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Liberty


An emperor knows how to govern when poets are free to make verses, people to act plays, historians to tell the truth, ministers to give advice, the poor to grumble at taxes, students to learn lessons aloud, workmen to praise their skill and seek work, people to speak of anything, and old men to find fault with everything. 
(Address of the Duke of Shao to King Li-Wang, ca 845 B.C.)
Will Durant  (18851981)
"The Story of Civilization" 1 (11), Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.
Plato  (427347 BC)

Though liberty is established by law, we must be vigilant, for liberty to enslave us is always present under that very liberty.  Our Constitution speaks of the "general welfare of the people."  Under that phrase all sorts of excesses can be employed by lusting tyrants to make us bondsmen.
Cicero  (10643 BC)

Too long have we said to ourselves "intolerance of another's politics is barbarous and not to be countenanced in a civilized country.  Are we not free?  Shall a man be denied his right to speak under the law which established that right?"  I tell you that freedom does not mean the freedom to exploit law in order to destroy it!  It is not freedom which permits the Trojan Horse to be wheeled within the gates.  He who is not for Rome and Roman Law and Roman liberty is against Rome.  He who espouses tyranny and oppression and the old dead despotisms is against Rome.  He who plots against established authority and incites the populace to violence is against Rome.  He cannot ride two horses at the same time.  We cannot be for lawful ordinances and for an alien conspiracy at one and the same moment.
Cicero  (10643 BC)
Second Oration before the Roman Senate

Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master.
Sallust  (8634 BC)

The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.
Plutarch  (AD 46120)

Where Liberty dwells, there is my country.
Benjamin Franklin  (17061790)

Those that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin  (17061790)

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.
David Hume  (17111776)

We may look up to Armies for our Defense, but Virtue is our best Security.  It is not possible that any State should long remain free, where Virtue is not supremely honored.
Samuel Adams  (17221803)

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites...
Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.
Edmund Burke  (17291797)

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.
George Washington  (17321799)

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.
George Washington  (17321799)

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
George Washington  (17321799)

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.
George Washington  (17321799)

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.  But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.  The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
George Washington  (17321799)
Farewell Address, 1796

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

When the government fears the people, there is liberty.  When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people...  They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
James Madison  (17511836)

It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.
James Madison  (17511836)

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.  It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
William Pitt the Younger  (17591806)

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.
Abraham Lincoln  (18091865)

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty.
Abraham Lincoln  (18091865)

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
Soren Kierkegaard  (18131855)

Liberty never came from government.  The history of liberty is a history of resistance.  The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.
Woodrow Wilson  (18561924)
Speech in New York, September 9, 1912

If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that, too.
Somerset Maugham  (18741965)

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels.  For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
Henry Mencken  (18801956)

Liberty is a luxury of security; the free individual is a product and a mark of civilization.
Will Durant  (18851981)
"The Story of Civilization" 1 (11), Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

In my youth I stressed freedom, and in my old age I stress order.  I have made the great discovery that liberty is a product of order.
Will Durant  (18851981)

Man became free when he recognized that he was subject to law.
Will Durant  (18851981)


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