parties was to offer its members an opportunity to plunder the ordinary taxpayer by seeking plush jobs for themselves and kick-backs for their friends:

Adam Smith on the “liberal system” of free trade (1776)

One of the earliest uses of the word “liberal” to describe a society in which there was individual economic liberty was Adam Smith’s phrase “liberal system” which he used to describe free trade in contrast to the “mercantile system” of restrictions and laws:

John Taylor on how a republic can “fleece its citizens” just as well as a monarchy (1822)

John Taylor (1753-1824) argues that the American Revolution would have been in vain if the Americans replicated the British system of government privilege and favors to special economic interests:

Jefferson warns about the rise of an “Anglo-Monarchio-Aristocratic party” in America (1797)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), in a letter to Phillip Mazzei, warns that a resurgent “Anglo-Monarchio-Aristocratic party” has arisen in America which wished to restore the political and economic practices of the British Empire:

Leonard Read on Ludwig von Mises as the economic dictator of the U.S. (1971)

Leonard Read (1898-1983) relates a story about Ludwig von Mises who was asked what he would do if he were made dictator of the U.S. His immediate answer was that he would abdicate so as to unleash as much creative activity by individuals as possible:

Macaulay wittily denounces a tyrannical priest as being an intermediate grub between sycophant and oppressor (1837)

In a review of a biography about the 17th century philosopher of science Lord Bacon (1561-1626) Lord Macaulay (1800-1859) has some sharp words to say about the tyrannical master of Bacon’s college at Cambridge:

Thomas Gordon asks whether tyranny is worse than anarchy (1728)

The English radical Whig and Commonwealthman Thomas Gordon (1692-1750) argues in his Discourses on Tacitus (1728) that “a settled active Tyranny” is worse than no government at all:

Anthony de Jasay asks whether states should be invented if they did not already exist (1985)

Anthony de Jasay (1925-) asks whether we can trust the state to use its monopoly of force wisely and not “use it against those from whom it received it”:

Mises on the State Theory of Money (1912)

In his path-breaking book The Theory of Money and Credit (1912) the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) contrasts two very different ways by which money gets its value - either by “the command of the state”, or “on the estimation of commerce”:

Magna Carta guaranteed the freemen of the kingdom their liberties forever (1215)

After losing the Battle of Bouvines in northern France in 1214 King John (1166-1216) was forced by his rebellious nobles to recognise a long list of liberties which the monarchy henceforth had to respect. These became known as the “traditional rights of Englishmen”:

Benjamin Franklin on the trade off between essential liberty and temporary safety (1775)

In January 1775 Benjamin Franklin (1796-1790) was part of an American delegation sent to Britain in an attempt to resolve the outstanding disagreements between the Crown and the colonies. Seventeen points were up for discussion of which several were rejected outright by the Crown while others were rejected by the colonies. Franklin’s comments regarding the last two points produced one of his most famous sayings from the period:

John Lilburne on one’s duty to respect “the Right, Due, and Propriety of all the Sons of Adam, as men” (1646)

The Leveller John Lilburne (1615-1657) wrote some of his best material while he was in prison, such as this appeal to his fellow Christians to recognize the right to liberty and property held by “all the Sons of Adam”:

William Walwyn wittily argues against state enforced religious conformity (1646)

William Walwyn (1600-1681) uses a witty medical metaphor to argue that the desire to impose religious conformity by force (“Policie”) is caused by bad “humours” in the body which can only be removed by Doctors named Love, Justice, Patience, and Truth:

Richard Overton argues that to submit to the unjust rule by another is to violate one’s right of self ownership (1646)

The Leveller pamphleteer Richard Overton (16??-1664) defied the House of Lords from Newgate jail where he was incarcerated for refusing to recognize their right to question him without a warrant. To submit to their unjust demands he thought would be an infringement of his right to self-ownership:

Tocqueville on centralization as the natural form of government for democracies (1835)

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) believed that the natural form of government for a democratic people was one which was centralized, uniform and strong:

Herbert Spencer on human nature and the right to property (1851)

The English individualist political theorist Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) argues in Social Statics (1851) that people have a right to property on the grounds that it is a vital part of their human nature and that it would contradict the “law of equal freedom”:

Philip Wicksteed’s positive vision of the “cash nexus” (1910)

The English economist and theologian Philip H. Wicksteed (1844-1927) turns Marx’s idea of the evils of the “cash nexus” on its head in his discussion of how the “economic nexus” brings together two groups who would not normally associate with each other very easily, if at all:

Hugo Grotius on the natural sociability of humans (1625)

The Dutch legal philosopher Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) believed that human beings were by nature sociable creatures and that the purpose of natural rights, especially the right of property, was to enable them to live together in peace and prosperity:

Thomas Gordon on the nature of power to expand (1721)

The Commonwealthman Thomas Gordon (1692-1750) has some acute observations about human nature. He thinks most people are too credulous or accepting of political power, and that power has a tendency to expand at the expence of liberty:

William Paley on the tragedy of the commons (1785)

The English moral philosopher William Paley (1743-1805) discussed the problems created by the communal ownership of property. He was aware of the incentive problem as well as this early formulation of the “tragedy of the commons”:

Lord Acton argues that civil liberty arose out of the conflict between the power of the Church and the Monarchy (1877)

The English Catholic historian Lord Acton (1834-1902) believed that liberty emerged almost as an unintended by-product of the conflict between the Church and the monarchies of Europe for absolute authority over the course of nearly 400 years:

Guizot on how intellectual and political diversity and competition created a unique European civilization (1828)

The French politician and liberal historian François Guizot (1787-1874) argued that what distinguished European civilization from others, and made it superior, was the fact that no one idea or institution was able to become dominant and this left it free to experiment with many alternatives: