Quotes on Liberty

Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth.

— Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

A people who extend civil liberties only to preferred groups start down the path either to dictatorship of the right or the left.

— Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

No one can be perfectly free till all are free; no one can be perfectly moral till all are moral; no one can be perfectly happy till all are happy.

— Herbert Spencer, Social Statics

Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.

— John Adams

The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.

— Milton Friedman

The true danger is, when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts.

— Edmund Burke, Letter to Sheriffs (II 249).

No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words “no” and “not” employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights.

— Edmund A. Opitz

Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.

— William Lloyd Garrison

Put no constrictions on the people. Leave ’em ta Hell alone.

— Jimmie Durante

I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.

— Thomas Jefferson, A letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison (20 December 1787)

One difference between libertarianism and socialism is that a socialist society can’t tolerate groups of people practicing freedom, but a libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism.

— David Boaz, Libertarianism: A Primer

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)

We’re never going to advance as a civilization until more individuals learn to say “No”.

— Will Spencer

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.

— Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

Freedom and the power to choose should not be the privilege of wealth. They are the birthright of every American.

— George Bush

Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated – a system of checks and balances.

— Milton Friedman

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.

— Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

It seems to me that this is theoretically right, for whatever the question under discussion—whether religious, philosophical, political, or economic; whether it concerns prosperity, morality, equality, right, justice, progress, responsibility, cooperation, property, labor, trade, capital, wages, taxes, population, finance, or government—at whatever point on the scientific horizon I begin my researches, I invariably reach this one conclusion: The solution to the problems of human relationships is to be found in liberty.

— Frederic Bastiat, The Law

There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.

— Henry David Thoreau

The government was set to protect man from criminals – and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government.

— Ayn Rand

The argument for liberty is not an argument against organization, which is one of the most powerful tools human reason can employ, but an argument against all exclusive, privileged, monopolistic organization, against the use of coercion to prevent others from doing better.

— Friedrich Hayek, Why I Am Not a Conservative

Of liberty 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. I do not add “within the limits of the law” because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac H. Tiffany (1819)

I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.

— H. L. Mencken

Humility is the distinguishing virtue of the believer in freedom; arrogance, of the paternalist.

— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

The policy of the American government is to leave its citizens free, neither restraining them nor aiding them in their pursuits.

— Thomas Jefferson

At a time when most movements that are thought to be progressive advocate further encroachments on individual liberty, those who cherish freedom are likely to expend their energies in opposition. In this they find themselves much of the time on the same side as those who habitually resist change.

— John Stuart Mill, Why I Am Not a Conservative

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.

— P.J. O’Rourke

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

— Benjamin Franklin

It is seldom that liberty of any kinds is lost all at once.

— David Hume

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free … it expects what never was and never will be.

— Thomas Jefferson

Ultimately, property rights and personal rights are the same thing.

— Calvin Coolidge

We must face the fact that the preservation of individual freedom is incompatible with a full satisfaction of our views of distributive justice.

— Friedrich Hayek

A caged canary is safe but not free.

— Walter Williams

When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.

— Thomas Paine

If we’ve learned anything in the past quarter century, it is that we cannot federalize virtue.

— George H.W. Bush, 1991

Do what’s right for you, as long as it don’t hurt no one.

— Elvis Presley

Liberty, therefore, must defend the right of individuals to make contracts involving usury, rum, marriage, prostitution, and many other things which are believed to be wrong in principle and opposed to human well-being. The right to do wrong involves the essence of all rights.

— Benjamin Tucker, Right and Individual Rights

If you support the war on drugs in its present form, then you’re only paying lip-service to the defense of freedom, and you don’t really grasp the concept of the sovereign individual human being.

— Neal Boortz

Private property was the original source of freedom. It still is its main bulwark.

— Walter Lippman

All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest.

— Friedrich Hayek

[The Bill of Rights is] designed to protect individuals and minorities against the tyranny of the majority, but it’s also designed to protect the people against bureaucracy, against the government.

— Judge Lawrence Tribe

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.

— John Adams

A society that puts equality – in the sense of equality of outcome – ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality or freedom.

— Milton Friedman

The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or to impede their efforts to obtain it.

— John Stuart Mill

I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

— Robert Heinlein

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).

— Ayn Rand

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

— Albert Camus

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.

— Justice Learned Hand, The “Spirit of Liberty” speech, 1944.

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.

— John Locke

Among the absolute duties, i.e., of anybody to anybody, the first place belongs to this one: let no one injure another. For this is the broadest of all duties, embracing all men as such.

— Samuel von Pufendorf

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

— Thomas Paine, 1795

There are just two rules of governance in a free society: Mind your own business. Keep your hands to yourself.

— P.J. O’Rourke

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

— Milton Friedman

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

— George Orwell

There is only one antidote to racism: the philosophy of individualism and its politico-economic corollary, laissez-faire capitalism.

— Ayn Rand

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe — because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo… The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom — the freedom we prize — is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

— George W. Bush

Death is better, a milder fate than tyranny.

— Aeschylus, Agamemnon

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

— Lord Acton

Americans used to roar like lions for liberty; now we bleat like sheep for security.

— Norman Vincent Peale

If you are not free to choose wrongly and irresponsibly, you are not free at all.

— Jacob Hornberger

A right, such as a right to free speech, imposes no obligation on another, except that of non-interference. The so-called right to health care, food or housing, whether a person can afford it or not, is something entirely different; it does impose an obligation on another. If one person has a right to something he didn’t produce, simultaneously and of necessity it means that some other person does not have right to something he did produce. That’s because, since there’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, in order for government to give one American a dollar, it must, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.

— Walter Williams

America wasn’t founded so that we could all be better. America was founded so we could all be anything we damn well please.

— P.J. O’Rourke

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism…The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

— Ronald Reagan, Interview with Reason magazine, 1975

Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of government power, not the increase of it.

— Woodrow Wilson

The first thing to learn in intercourse with others is non-interference with their own particular ways of being happy, provided those ways do not assume to interfere by violence with ours.

— William James

Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit. A politician is anyone who asks individuals to surrender part of their liberty — their power and privilege — to State, Masses, Mankind, Planet Earth, or whatever. This state, those masses, that mankind, and the planet will then be run by … politicians.

— P.J. O’Rourke

The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.

— Winston Churchill, Speech at Zurich University (19 September, 1946)

The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society.

— Mark Skousen

All that is good is not embodied in the law; and all that is evil is not proscribed by the law. A well-disciplined society needs few laws; but it needs strong mores.

— William F. Buckley

The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.

— Edmund Burke, Letter to Thomas Mercer

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.

— Edmund Burke

In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service.

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle, anywhere, at any time, and with utter recklessness.

— Robert Heinlein, The Pupper Masters

To save a man’s life against his will is the same as killing him.

— Horace

One does not encourage “responsibility” by forcibly restricting the range of people’s authority over their own lives.

— Butler Shaffer

America’s maximum economic power will be forged, not under bureaucratic direction, but in freedom.

— Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative

The property a man has in his own industry, is violated, whenever he is forbidden the free exercise of his faculties or talents, except insomuch as they would interfere with the rights of third parties.

— Jean-Baptiste Say, A Treatise On Political Economy

A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity.

— Robert Frost

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.

— Ronald Reagan, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (2007)

The liberty the citizen enjoys is to be measured not by the governmental machinery he lives under, whether representative or other, but by the paucity of restraints it imposes on him.

— Herbert Spencer, Man versus the State

Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.

— Benjamin Franklin

Economic energy must be released from government strangulation if individual freedom is to survive.

— Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative

It’s easy for people to assume that the Bill of Rights will be, as somebody once called the Constitution, a machine that runs itself. I disagree. I think eternal vigilance is the price of keeping it in working order.

— Judge Lawrence Tribe

Can our form of government, our system of justice, survive if one can be denied a freedom because he might abuse it?

— Harlon Carter

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

— Adlai Stevenson

The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.

— William Hazlitt

The authority of government … can have no pure right over my person and my property but what I concede to it.

— Henry David Thoreau

You can’t conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.

— Robert Heinlein, If This Goes On

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty – power is ever stealing from the many to the few.

— Wendell Phillips, Speech to the Massachusetts Antislavery Soceity in 1852

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.

— George Washington

Government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.

— Henry David Thoreau

Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.

— Harry Emerson Fosdick

Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

— Ayn Rand

No arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.

— Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural address (1981)

Civil liberty is only natural liberty, modified and secured by the sanctions of civil society.

— Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted (1775)

The freedom of speech of private individuals includes the right not to agree, not to listen and not to finance one’s own antagonists.

— Ayn Rand

After 20 years on the bench I have concluded that federal drug laws are a disaster. It is time to get the government out of drug enforcement.

— Judge Whitman Knapp, New York Times; May 14, 1993

Men love liberty because it protects them from control and humiliation by others, thus affording them the possibility of dignity; they loathe liberty because it throws them back on their own abilities and resources, thus confronting them with the possibility of insignificance.

— Thomas Szasz, The Untamed Tongue

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Dr. James Currie (28 January 1786)

What we call the market is really a democratic process involving millions, and in some markets billions, of people making personal decisions that express their preferences. When you hear someone say that he doesn’t trust the market, and wants to replace it with government edicts, he’s really calling for a switch from a democratic process to a totalitarian one.

— Walter Williams

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.

— Thomas Jefferson

A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.

— Friedrich Hayek

Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.

— John Locke, Second Treatise on Government

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 1

I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men’s rights.

— Abraham Lincoln

Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.

— Louis D. Brandeis

The individual can never escape the moral burden of his existence. He must choose between obedience to authority and responsibility to himself. Moral decisions are often hard and painful to make. The temptation to delegate this burden to others is therefore ever-present. Yet, as all of history teaches us, those who would take from man his moral burdens–be they priests or warlords, politicians or psychiatrists–must also take from him his liberty and hence his very humanity.

— Thomas S. Szasz

Where liberty is, there is my country.

— Benjamin Franklin

Opium and morphine are certainly dangerous, habit-forming drugs. But once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of the government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments … Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils.? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music? The mischief done by bad ideologies, surely, is much more pernicious both for the individual and for the whole society, than that done by narcotic drugs.

— Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny.

— James Fenimore Cooper

Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.

— Elie Wiesel

Men in the mass never brook the destructive discussion of their fundamental beliefs, and that impatience is naturally most evident in those societies in which men in the mass are most influential. Democracy and free speech are not facets of one gem; democracy and free speech are eternal enemies.

— H. L. Mencken, Introduction to The Antichrist

All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or
maintain any religious institution.

— Thomas Jefferson, Draft Constitution for Virginia (June 1776)

I believe that we must look beyond the defense of freedom today to its extension tomorrow.

— Barry Goldwater, Speech to the 1964 Republican National Convention.

If we cannot end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.

— John F. Kennedy

There are two potential violators of man’s rights: the criminals and the government.

— Ayn Rand

America’s abundance was not created by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes.

— Ayn Rand

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.

— Maximilien Robespierre

The property of the people belongs to the people. To take it from them by taxation cannot be justified except by urgent public necessity. Unless this principle be recognized, our country is no longer secure, our people no longer free.

— Calvin Coolidge

A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse to rest on inference.

— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison December 20, 1787

Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves the necessity for perpetual choice which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.

— Davy Crockett, Speech in the US House of Representatives

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

— John F. Kennedy

Political correctness is tyranny with manners.

— Charlton Heston

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.

— Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVII, 1781

There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence.

— Robert G. Ingersoll

If we consider that each person owns his own body and can acquire ownership of other things by creating them, or by having ownership transferred to him by another owner, it becomes at least formally possible to define “being left alone” and its opposite, “being coerced”. Someone who forcibly prevents me from using my property as I want, when I am not using it to violate his right to use his property, is coercing me. A man who prevents me from taking heroin coerces me; a man who prevents me from shooting him does not.

— David Friedman

Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.

— John Locke, Second Treatise on Government

You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man’s freedom. You can be free only if I am free.

— Clarence Darrow

Freedom is not only bought with a great price; it is maintained by unremitting effort.

— Calvin Coolidge

Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.

— William Allen White

Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other.

— John Locke

There is no justification for public interference with purely private concerns.

— Calvin Coolidge

Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will turn vegetarian.

— Heywood Brown

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

— Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes

The right to be left alone is indeed the beginning of all freedoms.

— Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Individualism regards man — every man — as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful co-existence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights — and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.

— Ayn Rand

So long as a man rides his hobbyhorse peaceably and quietly along the King’s highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him -pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?

— Laurence Stern, 1759

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

— John F. Kennedy

Freedom is the right to choose: the right to create for oneself the alternatives of choice. Without the possibility of choice and the exercise of choice a man is not a man but a member, an instrument, a thing.

— Archibald Macleish

The true test of one’s commitment to liberty and private property rights doesn’t come when we permit people to be free to do those voluntary things with which we agree. The true test comes when we permit people to be free to do those voluntary things with which we disagree.

— Walter Williams

The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes

I hate people who are intolerant.

— Dr. Laurence J. Peter

The real freedom of any individual can always be measured by the amount of responsibility which he must assume for his own welfare and security.

— Robert Welch

Democracy aims at equality in liberty. Socialism desires equality in constraint and in servitude.

— Alexis de Tocqueville

Before the tribunal of nature a man has no more right to life than a rattlesnake; he has no more right to liberty than any wild beast; his right to pursuit of happiness is nothing but a license to maintain the struggle for existence…

— William Graham Sumner, Earth-hunger, and Other Essays

I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

— Thomas Jefferson

The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think.

