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178 of 6,095 quotations related to Liberty, showing Acton to Lee

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Acton, Lord John Emerich
Liberty is the highest political end of man...[but] no country can be free without religion. It creates and strengthens the notion of duty. If men are not kept straight by duty, they must be by fear. The more they are kept by fear, the less they are free. The greater the strength of duty, the greater the liberty.

Liberty is the prevention of control by others. This requires self-control and, therefore, religious and spiritual influences; education, knowledge, well-being.

Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.

The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.

Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is the highest political end.

1907 - from The History of Freedom
Adams, John Quincy
Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have... a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the characters and conduct of their rulers.

Adams, Samuel
Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.

Nov. 20, 1772
Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.

He therefore is the truest friend to liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man...

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Aug. 1, 1776



Ames, Fisher
Liberty has never lasted long in a democracy, nor has it ever ended in anything better than despotism.

Aristotle
If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.

350 BC - from Politics
Berlin, Isaiah
Those who have ever valued liberty for its own sake believed that to be free to choose, and not to be chosen for, is an inalienable ingredient in what makes human beings human.

1959 - from his essay "Two Concepts of Liberty"
Liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or human happiness or a quiet conscience.

1959 - from Two Concepts of Liberty
Blackstone, Sir William
In all tyrannical governments the supreme magistracy, or the right both of making and enforcing the laws, is vested in one and the same man, or one and the same body of men; and wherever these two powers are united together, there can be no public liberty.

1765 - from Commentaries on the Laws of England
Bolingbroke, Henry St. James
Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society.

Boortz, Neal
Politicians know just how powerful this word is, 'Security'. Every time they have some little program they want to offer to the people, a program that will almost certainly rob people of freedom and liberty, the politicians sell that program by adding the 'Security' word to it.

Bork, Robert
When a judge goes beyond [his proper function] and reads entirely new values into the Constitution, values the framers and ratifiers did not put there, he deprives the people of their liberty. That liberty, which the Constitution clearly envisions, is the liberty of the people to set their own social agenda through the process of democracy.

1987 - from his opening remarks at the Senate review of his appointment to the Supreme Court
Bovard, James
The first step to saving our liberty is to realize how much we have already lost, how we lost it, and how we will continue to lose unless fundamental political changes occur.

1994 - from Lost Rights
Brandeis, Louis Dembitz
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.

1928 - from his dissenting opinion in Olmstead vs U.S.



Briskman, Larry
There are powerful arguments to suggest that....the pursuit of equality through the use of government coercion must destroy the framework of individual, and thus personal, liberty. For, as Robert Nozick has pointed out, individual differences [of talent, effort, taste, and so on] will, within such a framework, continuously (and spontaneously) produce new inequalities however we try to arrange the starting position of the individual citizens. Thus the socialist pursuit of equality must require an ever increasing interference with, and destruction of, personal liberty.

1988 - from Two Cheers for Ideology, published by the Scottish Young Conservatives
Brown, George W.  
Having seen dictatorships rise in other countries, we should be foolish to say 'it can't happen here.' As Abraham Lincoln said: 'The price of liberty is eternal vigilance', and liberty is our most precious possession So, then, should vigilance be our constant care.

1952 - from "Canadian Democracy In Action", J.M. Dent and Sons publisher
Burger, Warren
Although it had flaws and is still not perfect, our Constitution has allowed a system of government to flourish with freedom and opportunity unequaled anywhere in the world before or since. The United States has no need for walls or laws to keep people from moving elsewhere; and for over 200 years countless millions of people have come here from all parts of the globe, creating a society of pluralism and diversity resting on liberty.

from The Constitutions: Foundation of Our Freedom
Burke, Edmund
Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe.

The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts ... the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Apr. 3, 1777 - from a letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on 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 is without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

... what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils, for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.

1790 - from Reflections on the Revolution in France
Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found.

1775
Churchill, Sir Winston
My friends, I must tell you that a socialist policy is abhorrent to the British ideas of freedom. Although it is now put forward in the main by people who have a good grounding in the liberalism and radicalism of the early part of this century, there can be no doubt that socialism is inseparably interwoven with totalitarianism and the abject worship of the state. It is not alone that property, in all its forms, is struck at; but that liberty, in all its forms, is challenged by the fundamental conceptions of socialism.

1945 - from a pre-election radio broadcast
Clark, Joe  
The goal of economic progress is the extension of human liberty, not, as the critics allege, the open-ended servicing of human greed.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo



Cloud, Michael
If you ruin your life, you will pay the price of rehabilitating yourself. ... We are not punished for our sins, but by them. Liberty means responsibility.

Coolidge, Calvin
The fundamental precept of liberty is toleration.

Mar. 4, 1925 - from his Inaugural Address
Corinthians 10:29
Why should my liberty be restricted by another man's conscience?

Curran, John Philpot
It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.

Jul. 10, 1790 - from a speech "The Right of Election" delivered in Dublin, Ireland
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

1808 - from a speech delivered in Dublin, Ireland
Durant, William
Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos.

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.

As soon as liberty is complete it dies in anarchy.

Forced to choose, the poor, like the rich, love money more than political liberty; and the only political freedom capable of enduring is one that is so pruned as to keep the rich from denuding the poor by ability or subtlety and the poor from robbing the rich by violence or votes.

Fonte, John
At the end of the day, the progressive paradigm of group rights and equality of condition is a utopian construct that is incompatible with the traditional liberal democratic worldview of individual rights, equality of citizenship, and constitutional self-government grounded on an empirically based reason and a realistic concept of human nature. The conflict between the liberty party and the progressive party (as [Alexis de] Tocqueville predicted) will determine the ultimate fate of democracy, equality and liberty.

Jun. 19, 1999 - from his essay "Back to the future", published in the National Post newspaper, Toronto



Fosdick, Harry Emerson
Liberty is always dangerous - but it is the safest thing we have.

Franklin, Benjamin
In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own... Who ever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

1759 - from Historical Review of Pennsylvania
Friedenberg, Edgar Z.  
... Canadians... [may] have the kind of government, and as much freedom, as they want. What is absent here is not just the conditions of liberty, but the desire for it. Liberty may be... a controlled substance in Canada; but its street value is damned low.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
Canadian society is deficient, not in respect for law but in respect for liberty.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
Canadians are not good at Final Solutions but they are much better at defining and attacking specific and legitimate problems. Indeed, one of the greatest threats to the Canadian way of life lies, I think, in the fact that Canadian success in solving problems within the limits of its political system may lead Canadians to retain their faith in liberalism, and even Liberalism, to resolve pressing moral dilemmas related to welfare and liberty.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
Friedman, Milton
I'm not in favor of no government. You do need a government. But by doing so many things that the government has no business doing, it cannot do those things which it alone can do well. There's no other institution in my opinion that can provide us with protection of our life and liberty. However, the government performs that basic function poorly today, precisely because it is devoting too much of its efforts and spending too much of our income on things which are harmful.

Jun. 1992 - from an interview published in The Region, a publication of the Woodrow Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Frum, David  
[The Canadian constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms is] the opposite of a liberty-enhancing document.

Oct. 12, 2000 - from a column in the National Post
Gibbon, Edward
A people who still remembered that their ancestors had been the masters of the world would have applauded, with conscious pride, the representation of ancient freedom, if they had not long since been accustomed to prefer the solid assurance of bread to the unsubstantial visions of liberty and greatness.

1788 - from Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 29
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
Law givers or revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either utopian dreamers or charlatans.




Goldwater, Barry
Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.

Jun. 16, 1964 - from his speech to the Republican National Convention
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice... Moderation in the pursuit of freedom is no virtue.

1964 - from his speech accepting the Republican nomination as its presidential candidate, at the Republican National Convention
I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' interests, I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

from The Conscience of a Conservative
Grant, R.W.
The proper concern of government is not compassion, but liberty. When government, in the name of 'compassion,' initiates force against the individual, it has become the agent of despotism.

1999 - from The Incredible Bread Machine, published by Fox and Wilkes
Gray, John
... aside from the constant vigilance of a citizenry steeped in a culture of liberty, there is no remedy for the expansionist tendencies inherent in all forms of government activity.

1992 - from The Moral Foundations of Market Institutions, Institute of Economic Affairs, London
Halifax, Lord George Saville
Power is so apt to be insolent, and liberty to be saucy, that they are seldom on good terms.

from Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections
Hamilton, Alexander
We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate government.

Jun. 26, 1787 - from "Debates of the Federal Convention"
Hand, Learned
I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.

1944 - from The Spirit of Liberty
The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right...

May 20, 1945 - from a public speech delivered in New York's Central Park, quoted by William Safire in Lend Me Your Ears
Hayek, Friedrich
The greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press



The great aim of the struggle for liberty has been equality before the law.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press
Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions. ... Liberty and responsibility are inseparable.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press
Socialism was embraced by the greater part of the intelligentsia as the apparent heir of the liberal tradition: therefore it is not surprising that to them the idea of socialism's leading to the opposite of liberty should appear inconceivable.

Hazlitt, Henry
Every ... leftist calls himself a liberal! ... We are the true adherents of liberty. Both words--liberal and liberty--come from the same root. We are the ones who believe in limited government, in the maximization of liberty for the individual and the minimization of coercion to the lowest point compatible with law and order. It is because we are true liberals that we believe in free trade, free markets, free enterprise, private property in the means of production; in brief, that we are for capitalism and against socialism. Yet this is the philosophy, the true philosophy of progress, that is now called not only conservatism, but reaction, the Radical Right, extremism...

Nov. 29, 1964 - from "Reflections at 70", a speech to friends and admirers at the New York University Club on his 70th birthday
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.

None of us [who speak out against statism] are yet on the torture rack; we are not yet in jail; we're getting various harassments and annoyances, but what we mainly risk is merely our popularity, the danger that we will be called nasty names. ... We have a duty to speak even more clearly and courageously, to work harder, and to keep fighting this battle while the strength is still in us. ... The times call for courage. The times call for hard work. But if the demands are high, it is because the stakes are even higher. They are nothing less than the future of liberty, which means the future of civilization.

Nov. 29, 1964 - from "Reflections at 70", a speech to friends and admirers at the New York University Club on his 70th birthday
Hazlitt, William
The right of property is reducible to this simple principle, that one man has not a right to the produce of another's labour, but each man has a right to the benefit of his own exertions and the use of his natural and inalienable powers, unless for a supposed equivalent and by mutual consent. Personal liberty and property therefore rest upon the same foundation. ... The circle of personal security and right, then, is not an imaginary and arbitrary line fixed by law ... but is real and inherent in the nature of things, and by itself the foundation of law and justice.

1824 - from "Project for a New Theory of Civil and Criminal Legislation"
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.

1819 - from an essay in The Times of London
Heinlein, Robert Anson
Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.

1959 - from Starship Troopers
Henry, Patrick
Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.




Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

Mar. 23, 1775 - from a speech to the Virginia Convention in Richmond
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.

Jun. 5, 1788 - from a speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention
Hughes, Charles Evans
While democracy must have its organizations and controls, its vital breath is individual liberty.

1908
Hume, David
It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.

Hunter, Ian  
... ever since [John Stuart] Mill's essay On Liberty in 1859 we have come to think of liberty almost exclusively in individualistic terms, a view the [Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms] embodies. But the claim to individual liberty may often mask harm to the collectivity. After all, we are not just atomized individuals, we are also members of a community, citizens of a society. The individual's claim to liberty, albeit expressed in the high-minded rhetoric of rights, often conceals selfish, sometimes (as in the British Columbia child pornography case) perverse, interests. The lone, brave individual standing his ground against the menacing omnipotent State was Mill's archetype, and this is a powerful symbol; the sadistic criminal going free and making citizens ever more fearful, even in their own homes, is the more common reality.

Feb. 23, 1999 - from "Democracy and its discontents", published in the National Post newspaper
... the problem is that we look to the [Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms] for that which it cannot give -- the discernment of an appropriate balance between freedom and restraint, between liberty and license, between indulgence and self-discipline. The Charter cannot provide such discernment because that must come from within, not from without, from the heart and mind and soul.

Feb. 23, 1999 - from "Democracy and its discontents", published in the National Post newspaper
Ingersoll, Robert Green
I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous - if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men.

1877 - from The Ghosts
Jackson, Robert H.
There is no such thing as an achieved liberty; like electricity, there can be no substantial storage and it must be generated as it is enjoyed, or the lights go out.

The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities ... One's right to life, liberty and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly and other fundamental rights... depend on the outcome of no elections.

1943 - from the decision in the flag salute case
James, F. Cyril  
A free man is as jealous of his responsibilities as he is of his liberties.




Jefferson, Thomas
Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the Author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance.

1770
And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

Nov. 13, 1787 - from a letter to William S. Smith
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Jul. 4, 1776 - from the Declaration of Independence
Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.

Of liberty then I would say that in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will, but rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.

Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

Dec. 23, 1791 - from a letter to Archibald Stuart
We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.

Jul. 12, 1816 - from a letter to Samuel Kercheval
It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself to resist invasions of it in the case of others.




The public money and public liberty ... will soon be discovered to be sources of wealth and dominion to those who hold them...

1784 - from Notes on the State of Virginia
Our liberty depends on freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

Jan.28, 1786 - from a letter to James Currie
The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.

Johnson, Paul
I once thought liberty was divisible, that you could have very great personal liberty within a framework of substantial state control of the economy, but I don't mind saying I was quite wrong. The thing that finally convinced me was the issue of compulsory unionism.

Kahn, Otto Herman
The deadliest foe of democracy is not autocracy but liberty frenzied.

Kennedy, John F.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.

May, 1963 - from a speech delivered at Vanderbilt University
Liberty without learning is always in peril and learning without liberty is always in vain.

1963 - from an address at Vanderbilt University
Kristol, Irving
[Conservatism] Our revolutionary message ... is that a self-disciplined people can create a political community in which an ordered liberty will promote both economic prosperity and political participation.

1983 - from Reflections of a NeoConservative, Basic Books, New York
Lee, John Alan  
We would defend our open society by becoming an even more open society. Bureaucratic secrecy is not only corrosive of liberty, it is ultimately inefficient.

1979 - from The RCMP vs. The People, quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo (with Edward Mann)