— H. L. Mencken

Natural justice is a symbol or expression of usefullness, to prevent one person from harming or being harmed by another.

— Epicurus

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

— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Hunter (11 March 1790)

It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights.

— Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1772)

Liberals don’t care what you do as long as it’s compulsory.

— M. Stanton Evans

The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it.

— John Hay, 1872

The only possible relationship between individuals and collectivists is the relationship between prey and predators.

— Will Spencer

There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.

— Christopher Morley

We can foresee a time when . . . the only people at liberty will be prison guards who will then have to lock up one another.

— Albert Camus

Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

— Thomas Jefferson, 1801

Taxation of earnings from labor is on a par with forced labor. Seizing the results of someone’s labor is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing him to carry on various activities.

— Robert Nozick

There is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights.

— Ayn Rand

It is never wrong to be on the side of freedom – never.

— Victor Davis Hanson

A free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a great society.

— Walter Lippman

The great threat to freedom is the concentration of power.

— Milton Friedman

The origin of all civil government, justly established, must be a voluntary compact, between the rulers and the ruled.

— Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted (1775)

Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.

— Herbert Spencer, The Ethics of Social Life: Justice

A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy.

— Friedrich Hayek

It is not the responsibility of the government or the legal system to protect a citizen from himself.

— Justice Casey Percell

Man is not free unless government is limited.

— Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address (1989)

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

— James Madison, In a speech at the Virginia Convention, 1788

Whenever they burn books, they will also, in the end, burn people.

— Heinrich Heine

Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual.

— Calvin Coolidge

Extremism in the defense of Liberty is no vice. And . . . moderation in the pursuit of Justice is no virtue.

— Barry Goldwater

The dilemma … is between the democratic process of the market in which every individual has his share and the exclusive rule of a dictatorial body. Whatever people do in the market economy is the execution of their own plans. In this sense every human action means planning. What those calling themselves planners advocate is not the substitution of planned action for letting things go. It is the substitution of the planner’s own plan for the plans of his fellowmen. The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans. He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute preeminence of his own plan.

— Ludwig von Mises

No loss by flood and lightning, no destruction of cities and temples by hostile forces of nature, has deprived man of so many noble lives and impulses as those which his intolerance has destroyed.

— Helen Keller

A way of life that is odd or even erratic but interferes with no rights or interests of others is not to be condemned because it is different.

— Chief Justice Warren E. Burger

Capitalism demands the best of every man – his rationality – and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him.

— Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual

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 and will receive praise or blame for them.

— Friedrich Hayek

It is asserted by the most respectable writers upon government, that a well regulated militia, composed of the yeomanry of the country, have ever been considered as the bulwark of a free people. Tyrants have never placed any confidence on a militia composed of freemen.

— John Dewitt

There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.

— Ayn Rand

The average man doesn’t want to be free. He wants to be safe.

— H. L. Mencken

If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation.

— Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1772)

I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too.

— Thomas Jefferson

There is no substitute for a militant freedom. The only alternative is submission and slavery.

— Calvin Coolidge

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and passed on … or we will spend our sunset years telling our children’s children what it was like in the United States when men were free.

— Ronald Reagan

The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships. … In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.

— Ayn Rand, Man’s Rights

We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a feather bed.

— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Lafayette (2 April 1790)

The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.

— William F. Buckley

In framing a government, which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.

— James Madison

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.

— Abraham Lincoln

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.

— C.S. Lewis

The Constitution is an instrument, above all, for limiting the functions of government… Throughout history, government has proved to be the chief instrument for thwarting man’s liberty. Government represents power in the hands of some men to control and regulate the lives of other men.

— Barry Goldwater

Let the people decide through the marketplace mechanisms what they wish to see and hear. Why is there this national obsession to tamper with this box of transistors and tubes when we don’t do the same for ‘Time’ magazine?

— Mark Fowler

We shall never prevent the abuse of power if we are not prepared to limit power in a way which occasionally may prevent its use for desirable purposes.

— Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944)

If you love peace more than freedom, you lose both.

— Dick Armey

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be.

— James Baldwin

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought- not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

He alone is free who lives with free consent under the entire guidance of reason.

— Baruch Spinoza

Every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberties by every other man.

— Herbert Spencer, Social Statics

All government, of course, is against liberty.

— H. L. Mencken

The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.

— Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”

— Abraham Lincoln, Speech to the Illinois House of Representatives; 18 Dec. 1840

All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.

— Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1772)

No amount of IMF, World Bank and other handout interventions can bring prosperity to repressive nations.

— Walter E. Williams

Democracy and liberty are not the same. Democracy is little more than mob rule, while liberty refers to the sovereignty of the individual.

— Walter Williams

Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.

— William Lloyd Garrison

We have got so many regulatory laws already that in general I feel that we would be just as well off if we didn’t have any more.

— Calvin Coolidge

Every time that we try to lift a problem from our own shoulders, and shift that problem to the hands of the government, to the same extent we are sacrificing the liberties of our people.

— John F. Kennedy

To preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom.

— Thomas Jefferson, June 18, 1799

True capitalism is based upon one simple principle: that all exchanges of property are made with the voluntary consent of all parties. Private ownership of property and competition — the other two components of capitalism in most traditional definitions — are actually results of this foundational principle. As all governments are institutions of coercion, there is no way for them to acquire property through voluntary exchange. Further, with all exchanges being voluntary, sellers must by definition compete with one another in order to sell their products. So, the foundation of “capitalism” is really the non-aggression principle applied to property. Capitalism requires that no one’s property can be taken from them without their consent.

— Tom Mullen

History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.

— Milton Friedman

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

— William Pitt, To the House of Commons, November 18, 1783

The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

— Robert Heinlein

We are so concerned to flatter the majority that we lose sight of how very often it is necessary, in order to preserve freedom for the minority, let alone for the individual, to face that majority down.

— William F. Buckley

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.

— John Adams, In a letter to John Taylor on 15 April, 1814.

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 success of liberty.

— John F. Kennedy

It is not only vain, but wicked, in a legislator to frame laws in opposition to the laws of nature, and to arm them with the terrors of death. This is truly creating crimes in order to punish them.

— Thomas Jefferson, 1779

People who create things nowadays can expect to be prosecuted by highly moralistic people who are incapable of creating anything. There is no way to measure the chilling effect on innovation that results from the threats of taxation, regulation and prosecution against anything that succeeds. We’ll never know how many ideas our government has aborted in the name protecting us.

— Joseph Sobran

If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.

— Bertrand Russell

Man must have the right of choice, even to choose wrong, if he shall ever learn to choose right.

— Josiah C. Wedgwood

Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them.

— Joshua Liebman

Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist.

— Edmund Burke

No man can have a right to begin to interrupt the happiness of another, yet every man has a right to defend himself and his against violence, to recover what is taken by force from him, and even to make reprisals, by all the means that truth and prudence permit.

— William Wollaston, The Religion of Nature Delineated

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

— John F. Kennedy

The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals… It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.

— Albert Gallatin

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression.

— Thomas Paine, 1795

The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds.

— Sir Isaiah Berlin

Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish? Nothing else.

— Epictetus

Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint; the more restraint on others to keep off from us, the more liberty we have.

— Daniel Webster, Speech at the Charleston Bar Dinner on 10 May, 1847.

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.

— Albert Einstein

Why doesn’t everybody leave everybody else the hell alone?

— Jimmy Durante

God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide.

— Rebecca West

You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power — he’s free again.

— Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle (1968)

When your response to everything that is wrong with the world is to say, ‘there ought to be a law,’ you are saying that you hold freedom very cheap.

— Thomas Sowell

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don’t have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.

— Walter Williams

A man’s rights rest in three boxes. The ballot box, jury box and the cartridge box.

— Frederick Douglass, Speech delivered on 15 November, 1867

Force, violence, pressure or compulsion with a view to conformity, are both uncivilized and undemocratic.

— Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.

— Thomas Sowell

If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.

— Friedrich Hayek

Liberty is liberty, not equality or fairness or justice or human happiness or a quiet conscience.

— Sir Isaiah Berlin

There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.

— Alexander Hamilton

A society that does not recognise that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom.

— Friedrich Hayek, The Market : Ethics, Knowledge, and Politics (1998)

Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.

— Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.

— Albert Einstein

Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.

— William Howard Taft

I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.

— Patrick Henry

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.

— Thomas Jefferson, In a letter to Abigail Adams on 22 February, 1787

Goodness in man can only grow in a climate of liberty.

— F.A. Harper

Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.

— John Adams

[The right to property] is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object.

— Ayn Rand

Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

— Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things.

— Ronald Reagan, Speech at Moscow State University (31 May 1988)

When once the right of the individual to liberty and equality is admitted, there is no escape from the conclusion that he alone is entitled to the rewards of his own industry. Any other conclusion would necessarily imply either privilege or servitude.

— Calvin Coolidge

We love peace, but not peace at any price. There is a peace more destructive of the manhood of living man, than war is destructive to his body. Chains are worse than bayonets.

— Douglas Jerrold